thoughts:

Jan. 18th, 2010 08:13 pm
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Riz Khan - The role of media in the USA


Has the mainstream media in the US replaced serious coverage with "junk news" and tabloidism
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America's greatness for helping Haiti.


America's victims of the earthquake individualized, Haiti's undifferentiated mass of hurt and dying made into disaster porn.


Isn't America great for helping Haiti?


America's journalists anticipating violence, some of the coverage almost seeming to call it down, quite frankly; to the point of excitedly and irresponsibly confirming rumors as fact, and having to back away from it.



Aren't we the most generous people in the world?


Slight mention that any other country might be there helping out the Haitians.


But Americans are helping Haiti, we are SO great!!!! (And I exasperatedly begin to think of Jesus' admonition to the Pharisees.)


And then there is the fucking sensationalizing of the Haitians rescuing themselves with their BARE HANDS. I just cannot see what the hell is so strange about this. Wouldn't Americans do the same thing if they were in that situation? Don't all people who don't have access to expensive equipment use whatever they have on hand to rescue people in peril? Isn't the situation dramatic enough that hyperbolic, grating expressions of shock and horror can be dispensed with? To say nothing of the almost slavering eagerness to see riots and violence among the BLACK AND POOR survivors? I suppose you can't expect better from the country that allowed the complete and ongoing clusterfuck that was and is the aftereffects of Katrina. To say nothing of the biased reporting that took place.
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Listening Post / Listening Post - Yemen news coverage



Media coverage of Yemen and terrorism, Media in China and India, Irish Atheists challenging Blasphemy Law, Macau ten years since the handover of Macau to China.

Read more... )
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I've gotten so sickened about this that I have been actively avoiding news on torture because Obama becomes so freaking disgusting as the days pass. But I thought you might wanna know...

On eve of receiving Nobel, Obama's DOJ files amicus brief upending Nuremberg Protocols.


"John Yoo is being defended in court this month by the Administration. Not the Bush Administration. The Obama Administration. As with the lawsuits over electronic surveillance and torture, the Obama administration wants the lawsuit against Yoo dismissed and is defending the right of Justice Department officials to help establish a torture program — an established war crime. I will be discussing this issue tonight on MSNBC Countdown.

The Obama Administration has filed a brief that brushes over the war crimes aspects of Yoo’s work at the Justice Department. Instead, it insists that attorneys must be free to give advice — even if it is to establish a torture program.
In its filing before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Justice Department insists that there is "the risk of deterring full and frank advice regarding the military’s detention and treatment of those determined to be enemies during an armed conflict." Instead it argues that the Justice Department has other means to punish lawyers like the Office of Professional Responsibility. Of course, the Bush Administration effectively blocked such investigations and Yoo is no longer with the Justice Department. The OPR has been dismissed as ineffectual, including in an ABA Journal, as the Justice Department’s "roach motel"—"the cases go in, but nothing ever comes out."

The Justice Department first defended Yoo as counsel and then paid for private counsel to represent him (here). His public-funded private counsel is Miguel Estrada, who was forced to withdraw his nomination by George Bush for the Court of Appeals after strong opposition from the Democrats.

Yoo is being sued by Jose Padilla, who was effectively blocked in contesting his abusive confinement and mistreatment as part of this criminal case and in a habeas action. The Bush Administration brought new charges to moot a case before the Supreme Court could rule. The Court previously sent his case back on a technicality.
It is important to note that the Administration did not have to file this brief since it had withdrawn as counsel and paid for Yoo’s private counsel. It has decided that it wants to establish the law claimed by the Bush Administration protecting Justice officials who support alleged war crimes. They are effectively doubling down by withdrawing as counsel and then reappearing as a non-party amicus.

The Obama Administration has gutted the hard-fought victories in Nuremberg where lawyers and judges were often guilty of war crimes in their legal advice and opinions. The third of the twelve trials for war crimes involved 16 German jurists and lawyers. Nine had been officials of the Reich Ministry of Justice, the others were prosecutors and judges of the Special Courts and People’s Courts of Nazi Germany. It would have been a larger group but two lawyers committed suicide before trial: Adolf Georg Thierack, former minister of justice, and Carl Westphal, a ministerial counsellor.
MORE


Now. Where is our media? Still chasing Tiger's girlfriends? What the fuck is the point of a free press if it muzzles itself and effectively colludes with a corrupt administration? What check are they serving as?
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The Listening Post is a fascinating program on Al Jazeera English that evaluates media. I love it dearly. Here are some episodes that I think are interesting.


