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Soon we'll find out if the Senate is really going to buck President Obama on the deal he cut with Big Pharma. I wonder how serious this is:
North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan, a member of Democratic leadership, isn't a party to that bargain. "Senator Dorgan intends to offer an amendment to the health reform bill and his expectation is that it will be one of the first amendments considered," his spokesman Justin Kitsch told HuffPost in an e-mail. "Prescription drug importation is an immediate way to put downward pressure on health care costs. It has bipartisan support, and has been endorsed by groups such as the National Federation of Independent Businesses and AARP."
U.S. patients pay far more than the rest of the world for prescription drugs. The Canadian government keeps prices down by using its purchasing power to negotiate for lower rates. Dorgan wants American consumers in on the deal.
A bill to allow re-importation -- S. 1232 - has 30 cosponsors, several Republicans among them, including Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, John Thune (S.D.) and David Vitter (La.).
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the bill would result in $50 billion in direct savings over the next decade, with $10.6 billion of that being savings to the federal government. Read more.
Kucinich Welcomes the Mad As Hell Doctors
When: Thursday, October 1, 9:00 a.m.
Where: Rayburn House Office Building 2203
On September 8, 2009 a ‘care-a-van’ left Portland, Oregon on a multi-city tour across America to deliver the message to elected officials in Washington: Health Care for People – Not Profit.
Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) will welcome the Mad As Hell Doctors to Washington D.C. as they finish their journey. After brief statements, Kucinich and the doctors will answer questions about the doctors’ journey and health care reform.
This morning, before he voted for the public option, Senator Ron Wyden appeared on MSNBC's Morning Meeting with Dylan Ratigan to talk about his "Free Choice" amendment - a measure that would allow every American to choose to opt out of their employer health plan and into the health exchange (where the public option would be, if there is one).
Senator Wyden went head-to-head with a lobbyist from the American Benefits Council - a group that represents big employers (like Wal-Mart, Microsoft, Shell Oil, etc.) and health insurance and pharmaceutical companies (like Blue Cross, KP, Merck, Pfizer, etc.) The lobbyist, James Klein, argued against allowing Americans to take their employer's health care contribution into the health exchange.
Watch the video, as Wyden and Ratigan take apart the silly arguments promulgated by the industry lobbyist. (And be sure to watch all the way through - the last two minutes are rocketing around the blogosphere.)
Smith remembers that she signed up for Evercare when a saleswoman visited her apartment complex in North Raleigh. Smith says she didn't take note at the time that signing up for a Medicare Advantage plan held no guarantee that her current physicians would accept the coverage. Details of the coverage were difficult to understand, but the saleswoman made it sound attractive, she said.
"A lot of mathematics are involved, and that's not my strong point," she said.
Confusion among seniors about Medicare Advantage plans is common, Obiol said.
"It's not so much that the product doesn't provide benefits, but that their [health-care] providers don't accept the product," Obiol said.
Bonnie Lee Smith, a retired medical imaging technician, should have plenty of health-insurance coverage: She qualifies for Medicare because of her age and for Medicaid because of her income.
But Smith, 81, says she has had no primary physician since her previous doctor's office said it won't accept her coverage under a privately run Medicare plan.
"I'm just trying to figure my way through the maze," said Smith, a stomach-cancer survivor.
Evercare, the plan that covers Smith, is one of about 50 Medicare Advantage policies offered by insurance companies in North Carolina. These plans, which cover about one in five Medicare recipients, replace traditional Medicare and usually offer additional coverage such as dental, vision or fitness benefits.
But nationally, Medicare Advantage plans are the subject of fierce debate as Congress attempts to craft a health-care reform bill. Supporters say they offer extra benefits that seniors love, and opponents call the average 14 percent extra they cost per recipient a giveaway to insurance companies. State regulators say people with Medicare Advantage insurance have often had problems finding doctors and hospitals to take the coverage. Read more.
