Friday, July 31, 2009

Bad insurance comapny!!...bad, soup for you!

The best weapon the Republicans have for 2010?

Nancy Pelosi.

Well, of course, Reid, Dodd, Waxman, and Franks too.

Can't leave them out.

This all smells of desperation, doesn't it?

Pelosi lashes out against insurance companies

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday ramped up her criticism of insurance companies, accusing them of unethical behavior and working to kill a plan to create a new government-run health plan.

"It's almost immoral what they are doing," Pelosi said to reporters, referring to insurance companies. "Of course they've been immoral all along in how they have treated the people that they insure," she said, adding, "They are the villains. They have been part of the problem in a major way. They are doing everything in their power to stop a public option from happening."

The best gang that can't shoot straight...EVAH!


I liked the comment "If they can't administer a program like this, I'd be a little concerned about my health insurance,"

So true, just ask any vet who has to use a V.A. hospital.

Gee, what could go wrong?

Government Suspends 'Clunkers' Program

At Current Rate, Giving Out $3,500 Or $4,500 Per Vehicle Would Burn Through $1 Billion Allocated In No Time

NYC Car Dealers: How Could Obama Administration Mess This Up?

New York (CBS) "Cash for Clunkers" came to a screeching halt Thursday, after only six days on the road.

In a shocker, the government announced it would suspend the program at midnight because demand was too great.

It may have been the best $1 billion the government has spent so far this year.

Business was humming at Crestmont Toyota/Volkswagen Thursday night as salespeople rushed back to work on news that the government's "Cash for Clunkers" program was being suspended.

It's the deal where you get up to $4,500 for your older low mileage beast if you buy a new car with more efficient fuel consumption.

On Thursday night we learned the program was only good until midnight, all because of a backlog of red tape. So the salespeople were trying to get their deals through the government's Web site.

"People are loving it. It's wonderful. It's a great stimulus package," salesman Andy Beloff said.

But when asked if the government was running the program well, Beloff said, "No. No."

The dealership's lot had roughly 40 clunkers waiting to be shipped to the junkyard. Each one has already been replaced by a brand new lower mileage car. The program only started last Friday. It's a victim of its own success.

But the money may be running out faster than anyone imagined.

With almost 23,000 deals already processed and tens of thousands more in the pipeline, it's possible the $1 billion allocated for the program might have already run out and into the pockets of people like Christie Acosta, who knew a good deal when she saw one.

"I had a 1987 Ford Explorer. We had it for a while and I was ready to get rid of it," Acosta said.

For the economy it's good news, but the government's miscalculation has some a little nervous.

"These are just the deals we have to submit tonight," Crestmont president Bill Strauss said while holding a stack of papers. He said the dealership has over $100,000 on the table.

"If they can't administer a program like this, I'd be a little concerned about my health insurance," car salesman Rob Bojaryn said.

The "Clunkers" program was being administered by the National Highway Safety Administration, which has seemed overwhelmed from the get-go. Some in Congress are expected to push for expansion of the $1 billion budget on Friday.

If you have a "Clunkers" deal in the works, don't worry. The government said Thursday any transactions already made between dealers and consumers will be honored.

Far-far South Side of Chicago?


Did Chicago come and visit the North East Side of San Antonio last night?

Two people shot on N.E. Side
By Valentino Lucio - Express-News

A teenage girl and a man were critically injured Thursday evening after they were shot on the city's North East Side, police said.

Police responded around 7 p.m. to the 8000 block of Midcrown for a group of about 20 people fighting, officials said. When police arrived at the scene an approximately 13-year-old girl and a 28-year-old man were seriously wounded after being shot, officials said. The two victims were taken to area hospitals in critical condition, police said.

Several individuals were being questioned about the shooting and the two victim's condition was unknown late Thursday.

No further information was available Thursday night.

Safety is the number one concern

Having come to Comal County from Bexar County I have always been struck by the lack of security in the Courthouses here.

This is a concern for all who work here and to the public that come here for jury duty or whatever. I am grateful that the Commissioner's Court is addressing these concerns in the proposed new Justice Center.

Security concerns point to justice center
- The Herald-Zeitung

Commissioners heard of a grave security situation in Comal County’s current court system Thursday.

Discussion of the proposed Comal County Justice Center continued at Commissioner’s Court.

The new center — a proposed three-story, $36 million, 90,000 square-foot facility — is planned to sit along Seguin Avenue between Zink and Bridge streets. It eventually would house the district attorney’s office, district court, the county court-at-law and the district clerk’s office.

Court bailiffs Daniel Flusion and Vannie Malloy led Thursday morning’s discussion on security.

“There are six courtrooms in our current courthouse complex...” Malloy said. “There are numerous public entrances to these complexes. It’s next to impossible to screen that many entrances ... In some of these entrances, there’s absolutely no screening before the public reaches officials or employees.”

This creates a major security risk, he said.

The way prisoners are handled creates another risk, Flusion told commissioners.

“The holding cells are within the district courts...” Flusion said. “We’re dealing with the Mexican Mafia, murderers and child molesters, as well as those who committed misdemeanors ... There are places where these prisoners have to be moved right past the public ... This is the worst-case scenario. This is really the worst way to do this.”

Things have to change, Malloy said. He laid out how the proposed justice center would increase security measures.

“The new justice center will have the six courtrooms all in the same building...” he said. “There will be only one public entrance and everybody headed in the entrance will be screened. We’ll have X-rays and metal detectors, and we’ll screen everyone.”

The building’s holding cells would be in a basement area. Elevators would take prisoners up from the cells to a staging area behind courtrooms where their trials would be held, Flusion explained.

“The prisoners never come in contact with the public,” he said.

Comal County Judge Danny Scheel offered his support of the building.

“I hate to spend $40 million of your tax dollars on this just to protect us from the people that can’t follow our laws,” Scheel said. “But I see this as necessary ... I sometimes look out my window when they’re taking a prisoner into court and I see five guards ... around the van. I know if there’s a situation, bullets could fly.”

Commissioner Greg Parker also voiced his support.

“The security situation is intolerable, and it’s high time we get it fixed,” Parker said.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

People are nuts

More crazy criminal stuff.

This is a weird summer.

Baby girl cut from mom's womb is found; 2 arrested

WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) - A baby girl cut from her mother's womb was found and a woman arrested after acquaintances became suspicious of her claims that she had just given birth, police said.

The body of the girl's mother was found Monday in a closet at her Worcester apartment. It was not until an autopsy that authorities discovered the fetus was missing.

The girl appeared to be in "fairly good health" at a New Hampshire hospital Wednesday, Worcester Police Sgt. Kerry Hazelhurst said.

Julie Corey, 35, of Worcester, Mass., and a male companion were arrested in Plymouth, N.H., where police found them with the child. Corey was charged as a fugitive from justice and is to be arraigned in district court in Concord, N.H., on Thursday. She was in custody and could not be reached for comment late Wednesday, and Worcester police did not know whether she had a lawyer. Police in New Hampshire said the man was released.

Corey told acquaintances that she delivered the baby sometime late Thursday or early Friday at an undisclosed hospital, and by later Friday was showing the newborn off to acquaintances, police said.

"Some friends became a little concerned about how she got home so early after just giving birth," Hazelhurst said.

Police said Corey had reportedly gone to New Hampshire to relocate. A newspaper report said she arrived at a Plymouth homeless shelter Tuesday night. She told workers there that the girl was 6 days old and identified herself as the mother but had no information on the child, according to the Union Leader in New Hampshire.

Corey was arrested Wednesday as she tried to leave the shelter with the infant after workers alerted police and a nurse began photographing the baby with her cell phone, the report said.