Listening Post-The art of obituary writing-19 June Part2

The art of Obituary writing



Read more... )
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How can health care reporting get worse? Add abortion to the mix

If you want an illustration of how conservative framing dominates media coverage of politics and policy, you need only watch Chris Matthews talk about abortion each night on Hardball. Since early summer, the Hardball host has been hyping anti-abortion complaints about proposed health care reform, even though the proposals would have done nothing to expand abortion rights. In doing so, he has trafficked in falsehoods, embraced flawed and illogical conservative talking points, and portrayed pro-choice advocates who have already compromised as rigid, unyielding ideologues.

The controversy stems from conservative claims that proposed health care reforms would undermine or circumvent the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits direct federal payments for abortion services (with exceptions for pregnancies that are the result of rape or incest, and for those that are necessary to save a woman's life). Those claims are incorrect: The proposed legislation would have maintained the status quo.

It is important to keep in mind that the status quo -- the Hyde Amendment -- already constitutes a compromise by supporters of abortion rights. Abortion is a legal medical procedure; a ban on federal funding for it is a substantial concession by abortion-rights advocates. (You might be tempted to think of Hyde as a similarly substantial concession by abortion-rights opponents, as they want the procedure to be illegal. But it isn't really a legislative concession, as the preferred outcome of abortion-rights opponents -- an outright ban on abortion -- is unconstitutional, and thus off the table.)

So, that's the background: Proposed health care reform would maintain the status quo when it comes to federal payments for abortion services -- a status quo that already represents a significant concession by abortion-rights advocates.

But those basic facts haven't been reflected in Chris Matthews' coverage. (Matthews' comments about abortion and health care reform have by no means been unique; I focus on him here because he has addressed the subject regularly over the past several months, and because it serves as yet another reminder that, despite conventional wisdom, neither Matthews nor MSNBC is really "liberal.")MORE
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New ACTA copyright treaty dodges the UN, poor countries and activists


Michael Geist sez, "The World Intellectual Property Organization may be best known for the Internet treaties that led to the DMCA, but in recent years groups like EFF, KEI, and Public Knowledge has helped to open things up and move toward a Development Agenda that better balances international intellectual property policy. That progress may be threatened by the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, which officials now acknowledge is designed to exclude WIPO, developing countries, and NGOs."


Moreover, the criminal provisions go well beyond clear cases of commercial infringement by including criminal sanctions such as potential imprisonment for "significant wilful copyright and trademark infringement even where there is no direct or indirect motivation of financial gain." Jail time for non-commercial infringement will generate considerable opposition, but it is the internet provisions that are likely to prove to be the most controversial. At the December meeting in Paris, the US submitted a "non-paper" that discussed internet copyright provisions, liability for internet service providers, and legal protection for digital locks.


While the substance of the treaty will remain fodder for much debate, Canadian officials recently hosted a public consultation during which they acknowledged the true motivation behind the ACTA. Senior officials stated that there were really two reasons for the treaty. The first, unsurprisingly, was concerns over counterfeiting. The second was the perceived stalemate at WIPO, where the growing emphasis on the Development Agenda and the heightened participation of developing countries and non-governmental organisations have stymied attempts by countries such as the United States to bull their way toward new treaties with little resistance.

Given the challenge of obtaining multilateral consensus at WIPO, the ACTA negotiating partners have instead opted for a plurilateral approach that circumvents possible opposition from developing countries such as Brazil, Argentina, India, Russia, or China. There have been hints of this in the past - an EU FAQ [frequently asked questions] document noted that "the membership and priorities of those organisations [G8, WTO, WIPO] simply are not the most conducive" to an ACTA-like initiative - yet the willingness to now state publicly what has been only speculated privately sends a shot across the bow for WIPO and the countries that support its commitment to multilateral policymaking. MORE



WHat the hell is WRONG with these greedy bloated assholes???? Stuff like this: Secret copyright treaty leaks. It's bad. Very bad.
The internet chapter of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, a secret copyright treaty whose text Obama's administration refused to disclose due to "national security" concerns, has leaked. It's bad. It says:
  • * That ISPs have to proactively police copyright on user-contributed material. This means that it will be impossible to run a service like Flickr or YouTube or Blogger, since hiring enough lawyers to ensure that the mountain of material uploaded every second isn't infringing will exceed any hope of profitability.
  • * That ISPs have to cut off the Internet access of accused copyright infringers or face liability. This means that your entire family could be denied to the internet -- and hence to civic participation, health information, education, communications, and their means of earning a living -- if one member is accused of copyright infringement, without access to a trial or counsel.
MORE


WHAT THE FUCK?

