Monday, April 30, 2012

Sunday Globe Special: A Sexier Secret Service Would Save the President

This scandal has veered so far away from what I perceive to be the truth it is clear this has become another agenda-pushing piece of slop.

"Scandal highlights lack of women in Secret Service; Some argue more women may mean less bad behavior" by Eric Tucker  |  Associated Press, April 29, 2012

WASHINGTON - Secret Service agents are often portrayed in popular culture as disciplined, unflappable, loyal - and male. A spiraling prostitution scandal that has highlighted the dearth of women in the agency that protects the president and dignitaries has many wondering: Would more females in the ranks prevent future dishonor?

Only about a tenth of field agents and uniformed officers are women, a shortage some attribute to travel demands that can be especially taxing on women balancing families and careers. A scandal that risks portraying the agency as unfriendly to women, however, could set back efforts to close the gender gap.

“I can’t help but think that there would be some progress if there was more diversity and if there were more women that were there,’’ said Representative Carolyn Maloney, a New York Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “When you have a diversity of people there, it brings more accountability.’’  

Does it?


The agency has aggressively recruited women, targeting female-oriented career fairs and sending brochures to colleges....

But that wasn’t easy even before the prostitution embarrassment in Colombia, which arose the morning of April 12 when a Secret Service officer and a prostitute publicly argued over payment in a hotel hallway. A dozen Secret Service employees and a dozen military personnel have been implicated. Although Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said it appeared to be isolated, the agency has since confirmed it’s investigating if employees hired prostitutes and strippers ahead of President Obama’s visit to El Salvador last year.  

Why does government have to lie about every damn thing?

The agency on Friday also announced stricter measures, including assigning chaperones on some trips to enforce new rules of conduct.   

What is this, high school? Taxpayers are going to be paying for this?

Also see: Secret Service toughens agent conduct rules

Paige Pinson, 45, spent 15 years with the agency, and her father, W. Ralph Basham, is a former director. She said it wasn’t the culture that encouraged her to forego her agent’s position. After all, male agents were loyal to each other and fiercely protective of her. It was, instead, the birth of her first child that inspired her to seek a less travel-intensive analyst’s position.

“You do miss birthdays, you do miss Christmas, and you miss piano recitals,’’ Pinson said, “and maybe women are just more sensitive to that than men can be.’’  

I'm tired of the sexism, aren't you?

The agency enjoys vaunted prestige in American popular culture, but the rigors of a protective detail - jet-setting the globe at a moment’s notice to protect a dignitary, being on-call around the clock - isn’t for everyone. It’s the type of full-bore commitment that leads to canceled vacations and blown-off family obligations, an occasional workaday drudgery that, former agents say, can distinguish the Secret Service from other law enforcement agencies.  

Thank you, Hollywood!

“I know they work hard and long hours too, but at the end of the day, they go home at night,’’ said Barbara Riggs, who spent 31 years with the agency, serving on presidential protective details for Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush - ascending to the role of a supervisor - before retiring as deputy director in 2006. “You can’t say the same for being a Secret Service agent.’’

Cavorting with prostitutes on the job isn’t all that different from holding a business meeting in a topless joint: Both are hyper-sexualized activities that some men may condone but are bound to make women uncomfortable, said Donna Milgram, executive director of the National Institute for Women in Trades, Technology and Science.

This is an epidemic among the elite because it is more about power and control.

Other incidents over the past 15 years haven’t helped the Secret Service come off as welcoming to women. E-mails filed as part of a race discrimination lawsuit show workers sharing racially and sexually inappropriate jokes. An alcohol-soaked bar brawl involving off-duty agents in 2002 involved allegations that an agent had bitten off part of a man’s ear - though no charges were brought and a jury sided with the agent in a civil trial. A 2002 US News & World Report contained allegations of heavy drinking, pornography viewing at work, and security lapses 

See: The Good Stewards of Government

Looks like more the rule than exception.

Some former agents acknowledge a close-knit atmosphere where employees travel, dine, and socialize together. They say the prostitution scandal does not represent a cultural problem or reflect a broader disdain for women.


The cultural problem for the government is one of lying:

"Secret Service misconduct isolated, Napolitano says; Testimony at odds with statements of former agents" by Ed O’Keefe  |  Washington Post, April 26, 2012

WASHINGTON - The findings by the Secret Service Office of Professional Responsibility that no similar complaints were lodged would appear to contradict comments by some employees ousted in recent days because of the scandal. They privately contend that their conduct did not warrant dismissal because senior managers tolerated similar behavior during official trips.  

And there it is. This stuff is standard operating procedure.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that people close to the accused employees said that in an effort to fight for their jobs, the ousted employees might opt to divulge details of how colleagues spent some of their downtime on presidential trips: drinking heavily, visiting strip clubs, and cavorting with women for hire. 

One wonders how many of them might start turning up dead "accidentally."

During the hearing, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Secret Service director Mark Sullivan continued to have Obama’s support, and she assured lawmakers that Sullivan’s investigation “will be complete and thorough.’’  

Yeah, right. It's a government investigation, isn't it?


"Secret Service inquiry turns to El Salvador trip last year; Reports suggest scandal may not be so isolated" by Alicia A. Caldwell  |  Associated Press, April 27, 2012

WASHINGTON - Expanding the prostitution investigation, the Secret Service acknowledged Thursday that it is checking whether its employees hired strippers and prostitutes in advance of President Obama’s visit last year to El Salvador.

The disclosure came not long after the Homeland Security secretary assured skeptical senators that the recent prostitution scandal in Colombia appeared to be an isolated incident.  

Translation: She lied.

A spokesman for the Secret Service, Edwin Donovan, said the agency was investigating allegations raised in news reports about unprofessional behavior that have emerged in the aftermath of the Colombia incident....

Separately, The Washington Post this week cited unnamed confidants of the Secret Service officers implicated in Colombia saying senior managers had tolerated similar behavior during previous official trips. The Post described a visit to Buenos Aires in 2009 by Bill Clinton, whose protective detail it said included agents and uniformed officers. During that trip, the Post said, members of the detail went out for a late night of partying at strip clubs....


"Obama adviser says scandal was not security threat" Associated Press, April 30, 2012

WASHINGTON - The White House’s top counterterrorism adviser said Sunday that the Secret Service’s prostitution scandal did not weaken the president’s security.

John Brennan said the disciplinary actions taken against the officers allegedly involved show that the Secret Service will take whatever action is necessary to ensure that potential threats will not get an opportunity to “penetrate the security shield that surrounds the president.’’  

Better not because as we have seen through history, assassinations of powerful people or figurehead leaders are inside jobs.

Brennan spoke on CNN’s “State of the Union.’’


The scandal has put the storied agency under a different line of fire, as lawmakers and internal investigators try to get to the bottom of officers’ behavior and any implications for the safety of those they protect, starting with Obama.

The agency is also looking into whether agents hired prostitutes and strippers in El Salvador in advance of the president’s trip last year.

Brennan said officials are satisfied the Colombian episode did not pose a threat to the president. Obama joked about agents being on a shorter leash in his remarks at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner Saturday night. “I really do enjoy attending these dinners,’’ he said. “In fact, I had a lot more material prepared, but I have to get the Secret Service home in time for their new curfew.’’  

Okay, I was told he was going to be angry if the stories were true and here he is joking about it?

I mean, if he is not taking it seriously after other reported instances.... sigh.

The Secret Service was formed to chase counterfeiters at the end of the Civil War, a mission it still carries out. Its protective work began informally, as part-time security for President Cleveland in 1894.

After President McKinley’s 1901 assassination by an anarchist who hid his gun in a handkerchief, Congress put the agency in charge of protecting presidents, then an expanding list of family members, US and visiting foreign officials, and political candidates.  

And yet they still failed JFK on November 22, 1963.


Yeah, if only more women were in charge:

"More female executives are rising to the top levels of the largest defense companies, setting a standard that industry officials say may help encourage more women to enter the field....  

I'm sure that will make the war corporations more nurturing and caring when dealing out death.