Unconfirmed Swine Flu Outbreak on US Navy Ship after Crew Vaccinated
By Stephen Lendman
On September 2, the Pentagon and FDA announced that mandatory Swine Flu vaccinations were ordered for all US military personnel, to be administered as soon as supplies are available. The first getting them are medical staff, crews deployed, and others scheduled to do so. It was expected that one million vaccine doses would be available by September 30 and another 1.7 million during October. Two inoculations will be given, 21 days apart, with family members encouraged to participate.
Though so far unconfirmed, sources believed to be reliable report the following:
- An unnamed US Navy ship with 347 on board deployed in April from San Diego;
Bush officials face possible liability for violation of suspects' rights
Courts let 3 post-9/11 lawsuits try to hold Bush officials personally liable for terror policy
By Mark Sherman, AP | Raw Story
Former Attorney General John Ashcroft and one of his hardline lieutenants face the rare prospect of being held personally liable for alleged violations of individuals' rights in the aggressive aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks.
High-ranking officials usually are protected from such civil rights claims. Not necessarily in these cases.
Three federal courts have left open the possibility that former Bush officials may have to reach into their own pockets to compensate people who were swept up in the law enforcement and intelligence efforts after the Sept. 11 attacks.
In two cases, judges appointed by Republican presidents have refused to dismiss lawsuits at an early stage that were filed against Ashcroft and former Justice Department official John Yoo. One complaint challenges Ashcroft's strategy of preventive detention. The other seeks to hold Yoo accountable for legal memos he wrote supporting detention, interrogation and presidential power.
In a third case, the full federal appeals court in New York is reconsidering an earlier decision by three of its members to toss out a lawsuit by a man who was changing planes in the United States when he was mistaken for a terrorist and sent to Syria, where he claims he was tortured. Read more.
Secret Service Probing Facebook Poll That Asked Whether Obama Should Be Killed
'Should Obama Be Assassinated?' Poll Pulled from Facebook Site
By Pierre Thomas | ABC News
The Secret Service is investigating the origins of a poll that appeared on Facebook that asked whether President Obama should be killed.
Posted over the weekend, the poll was removed by Facebook after the Secret Service received a tip and contacted the company, which was not aware of the survey, sources tell ABC News.
"When the Secret Service became aware of the poll we worked with Facebook to have it taken down and are conducting an investigation," said a spokesman for the Secret Service.
The poll asked: "Should Obama be killed?" The answer choices: "No," "Maybe," "Yes" and "Yes if he cuts my health care."
The Secret Service will be reaching out to the person who developed and posted the poll to determine intent. Read more.
As part of the Huffington Post's efforts to bear witness to the effects of the current economic environment on ordinary Americans, we're rounding up some of the most compelling stories reported by local news organizations around the country.
Monique Zimmerman-Stein has been nearly blind for the last two years from Stickler syndrome, a rare genetic disorder. She recently decided to forego her own treatment to save funds to treat her two daughters, who also suffer from the condition, reports Lane DeGregory of the St. Petersburg Times.
The family is covered under husband Gary's Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan, but that coverage only pays for 80 percent of medical expenses.
She will no longer get treatment to preserve that last slice of light. The injections that might help cost $380 after insurance, and she needs one every six weeks. She could be spending that money on her daughters' care. If forgoing treatment might help them see, she said, "That's a choice any mom would make."
The expensive care has already forced the family out of their home, which was foreclosed, and forced them to sell their furniture and to cash in their life insurance.
Tampabay.com put together the excellent video to accompany the story.
ACLU In Court To Argue For Release Of Torture Documents | Press Release
Government Continues To Withhold Key Documents In ACLU Lawsuit
The American Civil Liberties Union will be in federal court in New York on Wednesday, September 30 for oral arguments in its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit for documents related to the treatment of prisoners in U.S. custody overseas.
The ACLU and its co-counsel will argue for the release of redacted portions of Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) memos describing "enhanced interrogation techniques" authorized for use by the CIA, as well as documents describing the contents of destroyed videotapes depicting CIA interrogations. The government has said it will continue to withhold the documents and portions of documents regarding the Bush administration's torture program despite extensive public knowledge of the program.
The ACLU will also argue for the declassification of three detainees' names that were redacted in the OLC memos.