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Gigi Sohn: Who’s Reading Your Email?

Gigi Sohn of Public Knowledge on one of the greatest threats that the open internet faces. It's called Deep Packet Inspection or DPI and allows internet service providers to inspect data sent to and from your computer including emails, downloads, and even simple web browsing. Here's how it works. When you use the internet the data you send and receive is broken up into chunks called packets that are wrapped in envelopes. Normally your provider acts like a postal carrier. DPI, however, changes the nature of those transactions and allows your internet service provider to open your letter and share that information with advertisers without ever consulting you, the user. Sohn says it poses a threat to net neutrality and freedom of speech. You can find out more about DPI here.



And what she didn't mention, of course, is gov't agencies using said software to peek into our stuff without permission
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Everything that's Wrong with the Media: Marc Ambinder on Why Progressives Are Always Wrong


So. Tom Ridge confirms what progressives have long known to be true. [Namely, Bush and his cronies conspiring to raise the Terrorist Threat levels so as to up the President's approval ratings and win elections.] Here's Marc "Divide the Baby in Half" Ambinder to confirm why you must never again rely on our "free press" to protect democracy.
Journalists, including myself, were very skeptical when anti-Bush liberals insisted that what Ridge now says is true, was true. We were wrong. Our skepticism about the activists' conclusions was warranted because these folks based their assumption on gut hatred for President Bush, and not on any evaluation of the raw intelligence. But journalists should have been even more skeptical about the administration's pronouncements. And yet -- we, too, weren't privy to the intelligence. (emphasis added)
Marcy Wheeler saw that one off in fine style.
....


Hey, but what about all that "gut hatred"? Thers, writing at FDL:
There was always a certain inverted genius about the accusation. Because I did hate George W. Bush! But it was nothing personal. Strictly business. See, I thought, correctly, as it emerged, and as indeed was absurdly easy to figure out at the time, that George Bush was making up ridiculous crap in order to sucker the nation into a disastrous war that would get a lot of people killed for no sane reason. It seemed to me, not unreasonably, that someone who would do such a thing was kind of an asshole. And hence I concluded that George W. Bush was an utter asshole, as were his advisers, cronies, Sith-lords, sycophants, and Internet Fan-Base. They were all crazy assholes. And they still are!

But then these crazy assholes turned around and said to people like Armbinder, "these people are calling us crazy assholes. Isn't that rude?" And Armbinder by his own account nodded, and I dunno, rubbed his chin, chewed his cud, and decided that Civil Discourse requires that when one must consider the competing claims of those who dislike liars and say so, on the one hand, and on the other hand, liars, the only sensible way to come to a decision is to figure out who's nicer.

And since it's not nice to call someone a liar, even if they are a liar, it's kind of not a fair competition.

You know who was a real dick? That kid who said the Emperor had no clothes. What a presumptuous little shit.

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Thers wins the internets with that snippet of blog. Because goddamn it, it ain't like Bush broke every fucking law, American and International, in committing these war crimes:


Here's just a few of the facts of what CIA interrogators did in our name, just the ones that come from this IG report, as masterfully summarized by Glenn Greenwald:

• Threats of execution, using semi-automatic handguns and power drills
• Threats to kill detainee and his children
• Threats to rape detainee's wife and children in front of him
• Restricting the detainee's carotid artery
• Hitting detainee with the butt end of a rifle
• Blowing smoke in detainee's face for five minutes
• Multiple instances of waterboarding detainees, of the type we prosecuted Japanese war criminals for using:
• Hanging detainee by their arms until interrogators thought their shoulders might be dislocated
• stepping on detainee's ankle shackles to cause severe bruising and pain
• choking detainee until they pass out
• dousing detainee with water on cold concrete floors in cold temperatures to induce hypothermia
• killing detainees through torture techniques, whether accidental or not
• putting detainee in a diaper for days at a time to live in their own filth

On that last point, Digby notes that this could have been used in tandem with another technique we know about, the use of forced enemas, a particularly degrading technique, part and parcel of the humiliations heaped on prisoners that were psycho-sexual in nature. A lot of these stem from misreadings of books like Raphael Patai's "The Arab Mind," which presumed a host of dubious generalizations about Muslims and their predispositions, all of it willingly lapped up by neoconservatives willing to believe that their opponents were somehow subhuman. As if anyone would react favorably to being made to live in their own shit. These stereotypical projections that manifested themselves in essentially an allowance for torturing brown-skinned people have dangerous and deadly repercussions.
more...


