Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #2478 on: Jan 5th, 2011, 08:35am »
New York Times
January 4, 2011 U.S. Alters Rule on Paying for End-of-Life Planning By ROBERT PEAR
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration, reversing course, will revise a Medicare regulation to delete references to end-of-life planning as part of the annual physical examinations covered under the new health care law, administration officials said Tuesday.
The move is an abrupt shift, coming just days after the new policy took effect on Jan. 1.
Many doctors and providers of hospice care had praised the regulation, which listed “advance care planning” as one of the services that could be offered in the “annual wellness visit” for Medicare beneficiaries.
While administration officials cited procedural reasons for changing the rule, it was clear that political concerns were also a factor. The renewed debate over advance care planning threatened to become a distraction to administration officials who were gearing up to defend the health law against attack by the new Republican majority in the House.
Although the health care bill signed into law in March did not mention end-of-life planning, the topic was included in a huge Medicare regulation setting payment rates for thousands of physician services. The final regulation was published in the Federal Register in late November. The proposed rule, published for public comment in July, did not include advance care planning.
An administration official, authorized by the White House to explain the mix-up, said Tuesday, “We realize that this should have been included in the proposed rule, so more people could have commented on it specifically.”
“We will amend the regulation to take out voluntary advance care planning,” the official said. “This should not affect beneficiaries’ ability to have these voluntary conversations with their doctors.”
The November regulation was issued by Dr. Donald M. Berwick, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and a longtime advocate for better end-of-life care. White House officials who work on health care apparently did not focus on the part of the rule that dealt with advance care planning.
The decision to drop the reference to end-of-life care upset some officials at the Department of Health and Human Services, who said the administration ought to promote discussions of such care. Such discussions help ensure that patients get the care they want, the officials said.
During debate on the legislation, Democrats dropped a somewhat similar proposal to encourage end-of-life planning after it touched off a political storm. Republicans said inaccurately that the House version of the bill allowed a government panel to make decisions about end-of-life care for people on Medicare.
Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican vice-presidential candidate, said in the summer of 2009 that “Obama’s death panel” would decide who was worthy of health care. Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House Republican leader who is to become speaker on Wednesday, said the provision could be a step “down a treacherous path toward government-encouraged euthanasia.”
The health care bill passed by the House in 2009 allowed Medicare to pay doctors for discussions of end-of-life care, including advance directives, in which patients can indicate whether they want to forgo or receive aggressive life-sustaining treatment.
The provision for advance care planning was not included in the final health care overhaul signed into law by President Obama. Health policy experts assumed that the proposal had been set aside — until a similar idea showed up in the final Medicare regulation in November.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #2480 on: Jan 5th, 2011, 08:38am »
New York Times
January 5, 2011 European Shares Slip as Jobs Report Looms By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
European stocks mostly fell Wednesday as investors booked profits ahead of a raft of potentially significant economic data over the rest of the week, culminating with Friday’s jobs report.
A forecast-busting jobs survey in the United States sent the dollar surging Wednesday but shares remained lower after a particularly strong run in recent weeks.
The reaction to the news from the ADP payrolls firm that the private sector in the United States added a 297,000 jobs during December — way up on November’s 92,000 and significantly ahead of market expectations for a 100,000 increase — was fairly muted. Investors remained wary of staking out fresh positions ahead of Friday’s official government jobs report.
In Europe, the FTSE 100 index in London was down 7.11 points, or 0.12 percent, while the DAX in Frankfurt fell 71.13 points, or 1 percent. The CAC 40 in Paris was 33.49 points, or 0.86 percent, lower.
Wall Street was poised for a retreat at the open after a fairly lackluster performance Tuesday.
The state of the American economy will likely to be the main talk in the markets for the rest of the week, right up to Friday’s nonfarm payrolls report for December — the data on jobs added or lost in the economy often set the stock market tone for a week or two after their release and the hope is that the recent improving economic signals are feeding through into jobs.
Though the ADP figures have not always been echoed in the government’s figures, analysts said they do augur well for this Friday’s nonfarm payrolls report. Ahead of the ADP figures, the consensus was that the Friday data would show that a total of 140,000 jobs were added during the month.
That was certainly been the reaction in currency markets, where the dollar enjoyed a bounce in the wake of the figures.
“The data is obviously very risk friendly, although the equity futures response has been small,” said Alan Ruskin, an analyst at Deutsche Bank. “The data is being taken as dollar positive.”
