September 25, 2006

Is Britain’s National Health Service Near the Breaking Point?

Filed under: Biz Weak,Business Moves,Economy — Tom @ 1:48 pm

My, this has been kept awfully quiet in the US:

Thousands join NHS cuts protest
24/09/06

Organisers of a demonstration aimed at protesting against cuts in the NHS were taken by surprise when thousands of people turned up to join a march and rally.

Unison and the Royal College of Nursing had been expecting a few hundred people to take part in the protest in Nottingham.

But Unison said thousands of people crammed into the city centre to voice their concern over the threat to jobs and hospital services in the region.

….. Around 5,000 health workers’ jobs were now under threat in the East Midlands, the union warned.

“These redundancies will weaken local delivery of NHS services and must be stopped,” said Ms Jennings.

Unison will raise its concerns about NHS cuts during the forthcoming Labour party conference.

Hundreds of workers at NHS Logistics will stage a second strike on Wednesday in protest at their jobs being privatised, putting further pressure on the government to halt its controversial NHS reforms. The workers staged a 24-hour walkout in protest at a lucrative 10-year contract being awarded to German delivery giant, DHL.

As Biz Weak reported last week (link appears to be free), “somehow” the US economy has added over 1.7 million jobs in the healthcare industry in the past 5 years (Biz Weak spun it as “no net jobs added anywhere else, but that’s why it’s called Biz Weak around here). Yet the UK’s nationalized healthcare delivery system, at least according to those who are in it day in and day out, is on the verge of collapse. The resistance to privatization of logistics is misguided, but hey, these are union folks, so you can’t expect perfection.
Somehow, I don’t feel as bad about how much we spend as a percentage of GDP on healthcare (16%, according to this article) as I did a few minutes ago.

That said, I agree with Biz Weak that a productivity explosion in US healthcare is coming, and is long overdue.

Idea of the Day: Steve Forbes on Saving Iraq (Faster)

An absolutely brilliant idea that I hope the administration and Centcom would seriously consider (link appears to be free for now):

President Bush, his secretary of state and his secretary of Defense have all recently made it resoundingly clear that the Administration has no intention of giving up on our mission to democratize Iraq. The Administration, however, should introduce changes that would make this goal more realizable.

Oil. For starters, U.S. officials should urgently push the Iraqi government to enact something similar to the so-called Alaska model for Iraq’s oil riches. Control of the country’s oil–only Saudi Arabia and Iran have reserves greater than Iraq’s–is an enormous bone of contention between the Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites. Instituting an Alaska model would immediately ameliorate lethal tensions over control.

About a quarter of Alaska’s oil and gas royalties goes into an entity called the Permanent Fund, the assets of which are managed by professionals who invest it in stocks, bonds and the like. About half the revenue stream is distributed to the state’s citizens each year; the other half is reinvested. Last year each man, woman and child residing in Alaska received a check for $845.76 from the fund.

Imagine what such a fund would do for Iraq, where a typical worker is lucky to earn $150 a month. With the exception of the fanatics and remnants of Saddam Hussein’s murderous security services, every Iraqi citizen would have a stake in ensuring that oil production increases. Attacks on the oil infrastructure would drop dramatically. People wouldn’t hesitate to provide the Iraqi army and coalition forces with intelligence. Currently oil money is seen as going to corrupt officials, but if a significant part of it flowed directly to citizens, the insurrectionists would suffer a huge setback.

While on the subject, this would be a great idea for states rich in shale-oil deposits like Colorado and Utah to put into place NOW, before significant exploration begins, and before the inevitable “don’t touch a darn thing” objections from the enviros get any louder.

Interesting Inadvertent Admission by the New York Times

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Ignorance — Tom @ 8:06 am

Start of story:

Human Stem Cells Are Found to Help Rats’ Vision
Published: September 21, 2006

Pointing the way to a possible clinical use of human embryonic stem cells, researchers have improved vision in rats suffering from a disease similar to age-related macular degeneration.

The scientists, at Oregon Health and Science University, used human embryonic stem cells that had spontaneously converted into the special cells that line the base of the retina. The cells, which support the light-sensing rod and cone cells above them, are damaged in some forms of macular degeneration.