And the CIA hiring Blackwater to carry-out extra-judicial assassinations of members of AL Quaeda is all perfectly reasonable and legal. (Are there ever judicial assassinations)


Yes, Blackwater. That same company responsible for Nissour Square. (WEhich atrocity somehow managed to miss me entirely. WTF?)


THE killing of 17 Iraqis at Baghdad’s Nissour Square by contractors (read mercenaries) of the United States military firm Blackwater on September 17, once again highlights the controversial role played by the hired guns of the occupation forces. Similarly, in the second week of October, contractors working for an Australian-owned security company, under contract with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), fired on a car carrying civilians. Two Iraqi women were killed in this incident.

The apparently unprovoked Nissour Square incident by Blackwater guards has enraged all Iraqis, cutting across the ethnic and political divide. Prime Minister Nouri al-Malki demanded $8 million in compensation for each of the victims and the removal of Blackwater guards from Iraq within six months. A government spokesperson said that such a high compensation was demanded because “Blackwater uses employees who disrespect the rights of Iraqi citizens even though they are guests in the country.” MORE


And this is just one of the long lists of Bush's crimes. But we liberals are just crazy with gut-hatred for that statesman, Pres. Bush. Doncha just LOVE the "librul" media?
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Media: Angry right-wingers are important; angry libs are annoying

I guess Howard Dean was just ahead of his time.
When the liberal anti-war candidate ran for the White House in 2003 and 2004, the Beltway press was uniformly clear that Dean had an "anger" issue. When Dean launched his campaign and gave voice to the hundreds of thousands of activists who had marched and protested against the Iraq war, the media elites did not approve.
As early as June 2003, The New York Times was fretting over whether Dean's "angry message" would be his downfall. "All the Rage," read a Newsweek headline on a Dean profile.

And in two features in the summer of 2003, The Washington Post described Dean as "abrasive," "flinty," "cranky," "arrogant," "disrespectful," "fiery," "red-faced," a "hothead," "testy," "short-fused," "angry," "worked up," and "fired up." And trust me, none of those adjectives was used in a complimentary way. In fact, the Post took pains to distinguish Dean's anger from that of then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, whom the paper termed "brilliantly cranky."

Bad luck for Dean, because back during the Bush years, there was really no worse crime, at least in the eyes of the Beltway press, than being "angry." (Especially being an angry Democrat.) It was practically a deal breaker. Serious people simply didn't conduct themselves that way in American politics. They didn't let their runaway partisan emotions get the best of them.

But oh my, how times have changed! Suddenly this summer, as right-wing mini-mobs turn health care forums into free-for-alls, as unhinged political rage flows in the streets, and as the Nazi and Hitler rhetoric flies, anger is in. Suddenly anger is good. It's authentic. It's newsworthy. Reading and watching the mini-mob news coverage, the media message seems clear: Angry speaks to the masses.MORE


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Keeping the Internet Open and Free


Think the internet should be a space free of corporate run media holdings? Well, congress just introduced the Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2009. It would make net neutrality as it's called the law. You can find out more about the law and how you can help at savetheinternet.com.
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That apparently women gymnasts can't just be athletic. Oh no. They need to be in touch with their feminine side as well. They need to be graceful, womanly even. Can't be a proper female athlete without making dead sure that you show societally approved traits of performing femininity as well. Why do I think that somehow, males just get to be athletics, without having to tap into their masculine sides?


Sex apparently makes you a better athlete. At least when it comes on to gymnastics. Maybe its the whole getting in touch with your feminine side?


You cannot have a movie with a set of girls without boyfriend stealing and total bitchiness.


Get into makeup and smile liek an idjit.
There is only one way to be feminine...wear figure revealing clothing. Be stereotypically graceful. All women who would prefer not to show figure hugging clothing or express more societally-coded masculine behaviour are not real women. They have issues that are their mother's faults. Their mothers lack of self-esteem. Which is blameable on ttheir wicked mothers. Who laughed at makeup and such frills. And in female gymnastics apparently, being stereotypically femal is so important that the coach considers it a part of training.



Teens should not have sex. No really. Its always seems to be something that you regret. Either you become so desperate that you are willing to do any number of fucked yup things to get your best friend's boyfriend, or you are an aging pop star mother regretting it. Of course, girls sexuality is problematic. Sexually forward girls are bitchy assholes. I'm confused though. Its is preferable that you be a virgin when you are a gymnast, since apparently sex brings on puberty symptoms. And yet having sex seems to be given as the reason that one of the girls improves her gymnastic talent. Which is which, I wonder?
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What the hell ABC? At a time when when grandads are siccing their 10 year old boys on their transgender classmates because he objects to said transgender classmate using the girl's bathroom? When the security at London Pride denies access to the ladies bathroom to a a post operative trans woman? When ZOMG rapists and pervs!!!!" is EXACTLY the way religious right fuckers shoot down trans civil rights bills? Even the supposedly most progressive of places are contributing to this vicious myth of trans folk as evil rapists and pedos, not fit for society, thereby contributing to the societal impulse to severely harass kids in school and murder both adults and children? When said vicious myth still leads to people getting away with trans panic defenses????


