Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Today… A Car That Takes Your Pulse, Tomorrow A Card or Implant That Controls Your Life

WSJ – Cross-Posted at AskMarion: What the car of the near future will sense about your biology. Auto makers are researching technology that could feed your heart rate, blood pressure and other biometric responses into the car's computers, the better to determine when you're drowsy or overwhelmed with distracting media. MIT researcher Bryan Reimer and WSJ's Joe White has details on Lunch Break. See Video

A Car That Takes Your Pulse

Designing Vehicles To Monitor Brain Waves, Sleepiness

Could a car that knows when you are stressed or ill save you from having an accident? Auto makers are stepping up efforts to find out.

A number of big car manufacturers are accelerating research into equipping vehicles with so-called biometric sensors that would keep tabs on a driver's vital health signs, including pulse, breathing and "skin conductance," aka sweaty palms. When that information is fed into the computers that manage a car's safety systems, it could enable a vehicle to better react to whatever challenges the road and traffic dish out.

The move comes amid major advances in mobile medical-monitoring technology, as well as growing concerns about meeting the needs of an aging and increasingly distracted population of motorists.

It also reflects another step in the industry's broader move toward self-driving cars, a brave new world in which computers could all but eliminate the potential for driver error—whether it's due to a distracting phone call or a sudden drop in blood sugar.

Already, some Lexus models use in-cabin cameras and some Mercedes-Benz vehicles have steering sensors to detect drowsy-driving behavior. The cars sound a warning beep or flash a coffee-cup icon to suggest that it's time for a break. Luxury brands are promoting these accident-avoidance technologies as examples of what sets their expensive vehicles apart from cheaper, mainstream models. The Mercedes system, called Attention Assist, comes as standard equipment in a wide range of its vehicles, from the smaller C-class sedans to the more opulent, and high-tech, S-class models.

View Interactive

Separately, car makers and federal safety regulators are working on in-vehicle systems that could reliably detect when someone is too drunk to drive.

The new body monitors could, if a driving hazard appeared imminent, trigger the car's safety systems to tap the brakes, turn off a radio, block a cellphone from ringing or take other actions. Some of these advances may be in cars in three to five years. Others depend upon whether researchers can crack the challenge of designing health-related sensors that can work flawlessly in a vehicle for up to a decade.

Sports car maker Ferrari SpA, for one, has filed a patent application that indicates the company is evaluating technology that would embed wireless electrodes in a car seat's headrest to monitor drivers' brain waves for stress as they pilot machines capable of roaring up to 200 miles per hour. Depending on what the sensors detect, the car might try to mitigate the driver's risk by cutting power to the motor or automatically stabilizing the vehicle. As Ferrari researchers put it in the patent filing: "drivers tend to miscalculate—in particular, overestimate—their driving skill and, more important, their psychophysical condition."

At Ford Motor Co., F +1.26%researchers are looking at connecting information from medical monitors, like seat-belt-based respiration sensors and steering-wheel heart-rate trackers, to its cars' in-dash multimedia systems.

Ford's prototype system aims to lessen distraction by taking readouts from biometric sensors and combining the data with information from the car, including speed, steering-wheel angle, and data from radar sensors or cameras used in blind-spot obstacle detection or cruise control. All the data are run through software that can gauge the driver's overall stress level. If it is high, the system could automatically engage a "Do Not Disturb" function for the driver's phone.

Jeff Greenberg, a senior technical leader involved with the Ford research, says the broad goal is to minimize driver distraction and stress. This may involve keeping people engaged and alert on a boring drive to work or helping them stay focused in more difficult driving moments. If a truck looms out of the blind spot during a high-speed freeway merge, for example, a driver would be better off if his phone's ringer was disabled at that moment, he says.

Mr. Greenberg says phone-disabling technology could come to showrooms "relatively quickly." Adding the biometric sensors, he says, "is further out." Ford classifies those technologies as research projects that typically are at least three to five years from being offered to consumers.

One reason: The technology is evolving faster than issues such as medical privacy and regulatory oversight can be resolved. Ford, like other auto makers, is loath to add the Food and Drug Administration to an already heavy regulatory load.

Car makers hope that vehicles with medical monitors will appeal to an aging population that wants to keep driving.

"If we want to keep people in their vehicles, it's key we integrate systems to support them," says Bryan Reimer, a researcher with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab, which focuses on innovations for an aging population. AgeLab has worked with Toyota Motor Corp., 7203.TO -1.56%Ford and other companies to test how biometric sensors could be used both to guide the design of vehicles to make them easier to operate and as onboard systems to help people drive more safely.


Getty Images/Onoky

A number of big car manufacturers are accelerating research into equipping vehicles with so-called biometric sensors that would keep tabs on a driver's vital health signs.

Dick Myrick, a 63-year-old retired electrical engineer from Arlington, Mass., participated in AgeLab experiments in biometrically monitored driving. His says he would be interested in a car that kept tabs on his condition as part of its safety technology, but only if he was in control of the system. "I need to know that the function is on, and have it not on when I want," he says.

Others see the new technology as yet another thing to keep track of behind the wheel. It's "a further distraction" for drivers, says Gabrielle Lucci, 60, a Farmington Hills, Mich., retiree.

Devices that collect data about an individual's physical condition are getting cheaper and smaller. Many are designed to connect to smartphones using the same Bluetooth technology that connects smartphones to cars. This provides a gateway for wirelessly connecting devices like glucose or heart monitors into a car's multimedia displays.

"The same sensor you are wearing for your weekend warrior stuff…is the sensor you could slap on your mother" to monitor her heart, says Leslie Saxon, a cardiologist who leads the University of Southern California's Center for Body Computing. Dr. Saxon's project recently formed a research alliance with German luxury car maker BMW BMW.XE +0.72% AG.

Daniel Grein, a BMW designer, says the USC research could help determine how to connect a Bluetooth-equipped blood-sugar monitor to future BMW models. In Munich, he says, BMW engineers are also investigating how to design a car that could automatically stop if the driver suffered a heart attack.

Dr. Saxon says he sees a time when biometric monitors in a car could feed data, not just to onboard safety systems, but also to doctors and patients looking to better manage health care. "My car calls me when it needs something," Dr. Saxon says, referring to vehicle-service alerts generated by the car. "I want patients' cars to call them when they need blood-pressure medicine."

Sound interesting? Might increase safety? But as Founding Father Benjamin Franklin said, “He who trades security (or safety) for freedom" usually gets (nor deserves) either!!” Wake-up America, Europe, Christians, Patriots, lovers of freedom… this is Big Brother 1984 style all the way! Today it is a smart car… tomorrow it will be a smart card. Be sure to watch the video below and then you be the judge!