Also see: Drill sergeant says sexism, racism led to suspension

Slow Saturday Special: You've Come a Long Way, Baby

A Night With General Carter of the Massachusetts National Guard

Globe's Good Night Kiss

I suppose it wouldn't be the first time something like that has happened in the service -- or the last

One often hears the refrain that the world would be so much better with women in charge. Of course, we all know how much Margret Thatcher improved the world, how Nancy Pelosi brought the wars to an end (spending bills begin in the House), and can one imagine Hillary Clinton easing back the neo-con war plan for the planet? The fact is the "the world would be better if women ran the planet" is a trap. It leads us all into infighting over gender, race, age, etc, when the REAL FACTOR is CLASS! It turns out it DOESN'T MATTER what HAND is on the controls, it is the INSTITUTIONS THEMSELVES that are the problem. 

This is not to indict women; however, why do they keep sending their sons and daughters into wars? Why aren't women coming together collectively and stopping the slaughter? 

I will say this in favor of women: some of the best models for harmonious living were the Native American societies that were basically controlled by matriarchs before they were smashed by colonization. There were tribal wars and life was far from perfect, but when has it ever been?

Sunday Globe Special: Bad Apple Avoids Taxes


"Apple said Tuesday its fiscal second-quarter profit almost doubled to $11.6 billion."

"Apple slashes its tax bill with legal, cutting-edge practices" by Charles Duhigg and David Kocieniewski  |  New york times     April 29, 2012

RENO - Apple, the world’s most profitable technology company, has done something central to its corporate strategy: It has avoided millions of dollars in taxes in California and 20 other states....

Setting up an office in Reno is just one of many legal methods Apple uses to reduce its worldwide tax bill by billions of dollars each year.

As it has in Nevada, Apple has created subsidiaries in low-tax countries such as Ireland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and the British Virgin Islands - some little more than a letterbox in Luxembourg - that help cut the taxes it pays around the world.

Do not war-profiteers like Halliburton do the same thing?

Almost every major corporation tries to minimize its taxes, of course. For Apple, the savings are especially alluring because the company’s profits are so high. Wall Street analysts predict Apple could earn up to $41.4 billion in its current fiscal year - a record for any US business.  

Yeah, that's billion with a B, readers. And they are on a pace to beat it.

When someone in the United States buys an iPhone, iPad, or other Apple product, a portion of the profits from that sale is often deposited into accounts controlled by Braeburn Capital, and then invested in stocks, bonds, or other financial instruments, say company executives. Some profits from those investments are shielded from California tax authorities by virtue of Braeburn’s Nevada address.

Since founding Braeburn, Apple has earned more than $2.5 billion in interest and dividend income on its cash reserves and investments around the globe. What’s more, Braeburn allows Apple to lower its taxes in other states because many of those jurisdictions use formulas that reduce what is owed when a company’s financial management occurs elsewhere. 

It's not that I'm against Apple making money; however, this is in the face of the hollowing out and destitution of the American middle class.

While Apple’s Reno office helps the company avoid state taxes, its international subsidiaries, particularly the company’s assignment of sales and patent royalties to other nations - help reduce taxes owed to the US and other governments.... 

Apple serves as a window on how technology giants have taken advantage of tax codes written for an industrial age and ill-suited to today’s digital economy. Some profits at companies like Apple, Google, Amazon, Hewlett-Packard, and Microsoft derive not from physical goods but royalties on intellectual property, like the patents on software that makes devices work.

Other times, the products themselves are digital, like downloaded songs. It is much easier for businesses with royalties and digital products to move profits to low-tax countries than it is, say, for grocery stores or automakers. A downloaded application can be sold from anywhere.

Apple, former executives say, has been particularly talented at identifying legal tax loopholes and hiring accountants who are known for their innovation....

Apple was a pioneer of an accounting technique known as the “Double Irish with a Dutch Sandwich,’’ which reduced taxes by routing profits through two Irish subsidiaries and the Netherlands and then to the Caribbean. In 2004, Ireland, a nation of less than 5 million, was home to more than one-third of Apple’s worldwide revenues, according to company filings.

Without such tactics, Apple’s federal tax bill in the United States most likely would have been $2.4 billion higher last year, according to a recent study by a former Treasury Department economist, Martin A. Sullivan. As it stands, the company paid cash taxes of $3.3 billion around the world on its reported profits of $34.2 billion last year, a tax rate of 9.8 percent. (Apple does not disclose what portion of those payments were in the US, or what portion are assigned to previous or future years.)

That's all?

By comparison, Walmart last year paid worldwide cash taxes of $5.9 billion on its booked profits of $24.4 billion, a tax rate of 24 percent, which is about average for non-tech companies.  

Walmart has it's own problems these days.

Apple said it “has conducted all of its business with the highest of ethical standards, complying with applicable laws and accounting rules.’’  

That doesn't make it right.

Apple also said it “pays an enormous amount of taxes which help our local, state, and federal governments. In the first half of fiscal year 2012, our US operations have generated almost $5 billion in federal and state income taxes, including income taxes withheld on employee stock gains, making us among the top payers of US income tax.’’  

And I'm not for raising their tax. I'm for cutting back on the empire abroad and tyranny at home. There will be plenty of money for all our needs once we get rid of the theft and waste.


Also see: State Street Stealers

Not only did they and others not pay taxes, they got a big old tax check from the government!

You SEE where your TAX LOOT is going?

Sunday Globe Special: Shale Game

"Shale gas boom has benefits and risks; Lower energy costs welcomed, but harm to environment feared" by Erin Ailworth  |  Globe Staff     April 29, 2012

A proposal to expand a major local pipeline could bring cheap, plentiful supplies of natural gas to New England from Northeast shale formations, but it also thrusts the region into a raging debate that pits economics against environment, industry against community, and sometimes neighbor against neighbor.

The focus is often on a controversial technique, known as fracking, that pumps chemical-laced, pressurized water deep into the earth to unlock natural gas trapped by shale rock. The technology has helped bring jobs, businesses, and money to poorer communities that desperately need it in places like western Pennsylvania.

At what cost?

But drilling has also disrupted rural ways of life and been blamed for polluting air and water. In Dimock, Pa., a community of about 1,400 in the Susquehanna River Valley, Julie and Craig Sautner have been forced to truck water to their 3.7-acre property for more than three years, since their well became polluted with methane, iron, uranium, aluminum, and other substances. They blame it on nearby gas drilling.

“We’re sick and tired of it,’’ said Craig Sautner. “I came home one night and the water was all cloudy. There it was, you could see it in the glass. It looked like white smoke swirling around.’’  

Bottoms up!

The opening of shale gas fields in recent years has changed the energy equation for the United States, providing cheap supplies to feed its hunger for energy. Natural gas prices are at their lowest point in a decade, contributing to lower heating and electricity bills, and supporting the nation’s recovery.

For New England, the proximity to abundant natural gas in the Northeast could reduce one of the greatest disadvantages for the region’s economy: high energy costs. The Marcellus, a shale formation stretching beneath a half-dozen Northeastern states, including Pennsylvania and New York, is estimated to hold nearly one-third of the nation’s shale gas reserves.

That has led Spectra Energy Corp. of Houston to propose expanding parts of the 1,120-mile Algonquin Gas Transmission pipeline that serves New England. US Representative Edward J. Markey, a Malden Democrat and ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee, called access to such a nearby source of energy “one of the single biggest issues in 21st-century New England’s history.’’

“It’s going to potentially transform our ability to compete in manufacturing, the price that people will pay to heat their homes,’’ Markey said. “It is a very good thing for our economy, for our consumers, for our environment - as long as the price is paid upfront to ensure that methane does not leak into the atmosphere, that the water is not contaminated.’’  

This guy is supposed to be one of the lead greens in Congress.

Environmental concerns often center around the drilling process. One particular technique, called hydraulic fracturing - the formal name for fracking - has become the flashpoint for protesters. It uses large amounts of pressurized water, mixed with sand and a cocktail of chemicals, to crack densely-packed shale rock to release trapped gas.

The water, and later the gas, must travel thousands of feet in cement- and steel-encased wells, and through the water table to the surface. If these wells are not constructed or operated properly, chemicals and gas can seep into groundwater or escape into the air.

At Craig Sautner’s home, drinking water from his well tarnished silverware and left laundry with a funny smell. It sometimes made his family woozy or caused rashes. A YouTube video, posted last month, shows him lighting a jug of the water on fire.


“They keep on saying there’s nothing wrong with the water,’’ he said.  

They aren't the ones having to drink and bathe in it, are they?

