January 15, 2009

Positivity: Miracle, Thanks to Fabulous Rescue Response, on the Hudson

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:13 pm

From New York:

A US Airways plane crashed into the frigid Hudson River on Thursday afternoon after striking a bird that disabled two engines, sending 150 on board scrambling onto rescue boats, authorities say. No deaths or serious injuries were immediately reported.Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Laura Brown says the US Airways Flight 1549 had just taken off from LaGuardia Airport enroute to Charlotte, N.C., when the crash occurred in the river near 48th Street in midtown Manhattan.

Brown says the plane, an Airbus 320, appears to have hit one or more birds.

A law enforcement official said that authorities are not aware of any deaths and that the passengers do not appear to be seriously injured. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the rescue was still under way. …..

The plane was submerged in the icy waters up to the windows. Rescue crews had opened the door and were pulling passengers in yellow life vests from the plane. Several boats surrounded the plane, which appeared to be slowly sinking.

….. Witnesses said the plane’s pilot appeared to guide the plane down.

“I see a commercial airliner coming down, looking like it’s landing right in the water,” said Bob Read, who saw it from his office at the television newsmagazine “Inside Edition.”

“This looked like a controlled descent.”

Michelle Malkin — “Consensus: The pilot and crew are miracle workers.”

USA Today, from wires:

….. The plane eventually sank in the near-freezing water on one of the coldest days of the year, with the mercury around 20 degrees.

….. Witness Barbara Sambriski, a researcher for AP who witnessed the event, said, “I just thought, ‘Why is it so low?’ And, splash, it hit the water.”

Ferries immediately surrounded the plane, which was partially submerged in the river.

The water temperature for the river near Battery Park was 41.5 degrees.

Adam Weiner was in a conference room at 1515 Broadway, overlooking the Hudson River. He told CNN he saw the plane gliding into the river.

“It looked looked like a float plane that came in for a water landing,” he said.

Weiner said he was on a conference call with people in Los Angeles. He said he saw “the door blow off and it looked like a life raft opened up,” he said, adding that the ferry boats immediately left the piers and were on the scene in less than two minutes.

Tax ‘Goof’ Update: Geithner Was ‘Reimbursed’ for Taxes He Didn’t Pay; AP Story Buries, Then Deletes

ObamaAndGeithner0109Yesterday, details discovered about Treasury Secretary nominee Timothy Geithner’s tax situation moved it to well past the level of an “honest mistake.”

You wouldn’t know it from the Associated Press’s Julie Hirschfeld Davis, who, as I noted yesterday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), continues to run interference for him. A story from Thursday afternoon that has since been dynamically updated had a final paragraph alluding to the fact that Geithner had signed annual statements acknowleding his obligation to pay his own payroll taxes (Update: That Thursday afternoon story is still at Breitbart). That paragraph is not present in the story as updated at 3:13 a.m. this morning (saved here for future reference). Even that paragraph, when it was present, didn’t note that Geithner had applied and received reimbursement for payroll taxes he didn’t pay.

First, here are key paragraphs from Davis’s cheerleading roundup, including disconcerting statements of support for Geithner from many who should know better:

Revelations that Timothy Geithner failed to pay some of his taxes have derailed Democrats’ efforts to install him quickly as President-elect Barack Obama’s treasury secretary, but senators in both parties say his tax problems won’t torpedo his chances for confirmation.

Obama said Wednesday that the disclosures that Geithner had failed to pay $34,000 in taxes between 2001 and 2004 were embarrassing, but added that Geithner’s “innocent mistake” shouldn’t keep him from taking the helm of the new administration’s urgent efforts to revive the economy. Several Republicans agreed that Geithner would get Senate approval and said their party had little appetite for a partisan fight at a precarious time for the economy.

GOP opponents of Geithner should “think this through,” said Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah., a member of the Senate Finance Committee that’s considering his nomination. “They’re not going to get anybody better than him from this administration for treasury secretary.”

….. (Barack) Obama had hoped for approval by Tuesday, but given the GOP objections, senators scheduled Geithner’s confirmation hearing for next Wednesday, with Senate debate and a vote sometime after that.

“Is this an embarrassment for him? Yes. He said so himself. But it was an innocent mistake,” Obama said. “My expectation is that Tim Geithner will be confirmed.”

….. Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee are backing Geithner, who’s engaged in an intense damage control effort, including numerous phone calls to senators, to persuade them that his tax problems were the result of innocent errors, not deliberate attempts to avoid paying the Internal Revenue Service.

“It’s an honest mistake,” said Sen. Max Baucus, the Montana Democrat who chairs the committee, adding that Geithner’s confirmation was “a given.”

GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina was among those coming to Geithner’s defense.

“These are huge times. Now is not the time to think in small political terms,” Graham said. “I don’t see any desire by the Republican Party to play gotcha on this. … I think he’s the right guy.”

Here’s what Davis left out, and what those who don’t want to be seen as meanies are ignoring, courtesy of this two-paragraph capsule from the Wall Street Journal’s Jonathan Wiseman (bolds are mine):

The Obama team said Mr. Geithner’s taxes have been paid in full, and that he didn’t intend to avoid payment, but made a mistake common for employees of international institutions. That characterization was contested by Senate Finance Republicans, who produced IMF documents showing that employees are repeatedly told they are responsible for paying their payroll taxes.

