Kucinich To Investigate Surveillance

This was recently post on Raw Story:

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), who has figured prominently in recent political news for his attempts to begin impeachment hearings against President George W. Bush, today announced that the congressional subcommittee he chairs will look into reports of peace groups being surveilled by police and private investigators.

“[M]ost people would be upset to know that police were spying on lawful citizens and infiltrating peaceful organizations, rather than chasing down real criminals,” said Kucinich in a press release delivered to RAW STORY. “At a minimum, such police spying is clearly a waste of taxpayer dollars and a diversion from the mission of protecting and serving the people.

“I want the subcommittee to determine how widespread these activities are and who ordered them,” the Ohio Democrat and former presidential candidate said.

Kucinich chairs the House Domestic Policy Subcommittee of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

The press release referred to reports that Maryland state police officers infiltrated peace and anti-death penalty groups and that private investigators working on behalf of “several large corporations” had surveilled environmental groups.

Such surveillance is apparently not limited to law enforcement and private investigators. In January 2007, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released a report showing “widespread Pentagon surveillance of peace activists.”

At least somebody in Washington is trying to keep the fires of civil disobedience  alive.  One of the reason I would have voted for him for president.

UAW Has The Advantage!

Detroit auto makers’ most critical vehicles are proving valuable bargaining chips for the United Auto Workers as the union fights to organize the largely non-union parts industry.

A strike at a small auto-parts plant in Tennessee now threatens an important vehicle for General Motors Corp. — the soon-to-launch Chevrolet Traverse crossover — at a time when the struggling auto maker can least afford a costly production delay.

Workers at the Johnson Controls Inc. factory in Columbia, Tenn., walked off the job Wednesday because the company refused to recognize the union after workers voted overwhelmingly to unionize, local UAW officials said. Johnson Controls didn’t return calls seeking comment.

Though the dispute over unionizing the factory, which employs 170 workers, has been going on for nearly two years, the union chose to send workers off the job just as production of the new Chevy is slated to begin.

It’s a strategy the UAW employed earlier this year at another small parts operation in Lansing, Mich. — a supplier for crossovers that at the time were in short supply. The strike forced GM to cut shifts at a nearby plant that builds the vehicles. The union eventually won representation.

US Health Care Not So Healthy

This is a piece that was on WebMD and thought people might like to see that all is not as good as some would have us to believe.

The overall health of the nation’s health system is no better than it was two years ago — and appears to have gotten slightly worse, according to a national scorecard.

The report was published by the Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit health care think tank that supports universal health coverage.

The scorecard shows that people’s access to insurance continues to slip. Seventy-five million adults of working age (42%) lack health insurance or are uninsured. In 2003, that number was 61 million (35%).

The scorecard grades the U.S. health care system on 37 indicators in five areas of health system performance, including healthy lives and access to insurance and care.

In 2008, nearly every score fell or stagnated from where it was in 2006, according to the Commonwealth Fund. The overall score dropped from 67 in 2006 to 65 in 2008.

The study gets its scores by comparing the U.S. overall with averages in the best-performing states, or in some cases, foreign countries.

It shows a huge jump in the number of people without health coverage, and in the number of people who are exposed to financial ruin because of high health costs and inadequate insurance. Forty-one percent of U.S. adults have “problems” with medical bills or outstanding medical debt, up from 34% two years before. At the same time, around 60% of those people experience financial problems with medical costs despite having health coverage, according to the report.

The report compares the U.S. with other industrialized countries. In most areas, the U.S. does not fare well.

For example, the U.S. death rate (from treatable or preventable conditions such as diabetes and heart disease) before age 75 was 110 per 100,000 people in the total population in 2008. That’s the highest rate among 19 industrialized nations. Several other countries, including Ireland, U.K., and Portugal, were able to drop their early death rates significantly over that time.

American policy makers and voters have shown little interest in adopting a government-run national health system like those seen in other industrialized countries.