The baby's mother, Darlene Haynes, was eight months pregnant. Her body was found by her landlord, William Thompson, who said a "horrifying smell" led him to her apartment, where he found her body wrapped in bedding in a closet. Her death was ruled a homicide.

"It's horrific," Thompson said Wednesday. "There's no words to describe what's going on in this building today."

The exact cause of Haynes' death has yet to be determined pending toxicology tests, but Worcester said the autopsy indicated Haynes suffered head injuries.

Police said the 23-year-old had apparently been dead for several days, and that she hadn't contacted family or friends since Thursday.

Haysha Toledo, a 17-year-old neighbor, said neighbors used to hear fighting from the apartment Haynes shared until recently with her boyfriend, Roberto Rodriguez.

"We used to hear her crying and screaming but no one ever really did anything," Toledo said, adding that neighbors did not want to get involved.

Haynes had a restraining order against Rodriguez, who allegedly pushed her into a glass table in June and cut her arm, then grabbed her by the throat and slapped her, according to court records. Court records also showed Rodriguez was charged with hitting Haynes in 2008 in a case that was continued without a finding.

In June, Haynes described the 24-year-old Rodriguez as her boyfriend of several years. Her landlord said Rodriguez moved out of the apartment last month.

Rodriguez was interviewed by authorities. He told WCVB-TV that Haynes was "a nice girl."

"She had her problems, you know, but nobody deserves to go (through) what she went through," he said.

Family members said she had three other children.

Her youngest, an 18-month-old girl, is in state custody, according to Department of Children and Families spokeswoman Alison Goodwin. Family members had been looking after her.

Karl Whitney, Haynes' uncle who is acting as a spokesman for the family, said Haynes' grandmother, Joanne Haynes, is raising the two other children, Jasmine, 5, and Lillian, 3.

He told the Telegram & Gazette that Haynes had picked the name Sheila Marie for her fourth child.

The Chicago way

Wow, its like Chicago in the 'Roaring 20's' all over again.

Get Elliot Ness!

More Than A Dozen Shot In Chicago Overnight
7 Victims In One Attack; Total Of 15 Hurt Over Four Hours

Chicago (CBS) - At least 15 people were shot and wounded in Chicago overnight, seven of them in a single incident on the city's West Side.

In that incident, police were called to the scene of a shooting at Walnut Street and Homan Boulevard at 10:43 p.m.

Seven people were shot, according to Fire Media Affairs Dir. Larry Langford, who said six people were initially hospitalized in critical condition and one person, an adult man, was taken in stable condition after suffering a graze wound.

One person was found shot inside a grocery store and the six others were found within a half-block radius of the store, Langford said.

All victims were male, Langford said. They ranged in age from 15 to 28, and were taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, St. Anthony Hospital and Stroger Hospital of Cook County for treatment of their wounds.

The shooter or shooters are unknown early Wednesday and no one is in custody, police said.

About an hour earlier, three people -- including a woman standing with her baby in a stroller -- were shot within 20 minutes in separate incidents on the South and West sides.

In the South Shore neighborhood about 9:30 p.m., a 22-year-old man was shot in the hand and suffered a minor head wound at 7700 S. Avalon Ave., Langford said.

The shooting was preceded by a carjacking more than two hours earlier in the 8800 block of South Parnell Avenue, when five suspects approached the victim and physically removed him from his vehicle at gunpoint, according to police News Affairs.

The suspects then put him in their vehicle and took him to his residence, where they stole his TVs. After the robbery, they drove the victim to the Avalon Avenue address where they beat him and then shot him as he ran away, News Affairs said.

The man was taken to Stroger Hospital of Cook County in stable condition, Langford said.

At 9:31 p.m. near the intersection of King Drive and 64th Street in the Woodlawn neighborhood, a 25-year-old woman was shot.

She was standing outside with her baby in a stroller talking to friends on the grounds of a gated housing development when three males wearing black hoodies burst out of a nearby Auto Zone store and opened fire, according to a Grand Crossing District police captain.

The woman -- who was not the target of the shooting -- then felt a sharp pain in her lower right leg and discovered she was shot, according to the captain, who said the baby was fine and no one else was shot.

The woman was taken to University of Chicago Hospitals in good condition, according to the captain and Langford.

In a third shooting, a 22-year-old man walked into Loretto Hospital with a gunshot wound to the ankle after being shot at 165 N. Laporte Ave. in the West Side's Austin neighborhood about 9:50 p.m, Langford said. Police News Affairs Officer Ron Gaines said the shooting possibly happened during a robbery and that the victim was in good condition at the hospital.

But even after all that, the violence wasn't over.

At 11:02 p.m., two men were shot as they sat on a porch at 3037 S. Springfield Ave. in the Little Village neighborhood. They were shot by members of a rival gang who came by on foot, police said.

One victim was shot in the chest and the other was shot in the eye and both went to Mount Sinai Hospital in stable condition, according to Gaines, who said the injuries did not appear to be life-threatening.

Not long afterward, a man was hit by gunfire in the 4200 block of South Wells Street, when two other males began shooting about 11:20 p.m., according to a report from police News Affairs. The victim was hit in the leg and taken in stable condition at Provident Hospital of Cook County, the report said.

Farther south, a teenage boy was shot and wounded late Tuesday while walking in the 10700 block of South Champlain Avenue about 11:50 p.m. The shooting was a drive-by, and police are looking for a white GMC.

he teen was hit in his right side and is in good condition at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, police News Affairs said. Detectives said the victim was treated and released from Christ.

In another incident, a man was shot and critically wounded at 7211 S. Cornell Ave. in the South Shore neighborhood. He was shot and wounded in the chest and upper shoulder at 1:19 a.m., police said.

The man had been sitting inside his car -- where investigators found blood -- but he was found shot on the street about four doors down, according to police. He was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in critical condition.

For sale, everything goes

Wow, this is just very sad. How much stuff did she have in there for them to take sevral visits and cleaning out her stuff before she was found?

Shopaholic died under purchases

The body of an elderly shopaholic was found underneath a pile of clothing and other items after she died of natural causes, an inquest heard.

Joan Cunnane's bungalow was so crammed with purchases it took five visits to the house before she was found.

She had refused to let her friends into the house in Heaton Mersey, Stockport Magistrates' Court was told.

Her friend Roy Moran said the 77-year-old started shopping to escape youths who once plagued her home.

Mr Moran told the court: "She said it gave her pleasure to buy things, she only bought things she really liked."

Mr Moran last saw his friend on Christmas Day 2008 when they had lunch together.

'Substantial pile'

He visited her bungalow in Rosgill Close four days later and found the side door ajar, but the premises was stacked from floor to ceiling with "bric-a-brac".

"He couldn't see her anywhere and got no response," said coroner John Pollard.

Mr Moran said he visited Miss Cunnane's house on three occasions without seeing her.

Concerned neighbours called police on 6 January but the first search of her bungalow was unsuccessful because of "the large amount of personal property and papers within", Det Insp Kevin Dolan said in a statement.

Police returned the next day with a truck and a skip to clear it out and conduct a second search.

Det Insp Dolan said Ms Cunnane's body was found in a bedroom "under a substantial pile of clothing and other items".

Pathologist Philip Lumb said Miss Cunnane died as a result of bronchial pneumonia, and also had cancer.

Coroner Mr Pollard recorded a verdict of death by natural causes.

Maybe baby is the other white meat?

Its like a frickin' Zombie attack out there.

Children killed, brains eaten, babies bitten.

WTF? Stay in groups and protect yourselves.

Father sent to prison for biting infant
By Craig Kapitan - Express-News

A young father was sentenced to five years in prison this week for an incident two years ago in which he admitted to biting his infant daughter repeatedly on the back.

Anthony Miranda, 20, told police in May 2007 that he bit the 5-week-old after a fight with her mother. Investigators took pictures of the bloody indentations on the infant's back.