Industry has struggled against such perceptions. In an effort to be more transparent, many companies are disclosing the chemicals used in fracking on websites like

“The biggest challenge we have now is helping people understand that the process has been used safely over a million times,’’ said Kathryn Klaber, president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, an association of drilling and related companies with 300 members. “Nine out of 10 onshore oil and gas wells in the US have been developed with hydraulic fracturing technology.’’  

Yeah, poor, misunderstood industry.

Some communities welcome drilling. In Lycoming County, Pa., which includes South Williamsport, home of the Little League World Series, the economy has boomed in the past three or four years, with drilling helping to bring an estimated 2,000 jobs, said Vincent Matteo, head of the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce.

In that same period, more than 100 new businesses opened, including hotels, to serve the influx of workers from gas production companies such as Anadarko Petroleum Corp. of Houston and Range Resources Corp. of Fort Worth. In 2010, the most recent year available, Williamsport was the seventh fastest growing metropolitan area in the nation, according to the US Department of Commerce.

Last year, the county’s average annual unemployment rate dropped more than a percentage point to 7.7 percent.

“I’ve been in economic development 31 years and I’ve seen good times and bad times,’’ Matteo said, but “I’ve never seen anything like this on the good side.’’

Yeah, to hell with your health and the health of your children.  Let the good time$ roll!

Many communities, however, remain divided over drilling. In Milanville, Pa., a community of about 500 along the Delaware River, the debate has created rifts among longtime neighbors, many of whose families have owned their properties since they were granted by the state’s founder, William Penn.

Some see drilling as a way to cash in, others worry it will disrupt their lives and ruin the environment. Only test wells have been drilled in the area, but tensions are rising, said Grady Avant, a Milanville resident and fracking opponent.

“Every year, there are just more and more signs, ‘Stop fracking,’ ’’ said Avant, a founding board member of FrackAlert, a group that lobbies against drilling. “It’s already changed things socially, pitting neighbor against neighbor.’’

And when you are fighting with your neighbor forces above you can operate with a free hand.

In Dryden, N.Y., a town inhabited by dairy farmers and commuters to Cornell University in Ithaca, a drilling ban was instituted last year after local leaders decided the community wasn’t prepared for changes the gas industry might bring - especially after witnessing the impact in Pennsylvania communities.

“Truck traffic, the out-of-town workers, the pressure on housing prices,’’ said Town Supervisor Mary Ann Sumner, “there were just too many things for us to feel like we could get a grip on it quickly enough to feel safe.’’

Gee, what kind of crazies would turn down a jobs-producing, economy-growing gas well? Or nuclear plant? Or casino?

Such debates are only expected to continue as state, local, and national policy makers work to balance the benefits of cheap, abundant energy against the risks to air, water, and community.

Why can't we have both?

The Environmental Protection Agency has been in the middle of those difficult negotiations, and earlier this month announced new rules designed to cut harmful gases released through fracking by 95 percent, while also giving the drilling industry a grace period until 2015 to develop the technology needed to meet the new emissions goal. Both environmentalists and industry offered praise for the balance struck in the new rules.

Some shale gas is already making its way into New England to heat homes, power factories, and generate electricity. More is likely to come. As it does, lawmakers, policy makers, and environmental advocates say the region can’t ignore the debate over drilling and its impact.

“Shale gas is in Massachusetts,’’ said Mark Brownstein, chief counsel of the energy program at the Environmental Defense Fund, an advocacy group. “It is in all our homes. The fundamental question is how do we make sure that as shale gas is being produced, the public health and the environment are not endangered?’’ 

When controlled-opposition environmentalists are behind this thing you know you are being drilled.



"Enlarged natural gas pipe proposed for N.E." April 25, 2012|Erin Ailworth, Globe Staff

A Houston pipeline company has begun exploring the expansion of a major regional pipeline to bring abundant supplies of natural gas to New England from nearby shale formations, a move that could help lower heating and electricity costs here.

Spectra Energy Corp. estimates that increasing pipeline capacity in Southern New England by about 15 percent would save gas and electric customers - including roughly 3 million in Massachusetts - up to $651 million a year. It would allow the area to further benefit from the boom in natural gas production in Pennsylvania and New York....


Also see: What the Frack?

Boston Globe Bathroom Break

Yeah, who cares if it causes earthquakes and the water taste like shit?

Sunday Globe Special: A High-Deductible a Day....

.... keeps the doctor away.

"Health care spending shows slowing trend; Behavior changes and recession key as costs taper off" by Annie Lowrey  |  New York Times, April 29, 2012

WASHINGTON - The growth of health spending has slowed substantially in the last few years, surprising experts and offering some fuel for optimism about the federal government’s long-term fiscal performance.

Much of the slowdown is because of the recession, and thus not unexpected, health experts say. But some of it seems to be due to changing behavior by consumers and providers of health care - meaning that the lower rates of growth might persist even as the economy picks up.

Because Medicare and Medicaid represent two of the largest contributors to the country’s long-term debts, slower growth in health costs could reduce the pressure for enormous spending cuts or tax increases.

In 2009 and 2010, total nationwide health care spending grew at less than 4 percent per year, the slowest annual pace in more than five decades, according to the latest numbers from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services. After years of taking up a growing share of economic activity, health spending held steady in 2010, at 17.9 percent of the gross domestic product.

The growth rate mostly slowed as millions of Americans lost insurance coverage along with their jobs.  

And it is portrayed as a good thing!

Worried about job security, others may have feared taking time off work for doctor’s visits or surgical procedures, and or skipped nonurgent care when money was tight.

That's me.

Still, the slowdown was sharper than health economists expected, and a broad, bipartisan range of academics, hospital administrators, and policy experts have started to wonder if what had seemed impossible might be happening - if doctors and patients have begun to change their behavior in ways that bend the so-called cost curve.

If so, it was happening just as the new health care law was coming into force, and before the Supreme Court could weigh in on it or the voters could pronounce their own verdict at the polls.  

Related: Supreme Court Justices Delay Check-Up Until June

They must have the pulse of the people, 'eh?

 “The tectonic plates might be beginning to shift,’’ said Karen Davis, the president of the Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit research group in New York. “It’s hard to believe everything that’s been tried over the last decade to slow spending wouldn’t be making a difference.’’

Experts were surprised, for instance, at a drop in spending on some hospitalized seniors - people enrolled in Medicare, whose coverage the recession should not affect. They also noted that some of the states where health care spending slowed most rapidly were states that were not hit particularly badly by the recession, suggesting that other factors were at play.

“The recession just doesn’t account for the numbers we’re seeing,’’ said David Cutler, a Harvard health economist and former adviser to President Obama. “I think there’s much more going on.’’

The implications of a bend in the cost curve would be enormous. Policymakers on both sides of the aisle see rising health care costs as the central threat to household budgets and the country’s fiscal health. If the growth in Medicare were to come down to a rate of only 1 percentage point a year faster than the economy’s growth, the projected long-term deficit would fall by more than one third.

The growth of health costs slowed in the 1990s as health maintenance organizations became more popular. That played a role in both gains in household income - less money on employer-provided health benefits means more money for raises - and in budget surpluses, economists argue.

See: Obama's HMOs

Some experts caution that there remains too little data to determine whether the current slowdown will become permanent, or whether it is merely a blip caused by the economy’s weakness.

“If there’s something else going on, we don’t know what it is yet,’’ said Gail Wilensky, a health economist who headed Medicare and Medicaid during the administration of President George H.W. Bush. “The most honest thing to say is that, one, the reduction in use is greater than the recession predicts; two, we don’t understand why yet; and three, you’d be foolhardy to say that we can understand it.’’  

For some reason I just feel those two things don't go together.

Many experts - and the Medicare and Medicaid center itself - point to the explosion of high-deductible plans, where consumers have lower premiums but pay more out of pocket, as one main factor....

That leaves thousands of consumers with an incentive to think twice about heading to the doctor....

That's me. 

Most important, health economists point to a shift toward accountable care, in which providers are paid for the quality of care, not the quantity....  

It's called rationing, folks?

Many health care experts said they believed that the shift toward publicizing medical error rates and encouraging accountable care seemed to be paying dividends - and that providers were making changes in anticipation of the health care overhaul, which further emphasize accountable care.

What was stopping them before if this is so great?

“In Massachusetts, we had a lot of political pressure to understand the growth in costs as unsustainable,’’ said Sandra Fenwick, the chief operating officer of Children’s Hospital Boston, which has implemented more than 100 reforms, saving millions of dollars, in the past four years. “We had to figure out how we were going to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.’’


