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Posts tagged ‘Los Angeles Times’

Fracking Water Contamination

Fracking Linked to Contamination

When I’m not playing a superhero, I do my best to help out the real superheroes who are fighting to keep our water clean. That’s why I started a petition to President Barack Obama and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, which says:

“Preliminary studies by the EPA linked fracking to water contamination in three communities: Dimock, Pennsylvania; Parker County, Texas; and Pavillion, Wyoming. But the EPA abandoned its own findings and stopped these investigations. President Obama and new EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy must reopen these fracking investigations and provide residents with safe drinking water.”

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I first got involved in the fracking fight years ago when I traveled to Dimock, Pennsylvania, to meet families who were suffering serious health impacts from using water contaminated from fracking operations. I met many people whose children and pets were suffering from skin lesions, hair loss, vomiting, severe headaches, dizziness and pain throughout their bodies—and they could light their tap water on fire!

When the going got rough, a group of concerned citizens and I stepped in to help these people get safe drinking water. Thankfully, the Environmental Protection Agency came to the rescue and delivered families water while conducting an investigation. But when the EPA abruptly closed the case, stopped water deliveries to the residents and deemed the water safe to drink, we knew something was wrong.

Thanks to EPA whistleblowers, the Los Angeles Times was recently able to report that the fracking investigation in Dimock was shut down despite evidence from the EPA’s water tests showing that Dimock’s drinking water was severely impacted by fracking. Since that time, many residents have not had access to safe drinking water.

That’s why I started a petition to President Obama and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy calling on them to reopen the investigations into water contamination from fracking. We’ll deliver the petition signatures to the EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday this week to show the public demand for action.

Can you add your name to my petition, and then share it with your friends?

The EPA has also shut down investigations in Wyoming and Texas. Early results of all three investigations showed that the EPA had evidence linking gas drilling and fracking operations to groundwater contamination. Yet instead of protecting people in these areas, the EPA ignored its own scientific data and abandoned the investigations.

It’s time for the EPA to do its job and protect the drinking water of the American people from toxic fracking. Join me in calling on the new EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, and President Barack Obama, to reopen the EPA investigations in Dimock, Pennsylvania; Pavillion, Wyoming; and Weatherford, Texas; and provide safe drinking water to the residents of these communities during the investigations.

Click here to add your name to this petition, and then pass it along to your friends.

Thanks!

Mark Ruffalo
MoveOn.org

Move Over New York Times

New York Journal of Books

The New York Journal of Books (NYJB) is the only reviewing journal that releases reviews on the same day as a book is released. The NYJB is giving the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews and other well-known reviewing venues a run for their money (and readers).

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The New York Journal of Books reviewer panel consists of a growing team of talented and experienced reviewers whose expertise and credentials are unique among exclusively online book reviews. This panel includes bestselling and award-winning authors, journalists, experienced publishing executives, tenured academics, as well as highly experienced professionals across a number of disciplines and industries. All bring highly relevant expertise and insight to their reviews. Each reviewer writes about books with a singular, unique voice. Together, this chorus is New York Journal of Books’ singular strength. NYJB’s catalog of reviews has far more in common with respected print reviews than with any other online-only review. In a world where print book reviews are in rapid decline, NYJB aims to preserve the tradition of excellence in book critique. At the same time, NYJB embraces the rich multimedia content that cannot be found in a print publication, providing a singularly rich book selection experience.

Read the respected and relevant reviews at the New York Journal of Books and see what books and stories catch your attention.

This Way Out

This Way Out

If you’ve never read anything by Bob Fenster, take a few moments from your precious life and waste it on his delightfully funny, non-politically correct, upside down sense of the world and his run-ins with the famously infamous famous and those seeking fame (intentionally or not).

His latest book is a novel called This Way Out: A novel of fame, original sins and the Beverly Hills Discretion Squad. It is very very good. I haven’t read it yet, but it surely couldn’t be anything less entertaining then his previous work, so I know beyond a doubtful shadow that This Way Out is worth every minute you allow your attention to focus on Bob’s latest invention.

As a reviewer for the New York Journal of Books, I can tell you that the recommendation I just provided (without having ever laid eyes on the book) is just as valid and helpful as most you’ll see on Amazon or in the New York or Los Angeles Times.

In addition to This Way Out, you may be familiar with some of Bob’s other books, which include:

They Did What? Things Famous People Have Done
Duh! The Stupid History Of The Human Race
Twisted: Tales from the Wacky Side of Life
Well, Duh!: Our Stupid World, and Welcome to It
Laugh Off: The Comedy Showdown Between Real Life and the Pros
Last Page
Open the Clown Car
Open the Gates

You can see all of his books and a hilarious bio, at Amazon.com.

History of US Healthcare

Healthcare history: How the patchwork coverage came to be.
by Bob Rosenblatt
Los Angeles Times
February 27, 2012

Workers swarmed through Henry J. Kaiser’s Richmond, Calif., shipyard in World War II, building 747 ships for the Navy. The war “had siphoned off the most hardy specimens,” a newspaper reported, so Kaiser was left with many workers too young, old or infirm to be drafted.

The workers needed to be in good health to be effective on the job, and Kaiser offered them care from doctors in company clinics and at company hospitals. The workers paid 50 cents a week for the benefit.