Doctors also determined that the child had multiple broken bones, a fractured skull and bleeding of the brain — the result, perhaps, of being shaken or slammed, according to court documents. Miranda declined responsibility for the other injuries.

“I am not a bad person and I don't have a bad temper,” Miranda wrote in a statement to police. In another part of the statement, which was subsequently crossed out, Miranda wrote: “The only thing I did to the baby was I bit her, but not hard enough to make the marks on (her) back.”

Injury to a child is a third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Darwinism at work?

Just call me suspicious.

A 17 year old manages to shoot himself and the gun disappears?

What are the chances the gun was stolen from somewhere or used in a crime?

I'd say pretty high.

Teen accidentally shoots himself

By Jeremy Boucher - Express-News

A 17-year-old accidentally shot himself in the hand and the leg Wednesday afternoon on the city's East Side, police said.

The unidentified teen was either playing with the gun or trying clear a jam when the gun discharged a single round that grazed his left pinky and hit his left thigh, authorities said.

The teen was taken to University Hospital with non-life threatening injuries, police said. He was visiting a friend in the 300 block of Vargas Alley when the incident occurred, officials said.

Police have not yet found the gun and no charges will be filed against the victim.

Put down the phone and take a step back

Many years ago I was stopped for construction on I-10 as traffic backed up. I got rear ended about 15 seconds or so after stopping by a driver talking on his cell phone. After bouncing between his car, the car in front of me and then his car again, I had gotten knocked unconscious.

How did I know he had been on the phone? I looked in my rear view mirror as he came around the curve in the road and saw him with a phone to his ear.

Hospital etc. the usual stuff, and several years later still back and neck pains from the herniated discs in neck and back.

Get off the phone and drive also DO NOT TEXT, JEEZE!!

The dangers of texting


Marissa Kirsh doesn’t have her license yet.

The 15-year-old does have a cell phone, and her dad has made it clear that when she does get that license in December, she is not to be texting while driving.

“I told her not to do it; she is not even allowed to talk on the phone while she's driving,” said Gary Kirsh, who accompanied Marissa Wednesday morning to the Texas Department of Public Safety office to get a replacement for a lost permit. “She is to pull over or wait until she gets to her destination.”

That logic is also pushing legislation on Capitol Hill, and prompted Democratic lawmakers to call Wednesday for a nationwide ban on texting while driving.

The “ALERT Drivers” Act would require states to bar the sending of text or e-mail messages while operating a vehicle, according to a press release issued by Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who is sponsoring the bill with the support of Democratic senators Charles Schumer of New York, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, and Kay Hagan of North Carolina.

The act also would withhold federal highway money from states that do not comply within two years of the bill's passage.

“Texting while driving should be illegal on every road, every railway, in every state,” said Menendez in the release. “iPhones, Sidekicks and Blackberries are indispensable devices, but while they make our lives so much easier, the make driving that much harder.”

Fourteen states have laws in place addressing the issue; Texas prohibits only school bus and novice drivers from texting while driving. The bill would restrict drivers from texting only while driving, not when they are stopped, and does not apply to passengers.

The motivating factor for the legislation lies within a Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study released yesterday. The study found operators of motor vehicles had a collision risk 23 times greater when they where texting. Additionally, the American Medical Association declared texting while driving is a public health risk, saying the activity causes a 400 percent increase in time spent looking away from the road, according to the release.

Melanie Mooney, a public relations senior at Texas State University in San Marcos, said though she texts while driving, she understands the dangers involved and has tried to limit her usage.

“I've actually cut back since I moved to San Marcos because of all the bicyclists and pedestrians,” she said. “I don't think the government should withhold highway funds as a penalty for states that do not comply, but I can see how a law, if enforced, could be a useful deterrent.”

Within six months of the bill's passage, states would have two years to comply or risk losing 25 percent of their annual highway funding each year, according to the release.

Local police officials acknowledged the hazards of texting while driving, saying anything that takes a driver's eyes off the road increases the potential for accidents.

“We encourage our driving public to take all the precautions they can to prevent accidents,” New Braunfels Police Chief Ron Everett said in response to the legislation. “We will support any effort that improves the safety of drivers.”

CCSO Lt. Mark Reynolds agreed, speaking from his personal experience as a law enforcement officer.

“Texting diverts your attention from possible road hazards or traffic conditions that may put you in a position where your attention in not focused where it needs to be,” he said.

Canyon Lake broker Nancy L. Melenyzer, who accompanied a friend to the DPS office, admitted ruefully she had tried texting while driving.

“I swerved all over the place,” Melenyzer said. “It's worse than cell phones. I think it will be a great law.”

Caution, train crossing

Please do not go around train barriers.

God rest her soul. My condolences to her family.

Hays County wreck victim identified


Authorities identified the victim of a Hays County train collision that killed a woman Tuesday on Centerpoint Road.

Carol Sager King, 70, died after she attempted to drive around a railroad barricade and was broad-sided by an oncoming train at around 3:30 p.m. on Centerpoint Road, according to Department of Public Safety officials in Austin.

DPS sources said King’s 2002 Buick four-door was headed westbound on Centerpoint, close to 100 yards from Interstate 35, when she maneuvered around the railroad gates and was struck by a Union Pacific train. King, a resident of San Marcos, died at the scene.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I need money!!

He needed a stimulus bailout.

Detroit man who says stress led him to rob banks sentenced
by Ed White - Associated Press

A Detroit man who began robbing banks to fix his mother’s plumbing has been sentenced to just two years in prison, a significant break.

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman says Jimmie Lee Fortune was an “outstanding citizen” before he turned to robbery last year.

The 29-year-old Fortune pleaded guilty in March to stealing nearly $14,000 from five banks in suburban Detroit. Prosecutors agreed not to charge him with three more.

Fortune’s sentencing range was approximately five years to six years in prison. But the guidelines are not mandatory, and the judge settled on two years today.

Fortune says he robbed the first bank to fix his mother’s plumbing and get his driver’s license reinstated. He says he continued robbing banks because he was “stressed.”

All a twitter

Be careful what you twitter someone may be listening.

Uptown resident sued for Twitter post

Chicago (STNG)- A woman living in the North Side Uptown neighborhood is being sued for allegedly posting on her Twitter account a "tweet" that accuses her management company of being OK with moldy apartments.

Horizon Group Management sued Amanda Bonnen Monday for publishing a false and defamatory tweet on Twitter May 12.

According to the suit filed Monday in Cook County Circuit Court Bonnen wrote an update that said "Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon realty thinks it's okay."

Because Bonnen's Twitter account is set to "public," everyone following on Twitter can view the defamatory statement, the suit said.

Bonnen was living at an apartment managed by Horizon Group Management at 4242 N. Sheridan Rd.

Horizon Group Management has been greatly injured in its reputation as a landlord in Chicago because of Bonnen's Tweet, the suit said.

The suit seeks an excess of $50,000 in damages.

That's a wrap

Job well done, Sammy.

Local man gets 30 years for sexual assault

- The Herald-Zeitung

A New Braunfels man accused of sexually assaulting a child at least 10 times entered a plea bargain Tuesday.

Mark Norris, 45, was convicted of 10 counts of sexual assault of a child and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Norris was arrested Feb. 20, 2008 after the victim came forth to police. She told authorities Norris had sexually assaulted her from March to December 2006, according to the indictment.

Norris’ family and friends packed the courtroom.

“I just want to thank the court ...” Norris’ former father-in-law Isaac Brooks said. “We look at what happened in our family ... the things we’ve gone through ... God has given us the strength to go on. Despite these difficult things, we’re all doing well. God forgives all sins ... Mark is forgiven, but not without these consequences.”

A jury of 11 men and one woman was picked Monday, but was sent home as soon as Ramsay entered into his plea.