The dollar was up 1.1 percent at 82.90 yen while the euro was 1 percent lower at $1.3178. While the dollar has been enjoying strong support, the euro has been weighed down by a reminder that Europe’s debt crisis is a long way from being resolved.
Despite a run of positive news, the Federal Reserve is still maintaining its fairly cautious stance over the outlook.
The minutes to its December policy meeting — published Tuesday — showed that most of the rate-setting panel do not think that the recent improvement in economic conditions was sufficient to warrant any change in the asset purchase program.
Elsewhere, there was relief that debt-laden Portugal managed to raise 500 million euros, or $662 million, via the auction of six-month Treasury bills and that demand for the offering was relatively high at over 1.3 billion euros. However, Portugal had to pay a whopping interest rate of just under 3.7 percent to get the necessary backing, up from the 2 percent it paid in September.
The increase in the yield was anticipated as Portugal’s market rates have gone up over the last few months as the European debt crisis ratcheted up again, with Ireland eventually joining Greece in having to be bailed out by its partners in the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
“This is a major hike in cost — 80 percent,” a markets analyst at BGC Partners, David Buik, said.
The prevailing view in the markets is that Europe may be able to support Portugal but that a bailout of Spain would test the limits of the existing bailout fund, potentially putting the euro project itself in jeopardy if governments do not put up more cash. Spain accounts for around 10 percent of the euro zone economy, compared with the Greece, Ireland and Portugal, which account for around 2 percent each.
China is also in the spotlight as investors keep a close watch on Beijing for possible policy changes after an interest rate increase at the end of 2010.
China’s benchmark Shanghai Composite Index declined 0.5 percent to 2,838.59, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 0.4 percent to 23,757.82. Elsewhere in Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock average fluctuated after hitting a seven-month closing high Tuesday. It ended down 17.33 points, or 0.2 percent, at 10,380.77.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #2482 on: Jan 5th, 2011, 11:29am »
New York Times
January 5, 2011 Radical Cleric Returns to Iraq After Years in Iran By JOHN LELAND and ANTHONY SHADID
BAGHDAD — Moktada al-Sadr, the radical cleric whose followers waged deadly warfare against American troops after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s government in 2003, returned to Iraq on Wednesday after three years of voluntary exile in Iran. Mr. Sadr pursued clerical studies in Iran while avoiding an arrest warrant for the killing of a rival cleric in 2003.
In the Shiite holy city of Najaf, where Mr. Sadr appeared on Wednesday, a jubilant crowd of about 3,000 gathered outside his house to welcome him back. “Long live the leader,” some shouted.
The mercurial and enigmatic Mr. Sadr returns as a vastly different figure than the one who left three years ago, with a claim on the center of Iraqi political power. In last year’s national election his party, the Sadrist Trend, won 40 seats in Parliament, a show of strength and organization that party members said demonstrated their transition from a militia force to a mainstream political entity. Mr. Sadr’s surprise decision in August to throw support behind the bid of his longtime antagonist, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, for a second term as prime minister effectively decided the election in Mr. Maliki’s favor.
On Wednesday, it was unclear whether any criminal charges hung over Mr. Sadr’s return. Jawad Khadhum, a Sadrist member of Parliament, said that there was no warrant for the cleric’s arrest.
“That was just from the previous government to target the Sadrists, to take us away from the political process,” Mr. Khadhum said, adding, “we proved to everyone that we are an important part in Iraq and the political process.”
A lawmaker from Mr. Maliki’s winning bloc, Hussain al-Saffi, said the government had “no intention or tendency to raise any legal issues related to Mr. Moktada.”
Mr. Sadr’s surprise alliance with Mr. Maliki was widely believed to have been brokered by the Iranian government in order to create a ruling Shiite alliance in Iraq. Sadrist militias had fought lethal battles against Iraqi army troops sent against them by Mr. Maliki in 2008 in Baghdad and in Basra, Iraq’s second-largest city.
Mr. Sadr’s return has long been rumored. In the weeks before the election last March, many supporters were convinced that his journey back was imminent, in part to rally support before the vote. This time, the return came as a surprise, and most of his followers learned of his arrival from television. In Sadr City, a vast slum that bears the name of his father, one of Iraq’s most revered ayatollahs, reaction was muted to his return, coming as it did during a somber month in the Shiite calendar.
