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shortformblog:

Pretty tough video to watch. I couldn’t get past a couple seconds of the procedure. However, 45 prisoners are being force fed as part of the United States military response to a 106 prisoner hunger strike that has continued for months now. Another hot topic: They will continue to be force fed during the religous holiday of Ramadan.

wilwheaton:

Rep. Darrell Issa, the indefatigable Republican chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has called a hearing for noon Wednesday even though Congress is in a weeks-long recess. The emergency cause for the hearing? Probing“The Security Failures of Benghazi”— lapses in diplomatic security that led to the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Libya.

The purpose of the pre-election hearing, presumably, is to embarrass the administration for inadequate diplomatic security. But Issa seems unaware of the irony that diplomatic security is inadequate partly because of budget cuts forced by his fellow Republicans in Congress.

For fiscal 2013, the GOP-controlled House proposed spending $1.934 billion for theState Department’s Worldwide Security Protection program — well below the $2.15 billion requested by the Obama administration. House Republicans cut the administration’s request for embassy security funding by $128 million in fiscal 2011 and $331 million in fiscal 2012.

Congressional Republicans and their presidential nominee blame Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats for policies championed and enacted by the GOP.

What a bunch of fuckers.

wilwheaton:

But as much as it reveals the absurdities of Mitt Romney, his voluntary overpayment underscores the absurdities of the current tax system. Romney owes so little because of the tax code’s favoritism toward the rich. Whereas the top rate on salary, wages, and tips is 35 percent, the top rate on interest, dividends, and long-term capital gains is only 15 percent. This is economically inefficient, because it encourages businesses and individuals to structure their affairs to take advantage of the differential. It is also instinctively unfair, because it privileges a hedge-fund manager’s carried interest over a factory worker’s wages.

…from just outside a Bain Capital-owned plant in Freeport, Illinois, where workers at Sensata Technologies have set up an encampment called “Bainport” across the street to protest the company’s plan to close the plant and move it to China, taking 170 jobs with it.

(via rev-denn)

teratomata:

Original post on Reddit

What people call “Obamacare” is actually the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. However, people were calling it “Obamacare” before everyone even hammered out what it would be. It’s a term mostly used by people who don’t like the PPACA, and it’s become popularized in part because PPACA is a really long and awkward name, even when you turn it into an acronym like that.

Anyway, the PPACA made a bunch of new rules regarding health care, with the purpose of making health care more affordable for everyone. Opponents of the PPACA, on the other hand, feel that the rules it makes take away too many freedoms and force people (both individuals and businesses) to do things they shouldn’t have to.

So what does it do? Well, here is everything, in the order of when it goes into effect (because some of it happens later than other parts of it):

Already in effect:

  • It allows the Food and Drug Administration to approve more generic drugs (making for more competition in the market to drive down prices)

  • It increases the rebates on drugs people get through Medicare (so drugs cost less)

  • It establishes a non-profit group, that the government doesn’t directly control, to study different kinds of treatments to see what works better and is the best use of money.

  • It makes chain restaurants like McDonalds display how many calories are in all of their foods, so people can have an easier time making choices to eat healthy.

  • It makes a “high-risk pool” for people with pre-existing conditions. Basically, this is a way to slowly ease into getting rid of “pre-existing conditions” altogether. For now, people who already have health issues that would be considered “pre-existing conditions” can still get insurance, but at different rates than people without them.

  • It renews some old policies, and calls for the appointment of various positions.

  • It creates a new 10% tax on indoor tanning booths.

  • It says that health insurance companies can no longer tell customers that they won’t get any more coverage because they have hit a “lifetime limit”. Basically, if someone has paid for life insurance, that company can’t tell that person that he’s used that insurance too much throughout his life so they won’t cover him any more. They can’t do this for lifetime spending, and they’re limited in how much they can do this for yearly spending.

  • Kids can continue to be covered by their parents’ health insurance until they’re 26.

  • No more “pre-existing conditions” for kids under the age of 19.

  • Insurers have less ability to change the amount customers have to pay for their plans.

  • People in a “Medicare Gap” get a rebate to make up for the extra money they would otherwise have to spend.

  • Insurers can’t just drop customers once they get sick.

  • Insurers have to tell customers what they’re spending money on. (Instead of just “administrative fee”, they have to be more specific).

  • Insurers need to have an appeals process for when they turn down a claim, so customers have some manner of recourse otherthan a lawsuit when they’re turned down.

  • New ways to stop fraud are created.

  • Medicare extends to smaller hospitals.

  • Medicare patients with chronic illnesses must be monitored more thoroughly.

  • Reduces the costs for some companies that handle benefits for the elderly.

  • A new website, healthcare.gov, is made to give people insurance and health information.

  • A credit program is made that will make it easier for business to invest in new ways to treat illness.

  • A limit is placed on just how much of a percentage of the money an insurer makes can be profit, to make sure they’re not price-gouging customers.

  • A limit is placed on what type of insurance accounts can be used to pay for over-the-counter drugs without a prescription. Basically, your insurer isn’t paying for the Aspirin you bought for that hangover.

  • Employers need to list the benefits they provided to employees on their tax forms.

8/1/2012

  • Any health plans sold after this date must provide preventative care (mammograms, colonoscopies, etc.) without requiring any sort of co-pay or charge.

1/1/2013

  • If you make over $200,000 a year, your taxes go up a tiny bit (0.9%)

1/1/2014

This is when a lot of the really big changes happen.

  • No more “pre-existing conditions”. At all. People will be charged the same regardless of their medical history.