Video: Smart card (made 2005)


Now Big Brother is REALLY watching you

Smart Dust Computers… Vaccination Nanotechnology… NWO Here We Come

RFID Chip for all Americans in 2013 as Part of ObamaCare… See Biden Telling Fed Judge He Will Have to Rule on Implanted Microchips

Christian Family Refuses Mandatory RFID Chip at Texas School


Buying and Selling in an RFID Chip for the First Time – VeriChip Changes Its Name

Liberty Counsel Victory: High Court Breathes New Life Into ObamaCare Lawsuit

This ruling breathes new life into the challenge to ObamaCare

Liberty Counsel: At issue is the constitutionality of the employer mandate and also whether ObamaCare's forced funding of abortion is unconstitutional under the First Amendment Free Exercise of Religion Clause and the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

US Supreme Court

US Supreme Court

Washington, DC (Liberty Counsel) On Monday, November 26, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court granted Liberty Counsel's Petition for Rehearing in the ObamaCare case of Liberty University v. Geithner. Liberty Counsel filed the petition for rehearing on behalf of Liberty University and two private individuals.

The ruling breathes new life into the challenge to ObamaCare. The Court directed that the case be reheard at the federal court of appeals in Richmond. This may pave the way for the case to return to the High Court in 2013.

At issue is the constitutionality of the employer mandate and also whether ObamaCare's forced funding of abortion is unconstitutional under the First Amendment Free Exercise of Religion Clause and the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

In 2010, Liberty Counsel filed the first private lawsuit against ObamaCare on the day it was signed by President Obama. In 2011, an appeals court in Richmond, VA, ruled that the Anti-Injunction Act (AIA) barred the court from addressing the merits in the Liberty University case, which challenged the individual mandate (Section 1501) and the employer insurance mandate (Section 1513) of ObamaCare.

In addition to the constitutional arguments that Congress lacked authority to pass the law, the suit also raised the Free Exercise of Religion and the RFRA claims because of the forced abortion funding.
The first day of oral argument was dedicated to the AIA, the issue that Liberty University's case placed before the High Court.

In June, the Supreme Court ruled that the AIA does not apply to ObamaCare. Therefore, Liberty Counsel asked the Court to grant its petition (because Liberty University prevailed on the AIA claim), vacate the ruling of the court of appeals, and remand (send back) the case to the court of appeals to consider the Free Exercise claim and the employer mandate, neither of which were decided by the High Court.

"I am very pleased with the High Court's ruling. This ruling breathes new life into our challenge to ObamaCare. Our fight against ObamaCare is far from over," said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law.

"Congress exceeded its power by forcing every employer to provide federally mandated insurance. But even more shocking is the abortion mandate, which collides with religious freedom and the rights of conscience," Staver said.

Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.

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Liberty Counsel is a nonprofit litigation, education and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of human life and the traditional family. Established in 1989, Liberty Counsel is a nationwide organization with offices in Florida, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., and hundreds of affiliate attorneys across the Nation.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

How January 1, 2013 Obamacare tax hikes will affect you

Heliumby Terrence Aym  -  Created on: October 03, 2012 Last Updated: October 04, 2012

For Americans struggling with their budgets, people reeling from the cost of gasoline, those worried about employment or making the next mortgage payment, January 2013 will not be a good month. In fact the whole of 2013 could turn out to be a very, very bad year.

When The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) was signed into law no one knew what was in the bill. That fact alone is an indictment of the Congress and an indication of how broken the mechanism of government has become.

For those wishing to wade through what some have labeled a "monstrosity," the entire PPACA is available for study and analysis here.. To learn when various provisions of The Affordable Care Act becomes law, time line is provided here.

During the months following the signing of PPACA into law by President Obama facts began to be uncovered by the press, financial experts, tax experts, economists, and various politically-oriented groups.

Some of the provisions were disturbing, others shocking, and some just downright frightening. Once PPACA takes full effect during 2014 Americans who are opposed to it and refuse to pay the taxes will be fined. Those who refuse to pay the fine are subject to federal imprisonment. It seems the federal government is hellbent on making sure Americans have access to healthcare even if judges must strip citizens of their liberty and provide that healthcare behind bars.

But before all the provisions of PPACA kick new in taxes are scheduled to be assessed starting January 1, 2013. About 20 new taxes will be unleashed on Americans and many people who are not aware of them will be broadsided as they see their family budgets disintegrating before their astonished eyes.

According to Americans for Tax Reform(ATR), the worst tax hikes of the 20 set to take effect are:

A medical device tax, a tax to provide for children with "special needs," a surtax on investment income that will impact many investors, a rise in the threshold for itemized deductions of medical expenses, and a Medicare payroll tax increase that has a direct, deleterious effect on small businesses making profits and earnings over $200,000 annually. The latter comes during the worst economy since the end of World War Two.

ATR explains that the $20 billion introduction of a tax on medical devices impacts an industry that employs more than 400,000 Americans. The PPACA "imposes a new 2.3 percent excise tax on gross sales—even if the company does not earn a profit…" Because of the tax small business jobs will be lost and the end result will impact "research and development budgets…increase the cost of health care" and make "everything from pacemakers to prosthetics more expensive."

Next, the "special needs" tax will impose new restrictions on the 30 to 35 "million Americans who use a Flexible Spending Account at work to pay for their family’s basic medical needs. [They] will face a new government cap of $2,500 (currently the accounts are unlimited). The group most likely to suffer the worst under the new tax are, ironically, the parents of special needs children.

The investment surtax impacts both dividends and capital gains raising the capital gains rate from 15 to 20 percent, and the tax on dividends from 15 to 39.6 percent. Both these taxes will have a chilling effect on the stock markets and negatively impact all Americans who own stocks which include pensioners, union membership funds, state investment funds, mutual fund owners and those that have 401k's invested in the stock market.

The change in medical itemized deductions, ATR notes, impacts "Americans facing high medical expenses." Currently Americans "are allowed a deduction to the extent that those expenses exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI). This tax increase imposes a threshold of 10 percent of AGI. By limiting this deduction, Obamacare widens the net of taxable income for the sickest Americans. This tax provision will most harm near retirees and those with modest incomes but high medical bills."

And finally, "The Medicare payroll tax," states ATR, "is currently 2.9 percent on all wages and self-employment profits. Under this tax hike, wages and profits exceeding $200,000 ($250,000 in the case of married couples) will face a 3.8 percent rate instead. This is a direct marginal income tax hike on small business owners, who are liable for self-employment tax in most cases."

Yet another surprise for many is that property owners may have a new tax to deal with. The complicated tax affecting millions of Americans is analyzed in the Wall Street Journal article, "Property Owners Face a New Surtax."

For more on ATR's analysis of the impact of the new Obamacare taxes coming January 1, 2013 and their impact on many in the middle-class, go here.