The high cost of the Globe ($2 a day now) is going to start keeping me away from them starting tomorrow.

Sunday Globe Special: Nursing Home Nightmares

It starts with the bankrupting decision to commit your loved one:

"Use of antipsychotic drugs raises alarm; Federal data obtained by the Globe show many nursing homes make heavy use of antipsychotic drugs to pacify residents" by Kay Lazar and Matt Carroll  |  Globe Staff     April 29, 2012

Many nursing homes that have commonly used antipsychotic drugs to control agitation and combative behavior in residents who should not be receiving the powerful sedatives, exposing them to the risk of dangerous side effects....

The situation is alarmingly common in Massachusetts and across the nation, a Globe investigation has found....

The drugs, which are intended to treat severe mental illness such as schizophrenia, can leave people in a stupor. The US Food and Drug Administration has issued black-box warnings - the agency’s most serious medication alert - about potentially fatal side effects when antipsychotics are taken by patients with dementia.

Nursing home regulators have for years collected data about individual homes’ use of antipsychotics but have not publicly released facility-specific information, citing patient privacy concerns. The government finally provided the data to the Globe, 19 months after the newspaper submitted a Freedom of Information Act request.

The data show that in more than one in five nursing homes in the United States, antipsychotics are administered to a significant percentage of residents despite the fact that they do not have a psychosis or related condition that nursing home regulators say warrants their use. The proportion of homes using antipsychotic drugs in this fashion is even higher in Massachusetts....

Physicians have wide latitude to prescribe drugs, even for purposes not approved by the FDA or recommended by the federal agency that regulates nursing homes, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Still, both agencies say it’s not appropriate in most cases for patients suffering from dementia to be prescribed antipsychotics. The medications increase the risk of lethal infections and cardiovascular complications in these elderly patients, the FDA says. In addition, the drugs can cause dizziness, a sudden drop in blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, blurred vision, and urinary problems.

Dr. Michael Gloth, a Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine associate professor who specializes in the care of elderly patients, said antipsychotics have not been thoroughly studied in the types of residents typically found in nursing homes - elderly people with several illnesses who are taking multiple medications. But the limited data suggest they can be dangerous, he said.

“We have an inordinate amount of prescriptions written for a population that is already frail, and we know these drugs increase the risk for side effects, including death,’’ Gloth said. “So why are they being written?’’ 

I'll give you one gue$$

Nursing home administrators counter that they sometimes must use antipsychotics to keep aggressive residents from harming themselves, other residents, or staff - the fog of dementia can cause people to punch, kick, or shove others.

The administrators say the government data exaggerate the problem of antipsychotic abuse because the numbers include patients on low doses that facilities are trying to wean off the medications.

“There are things out there the industry can do better, there is no question about that, but there are good things in the industry that are not seen because of these issues with the statistical data,’’ said Frank Grosso, vice president of pharmacy services at Genesis HealthCare, which owns 202 nursing homes in 13 states, including Massachusetts.

Many industry executives also complain that federal rules governing the drugs’ use are contradictory, and that nursing home regulations listing conditions that can be treated with antipsychotics were written about 20 years ago and weren’t updated when the FDA more recently approved two other mental illnesses - including bipolar disorder - for treatment with some of the drugs.

The government data reviewed by the Globe show that despite the industry’s complaints, antipsychotic overuse is prevalent....

Two years ago, the Globe reported that Massachusetts was among the states with the highest percentage of nursing home residents receiving antipsychotics for conditions not recommended by regulators....

See:  The Massachusetts Model: Nursing Home Will Make You Nuts

Just living here does because the image collides with reality.  

Federal regulators acknowledge industry complaints about the lack of clarity of some of their guidance. A manual used by nursing homes and state inspectors says in one place that antipsychotics may be considered for “dementing illnesses with associated behavioral symptoms,’’ but then says three pages later that the medications should not be used for many of the behavioral symptoms common in dementia, such as wandering, restlessness, and insomnia.

Changes will be made to the manual as part of the federal government’s larger campaign to improve dementia care in nursing homes, said Alice Bonner, the nation’s chief nursing home regulator who directs the nursing home division at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The agency is also working on updating its list of acceptable conditions for treatment with antipsychotics. Officials are leaning toward adding bipolar disorder to the list but taking off hallucinations, because it is such a “loose category’’ that invites overuse of the medications, said Edward Mortimore, who oversees analysis of nursing home data for the agency.

Federal rules give state inspectors authority to cite nursing homes if residents receive antipsychotics inappropriately. Until 2006, there was a specific citation for overuse of antipsychotics, but that year officials folded that citation into a more generic “unnecessary medication use’’ category that pertains to all medicines.

Bonner said her agency is considering reviving the specific citation for antipsychotic use to encourage more scrutiny, but is concerned that homes will instead use other sedating drugs that can also be harmful. “One of the things we want to do is to make sure that surveyors are looking out for a prescribing shift,’’ Bonner said. “Did a person get taken off of an antipsychotic and simply put on an antidepressant or antianxiety agent instead.’’

Some studies suggest that such changes are occurring, and that elderly dementia patients on antidepressants are at increased risk of falling....


And once you kick the habit?

"Finding alternatives to potent sedatives; Nursing homes increasingly take new tack in dealing with dementia" by Kay Lazar  |  Globe Staff     April 30, 2012

LITTLETON - Marjorie Bontempo was a changed woman after moving into Life Care Center of Nashoba Valley, a Littleton nursing home where the staff doesn’t believe in using antipsychotic drugs simply to calm residents.

A physician had prescribed an antipsychotic for Bontempo a year earlier, after Alzheimer’s disease had transformed her from an accomplished seamstress and demure family peacekeeper into a cantankerous, confused woman who refused to eat. The medicine eased her aggression but left her dazed, said her daughter, Patty Sinnett.  

How do you know that is dementia because I run across old women who are like that all the time?

Nashoba’s nurses took Bontempo off the powerful sedative. Sinnett went to visit soon after and found her mother in the activity room watching a Clark Gable movie.

“She started explaining the whole movie to me, like a normal person would,’’ Sinnett said. “It was the first time I had had a conversation with her in a year. It was incredible.’’  

I'm convinced this society is over-drugged, I mean, over-medicated.

The Littleton facility is one of a small but growing number of nursing homes that are treating the agitation and disruptive behavior that often accompany dementia without resorting to antipsychotics.

Instead, Life Care Center and similar homes try to tailor care to each resident, to make it familiar and comforting. Staffers comb residents’ pasts to learn their preferences, hobbies, and accomplishments, tapping bedrock emotions that endure long after memory fades.

The Globe reported Sunday that many homes still rely heavily on antipsychotics to deal with aggressive residents, though most of these residents do not have conditions that nursing home regulators say warrant use of the drugs. And federal authorities have warned of sometimes lethal side effects when antipsychotics are taken by elderly dementia patients.

Industry leaders say that the drugs must be used at times to protect residents and staff, and that many of the nondrug approaches being tried require specialized training that far too few nursing home workers have received, and often more staffing.

They note that drug regulators have not approved any medications specifically to manage the difficult behaviors exhibited by residents with dementia, and that physicians are allowed to prescribe antipsychotics “off-label’’ for conditions other than what they were designed for: serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia.

Overall use of the drugs in nursing home patients without mental illnesses has declined since 2005, according to the Globe’s analysis of federal data....

From the circular layout of its Alzheimer’s unit - so residents don’t encounter a dead-end in a hallway, a potential source of stress for those who wander - to the goats and llamas grazing in its pastoral front yard, Nashoba stands out.

Executive director Ellen Levinson, whose two golden retrievers often greet visitors at the front door, said she has found that animals have a calming effect. The walls of the 27-bed Alzheimer’s unit are lined with animal pictures, and bird feeders hang from nearly every window.

A caretaker sometimes leads the llamas through the halls and into the Alzheimer’s unit, where even residents who relentlessly wander stop to pet the regal creatures.

Activities and care are matched to residents’ individual personalities and abilities....

Many of the residents are no longer able to speak, so their behaviors - tears, screams, slapping, smiles - are how they communicate....

