Thursday, April 30, 2015

Right-Wing Media Blames Everyone but Police for Baltimore Unrest

APTOPIX Suspect Dies Baltimore

Why is the mainstream media ignoring the thousands of peaceful protestors across the country and only focusing on the ones that turn violent? Right-wingers blame everyone, including President Obama, except the police, who are at the heart of the matter.

Gray, 25, was arrested in West Baltimore, on April 12, when he made eye contact with one police officer at about 8:30 a.m., and fled when several police officers on bicycles approached. After officers discovered a small pocket knife on him, Gray was arrested for weapon possession without force or incident. Why Gray ran and why he was pursued are unknown, but a friend told the Baltimore Sun that Gray had a record of drug-related arrests and ”had a history with that police beating.”

Bystander video shows Gray screaming in pain while being dragged to a police van. He also reportedly requested an inhaler, because he suffered from asthma. At 8:46 a.m., the van stopped because Gray was “acting irate” according to police. Officers took him our of the van to put leg shackles on him. Again, video trumps the police account, because video of the stop counters officers claims.

When Gray was placed back in the van, police admit he was not placed in a seatbelt — a direct violation of police policy. At 9:24 a.m., police requested paramedics to take Gray to an area hospital. A subsequent charging document said, “During transport to Western District via wagon transport the Defendant suffered a medical emergency and was transported to Shock Trauma.”

Gray’s “medical emergency,” suffered in those 45 minutes, resulted in three fractured neck vertebrae that left his spine 80 percent severed at his neck, and a crushed voice box, which doctors said could result from “powerful blunt force” and “hyperextension of the neck.” After spending a week in a coma, Gray died of his injuries on April 19.

The attorney representing the officers in the case said Gray was hurt while riding inside the police van. Police commission Anthony W. Batts also admitted that officers failed to get medical attention for Gray “in a timely manner,” and should have called for an ambulance when he was initially arrested. Batt admitted that officers violated department procedure by not putting Gray in a seat belt.

Baltimore’s police department has paid out million of dollars to people injured in police vans, during “rough rides” or “nickel rides,” in which a police van is driven recklessly while detainees in the back are wearing handcuffs and/or leg irons, but not seat belts. 

The family of Donald Johnson, Sr., won $7.4 million verdict against officers, after a 2005 van ride left him a paraplegic. 

Jeffrey Alston was awarded $39 million by a jury, after he was paralyzed from the neck down as the result of a van ride. 

The city paid $100,000 to the family of Homer Long, after he suffered a fatal heart attack in a police van in 2003.

Since 2011, Baltimore has settled or lost more than 100 police brutality cases, to the tune of nearly $6 million.

Like this article:

Bio: Terrance Heath is a contributor at Campaign For America's Future.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

AZ hospitals get middling scores in national survey

A Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services report ranks hospitals on a five-star scale based on patients’ responses to surveys about their care. Arizona hospitals average 3 stars in the report. Click on the chart for an interactive state-by-state report. ( graphic by Cronkite News)

Cronkite News 

WASHINGTON – Only four of the 64 Arizona hospitals that were rated in a new nationwide government report on patient satisfaction got the top five-star ranking.

The report by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) surveyed patients who were asked to rank facilities where they had just been treated on a scale of one to five stars. Arizona hospitals averaged three stars, putting the state 41st in the nation.

Hospital officials in the state downplayed the rankings, saying that while consumer satisfaction is important, it is just one factor in many that determines the quality of a hospital.

But a CMS spokesman said the approach to deriving the rankings is “methodically sound” and that the star ratings are meant to be easily accessible for consumers who want or need to compare different hospitals. The rankings were posted for the first time this month on Hospital Compare, a CMS site that lets people compare data on more than 4,000 U.S. hospitals.

“Despite the criticism you may be hearing from some naysayers, CMS believes that star ratings will improve the accessibility of quality information on Hospital Compare for patients and their families,” said Tony Salters, the agency spokesman.