Arguments in the ACLU FOIA lawsuit for documents related to the treatment of prisoners in U.S. custody overseas, including OLC memos on CIA "enhanced interrogation techniques" and documents related to the contents of destroyed CIA interrogation videotapes
Army Prisoners Isolated, Denied Right to Legal Counsel
By Dahr Jamail | Truthout | Submitted by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com
Afghanistan war resister Travis Bishop has been held largely "incommunicado" in the Northwest Joint Regional Correctional Facility at Fort Lewis, Washington.
Bishop, who is being held by the military as a "prisoner of conscience," according to Amnesty International, was transported to Fort Lewis on September 9 to serve a 12-month sentence in the Regional Correctional Facility. He had refused orders to deploy to Afghanistan based on his religious beliefs, and had filed for Conscientious Objector (CO) status.
Bishop, who served a 13-month deployment to Iraq and was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, was court marshaled by the Army for his refusal to deploy to Afghanistan. Given that he had already filed for CO status, many local observers called his sentencing a "politically driven prosecution."
By holding Bishop incommunicado, the military violated Bishop's legal right to counsel, a violation of the Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution, according to his civil defense attorney James Branum.
The Sixth Amendment is the part of the Bill of Rights that sets forth rights related to criminal prosecutions in federal courts, and reads, "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district where in the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense."
Attorney LeGrande Jones, who practices in Olympia and was designated by Branum as the local counsel for Bishop, was also denied access to Bishop, on the grounds that Jones was on an unnamed and unobtainable "watch-list," which constitutes deprivation of counsel.
Jones was denied entry to Fort Lewis and told he would never be allowed to enter the base. Fort Lewis authorities never gave him a reason for his being denied access to the base and his client. To this, Branum told Truthout, "Fort Lewis authorities have a duty to tell LeGrande the reasons why he is being barred from Fort Lewis, and therefore [barred] from communicating with his client in the Fort Lewis brig."
Until September 18, Bishop's condition was unclear due to his having been completely cut off from the public. Read more.
Coalition Works to Defeat 3 "Health Care" Provisions: "Non-Medical" Care; 1984's "Conscience Clause" & "Abstinence Only" Funds
Sean Faircloth, Executive Director of the Secular Coalition of America wrote:
I write to let you know that the Secular Coalition for America is working to defeat three proposed amendments to the Senate Finance Committee's health care bill that would alter public policy to privilege religious people. These amendments are in some House versions as well.
Of great concern is a bipartisan amendment sponsored by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) that would require private and public health plans to cover all "spiritual care" - whether or not the individual has religous objections to medical care. This proposed funding undermines our Constitution and will open up your tax dollars to scam artists.
This amendment will make an existing problem worse. Religious people who object to medical care already have some "spiritual care" covered by Medicare and Medicaid. This "spiritual care" includes reimbursements for payments that Christian Scientists make to members of the Church who pray for them when they are ill. Numerous children have died while receiving this "spiritual care" when modern science would easily have saved their lives. And you helped pay!
Under the new amendment, all health plans would be obligated to cover such expenses. The Hatch-Kerry bill amendment doesn't stop there, expanding this practice to all Americans, regardless of whether or not they object to medical care. Tax payers would help foot the bill for this religion-based care, care offering no scientific evidence of effectiveness. "Care" which, in fact, endangers lives by placing government approval on non-scientific practices.
The Story of Oybek Jabbarov, An Innocent Man Freed From Guantánamo
By Andy Worthington | AndyWorthington.co.UK
Yesterday I reported that the US government had released three prisoners from Guantánamo, repatriating Alla Ali Bin Ali Ahmed, a Yemeni, and sending two unidentified prisoners — presumed to be Uzbeks — to new homes in Ireland. I suspected that one of the men was Oybek Jabbarov, an Uzbek who was cleared for release from Guantánamo in 2007, but who could not be repatriated because of the well-known human rights abuses in his homeland, and the fact that he had been threatened by Uzbek agents who had been allowed to visit him in Guantánamo.