Caring for people with dementia, without relying on antipsychotics, requires nursing home staffers to become detectives, said Paul Raia, vice president of clinical services for the Alzheimer’s Association of Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Raia, who trains nursing home staffers in dementia care, encourages them to methodically chart difficult behaviors to pinpoint possible triggers. In one recent case, a male resident was inexplicably hitting others, but by tracking his actions, the nurses discovered that he struck only during the day, and only when he was in a certain section of a room.

“We learned the light hurt his eyes,’’ Raia said. “It was in a day room and all we had to do was draw the shades so the light wasn’t in his eyes, and it didn’t happen again.’’  

How many places would just pre$cribe a pill?

Dr. Jonathan Evans, a medical director at two Virginia nursing homes, said he prescribed antipsychotics for years for dementia patients, often feeling pressure from overwhelmed staffers or agonized families who believed the medications would help their loved ones.

“We are trained as physicians to think that every problem has a potential solution, and the most widely used solution is a medication, but that doesn’t work for every problem,’’ said Evans, president-elect of the American Medical Directors Association, a national trade group for physicians who work in nursing homes.

Evans stopped prescribing antipsychotics for dementia patients after the government warnings of lethal side effects, and he said he will dedicate his presidency to educating other caregivers that challenging behaviors from dementia may be due to untreated pain from arthritis or an infection, or fear.

He has found that people with dementia often understand and respond better to nonverbal communication - a gentle approach at eye-level - than to words.

“These behaviors are often a primitive, biological response that is like a reflex,’’ said Evans, who also is a consultant to Life Care Centers of America, which operates more than 200 facilities in 28 states, including Nashoba.

Across the country, a variety of approaches have been developed to help nursing home staff better understand and manage difficult behaviors without using antipsychotics, but researchers are still trying to determine which methods work best.

Such drug-free approaches can be labor-intensive.  

Somehow we always have enough money for wars, Wall Street, and Israel.

The Globe’s analysis found a link between staffing levels in nursing homes and the use of antipsychotics. Those with the highest percentage of residents who receive antipsychotics contrary to nursing home regulators’ recommendations also tend to have the lowest numbers of registered nurses and nurses aides.

These homes also typically have more residents on Medicaid, a government insurance program that reimburses nursing homes at a far lower rate for patient care than private insurers do, so the homes would have less money to hire staff.

Half of the residents in Nashoba’s Alzheimer’s unit have private insurance, which means the facility is receiving $412 daily for each of these residents, compared with the $184 daily rate for the other patients, whose care is covered by Medicaid, according to Levinson, the executive director.

That allows Nashoba the luxury of higher staffing levels than the state median, according to the Globe’s analysis.

“Money helps with staffing,’’ said Levinson, the executive director, “but having the right philosophy is not expensive.’’

Nashoba does not accept residents who have a history of combative behaviors that could hurt other residents. That typically means that large, strong, aggressive men who are still able to walk are not allowed.

But even homes that take difficult dementia patients, such as Beatitudes Campus in Phoenix, have been able to reduce their reliance on antipsychotics....


Also see: Nursing Home Profits

The treatment of America's elderly is a national disgrace and scandal. 

Sunday Globe Special: War in Wisconsin

"Wis. recall effort highlights unions’ election-year efforts" by Jim Rutenberg and Steven Greenhouse  |  NEW YORK TIMES, April 29, 2012

GREEN BAY, Wis. - “Recall Walker’’ bumper stickers dotted the workers’ parking lot at the Georgia Pacific paper mill on Day Street here one recent afternoon, proof of their union’s role in the effort to oust Governor Scott Walker from office early for his legislation limiting public employees’ bargaining rights.

But among the largest donors to Walker and his cause are the plant’s owners, the billionaire industrialists Charles G. and David H. Koch, the latter of whom has said of the recall election to be held in June, “If the unions win the recall, there will be no stopping union power.’’

The recall vote here has been billed as a critical test of labor muscle versus corporate money. But it is only a warm-up for a confrontation that will play out on a much larger scale during the presidential election, which both sides view as the biggest political showdown in at least 30 years between pro- and anti-union forces.  

We are told that every two years. 

Where are the Democrats when you really need them?

The election in Wisconsin reflects fights in crucial battleground states across the country - Ohio and Florida, New Hampshire and Michigan - between newly elected conservative lawmakers and their business allies and the public employees’ unions they have tried to hobble in the name of recession-era austerity.

But even as the economy slowly recovers, the public-sector clash has spread into a more fundamental, high-stakes fight between probusiness groups backed by wealthy conservative donors and a broad coalition of private and public sector unions that portray the state fights as part of a wider move to cripple organized labor: a labor-management dispute writ large in the context of a national election.

The same national groups flooding the streets and the airwaves in Wisconsin - the Koch-supported group Americans for Prosperity on the right, the AFL-CIO and the United Steelworkers union on the left - are emerging as important outside supporters of President Obama and Mitt Romney, each side empowered by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

That ruling is not giving only wealthy donors like the Kochs greater options for pouring tens of millions of dollars into the presidential election. It is also giving unions - some in major donors’ own factories - the ability for the first time ever to spend money from union treasuries for campaigning among nonunion voters.

The combination of the squeeze on state budgets, high rates of unemployment, and the conservative movement’s revived energy provided an opening for Republican efforts, often business-backed, to promote tough-on-labor legislation in key states. Those efforts have succeeded in rolling back gains made by unions over decades, prompting vows from labor to fight back with newly engaged members shaken from self-described complacency.... 

Steelworkers will be part of a broader effort that national union strategists say will fill the streets in battleground states with hundreds of thousands of their members, who will go door to door telling union colleagues - and for the first time, nonunion households - why they should vote for Obama....

Officials for the steelworkers say it has been awkward at times to wage partisan battles against the family that owns the factories that employ them.

The union’s leaders recently agreed on a contract with Georgia Pacific that they considered fair. When liberal groups called for a boycott of Koch products late last year, a Steelworkers’ vice president, Jon Geenen, said it would harm “the wrong people,’’ writing of a “dilemma and a paradox,’’ namely, “While the Koch brothers are credited with advocating an agenda and groups that are clearly hostile to labor and labor’s agenda, the brothers’ company in practice and in general has positive and productive collective bargaining relationships with its unions.’’

But, Bolton said, that has not stopped the union from telling workers at those companies what it believes to be the goal of the Kochs and their allies. “They want ineffective, weak unions,’’ he said, adding, “A lot of these bills didn’t directly affect our private-sector members, but we realize that we would be the next.’’

In an interview, Walker called that a bogus argument, saying he has no plans to pursue right-to-work legislation, as private-sector unions have feared. Such laws would let employees at unionized workplaces opt out of paying union fees.

“Private-sector unions are my partners,’’ he said. Walker said that in restricting collective bargaining rights for government workers, save those in public safety, he was confronting a reality facing virtually all state governments with aging, unionized work forces: “We can’t sustain our budgets unless we make some reasonable changes.’’


Sunday Globe Special: Illinois Embezzler

"Town employee in Illinois accused of $30m swindle" by Jason Keyser  |  Associated Press, April 29, 2012

DIXON, Ill. - The small-town bookkeeper dazzled friends and co-workers with invitations to her immaculate horse ranch and home, where she displayed trophies hauled back from world championship exhibitions and visitors in cowboy hats arrived to buy some of the best-bred horses in the nation.

“She has a trophy case that you wouldn’t believe - actually a room,’’ said Stephanie Terranova, who worked with Rita Crundwell for 15 years at City Hall and attended her parties and auctions. “You wouldn’t believe the different people that came. We don’t have a lot of that type of thing around here. . . . Cowboy boots, cowboy hats, and Southern drawls.’’

The gulf between Crundwell’s two worlds was breathtaking, and her colleagues and neighbors never guessed how the two entwined: Crundwell is accused of using her modestly paid town hall job to steal their tax dollars, support an extravagant lifestyle, and win national fame as a breeder.

Federal prosecutors say Crundwell, 58, who handled all of the city’s finances, embezzled a staggering $30 million in public funds from Dixon, the boyhood home of President Reagan.  

Bankers stole trillions.

In a criminal complaint, they say they have obtained bank records that document each step she took in shifting taxes and other public funds through four city bank accounts before hiding them in a fifth account no one else knew about. Still, they are trying to figure out how she kept the scheme a secret, even from outside auditors, for at least six years. It unraveled only when a co-worker filling in for Crundwell while she was on an extended vacation stumbled upon the secret bank account.

