Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Trader Joe's dumps part-time workers' health insurance

Huffington Post - After extending health care coverage to many of its part-time employees for years, Trader Joe's has told workers who log fewer than 30 hours a week that they will need to find insurance on the Obamacare exchanges next year, according to a confidential memo from the grocer's chief executive.

In the memo to staff dated Aug. 30, Trader Joe's CEO Dan Bane said the company will cut part-timers a check for $500 in January and help guide them toward finding a new plan under the Affordable Care Act.

Obamacare now has 10,000 pages of regulations

Economic Police Journal - Since March 2010, when President Barack Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and its companion Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, the administration has published in the Federal Register 109 final regulations governing how Obamacare will be implemented. These regulations add up to 10,516 pages in the Federal Register.

How the budget changed for our last "unbelievably small" attack

Business Insider - The U.S. will shell out somewhere as much as $6 trillion dollars for the Iraq War, once all is said and done, according to a recent report out of Brown University.

According to Reuters, that figure includes $1.7 trillion spent so far with an additional $490 billion in benefits. Other expenses, including interest, could well mean that the expenses will balloon to as much as $6 trillion in total.

As Dave Weigal of Slate points out, that figure is well above the initial $60 billion dollar estimate that came from the Congressional Budget Office in the months leading up to the war.

Amercian exceptionalism just got downgraded

Barack Obama - America is not the world’s policeman. Terrible things happen across the globe, and it is beyond our means to right every wrong, but when with modest effort and risk we can stop children from being gassed to death and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act.

That’s what makes America different. That’s what makes us exceptional. With humility, but with resolve, let us never lose sight of that essential truth.

Great moments in science: Retraction of a retraction

improbable Research - Two years ago, the FASEB Journal retracted a paper that it had initially agreed to correct, after a dean at one of the author’s institutions said that a “well-recognized and top-class fact finding commission concluded that the publication contains gross flaws.” The retraction of the 2003 paper punctuated a complicated case involving several investigations as well as legal maneuvering.

Now, the journal has retracted the retraction. Here’s the beginning of the notice:

“Regarding the article titled, “Molecular analysis of Nogo expression in the hippocampus during development and following lesion and seizure,” by Susan Meier, Anja U. Bräuer, Bernd Heimrich, Martin E. Schwab, Robert Nitsch, and Nicolai E. Savaskan, published in the June 2003 issue of The FASEB Journal (FASEB J., 2003 Jun;17(9):1153—1155; doi:10.1096/fj.02-0453fje)….”

This could be the end of the story — or it could be just the beginning two chapters. There is a possibility — a possibility, mind you — that the retracted retraction will again be retracted.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Syria misadventure blows Obama's cover

Sam Smith

It's likely that the Republicans – with their cuts in food stamps and other social welfare – will kill more children than Syria has with chemical warfare. .

But these days, this sort of comparison doesn’t matter because the people in the White House and the media have declared Syria our major crisis and the days of, say, Helen Thomas challenging such things are over.

How much of what Obama and aides are saying is pure lies is hard to tell at this point. Ten years back I did a piece for Harper’s written entirely in lies about the Iraq war. When I set out on this project I was amazed at how easy it was, including stuff like this:
The fundamental question was, did Saddam Hussein have a weapons program? And the answer was, absolutely. His regime had large, unaccounted-for stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons--including VX, sarin, cyclosarin, and mustard gas, anthrax, botulism, and possibly smallpox. Our conservative estimate was that Iraq then had a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical-weapons agent. That was enough agent to fill 16,000 battlefield rockets. We had sources that told us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons--the very weapons the dictator told the world he did not have. And according to the British government, the Iraqi regime could launch a biological or chemical attack in as little as forty-five minutes after the orders were given. There could be no doubt that Saddam Hussein had biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce more, many more.
It will be sometime before we successfully dissect the verbal remains of the Obama Syrian misadventure, but one thing we know: he is being nowhere near as convincing as Bush and his efforts to overcome it with his misguidedly vaunted verbiage is not being particularly successful.

But then people who consider themselves intellectually superior don’t make particularly good liars. It’s not that they don’t lie; they just know how to do it well.

Part of this is the particular narcissism of the well educated, which often confuses recitation with communication and assumes that those being addressed will share the speakers’ admiration for themselves. The other is a failure to understand that effective fraud is an act of theater as much as one of argument. Which is why Pat Robertson is better at it than John Kerry.

But, says a reader, Barack Obama was so impressive as a presidential candidate.

Admittedly, he had a certain advantage amongst the liberals: he was black, a Harvard Law graduate and looked and acted the part.

But when you review the actual figures there was really nothing particularly astounding about his 2008 victory (unless you believed at the time that a black couldn’t possibly get elected).

In 2008, according to Gallup, 52% of Americans described themselves as Democrats and 42% as Republicans.

Barack Obama got 52.9% of the vote and Romney got 45.7%.

In other words, nothing much surprising happened.

But because of the way the media and the Democrats portrayed the vote, many Americans thought we were headed for a new age.

This not only was not true there was considerable evidence before and during the campaign that it wasn’t. For example, Obama:

- Wrote that conservatives and Bill Clinton were right to destroy social welfare,

- Supported making it harder to file class action suits in state courts

- Voted for a business-friendly "tort reform" bill

- Voted against a 30% interest rate cap on credit cards

- Had the most number of foreign lobbyist contributors in the primaries

- Was even more popular with Pentagon contractors than McCain

- Was most popular of the candidates with K Street lobbyists

- Supported the war on drugs

- Supported Real ID

- Supported the PATRIOT Act

- Supported the death penalty

- Campaigned in to support Joe Lieberman in the primary against liberal Ned Lamont

- Voted for a nuclear energy bill that full funding for Yucca Mountain.

- Came in at 48th in the ranking of senators by the League of Conservation Voters

- Promised to double funding for private charter schools, part of a national effort to undermine public education.

- Supporrted the No Child Left Behind Act

- Expressed a willingness to bomb Iran, expand the Afghn war and invade Pakistan

- Supported Israeli aggression and apartheid.

- Favored turning over Jerusalem to Israel

- Opposed gay marriage

- Opposed single payer healthcare
- Said "everything is on the table" with Social Security early in campaign. In May 2008 he indicated opposition to privatizing Social Security, raising the minimum age, or reduce cost of living increases.

Yet the media and Obama’s backers maintained the fiction that because he was a bright good looking liberal black guy everything would be all right.
The truth has been coming home to roost ever since and Syria has perhaps finally blown the cover.

It’s too early to know for sure, but perhaps it’s at least time to stop pretending Obama was someone he never was.

German paper says Assad rejected use of chemical weapons

Syrian President Bashar Assad has repeatedly rejected requests from his field commanders for approval to use chemical weapons, according to a report this weekend in a German newspaper. The report in Bild am Sonntag, which is a widely read and influential national Sunday newspaper, reported that the head of the German Foreign Intelligence agency, Gerhard Schindler, last week told a select group of German lawmakers that intercepted communications had convinced German intelligence officials that Assad did not order or approve what is believed to be a sarin gas attack on Aug. 21 that killed hundreds of people in Damascus's eastern suburbs.