It has now been confirmed that one of the Uzbeks freed in Ireland is indeed Oybek Jabbarov, and, while I wish him and his unidentified countryman every opportunity to settle into their new home in peace, I want to take this opportunity to reproduce a letter by Jabbarov, sent from Guantánamo last October (PDF), and a statement by his lawyer, delivered to a House Committee last May, to demonstrate how, in contrast to the hyperbolic claims made by Bush administration officials and their supporters, it was disturbingly easy for innocent men like Oybek Jabbarov to end up in Guantánamo.
These men — and there were many hundreds of innocent men in Guantánamo, and many who are still held — were mostly seized by the Americans’ opportunistic allies at a time when bounty payments for “al-Qaeda and Taliban suspects” were widespread, and were then presumed guilty without any screening process by an administration drunk on its own exercise of unfettered executive power, in which everyone who ended up in US custody was an “unlawful enemy combatant” without rights, regardless of whether, like Oybek Jabbarov, they have lost nearly eight years of their lives for nothing more than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Read more.
Obama asserts power to detain suspects without trial
By Tom Eley | WSWS
The Obama administration announced this week that it intends to continue the Bush administration policy of holding terrorism suspects indefinitely without charge or trial.
On Wednesday, the Justice Department said that President Obama may continue to hold “terror suspects” indefinitely and without judicial review based on the congressional Authorization to Use Military Force that came in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington—the same rationale used by Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush.
The move aims to institutionalize the previous administration’s assault on habeas corpus—the bedrock principle of democratic rights and the civil liberties laid down in the US Constitution’s Bill of Rights.
The announcement is a shift from a position Obama outlined in a May 22 speech at the National Archives. There he said he would go to Congress to obtain legislation to carry on the policy of indefinite detention, which he claimed was the only way of dispersing a section of the Guantánamo prison population too “dangerous” to try in civil courts.
In reality, the administration does not want to try these prisoners in normal civilian courts because such trials would expose the use of torture against the defendants, the evidence based on torture would be inadmissible, and civil trials might reveal embarrassing facts about the activities of US intelligence agencies.
“I want to be very clear that our goal is to construct a legitimate legal framework for Guantánamo detainees,” Obama said three months ago. “[G]oing forward, my administration will work with Congress to develop an appropriate legal regime.” Read more.
A cacophony of song birds continues at a pitch even at 11pm. They quiet and then something seems to wake them.
Our rooms are on their courtyard of flowers, grass, fountains, vine drenched archways and relaxing places to enjoy tea. We each have our own monk’s cell with bed, toilet and internet hookup.
Slowly, over 4 hours this morning (Sunday) we became the 9 traveling companions—Pink Sisters—because Paul the only male, wanted to call us either moms (we are all old enough to qualify) or sisters and we leapt at the latter. We gathered at the boarding gate and introduced ourselves, expressed our fears and our desires, barely noticing that the plane was about 2 hours late by the time we finished. We almost had the plane to ourselves, except some interesting men coming to do their work. The most macho New Zealander with a company that transports dangerous materials was freaked to be going to Kabul and even after our arrival was hyper-ventilating with panic. Then there was the Christian social worker, who had no fear even with a fatwa out on him and his wife for building schools for girls. Another was a very buff young man who worked in some form of security. The ride was a bit bumpy as we neared Kabul and dropped below the clouds to the dusty broken down city.
We won’t get a clean breath until we are back in Dubai. Every breath is full of dust, ash, smells and pain. Read more.
A Constitutional Debate Over a Health Care Mandate
By Katharine Q. Seelye | NY Times
Still others have questioned how the mandate would work and suggested that a government-run insurance plan, including a single-payer system, or a system of tax subsidies could be “more efficient in containing costs and avoid the slippery slope of unconstitutional mandates.”
The Congressional Research Service recently grappled with the legal underpinnings of an individual mandate and concluded that Congress “may have” the power to enact a mandate “as part of its taxing and spending power or its power to regulate interstate commerce.”
Still, it sees potential pitfalls, noting: “Whether such a requirement would be constitutional under the commerce clause is perhaps the most challenging question posed by such a proposal, as it is a novel issue whether Congress may use this clause to require an individual to purchase a good or service.”
