Virtually Speaking Thursday

Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd 6pm pacific | 9pm eastern

Tonight Melissa Thomasson, Associate Professor of Economics. She and Jay discuss her work on the economic history of medical care and health insurance in the US.

• Read:
• Listen to Melissa on ‘This American Life’
• Watch Melissa on vimeo live and later on BTR

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Cruel and unusual Texas

I wonder if it has occurred to the rednecks who run the Texas prison system that their Christian sky-god, if he existed, would send them straight to hell:

Last summer’s record-breaking heat wave had a grim impact on Texas, playing a role in the deaths of roughly 150 people. Many of them were found in their homes or apartments, but a few were discovered somewhere else — in their prison cells.

Ten inmates of the state prison system died of heat-related causes last summer in a 26-day period in July and August, a death toll that has alarmed prisoners’ rights advocates who believe that the lack of air-conditioning in most state prisons puts inmates’ lives at risk…

Romney praises universal health care

The Romneybot needs to be reprogrammed. It seems he knows as much about Israel as he does about his own country — next to nothing:

…During his trip to Israel, Romney inadvertently praised the individual requirement and universal health care. “[F]or an American abroad, you can’t get much closer to the ideals and convictions of my own country than you do in Israel,” he said. And according to The New York Times, Romney spoke favorably about the fact that health care makes up a much smaller amount of Israel’s gross domestic product compared to the United States…

…Israel spends less on health care because of a universal health system that requires everyone to have insurance. Every Israeli citizen has the obligation to purchase health care services through one of the country’s four HMOs since government officials approved the National Health Insurance Law in 1995. People pay for 40 percent of their HMO’s costs through income-related contributions collected through the tax system, and the state pays the remaining 60 percent…

This American life

Ed at Gin and Tacos:

Yesterday approximately 20,000 people around the world died of starvation while hordes of mostly old, mostly fat white American Christians flocked to a fast food chain to spend money and consume fried chicken from cancer- and disease-ridden chickens that suffered every second from birth to slaughter to show support for said chain’s willingness to donate millions of dollars to stop The Gays from getting married.

Meanwhile, people who buy multiple boxes of Sudafed or who purchase money orders over $1000 end up being tracked by law enforcement while individuals who buy thousands upon thousands of rounds of ammunition are not.

Cool. Carry on.

PA congressman likens birth control mandate to 9/11

There’s Philly and then there’s the rest of PA, much of which is represented in the legislature by Republican yahoos such as this guy:

Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) today compared a new regulation requiring insurers to provide women birth control without a copay to September 11th or Pearl Harbor.

In a speech on the House floor, Kelly said it was such a travesty that women wouldn’t be paying hundreds of dollars a year in copays that it should go down in history as a great tragedy similar to those two events that killed thousands of Americans:

“…I want you to remember August 1, 2012 — the attack on our religious freedom. That is a date that will live in infamy, along with those other dates…”

Reported as threat?

Well! That worked out well, didn’t it? I say, let everyone have guns first and then we’ll try to create a system to take them away before they use them. Progress!

Nearly six weeks before the Colorado theater mass shooting, the university psychiatrist treating accused gunman James Holmes alerted the school’s threat-assessment team that he might pose a danger to others, KMGH-TV is reporting.

The ABC affiliate, citing unnamed sources, writes on its site that Lynne Fenton, who helped create the University of Colorado’s Behavioral Evaluation and Threat Assessment team, “contacted several members of the BETA team in separate conversations” about Holmes during the first 10 days of June.

Another improbable police report

This would be pretty funny if some poor kid in Arkansas wasn’t dead:

Police in Jonesboro, Arkansas have launched an investigation into how 21-year-old Chavis Carter was shot in the back of a patrol car Saturday night.

Carter, who died at the hospital, was in the passenger seat of a pickup truck that was pulled over by police just before 10 pm, reports WREG.

According to Officer Keith Baggett who was on the scene, Officer Ron Marsh found “some marijuana” and several new plastic baggies when he searched Carter. When they ran his information through dispatch, they found that he was wanted on a warrant in Mississippi, where he lived.

The cops then handcuffed him, searched him again, and put him in the back of the patrol car. While Baggett searched the vehicle, he claims he heard “a loud thump with a metallic sound” on his trunk and saw Marsh motion to him.

The thumping noise, according to the cops, was Carter shooting himself in the head.

The police report attributed the death to a self-inflicted gunshot, though when the two officers opened the squad car door, they found Carter’s hands were still cuffed behind his back. The gun, they said, was somehow missed in both searches…

Vidal on the media

Gore Vidal probably would have laughed at the fact that his death Tuesday at age 86 was the second biggest story yesterday morning on NPR, right behind the earth-shattering news of a badminton scandal at the Olympics.

From The Decline and Fall of the American Empire, a slim volume of essays by Vidal published in 1992:

The corporate grip on opinion in the United States is one of the wonders of the Western world. No First World country has ever managed to eliminate so entirely from its media all objectivity — much less dissent.

My kind of candidate

Jill Stein is the person I’d like to see in the White House:

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein and her running mate have been arrested at a sit-in at a Philadelphia bank over housing foreclosures.

The arrests came after about 50 party supporters staged a protest Wednesday against Fannie Mae, the government-sponsored mortgage lender.

Some tried to reach Fannie Mae’s downtown office through the adjacent bank. They staged a sit-in when they were denied access to the office building.

Stein and her running mate, Philadelphia activist Cheri Honkala (HAHN’-kah-lah), are among five people arrested. Police say they will face charges of defiant trespassing.

The demonstrators included several city residents struggling to keep their homes. Two met with Fannie Mae officials.

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