Comal County Chief Felony Prosecutor Sammy McCrary said the plea deal had positive attributes attached to it.

“It’s another child molester off the streets and the victim did not have to testify ...” McCrary said. “It would have been hard for ... (the victim) to get up there on the stand and testify against him.”

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Other Breaking News:
Defendant Pleads

The defendant pleads guilty after jury selected and before trial starts this morning.

The defendant agreed to 30 years prison at TDCJ, he would not be eligible for parole until after serving 15 years. he would be approximately 60 years old at the time he could first be considered for parole.


The first Hispanic on the Supreme Court narrative is only true if you discount Benjamin Cardoza who was of Portuguese descent.

Congratulations (soon to be) Associate Justice Sotomayor!

BREAKING: Senate Judiciary Votes, 13-6, For Sotomayor

Along largely partisan lines, the Senate Judiciary Cmte backed SCOTUS appointee Sonia Sotomayor, Pres. Obama's first high court pick, this morning by a 13-6 vote.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was the only Republican to support Sotomayor. The Senate cmte's Dems voted unanimously for the Bronx native.

The full Senate will vote next, but with the Dems' 60-vote majority, Sotomayor's confirmation is all but a done deal. She will be the first individual of Hispanic heritage to sit on the SCOTUS.

Fat chance


Tax me because I'm fat? Oh well.

Why won't my health insurance cover by-pass surgery to help me lose weight when my doctors say its medically necessary, not cosmetic? I've lost 60 pounds or so but man its hard.

The tax will make my wallet thinner that's for sure.

Yeah I know, you're not sympathetic.

Tough love for fat people: Tax their food to pay for healthcare

LA Times-

When historians look back to identify the pivotal moments in the nation's struggle against obesity, they might point to the current period as the moment when those who influenced opinion and made public policy decided it was time to take the gloves off.

As evidence of this new "get-tough" strategy on obesity, they may well cite a study released today by the Urban Institute titled "Reducing Obesity: Policy Strategies From the Tobacco Wars."

In the debate over healthcare reform, the added cost of caring for patients with obesity-related diseases has become a common refrain: most recent is the cost-of-obesity study, also released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It finds that as obesity rates increased from 18.3% of Americans in 1998 to 25% in 2006, the cost of providing treatment for those patients' weight-driven problems increased healthcare spending by $40 billion a year.

If you happen to be the 1-in-3 Americans who is neither obese nor overweight (and, thus, considered at risk of becoming obese), you might well conclude that the habits of the remaining two-thirds of Americans are costing you, big time. U.S. life expectancies are expected to slide backward, after years of marching upward. (But that's their statistical problem: Yours is how to make them stop costing you all that extra money because they are presumably making poor choices in their food consumption.)

"Facing the serious consequences of an uncontrolled obesity epidemic, America's state and federal policy makers may need to consider interventions every bit as forceful as those that succeeded in cutting adult tobacco use by more than 50%," the Urban Institute report says. It took awhile -- almost 50 years from the first surgeon general's report on tobacco in 1964 -- to drive smoking down. But in many ways, the drumbeat of scientific evidence and the growing cultural stigma against obesity already are well underway -- as any parent who has tried to bring birthday cupcakes into her child's classroom certainly knows.

Key among the "interventions" the report weighs is that of imposing an excise or sales tax on fattening foods. That, says the report, could be expected to lower consumption of those foods. But it would also generate revenues that could be used to extend health insurance coverage to the uninsured and under-insured, and perhaps to fund campaigns intended to make healthy foods more widely available to, say, low-income Americans and to encourage exercise and healthy eating habits.

If anti-tobacco campaigns are to be the model, those sales taxes could be hefty: The World Health Organization has recommended that tobacco taxes should represent between two-thirds and three-quarters of the cost of, say, a package of cigarettes; a 2004 report prepared for the Department of Agriculture suggested that, for "sinful-food" taxes to change the way people eat, they may need to equal at least 10% to 30% of the cost of the food.

And although 40 U.S. states now impose modest extra sales taxes on soft drinks and a few snack items, the Urban Institute report suggests that a truly forceful "intervention" -- one that would drive down the consumption of fattening foods and, presumably, prevent or reverse obesity -- would have to target pretty much all the fattening and nutritionally empty stuff we eat: "With a more narrowly targeted tax, consumers could simply substitute one fattening food or beverage for another," the reports says.

Of course, the United States also would have to adopt extensive menu- and food-labeling changes that would make "good foods" easily distinguishable from the bad ones subject to added taxes. Not to worry though: Several European countries, most notably Great Britain, have led the way in this area.

And here's the payoff: Conservatively estimated, a 10% tax levied on foods that would be defined as "less healthy" by a national standard adopted recently in Great Britain could yield $240 billion in its first five years and $522 billion over 10 years of implementation -- if it were to begin in October 2010. If lawmakers instituted a program of tax subsidies to encourage the purchase of fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, the added revenue would still be $356 billion over 10 years.

That would pay for a lot of healthcare reform, which some have estimated will cost as much as $1 trillion to implement over the next ten years.

There can be little doubt that lobbyists for the food, restaurant and grocery industries would come out swinging on any of these proposals. But the report cites evidence of a turning political tide for proposals that would hold the obese and other consumers of nutritionally suspect food accountable for their choices. A recent national poll found that 53% of Americans said they favored an increased tax on sodas and sugary soft drinks to help pay for healthcare reform. And even among those who opposed such an idea, 63% switched and said they'd favor such a tax if it "would raise money for health-care reform while also tackling the problems that stem from being overweight."

-- Melissa Healy

Pineapple express derailed

Man that is a bunch of weed to be growing in your house.

You think??

Police seize $2 million in 'hydro' pot
By Michelle Mondo - Express-News

One man was arrested Monday night in what police are calling one of the largest hydroponic marijuana busts in recent memory.

San Antonio Police Sgt. Chris Benavides said that around 8 p.m. the narcotics unit served a search warrant at a two-story home in the 9400 block of Adams Hill Drive on the city's far West Side.

Inside, police found an elaborate hydroponic lab with at least 350 plants that were valued at an estimated $2 million.

The name and age of the man arrested was not released but he is facing federal drug charges because of the amount of pot seized, officials said. They noted that the reason the estimate is so high is because hydroponic marijuana, which is grown in water, is considered high grade.

Benavides said it appears the man is a mid-level supplier, but there was no information so far that he was affiliated with any gangs.

Even before the plants were removed, the smell of marijuana was apparent when standing on the sidewalk outside the home.

Across the street, a small crowd gathered and applauded as the cops removed the drugs and paraphernalia from the house.

Murder it would seem

Arrested for tampering/fabricating evidence, I would think it will be changed to murder.

Its the heat I'm telling you.

Not to make light of this situation but people are acting strangely.

Body found in local apartment


An employee of the Landmark Lofts and Garden Apartments was in jail Monday after police discovered the body of a dead woman in his second-story apartment.

After a short stand-off Monday morning and subsequent search of Daniel Ramos’ apartment, officials from New Braunfels Police Department said officers found the body of a 34-year-old woman with a single gunshot wound to the chest.

The 36-year-old Ramos, a maintenance worker at the apartment complex, was detained after a brief negotiation with police and NBPD’s emergency response team at around 9 a.m. He was arrested and charged with tampering with or fabricating evidence, a second degree felony, and was booked in Comal County Jail late Monday. He was being held without bond.

The identity of the victim was being withheld by police until the family was notified. No one had been charged with causing her death as of late Monday.

NBPD officials said officers initially responded to a “welfare concern” and possible shooting at around 9 a.m. at Ramos’ upstairs apartment in building seven at the Landmark. NBPD spokesman Lt. Mike Penshorn said Ramos cooperated with a negotiation and was detained by police.