If the individual mandate were found to be unconstitutional, the health care overhaul as it is now structured by many committees in Congress would almost certainly collapse.
The requirement that everyone buy health insurance moved a step closer to reality last week — and possibly a step closer to being challenged in court.
Conservatives and libertarians, mostly, have been advancing the theory lately that the individual mandate, in which the government would compel everyone to buy insurance or pay a penalty, is unconstitutional.
“I think an individual mandate will pass, and I think it’s going to be very vulnerable because it exceeds Congress’s constitutional authority,” said David Rivkin, a lawyer who served in the Justice Department under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush. Mr. Rivkin spelled out his argument in a recent op-ed article in The Wall Street Journal that he co-wrote.
“If you say the government can mandate your behavior as far as this type of insurance goes,” he said, “there will be nothing the government can’t do. They can control every single way in which you dispose of your income.” Read more.
NLG Observes Improper Use of Force by Law Enforcement at the G-20 | Press Release
PITTSBURGH, PA - September 25 - National Lawyers Guild members witnessed first-hand yesterday the unwarranted display and use of force by police in residential neighborhoods, often far from any protest activity.
Police deployed chemical irritants, including CS gas, and long-range acoustic devices (LRAD) in residential neighborhoods on narrow streets where families and small children were exposed. Scores of riot police formed barricades at many intersections throughout neighborhoods miles away from the downtown area and the David Lawrence Convention Center. Outside the Courtyard Marriott in Shadyside, police deployed smoke bombs in the absence of protest activity, forcing bystanders and hotel residents to flee the area.
John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods has argued that American workers do not deserve a health care system. We believe that heath care should be affordable for everyone, not just rich people. So Mr. Mackey, this video is for you!
On August 30, at “Beyond Guantánamo,” an event organized by Cageprisoners, the British resident Binyam Mohamed, who was subjected to “extraordinary rendition” and torture, and was finally released from Guantánamo in February this year, after nearly seven years in US custody, spoke for the first time in public. Binyam talked about Shaker Aamer, the British resident who is still held in Guantánamo, the establishment of the Guantánamo Justice Centre (which I covered here), and the conditions in Guantánamo, and he also urged those in the audience to look inside themselves to discover what they might be able to give to the campaign against injustice. A video of his talk is available above.
Other speakers, whose talks were also recorded (and can be found on the Cageprisoners site here) include former prisoner Sami al-Haj (El-Hajj), speaking about a number of current and former prisoners (with former prisoner Bisher al-Rawi translating), former Guantánamo guard and Muslim convert Terry Holdbrooks, Ahmed Ghappour (an attorney with Reprieve), journalist Yvonne Ridley, and the poet Amir Sulaiman, reading from the book Poems From Guantánamo. Also included is a recitation by former Guantánamo prisoner Moussa Zemmouri. Read more.
One Year After Her Family Died In U.S. Airstrike, Seven-Year-Old Afghan Girl Lives In Constant Fear
By Mustafa Saber, Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Alternet
On the night of August 22, 2008, Zahra's father, mother, sister and two brothers were killed by American bombs. This is her life now.
Seven-year-old Zahra looks like a typical Afghan girl in her traditional long dress and scarf, her short black hair peeking out from her head covering. She sticks close to home, seldom venturing far from her house. But it is not tradition that keeps her home but fear.
On the night of August 22 2008, all of Zahra's immediate family was killed by American bombs. In pursuit of Taliban commander Mullah Siddiq, United States Special Forces and the Afghan army launched an airstrike on the village of Azizabad in Shindand district of Herat. An investigation by the United Nations said that 90 people, 60 children and 30 adults, died.
The American military initially denied that any civilians were harmed in the attack. Only after prolonged pressure, in October of last year, did they acknowledge that the strike killed 33 civilians.
