Thursday, January 31, 2013

Federal government releases long-awaited health reform rules

Long-awaited federal rules for health insurance plans came out Tuesday, and they make clear that insurance plans that people can buy on the open market next year will look a lot like some of the most popular plans on offer now – with a few big differences.

As the 2010 health reform law requires, insurers will no longer be able to dump patients who are starting to cost too much, they won’t be able to charge women more than men, they have to cover anyone who can pay and they’ll have to pay for maternity care, eye exams for kids and for mental health services.

“Insurers will not be able to charge someone more just because she is sick or because she used to be sick,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told reporters on a conference call.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

RIP: Patty Andrews of the Andrews Sisters

Patty Andrews, the last of the Andrews Sisters, the jaunty vocal trio whose immensely popular music became part of the patriotic fabric of World War II America, died on Wednesday at her home in Los Angeles. She was 94.

Read the rest here.

365 Years Ago: The regicide of King Charles I

A blessed feast of Charles the Martyr to all.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Britain: Commons Passes Bill Reforming Royal Succession

The House of Commons has passed a bill that removes gender preferences in the royal succession and removes prohibitions against marrying Roman Catholics for those in the line of succession. The bill now goes to the House of Lords for consideration and likely passage. All of the member states of the British Commonwealth that recognize The Queen as head of state must now pass identical legislation or there could be serious confusion in the royal succession down the road.

The bill has no effect on the current line of succession since The Queen's first born child was a male (Prince Charles) and his first born was also a male (Prince William the Duke of Cambridge). It would however ensure that should HRH the Duchess of Cambridge give birth to a daughter that she would not be bumped from her place in the royal succession by the later birth of a son.

Read the bill here.

Orthodox Episcopal Assembly Writes On Abortion

Forty years ago the Supreme Court of the United States handed down a decision, known as Roe v. Wade, granting a “right” for women of the United States to terminate the lives of their children in the womb. This decision has resulted in some 54 million children’s lives ending almost before they began.

The Holy Orthodox Christian Faith is unabashedly pro-life. The Lord Jesus Christ was recognized and worshipped in His mother’s womb while yet unborn by the Holy Forerunner who was also still in his mother’s womb (Luke 1:44); St. Basil the Great (4th Century), one of the universal teachers of the faith, dared to call murderers those who terminate the life of the fetus. The Church has consistently held that children developing in the womb should be afforded every protection given to those outside the womb. There is no moral, religious or scientific rationale which can justify making a distinction between the humanity of the newly-conceived and that of the newly-born.
Read the rest here.


Chief of Egypt’s Army Warns of ‘Collapse’ as Chaos Mounts

CAIRO — As three Egyptian cities defied President Mohamed Morsi’s attempt to quell the anarchy spreading through their streets, the nation’s top general warned Tuesday that the state itself was in danger of collapse if the feuding civilian leaders could not agree on a solution to restore order.

Thousands of residents poured into the streets of the three cities, protesting a 9 p.m. curfew with another night of chants against Mr. Morsi and assaults on the police.
Read the rest here.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Quote of the day...

"History taught that republics that engaged in frequent wars eventually lost their character as free states. Hence, war was to be undertaken only in defense of our nation against attack. The system of government that the Founders were bequeathing to us — with its division of powers, checks and balances, and power concentrated in the states rather than the federal government — depended on peace as the normal condition of our society."
Ralph Raico
American Foreign Policy — The Turning Point, 1898–1919
Freedom Daily
The Future of Freedom Foundation
February 1995

U.S. Plans Base for Surveillance Drones in Northwest Africa

WASHINGTON — The United States military command in Africa is preparing plans to establish a drone base in northwest Africa to increase unarmed surveillance missions on the local affiliate of Al Qaeda and other Islamist extremist groups that American and other Western officials say pose a growing menace to the region.

For now, officials say they envision flying only unarmed surveillance drones from the base, though they have not ruled out conducting missile strikes at some point if the threat worsens.
Read the rest here.

Postal Service teeters on the brink

Even as the price of a first-class stamp rose a penny Sunday to 46 cents, the U.S. Postal Service is operating on borrowed time.

“We are currently losing $25 million per day,” Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe warned earlier this month. The agency lost nearly $16 billion in its last fiscal year, and its line of credit with the U.S. Treasury is tapped out.

If lawmakers don’t act, it could run out of money “between six months and a year at most,” said Richard Geddes, associate professor of policy analysis and management at Cornell University.
Read the rest here.

Boy Scouts signal retreat on gay ban

The Boy Scouts of America, one of the nation’s largest private youth organizations, is actively considering an end to its decades-long policy of banning gay scouts or scout leaders, according to scouting officials and outsiders familiar with internal discussions.

If adopted by the organization’s board of directors, it would represent a profound change on an issue that has been highly controversial -- one that even went to the US Supreme Court. The new policy, now under discussion, would eliminate the ban from the national organization’s rules, leaving local sponsoring organizations free to decide for themselves whether to admit gay scouts.
Read the rest here.