Real Danger of “Obamacare”: Insurance Company Takeover of Health Care

Obamacare: Just give us a bill to hype; we don’t care what it is

Nearly every major drug company convicted of criminal behavior in three-year, $11 billion sweep

TV Networks Will Be Asked to Boost ObamaCare In Plots of Their Top Shows

Republican governors decide against setting up ObamaCare insurance markets

Conservatives Launch Papa John's Appreciation Day

Denny's to charge 5% 'Obamacare surcharge' and cut employee hours to deal with cost of legislation

Full List of Obamacare Tax Hikes

Surprise! Audit uncovers rampant fraud in fed program

Monday, November 26, 2012

Stem Cell Enhancers for Dogs, Cats, Horses


Just One More Pet:

Stem cells can be thought of as master cells and are most abundantly found in the bone marrow of people and also in your pets. With age, the number of stem cells circulating in the body gradually decreases leaving it more susceptible to injury and other age related health challenges.

StemPets®  and StemEquine®, by StemTech Health Sciences, Inc., help support the release of stem cells from the bone marrow of dogs, cats and horses into the blood stream. Through a natural process those stem cells then travel to the areas of the body where they are most needed.

Simply supporting the natural process of stem cell release from the bone marrow can help your pets (dogs, cats, horses) achieve optimal health. StemPets® and StemEquine®, are specially formulated for your pets.

Purchase Stem Enhance, StemFlo®, STEMpets, StemSport®, from our online shopping cart at a retail price.

Products are available at wholesale prices for distributors. Becoming a distributor is easy and economical. Distributors have the opportunity for the StemTech product line to be the core of their own home based business.

For More Information Contact:

MCE Group, Independent Business Owners

Stem Tech Health Sciences

Visit Our Website or Email Marion and Tim through the site or at or call them Direct at 512-810-78888

In addition to StemPets® , Stemtech’s animal product line includes StemEquine® for horses. Stemtech’s line of stem cell nutrition products for humans includes SE2™, StemFlo®, StemSport®, and ST-5 with MigraStem™. These products are designed to work together as a system to provide you with the optimal health.

Our own AskMarion (and her husband Tim) of Just One More Pet and Marion’s Pet Sitting and Dog Walkers give StemPets and StemEquine to their own pets and recommend them to for the pet clients, as well as taking them themselves and recommending to them to their clients pet parents.

Some Residents Worry about Chloramine’s Usage and Safety

Drinking Water

Story at-a-glance
  • More than one in five Americans are drinking tap water that’s been treated with a derivative of chlorine known as chloramine. This disinfectant is formed by mixing chlorine with ammonia; chloramine is often used alongside chlorine as a “secondary” disinfectant designed to remain in your water longer as it travels through the water system
  • Water treated with monochloramine (the most common form of chloramine used to disinfect drinking water) may contain higher concentrations of unregulated disinfection byproducts (DBPs) – the risks of which are unknown
  • When chlorine is replaced with chloramines in drinking water, it raises the amount of lead that leaches into water from lead pipes
  • No scientific studies on chloramine’s effects on your skin or respiratory tract via inhalation (such as exposure during a shower or bath) have been conducted
  • Chloramine is toxic to frogs and other amphibians, reptiles, fish and other aquatic and marine life
  • A whole-house filtration system is therefore your best choice to remove chlorine, chloramine, ammonia, DBPs and other contaminants from all of your water sources (bath, shower and tap)

Some Residents Worry about Chloramine’s Usage and Safety

By Dr. Mercola

More than one in five Americans are drinking tap water that’s been treated with a derivative of chlorine known as chloramine. This disinfectant is formed by mixing chlorine with ammonia.

Chloramine is a less effective disinfectant than chlorine, but it is longer lasting and stays in the water system as it moves through the pipes that transport it to your home (a process that can take three or four days).

For this reason, chloramine is often used alongside chlorine as a “secondary” disinfectant designed to remain in your water longer – but is it safe?

Chloramines May Raise Your Water’s Level of Toxic Unregulated Disinfection Byproducts

If you receive municipal water that is treated with chlorine or chloramines, toxic disinfection byproducts (DBPs) form when these disinfectants react with natural organic matter like decaying vegetation in the source water.

DBPs are over 10,000 times more toxic than chlorine, and out of all the other toxins and contaminants present in your water, such as fluoride and miscellaneous pharmaceutical drugs, DBPs are likely the absolute worst of the bunch.

Already, it’s known that trihalomethanes (THMs), one of the most common DBPs, are Cancer Group B carcinogens, meaning they’ve been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals. They’ve also been linked to reproductive problems in both animals and humans, such as spontaneous abortion, stillbirths, and congenital malformations, even at lower levels. These types of DBPs can also:

  • Weaken your immune system
  • Disrupt your central nervous system
  • Damage your cardiovascular system
  • Disrupt your renal system
  • Cause respiratory problems

One of the benefits often touted about chloramines is that they produce lower levels of regulated DBPs, such as THMs, compared to chlorine. They still produce them, just at lower levels.

In 1998, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its Stage 1 Disinfection Byproducts Rule, which required water treatment systems to reduce the formation of DBPs. This has led to an increasing number of treatment plants switching from chlorine to chloramine1

Many believe this makes chloramine the superior choice in terms of safety, but what is less publicized is that compared to chlorine, water treated with monochloramine (the most common form of chloramine used to disinfect drinking water) may contain higher concentrations of unregulated disinfection byproducts – the risks of which are unknown.2

Considering that many water utilities treat their water with both chlorine and chloramine, you may be getting the most of both regulated and unregulated DBPs in your drinking water, shower and bath (the DBPs that enter your body through your skin during showering or bathing also go directly into your bloodstream). There are, in fact, as many as 600 different toxic DBPs that have been identified, and to which you may be exposed through treated water.3

Higher Lead Levels in Water Linked to Chloramines

There are other issues with chloramine in your water that you should be aware of, like its potential to extract lead from old water pipes. For example, when you combine chloramines with the fluoride (hydrofluorosilicic acid) added to most of the U.S. water supply, they become very effective at extracting lead from old plumbing systems—essentially, together, they promote the accumulation of lead in the water supply!

"In fact the two of them have been combined, and I believe patented to be put together so that they could extract lead," said fluoride activist Jeff Green.

Lead, a known toxin to your brain and nervous system, is so toxic that it has been banned in gasoline and children’s toys, and lead paint hasn’t been in use since 1978. But even the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledges that when chlorine is replaced with chloramines in drinking water, it raises not only the amount of lead that leaches into water, but the blood lead levels of children who consume it!

When the free chlorine was replaced with chloramines, the transformed highly insoluble lead scale minerals were no longer stable and dissolved. Therefore, a substantial level of lead was released from the lead service lines into drinking water at the tap.

CDC reviewed the relationship between BLLs [blood lead levels] in children, the presence of a lead service line, and water disinfection practices in DC during 1998–2006. The study reported that the presence of a lead service line was associated with higher BLLs in children. This relationship was most pronounced during 2001 through June 2004, when chloramines were used to disinfect the drinking water without adequate corrosion control.