He said officers then searched the apartment and discovered the woman’s body.

A neighbor, who wished not to be identified, said they heard loud banging and stomping coming from the apartment in the early morning hours on Monday and thought to call the police, but ultimately chose not to.

“If I would have called police, I might have saved her life,” said the neighbor.

Other residents at the Landmark said they also heard a disturbance early Monday, but described Ramos as a generally easygoing person who lived alone, and said they didn’t remember any previous incidents involving police ever happening at his apartment.

Management at the complex did not wish to comment.

Laid to rest, but not forgotten

Rest in peace, Corporal Lara.

Rest assured, you will not be forgotten.

Day is done ...
Gone the sun ...
From the lakes ...
From the hills ...
From the sky ...
All is well ...
Safely rest ...
God is nigh...

Fading light ...
Dims the sight ...
And a star ...
Gems the sky...
Gleaming bright ...
From afar...
Drawing nigh ...
Falls the night ..

Thanks and praise ...
For our days ...
Neath the sun ...
Neath the stars ...
Neath the sky ...
As we go ...
This we know ...
God is nigh ...

'Rest in peace, soldier'


Scores lined Landa Street and Loop 337 Monday to pay respect to Marine Lance Corporal Brandon T. Lara as his funeral procession traveled to Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.

“Rest in peace, soldier,” one resident murmured as Lara’s hearse passed on Landa Street.

Many held U.S. flags, and one gentleman brandished a large Marine Corps flag as the funeral procession left Zoeller Funeral Home about 9:30 a.m.

Firefighters and police officers directed traffic while others lined the streets.

Forty-one members of the Texas Patriot Guard Riders rode their motorcycles in the procession, and more than 20 others waited at the cemetery. They also brought large U.S. flags that members of Blue Star and Gold Star organizations held while lining the winding road inside the cemetery.

The Marine Honor Guard did not seem to sweat or flinch as it assisted in the burial despite the rapidly rising morning heat. In the somber atmosphere, the bugler pierced the air softly with a blue but proud tone that answered the 21-gun salute that preceded it.

The outpouring of community support Monday mirrored Sunday’s vigil along the route where Lara’s remains traveled from Randolph Air Force Base to New Braunfels.

“The ride bringing Brandon home from Randolph showed an outpouring of support,” said Charles Rathgeber, deputy state captain of the Texas Patriot Guard Riders and a Blue Star dad. “People stood all along [Highway] 78 and [Farm-to-Market] 3009... it was incredible; it was one of those rides” that makes a lasting impression.

After the funeral, Brandon’s uncle, Dionicio Torres, said, “It was good to see all the support out there... to see all the flags... you don’t always get to see how the community comes out.”

Sgt. Keith Berry, who wrote to the Herald-Zeitung to describe the events surrounding the transport of Lara’s remains from Kuwait to Qatar, wrote in a follow up, “I have never experienced anything like this as long as I have been in the military. I must say that everyone aboard the flight was moved by this experience as well.”

Berry is not a member of the Honor Guard or Mortuary Affairs. In fact, he and many other service members on the plane were on their way to Qatar for a few days of liberty. It was an unusual circumstance that Lara’s remains had to be flown in that manner, but those aboard were more than glad to escort him from a C-130 to the C-17 that brought him home, Berry said.

“As I write this letter to you, I noticed a soldier from my home town of Duncan, Okla., was killed in Afghanistan...,” Berry wrote. “My hometown is not large. I know how your community will be affected as my hometown will be devastated over the loss of our soldier as well. We must always remember the fallen service members.”

Governor Rick Perry announced that flags were to be returned from half staff to full staff once Lara’s burial was complete Monday.

Jury picked, testimony to begin

The last two of these types of cases netted the defendants 22 "stacked" life sentences.

Will the "beat" go on?

Jury picked in sexual assault case


Eleven men and one woman will determine this week whether a local man sexually assaulted a child at least 10 times.

Mark Norris, 45, was arrested Feb. 20, 2008, and charged with 10 counts of sexual assault of a child.

The victim came forth in January 2008, according to the indictment. She told police Norris had sexually assaulted her in New Braunfels from March to December 2006.

Comal County Chief Felony Prosecutor Sammy McCrary will read the jury that indictment at 9 a.m. today. Norris then will enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.

Judge Charles Ramsay of the 22nd Judicial District will preside over the trial.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Too stupid by half

I guess politicians whose sense of entitlement is outlandishly large is not just an American phenomenon.

I mean really? They don't rent cars in Spain? You can't use an embassy vehicle?

To top it off you fly, and your driver drives an empty car to Spain?

Maybe they were looking for new invasion routes?

German politicians get into hot water on holiday

One is in hot water after her car was stolen in Spain, another found himself in alligator-infested waters in Florida: the holiday season has been anything but relaxing for two German politicians.

Health Minister Ulla Schmidt was under fire on Sunday after it emerged that thieves had made off with her €90,000 official Mercedes S-class during her holiday on the Costa Blanca in eastern Spain.

The minister flew to Alicante at her own expense but her driver drove the 2,387 kilometres (1,483 miles) from Berlin to assist her in carrying out some official duties, prompting outrage from the press and rival politicians.

The head of campaign group "The Taxpayers' Union", Reiner Holznagel, told mass circulation newspaper Bild am Sonntag, "We want an explanation as to why her official car had to be taken some 5,000 kilometres across Europe. Taxpayers' money should not be used for the comfort of a minister."

Schmidt's spokeswoman said she intended to use the car only for official functions such as a meeting on Monday with Germans living in Spain, but the head of the parliamentary budget committee said she would have to explain why she did not use an embassy vehicle.

The press was kinder to the former Bavarian state premier, G√ľnther Beckstein, who said he "came within a whisker of being eaten by an alligator."

The 65-year-old was on a trip through the Florida everglades to observe alligators when their boat suddenly capsized. "Thank God no alligator attacked us," he told the Augsburger Allgemeine Zeitung.

He paid them back allright

Getting rid of debt the easy non-bankruptcy way.

Kill your creditors.

Drug debt cited in couple's slaying

AUSTIN – A 19-year-old marijuana dealer told Austin police that he fatally shot a Houston couple in their condominium near the University of Texas last week to avoid paying the male victim thousands of dollars in drug money.

Police charged James Richard “Ricky” Thompson, from the Austin area, with two counts of capital murder in the July 21 shooting deaths of Stacy Marie Barnett, 22, and John Forest Goosey, 21. Both victims had just earned degrees from UT.

Police said Sunday that it appears Goosey had been dealing marijuana for at least three years, and that Thompson owed him a substantial amount of money for drugs he had been given to sell.

“Thompson felt like he was at the end of his ability and, sadly, he felt like this was the only avenue of escape he could utilize,” Lt. Mark Spangler, head of the violent crimes unit, said.

Thompson became a suspect after cell phone records showed he called Goosey a short time before the murders, Spangler said. An anonymous tip confirmed that police were on the correct trail.

A search warrant was executed on Thompson's residence Friday, and he was initially charged with marijuana possession.

During interviews with police, Thompson admitted that Goosey had “fronted” him substantial amounts of marijuana to sell and that he did not have the money to repay him, Spangler said. Goosey was “pressing” him to pay up.

Barnett, who lived with Goosey, appears to have become a victim solely by being home when Thompson arrived, police said. There is no evidence that Barnett was involved in Goosey's marijuana dealings or that she used marijuana, Spangler said.

Police refused to give any additional details, other than that the victims were shot. They're continuing to investigate the case, including looking for people who may have provided a gun and transportation to Thompson.

Thompson, whose parents live at Lake Travis, attended high school in the Austin area. He was not a UT student.

He and Goosey became acquainted three years ago through Goosey's marijuana business, police said. Goosey appears to have been a mid-level player in a distribution system,

The couple's bodies were discovered after Barnett did not show up at her parents' house as expected.