Crundwell had an encyclopedic knowledge of city business down to which drawer contained a particular document, said Mayor James Burke, who recalled feeling uneasy about the city comptroller’s growing wealth.

“There wasn’t anything to hang my hat on,’’ said Burke, who has known Crundwell since she was a teenager. “Rita, she is a very, very smart person. I mean she is almost brilliant.’’

On Monday, the city fired Crundwell, who was arrested by FBI agents April 17 on a charge of wire fraud and later freed on a $4,500 recognizance bond.


Sunday Globe Special: Return to South Central

"Revisiting South Los Angeles, 20 years after deadly race riot" by Amy Taxin and John Rogers  |  Associated Press, April 29, 2012

LOS ANGELES -A day that marked the beginning of one of the deadliest, most destructive race riots in the nation’s history....

Rioting spread across the city and into neighboring suburbs. Almost a quarter century had passed since the tumultuous urban riots of 1968, and even longer since LA’s Watts rioting in 1965. The magnitude of this new racial paroxysm shocked a nation that thought it had moved on....

While racial tensions fanned by the verdict and distrust of police among LA’s black population have moderated, residents of the city’s largely black and Hispanic South Side complain that the area is still plagued by too few jobs, too few grocery stores, and a lack of redevelopment....

“Have things changed? Not really. People are just more mellow these days,’’ Frank Owens says....

Prescription drugs in the water?


I had intended to post a bunch of recent Globe items with racial overtones; however, I'm finding that I'm lacking the time so fuck it. I don't want to play the race game anymore when we are all being set at each others throats by the very controllers that are screwing us all no matter our differences.

Sunday Globe Special: Diskin's Dissent

The final attempt to deter madmen?

"Israel’s former security chief slams leaders on Iran stance; Says Netanyahu, Barak shouldn’t be trusted on policy" by Dan Perry and Diaa Hadid  |  Associated Press, April 29, 2012

JERUSALEM - The former head of Israel’s Shin Bet security agency has accused the country’s political leaders of exaggerating the effectiveness of a possible military attack on Iran, in a striking indication of Israel’s turmoil over how to deal with the Iranian nuclear program.

Yuval Diskin said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak - who have been saber-rattling for months - have their judgment clouded by “messianic feelings’’ and should not be trusted to lead policy on Iran. Diskin, who headed Shin Bet until last year, said a strike might actually accelerate the Iranian program.

Shin Bet addresses security in Israel and the Palestinian Territories only and is not involved in international affairs.

The implication being what, his opinion is not credible?

Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. Israel, like the West, believes that Tehran is developing weapons technology, but there is intense debate over whether international economic sanctions accompanying the current round of negotiations might prevent Iran from developing a bomb, or whether at some point a military strike should be launched. 

It's a subtle point, but the phrasing makes it seem as if Israel is behind the West rather than leading it.

Diskin’s comments deepened the sense that a rift is growing between the hawkish Netanyahu government and the security establishment over the question of a strike - and Netanyahu allies quickly rushed to his defense.

In Israel, security figures carry clout well into retirement. Although they frequently pursue political careers, Diskin had been seen as relatively apolitical, perhaps lending his words even greater weight.

 “I don’t have faith in the current leadership of Israel to lead us to an event of this magnitude, of war with Iran,’’ Diskin said at a public meeting Friday, video of which was posted on the Internet the next day and quickly became the lead news item in Israel.

“I do not believe in a leadership that makes decisions based on messianic feelings,’’ he continued. “I have seen them up close. They are not messiahs, these two, and they are not the people that I personally trust to lead Israel into such an event.’’

Diskin said it was possible that “one of the results of an Israel attack on Iran could be a dramatic acceleration of the Iran program. . . . They will have legitimacy to do it more quickly and in a shorter timeframe.’’

Several members of Netanyahu’s coalition issued statements questioning Diskin’s motives and suggesting that in effect he had allied himself with Israel’s dovish opposition.

The prime minister’s office called the former Shin Bet chief’s remarks “irresponsible,’’ while Barak’s office accused Diskin of “acting in a petty and irresponsible way based on personal frustration’’ and “damaging the tradition of generations of Shin Bet leaders.’’

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman also took a swipe at Diskin: “If you do not trust the prime minister and not the defense minister, you should have resigned and not waited for the end of your term.’’  

The fact that they are attacking one of their own for offering his frank opinion speaks volumes.

Further complicating the picture is the widely held suspicion that Israel’s threats may actually amount to a bluff of historic proportion that has if anything been effective in compelling the world to boycott Iranian oil and isolate its central bank. From that perspective, criticism such as Diskin’s, based on a literal approach, could be construed as simplistic and self-defeating.

Israeli security officials have taken issue with the political leadership on several issues: whether sanctions will make a strike unnecessary, whether a strike will be militarily effective, and whether Israel should strike unilaterally if it cannot gain American approval.

Diskin’s speech - in which he also attacked the government for not actively pursuing peace with the Palestinians - came days after the country’s current top military commander, Lieutenant General Benny Gantz, also seemed to disagree with the country’s leadership on the likelihood that Iran will pursue a nuclear weapon.

Gantz told The Associated Press this week that Iran is seeking to develop its “military nuclear capability,’’ but that the Islamic Republic would ultimately bow to international pressure and decide against building a weapon. The key to that pressure, he said, were sanctions and the threat of a military strike.

One of the first criticisms voiced by a security figure came last summer from Israel’s recently retired spy chief, Meir Dagan. He called a strike against Iran’s nuclear program “stupid.’’  

That's never stopped dickhead world leaders before.


"Israeli leaders’ views divided on Iran’s weapons’ plans; Top general voices doubt Tehran will join nuclear club" by Daniel Estrin  |  Associated Press, April 26, 2012

JERUSALEM - Israel’s military chief said in an interview published Wednesday that Iran will ultimately decide against building a nuclear weapon - putting him at odds with Israel’s more pessimistic prime minister.

Major General Benny Gantz told the Haaretz daily that he believes that diplomatic pressure and economic sanctions, along with Israel’s determination to strike if it deems it necessary, will deter Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons.

“I don’t think [Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei] will want to go the extra mile,’’ he said. “I think the Iranian leadership is composed of very rational people.’’

At the same time, he warned that Israel is moving forward with its preparations to take military action if the order is given. “We are preparing for it in a credible manner. That’s my job, as a military man,’’ he said.

He said this year would be critical in determining whether Iran decides to take the final steps needed for a weapon.

“We’re in a period when something must happen: Either Iran takes its nuclear weapon to a civilian footing only or the world, perhaps we, too, will have to do something. We’re closer to the end of the discussions than the middle,’’ he said.  

So Israel's leadership knows Iran isn't building a bomb, huh?

Gantz’s comments contrasted with much tougher statements by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who complained in an interview Tuesday with CNN that international sanctions have not changed Iran’s behavior.  

Have I mentioned how sick I am of his war-mongering?

The sanctions “are certainly taking a bite out of the Iranian economy, but so far they haven’t rolled back the Iranian program or even stopped it by one iota,’’ he said. Nuclear centrifuges are “spinning as we speak. So if the sanctions are going to work, they better work soon,’’ he said.  

You have been warned, world.

Israel and much of the West think Iran is trying to develop a nuclear weapon. But differences have emerged on how to deal with the issue.

The United States and other major powers have imposed economic sanctions while opening a dialogue with Iran. Netanyahu expressed skepticism about the talks, saying Iran is trying to buy time as it pushes a weapons program, while hinting that Israel would be ready to attack Iran’s nuclear installations.

Israel views a nuclear-armed Iran as a threat to its very existence. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

Netanyahu dismissed the denials. He cited Iran’s development of missiles capable of dropping a bomb on Israel, Iranian leaders’ calls for Israel’s destruction, and the fortifying of Iranian nuclear sites deep underground.  

I've come to dismiss what he says, sorry.


"Israeli denies any promise to rule out attack on Iran" April 18, 2012|By Aron Heller

JERUSALEM - Defense Minister Ehud Barak of Israel said Tuesday his country has never promised the United States it would hold off from attacking Iran while nuclear talks were taking place.

The comments, in which Barak said a diplomatic push to reach a compromise with Iran was a waste of “precious time,’’ further exposed a rift between Israel and the United States over how to deal with Iran and its nuclear program....