An observational study in which the BLLs of children were matched to population-based data of water lead levels during periods when water disinfection practices changed in DC concluded that the increase in water lead levels was associated with an increase in the BLLs of children.”4

An analysis in Environmental Health Perspectives also found that introducing chloramines may increase the lead in drinking water, and pointed out that although anti-corrosive agents added during the treatment process are supposed to mitigate this risk, they aren’t always effective:5

“Several recent studies provided evidence that the introduction of chloramines to water systems with lead-containing pipes, fixtures, or solder may increase the amount of dissolved lead in water because of changes in water chemistry; interactions with additives such as coagulants or fluoridation agents may remove lead dioxide scales originally formed during decades of chlorine-based disinfection.

This leaching might be managed to some extent by the addition of anticorrosivity agents during the water treatment process; however, the details of all the related environmental chemistry are not fully understood and are highly dependent on the particular chemical interactions found in each water treatment and distribution system.”

Many Residents Voice Concerns Over Chloramines, Safety Studies Seriously Lacking

Residents across the United States from California and Oklahoma to Vermont have voiced concerns over chloramine safety, wondering whether it’s truly as safe as water utilities would like you to believe. At the very least, the chemical has been linked to skin irritations and rashes, noted Robert Howd of the California EPA:6

“ …chloramines, like chlorine, can irritate sensitive mucus membranes, and could potentially cause skin irritation. When some utilities have switched to chloramine, there have been user reports of bad-tasting water, a bad feel of the water on the skin, skin irritation, and other symptoms.”

Furthermore, according to the EPA, no scientific studies on chloramine’s effects on your skin or respiratory tract via inhalation have been conducted. And while some cancer studies have been, they are so limited that they are not able to conclusively determine if chloramine might, in fact, cause cancer.7

This is concerning, since exposure to chloramine in your indoor air while bathing and showering may represent your greatest route of exposure, even more so than drinking it.

Also the cancer studies on chloramine itself are so limited that they cannot be used to determine if chloramine is a carcinogen, and its environmental effects are worrisome. Chloramine is toxic to frogs and other amphibians, reptiles, fish and other aquatic and marine life, to the extent that you cannot use chloramine-treated water to fill up a fish tank or backyard fish pond. As the water runs into streams, rivers and other marine areas, it could be disastrous for the marine life.

So while water utilities stand to save money by cutting chlorine costs with chloramine, the benefits to the public are far less clear. Other potential concerns include:8

  • Because of chloramine’s corrosive nature, it has been linked to pinhole pitting in copper water pipes, which can lead to small water leaks and mold growth in your home
  • Chloramine also corrodes rubber toilet flappers and gaskets, rubber hoses, and rubber fittings in dishwashers and water heaters, leading to costly home repairs
  • Chloramine de-elasticizes PVC pipes, making them brittle and accelerating the leaching of possible carcinogens from the plastic into drinking water

Chloramine is Difficult to Remove From Your Water, But it Can be Done

Chloramine cannot be removed by quick boiling your water or letting it sit out in an open container (as is sometimes recommended for chlorine). A carbon filter can remove the chemical from your drinking water, but that leaves your shower and bath – a significant route of exposure -- without protection. It would be helpful to take as cold a shower as possible as heat will convert more of the chemicals to a toxic gas. Additionally shorter showers will also obviously further limit your exposure.

Because of the high flow rate and large volume of water passing through your shower, there is no showerhead filter on the market that will effectively remove all chloramine. A whole-house filtration system is therefore your best choice to remove chlorine, chloramine, ammonia, DBPs and other contaminants from all of your water sources (bath, shower and tap).

If you don’t have the resources for a whole-house filtration system at this time, there are a couple of other tricks you can try. At you can identify local springs where you can get pure, chloramine-free drinking water for a minimal cost. You can also try:9

  • Adding fruit, such as slices of peeled orange, to a 1-gallon water pitcher, which will help neutralize chloramine in about 30 minutes
  • Dissolving a 1,000-mg vitamin C tablet into your bath water, which will neutralize the chloramine in an average-size bathtub

If you’re not sure whether your city uses chloramine as a water disinfectant, contact your local water utility. And if you have concerns, voice them to your municipality. There are other disinfection techniques available, such as ultraviolet light and micro-filtration, which appear to be much safer, and may be an option in your area if enough people get involved to prompt change. This recently occurred in Albemarle County in Central Virginia, which dropped the consideration of chloramines after negative public feedback -- and is now looking at the use of granular-activated carbon as a secondary water disinfectant.10

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Real Danger of “Obamacare”: Insurance Company Takeover of Health Care

Militant Libertarian - by Nomi Prins:

Election rhetoric shuns the big picture in favor of the bigger platitude. Now that The Show is over, we are left with the equivalent of a Sunday morning hangover following a binge of promises and lies. We leave the theatre of political spectacle on steroids for the real world of unstable economy, a globally and publicly subsidized financial sector, and increased costs of living on everything from food to education to health-care; outpacing declining median incomes. The average cost for health insurance for a family is $15,745 per year vs. a median income of $50,502, or about half post-tax take-home pay.

“Obamacare” is the name commonly used for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) of 2010. The very moniker is indicative of how name-and-image-centric our world has become; Medicare was never called “Johnsoncare” when President Johnson signed it into law in 1965 and Johnson was not exactly a man of small-personality. At any rate, Obamacare or the PPACA ranks as one of the most misrepresented issues from the campaign, by both sides of the ever-slimming aisle.

The Tea-Party Conservative types get it embarrassingly wrong when they call it a “government takeover of health care.” Likewise, Progressive Obama-supporters are deluded in accepting it as the most sweeping healthcare reform since Medicare. (Side note: I wish the word ‘sweeping’ could be retired from politics until it actually means -sweeping.)

Here’s why. The PPACA does nothing to restructure the health insurance industry, anymore than the Dodd-Frank Act restructures the banking industry. This means everything else it attempts to do, positive or negative, will be vastly overshadowed by an industry accelerating to morph itself into a acquisition machine in order to circumvent anything that even smells like a restriction, including laws that exist and ones to come.

How? By doing the same thing energy and telecom companies did after they were deregulated in 1996, and that banks did after they were summarily deregulated (after moving that way for decades) in 1999. They are merging, consolidating, eliminating competitors, and controlling their domain. They are manufacturing power.

Investment bankers are roaming the world to exploit this hot new opportunity. That’s one reason insurance companies don’t even call themselves that anymore. Now, they are ‘managed health care’ companies. Call yourself a managed health care company, and you can buy everything from other insurance companies to hospitals to clinics to doctors. The more consolidation, the more fees bankers rake in, and the more premiums and medical reimbursements and health care procedures, each company can control.

The result of 1996 energy deregulation was a glut of crime-spawned bankruptcies like Enron. Likewise WorldCom led a pack of telecom degenerates in the production of tens of billions of dollars worth of accounting fraud. The final repeal of Glass-Steagall ignited a merge-fest of investment and commercial banks, their linkages ensuring that taxpayers, whose deposits have been protected since the New Deal, provide a safety-net upon which they can mint toxic assets loosely based on over-leveraged home mortgages, and engage in risky, speculative activity; big banks don’t go bankrupt when they fabricate values or lose big on stupid bets, they get federally subsidized in all sorts of ways.