It was something new in industrial America — a bonus offered to attract scarce labor while wages were frozen during the war.

The war ended, the workers quit the shipyards, leaving behind hospitals and doctors but no patients. So the company decided to open the system to the public — and that’s how generations of Californians who never heard of Kaiser shipyards have since gotten medical care.

It is just one example of the way America’s health insurance system has grown into the strange patchwork program it is today.

Most of us get health insurance through our jobs, a system puzzling to the rest of the industrial world, where the government levies taxes and offers health coverage to all as a basic right of modern society. But for many Americans, their way feels alien — the heavy hand of government reaching into our business as some bureaucrat tells doctors and patients what to do.

We always seem to fight over the role of government in our healthcare. In 1918, California voters defeated a proposed constitutional amendment that would have organized a state-run healthcare program. Doctors fought it with a publication declaring that “compulsory social health insurance” was “a dangerous device invented in Germany, announced by the German Emperor from the throne in the same year he started plotting and preparing to conquer the world.”

The amendment was defeated by a huge margin.

This year’s presidential and congressional election campaigns will feature intense argument over the Affordable Care Act signed by President Obama in 2010, the most ambitious effort yet to bring health insurance to all Americans. Everyone is required to have health insurance, and all but the poorest citizens face a tax penalty if they don’t comply.

For liberals, the act is a culmination of the dream to complete the work of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. For conservatives, many of whom scornfully refer to the law as Obamacare, it is big government run amok. The first battleground will be in the U.S. Supreme Court next month, when the justices hear arguments on whether it is constitutional for the federal government to make citizens buy health insurance.

The long-standing tension between public and private healthcare in America has produced a unique and confusing way to provide protection against the cost of ill health.

It was Teddy Roosevelt’s Bull Moose party that first suggested, in the 1912 presidential campaign, that Americans would need help paying their medical bills.

Medicine was becoming safe and even effective. Doctors could treat typhoid and diphtheria. Hospitals were becoming places that could help you get better rather than serving as dumping grounds for the insane or warehouses for paupers.

Being able to treat sickness meant that healthcare started to cost more.

When FDR became president in 1933, the committees that developed the concept of Social Security for him also considered national health insurance. Roosevelt flirted with the idea but never threw political muscle behind it.

After Harry S. Truman became president in 1945, he called on Congress to provide national health insurance but could never bring it to a vote. Opponents included the American Medical Assn., which in 1948 asked each of its members to kick in $25 to fund a campaign warning that Truman’s “socialized medicine” plan could lead to socialism throughout American life.

Health insurance, when it did emerge on a mass basis, came from the business world, as exemplified by the Kaiser shipyard story. World War II-era employers faced government-mandated wage freezes to prevent them from competing with dollars for scarce workers, which would drive up prices and cause inflation. But the IRS allowed companies to offer benefits up to 5% of the value of wages without counting them as taxable income.

The ruling became permanent in 1954, creating the foundation for the insurance system we have today.

After the war ended, the powerful labor union movement focused on expanding health coverage as well as boosting wages. Health insurance became a standard feature in labor contracts. Elsewhere in the economy, nonunion employers too decided it was a good tool to attract workers.

And then, in 1965, after years of hearings and campaigns, the federal government dived into healthcare in a big way.

For years, there had been talk of the needs of the elderly, who couldn’t afford the hospital bills that came with the ravages of old age. Old people were a sympathetic and deserving group for politicians. President Lyndon B. Johnson, armed with the power and prestige of a landslide victory in 1964 and the support of big Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, pushed through a legislative three-layer cake.

For people ages 65 and older, there would be Medicare Part A. It would pay their hospital bills with taxes collected from workers, just as the government collects taxes from workers to pay for Social Security retirement checks.

The second layer on the cake was Medicare Part B, set up in a fashion to win over doctors: They would receive their usual and customary fees for each thing they did for patients.

The third layer on the cake was Medicaid, a federal-state program of care for the poor.

Even after Medicare became law, there were great fears it might be too controversial to work. Would doctors refuse to see Medicare patients? Would Southern hospitals agree to dismantle their segregated wards and have patients of different races sharing the same rooms?

The doctors didn’t strike. And the hospitals were immediately integrated without protest.

Today, Medicare seems like the birthright of every American who reaches age 65. John Breaux, a former U.S. senator from Louisiana, likes to tell the story of an elderly woman who accosted him at an airport, declaring, “Don’t let the government mess with my Medicare.”

Seniors had their national health insurance, and the Democrats thought they had a winning issue. Bill Clinton entered his presidency in 1993 with an ambitious plan to extend national health insurance to everyone.

Hundreds of experts spent hours behind closed doors drawing up intricate plans. But Congress felt excluded and insulted, and the plan never came to a floor vote in the House or Senate. Its fate was sealed when the GOP made big gains in 1994, giving Clinton a Republican House to deal with for the rest of his presidency.

The big plan had failed.

When President Obama approached the health insurance dilemma, he avoided the Clinton tactic of creating a detailed blueprint without input from Congress.

Instead, he relied on the congressional process. It was filled with deals.

Read entire article at Los Angeles Times.

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