The four top-ranked Arizona hospitals were Banner Goldfield Medical Center in Apache Junction, Arizona Orthopedic and Surgical Specialty Hospital in Chandler, Arizona Spine and Joint Hospital in Mesa and the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix. A Kaiser Health News analysis of the numbers said many of the five-star facilities across the nation were specialty hospitals.

Of the other ranked hospitals in Arizona, 14 were four-star facilities, 27 got three stars and 19 earned two-star ratings. No hospitals in the state earned one star, the lowest possible rating.

Some hospitals, like Tempe St. Luke’s, were not included in the data if there were not enough survey responses from patients at the hospital.  Hospital administrators noted that the CMS survey rates only one characteristic of a good hospital – patient satisfaction – a qualitative and subjective measurement that they said gives the ratings less weight.

An official at Mesa’s Mountain Vista Medical Center, which got a two-star rating, said in a prepared statement that while consumer perception of care is one factor in determining quality of care, there are others that should play into choosing a hospital such as actual treatment outcomes and recommendations by people they trust.

“While a patient’s experience is an important part of their stay, the new CMS star ratings do not address other significant aspects of patient care such as patient outcomes and safety,” said the statement by Tony Marinello, Mountain Vista CEO.

“Patients now have access to a large number of hospital ratings reports, and they should use all available tools out there when choosing health care providers, as well as consulting with their physicians, friends and family,” his statement continued. 

Banner Health, a multistate health network based in Phoenix, said in a prepared statement that “73 percent of our facilities system wide received either four or five stars.” It sees the numbers as important – but like Marinello, said that the star ratings are not the full measure of a hospital’s overall quality.

“Patient reviews are just one measurement of a hospital’s quality, but an important one,” said a Banner spokeswoman in a prepared statement. “These quarterly ratings provide us with the information we need to help us identify where we are successful and how we can improve.”

She went on to say that Banner Health “welcomes the transparency of the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services star ratings … for our hospitals.”

Salters said the star ratings are doing what they were intended to do – help people make an informed choice.

“CMS has heard much support for the star ratings effort,” he wrote. “This information is generally more easily understood by patients and reflects the experience of most hospital patients.”

Web links:

_ CMS data:
_ Hospital Compare website:
_ Hospital ratings complied by Kaiser
_ Hospital ratings analyzed by Kaiser
_ Kaiser report:
_ Banner:
_ Mountain Vista:
_ Interactive chart:
_ Embed code for chart:

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

NRA's Brazen Shell Game With Donations

National Rifle Association convention. (photo: AP)
National Rifle Association convention. (photo: AP)

By Alan Berlow, Yahoo News
22 April 15
arly last summer I began making contributions to the National Rifle Association — a dollar here, a dollar there — to see where my money would end up. Some of it quickly found its way into the account of the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund, the NRA’s political action committee. And that was of no small interest, because I never knowingly contributed to the NRA-PVF. For me, this wasn’t a big problem; my contributions were a spit in the bucket for an organization that spent $37 million on the 2014 elections and operates on an annual budget of more than a quarter of a billion dollars. But my contributions and others like them may be a big problem for the NRA because, according to some of the nation’s top experts on federal election law, they are all illegal.

The issue is not just that my donations ended up in a political fund account, but the way the NRA solicited them — and presumably those of thousands of others. In fact, each of these transactions almost certainly violated multiple provisions of the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) and a legion of state and federal antifraud statutes designed to protect the public from phony charities and false or misleading solicitations.

The FECA makes a hard distinction between solicitations for elections and other solicitations, in part because many Americans don’t like donating to politicians. An NRA member might contribute to the organization because she admires its work on behalf of hunters. She might also contribute to an environmental group because she wants to preserve forests. But this same donor may vehemently oppose the candidates endorsed in federal elections by both the NRA and the environmental group. As a result, the law makes it clear that when these groups are soliciting for electoral purposes they must disclose that fact to potential donors.

 Requirments on solicitation for federal law. (photo: Federal Election Commission)
Requirments on solicitation for federal law. (photo: Federal Election Commission) 
If a private citizen says he’s raising money for a cancer charity and deposits the money into his personal bank account, he can be prosecuted for committing a fraud.