You know who else is similarly too big to fail? The insurance industry. UnitedHealth Group, the nation’s largest health insurer covers 50% of the insurable population in over 30 states. Blue Cross-Blue Shield, covers 100 million people through a constellation of 38 sub-companies. They, and other insurance companies are growing in breadth. When companies consolidate, the result is less transparency, less competition, and more possibility for fraud and shady behavior. Every. Single. Time.

Obamacare and Accounting Fraud

By January 2014, the PPACA will require insurance companies to list their prices on competitive exchanges. In Obama-theory, this is supposed to reduce premiums via competition. But what if, say, only three companies control nearly all of the premiums? Consider the fact that it costs the same $3 to extract your money from a Chase, Bank of America or Citigroup ATM (if you don’t get it directly from the firm you bank at.) They constitute a monopoly that defies anti-trust inspection (thank you, Department of Justice.) What incentive would any of them have to charge less? None. That’s why they don’t.

Managed Health Care companies don’t just administer private, but government health insurance policies as well. The website says that under the PPACA, the life of the Medicare Trust Fund will be extended to 2024 as a result of reducing waste, fraud, abuse, and slowing cost growth. President Obama promised to reduce Medicare fraud 50% by 2012 according to the site – but if he did, he forgot to mention it during the campaign period.

To supposedly combat price hikes, the PPACA calls for a new Rate Review program, wherein insurance companies must justify premium hikes of more than 10% to a state or federal review program. Given that banks aren’t supposed to hold more than 10% of the nation’s deposits in any one institution, and three do, this isn’t a comforting constraint.

While it is positive that the PPACA requires coverage of people with pre-existing conditions and prohibits lifetime caps, it can’t control what people pay for insurance, because it doesn’t limit actual premiums, which have risen 13% on average since the Act was passed.

The medical cost ratio limitation the PPACA instills; that 80% of premiums must be used for medical care in the case of individuals and small groups, and 85% in the case of large groups) to supposedly ensure companies operate on a more efficient premium in vs. premium out basis, is a joke. Its punch line is accounting manipulation. Call everything a medical cost; even buying another company, and the ratio is meaningless.

WellPoint got the Joke

WellPoint got that joke immediately. The largest for-profit “managed health care” company in the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, it began trading publicly on December 1, 2004. Depending on the state, it operates under Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Blue Cross or Anthem.

After the PPACA was passed, in March 2010, WellPoint allegedly reclassified certain administrative costs as medical care costs in order to meet the law’s new medical loss ratio requirements (which requires insurers spend at least 80% or 85% of premiums on health care services, depending on the type of plan, individual or group respectively.)

A month earlier, WellPoint announced its Anthem Blue Cross unit would raise insurance rates for some individual policies in California up to 39%. Federal and California regulators are still investigating this, but the premium hikes remained.

WellPoint is also one of Wall Street’s favorite “managed health care” companies; cause it keeps getting bigger through acquisitions that pay hefty fees to the bankers involved. On October 23rd, WellPoint got approval from Amerigroup’s shareholders to acquire Amerigroup, a Medicaid-focused health insurer, in a $4.9 billion cash deal. The deal makes WellPoint the nation’s largest Medicaid insurer, and provides it greater access to Medicaid patients who also qualify for Medicare.

It was the largest cash deal ever, and the largest premium paid for a company in the managed health care realm. As a result, Goldman Sachs (who advised Amerigroup) and Credit Suisse (who advised WellPoint) retained their top positions in the global healthcare deal advisory league table.

The value of Amerigroup, as a company, dropped 34% within two weeks of that agreement, in stark shades of what happened when Bank of America took over Merrill Lynch in the fall of 2008.

This summer, Amerigroup and Goldman Sachs faced a shareholder lawsuit filed by the city of Monroe Employees Retirement System and Louisiana Municipal Police Employees Retirement System. It alleged that Goldman advised Amerigroup to accept WellPoint’s offer quickly, rather than seek other bids, because the bank had structured a complex, and fee-heavy derivatives transaction on the back of the deal. The insurers resolved the suit by tweaking the deal parameters. All parties denied ‘any wrongdoing.’ But where there’s smoke in complex derivatives land, there is fire.

Other Mergers

After the Supreme Court upheld the PPACA, a spate of mergers rippled through the managed health care realm, to ostensibly cope with smaller profit margins and ‘compliance costs.’ But really, it’s because each firm wants to corner as much as possible of the market, in as many states as it can, to garner more premiums and control more disbursements and prices at the upcoming insurance ‘exchanges.’

In late August, the third largest insurance company in the US, Aetna announced it was buying Coventry Health Care for $5.7 billion. Coventry provides Medicare and Medicaid services, thus the takeover expands Aetna’s Medicare and Medicaid business. Being part of Aetna enables Coventry to grab more consumers on more state-run health insurance exchanges, reducing competition in the process. The Department of Justice is examining anti-trust issues surrounding the deal, but it’s still expected to close in mid-2013.

On October 17th, UnitedHealth Group issued $2.5 billion of bonds as part of its $4.9 billion acquisition of Brazil’s Amil Participacoes. Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Morgan Stanley, UBS and Wells Fargo Securities were lead underwriters on the deal.

They are not buying international companies in order to increase accounting transparency. Like other multinationals, they are doing so to move profits around and circumvent restrictions and tax laws. They are using cash, or raising extra debt, to do so, rather than to reduce premiums or increase disbursements to medical professionals.

And if you’re keeping score – billion of dollars are flowing from insurance companies – NOT to reduce premiums to patients and NOT to reimburse doctors and NOT to enhance the quality of care, but to simply expand nationally and globally. Meanwhile, their CEOs are doing quite well from all that non-health care related movement.

Total compensation for the bulk of health care company CEOs rose by 14.7% in 2011 by 14.7%, or $11.1 million, to $87 million. Cigna’s CEO David Cordani made $19.1 million. UnitedHealth Group’s CEO, Stephen J. Hemsley bagged $49 million in salary, stock options, and other compensation last year. The highest-paid CEO made 94 times the average compensation level of primary care physicians. And none of them had to pick up a single scalpel in the process.

Doctors as profit centers

Not just patients, but physicians have been bled steadily from the current state of insurance company controlled health care through diminishing insurance reimbursements, electronic medical records mandates whereby they spend as much time complying with Kafkaesque controls over their decisions on performing surgeries and providing care, and debt. New doctors are graduating with an average of $250,000 in debt, which, combined with diminishing disbursement and soaring costs, will keep many, underwater. Forever.