Against that background, which I dug up in five minutes of googling and which is by NO means comprehensive, your writers of "10 Things I hate About You" deiced that he best way to further Kat's relationship with Patrick and her best friend, is to make up a character that is an Asian trans kid and make said kid obnoxiously come on to Kat while she's in the bathroom?!?!?!?!?!??!?? And since the "gender-confused kid" (your words) won't take no for an answer, the loyal best friend has to punch her to get her to stop? REALLY? So that Kat can assume its Patrick that is defending her and take that as an excuse to have more interaction with him? Are you fucking serious??????? How many people's prejudices and ignorance do you think you have just confirmed? Did you all give ANY thought at all to the kids and adults who will be further tortured by their fellow students and adult citizens because you have just legitimised that trans folk are so sexually threatening that one needs to beat them up to get them to stop being criminals!?!?!?! When Trans kids deal with THIS and more every day...


Key findings of Harsh Realities include:
Biased language:
  • 90% of transgender students heard derogatory remarks, such as "dyke" or "faggot," sometimes, often or frequently in school in the past year.
  • 90% of transgender students heard negative remarks about someone’s gender expression sometimes, often or frequently in school in the past year.
  • Less than a fifth of transgender students said that school staff intervened most of the time or always when hearing homophobic remarks (16%) or negative remarks about someone’s gender expression (11%).
  • School staff also contributed to the harassment. A third of transgender students heard school staff make homophobic remarks (32%), sexist remarks (39%) and negative comments about someone’s gender expression (39%) sometimes, often or frequently in the past year.
School Safety and Experiences of Harassment and Assault
  • Two-thirds of transgender students felt unsafe in school because of their sexual orientation (69%) and how they expressed their gender (65%).
  • Almost all transgender students had been verbally harassed (e.g., called names or threatened) in the past year at school because of their sexual orientation (89%) and gender expression (87%).
  • More than half of all transgender students had been physically harassed (e.g., pushed or shoved) in school in the past year because of their sexual orientation (55%) and gender expression (53%).
  • More than a quarter of transgender students had been physically assaulted (e.g., punched, kicked or injured with a weapon) in school in the past year because of their sexual orientation (28%) and gender expression (26%).
MORE


Do you SEE those numbers? What the hell is wrong with you????? Thsi is not a fucking JOKE. This is PEOPLE"S LIVES AND SAFETY THAT YOU ARE FUCKING WITH HERE!!!!That's TRANSPHOBIC you ignoramuses, and you fed the lies to CHILDREN AND YOUNG ADULTS!!!As a JOKE. What is WRONG with you?
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The person who leaked it was a lobbyist, just so you know...

Today's link-bait (it worked!) from Politico:

WashPost sells access, $25,000+
By: Mike Allen
July 2, 2009 08:04 AM EST

For $25,000 to $250,000, The Washington Post is offering lobbyists and association executives off-the-record, nonconfrontational access to "those powerful few" — Obama administration officials, members of Congress, and the paper’s own reporters and editors.
Thank you! Good day!
Really, what more do you need to know?
Here's some of the language of the offer:
"Underwriting Opportunity: An evening with the right people can alter the debate," says the one-page flier. "Underwrite and participate in this intimate and exclusive Washington Post Salon, an off-the-record dinner and discussion at the home of CEO and Publisher Katharine Weymouth. ... Bring your organization’s CEO or executive director literally to the table. Interact with key Obama administration and congressional leaders ...

"Spirited? Yes. Confrontational? No. The relaxed setting in the home of Katharine Weymouth assures it. What is guaranteed is a collegial evening, with Obama administration officials, Congress members, business leaders, advocacy leaders and other select minds typically on the guest list of 20 or less. ...

"Offered at $25,000 per sponsor, per Salon. Maximum of two sponsors per Salon. Underwriters’ CEO or Executive Director participates in the discussion. Underwriters appreciatively acknowledged in printed invitations and at the dinner. Annual series sponsorship of 11 Salons offered at $250,000 ... Hosts and Discussion Leaders ... Health-care reporting and editorial staff members of The Washington Post ... An exclusive opportunity to participate in the health-care reform debate among the select few who will actually get it done. ... A Washington Post Salon ... July 21, 2009 6:30 p.m."