Similarly, under federal election law, corporations like the NRA that set up what are known as “connected PACs” must inform potential donors if a PAC is the intended beneficiary of a solicitation. The NRA can’t claim to be raising money for the corporation — to finance such things as its lobbying or research initiatives — and then deposit that money into the account of its PAC. But that’s precisely what the NRA did when it solicited my contributions.

The NRA also appears to have violated a federal law that bars soliciting for a connected PAC from anyone other than the group’s employees or members — what the law calls its “restricted class.” And the NRA appears to have violated another provision that says Internet solicitations must be at websites that are accessible only to members (the restricted class), not the general public.

“You really can’t solicit for a connected PAC outside the connected organization’s restricted class,” says Joseph Birkenstock, an attorney with Sandler Reiff Lamb Rosenstein & Birkenstock and a former chief counsel of the Democratic National Committee. “That’s really not a gray area of campaign finance law; that’s pretty much ‘first principles.’” (The “restricted class” concept applies to corporations and unions. A corporation can raise money from its own executives and shareholders.  Tax-exempt corporations like the NRA and labor unions can raise money from their members.) 



+16 # Ken Halt 2015-04-22 18:10
Sock it to 'em! Throw the book at 'em! The US shouldn't be a nation where the paranoid minority holds the rest of us at gunpoint. The second amendment was not written to allow unlimited access to firearms and the excessive homicides that naturally follow. The US is exceptional in it's per capita homicide rate as compared to other industrialized countries. Australia banned guns and guess what? The homicide rate diminished! No brainer there.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Activists file ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana in Arizona

Mikel Weisser, executive director for Safer Arizona, says his group is pressing for a law legalizing recreational use of marijuana because it would provide safer, regulated access to a drug that’s already being used by many.  “We’re going to disincentivize the black market in marijuana by price, by legality and by access.”

Cronkite News

The Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project filed a ballot initiative Friday that would legalize recreational use of marijuana and regulate and tax the drug like alcohol.

“I believe that the Arizona voters recognize that it’s time to try something different than prohibition,” said Ryan Hurley, an attorney for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, a political committee backed by the Marijuana Policy Project that is behind the initiative.

According to a draft of the initiative provided by the Marijuana Policy Project, the Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act would allow those 21 and older to carry up to one ounce of marijuana for private use.

It would also establish a Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control to regulate and tax marijuana sales. 

After filing the application, marijuana policy activists will have until June 2016 to collect 150,642 signatures, 10 percent of all votes cast for governor at the last election.

Hurley said marijuana policy activists expect the tax on retail marijuana sales, which would be set at 15 percent, to bring in anywhere between $60 and $100 million in tax revenue each year.

He said the money will go toward regulation of marijuana sales. Any extra revenue will go to the Department of Education to fund all-day kindergarten programs and to the Department of Health Services for public health efforts, he added.

“It’s time to treat this like alcohol, and it’s time to tax and regulate and legalize it,” Hurley said.

Timeline: Marijuana legalization efforts in Arizona

Mikel Weisser, political director for Safer Arizona, a group that works with the Marijuana Policy Project, said the legalization of marijuana would give people safer access to the drug.

“It’s actually going on all around us right now, but this black market is not being regulated, not being taxed,” he said. “We’re going to disincentivize the black market in marijuana by price, by legality and by access.”

Weisser said it’s more than an economic issue; it’s about social justice.

He said thousands of lives are ruined every year nationwide by marijuana arrests.

“That felony stays on your record, and it ruins people’s academic opportunities, military opportunities, and in looking for jobs,” Weisser said. “Across the board, they have to deal with that.”

Seth Leibsohn, chairman of Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, a political committee that opposes legalizing marijuana, said the costs would outweigh any benefits.

“We’re pretty full up with problems when it comes to what’s already legal,” he said.

Leibsohn said the tax revenue would have to go toward addressing the health problems marijuana’s legalization would cause.

He said many people disregard the dangers because they don’t realize marijuana is stronger than it was 15 years ago.

“When they talk about its harmlessness, they are literally talking about something that doesn’t exist anymore,” he said.