The whole wellness thingy is for the benefit of the insurance companies not the actual health of the insured.  The healthier the people the more insurance companies will make.  I say screw the industry I pay, so they pay.  Do not interfer in my life trying to make me feel that it is my fault because of the illness.

Contraception Is Really Abortion

A Bush administration plan to define several widely used contraception methods as abortion is a “gratuitous, unnecessary insult” to women and faces tough opposition, Sen. Hillary Clinton said on Friday.

The former Democratic presidential candidate joined family planning groups to condemn the proposal that defines abortion to include contraception such as birth control pills and intrauterine devices.

It would cut off federal funds to hospitals and states where medical providers are obligated to offer legal abortion and contraception to women.

nsure that women can get contraception when they want or need it. It also would help protect the rights of medical providers to refuse to offer contraception.

Alrighty then, is not about time to let this go?  Stop meddling into people’s lives.  This is a decision made by an individual and in NO way should concern the government.

WTF Is A “Time Horizon”?

The official and several others discussed the negotiations on condition of anonymity because the sensitive talks are not complete.

Bush and Maliki reached the agreement Thursday, in the video call aimed at breaking a logjam in talks on a long-term security pact between the U.S. and Iraq. The talks involve two agreements: a framework for future economic and security relations and a legal basis for U.S. troops to remain in the country after a U.N. mandate expires at the end of the year.

American officials said the deal should allow Bush and Maliki to conclude the talks by the end of the month, as Bush has hoped. Iraqi negotiators, however, have been reluctant to be pushed into a long-term agreement, and it is unclear whether the concession would be enough to satisfy the Iraqi parliament.

The shift is likely to churn U.S. political waters. The two presumptive presidential nominees have taken opposing views on the matter. Democratic Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois has called for a withdrawal timetable, while Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona has condemned the idea.
The White House shift provides a political boost for the Maliki government. With important provincial elections approaching, Maliki has been denounced by rival Muqtada Sadr for tolerating an indefinite U.S. military presence.

Although the Maliki government doesn’t want the U.S. combat presence to end soon, it is under pressure to show Iraqis it is making preparations for an American departure. The vague goals embraced by Bush may not be seen by the Iraqi public as a major concession, but may enable Maliki to sell the deal to voters.

Okey Dokey then–WTF is a time horizon?  Is that anything similar to a schedule?  Or possibly a timetable?  Best you can say is that the admin is a bit late on this issue.  But I guess better late than never, eh?

Venezuela Helps Low Income Families

The Venezuelan-owned Oil Company Citgo, together with the organization Citizen’s Energy, will provide about 460,000 energy efficient light bulbs to low-income households throughout the U.S., according to Citgo’s CEO Alejandro Granado.

The announcement was made in Washington D.C. yesterday in the home of one of the beneficiaries of the program, together with Venezuela’s Ambassador to the U.S., Bernardo Alvarez, and Citizen’s Energy Chairman Joe Kennedy, II. Another launch will be held tomorrow in Houston, also in the home of a program beneficiary.

The U.S. project will start as a pilot program in communities that already receive discounted heating oil from Citgo throughout the U.S. Communities in the energy-saving light bulb pilot project include Washington, D.C.; Houston and Corpus Christi, Texas; Lamont, Illinois; and Lake Charles, Louisiana, where Citgo refineries operate. It will also be implemented in low-income communities in Boston, Philadelphia, New York City, Milwaukee, Madison, and Minneapolis.

Working with local community groups, the program will distribute light bulbs and energy conservation educational materials to approximately 23,000 households in the pilot cities. Qualified participants will participate in energy workshops sponsored by partner organizations.

In total, the pilot program has the potential to save participants nearly $15 million and reduce their energy use by 165 million kilowatt-hours. The average household will receive about 20 compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs).

I am opposed to this not because of Chavez, but more because of the CFLs.  There is just too many questions about mercury content in the new bulbs (please see previous posts on the bulbs).