Wait a minute. HUMAN embryonic stem cells? If the embryos are human, surely a pre-born child at any stage of a pregnancy is human too.

Thanks, NYT.

Ho-Hum Hiring Headline Collection (092506)

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy — Tom @ 8:01 am

Headlines from various weekly business publications you probably won’t see receive any national exposure:

  • San Jose — Finance, infotech executives see steady hiring
  • Denver — More Coloradans finding jobs
  • Hawaii — Jobless Rate 2.8%
  • Phoenix — Technology, finance hiring on the rise
  • Tampa — Survey: Need for accountants and IT professionals high

The Pleasure Inn Is as Feisty as Ever

Filed under: Business Moves,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:56 am

From WCPO’s web site — In Mason, Ohio, Pleasure Inn owner Tom Ullum, who is in undeserved hot water with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission over a “For Service Speak English” sign, recently put up another sign that says:

“The Pope Got It Right”

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Related Previous Posts:

June 19 — Geno’s Update: The Mayor, The Profile, and The Letter
- June 12 — Welcome to the Club, Joey Vento — Philly Human Relations Commission Has Filed a “Discrimination” Complaint
- June 10 — As in Greater Cincy, “For Service Speak English” Place in Philly Is Catching Flak
- May 31 — The Pleasure Inn Has “For Service Speak English” Company
- May 13, 2006 — Why Won’t the Ohio Civil Rights Commission Get Off Tom Ullum’s Back?
- Dec. 19, 2005 — Update: Thought Police 1, Bar Owner 0; Bar Owners Showing Solidarity–1
- Dec. 16 — Thought Police 1, Bar Owner 0
- Oct. 9 — Questions for the Thought Police at the Ohio Civil Rights Commission and The Cincinnati Enquirer

Maryland E-Voting Confrontation: Governor Wants Paper Ballots in November

Filed under: Business Moves,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:51 am

The state’s governor and paper-ballot advocate is Republican Bob Ehrlich; the people who want to stick with the troubled e-voting systems, which had significant problems (link is to one blogger’s detailed in-person observations; HT Techdirt) in Maryland’s most recent primary, are Democrats.

Those who believe e-voting can still be used and trusted have to pretend that the Princeton IT study, which demonstrated that an easily installed virus can alter vote totals without being detected, and e-voting vendor Diebold’s incredibly weak response to it don’t exist. Oh, and besides that, you can get into the voting machine with a hotel mini-bar key.

This ought to disabuse anyone that the credibility and integrity, or lack thereof, of e-voting is a partisan issue, but it probably won’t.

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UPDATE: RG Combs notes a Colorado judge acknowledging that E-voting doesn’t work well, but deciding that for November they’re stuck with it.

Discoveries Like This One Force an Uncomfortable Question

Filed under: Marvels — Tom @ 7:46 am

From the NY Times:

Little Girl, 3 Million Years Old, Offers New Hints on Evolution

If the fossil Lucy, the most famous woman from out of the deep human past, had a child, it might have looked a lot like the bundle of skull and bones uncovered by scientists digging in the badlands of Ethiopia.

The paleontologists who are announcing the discovery in the journal Nature today said the 3.3-million-year-old fossils were of the earliest well-preserved child ever found in the human lineage. It was estimated to be about 3 years old at death, probably female and a member of the Australopithecus afarensis species, the same as Lucy’s.

I wonder how those who hold on to the idea that the earth is only about 6,000 years old can keep holding on, why it’s so important, and why the thousands and thousands of people with scientific evidence to the contrary are all being intellectually dishonest.

Commenters, please: I’m not going to debate evolution here, just the age of the earth. Stay on point, or I won’t post your response.

Positivity: Off-Duty Cop Thwarts Car-Jacking — Her Own

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:03 am

In Richmond, Texas, the score is Holly Mong 2, Bad Guys O (one permanently shut out, so to speak), and that IS a positive result:

Richmond Police Officer Wins National Recognition After Attempted Car-Jacking
Sep 18, 2006, 04 34 pm

In recognition for her heroic effort after being targeted by car-jackers in January, Richmond Police Officer Holly Mong has been chosen honorable mention recipient of the International Association of Chiefs of Police Officer of the Year Award for 2006.