According to Dr. Michael H. Heggeness, President of the North American Spine Society, a group of 6500 global spinal and orthopedic surgeons (at which I delivered a speech last month), “The last people, that most of the population feels sorry for are doctors, yet they are in an economic crisis of their own. In 2002, 80% were in private practice, now 70% are in hospitals because they can’t afford to make a private practice work.”

Meanwhile the more hospitals are viewed as profit centers, the more their Chairmen will cut costs to maximize returns, and not care quality. They will seeks ways to sell underperforming assets, programs or services and reduce the number of nonessential employees, burdening those that remain. No doubt the private equity community will be getting more into this game, as insurance companies buy more hospitals, doctors, clinics, and perhaps drug companies, or vice versa, and ‘restructuring’ accelerates.

And if insurance companies can manage doctors directly, they can control not just costs, but treatment – our treatment. It’s not an imaginary government takeover anyone should fear; but a very real, here-and-now insurance company takeover, to which no one in Washington is paying attention.


Obamacare: Just give us a bill to hype; we don’t care what it is

Nearly every major drug company convicted of criminal behavior in three-year, $11 billion sweep

TV Networks Will Be Asked to Boost ObamaCare In Plots of Their Top Shows

Republican governors decide against setting up ObamaCare insurance markets

Conservatives Launch Papa John's Appreciation Day

Denny's to charge 5% 'Obamacare surcharge' and cut employee hours to deal with cost of legislation

Full List of Obamacare Tax Hikes

Surprise! Audit uncovers rampant fraud in fed program

Friday, November 23, 2012

Are Chemicals Making Us, Our Babies and Our Animals Sterile and Ill?

ChemicalsWhen I was a baby my mother used cloth diapers. Pampers were new, not widely available and very expensive. She used Ivory soap to bathe me and powdered my behind with talcum powder. As far as I know I have suffered no ill effects from the use of these products, then or now, but that is not to say that certain chemicals contained in baby bath products are not potentially harmful. For instance, we now know that talc, as in talcum powder, can be harmful if inhaled. I never used Ivory soap on my babies because it contains lye (sodium hydroxide) and can be very drying to sensitive skin. Many babies are also very sensitive to the chemicals in that ultimate convenience---the baby wipe. In fact, when my son was a baby I routinely rinsed all the "soap" out of his baby wipes because he was so sensitive to it. But, as it turns out, dry skin and rashy bottoms may be the least of it.

We have all seen those names on the labels of baby bath products, as well as our own personal care products; words that seem to contain every letter in the alphabet and are almost impossible to pronounce. Words like di-n-butylphthalate, diethylphthalate or benzylbutylphthalate. But what are these chemicals and why do they show up on the labels of baby bath products? These chemicals are known as Phthalates and they may also show up listed as DBR, DEP, or BzBP or they may not be listed at all since federal law does not require them to be. In most cases they will probably be hidden behind the very vague term of "fragrance".

Phthalates are usually contained in shampoo, lotion, creams and powders as well as many other products. They make plastics more flexible, lotions and creams easier to spread and help to sustain the fragrance in shampoos and perfumes and , yes, baby bath products. They can be and are absorbed through the skin and have shown up in various concentrations in the urine of infants. In fact, one ABC News article cited a study in which 80% of infants tested had phthalates present in their urine. This study also showed that there is possibly a link between phthalate exposure and health problems later in life chiefly in reproduction health. Of course, as with any study, the experts disagree but it is my opinion that it is always better to err on the side of caution. The simplest thing you, as a parent, can do is to reduce the amount of baby bath products you use on your baby which will, in turn, reduce the amount of Phthalates your little one is exposed to.

I personally don't think it is necessary to go completely backward when choosing baby care products. Meaning, I don't think it is necessary to use cloth diapers or quit using baby wash or wipes. But there are some things you can do in order to reduce your baby's exposure.

First, keep in mind that many baby bath products are simply not necessary. Baby lotion and creams are not generally needed to keep your baby's skin supple and smooth. Baby powder, despite its claim as being necessary to keep your baby's bottom dry, may actually do the opposite especially in these days of disposable diapers which do a good job on their own of keeping wetness away from your baby's skin. Baby wipes are very handy and do a good job of cleaning your baby's bottom but some babies are very sensitive to the soap and other chemicals they contain. Use only what is absolutely necessary to keep your baby clean and dry.

There are alternatives to most commercial baby bath products. In the case of baby wipes one way to reduce your baby's' exposure to the Phthalates they may contain is to use them less. One way to do this is to use wet paper towels or even a wet wash cloth when at home and only use wipes when traveling or away from home. If you feel you need to use powder on your baby consider using corn starch instead. It will work just as well and does not contain Phthalates. Baby lotion or cream is not necessary so use it sparingly if at all. However, if you would rather use the commercial brands of baby bath products then the best thing to do is to buy only fragrance free products. Use the least amount necessary to do the job.

There are also several studies presently in progress suspecting that baby wipes could be reducing the testosterone in male babies which will ultimately affect their ability to reproduce as adults as well as making them less masculine.  A study in 2008 proved disinfectant affected mouse fertility.

These studies that show a possible link between health problems and Phthalates should not send you into a panic but it is never a bad idea to err on the side of caution and reduce the amount of exposure your baby has to any chemical. Start by reading the labels, be aware and limit your baby's exposure as much as possible.

It is time to turn to common sense!  Time to start questioning the affects of chemicals and products created to fill artificially created products like bath products, baby wipes, commercial pet food and baby formula to mention just a few.


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Common Chemicals Linked to Infertility

Beware: Teflon Products Can Harm Your Baby

Soy is an Endocrine Disrupter and Can Disrupt Your Child’s Health

Alarm Over Gender-Bender Chemical in Household Cleaning Products

In 2007, a study at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health linked PFOA to lower birth weights among newborns.

Why has this Common Food Been Dumped in Europe… Yet, is Still Rampant in the US?

Some Baby Foods are Worse Than Junk Food

The Dangers of Baby Formula and Other Processed Baby Food

The State Guarded Secret Which Makes You As Docile As A Lamb For The Slaughter

How to Detox Fluorides from Your Body

The Dangers of Genetically Modified Ingredients in Pet Food

Tips for a Healthier Thanksgiving

healthy thanksgiving tips dinnerHere are a few of easy tips to follow in order to get the most out of Thanksgiving while staying healthy:

Portion size is key. You can enjoy turkey (white meat is healthier), stuffing and all the foods that come with Thanksgiving, but know how to ration them on your plate. Ideally, you should have three fist size servings on your plate, one for protein (turkey), one for carbohydrates (stuffing) and one of veggies (sweet potato or green beans).

So while you may want to pile on the food until you can’t see the bottom of your plate, ease back a bit and let her know that your healthy choices will keep you around for a lot longer to enjoy many more Thanksgivings with your family.

Serve breakfast. Skipping a meal to build your appetite so you can eat more at dinner is a bad idea. Not only will you be starving your body of calories needed for energy, you’ll actually eat more erratically at the big meal to soothe your hunger.