MORE



Emptywheel wonders about the other side of the equation


Which members of Congress and the Administration have agreed to participate? Did they know of the payoffs the lobbyists will make to host the events? And did the politicians expect anything in return? Or will they just be able to order up some WaPo scolding every time citizens demand real health care reform of their elected representatives? In other words, what is clear from this is that the WaPo doesn't give a shit about neutrality, they care only about an illusion of "objectivity." But what remains unclear is the rest of the equation--just how the WaPo managed to insert itself as the facilitator between lobbyists and our government--and the gatekeeper chasing citizens away at the same time.MORE


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Insurance company insider reveals how the industry rips you off, and bribes congress to do their bidding, and how the media is too ignorant to cover it

TL: What insurance stories did reporters write most often?

WP:
They wrote brief stories for investors, but wouldn’t go into the details of the important facts and numbers—such as a company’s medical loss ratio, which tells the percentage of premium dollars that the insurers pay out in claims. This is a closely watched measure by investors and Wall Street analysts, because it tells them how well a for-profit company is meeting investors’ earnings expectations.

TL:
Did reporters ever ask about this?

WP:
I can’t recall a reporter ever probing how insurers manage to meet Wall Street’s expectations through medical management and claims practices, which are key ways to manipulate the medical loss ratio and dump unprofitable accounts. Not once was I asked by a reporter what happens to people who work for small and mid-sized companies that get “purged” by insurers because their employees’ claims were causing the insurer’s medical loss ratio to move in the wrong direction from an investor’s point of view. No one ever asked me about the human consequences of satisfying Wall Street. Most reporters are happy to do a superficial job.

TL:
How do companies manipulate the medical loss ratio?

WP:
They look at expensive claims of workers in small businesses who are insured by the company, and the claims of people in the individual market. If an employer-customer has an employee or two who has a chronic illness or needs expensive care, the claims for the employee will likely trigger a review. Common industry practice is to increase premiums so high that when such accounts come up for renewal, the employer has no choice but to reduce benefits, shop for another carrier, or stop offering benefits entirely. More and more have opted for the last alternative.

TL:
What tactics do they use in the individual market?

WP:
They rescind policies when a review indicates that an individual has filed a lot of expensive claims. They will look for conditions that were not disclosed on the application. Often the policy likely will be canceled and the individual left without coverage. Sometimes people aren’t aware that they have a pre-existing condition. It might be listed in the doctor’s notes but not discussed with the patient. MORE




But...but what about the reporters? Why dont they catch on? )

WTF Monday.

Jun. 9th, 2009 12:01 am
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Massacre in Peru in the name of Free Trade

Today brings news from Peru of a massacre of indigenous people who were protesting policies set in place based on the Peru Free Trade Agreement with the United States. Remember, Obama was actually FOR the Peru FTA.

What were the protesters opposing?
People have been protesting against a government - a government policy that ignores indigenous peoples, that sees the Amazon as being unproductive and sees indigenous people as, essentially, a waste of space. What the government wants to do is open up the Amazon to private investment - they see the future of development there to be biofuel plantations, oil drilling, mining, forestry, and large corporate investments and indigenous people are just getting in the way. So what the government did when it was given powers in the context of the free trade agreement was issue a series of laws that never went through Congress, that were never consulted with indigenous people, that basically restructure land rights, taking away land from indigenous people and allow rainforest to be reclassified as agricultural land - opening a legal loophole for biofuel companies to move in with plantations, for oil companies and mining companies to be able to work in the area without the troublesome part of having to negotiate or speak to the local communities for using their lands.
About how the Peru Free Trade Agreement with the U.S. fit into this..
Unfortunately, the process of the implementation of this free trade agreement - the president was given executive powers to pass laws to implement the free trade agreement. Using that excuse, the government passed these laws that take away indigenous rights and [present] a threat to the Amazon rainforest. The government here has been standing up and saying it can't repeal the laws because they are necessary for the free trade agreement and the development of Peru, and they are positioning the indigenous people as being against Free Trade and development and using the Free Trade Agreement as an excuse for passing these laws that undermine the indigenous rights.

Result? Around 2500 protestors attacked by 500 police {warning:graphic photos] with tear gas and live bullets. Some police killed in self-defense.



Eyes on Trade has got some good stuff on the perniciousness of those blasted Free Trade Agreements.

ABORTION FOE TO LEAD HHS FAITH-BASED OFFICE.