Barnes & Noble expects to close about a third of its stores

Struggling bookstore chain Barnes & Noble plans to close a slew of stores over the next decade, its chief executive told the Wall Street Journal.

In an interview conducted last week, but published in the WSJ on Monday, Mitchell Klipper said Barnes & Noble would likely have 450 to 500 stores in 10 years, down from 689 retail stores now. The company also runs a separate chain of 674 college stores, according to the WSJ.
Read the rest here.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Britain: Cameron promises referendum on EU membership (if he is reelected)

LONDON — Laying out a new, more independent road map for Britain in Europe, Prime Minister David Cameron pledged Wednesday to hold a referendum within five years on continued membership in the European Union, stoking fears in Washington and across the region of a rupture between London and its neighbors.
Read the rest here.

Virginia GOP moves to legislate permanent majority

The Republicans in Virginia launched a sneak attack and rammed a bill through the evenly divided state senate on Martin Luther King's birthday while one of the Democrats was out of town at the president's inauguration. The bill effectively redraws the legislative map in a way that would overwhelmingly favor the GOP and doom a number of Democrats to political oblivion. It is also part of a broader plan to change the way The Old Dominion would award its electoral votes in presidential elections. Under the GOP's plan electoral votes would now be awarded by legislative district which in combination with Monday's attempt at gerrymandering would ensure a permanent Republican lock on the state and it's electoral votes no matter how the people vote.

Had this been in effect for the election that just concluded President Obama, who carried the popular vote in Virginia, would have received only one in three of the states electoral votes with the rest going to Gov. Romney. Similar plans are said to be  in the works in a number of other swing states with GOP majorities in the state house.

Why even bother with elections at all?

Too big to fail and too big to jail

Banks are the enemy.

Update #3

The doctor removed the staples yesterday and I can now actually move around without feeling like my stomach is being torn open again. Food has regained a place of importance in my life that it hasn't had in quite a while. Day by day things are getting better.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: A new Gold Standard is being born

The world is moving step by step towards a de facto Gold Standard, without any meetings of G20 leaders to announce the idea or bless the project.

Some readers will already have seen the GFMS Gold Survey for 2012 which reported that central banks around the world bought more bullion last year in terms of tonnage than at any time in almost half a century.

They added a net 536 tonnes in 2012 as they diversified fresh reserves away from the four fiat suspects: dollar, euro, sterling, and yen.
Read the rest here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Germnay wants its gold back

FRANKFURT — For the great many Germans who still rue the day they had to trade their deutsche marks for euros, there has been at least one consolation. If the common currency didn’t work out, Germany still had huge reserves of the hardest currency of all — gold.

Except, many people learned for the first time last year, it didn’t.

More than two-thirds of Germany’s gold reserves, valued at €137 billion, or $182 billion, is abroad, stored in vaults in Paris, London and above all New York. In fact, there is considerably more German gold in Manhattan than in Frankfurt.

On Wednesday, the German central bank said it would begin gradually repatriating some of the reserves, the second-largest stock in the world, after that of the United States. The Bundesbank was responding to a public outcry last year after a clash in Parliament about whether all the gold was properly accounted for.
Read the rest here.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Update # 2

I'm home now and taking it very easy and slow. Today is the first day I felt like heading over to Starbucks to check email and such so apologies for any delayed email responses. Blogging will be sporadic at best for at least another week. Still pretty tender but I am not in agony anymore and I can move around without the urge to scream... most of the time. Next big day is Tuesday of next week when I get the 8" zipper I have in my stomach removed. Metal staples are frankly a bit unsightly and I look like someone used me for special effects training in a B horror movie. It sucks that I am without an internet connection right now especially with everything going on. There is tons of bloggable subject matter out there but I just am not up to going out that much right now and with another trip back east in the future I am holding off on the ISP connection until I get back. Thanks again for all of the prayers. They are deeply appreciated.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

It's game over in long running fight between Swiss Banks and the IRS

Last week, Swiss private bank Wegelin admitted to allowing more than 100 US citizens to hide $1.2 billion (£0.75bn) from the Internal Revenue Service for almost 10 years.

The bank accepted fines of $20 million (£12.5m) of restitution, a $22m (£13.7m) fine and $15.8m (£9.84m) more for fees and agreed to shut down its banking operation.

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As well as agreeing to pay $57.8m in fines and restitution to the US authorities, in its guilty plea one of the bank’s managing partners, Otto Bruderer, also set out why Wegelin had continued with activities that it knew were wrong.

First, he explained, the St Gallen-based bank had no branches in the US and believed it was in compliance with Swiss law. Second, he added, “such conduct was common in the Swiss banking industry.”

The appearance of this claim in a court document has alarmed Swiss bankers. With a bevy of regulators in the US probing at least 10 further Swiss banks – including Credit Suisse, Julius Baer, Zürcher Kantonal Bank (ZKB) and HSBC’s Swiss subsidiary – it raises the question of how severe the US treatment of other Swiss lenders will be.

