From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Johann Opitz)
Socialized Medicine UK-style: Operation patient dies after hunt for stapler
A patient died after an operation was interrupted for more than two hours while doctors tried to locate a vital piece of medical equipment to complete the surgery, an inquest was told yesterday. Surgeons realised half way through a cancer operation on John Walsh, 58, that they did not have the specialist instrument to finish the job. Mr Walsh was left anaesthetised for two and a half hours on the operating table, with his surgical wound open, while staff rang seven hospitals to track down the required device. Eventually the anastomosis "gun" for stapling the stomach to the oesophagus was found 40 miles away at a hospital in Bristol and sent by taxi.
Senate Clears Way for Its Pay Raise
The Senate has used one of the first votes of its lame-duck session to accept a pay raise for the fourth consecutive year. The Senate, without debate, used its second vote on Wednesday to reject 58-36 a measure by Sen. Russ Feingold (news, bio, voting record), D-Wis., that would have denied the congressional pay raise. With the slumping economy and financial markets, job layoffs and federal budget deficits, "this is the wrong time for Congress to give itself a pay hike," Feingold said in a statement. The House cleared the way for the raise in July. With the 3.1 percent pay raise, senators and representatives will make $154,700 next year instead of the $150,000 earned this year. Lawmakers' salaries have gone up $18,000 since the end of 1999. Under a 1989 law, congressional cost-of-living pay raises pegged to inflation go into effect automatically unless lawmakers vote to block them. The 3.1 percent pay raise, which would go into effect in January, would also apply to more t!
han 1,000 top executive branch officials, including the vice president and members of the congressional leadership.
New Bankruptcy Bill Clears House
Sharp partisan differences over abortion have doomed prospects that the lame-duck Congress will pass a bill making it harder for Americans to shed their debts. In a marathon session until early Friday, House Republicans sent the Democratic-controlled Senate a stripped-down bankruptcy bill without a controversial abortion provision. The Senate, still grappling with homeland security legislation and poised to leave for the year, is unlikely to even consider the bill. In the House, Republicans revolted against language that would have have prohibited anti-abortion protesters from seeking shelter through bankruptcy laws to avoid paying court-imposed fines. Senate Democrats previously have for the most part resisted the legislation as unfair to ordinary citizens. Now, the climate for passage there is worse; House Democrats protested early Friday that the newest version was only an attempt to please the banking and credit card industries which aggressively pushed the bill.
Vets finally get go-ahead to show [non-PC] film
... City officials who had barred veterans of Pearl Harbor from commemorating the attack on Dec. 7 by attending a showing of the 1970 film "Tora! Tora! Tora!' at a city-owned movie theater did an about-face Wednesday. Councilwoman Janice Hahn, who Tuesday said "I wanted to be very sensitive to the Japanese-American community,' changed her mind Wednesday in the face of outrage from veterans' groups and called for "disciplinary action' against theater officials for discriminating against veterans. ...
IL: Curses! Foiled again
A lot of Chicagoans are going to be mighty POed over the city's latest move to increase revenue without raising taxes but cussing out the nearest alderman will only net a big fine. The City Council is considering a measure, to be voted on next month, that would increase the cost of a well-chosen curse word to as much as $300. Aw nuts! What's a good traffic altercation without a few imprecation's about the other guy's parentage? The fine increases are part of a proposed ordinance that boosts a number of city fees and fines that have not been raised in two decades in a bid to erase a $116 million budget deficit. Chicago isn't alone in such moves. Across the country cities facing an economy-induced cash crunch are taking action. Some cities are so desperate they're buying police cars for $1 from a North Carolina company, which will plaster the vehicles with advertisements.
Larry Elder: Nancy Pelosi? The Dems just don't get it
Bush Opens 850,000 Federal Jobs to Competition
The Bush administration plans to open as many as 850,000 federal government jobs to competition from the private sector. The plan, contained in the White House's Office of Management and Budget Circular No. A-76 (Revised), was to be published today in the Federal Register, starting an adoption process in which Congress will have no say. Under A-76, all government work deemed a "commercial activity," from secretarial duties to building and grounds maintenance, is to be opened to competition from private bidders. Competitive bidding, the administration notes, would save the government millions of dollars, foster innovation and service efficiency. About half the estimated 850,000 jobs in the government now considered commercial activities would be subject immediately to the proposal, after a 30-day discussion period after the notice's publication.
Action on Social Security Debated
Bush Advisers Discussing Swift Legislation Versus More 'National Conversation'
The White House is interpreting Republican victories in last week's congressional elections as a mandate for changes to Social Security that President Bush has long sought. But the administration may be unwilling to devote his political capital to such touchy legislation in the coming year. According to sources in the administration, Congress and conservative interest groups, White House officials have concluded from voters' choices that the changes -- which would for the first time tie a portion of the nation's retirement system to stock market investments -- can be a winning issue. Bush aides have compiled a PowerPoint presentation for advocates and lawmakers showing that several GOP candidates who emphasized Social Security in their campaigns did "best of all," as an administration official put it.
FBI meeting called a sham
A Justice Department investigation into a 1997 retirement dinner for former FBI Deputy Director Larry A. Potts said senior bureau executives used a sham conference at the FBI training academy in Quantico, Va., to justify using taxpayer funds for cross-country travel to Washington. A report by the department's Office of Inspector General, scheduled for release this morning, said five senior FBI executives, including Assistant Director Van A. Harp, who now heads the bureau's Washington field office, attended the dinner and made false statements on documents they submitted for travel reimbursements. More than 140 people went to the Oct. 9, 1997, dinner, while only five showed up the next morning for the "Integrity in Law Enforcement" conference - which lasted about 90 minutes, including lunch. Despite a General Accounting Office report last year showing that FBI Senior Executive Service (SES) agents improperly sought $3,217 for travel reimbursements, nobody ever was disciplin!
ed other than to receive letters of censure, although similar actions by rank-and-file FBI agents would have led to their firing.
