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AARP is singing our song

Good. Maybe people will understand how important this is when they hear it from them:

AARP understands the urgent need to reduce the deficit and control government spending, but we also recognize that imposing arbitrary spending limits on Medicare and Social Security could significantly reduce benefits to current and future retirees.

The proposed limits on Medicare could force seniors to pay higher insurance premiums and co-pays, and threaten their choice of doctors and hospitals.

Imposing limits on Social Security could lead to cuts that could deny seniors the money they count on to pay for essentials such as groceries, utilities and prescription drugs.

Cutting Social Security would also break our nation’s commitment to provide the benefits our seniors have rightfully earned.

Instead of making harmful cuts to Social Security and Medicare, Congress should cut down waste, fraud and inefficiency throughout the health care system and target other wasted and inefficient spending, including spending through the tax code in the form of loopholes and other unnecessary subsidies.

AARP urges members and all Americans to contact their representatives in congress and tell them to oppose arbitrary limits that could force dangerous cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

Contact your member of congress now!

Last night’s show

With David Swanson. Very enlightening, I think. Click here to listen!

The plan to kill the public schools

This is the problem: the right wing has long-term, patient strategies to accomplish their goals, and lots and lots of money. Liberals are more reactive, and our donors don’t support much long-term infrastructure. Unless that changes, we’re screwed:

Right-wing think tanks have determined that school vouchers are key to eradicating public education and Dick and Betsy DeVos lead the way in execution of the well-funded plan. The money is tracked in two
extensive reports on Talk2action [1 and 2]. See DeVos video excerpt
below.

“We need to be cautious about talking too much about these
activities,” Dick DeVos warned in a December 2002 speech at the
Heritage Foundation.

DeVos was introduced by former Secretary of
Education William Bennett and then proposed a stealth strategy for
promoting school vouchers in state legislatures. DeVos and his wife
Betsy had already spent millions promoting voucher initiatives that
were soundly rejected by voters.

Pro-privatization think tanks had concluded that vouchers were the most politically viable way to “dismantle” public schools; the DeVoses persevered. Dick DeVos introduced his 2002 Heritage Foundation audience to a covert strategy to provide “rewards or consequences” to state legislators, learning
from the activities of the Great Lake Education Project (GLEP) initiated by Betsy DeVos. Vouchers should be promoted by local “grassroots” entities and could not be “viewed as only a conservative idea.” DeVos added, “This has got to be the battle. It will not be as visible.”

Ten years later, the DeVos stealth strategy has been implemented and
is winning the voucher war in several states. As recommended to the
Heritage Foundation in 2002, the public face of the movement is
bipartisan and grass roots, and millions of dollars are poured into
media firms to reinforce that image. However, behind the scenes the movement continues to be led by the DeVoses, and the funding used to provide “rewards or consequences” for state legislators continues to be raised from a small group of mega-donors.

Progress

Got so much done yesterday. Two more bags of stuff to the Salvation Army, my desktop is finally clean, and we put together the “new” used brass bed I found on Craigslist. (It’s so pretty!)

I’m planning to paint my bedroom, too — as soon as I can settle on a color. My apartment had these paper-bag brown walls when I moved in; I liked them, but they didn’t go with anything I owned. So I painted my room what I thought was a pale ice blue, but it turned out to be lavender. An improvement, but not the color I wanted.

I have to say, these drugs are pretty amazing. After the past few years of being stuck, I feel like my old self again. I’m not only going out a lot more and meeting people, I’m actually getting things done. Soon I’ll be playing music again, and that thought really makes me happy.

Marcellus shale

Sunlight is, as they say, the best disinfectant!

The state Department of Environmental Protection has killed a controversial directive that required all its shale gas drilling inspectors to first get approval from the agency’s chief before issuing violations.

Katy Gresh, the agency’s spokeswoman, said its top staff had reaffirmed to its field inspectors that they had full power to write up polluters without getting a prior OK from DEP secretary Michael Krancer.

She said that a controversial March 23 email to agency worker – meant to be internal but leaked to the media – had been badly written in saying that Krancer would have “final clearance” over citations.

“The secretary’s intent was not clearly communicated” at the time of the memo, Gresh said Tuesday. All Krancer was seeking was to ensure he was notified of regulatory actions, Gresh said.

Jeff Schmidt, director of the Pennsylvania chapter of the Sierra Club and one among several critics of the original directive, said Tuesday that DEP was now generating a tale of “smoke and mirrors” to pretend there had been no reversal.

In the original March 23 email, a top Krancer aide wrote that “effective immediately,” all violations must first be sent to him and another senior aide – with “final clearance” from Krancer, the new agency chief as a nominee of incoming Gov. Tom Corbett. (The state Senate confirmed Krancer’s nomination last week.)

Schmidt said the original edict was “explicit” in its demands.

“I think they never intended for it to be public, therefore they never planned to deal with it if it became public,” Schmidt said. “Now they’re coming up with one story after another to change history.”

Medicare

Ryan’s plan would essentially bankrupt people. It comes down to dying because you can’t afford health care.

Horrifying

Especially since the Quadrangle has a great reputation. (It’s very expensive, by the way.)

You’d think since there are so many abuses, facilities would have cameras everywhere.

Yay

Pass those chips, will ya?

People who ate lots of salt were not more likely to get high blood pressure, and were less likely to die of heart disease than those with a low salt intake, in a new European study.

The findings “certainly do not support the current recommendation to lower salt intake in the general population,” study author Dr. Jan Staessen, of the University of Leuven in Belgium, told Reuters Health.

Current salt guidelines, including those released by the U.S. government in January, are based on data from short-term studies of people who volunteered to be assigned to a low-salt or high-salt diet, Staessen said.

The U.S. guidelines recommend that Americans consume less than 2,300 milligrams of salt daily – 1,500 mg in certain people who are more at risk for high blood pressure or heart disease.

You may have noticed that, much like other conservatives, doctors are generally resistant to new information like this.

Get your water wings

Remember, kids: The deficit is an emergency, not global climate change! Got it?

STOCKHOLM — The ice of Greenland and the rest of the Arctic is melting faster than expected and could help raise global sea levels by as much as 5 feet this century, dramatically higher than earlier projections, an authoritative international assessment says.

The findings “emphasize the need for greater urgency” in combating global warming, says the report of the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP), the scientific arm of the eight-nation Arctic Council.

The warning of much higher seas comes as the world’s nations remain bogged down in their two-decade-long talks on reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.

Rising sea levels are expected to cause some of global warming’s worst damage — from inundated small islands to possible flooding of New York City’s subways. Oceans will not rise uniformly worldwide, because of currents, winds and other factors, but such low-lying areas as Bangladesh and Florida will likely be hard-hit.

The new report, whose executive summary was obtained by The Associated Press, is to be delivered to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and foreign ministers of the other seven member nations at an Arctic Council meeting next week in Greenland. It first will be discussed by some 400 international scientists at a conference this week in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Drawing on improved research techniques and recent scientific papers, the AMAP report updates forecasts made by the U.N.’s expert panel on climate change in its last major assessment in 2007.

Wisconsin

Democrat flips Republican seat!

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