President Obama has appointed Alexia Kelley, executive director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good (CACG), to head the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the Department of Health and Human Services. Kelley is a leading proponent of "common ground" abortion reduction -- only CACG's common ground is at odds with that of Obama. While the administration favors reducing the need for abortion by reducing unintended pregnancies, Kelley has made clear that she seeks instead to reduce access to abortion. That is an extremely disturbing development, especially coming this week in the wake of George Tiller's assassination.

Under George W. Bush, the faith-based centers didn't play a policy role. But Obama has expanded the faith-based project to include a policy side, and one of its chief goals is to reduce the need for abortion. I have opposed this, because reproductive health is a public health, not a religious issue. Also problematic: It is counterproductive for Obama to appoint someone who disagrees with the administration's stance. Obama finds himself now in the difficult position of having elevated the importance of religion to making policy, and having appointed a religious figure whose opinions on policy conflict with his.

Kelley and CACG have made clear they are committed to Catholic doctrine on abortion and birth control. CACG has supported the Pregnant Women's Support Act, aimed at stigmatizing abortion and making it less accessible. In discussing legislation on reducing the need for abortion, Kelley has written that various pieces of legislation concerned with women's health "are not all perfect; some include contraception -- which the Church opposes." Never mind that more than 90 percent of American Catholics use it anyway.

As Catholics for Choice points out in its press release criticizing the pick, "the Department of Health and Human Services is responsible for providing and expanding access to key sexual and reproductive health services. As such, we need those working in HHS to rely on evidence-based methods to reduce the need for abortion. We need them to believe in men's and women's capacity to make moral decisions about their own lives. Unfortunately, as seen from her work at CACG, Ms. Kelley does not fit the bill." MORE


see alsoTrojans and Horses

Re: a good health care bill?

Read this: Musing over Morning Coffee: the Public Option, this: Your (Very Special Edition) Health reform Roundup, this: How Canada got Universal Health Care AKA the story of the man voted the Greatest Canadian, Going Dutch: How I learned to love the European Welfare State, Health Care Reform: The Cost of Failure, FAIR Reports: Media quarantine on discussion of single payer health care. ANd just read this for good measure:Child Well-Being Index Foretells Hard Time For Kids

And fervently hope that this is a lie
Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the senior Republican on the Finance Committee, recalled how Mr. Obama made a personal pledge of bipartisanship when he and Senator Max Baucus of Montana, the committee’s Democratic chairman, joined the president for a private lunch at the White House last month.
“I said, ‘Yeah, it’s a problem,’ ” Mr. Grassley said of the public plan, “and he said something along the lines of, ‘If I get 85 percent of what I want with a bipartisan vote, or 100 percent with 51 votes, all Democrat, I’d rather have it be bipartisan.’ ”



Also: WTF???? Just. What. the. FUCK???? Obama’s Pick to Lead Afghan War Linked to Abuse of Prisoners & Secret Assassination Unit Headdesk. Headdesk. HEADDESK!!!! Whatever happened to the Office of Urban Policy?
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Going To Hell In A Local Rather Than An Express Handbasket

The unemployment figures for may show a loss of 345,000 jobs and a 9.4% unemployment rate. You can plot this on a graph and make it look preferable to the previous six months of extreme losses, and it is. But Felix Salmon notes:

Remember the stress tests? The baseline scenario had unemployment in 2009 at 8.4%, rising to 8.9% under the more adverse scenario. Well, we’re only up to May, and already it’s at 9.4%.


To be clear, the adverse scenario in the stress test was supposed to be the worst things could possibly get. If we've blown past that, the banks will face more losses and write-downs than suggested by the adverse scenario. More people out of work means more foreclosures, less consumer spending, higher deficits, etc. This is but one of the ways where the banksters are making themselves out to be healthier than they are.MORE



The Democratic Industrial Complex

If big business's old legislative strategy was centered on relentless opposition to progressive initiatives--an approach that continues in areas like EFCA--the new strategy is to subvert legislation through co-optation, as in healthcare and cap and trade. By converting themselves, ostensibly, from opponents to "partners," corporate lobbies are trying to have it both ways: to block reforms while changing overt power struggles over the future of the economy into seemingly cooperative negotiations. At these negotiations, to use the president's favorite phrase, "everyone has a seat at the table"--except, the lobbyists get by far the best seats. (Alinsky didn't have much patience for this approach. "This liberal cliché about reconciliation of opposing forces is a load of crap," he once said. "When one side gets enough power, then the other side gets reconciled to it.")

These efforts at co-optation are aided by our natural inclination toward narrative and fable. It is pretty irresistible to view politics through the lens of heroes and villains. Palin is a character; the ABA is just an acronym

...