There were conflicting reports, too, on whether Mr. Sadr’s return was permanent or merely a visit. Even some of his supporters seemed unsure.
“It’s up to his eminence to stay permanently in Najaf or go back to Iran,” said Balqis al-Khafaji, a candidate with Sadr’s bloc in the election. “He knows which.”
Mr. Sadr remains a divisive presence here. More than Iraq’s political figures, he captured the voice of populist anger against the American invasion, as he antagonized foreign troops from the pulpit and on the battlefield. But to many, especially among Iraq’s Sunni minority, he remains synonymous with black-clad Shiite death squads that terrorized the country as it descended into a sectarian civil war in 2006 and 2007.
His return now, said Ahmed Abdul Khaliq, 58, a shop owner in Baghdad’s largely Sunni Adhamiya neighborhood, meant that Iraqi life “will disrupted again,” and that “the militias will return and dominate.” He added, “Spending three years in Iran will change him worse than before.”
Omar al-Jawoshy and Duraid Adnan contributed reporting.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #2483 on: Jan 5th, 2011, 11:34am »
Galactic Smash-Ups Leave Giant Black Holes Hungry By Lisa Grossman January 5, 2011 | 10:46 am Categories: Astronomy, Space
Image: A sample of the galaxies studied, sorted based on whether they show no signs of a recent merger (top row), minor signs (middle) or major disruptions (bottom). The black spot in the center of each galaxy ensured that the test was blind. The team blocked out the bright nuclei from active galaxies and added a spot to galaxies with dim centers, so the sorters couldn’t tell which was which. Credit: NASA, ESA, M. Cisternas (Max-Planck Institute for Astronomy)
Colliding galaxies don’t shake up enough food to feed enormous black holes lurking in their centers. A new study suggests that less violent events, like gravitational disturbances within the galaxy, are probably black holes’ primary source of fuel.
Almost every galaxy is centered on a supermassive black hole hundreds of millions of times more massive than the sun. Some of them, like the black hole at the center of the Milky Way, are relatively docile. But others draw a huge, hot disk of gas that glows white-hot just before it vanishes forever. These disks, called active galactic nuclei, can outshine the rest of the host galaxy.
Astronomers have suspected for decades that these ravenous black holes get their fuel from major mergers between two large galaxies. In all the chaos of a galactic pile-up, plenty of gas should get funneled toward the center and gobbled up, astronomers reasoned. Simulations have found that black holes and galaxies grow together. Some observations even suggested that galaxies with active galactic nuclei were slightly distorted, a sign of a recent collision.
“It’s totally intuitive,” said astrophysicist Knud Jahnke of the Max-Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Germany, a coauthor of the new study. “But it was a gut-feeling idea. In court you would say there was some circumstantial evidence for it, but no proof.”
Earlier studies looked only at galaxies with the brightest active nuclei, which could have biased their results, Jahnke said. They also didn’t compare active galaxies to those with quiet black holes.
In a paper to appear in the Jan. 10 Astrophysical Journal, Jahnke and colleagues selected galaxies from the COSMOS dataset, the largest continuous galaxy survey the Hubble Space Telescope has ever completed. The survey covered an area of the sky 10 times the size of the full moon, and found hundreds of thousands of galaxies.
The team chose 140 active galactic nuclei, or AGNs, by selecting galaxies that emit a lot of X-rays, which can pierce the galactic gas and dust that might otherwise block the nuclei from view. They then chose more than 1,200 inactive galaxies at the same distance and brightness levels to ensure all images were of the same quality.
Next, the astronomers checked the galaxies for the subtle signs of a recent galactic collision, such as a warped disk or a trailing tail of stars. Jahnke and nine other astronomers examined each galaxy by eye, a low-tech but reliable method of picking out galaxy shapes.
“There’s no magic algorithm that will tell you if a galaxy is merging,” said Mauricio Cisternas, a graduate student at the Max-Planck Institute and lead author of the paper. “The human brain is much better at these things than any algorithm you could write.”
The human galaxy sorters didn’t always agree on which galaxies were merger survivors, but they all found merging galaxies are no more likely to aggressively feed black holes at their hearts than ordinary galaxies. At least 75 percent of the active galaxies get their fuel somewhere else.
“We don’t observe more mergers in the AGN host galaxies,” Cisternas said. “From there it’s straightforward to infer that mergers are not triggering AGNs, and are not responsible for black-hole fueling.”
