12/01/2013 archive

Anti-capitalist Meetup: “Separate but Equal” Shuts Down Women’s Health Care by TPau

This week has a certain nostalgia for me. I am working the last four shifts in my home, Humboldt County. Nestled between pristine redwoods and dramatic cliffs overlooking the west coast of California, I want to stay here, but cannot. I am feeling the full force of the United States health care crisis. In the four years I have worked here eight of ten obstetricians in the southern half of the county have left, and now I find I am one of them.

Two obstetricians, far apart geographically and serving two different hospitals, are all that is left to serve an area once supporting 10 obstetricians. Both doctors are men over 60, who have a tough future ahead of them. Without outside help there is no way they can see all the patients that will need them. They have to remain within 30 minutes of the hospital and can be told to come to work any time of the day or night. They can never have a moment off, a full night’s sleep, a drink of alcohol to ring in the New Year. Watching a full length movie, or having a nice dinner with the spouse without interruption is a thing of the past. Neither of the remaining doctors can get sick or injured. This is really asking them to be super human and there is no cavalry on their horizon. In fact, if Catholic Health Systems is successful at closing one of the two hospitals, only one physician will remain.

As a young person, I wanted to take my medical skills to a disadvantaged third world nation. Looks like I got my wish – right here in the US. How did we get here?

Rant of the Week: Bill Maher and Dan Savage

Bill Maher Interviews Dan Savage on Cheneys, Baldwin, and Kiddy F*cking Catholic Priests

November 22, 2013 – Dan Savage joined Bill Maher Friday night for a no-holds-barred talk about all the gay news happening in the world, and Savage was his usual unrestrained self, going off on the “dykes” in the Cheney family and saying he’s getting sick and tired of “kiddy-fucking Catholic priests” lecturing everyone else about morality and the welfare of young children.

Warning video contains offensive language that may not be suitable for the work place or young children.

On This Day In History December 1

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

December 1 is the 335th day of the year (336th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 30 days remaining until the end of the year


On this day in 1990, the Chunnel makes breakthrough. Shortly after 11 a.m. on December 1, 1990, 132 feet below the English Channel, workers drill an opening the size of a car through a wall of rock. This was no ordinary hole–it connected the two ends of an underwater tunnel linking Great Britain with the European mainland for the first time in more than 8,000 years.

The Channel Tunnel, or “Chunnel,” was not a new idea. It had been suggested to Napoleon Bonaparte, in fact, as early as 1802. It wasn’t until the late 20th century, though, that the necessary technology was developed. In 1986, Britain and France signed a treaty authorizing the construction of a tunnel running between Folkestone, England, and Calais, France.

The Channel Tunnel (French: Le tunnel sous la Manche), (also informally known as the Chunnel) is a 50.5-kilometre (31.4 mi) undersea rail tunnel linking Folkestone, Kent near Dover in the United Kingdom with Coquelles, Pas-de-Calais near Calais in northern France beneath the English Channel at the Strait of Dover. At its lowest point, it is 75 metres (250 ft) deep. At 37.9 kilometres (23.5 mi), the Channel Tunnel possesses the second longest undersea portion of any tunnel in the world. The Seikan Tunnel in Japan is both longer overall at 53.85 kilometres (33.46 mi), and deeper at 240 metres (790 ft) below sea level.

The tunnel carries high-speed Eurostar passenger trains, Eurotunnel Shuttle roll-on/roll-off vehicle transport-the largest in the world-and international rail freight trains. The tunnel connects end-to-end with the LGV Nord and High Speed 1 high-speed railway lines. In 1996 the American Society of Civil Engineers identified the tunnel as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.

Ideas for a cross-Channel fixed link appeared as early as 1802, but British political and press pressure over compromised national security stalled attempts to construct a tunnel. However, the eventual successful project, organised by Eurotunnel, began construction in 1988 and opened in 1994. The project came in 80% over its predicted budget. Since its construction, the tunnel has faced several problems. Fires have disrupted operation of the tunnel. Illegal immigrants and asylum seekers have attempted to use the tunnel to enter Britain, causing a minor diplomatic disagreement over the siting of the Sangatte refugee camp, which was eventually closed in 2002.

16 states now at four-year unemployment lows, but jobs recovery is still behind past recessions

Just as it does every month one week after it announces its estimates of unemployment and related statistics, last Friday the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported its evaluation of the employment situation in the individual states and regions. As has been the case for much of the past four years, there is good news and bad in the numbers.

As Niraj Choksi at the Washington Post points out, 16 states now have unemployment rates lower than they have been in four years:

  In all but two, October unemployment was at its lowest level since late 2008 or the early months of 2009. In Minnesota, unemployment hasn’t been this low since January 2008. And it’s been more than a decade since North Dakota saw an unemployment rate of 2.7 percent as it did in October. (The last time was August 2001.) In all, unemployment dropped from September to last month in 39 states. And only three states-Arkansas, Oklahoma and Ohio-saw nearly two-year highs.

  But the situation isn’t as rosy as those statistics suggest. The jobs recovery still pales in comparison to the recoveries following the 1981, 1990 and 2001 recessions, according to data from Doug Hall, director of the Economic Analysis and Research Network at the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank focused on the needs of low- and middle-income workers.