As to why Mr. Geithner didn’t pay all his back taxes after the 2006 audit, an Obama aide said the nominee was advised by his accountant he had no further liability. Senate Finance aides said they were concerned either Mr. Geithner or his accountant used the IRS’s statute of limitations to avoid further back-tax payments at the time of the audit.

As I noted yesterday, the normal three-year statute of limitations rule “does not apply in the case of a false or fraudulent return with intent to evade any tax.” Given the frequent notifications Geithner received, and other evidence that will follow, I believe it’s fair to contest Geithner’s professed lack of intent to evade taxes.

Michelle Malkin, as usual, has much more, including this statement from an e-mailer (bolds are mine):

[H]aving worked at the World Bank/IMF I can tell you that as an American working there, they REIMBURSE you for the self-employment taxes! The idea is that American’s get paid “on par” with all the foreigners i.e. NO taxes are withheld. The compromise is that American’s (sic) pay the “self-employment” tax but you get a CHECK from the Bank/IMF to pay them with.

Byron York at National Review has also been all over the reimbursement issue, and adds several important “he had to know what was going on” elements (bolds are mine):

….. IMF employees were expected to pay their taxes out of their own money. But the IMF then gave them an extra allowance, known as a “gross-up,” to cover those tax payments. This was done in the Annual Tax Allowance Request, in which the employee filled out some basic information — marital status, dependent children, etc. — and the IMF then estimated the amount of taxes the employee would owe and gave the employee a corresponding allowance.

At the end of the tax allowance form were the words, “I hereby certify that all the information contained herein is true to the best of my knowledge and belief and that I will pay the taxes for which I have received tax allowance payments from the Fund.” Geithner signed the form. He accepted the allowance payment. He didn’t pay the tax. For several years in a row.

According to an analysis released by the Senate Finance Committee, Geithner “wrote contemporaneous checks to the IRS and the State of Maryland for estimated [income] tax payments” that jibed exactly with his IMF statements. But he didn’t write checks for the self-employment tax allowance. Then, according to the committee analysis, “he filled out, signed and submitted an annual tax allowance request worksheet with the IMF that states, ‘I wish to apply for tax allowance of U.S. Federal and State income taxes and the difference between the “self-employed” and “employed” obligation of the U.S. Social Security tax which I will pay on my Fund income.”

Absolutely none of this is in Julie Hirschfeld Davis’s AP story.

A New York Times editorial today inadvertently makes the concise argument why the Geithner nomination should be withdrawn:

Mr. Geithner must be questioned forcefully about these matters at the hearing next week, and his explanations must be credible. Even in the best of economic times, it would be hard to accept a Treasury secretary — who, after all, is in charge of the Internal Revenue Service — with a cavalier attitude toward paying his taxes. Today, in a time of economic peril, the nation cannot afford a Treasury secretary with a tainted ability to command respect and instill confidence.

Exactly.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Latest Pajamas Media Column (‘The POR [Pelosi-Obama-Reid] Economy: Tanks a Lot’) Is Up

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:29 am

It’s here.

It will go up here at BizzyBlog (link won’t work until then) when the blackout expires.

Positivity: Country doctor makes his rounds

Filed under: Health Care,Positivity — Tom @ 5:59 am

From Yoakum, Texas (HT Daily Good):

Jan. 2, 2009, 11:40PM

A throwback to a vanishing era of medicine, Dr. David Watson, 78, still does house calls

In this sleepy country town, which sprang up around a railroad junction and the start of the Chisholm trail, folks give out their phone numbers by the last four digits, the annual Tom-Tom festival culminates with the crowning of the Tomato King and Queen, and everybody knows Doc Watson.

Over the last 50 years, the tall and lanky family practitioner — part Marcus Welby, part Gary Cooper — delivered a good many of the town’s residents and doctored most of the others.

The night Janet Jaco’s little girl had to be rushed to the hospital with a sudden hemorrhage, David Watson walked the four blocks from his house to the Yoakum Community Hospital every hour on the hour to check on his patient and offer a comforting shoulder to her worried mother.

The night the hospital urgently needed blood for an obstetrics patient, Watson rushed down from his office to donate some of his O-negative, then stayed to call in other townspeople with the right blood type. (He knew who they were). The day after a torrential rainfall, Bernice Watson remembers, her husband did not let flooded roads stop him from getting to an ailing neighbor.

He just hopped aboard a tractor, one arm around the driver, the other clutching his battered leather doctor’s bag.

Worn brown bag

That brown bag, frayed at the seams and tattooed with scratches and stains, carries the scars of countless such moments of birth, death and recovery. Watson brought it with him when he first arrived in Yoakum in 1958, just out of medical school and itching to stake his claim as a country doctor in a small town.

And that he did. Delivering babies, performing emergency surgeries, treating sore throats, broken arms and cancer, and getting to know several generations of patients in the town of 6,000, about 100 miles east of San Antonio.

“He’s always right there when you need him,” said Karen Barber, CEO of the Yoakum Community Hospital, where a wing is named after Watson. “There’s never a second thought for him. He just does what needs to be done.”

Last month, Watson received the Country Doctor of the Year award, which honors a primary care physician who best exemplifies the spirit of rural practitioners. The award is given out by Staff Care, the largest physician staffing service in the country, which hopes to attract more young doctors to family practice.

Go here for the rest of the story.