He said regulating marijuana like alcohol is doomed to fail, adding that his organization will launch a public awareness campaign about the dangers of legalizing the drug.

“I would ask you to look at the costs of alcohol,” Leibsohn said. “What we’ve done with alcohol has failed, and it doesn’t make sense to me that you would use a failed model for what you want to do.”

The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act seeks to:

Allow adults 21 years of age and older to possess and privately consume up to an ounce of marijuana. Public consumption of marijuana would still be illegal.

Establish a 15 percent tax on retail marijuana sales to be allocated to regulation, education and public health.

Create a system in which licensed businesses can produce and sell marijuana.
Establish a Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control to regulate testing, cultivation, manufacturing, transportation and sale of marijuana.

Provide local governments with the authority to regulate marijuana businesses. 

Source: Ballot initiative 100-word summary

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Romneys, Dinosaurs, and Strippers at Funerals

Mitt Romney. (photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty)
Mitt Romney. (photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty)

By Charles Pierce, Esquire
25 April 15
s the mists of time descend around us, we can lose track of what an amazing liar Willard Romney really was during his time as a presidential wannabe. Luckily, though, in the Washington Post blog run by his former bestie 4-Evah Jen Rubin, Willard comes back, talks about the current situation with Hillary Rodham Clinton, and reminds us of that very salient fact.
Mitt Romney put it in everyday terms: "I mean, it looks like bribery. I mean, there is every appearance that Hillary Clinton was bribed to grease the sale of, what, 20% of America's uranium production to Russia, and then it was covered up by lying about a meeting at her home with the principals, and by erasing emails. And you know, I presume we might know for sure whether there was or was not bribery if she hadn't wiped out thousands of emails. But this is a very, very serious series of facts, and it looks like bribery."
If there is a more shameless person in politics than old G.I. Luvmoney, I don't know who it is. This is a guy who refused to release his tax returns , and whose wife made it quite clear on TV to Us People why that was not an option. And this is also the guy who, upon leaving the governor's office here in the Commonwealth (God save it!), did everything but throw the computers in the Executive office out the windows.
As a result, Patrick's office, which has been bombarded with inquiries for records from the Romney era, has no electronic record of any Romney administration e-mails, Reilly said. "The governor's office has found no e-mails from 2002-2006 in our possession,'' Reilly said in a statement. "Before the current administration took office, the computers used during that time period were replaced and the server used during that time period was taken out of service, all files were removed from it, and it was also replaced.'' Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for the Romney campaign, said the governor's aides did nothing wrong. "In leaving office, the governor's staff complied with the law and longtime executive branch practice,'' she said. "Some employees exercised the option to purchase computer equipment when they left. They did so openly with personal checks.''
I mean, it looks like bribery to me. How about you?

Meanwhile, in China, the government is coping with a terrible example of When Cultural Traditions Go Horribly Wrong.
State media have said burlesque shows at some funerals aim to draw more mourners and show off the family's wealth, in a practice that is infrequent, but gaining in popularity. In a notice on its website Thursday, the ministry called for a "black list" of people and workplaces that engage in such shows. It singled out a group of burlesque dancers, the Red Rose Song and Dance Troupe, who did a striptease after the small-town funeral of an elderly person in the northern province of Hebei in February. The group took off their clothes after performing a traditional song-and-dance routine, the ministry said. One leader of Red Rose, surnamed Li, was punished with 15 days in detention and a fine of 70,000 yuan ($11,300) after law enforcement officials intervened.
And thus do the Irish finally fall into second place as far as funeral rites go. Why are the Chinese so far ahead of us in everything, dammit? Strippers at funerals? Where do they put the pole? No, wait, don't answer that.

Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: "Call Me Shine" (The Paulin Brothers Jazz Band): Yeah, I pretty much still love New Orleans.

Weekly Visit To The Pathe Archives: Since it's playoff time in the NHL, here's some fancy-dress weird-ass ice hockey from Germany in 1939. The announcer says, "No country is safe." He wasn't kidding. History is so cool.

Happy Birthday to my favorite machine! 