On Jan. 31, two armed men muscled their way into Mong’s car while she was off duty. In a split-second move that may have saved her life, Mong shot both of them, killing one and seriously wounding another.

According to the Richmond Police Department, Mong was heading to an in-service police training class at 6:30 that morning. She got into her car at her apartment complex in Jersey Village and began putting some quarters into a cup holder to use later for a toll road.

A man dressed in black and wearing a ski mask pulled the driver’s side door open on Mong’s car, pointed a pistol at her and told her to move over to the passenger seat, Richmond police said in a statement accompanying the award announcement. As she moved over, another man dressed in black, also with a ski mask, got in the back seat of the car.

“As Mong climbed into the passenger seat, she realized that her service weapon was in her purse, which was sitting on the passenger seat at that time,” Richmond police said. “Without hesitation, Mong retrieved her pistol from her purse with her right hand and waited for both suspects to completely enter her vehicle.

“Mong then began firing her weapon. Firing over her shoulder, she shot the back seat suspect causing fatal injuries,” police said in the statement. “She also shot the driver, who sustained serious injuries.”

After realizing she was safe, she ran back inside her apartment to get help from her fiancé, a Jersey Village Police officer.

“She credits her training to helping her protect her own life in a time of extreme danger,” Richmond police said in announcing the award. “With her quick decision making and proper actions, Mong was able to protect herself from two armed gunman. The professionalism she showed with only six months’ experience is a great credit to her and police officers everywhere.”

Mong will be Travel to Boston in October to receive her award at the IACP conference.

BUSTED: Bill Clinton’s Bogus Claim of Leaving Bush a ‘Comprehensive Anti-Terror Strategy’

In his rant against Chris Wallace of Fox News on Friday, former president Bill Clinton claimed that (bold is mine):

I tried. So I tried and failed. When I failed I left a comprehensive anti-terror strategy and the best guy in the country, Dick Clarke.

You would wait forever for someone in The 527 Media to do what blogger Patterico did earlier today. In the course of a longer entry dispelling other myths and falsehoods in the Clinton-Wallace interview, Patterico busted the Clinton claim about the anti-terror transition from his administration to the incoming Bush Adminstration. He located this interview of Richard Clarke in early 2002 that was cleared for distribution by the White House in 2004 and published at Fox News’ web site in March of that year.

Answering the very first question in the interview, Clarke said exactly the opposite (bold is mine) of what Bill Clinton claimed on Friday:

Transcript: Clarke Praises Bush Team in ’02
Wednesday, March 24, 2004

RICHARD CLARKE: Actually, I’ve got about seven points, let me just go through them quickly. Um, the first point, I think the overall point is, there was no plan on Al Qaeda that was passed from the Clinton administration to the Bush administration.

One would think that a “comprehensive plan” would have included at least a little something something on Al Qaeda, no?

That statement to Chris Wallace about the transition was a lie, Mr. Clinton, and your own guy said so.

Maybe that “comprehensive plan” was on one of the laptops that was stolen by Clinton-Gore staffers, or in one of the vandalized desks that had to be thrown away, when they moved out of their offices in January 2001:

A public-interest law firm claims that Clinton-Gore staffers allegedly stole computer laptops from the White House when they left in January.

“I know based on sources who have proved credible in the past, that Bush officials – whether they be career staff or political staff – have knowledge that laptops were stolen,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

….. Fitton, citing Judicial Watch’s same unnamed White House sources, says that “virtually every” desk in the vice president’s suite of offices in the Eisenhower Building, or Old Executive Office Building, which is adjacent to the West Wing, had to be replaced because outgoing Clinton-Gore staffers had vandalized them.

The overall point, based on the behavior of outgoing administration’s staff, is that there is very good reason to doubt if there was any kind of effective transition in any area from Clinton to Bush. I also see no good reason to believe that anti-terror strategy would have received a transition treatment any more mature than that seen in other matters.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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UPDATE: Tammy Bruce totally shreds another bogus Clinton interview claim, namely that Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden weren’t involved in Somalia.