Despite all the hype about the Obama campaign's tremendous online fundraising, the fact is that it also collected unprecedented massive amounts of corporate cash, as did all the campaigns. And that corporate cash is represented by lobbyists who are so much a part of the fabric of the political system that they function as staff members in the congress and kitchen cabinet in the administration. (Indeed, one of the most interesting tidbits of information I heard was that despite the fact that there are many progressive committee chairmen, they are almost all pretty conservative on the issues their committees oversee. Now why would that be do you suppose?)MORE



Supporting the Public Plan AKA Example No. One

The insurance lobby has had multiple tactics for stopping the public option idea, which they despise because they know if regular folks have choice to go to a public option, insurance companies won't have the same ability to treat their customers like garbage when they get sick. The first tactic was just to try to kill the public option outright, and the good news is that they appear to have failed at that. This so-called trigger proposal is the second tactic: the idea is to write a "trigger" that will allow for a public option only under certain conditions, but write the legislation so that those conditions would never get met in the real world. It's a classic DC tactic, right up there with calling for a commission to study something. Olympia Snowe is carrying the insurance industry water on their trigger proposal, proposing triggers that would only get tripped in some fairyland none of us have ever visited.

The great thing for the insurance companies in a tactic like this is that it gives "centrist" Senators (centrist in Washington, DC usually means those who have taken massive amounts of campaign contributions from the affected industry) an excuse to help the insurance industry while looking like they are open to the public option that their constituents have been demanding.
Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress have gotten some good things done so far, and are building real momentum in getting us moving in the right direction on health care. But if conservative Democrats force the adoption of the trigger, it will destroy Democratic unity and doom health care reform, because progressives will start attacking Democrats rather than insurance companies. We really are at a critical moment.WHat to do?



And this would be why I don't deal much with the corporate media:
Sweet Beat


This story
about Richard Wolffe's coverage of the Obama campaign is more than a little bit snotty and frankly not surprising. I knew he was writing a campaign book about Obama and his coverage of the candidate reflected his need for access --- and his access. He was clearly not objective, but then neither was Fox News. It all came out fairnbalanced, village style.

But this is just sickening:
...
Wolffe also continues to write and report for Tina Brown’s Daily Beast, and to offer his opinions on MSNBC, which identifies him as a political analyst, though he said he won’t talk about issues related to the firm’s clients.

And he suggested he’s not that different from other reporters in an era in which the business and the profession of journalism have gotten closer and closer.

“The idea that journalists are somehow not engaged in corporate activities is not really in touch with what’s going on. Every conversation with journalists is about business models and advertisers,” he said, recalling that, on the day after the 2008 election, Newsweek sent him to Detroit to deliver a speech to advertisers.

“You tell me where the line is between business and journalism,” he said.

MORE


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Families to care about

While the rich, bathed in our attention, are turning necessity into a hand-wringing sociological event, most women in this country are just going about their business, much as they always have.

We — journalists and readers both — simply must, for once, resist the temptation to let what may or may not be happening to the top 5 percent (or 1 percent) of our country’s families set the story line for what women’s lives are becoming in this recession.

Because, the fact is, the story’s not about them.

“This is a classic blue collar recession,” says Heather Boushey, a senior economist at the Center for American Progress. Fully half the jobs that have been lost so far have been in construction and manufacturing. Only 5.1 percent of job losses have been in finance and insurance — the kinds of careers that support the opt-out lifestyle.

...


Increasing numbers of working class women now — in a downturn where 82 percent of the job losses have been among men – have become their family’s sole wage-earners, it’s true. But their husbands, very often, are holding their own at home just fine. For while the stereotype has long been that working class men won’t do “women’s work,” Coontz said, the truth is that in recent years they’ve had a better track record than the most high-income men in sharing domestic duties. Twenty percent of these men, in fact, actually do more housework and child care now than their wives. “These people have been doing it for some time and they’re much more ideologically committed to doing it,” she said. “I think your worst offenders” (dirty coffee mug-wise), “are in that top 5 percent.”

“I’ve been a little irritated by the slams on men,” she added.

It’s not just for the sake of being fair to the hubbies that we’ve got to keep our wits about us these days and avoid falling into the usual clichés about class and gender with which we tend to make sense of men and women’s changing lives. There’s a deeper reason, too: paying attention only to the – real or perceived – “choices” and travails of the top 5 percent hides the experiences of all the rest. And this means that the needs of all the rest never quite rise to the surface of our national debate or emerge at the top of our political priorities.MORE

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