Barak said the talks needed to yield quick results.

“It requires a few direct meetings where all the demands are put on the table. There you can see if the other side is playing for time, drawing it out through the year, or if indeed the other side is genuinely striving to find a solution,’’ he said....  

His comment is so laughable because that is Israel's standard negotiating posture vis-a-vis the Palestinians.

Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes and says it does not seek a bomb.  

Somehow that sentence of a message is drowned out by the endless war-drumming propaganda of my paper.


"Netanyahu said to favor attack on Iran; Israeli officials hint at strike but support uncertain" November 03, 2011|By Dan Perry and Josef Federman, Associated Press

JERUSALEM - An Israeli official said yesterday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to persuade his Cabinet to authorize a military strike against Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program - a discussion that comes as Israel has successfully tested a missile believed to be capable of carrying a nuclear warhead to Iran.

North Korea's piece of crap falls into the sea and the world is screaming wolf, but.... sigh.

It remained unclear whether Israel was genuinely poised to strike or if it was saber-rattling to prod the international community into taking a tougher line on Iran.  

Honestly, I AM TIRED of being JERKED AROUND and MANIPULATED by ISRAELI ASSHOLES, 'kay?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Israeli leaders have long hinted at a military option, but they always seemed mindful of the practical difficulties, the likelihood of a furious counterstrike, and the risk of regional mayhem....  

Which leaders are you talking about because the current crop seem a bit "messianic." And if anything that seems to be what is the Zionist globe-kicker plan!

Israeli leaders have said they favor a diplomatic solution, but recent days have seen a spate of Israeli media reports on a possible strike, accompanied by veiled threats from top politicians....

The government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was discussing sensitive internal deliberations, told the Associated Press that the option is now being debated at the highest levels.

The official confirmed a report yesterday in the daily newspaper Haaretz that Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak both favor an attack but do not yet have the support of a majority of Cabinet ministers. The official also said Israel’s top security chiefs, including the heads of the military and Mossad spy agency, oppose military action....


"Iran nuclear report concerns US; Officials see case for imposing new sanctions" November 08, 2011|By Matthew Lee, Associated Press

WASHINGTON - The possibility of a US strike is considered remote, however....

President Shimon Peres of Israel said in an interview published Sunday that while Israel had not made a final decision, “the possibility of a military strike on Iran is more likely to be realized than the diplomatic option.’’

An Israeli government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was discussing sensitive internal deliberations, said the option is now being debated at the highest levels and that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak favor military action. But the country’s security chiefs oppose the operation.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov of Russia said yesterday that a possible Israeli strike against Iran would be a “serious mistake’’ with “unpredictable consequences.’’  

What he is saying is Russia, China, and Pakistan are going to come down on the side of Iran and are going to rollback the EUSraeli empire, at which point the empire will resort to the only weapons it has left: nuclear weapons.


Iran’s response to a military strike is a matter of speculation, but US military officials have assumed Iran could retaliate with attacks on Israel or other US allies within easy reach, such as Turkey. Iran could also encourage violence against US interests by proxy militias such as Hezbollah....

And World War III will be on!


"Attack on Iran is not imminent, Israel says" December 02, 2011|By Daniel Estrin, Associated Press

JERUSALEM - Israel does not want to take military action against Iran over its nuclear program, but at some point may have no other option, the defense minister said yesterday.

At this point, Israel does not intend to launch a strike against Iranian nuclear facilities but it retains the option as a “last resort,’’ Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Israel Radio.

“We don’t need unnecessary wars. But we definitely might be put to the test,’’ he said....  

Now that's chutzpah!

Barak said that he hoped that sanctions and diplomacy would pressure the Iranian leadership to abandon its suspected nuclear weapons program but that he does not expect that to happen.

Israel, like the West, suspects that Iran is developing a nuclear bomb, despite Tehran’s insistence that its nuclear program is designed to produce energy.

Israel says a nuclear-armed Iran would threaten the Jewish state’s survival, citing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s repeated references to Israel’s destruction, Iran’s arsenal of ballistic missiles, and its support for militant groups that fight Israel.  

You misquoted Ahmadinejad, and he's on his way out anyway, so.... sigh.

The United States, as well as some security experts in Israel, have loudly opposed the prospect of an Israeli military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities because of its potential for touching off retaliation against Israel and a broader, regional conflagration.

But Barak suggested that Israel might not alert world powers before embarking on a strike.

“Israel is a sovereign state and it is the government of Israel, the Israeli Army, and security forces who are responsible for Israel’s security, future, and survival,’’ he said.

Mysterious blasts, computer viruses, and assassinations have disrupted Iran’s nuclear program, and there has been speculation of Israeli involvement.  

Yeah, Stuxnet sabotage and a campaign of terror is okay when the Israel or the empire does it.

Barak would not comment on that possibility, but said, “Any delay, be it divine intervention or otherwise, is welcome.’’


Did I mention I was sick of the mixed messages, too?

"Israelis say time to strike against Iran is running out; Tehran moving nuclear program underground" by Amy Teibel  |  Associated Press, January 31, 2012

JERUSALEM - Israeli officials are quietly conceding that new international sanctions targeting Iran’s suspect nuclear program are constraining Israel’s ability to take military action, and a window of opportunity is closing as Tehran moves more of its installations underground.

The officials say Israel must act by the summer if it wants to effectively attack Iran’s program.

You can't say they didn't warn us.

“We must not waste time on this matter,’’ Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said yesterday. “The Iranians continue to advance [toward nuclear weapons], identifying every crack and squeezing through.’’

In comments last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Barak called for even tougher sanctions and warned that time is running out for the world to stop Iran’s weapons program.

“We are determined to prevent Iran from turning nuclear,’’ he said. “It seems to us to be urgent, because the Iranians are deliberately drifting into what we call an immunity zone where practically no surgical operation could block them.’’

A key question is how much damage Israel, or anyone else, can inflict, and whether it would be worth the risk of a possible counterstrike.

Israel has been a leading voice in the international calls to curb Iran’s nuclear program. It believes a nuclear-armed Iran would threaten its survival, citing Tehran’s calls for the destruction of the Jewish state and its support for anti-Israel militant groups.

Israeli leaders say they prefer a diplomatic solution. But - skeptical of international resolve - Israel refuses to rule out the use of force, saying frequently that “all options are on the table.’’

Leading Israeli defense officials believe that the time to strike, if such a decision is made, would have to be by the middle of this year.

Complicating the task is the assessment that Iran is stepping up efforts to move its work on enriching uranium - a critical component of bomb making - deep underground. Iran’s enrichment site near Qom, for instance, is shielded by about 300 feet of rock.

A team of UN nuclear inspectors is in Iran this week, and the findings from the visit could greatly influence Western efforts to expand economic pressures on Tehran over its uranium enrichment.

Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, attending an African summit in Ethiopia, offered yesterday to extend the visit of the UN inspectors and expressed optimism their findings would help ease tensions.

Good luck with that.

The European Union this month decided to stop importing oil from Iran - weeks after the United States approved, but has yet to enact, new sanctions targeting Iran’s Central Bank and, by extension, its ability to sell its oil.  

And you wondered why gas prices were going up?

Somewhat paradoxically, the new economic sanctions the United States and Europe are imposing - while meeting a repeated Israeli request - have emerged as an obstacle to military action.

Whatever it takes to stop a war.

An Israeli strike would risk shattering the US-led diplomatic front that has imposed four additional rounds of sanctions on Iran and jolt the shaky world economy by causing oil prices to spike.  

Western leaders have made it clear they care about Israel more than you.

Plus, Iran could unleash its arsenal of missiles capable of striking Israel. Still, officials say, if Israel feels no alternative but to take military action, it will do so.



"There is a “strong likelihood’’ that Israel would strike Iran in April, May, or June."

You can't say the agenda-pushing mouthpiece didn't give fair warning.

"Obama says US, Israel will work together on Iran" by Associated Press  |  February 06, 2012

WASHINGTON - President Obama sought to assure allies and foes alike that the United States was working in lockstep with Israel....   

That isn't very assuring at all. 

Of course, the buzz in the blogosphere is that Israel is angry because Obama has put said no to war with Iran, at least until the AmeriKan presidential election. Whether Israel goes ahead with its false flag nuking of Chicago before then is an open question right now.

Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Liberman, was headed to Washington last night to discuss security matters amid signs the allies disagree over the potential attack on Iran. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to visit the United States in March....