Instead, black holes could be fed by smaller mergers, like a large galaxy gobbing a smaller one. Or perhaps a series of gravitational disturbances, which Jahnke calls an “angular momentum transport chain,” could ferry fuel to the black hole over great distances.
“This is a significant step forward,” said galaxy astronomer Romeel Davé of the University of Arizona, who was not involved in the new study. “The fact that we can do this now is unique and new. This represents a significant addition to the literature for sure.”
There are two caveats, though. One is that black holes could start feeding long after a merger, when the galaxy’s shape has smoothed out. Cisternas and Jahnke said that’s unlikely, however, because so many of their galaxies had prominent spiral shapes, and mergers tend to destroy a galaxy’s spiral forever. But Davé is not so sure.
“Just because one sees spiral structure does not mean that you don’t have merger activity,” he said.
The second is that the new study used galaxies whose light is 8 billion years old when it reaches Earth. Galaxies farther away than that are too fuzzy to see, but black holes were growing fastest about 10 billion years ago. That’s when mergers may still have been an important source of food, Davé said.
An ongoing survey with Hubble’s new Wide-Field Camera 3 could see further and resolve the question.
“That sort of information will be coming down the line fairly soon,” Davé said.
Heres a thought on this wonderful nonsence page.Here on planet earth we are talking about climate change due to to much emissions of carbon dioxide being put in the air causing at this point in time Global warming.But with the pole reversal coming on this planet every 25000 years or so.If mars whos atmosphere is so full of carbon dioxide which would kill us.Could it be because when the meteor hit and wiped out the dinasaurs causing the sun to be blocked out and causing the deep freeze until we are and have been adding carbon dioxide to the planet which is to some heating up the planet over time maybe for the last 25000 years causing the great flood till it heated up.Could the same thing had happened on mars to were now that condition on that planet is so full of carbon dioxide and life as we know it may not exist anymore.Then heres another nonsense thought a race of beings being like us in some ways but much more intelligent with there technology sees the on coming doom of a world on a planet we call mars realizes that all life will be wipes out.So many many years ago they decide as we have done with many animals putting them on the endangered list to try to bring them back.But on mars they needed to leave the planet to be saved decide to bring life from the now doomed mars to here on earth.While on the planet mars the life there built places to live and worship and because of the material there built pyrmids even making a face out of stone facing the stars like a sphinx.Now being on this other planet taught by there anciesters do what they know and build the same type structures down here.Then as time went on others living in areas of wood built with that material and on and on to now pressed wood not timbers but nicely cut wood and brick.Yes nonsense is such a good thing to write about.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #2487 on: Jan 5th, 2011, 1:09pm »
Hawaii News Now
Hawaiian vacation not cheap, even for the President Posted: Jan 04, 2011 6:59 PM PST Updated: Jan 04, 2011 8:58 PM PST
HONOLULU (HawaiiNews Now) A Hawaiian holiday doesn't come cheap not even if you're the President.
At least one report tallies the Obama's vacation at almost $1.5 million dollars with taxpayers footing much of the bill.
The U.S. government accountability office, which keeps track of public funds and government spending, estimates the cost of a roundtrip flight from Andrews Airforce Base, just outside Washington D.C., to Hawaii alone is about a million dollars.
Then, you tack on costs for secret service, Honolulu police and emergency personnel, plus White House staff and it can all start adding up.
The White House and secret service won't disclose exact numbers or costs to taxpayers only saying it's on par with money spent on vacations by other presidents.
We do know that the President, some of his family members, and friends paid for two rental homes along Kailua beach this year.
They actually down-sized from last year when they used three rentals.
The new owner of one of the properties on Kailuana Place says his home usually goes for between $3,500 to $6,000 a night.
Two other homes next to those housed the secret service costs which, again, were picked up by the taxpayer.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #2488 on: Jan 5th, 2011, 1:43pm »
GREAT NEWS: Banks Cooking Up New Ways To Screw You by Henry Blodget Jan. 5, 2011, 2:37 PM
Aaron Task and I had a good rant on TechTicker this morning about the new bank fees... (See video below).
Two years after reckless lending by the big banks nearly destroyed the U.S. economy, regulators have begun placing minor restrictions on how the banks can make money.
So the banks, not surprisingly, are looking for new ways to make money. And that means new fees. Paid by you.