A joint funeral service will be held today in Houston. “We are relieved that a suspect in the murders of our children has been taken into custody,” said Gary Tidwell, attorney for the families.

Yipee ki yay! mother..................

Another shooting by a police officer at a car that was driving at him.

I don't know, is it the heat? Why would folks try to run down armed officers? Okay he was off-duty apparently but I'll presume when he broke up the theft he id'ed himself. Even if he didn't you are driving at someone pointing a gun at you.

I guess she may have watched one too many Die Hard movies.

Speaking of the heat the radio this morning talked about the fact that with no rain and the relentless heat, 32 or so 100+ degree days so far and its not August yet, that he expect folks to snap soon and do crazy things like fight in parking lots and the like.

With mothers decapitating their babies we may have reached it.

Officer fires at fleeing suspects

An off-duty San Antonio police sergeant fired several rounds at two people at an East Side beauty supply store Sunday after a woman allegedly tried to steal items from the store and then charged the officer in a maroon vehicle, authorities said.

It was not known at the time if anyone was hit, but when a woman with multiple gunshot wounds was brought in to the Guadalupe Regional Medical Center around 5 p.m., she was linked to the San Antonio case, authorities said.

Seguin Police Sgt. Kado Cato said the woman, whose name was not released, was shot four times and was taken from the Seguin-area hospital by helicopter to Brooke Army Medical Center.

A spokesman for the San Antonio Police Department confirmed the woman was located in Seguin but did not add any details.

The shooting occurred around 2:30 p.m. at Black Fox Beauty Supply in the 900 block of South W.W. White Road, after the owner of the store saw a woman in her 50s taking merchandise, Chief William McManus said. McManus declined to identify the sergeant, a 22-year veteran with the San Antonio Police Department.

The woman was with two men inside of the store, McManus said.

“The off-duty sergeant tried to intervene, and there was a physical and verbal altercation,” the chief said.

All three people got out of the store, then one man ran away from the store and the woman and the other man got into a maroon Ford Taurus, police said.

Once outside the store, McManus said, the off-duty sergeant found himself in front of the Taurus. The woman then charged at the sergeant, who responded by firing shots at the windshield of the car.

All three suspects evaded arrest, and surveillance cameras didn't capture the license plate number of the vehicle because of glare from the sun, McManus said. The sergeant is on administrative leave pending investigation.

Cato said his department received a call for the gunshot victim who had been brought to the hospital by her sister. It did not appear that the sister had any idea that her relative was a suspect in the earlier incident, Cato said. Apparently, the woman who had been shot, in her mid-50s, gave the hospital a different name than the woman's sister gave police.

The woman told police she was shot while she was driving on Interstate 10, so Seguin authorities contacted Bexar County to check out the story. SAPD who then contacted Seguin, Cato said.

Both women are from San Antonio, Cato said, and the two departments were piecing the stories together.

Cato said the Ford Taurus was not recovered at the hospital, and it was possible the man who was with the woman at the time of the shooting still had the car, Cato said.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Toddlers are for hugging not shooting

Jesus Christ on a hand stick!

What is the world coming to?

Toddlers shot in the head at a wedding?

Girl, 2, is shot at Lawrence wedding reception; 3 suspects arrested
By Bill McCleery -

A 2-year-old girl is in critical condition after being one of three people shot Saturday night at a wedding reception in Lawrence Community Park, police said.

The child, Yuridia Sosa, was in critical condition at Methodist Hospital after surgery today, Lawrence police detective Gary Woodruff said.

The child’s mother, Mariela Rodriguez, and another woman were shot in the legs but their wounds were not life-threatening, Woodruff said. The women were taken to Methodist Hospital. The other woman’s name wasn’t released.

Police said a dispute erupted during the reception, leading to the gunfire.

Officers arriving at the scene said they saw Francisco Ponce, 21, Indianapolis, run across a parking lot and toss a gun under a car. Ponce was arrested at the scene on a preliminary charge of attempted murder, Woodruff said.

His brother Isaias Ponce, 28, Indianapolis, has been charged with public intoxication, and a third brother, Jose Ponce, 23, Indianapolis, was arrested on preliminary charges of battery, disorderly conduct and public intoxication.

Police did not disclose late Saturday if there was more than one gunman.

Lawrence Mayor Paul Ricketts arrived at the scene shortly after the shootings, which occurred about 10 p.m.

Investigators had to call for interpreters to help in the investigation Saturday night because the witnesses speak only Spanish fluently.

The 2-year-old is the second child to be shot in Marion County in four days.

Jeremiah Williams, 8, was fatally shot Wednesday night at a Northeastside Indianapolis apartment.

Indianapolis police said they think the boy was accidentally shot in the head during a domestic argument between a man and a woman at an apartment in the Hearts Landing complex in the 4300 block of Wittfied Street.

Joshua D. Germany was arrested in the shooting and faces a preliminary charge of murder.

Namar Taylor, 18, who was visiting the apartment, also was shot and is recovering at Wishard Memorial Hospital.

It will be bizarre

Her poor kids never really stood a chance for a 'normal' life did they?

Octomom inks showbiz deal for tots
Associated Press

Octuplet mother Nadya Suleman has signed agreements for each of her 14 children to earn $250 a day to star in a reality television show.

The contracts filed Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court guarantee the children will collectively earn about $250,000 over three years. The contracts require a judge's approval.

European production company Eyeworks has inked the deal with Suleman. Eyeworks lists "Breaking Bonaduce" and "The Biggest Loser" among its television credits.

The show is slated to begin filming Sept. 1, according to the documents.

The payments outlined in the contracts say Suleman's kids will collectively earn $125,000 for 36 days of shooting in the first year of production, $75,000 for 21 days in the second year and $50,000 for 14 days in the third year. Any extra shooting days will be compensated at the same rate.

The contract also states that 15 percent of the gross compensation will be deposited by Eyeworks into a "Coogan Trust Account," as required by California law. The monies can't be touched until the children turn 18 or become legally emancipated.

A call to Suleman's lawyer Jeff Czech was not immediately returned Friday afternoon. He has said previously that the family has hired an entertainment lawyer and established a trust for her children, ages eight and under.

Suleman and a Website that shot video of her children have faced allegations of labor abuses in recent months.

State regulators brought four citations against Web site RadarOnline for their video taping of the first two octuplets to go home from the hospital. The state Labor Commissioner said the Web site failed to get required state permits, videotaped the infants at hours and for periods that were illegal and failed to provide a child monitor during the tapings.

A hearing is scheduled on Monday in Orange County Superior Court, in the lawsuit brought by attorney Gloria Allred. Allred asked for a labor investigation and the establishment of a trust for the children on behalf of former child entertainer Paul Petersen, president of a group dedicated to the protection of child performers.

Suleman gave birth to the world's longest-surviving set of octuplets on Jan. 26. The medical curiosity of their delivery turned to public outrage when it was learned that the single, unemployed mother had been caring for her six other children with the help of food stamps and Social Security disability payments for three of the youngsters. Suleman said previously that some of the disability money was spent on in vitro fertilizations, which was used for all 14 of her children.

A phone call placed to Netherlands-based Eyeworks Holding B.V. Friday evening rang unanswered.

Wasn't there a war over State's rights a 148 years ago?

It sure seems to me that Governor Perry, with all due respect Sir, is not thinking this through and is ginning up support for the Governor's race rather than thinking this through rationally.

Let's suppose full-blown Obamacare passes, it won't, but let's play pretend.

It includes new taxes etc., the whole nine yards.

Governor Perry says Texas won't participate; how do I not get taxed by the Feds? So I get taxed but get no benefits?