US authorities have certainly shown no sign of flagging. Three weeks ago, they charged two bankers and one former employee of ZKB with helping US citizens hide $420m of assets from the US Internal Revenue Service. “I don’t believe it is finished yet,” says Teresa Nielsen, an analyst at Bank Vontobel, which is not itself being investigated.

Legal observers take a similar view. Wegelin’s claim about the common nature of its conduct will add fuel to the efforts of US regulators, reckons Joseph A. DiRuzzo III, a senior associate at Fuerst Ittleman David & Joseph, a US law firm.

“The US authorities will use it to at least attempt to bring down the Swiss system of bank secrecy,” he says. “This case is likely to be followed by more.”
Read the rest here.

‘Lincoln’ leads Oscars with 12 nominations

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Steven Spielberg has matched his personal best at the Academy Awards: 12 nominations for his Civil War saga “Lincoln,” including best picture, director and acting honors for Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones.

That ties the 12 nominations for his 1993 drama “Schindler’s List,” which won seven Oscars, including best picture and director.
Read the rest here.

Family and Friends celebrate as Richard Nixon turns 100

Presidential legacies can be complicated. But for Richard Nixon, it often boils down to one word: Watergate.

That word was uttered just once at Wednesday’s centennial birthday gala for the 37th president.

“Phone calls started coming in to me, and I’m sure other folks from the offspring of the old jackal pack asking ‘What are your thoughts on Watergate?’” said former adviser Pat Buchanan. “My great regret is that the old man is not here tonight so I can tell him my thoughts on his old tormentors. In the words of Nick Carraway to the Great Gatsby: ‘They were a rotten crowd, sir. You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together.’ Nixon, now more than ever!”
Read the rest here.

Vice-President Biden Prepares Broad List of Gun Regulations For Obama

Vice President Biden said Thursday he sees an emerging consensus around “universal background checks” for all gun buyers and a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines as he completes the Obama administration’s broad study of ways to curb the nation’s gun violence.

Biden, who said he would present his working group’s policy recommendations to President Obama by Tuesday, suggested that universal background checks and a high-capacity magazine ban would be part of the administration’s agenda.
Read the rest here.

Pastor nixed from Obama inaugural over anti-gay remarks

A pastor chosen by President Obama to deliver the inaugural benediction later this month has withdrawn amid controversy over anti-gay remarks he made more than a decade ago.

In a mid-1990s sermon, Rev. Louie Giglio, an Atlanta minister and founder of the Passion Conferences, a group dedicated to uniting students in worship and prayer, advocated for "ex-gay" therapy and urged listeners to prevent the “homosexual lifestyle” from becoming accepted.
Read the rest here.

Marines order spouces clubs to admit gay couples

Marine Corps leaders have directed their legal teams to alert spouses clubs at all Marine bases to begin allowing same-sex spouses as members if those social groups want to continue operating on Marine installations, Marine officials confirmed to NBC News Wednesday evening.

In an all-hands memo to legal offices across the branch, the Marine commandant's Staff Judge Advocate warned against discrimination based on sexual orientation, and he specifically mentioned a controversial decision made last month by the officers' spouses club at the Army's Fort Bragg to deny access to the same-sex spouse of a female Army lieutenant.
Read the rest here.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

An Update

First, words cannot express my deep gratitude for the outpouring of prayers and well wishes which have been posted on my blog, via email or in person. I feel truly blessed by so many expressions of friendship. On a practical note they seem to have worked. The surgery went as well as can be expected. I am in great pain, which is to be expected but it seems to be diminishing a smidgen each day. Those awful tubes down the nose and throat and up more personal ares of the anatomy have been removed and I am being allowed to drink liquids and some very soft foods. All early tests show what is hoped for and the doctor is cautiously optimistic that I will be discharged from hospital either tonight or tomorrow.

That's about it for now. Blogging will be pretty slow for a while, but I wanted to get a note up.

Thank you all again and may God bless you as much as He has me.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Going under the knife

I write this quick note from my bed in hospital where I am waiting for emergency surgery. To be brief (I don't have a lot of time) I have been ill with gastrointestinal problems for a while now and finally went to the ER today after three days of being unable to keep down food or water. After a bunch of tests and scans they discovered my stomach is almost completely up in my chest, and it is twisted around my heart. Even a layman like me didn't need the doctors to explain that this is extremely serious.

They are preparing to operate tonight. It is expected that I will be in the hospital for probably the next five days or so after they rip my chest open, untangle my stomach and pull-push it back down to where it is supposed to be. My mother had this surgery back in the 1980's and nearly died from it. So no false bravado here..

I am terrified.

Your prayers are deeply appreciated.

Friday, January 04, 2013

A Quick Update

Well I'm back on the left coast and predictably STILL don't have an internet connection at the house. This now seems likely to last a while. Consequently email and blogging will be on a when I can get to it basis.