Specifically, the regulators have decided to limit the amount banks can charge merchants for processing debit-card transactions. According to one research firm, this will cost the banks nearly $10 billion in annual revenue. So the banks are thinking of making up the lost revenue by charging consumers annual debit-card usage fees instead.
Banks are also thinking of putting new fees on checking accounts. And limiting the number of transactions you can make a day. And limiting the size of purchases you can make. And eliminating rewards programs.
The banks are entitled to do all this, of course: They can charge whatever they want to charge for their services.
But that doesn't mean you have to pay up.
Given the massive profits the banking industry is churning out, the banks obviously don't need these new fees to survive. That means there's an opportunity for new banks to enter the market, offering banking services the way they ought to be--without a zillion nickel-and-dime charges.
What this country needs is a Wal-mart of banking: A company committed to offering low prices and solid service every day. And that, of course, is why the banking industry is fighting hard to make sure that Walmart is not allowed to offer banking services.
At the very least, the new fees are annoying. And banks are certainly profitable enough. So if Wal-mart can't give the country what it wants, here's hoping some entrepreneurs will answer the call. (BankSimple...we're looking at you).
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #2489 on: Jan 5th, 2011, 3:38pm »
It's been 3 short years!!:
The Sarasota Herald Tribune
Don’t bother the media with science
by Billy Cox January 5th, 2011 12:24pm
It’s broken-record time again, but there’s no getting around it. Three years ago this Saturday, the arguably most well-documented UFO drama of the 21st century unfolded above the Stepheville region of central Texas. With residents reporting a Hollywood-sized thingamajig shadowing the sleepy cow town and provoking a high-speed jet fighter chase, national and international media scrambled to the scene. After initially stating eyewitnesses were wrong because there weren’t any warplanes in the local skies that night, Carswell AFB near Fort Worth admitted days later that 10 F-16s were conducting the proverbial routine training missions, even as they strayed out of their military operating area. But its explanations never confronted the UFO head-on.
(The news media invaded Stephenville three years ago, but when MUFON used federal records to produce a scientific analysis six months later, the Fourth Estate disappeared.)
What made this incident truly exceptional was the subsequent analysis posted by Mutual UFO Network investigators. Using FOIA-acquired data from five civilian ground locations, Glen Schulze and Robert Powell recovered 2.8 million radar hits between 4 and 8 p.m. that profiled the object’s journey along a route that ended just outside the no-fly zone surrounding President Bush’s Western White House in Crawford.
So let’s see a show of hands. How many of you have bothered to read this 77-page report? You really should. It’s a demanding document, highly technical and detailed, but that’s the whole point, and it made a sick joke of a military PIO’s attempts to dismiss it as “speculative.” Caught with their pants down, multiple air bases refused to answer direct questions — “Did you have aircraft flying within 50 miles of Stephenville, Tex., on Jan. 8, 2008?” — with yes or no answers and uniformly replied “We have found no records responsive to your request.”
De Void has since approached UFO skeptics who decry a lack of evidence — from former NASA historian Steven Dick to SETI astronomer Seth Shostak — to comment on MUFON’s exhaustive research. Invariably, not a one is familiar with it. And the mainstream media, so eager to interview eyewitnesses three Januarys ago, ignored the MUFON analysis when it went online the following July.
Three years later, co-author Powell, the semiconductor engineer and MUFON research director who requested but received nary a shred of military radar data, sounds resigned to America’s inept mode of media inquiry, whether it’s UFOs or anything else.
“The media isn’t big on details, and it buys into authority figures way too readily,” he says from his home in Austin, Tex. “A good example is the Patriot Act. They bought into the title, but it has nothing to do with patriotism. It takes away the civil liberties of Americans.”
With the absentee press unable or unwilling to shine a light on the MUFON data, there’s no incentive for scientists like Shostak and Dick to become conversant, either. And, according to Powell, the lack of accountability enables the extended complacency of a world view that UFO data increasingly appears to contradict.
“I think there’s two things going on,” Powell says. “For a certain percentage of scientists, simply looking at the evidence equates to a belief in little green men. But we’ve discovered more than 500 extrasolar planets, and inevitably we’re going to find those with water and all the conditions for life as we know it. So we have your Seth (Shostak)-like guys who say, well OK, but we don’t have the faintest possibility of traveling to the nearest star, so nobody else does, either.
“It reminds me of the arguments they were having about whether the Earth was the center of the universe.” Will this constipated impasse never end?