What if President Obama then says okay, Texas, (cause this is the Chicago way) we take our ball and go home. No Federal funds for highways (yeah more toll roads then) no military bases, and so on.

Is this a game we really want to get into? A game of chicken writ large?

It smacks of desperation by a Governor facing a strong primary opponent. If not, I appreciate his belief in the 10th Amendment, but think we need to step lightly and when necessary and not pander to conservative talk radio.

Perry raises possibility of state's rights showdown with White House over healthcare

AUSTIN — Gov. Rick Perry, raising the specter of a showdown with the Obama administration, suggested Thursday that he would consider invoking states’ rights protections under the 10th Amendment to resist the president’s healthcare plan, which he said would be "disastrous" for Texas.

Interviewed by conservative talk show host Mark Davis of Dallas’ WBAP/820 AM, Perry said his first hope is that Congress will defeat the plan, which both Perry and Davis described as "Obama Care." But should it pass, Perry predicted that Texas and a "number" of states might resist the federal health mandate.

"I think you’ll hear states and governors standing up and saying 'no’ to this type of encroachment on the states with their healthcare," Perry said. "So my hope is that we never have to have that stand-up. But I’m certainly willing and ready for the fight if this administration continues to try to force their very expansive government philosophy down our collective throats."

Perry, the state’s longest-serving governor, has made defiance of Washington a hallmark of his state administration as well as his emerging re-election campaign against U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in the 2010 Republican primary. Earlier this year, Perry refused $555 million in federal unemployment stimulus money, saying it would subject Texas to long-term costs after the federal dollars ended.

Interviewed after returning from a trip to Iraq and Afghanistan, Perry spoke out against President Barack Obama’s healthcare package less than 24 hours after the president used a prime-time news conference Wednesday night to try to sell the massive legislative package to Congress and the public.

'Not the solution’

"It really is a state issue, and if there was ever an argument for the 10th Amendment and for letting the states find a solution to their problems, this may be at the top of the class," Perry said. "A government-run healthcare system is financially unstable. It’s not the solution."

Perry heartily backed an unsuccessful resolution in this year’s legislative session that would have affirmed the belief that Texas has sovereignty under the 10th Amendment over all powers not otherwise granted to the federal government.

In expressing "unwavering support" for the 10th Amendment resolution by state Rep. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, Perry said "federal government has become oppressive in its size, its intrusion into the lives of our citizens and its interference with the affairs of our state."

Returning to the "letter and spirit" of the 10th Amendment, he said in April, "will free our state from undue regulations and ultimately strengthen our union."

Perry, in his on-air interview Thursday with Davis, did not specify how he might use the 10th Amendment in opposing the Obama health plan. His spokeswoman, Allison Castle, said that the governor’s first goal is to defeat the plan in Congress and that any discussion of options beyond that would be "hypothetical."

"I don’t think it’s surprising that the governor is taking a stand against it," said Anne Dunkelberg, associate director of the Center for Public Policy Priorities, an Austin-based research organization that supports the House version of Obama’s plan. "Unfortunately, the national dialogue on health reform has been extraordinarily partisan and polarized."

The White House Media Affairs Office, asked to comment on Perry’s statements, did not have an immediate response. In his remarks to the nation Wednesday, Obama restated his midsummer deadline for passage of the bill in Congress, saying it is urgently needed to help families "that are being clobbered by healthcare costs."

High stakes in Texas

Texas has a higher percentage of uninsured people than any other state, with 1 in 4 Texans lacking health coverage. Dunkelberg, whose organization supports policies to help low- and modest-income Texans, said the House version would create a "predictable and comprehensive benefits package" for thousands of struggling middle-income Texans.

Former Rep. Arlene Wohlgemuth of Burleson, a senior fellow for healthcare at the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation, echoed Perry’s assertion that the Obama plan is the wrong approach and could have disastrous financial consequences for Texas.

Under the Senate version of the bill, she said, an expansion of the joint federal-state Medicaid program for the poor could cost Texas $4 billion a year.

"There are good solutions" to the country’s healthcare problems, Wohlgemuth said. "This isn’t it."

Perry said the plan is another example of the Obama administration’s "massive takeover of the private-sector economy."

"I hope our leaders will look for solutions that don’t dig our country further into debt," he said.

Perry called on Texans in the House and Senate to oppose the plan. "I can’t imagine that anyone from Texas who cares about this state would vote for Obama Care. I don’t care whether you’re Democrat or Republican," he said.

Of those Texans who might consider supporting the plan, he said: "This may sound a little bit harsh, but they might ought to consider representing some other state because they’re sure not representing Texas."

Think again

If its Sunday there must be another anti-U.S. rant by Hugo Chavez.

This one? Naturally about Honduras and the alleged coup.

From the reports and things that I've read it sure seems like President Obama, in what appears to his signature move of jumping first and not asking questions later, sure seems to have backed the wrong side on this issue.

Anytime you're POTUS and you find yourself on the same side of an issue with Daniel Ortega, the Castro brothers and Hugo Chavez I'd think you'd stop and wonder why.

Venezuela's Chavez blasts U.S. allies on Honduras

* Chavez says U.S. stalling return of deposed Honduran

* He says U.S. wants de facto government to win election

CARACAS, July 25 (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Saturday the United States wanted Honduras' de facto government to consolidate power and win upcoming elections but that he would recognize only the government deposed in a coup last month.

Chavez, a socialist anti-U.S. firebrand, said the United States and its regional allies were stalling the return of deposed Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, his ally.

"What they are trying to do is freeze the battle until the election in November, when the coup (leaders) will wash their hands," Chavez told the national assembly in the capital, Caracas.

"Any government that comes out of that coup, that comes out of elections even, we will never recognize it as the government of Honduras," Chavez said.

The United States, the United Nations and Latin American presidents have roundly condemned Zelaya's forced removal from power on June 28 and demand he be reinstated.

But Chavez said a mediation process by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias had been a trap and that the de facto government should not have been given recognition by inviting it to the negotiating table.

"What the government of the United States and its allies want is simply for the coup (leaders) to consolidate themselves and be recognized, if not by law, then de facto," Chavez told legislators.

Zelaya, a timber magnate known for his trademark cowboy hat, had angered the traditionally conservative ruling elite and business interests in Honduras by allying himself with Chavez.

The interim government of Roberto Micheletti insists Zelaya was acting illegally by trying to extend term limits and his removal was in accordance with Honduran law. It accuses Chavez of instigating violence in Honduras.

Chavez applauded Zelaya for taking a symbolic step inside Honduran territory on Friday and ridiculed U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for saying the move was reckless. (Reporting by Raymond Colitt; Editing by Eric Beech)

What could go wrong?

Many pros and many cons to this.

The pros? Adequate representation, better-staffed with better and up to date legal research methods, and accountability.

The cons? Allegations that the State put "hacks" in to handle these matters to grease the wheels, so to speak, of the death mills.

Can't win for losing? I think its probably a step in the right direction but the State will be walking a fine line in handling the office.

Also, on a different note I personally take umbrage at this reporter calling the work of Suzanne Kramer "shoddy". She probably has the best appellate record in Bexar County certainly and South Central Texas as well. I think the reporting is shoddy myself.

State to handle capital appeals

By Lise Olsen - Houston Chronicle

Texas, which executes more convicts than any state in the nation, will open its first capital defense office next year to manage appeals for death row inmates after years of reports that appointed private attorneys repeatedly botched the job.

“The status quo has been an international embarrassment,” said state Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, who sponsored the law that created the office. It was supported by an unusual alliance between the State Bar of Texas, the Court of Criminal Appeals and public defense advocates, who all backed it in the last legislative session.