In fact, 70 months after the Great Recession began in December 2007, in only nine states is the official unemployment rate now below the five percent pre-recession average. And that only tells part of the story.

Just how slow the growth in jobs has been nationwide is reflected in the fact that in only one state-North Dakota-has job growth outpaced population growth. That is a factor of the oil production boom in the state’s Bakken formation. For every other state, however- as we’ve reported for years-the drop in the unemployment rate is mostly due to Americans leaving the work force. As of October, the labor-force participation rate was 62.8 percent, its lowest level since March 1978.  

A portion of that is demographic. The first wave of post-World War II baby boomers is retiring, although the percentage of people over 65 who have continued working-out of desire or necessity-has grown significantly since 2008. EPI estimates that about one-third of drop in the civilian work force is a consequence of such retirements. Meanwhile, labor-force participation among adults 16-24 is continuing a long time downward trend and is now nearly nine percent below its 1987 peak of 79.1 percent. But the key statistic, the most worrisome one, is that job participation of people in their prime working years-25-54 years old-remains down from its 2007 peak of 80.3 percent at 75.8 percent.

Despite the millions of private-sector jobs created since the recession was officially declared over in the summer of 2009, there continues to be a substantial jobs deficit and that has distorted the unemployment rate. Excluding retirees, EPI calculates that if those who have dropped out of the labor force or never entered it because of the weak economy had chosen to stay in, the official unemployment rate right now would be 10.8 percent, not 7.3 percent.

What these numbers point to, have pointed to for years, is the need for what many economists and activists have long sought: a multi-faceted full employment program.

Four years ago next month, President Obama held a jobs summit that was billed as a think session to kick-start employment growth. Unfortunately, partly because of the summit’s agenda, which failed to focus on the big picture, and partly because even the modest proposals that emerged from it were hamstrung by naysayers in Congress, the improvements that could have been made were not. Which means the economic pain of millions of Americans was not alleviated even though the policy tools were available to do so.

And they remain so. Heading the pack are the setting forth an industrial policy like those every other developed nation and some emerging economies already have and investing in rebuilding and innovating America’s crumbling infrastructure. But few of our elected representatives have come close to making such policies a priority or even mentioning them at all. What will it take to get them to show leadership in this realm?

Sunday Movie Showcase

Punting the Pundits: Sunday Preview Edition

Punting the Punditsis an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

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The Sunday Talking Heads:

Up with Steve Kornacki: Steve’s guests list for this Aunday was not published.

This Week with George Stephanopolis: On Sunday’s “This Week” the guests are: former Obama national security adviser Tom Donilon; and  U2 lead singer Bono.

Guests at the political roundtable are:  Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK); Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN); Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan;, and former Obama White House Senior Adviser David Plouffe, now an ABC News and Bloomberg News contributor.

A special panel tackles the impact of concussions on the game of football. For that debate the guests are ABC News Chief Health and Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser; USA Today columnist and ABC News consultant Christine Brennan; ESPN investigative reporter Mark Fainaru-Wada; former Buffalo Bills offensive lineman and Pro Football Hall of Fame member Joe DeLamielleure.

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer: Mr. Schieffer’s guests are Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ): Ranking Member Bob Corker (R-TN); Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker; William Kristol of The Weekly Standard; and former White House Chief of Staff under President Obama, Bill Daley.  

On a special holiday panel on Thanksgiving books and authors show. the author guests are: Doris Kearns Goodwin; A. Scott Bergand and Peter Baker.

Meet the Press with David Gregory: Te guests this Sunday on MTP are: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; former Healthcare Adviser to President Obama Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel; Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) and Ranking Member of the Budget Committee Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).

At the roundtable are New York Times Columnist David Brooks; Democratic Mayor of Baltimore Stephanie Rawlings-Blake; NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell; and Political Director & Chief White House Correspondent for NBC, Chuck Todd.

State of the Union with Candy Crowley: Ms. Crowley’s guests are  Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum; Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congressman Mike Rogers.

Joing her on a discuaaion panel are: CNN Contributors Kevin Madden and Donna Brazile plus Corey Dade of TheRoot.com.

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

Despite changes to one-child policy, Chinese parents say having two kids is too expensive


By Le Li, NBC News Producer

BEIJING – Despite China announcing changes to its strict one-child policy, many young parents say they will not choose to have a second child due to the high cost of living in modern-day China.

“Giving birth to a second child is not difficult, but we do not have the energy anymore,” said Wang Tao, a 35-year-old native of Beijing, who is married and has a 5-year-old daughter.

“We lack a safe social net to support a family with two children,” Wang added. “China doesn’t provide a pension or free education,” he said while ticking off a list of things that make having a larger family a financial burden.

Sunday’s Headlines:

Thailand clashes: PM forced to flee as violent demonstrations escalate

Locals count toxic cost of Sochi Games: Builders are dumping waste, polluting rivers and cutting off villages ahead of Winter Olympics

Billions from Beijing: Africans Divided over Chinese Presence

The PRI and its most notable critic

Leading Egyptian activist turns himself in

Three Things on the Internet

The team of All In with Chris Hayes puts out a daily request on Twitter asking their followers to send them the things they find most interesting on the internet. These are their finds for November 26, 2013

1. The only useful review of the Hunger Games;

2. a road you don’t want to be on;

3. and a sinister snowman scares everyone.