Don’t go overboard by filling your belly with a huge breakfast, but definitely eat a bowl of cereal or enjoy some fruit so your eyes don’t fill your belly before your mouth can.

Save leftovers for the next day. Remember that it takes 20 minutes for your stomach to let your brain know that you’ve had enough, so if you’re thinking about eating more, wait a bit and then re-evaluate the situation.

Eating seconds comes with the holiday territory. But instead of eating those seconds on Thanksgiving, make yourself a plate, wrap it tightly and have a re-run holiday the next day.

Make time for exercise. Although you might find yourself extra busy this time of year, you’re also probably more stressed. Exercise shouldn’t be neglected this time of year. Even 20 minutes a day of walking or some physical activity is good for you both physically and mentally.  Playing games, dancing, or just taking a walk after dinner is a great idea as well.

Switch out the products. If you’re involved in preparing the food,

use products lower in calories, fat and sugar. Use healthier substitutes for ingredients like oil and butter; use evaporated skim milk instead of heavy cream and plain fat-free yogurt instead of sour cream. Start with extra virgin olive oil and you’re on your way!

Drink plenty of water. It will keep you feeling full and boost your metabolism. Add a decorative pitcher of water to your beverage table alongside the coquito. The beauty of it will attract the eye first, which will then get your guests to serve themselves a glass.

Stay out of the kitchen and dining room. Make the center of your Thanksgiving holiday the living room or outside in the fresh air, and only enter the kitchen to cook and the dining room when it’s time to eat.

If you have an entrance to your home that doesn’t allow guests to walk through the kitchen use it. Decorate the entryway with warm holiday designs and present guests with a beverage upon arrival. The smell of the food cooking can serve as an appetizer, which will build the excitement for when the food is finally ready to eat!  If you decide to serve an appetizer make it something light, like celery stick stuffed with cream cheese or just carrot and celery sticks alone or with a light dip.

Thanksgiving/Holiday Safety and Health Tips For Pets


“Holidays Are Great and Fun To Share With Our Pets, Who Love To Be Part of the Family Activities, As Long As We Avoid the No-No Foods”


JOMP: While giving your pets Thanksgiving leftovers or scraps from the table can be a heartwarming experience for you and an exciting experience for them, it is important to be aware of which Thanksgiving leftovers are pet friendly, and which ones should remain in your fridge and away from your pets’ food dish.

To help you decipher which Thanksgiving leftovers are safe for your pets to eat, we have compiled two lists below — a “safe” list and a “not safe” list — that you can use as a quick reference during your Thanksgiving meal. But be sure to pay attention to the pets mentioned in the lists, and how the food should be prepared; just because something is safe for a dog doesn’t mean it’s safe for a cat.

If you, or your family, eat a food during the Thanksgiving holiday that is not mentioned on the lists below, do some additional research or talk to your local vet about the safety of the food in question.

Thanksgiving/Holiday Safety Tips For Pets

‘Tis the season for friends, family and holiday feasts—but also for possible distress for our animal companions. Pets won’t be so thankful if they munch on undercooked turkey or a pet-unfriendly floral arrangement, or if they stumble upon an unattended alcoholic drink.

Check out the following tips from ASPCA experts for a fulfilling Thanksgiving that your pets can enjoy, too.

Sage Advice
Sage can make your Thanksgiving stuffing taste delish, but it and many other herbs contain essential oils and resins that can cause gastrointestinal upset and central nervous system depression to pets if eaten in large quantities. Cats are especially sensitive to the effects of certain essential oils.

No Bread Dough
Don’t spoil your pet’s holiday by giving him raw bread dough. According to ASPCA experts, when raw bread dough is ingested, an animal’s body heat causes the dough to rise in his stomach. As it expands, the pet may experience vomiting, severe abdominal pain and bloating, which could become a life-threatening emergency, requiring surgery.

Don’t Let Them Eat Cake
If you’re baking up Thanksgiving cakes, be sure your pets keep their noses out of the batter, especially if it includes raw eggs—they could contain salmonella bacteria that may lead to food poisoning.

Too Much of a Good Thing
Boneless pieces of cooked turkey, some mashed potato or even a lick of pumpkin pie or cheese cake shouldn’t pose a problem. However, don’t allow your pets to overindulge, especially if you don’t normally cook for your pets, as they could wind up with a case of stomach upset, diarrhea or even worse—an inflammatory condition of the pancreas known as pancreatitis. In fact, if your pets have sensitive stomachs, it is best to keep them on their regular diets during the holidays with just some table scraps added to their food.

A Feast Fit for a Kong
While the humans are chowing down, give your cat and dog their own little feast. Offer them rawhide strips, Nylabones or made-for-pet chew bones. Or stuff their usual dinner—perhaps with a few added tidbits of turkey, vegetables (try sweet potato or green beans) and dribbles of gravy—inside a Kong toy. They’ll be happily occupied for awhile, working hard to extract their dinner from the toy.

The “Safe” List

Cranberry Sauce

While cranberry sauce is safe for most dogs, it has the potential to make them a little wild or give them an upset stomach if they’re not used to fruit or foods high in sugar. So if you want to give your dogs a little cranberry sauce this holiday season, start out slow and see how your dog reacts. Cranberry sauce should also be safe for cats and potbellied pigs, but again, only in small portions.

Green Beans

Safe for cats, dogs, potbellied pigs and guinea pigs, green beans that are low in sodium (try using unsalted ones) can actually be good for your pets when served in moderation. As long as the green beans you have leftover this Thanksgiving don’t have anything extra added (no green bean casserole!) they are pet friendly Thanksgiving leftovers.

Ice Cream (Dogs Only), a Few Licks of Pumpkin Pie, Cheesecake or Carrot Cake Without Nuts

While it is not a good idea to give your cat, guinea pig, potbellied pig, or any other common pet type ice cream this Thanksgiving, ice cream is safe for dogs to eat in small amounts as long as it contains no chocolate. A few licks of pumpkin pie, cheesecake or carrot cake without nuts are also fine.

Macaroni and Cheese (Dogs and Potbellied Pigs Only)

As long as you don’t give you dog or potbellied pig too much macaroni and cheese, it is safe for them to eat on occasion, but not all the time.

Mashed Potatoes

As long as you don’t add anything extra to your mashed potatoes (such as cheese, sour cream, or gravy) mashed potatoes should be safe for dogs, cats, and pigs. But again, remember portion control: don’t give them too much, and consider mixing a little bit of mashed potatoes into their dry food instead of giving them mashed potatoes by itself.


While leftover turkey can be safe for dogs, cats, and potbellied pigs, make sure that the turkey does not have any bones, and that any excess fat and the skin has been removed. Also be careful about portion control, not giving your pets — no matter how big they are — human sized portions of turkey. It will be very rich for them, and could cause them to be sick if given too much. If you decide to feed your pet a little nibble of turkey, make sure it’s boneless and well-cooked. Don’t offer her raw or undercooked turkey, which may contain salmonella bacteria.