Gore: I Want Socialized Medicine
White House wannabe Al Gore has called for the kind of socialized medicine he once denounced. Speaking Wednesday night to an unidentified "community group" in New York City, Gore said in response to a question that he had "reluctantly come to the conclusion that we should begin drafting a single-payer national health insurance plan," Reuters reported today.
Doctors Oppose Bill's Forced Immunizations
The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons is urging Congress to eliminate the section of the new Homeland Security Bill that would give the feds "virtually unlimited powers to declare an emergency and order smallpox treatment that could include forced immunizations and quarantines." ... "This section will give the secretary unlimited power to define a real or potential threat, to take any measures he decides, and to do it for as long as he wants," said Kathryn Serkes of AAPS. "It's Alice in Wonderland time again - an emergency is just what he says it is." She said the section echoed the Model State Emergency Health Powers Act that most state legislatures defeated last year. "Just remove 'governor' from the old bill and insert 'secretary,' and magically you have a federal bill that was firmly rejected by voters across the country."
CA: Huge budget gap looms again
The state's deficit forecast grows worse as revenues lag.
A mere two months after state lawmakers and Gov. Gray Davis agreed to a budget to cope with a $23.6 billion deficit, a shortfall of almost that size looms again. And the new deficit will be much harder to close, according to a report released Thursday by Legislative Analyst Elizabeth Hill, who advises the Legislature on the budget. Many of the easy fixes were used to balance this year's budget, leaving lawmakers and Davis with the stark choices of dramatic budget cuts, substantial tax increases, or both. "There's no easy way out of this predicament," Hill said at a press conference. Hill's nonpartisan office had previously said the budget signed by Davis in September would leave a hole in the following fiscal year approaching $10 billion. That's because the budget used an array of one-time solutions, such as borrowing from the state's own special funds, that didn't address the imbalance between revenues and spending. It turns out the shortfall could be much worse. The stat!
e's economy continues to languish, with revenues from personal income tax and sales tax falling below expectations. The end result, Hill said, is a deficit by June 2003 of $21.1 billion. Without action by the Legislature, deficits of more than $12 billion would continue until 2008.
CA: Dan Walters: As budget crisis deepens, Davis' governorship is on the line
Anyone who watched the 2002-03 state budget being cobbled together after a months-long stalemate knew that its chief purpose was to get Gov. Gray Davis and legislators past the Nov. 5 election and was, therefore, a disaster in the making -- "balanced" only because of billions of dollars in direct and indirect loans and pie-in-the-sky estimates of revenues and spending cuts. On Thursday, just nine days after Davis narrowly won a second term, the Legislature's top budget adviser confirmed the obvious: The budget is a bottomless sinkhole of deficits. Not only is the current year's budget at least $7 billion out of whack, but the state can look forward to annual shortfalls averaging about $15 billion, or $60 billion during Davis' second term. The deficit next year alone is projected at $21 billion. And, Legislative Analyst Elizabeth Hill told the Legislature, that gloomy scenario assumes that the state's economy will begin picking up next year. If it doesn't, the state's fisca!
l hole will be even deeper. The budget represents Davis' second major crisis, following the 2000-01 state energy debacle, and so far he has not handled it any more adroitly.
CA: Business groups aim for open primary
They say a planned ballot initiative would yield more moderate candidates.
With an eye toward producing more moderate choices for voters, California business interests are pushing to return the state to an open primary election system. upporters say they'll put an initiative before voters as early as 2004. Moderate candidates more accurately reflect the views of all Californians, they say. "What we don't want are the ideologues on either side," said Bill Hauck, president of the California Business Roundtable. "This is an effort to try to achieve balance." The California Chamber of Commerce and Californians to Protect the Open Primary are teaming with the roundtable in the effort. The change would affect statewide, legislative and congressional races.
Paul Craig Roberts: A leap into the dark
The midterm election has given us evil twins -- a Department of Homeland Security and a Middle Eastern war. The unintended consequences will be costly to Americans and come back to haunt Republicans and conservatives. One hundred government agencies from 22 departments crammed into an unaccountable bureaucracy of 170,000 civil servants creates less security. ... Shear bulk will not cure the federal government's inability to protect us from terrorists. ... "Homeland Security" is Orwellian. To what homeland does it refer? Americans no longer have a homeland. ... The new bureaucracy will be a department of citizen insecurity. You will have to guard your words, or a thoughtless joke or critical Internet posting could result in a knock on the door from the internal security police. The Deptartment of Homeland Security will define "terrorist" to fit its needs. Such a costly department will need to justify its budget, and the definition will take on wide latitude. The department'!
s main achievements will be the diminution of American civil rights, censorship of the Internet and gun control. Federal police forces will be able to liquidate any group by declaring it "terrorist," just as Janet Reno exterminated the Branch Dividians by declaring them "child abusers," and FBI and BAFT agents murdered Randy Weaver's family by declaring him "armed and dangerous." ... The Bush administration had best cool its jets and come up with a less emotional response to 9-11. Otherwise, future historians will describe Bush as Lord Birkenhead described Stanley Baldwin: "He takes a leap in the dark, looks round and takes another."
Johann Opitz <email@example.com> RKBA!
"Throughout recorded history, without exception, it has been the sole accomplishment of organized government to deprive their populations of liberty and of their property." -- John C. Calhoun