Meanwhile, back on earth, this seems nice.
Underneath the national park's attractions and walking paths is enough hot rock to fill the Grand Canyon nearly 14 times over. Most of it is in a newly discovered magma reservoir, which the scientists featured in a study published on Thursday in the journal Science. It may help scientists better understand why Yellowstone's previous eruptions, in prehistoric times, were some of Earth's largest explosions in the last few million years.
On the bright side, the Hubble will get a helluva picture of what's left.

Is it a good day for dinosaur news? It's always a good day for dinosaur news.
Most of the eggs in the museum's existing collection belong to oviraptorid and duck-billed dinosaurs, which roamed the earth 89 million years ago. Nearly 17,000 dinosaur eggs have been uncovered in the city since the first group of fossils was found in 1996 by children playing at a construction site, the China's official news agency Xinhua reported.
Damn, some museum director is going to have a helluva funeral when he finally dies.

I'll be back on Monday with what I am sure will be more HRC-roogie-roogie gobshitery. Be well and place nice, ya bastids. Stay above the snakeline, or we won't respect you and there won't be anything at your wake except whiskey and soda bread.


+52 # CAMUS1111 2015-04-25 16:27
Romney--one of the most massive hypocrites of all time and he's too clueless to know it. He's a total neo-fascist twit--he remains "Mitt the Twit," as my 2012 bumper sticker said.

+10 # ericlipps 2015-04-25 20:08
Quoting CAMUS1111:
Romney--one of the most massive hypocrites of all time and he's too clueless to know it. He's a total neo-fascist twit--he remains "Mitt the Twit," as my 2012 bumper sticker said.
I always think of him as "Mutt" Romney on account of that notorious dog-strapping incident.

Neo-fascist? No, just plain old corporate Republican with trainloads of cash and a thimbleful of sense.
+9 # Merlin 2015-04-25 20:51
ericlipps 2015-04-25 20:08

"Neo-fascist? No, just plain old corporate Republican with trainloads of cash and a thimbleful of sense."

What is the difference? I can't see any!
0 # cymricmorty 2015-04-25 21:05
wrong spot-deleted

-28 # 2015-04-25 18:35
Hey, Charles,
When are you going to point out the "lies" of PUTZUS ?!

+6 # cymricmorty 2015-04-25 19:55
Are those supposed to be scare quotes surrounding the word "lies"? Lies are lies, no matter who tells them.
+2 # Merlin 2015-04-25 20:54
cymricmorty 2015-04-25 19:55
Are those supposed to be scare quotes surrounding the word "lies"? Lies are lies, no matter who tells them.

Lies are what other people say. The Pastor always tells the truth.
+4 # cymricmorty 2015-04-25 21:07
I'll be damned. Those were "hell's fire" quotes.
+7 # jimallyn 2015-04-25 20:05
Hey, Charles,
When are you going to point out the "lies" of PUTZUS ?!
The current one, or the one before that?

-30 # MidwestTom 2015-04-25 18:39
Romney said that Russia would be our biggest problem, and he was laugh at by the media.

+10 # Merlin 2015-04-25 19:24
MidwestTom 2015-04-25 18:39

Are you laughing at mittens here for saying that, or do you believe mittens was right, that Russia is our biggest problem?
+11 # ericlipps 2015-04-25 20:16
Quoting MidwestTom:
Romney said that Russia would be our biggest problem, and he was laugh at by the media.
Mr. 47 Percent was laughed at by the media for lots of things, but not for that. It just looked that way (look up the term "halo effect"). And plenty of people joined in the mockery, including more than a few Republicans.

And, um, Russia ISN'T our biggest problem. How about global warming? Or if you don't think that's real, how about terrorism? Or the trillion-plus dollars in U.S. debt held by Beijing? Or the decay of our national infrastructure? Or--but you get my drift. Russia's a problem, but these days, hardly our biggest one. Romney, however, was (and likely still is) stuck in the past.
+18 # Texas Aggie 2015-04-25 20:27
And with good reason. He was wrong then and he's still wrong. Russia isn't half the threat to the US that the 1% are, as is obvious to everyone who has been following the news about Wall St, TPP, and the way the elections are being paid for.