The “Not So Safe” List

The following foods are not safe for dogs, cats, potbellied pigs, or guinea pigs. Never give the following foods or beverages to your pets:

· Alcohol of any kind

· Anything with Caffeine

· Bones from Ham, Chicken, or Turkey

· Candied Yams

· Casseroles (unless you absolutely know that none of the no-no foods are in them)

· Chocolate and Cocoa (this includes things like brownies and chocolate chip cookies) and dark chocolate is the worst

· Jell-O Molds

· Macadamia Nuts (this includes things like cookies and pies) and go easy on nuts in general

· Pecan Pie

· Potato Skins

· Pork Products because of the nitrates

· Stuffing (it usually contains onions, which is very harmful to pets)

· Anything with onions in it (and garlic should be fed in moderation)

· Anything with Xylitol in it

· Grapes or raisins

· Raw eggs

· Mushrooms

· Baby food if it contains onion powder

· Milk (and American Cheese) can be a problem for some dogs. They can be lactose intolerant like some people.

· Avocados – especially for birds and cats

These plants are probably the most popular holiday plant and are easily recognizable by their large red, white, pink, or mottled leaves. These plants also contain a thick, milky irritant sap. In general, it would take ingestion of a large amount of this plant to see possible clinical signs in your pet. Signs could include vomiting, anorexia and depression. The symptoms are generally self-limiting and treatment is rarely needed. Your Vet may recommend limiting food and water intake for 1 or 2 hours if your pet is suspected of becoming sick after ingestion of poinsettias. Ingestion of poinsettias will not kill your pets, but keeping them out of reach is a good idea; and fake ones might be even a better idea!

Thanksgiving Pet Recipe of the Day Simple Roasted Organs

(This is a great recipe to make up for Thanksgiving to feed your canine friends… you can substitute chicken for the turkey and add a few turkey scraps at carving time, or just bake the liver and giblets and add the warm turkey as you carve… just go easy on the skin and watch for bones.)

This dish can actually double up as a treat, or healthy topping to your pet’s usual meal. Turkey giblets (hearts, livers and kidneys) are available from butcher shops and many natural food markets – and also come included with most Thanksgiving turkeys!

This recipe is super-simple and just about all pets love it! Since this recipe is cooked, turkey necks should not be used.


Up to 1 lb Turkey scraps, organs/giblets (don’t include bones)

6 tbsp Olive Oil

½ tsp Dried or Fresh Rosemary

1 Clove Garlic, crushed or finely diced (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Arrange the organs on a baking sheet. Slowly pour on the olive and gently shake the pan so that the oil is evenly distributed. Sprinkle on the rosemary and crushed garlic. Place in the oven and cook for about 35 minutes, until golden brown. Cool before serving and refrigerate any leftovers for up to 3 days.

For cats, dice the organs finely with a sharp knife before serving. This technique also works well to create bite-sized training treats that are a little bit different.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Republican governors decide against setting up ObamaCare insurance markets

Fox News:

Video: Rick Perry on Neil Cavuto… Not Setting up ObamaCare Insurance Markets

Several Republican governors, in what could be their last symbolic stand against ObamaCare, announced Friday that they will not set up a state-based marketplace for selling health insurance.

A total of 20 states have now decided not to implement their own exchanges -- which could also mean increased costs for the federal government.

The governors of Wisconsin and Ohio joined Texas Gov. Rick Perry and others in confirming that they will not establish so-called "health insurance exchanges," which are set to launch in January 2014. Under the federal health care overhaul, these exchanges will act as virtual markets where people and small businesses can shop for private coverage in a regulated environment. Many will also be eligible for government subsidies.

The governors' move does not stop those exchanges from being implemented. Rather, it kicks the project back to the federal government to run with regard to those states. While a number of states, largely those run by Democrats, will establish their own exchanges, Republicans who declined argued that it wasn't worth the cost and resources to set up a marketplace that would be under the thumb of the federal government anyway.

"As long as the federal government has the ability to force unknown mandates and costs upon our citizens, while retaining the sole power in approving what an exchange looks like, the notion of a state exchange is merely an illusion," Perry wrote in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "It would not be fiscally responsible to put hard-working Texans on the financial hook for an unknown amount of money to operate a system under rules that have not even been written."

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said the same, writing in a letter to Sebelius Friday that "no matter which option is chosen, Wisconsin taxpayers will not have meaningful control over the health care policies and services sold to Wisconsin residents." With that in mind, he wrote, the state has decided not to build its own system. Ohio Gov. John Kasich echoed that point of view.

Republican governors have been largely opposed to the health care law anyway. But for months, they were effectively waiting to see if the Supreme Court would overturn it or whether Obama would lose re-election and potentially leave an opening to repeal it. Neither of those things happened.

Walker was among those who stopped implementation last year on the hopes the law would be overturned either by the U.S. Supreme Court or Republicans following the November election.

Thursday evening, the Obama administration responded to a request for more time from Republican governors on the exchange question by granting states a month's extension, until Dec. 14.

A few states have signaled they want to partner with the federal government, as opposed to running it themselves or handing the reins to Washington. Those states would handle consumer issues and oversight of health plans in the exchanges, while the feds do the heavy lifting by enrolling individuals for coverage and determining who's eligible for government assistance. Among these states are Arkansas and North Carolina.

The number of partnership states could grow significantly, since the Obama administration has given states until next February to decide on that option.

Obama's election victory virtually guaranteed the survival of his health care law, which is eventually expected to provide coverage to more than 30 million people through the exchanges and expanded Medicaid programs. It was the final hurdle, after the Supreme Court upheld a legal challenge from 26 states. In the aftermath of the election, some Republican state leaders say it's time to accept the law.

"I don't like it; I would not vote for it; I think it needs to be repealed. But it is the law," said Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney, after announcing that his state wants to set up its own exchange. "If you default to the federal government, you forever give the keys to the state's health insurance market to the federal government."

Traditionally, states have regulated the private health insurance market.

But other Republican-led states say they don't have enough information to make a decision at this point and are clamoring for the Obama administration to release major regulations that have been bottled up for months.

"States are struggling with many unanswered questions and are not able to make comprehensive far-reaching decisions prudently," Govs. Bob McDonnell of Virginia and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana wrote Obama earlier this week. They asked for a meeting with the president, as well as a postponement of the original Nov. 16 deadline.

Some of their main concerns are hidden costs of operating the exchanges and the sheer bureaucratic complexity of the new system. The Obama administration has steadfastly maintained it will not postpone the Jan. 1, 2014, launch date for the law's coverage expansion. Open enrollment for exchange plans will begin even sooner, Oct. 1, 2013.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Rick Perry: 'Another federal power grab'

Perry may not have last say on health care

Medical giant Stryker cuts 1,170 jobs, citing ObamaCare