  • If you can afford insurance but do not get it, you will be charged a fee. This is the “mandate” that people are talking about. Basically, it’s a trade-off for the “pre-existing conditions” bit, saying that since insurers now have to cover you regardless of what you have, you can’t just wait to buy insurance until you get sick. Otherwise no one would buy insurance until they needed it. You can opt not to get insurance, but you’ll have to pay the fee instead, unless of course you’re not buying insurance because you just can’t afford it.

  • Insurer’s now can’t do annual spending caps. Their customers can get as much health care in a given year as they need.

  • Make it so more poor people can get Medicaid by making the low-income cut-off higher.

  • Small businesses get some tax credits for two years.

  • Businesses with over 50 employees must offer health insurance to full-time employees, or pay a penalty.

  • Limits how high of an annual deductible insurers can charge customers.

  • Cut some Medicare spending

  • Place a $2500 limit on tax-free spending on FSAs (accounts for medical spending). Basically, people using these accounts now have to pay taxes on any money over $2500 they put into them.

  • Establish health insurance exchanges and rebates for the lower and middle-class, basically making it so they have an easier time getting affordable medical coverage.

  • Congress and Congressional staff will only be offered the same insurance offered to people in the insurance exchanges, rather than Federal Insurance. Basically, we won’t be footing their health care bills any more than any other American citizen.

  • A new tax on pharmaceutical companies.

  • A new tax on the purchase of medical devices.

  • A new tax on insurance companies based on their market share. Basically, the more of the market they control, the more they’ll get taxed.

  • The amount you can deduct from your taxes for medical expenses increases.

1/1/2015

  • Doctors’ pay will be determined by the quality of their care, not how many people they treat. It looks like this part alters a part of another bill, the Social Security Act, passed a long while ago. That bill already regulates how doctors’ pay is determined. The PPACA just changes the criteria. It looks like this is just referring to Medicaid and Medicare. Basically, this is changing how much thegovernment pays to doctors and medical groups, in situations where they are already responsible for pay.

1/1/2017

  • If any state can come up with their own plan, one which gives citizens the same level of care at the same price as the PPACA, they can ask the Secretary of Health and Human Resources for permission to do their plan instead of the PPACA. So if they can get the same results without, say, the mandate, they can be allowed to do so. Vermont, for example, has expressed a desire to just go straight to single-payer (in simple terms, everyone is covered, and medical expenses are paid by taxpayers).

2018

  • All health care plans must now cover preventative care (not just the new ones).

  • A new tax on “Cadillac” health care plans (more expensive plans for rich people who want fancier coverage).

2020

  • The elimination of the “Medicare gap”

Aaaaand that’s it right there.

The biggest thing opponents of the bill have against it is the mandate. They claim that it forces people to buy insurance, and forcing people to buy something is unconstitutional. Personally, I take the opposite view, as it’s not telling people to buy a specific thing, just to have a specific type of thing, just like a part of the money we pay in taxes pays for the police and firemen who protect us, this would have us paying to ensure doctors can treat us for illness and injury.

Plus, as previously mentioned, it’s necessary if you’re doing away with “pre-existing conditions” because otherwise no one would get insurance until they needed to use it, which defeats the purpose of insurance.

  • For those looking for a source… well, here is the text of the bill, all 974 pages of it (as it sits currently after being amended multiple times). I can’t point out page numbers just now, but they’re there if you want them.

(via dmikalova-deactivated20130720)

Now, I know you profess to love our country and the founding fathers (unless you are reminded that they believed in the separation of church and state), but I need to remind you that America is NOT what Fox News says it is. America is a melting pot, it always has been. We are a multi-cultural amalgamation of all kinds of people, and yet you still demonize everyone who is not a rich, white, heterosexual christian male or his submissive and obedient wife.


You hate liberals, moderates, hell, anyone who disagrees with Conservative dogma as espoused by Fox News and Rush Limbaugh. You hate em. Well, here are the facts, Jack. If you hate the Government then you are unqualified to manage it. If you hate gay people more than you love America than you should take your own advice and get the hell out. There are several countries that are openly hostile to gay people, but they are full of brown people and you don’t like them much either from what I understand. It looks like you are screwed, but that’s not what I am here to tell you.

Politics is not a bad profession. If you succeed there are many rewards, if you disgrace yourself you can always write a book.
Ronald Reagan

shortformblog:

  • 49 bodies discovered along a highway near U.S. border source

» Drug gang conflicts escalate: Officials have not yet stated whether the victims (most of whom were found decapitated/mutilated) were members of rival drug gangs or were even U.S.-bound immigrants; a banner found at the site of the bodies’ drop-off indicated that this was the work of the Zetas drug cartel. In 2011, 193 bodies were found in mass graves; so far this year, including this incident, around 104 bodies have reportedly been found.

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shortformblog:

Magnets and an iPod Nano are all it takes to make a tiny music player part of your body: It’s not for everyone, and we’re not just talking about the video above. Dave Hurban implanted magnets in his skin to hold the iPod in place, much like a wristwatch. But why, WHY would someone ever do this to themselves? “I just thought it would be cool,” Hurban said. Unfortunately for Hurban, it’ll be harder for him to upgrade his Nano the next time around, especially if Apple changes its style — like, you know, it does nearly every single year. source

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brooklynmutt:

Tom Toles

shortformblog:

Pollen cloud causes stir in Moscow

What would you do, if you woke to the sight of a large green cloud drifting towards you from the direction of Chernobyl? If you said panic, we, and thousands of Russians, are with you. This morning, just such a cloud appeared over Moscow, leading to rumors of everything from industrial accidents to alien invasions. Fortunately, the government confirmed the pollen-filled cloud’s safety, and urged residents to remain calm. When asked about the panic, one Russian official simply replied, “Many residents forgot all about natural phenomena.” (photos via @KristyaMasyasha/Gizmodo/ABC) source