Related: Obama vows attack on Iran if needed

Obama pressed to get tough on Iran

Obama vows to act to keep nuclear arms away from Iran

Netanyahu, Obama take separate tacks on Iran threat
Iran accuses 15 of plotting to kill scientists

Support for a military strike against Iran has an 'if' 

US faces tricky task in assessing Iran’s nuclear capability

New Year celebration shows different side of Iran

UN body tones down Iran rhetoric

"Progress signaled in UN-Tehran talks

TEHRAN - A new round of talks between Tehran and the UN nuclear agency will be held in Vienna on May 13 and 14, state TV reported Saturday in a sign of possible progress over the country’s nuclear program. The technical talks in Vienna with the International Atomic Energy Agency come in addition to negotiations with United States, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany set for May 23 in Baghdad (AP)."

Perhaps it will be an enterprising false flag instead:

"Storied aircraft carrier heads out on final deployment" Associated Press, March 12, 2012

NORFOLK, Va. - The USS Enterprise, the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, set out to sea Sunday on its final voyage before its scheduled decommissioning after 50 years of duty.

Sinking the carrier a la the U.S.S. Liberty would sure save a lot of money and trouble, and it would advance the agenda, cui bono?

Officials say the carrier, which was featured in the film “Top Gun,’’ left Norfolk about noon.

The ship with more than 4,000 crew members has been involved in several wars and played a prominent role in the Cuban missile crisis. It also served as a spotter ship for John Glenn’s historic orbit of Earth in 1962.

The Enterprise is heading to the Middle East on its seven-month deployment, where it will be on standby in case of conflict with Iran or piracy threats off Somalia, among other things. The ship has experience with both situations, participating in a retaliatory strike against Iran for mining the Persian Gulf in 1988 and responding last year to the hijacking of a sailing vessel by Somali pirates, during which all four Americans on board were shot and killed.

The deployment will be the ship’s 22d. After its return to Virginia in the fall, tens of thousands are expected to be on hand for a deactivation ceremony on Dec. 1 that President Obama has been invited to attend.

The Enterprise is the longest aircraft carrier in the US fleet. It is also the oldest, a distinction that brings pride as well as plenty of headaches for the ship’s crew.

The ship is effectively a small city that frequently needs repairs because of its age. It was originally designed to last 25 years, but a major overhaul in 1979 and other improvements have extended its life.

But even the best-maintained ship faces challenges as it ages, said Captain William Hamilton, the ship’s commanding officer.

Machinists in charge of fixing unexpected problems say the things that can break down range from critical air conditioner units to elevators that lift fighter jets from the hangar bay to the flight deck. Moreover, the Enterprise has eight nuclear reactors to maintain - six more than any other US carrier.

The ship often has to make its own parts when something breaks. Spare parts for much of the ship simply do not exist.


"Iran offers possible nuclear compromise; Suggests it could reduce uranium enrichment" by Brian Murphy  |  Associated Press, April 10, 2012

TEHRAN — Also Monday, the US Navy said it has sent a second aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf region amid the rising tensions with Iran over the nuclear program.

The deployment of the nuclear-powered USS Enterprise along with the Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group marks one of the few times the Navy has had two aircraft carriers operating in waters near the Persian Gulf, said Commander Amy Derrick-Frost of the Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet.

The warships will patrol the Gulf’s strategic oil routes that Iran has threatened to shut down in retaliation for economic sanctions the West has imposed on it because of its nuclear program. They also will support the American military operations in Afghanistan and antipiracy efforts off Somalia’s coast and in the Gulf of Aden.

The deployment of the second carrier is “routine and not specific to any threat,’’ Derrick-Frost said. She did not say how long the Navy will keep the increased military presence in region.


Next Day Update:

The WAR has been POSTPONED FOR NOW -- maybe!

"Analysts, US say chances of war with Iran have diminished; Israeli politics, tough sanctions cited as factors" by James Risen  |  New York Times, April 30, 2012

WASHINGTON - After a winter of alarm over the possibility that a military conflict over the Iranian nuclear program might be imminent, US officials and outside analysts now believe that the chances of war in the near future have significantly decreased.  

Thus BEWARE the FALSE FLAG! Beware the nuking of CHICAGO by "Al-CIA-Duh" with a bomb given them by Israel Iran.

They cite a series of factors that, for now, argue against a conflict.  

I don't imagine bloggers screaming their collective lungs out has had anything to do with it.

The threat of tighter economic sanctions has prompted the Iranians to try more flexible tactics in their dealings with the United States and other powers, while the revival of direct negotiations has tempered the most inflammatory talk on all sides.


A growing divide in Israel between political leaders and military and intelligence officials over the wisdom of attacking Iran has begun to surface.  

Yeah, that's why the rush to war has been slowed.

And the White House appears determined to prevent any confrontation that could disrupt world oil markets in an election year.  

Yeah, well, they took their chances.  

“I do think the temperature has cooled,’’ an Obama administration official said.

Beware the, well, you know....

At the same time, no one is discounting the possibility that the current optimism could fade.

Always a but or still in my war daily, sigh.

“While there isn’t an agreement between the US and Israel on how much time, there is an agreement that there is some time to give diplomacy a chance,’’ said Dennis B. Ross, who previously handled Iran policy for the Obama administration.

“So I think right now you have a focus on the negotiations,’’ he added. “It doesn’t mean the threat of using force goes away, but it lies behind the diplomacy.’’

The talks two weeks ago in Istanbul between Iran and the United States and other world powers were something of a turning point in the current American thinking about Iran.   

Could it be America is finally breaking from the parasite of Israel? 

Beware the, well, you know....

In the days leading up to the talks, there had been little optimism in Washington, but Iranian negotiators appeared more flexible and open to resolving the crisis than expected, even though no agreement was reached other than to talk again, in Baghdad next month.

US officials believe the looming threat of tighter economic sanctions to take effect on July 1 persuaded the Iranians to take the negotiations more seriously, and that in turn has reduced the threat of war.

“There is a combination of factors coming on line, including the talks and the sanctions, and so now I think people realize it has to be given time to play out,’’ one administration official said, who, like the other official, spoke without attribution in order to discuss sensitive matters. “We are in a period now where the combination of diplomacy and pressure is giving us a window.’’  

Probably about a 6-month window.

In a television appearance on Wednesday, Bay State Democrat John F. Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said, “I have confidence that there is a way forward.’’

Senior Iranian leaders have sought to portray the Istanbul round of negotiations as successful, which might be a sign, US officials and outside analysts said, that the Iranian government is preparing the public for a deal with the West that could be portrayed as a win for Iran.

Meaning it's a loss for the Zionist Jerk Jews.

At the same time in Israel, the conservative government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been rocked by a series of public comments from current and former Israeli military and intelligence officials questioning the wisdom of attacking Iran.

The latest comments came from Yuval Diskin, the former chief of Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security service, who on Friday said Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak should not be trusted to determine policy on Iran.

He said the judgments of both men have been clouded by “messianic feelings.’’ Diskin, who was chief of Shin Bet until last year, said an attack against Iran might cause it to speed up its nuclear program.

Just days before, Israel’s army chief of staff suggested in an interview with the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that the Iranian nuclear threat was not quite as imminent as Netanyahu has portrayed it. In his comments, Lieutenant General Benny Gantz suggested that he agreed with the US intelligence assessments that Iran has not yet decided whether to build a nuclear bomb.

Iran “is going step by step to the place where it will be able to decide whether to manufacture a nuclear bomb. It hasn’t yet decided whether to go the extra mile,’’ Gantz told Haaretz. He also suggested that the crisis would not necessarily come to a head this year: “Clearly, the more the Iranians progress, the worse the situation is. This is a critical year, but not necessarily ‘go, no-go.’ ’’ 

I mean, really, beware of the false flag because they plan doesn't go ahead without it.

The divide within the Israeli establishment is significant because Israel has been threatening to launch a unilateral strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities if the United States is unwilling to do so.

The United States has feared that if Israel were to do so, the US could get dragged into the fight, which could result in a widening war in the region.  

Why are we going to be dragged into it? 

I say let Israel handle this one on their own. They started it, they can fight it themselves. We've already waged enough wars on their behalf. Ten years ago it was Iraq that was the existential threat, blah, blah, blah, and we saw how that worked out.