The law was inspired by a series of stories about Texas inmates who lost crucial appeals after court-appointed attorneys missed deadlines or filed only so-called “skeletal” writs — documents with little information often copied from other cases. It represents a significant reform for Texas, one of the only capital punishment states that lack a public defender to oversee key death row appeals known as state writs of habeas corpus.

The office, with an annual budget of about $1 million and a staff of nine, won't open soon enough to help any of the inmates whose appellate rights were squandered recently.

“Better late than never,” said Juan Castillo, one of four death row inmates whose state appeals were never filed by the San Antonio attorney assigned to represent them. “This is a start. There's a lot of cases” that have been botched.

Ellis first introduced the bill in 2007 in response to reports about how death row inmates' lawyers had mismanaged appeals. But the bill was blocked then by last-minute lobbying from Harris County's former district attorney.

In the aftermath, appellate mistakes continued. The Houston Chronicle reported earlier this year that three attorneys had repeatedly blown state or federal appellate deadlines for their death row clients, effectively surrendering their clients' rights to appeal. The Court of Criminal Appeals recently found two attorneys in contempt of court for their shoddy work, including Castillo's lawyer, Suzanne Kramer, and referred them to the State Bar of Texas for possible disciplinary action.

Kramer has not responded to repeated requests for comment.

By the 2009 legislative session, remaining opposition to establishing a state capital defense office had virtually disappeared, Ellis said. The law was approved late in the session and signed by the governor last month.

“I think that everyone agrees (death row inmates) deserve one fair shot at presenting their issues, whether they're meritorious or not,” said Andrea Marsh, executive director of the Texas Fair Defense Project. “We saw too many cases where poor state habeas representation forced people to lose appeals.”

The Office of Capital Writs will be funded by redirecting money already in the state budget: $500,000 formerly used to pay private attorneys for appeals and $494,520 from the state's Fair Defense account, already earmarked for indigent defense. Ultimately, its attorneys will likely handle most state appeals — about 10 a year, if the current pace of death sentences continues.

State writs of habeas corpus are considered the most critical step in death row appeals. It is at that stage that any innocence claim, allegation of prosecutorial misconduct, flawed trial defense or other issue involving omissions or case errors must be raised — or the arguments cannot normally be raised later in the process.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Tore him up

What was he complaining about?

A torn frenulum? OWWWWwww!

Ya big sissy.

THE attempted armed robbery of a Russian hairdresser became a three-day sex ordeal for the would-be thief.

The robber was left with torn genitals and a Viagra hangover.

IT website The Register reports the man, known as Viktor, tried to rob the hairdresser in the town of Meshchovsk.

The owner, 28-year-old Olga, agreed to hand over the takings but as she was giving him the money, used her karate skills to knock him to the ground and tie him up with a hairdryer cord.

She then locked him in the storeroom and told colleagues she'd call the police.

However, she instead stripped him and cuffed him to a heater with a pair of fluffy pink handcuffs.

She then fed him Viagra and raped him several times over the next four days.

When finally released, Viktor went first to hospital for treatment for his torn frenulum, and then reported Olga to the police. When she was arrested, Olga reported him for robbery.

"What a b......," she complained.

"Yes, we had sex a couple of times. But I've bought him new jeans, gave him food and even gave him 1000 roubles when he left."

Viktor admitted she had fed him well.

Thanks, India

Okay then.

We "pass" cap and trade legislation (still pending in the Senate) which will further hinder our economy and raise our costs tremendously and India will do nothing?

How much will this shrink the total carbon "footprint" then?

Sounds like a good time to just say No.

India widens climate rift with west

By James Lamont in New Delhi, Joshua Chaffin in Are and Fiona Harvey in London

A split between rich and poor nations in the run-up to climate-change talks widened on Thursday.

India rejected key scientific findings on global warming, while the European Union called for more action by developing states on greenhouse gas emissions.

Jairam Ramesh, the Indian environment minister, accused the developed world of needlessly raising alarm over melting Himalayan glaciers.

He dismissed scientists’ predictions that Himalayan glaciers might disappear within 40 years as a result of global warming.

“We have to get out of the preconceived notion, which is based on western media, and invest our scientific research and other capacities to study Himalayan atmosphere,” he said.

“Science has its limitation. You cannot substitute the knowledge that has been gained by the people living in cold deserts through everyday experience.”

Mr Ramesh was also clear that India would not take on targets to cut its emissions, even though developed countries are asking only for curbs in the growth of emissions, rather than absolute cuts.

His stance was at wide variance with that of Andreas Carlgren, his Swedish counterpart. Sweden holds the European Union’s revolving presidency until a conference in Copenhagen in December at which governments will try to hammer out a successor to the Kyoto protocol on curbing greenhouse emissions – the main provisions of which expire in 2012.

Mr Carlgren said in Are, Sweden, that developing countries such as India, China and Brazil must propose more ambitious plans to reduce emissions if they were to receive finance from wealthy nations.

Rich and poor countries have been squabbling over the issue of financing for months, imperilling the outcome of the Copenhagen talks. Rich countries have not agreed to provide the funding that poor nations say is necessary to help them cut their emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change.

Mr Carlgren went on the offensive on Thursday, saying poorer countries must come up with firm plans to cut emissions before financing will be forthcoming.

States such as China and India have produced plans for curbing the growth in their emissions but these have not been formalised within the negotiating process.

Mr Carlgren also criticised rich countries for failing to agree to cut their emissions by the amounts needed. “So far, what we have seen from other countries is too low. We expect more from developed countries,” he said.

But the Swedish environment minister said poor countries must also do more to forge an agreement. “We are prepared to put money on the table. But it should also be said that if we don’t see significant reductions that will really deviate from business as usual . . . then there is no money,” Mr Carlgren said, singling out China, India, Brazil, South Africa and Indonesia. “We are also prepared to deliver financing, but we must see that there is something to pay for.”

India has taken the hardest line in the negotiations so far. Along with China, India refused at the meeting of the Group of Eight industrialised nations this month to sign up to a target of cutting global emissions by half by 2050. The countries were holding out to gain concessions from the west on financing.

The claims from Mr Ramesh that Western science was wrong on the question of melting Himalayan glaciers appeared to reinforce Delhi’s recalcitrant stance.

Mr Ramesh on Friday reiterated that India would not accept emissions caps to held curb global warming, Bloomberg reported. “The world has nothing to fear from India’s development ... An artifical cap is not desirable and not even necessary as we haven’t been responsible for emissions in the first place,” he said.

Earlier this week, he also challenged Hillary Clinton, US secretary of state, over her appeal to India to embrace a low-carbon future and not repeat the mistakes of the developed world in seeking fast industrialisation.

The consequences of depleted glaciers – sensitive to rising temperature and humidity – would be dire.

Seven of the world’s greatest rivers , including the Ganges and the Yangtze, are fed by the glaciers of the Himalayas and Tibet. They supply water to about 40 per cent of the world’s population.

Water supply is likely to become an increasing national security priority for both India and China as they seek to maintain high economic growth rates and sustain large populations dependent on farming. Some scientists have warned that rivers such as the Ganges, Indus and Brahmaputra could become seasonal rivers as a result of global warming.

Indians are also fearful of weakening monsoon rains. Some parts of India, including Delhi, the capital, are still waiting anxiously for this year’s rains to come in earnest. A late, or a poor, monsoon would be a drag on economic growth.

Achim Steiner, executive director of the UN Environment Programme, has described melting glaciers as a “canary in the climate-change coal mine”, warning that billions of people depend on these natural water storage facilities for drinking water, power generation and agriculture.

Mr Ramesh said the rate of retreat of glaciers in the Himalayas varied from a “couple of centimetres a year to a couple of metres”, but that this was a natural process that had taken place occurred over the centuries. Some were, in fact, growing, he said.

The glaciers – estimated by India’s space agency to number about 15,000 – had also been affected by debris and the large number of tourists, he said.