+18 # CragJensen 2015-04-25 19:05
Alfred E. Neuman has more integrity than Mittens could ever dream of having. Funny when I hear people complain about and defame Obama I can only imagine what the alternative would have been. Mitt Romney????? He's like the proverbial scary clown - the kind that John Wayne Gacy might have painted. And if that's an endorsement of Obama then it's a really crappy one. But I suppose it's better to be thankful that the devil you have is better than the one you might have had.

+15 # turtleislander 2015-04-25 19:30
Mittens was pretty bad news. BTW Yellowstone explodes every 600,000 years. We're a bit overdue. They're fracking an hours drive from Yellowstone but science has just discovered this 11,500 cubic miles of magma chamber that was not known before? That's the filling the Grand Canyon part.Anyone tell the crackers to hold off?

+12 # turtleislander 2015-04-25 19:31
That's frackers but crackers applies anyway.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

GOP Chairman Warns Against Hatred for Hillary Peaking Too Soon

Hillary Clinton. (photo: Andrew Burton/Getty)
Hillary Clinton. (photo: Andrew Burton/Getty)

By Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker
24 April 15

n an urgent memo to the field of G.O.P. Presidential candidates, the Republican National Committee chairman, Reince Priebus, praised them for their relentless personal attacks on Hillary Clinton, but warned that their hatred for the former Secretary of State might be “peaking too early.”

Priebus called the candidates’ ongoing evisceration of Clinton “magnificent,” but expressed his concern that “no human beings, even an impressive group like yourselves, could possibly sustain such a high intensity of throbbing hatred for an entire year and a half.”

“Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint,” he wrote. “You need to leave some hate in the tank.”

In the conclusion of his memo, Priebus advised the candidates to take an occasional day off from hating Clinton so that they could “return to despising her with renewed freshness and vigor.”

Responding to the R.N.C. directive, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said that he understood Priebus’s concerns, but assured him that, at the end of the day, they were groundless. “Anyone who doesn’t think I’m capable of spewing an infinite stream of vitriol and bile doesn’t know what I’m made of,” he said, pointing with pride to his long record of hating President Obama.


+64 # ER444 2015-04-24 14:53
+29 # PeacefulGarden 2015-04-24 16:04
And they get paid a lot of money to spew hate about the next president from their bottomless hate tanks. Priebus might be correct, they need to hold back on spending money on hate just to ensure that they have enough money to pay for all of the hate. But, I think they have enough money -- or hate or money... Rich people hating other rich people. It is kinda fun to watch.
+53 # pappajohn15 2015-04-24 16:43
I love this guy.
+50 # Gaz 2015-04-24 22:39
Rush Limbaugh spent eight years attacking Bill Clinton daily. He's spent another six attacking Barack Obama daily. Fox News has followed suit. Where has it got them? Two double-term Democratic presidents.

Mitch McConnell promised his constituents and the country that President Obama would be a one-term president. How'd that work out? Even with a completely hostile Republican Congress, President Obama continues to get things done.

It's clear that he drives them crazy: they even resort to sending letters to Iran's Supreme Leader, their sworn enemy.
How much more desperate can they get?

If we keep following Andy, we'll be right on top of the inevitable crack up.

+31 # Rockster 2015-04-24 23:56
The thing about vitriol and hate is that it's ravenous and inevitably eats it's own babies. But Andy's way of showing this truth is much more fun!
+15 # John Puma 2015-04-25 03:06
Hatred for HRC from the GOP will not peak until Jan 20, 2021 or Jan 20, 2025.
+18 # ericlipps 2015-04-25 05:40
A year and a half? So far they've kept it up for 23 years, ever since Bill Clinton emerged as the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination waaaay back in 1992.
+3 # reiverpacific 2015-04-25 09:12
Well, it worked for the Nazis------!!!!
+3 # bmiluski 2015-04-25 09:50
And it worked during the dark ages when the church vilified ALL women and preached that only the rich were allowed an education.