Zahra's father, mother, sister and two brothers died that night. She is the only survivor, together with her grandmother, Maryam, known in the village as Pori. One year later the two traumatized females, one seven years old the other 75, are still living in Azizabad, in a small, dirty, three-room house donated to them by a kind-hearted neighbor. Read more.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation was founded in 2005 by Mikey Weinstein, a U.S. Air Force Academy graduate and Reagan administration White House counsel, after the harassment his own sons faced as Jewish cadets at the academy led him to discover that the fundamentalist Christian takeover of the Air Force Academy was far from an isolated problem.
It was a militarywide issue that needed to be confronted head on. But it quickly became apparent that MRFF's initial mission of protecting the rights of our men and women in uniform was only addressing part of the problem.
The evangelizing and proselytizing of Iraqi and Afghan Muslims by private religious organizations and U.S. military personnel also had to be exposed and stopped -- particularly the materials and media available via the Internet and television that could be used by Islamic extremists as propaganda for recruiting purposes....
Top Ten Ways to Convince the Muslims We're On a Crusade
10. Have top U.S. military officers, Defense Department officials and politicians say we're in a religious war.
9. Have top U.S. military officers appear in a video showing just how Christian the Pentagon is.
8. Plant crosses in Muslim lands and make sure they're big enough to be visible from really far away.
7. Paint crosses and Christian messages on military vehicles and drive them through Iraq. Read more.
Michael Munk was struck by Burl Ross' Letter to the Editor in the Oregonian satirizing the current political climate in which the content of the Pledge of Allegiance seems almost a historical aberration. Below the Letter is Dr. Baer's Short History of the Pledge of Allegiance.
About that Socialist pledge | The Oregonian
In Letters to the editor
September 24, 2009, 8:00PM
Our schoolchildren should never be instructed by their teachers to quote Socialist propaganda -- even to repeat the eloquent words of President Barack Obama.
Imagine an America where classrooms of indoctrinated young students would be directed to stand together every morning, place their hands over their hearts and recite the liberal proclamations of those like avowed Socialist Francis Bellamy, who wrote, in 1892, "I pledge allegiance to my flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
Not in this America...
The Pledge of Allegiance
A Short History
by Dr. John W. Baer
Francis Bellamy (1855 - 1931), a Baptist minister, wrote the original Pledge in August 1892. He was a Christian Socialist. In his Pledge, he is expressing the ideas of his first cousin, Edward Bellamy, author of the American socialist utopian novels, Looking Backward (1888) and Equality (1897).
Francis Bellamy in his sermons and lectures and Edward Bellamy in his novels and articles described in detail how the middle class could create a planned economy with political, social and economic equality for all. The government would run a peace time economy similar to our present military industrial complex.
Excerpt from Daily Kos blog:
In Snowe's trigger amendment, if affordable coverage is not available for 95% of a state's residents, then you get a public option in that state. While there are issues with state-based public health insurance options, the catch-22 comes with Snowe's definition of affordability.
Affordable is defined as 13% of income. So, if there is no plan in the exchange that costs less than 13% of a person's income, we'd get a public health insurance option. But that calculation of what a plan costs is made after the government pays out subsidies or employers pay their share. And therein lies the catch-22.
Max Baucus's bill caps out-of-pocket costs for people buying insurance in the exchange at 12% of their income. Therefore, after you add in government subsidies, costs will legally always have to be below 12%. The insurance industry can raise their rates as much as they want and government will make up the difference. The trigger, if passed, will never trigger. Not ever.
Meanwhile, Ezra Klein at the Washington Post writes that a "public plan based on Medicare rates would save $110 billion over 10 years. That is $20 billion more than earlier estimates, a spokesman for House Speaker Pelosi said. In other words, the conservatives want to spend $85 billion more than the liberals do. Moreover, the CBO is estimating savings to the government. That is to say, the $85 billion reflects reduced federal spending on subsidies because premiums in the public plan will be lower. Savings to individuals and businesses paying lower premiums will be much larger than $85 billion, and politically, much more important."
~Chip's comment: The trigger is all smoke and mirrors marketed by lobbyists to corporate-fed lawmakers. All the more reason for single-payer, Medicare for all. Support H.R. 646/S.707 and the Kucinich amendment.
A major complaint surfaced immediately — that the Bush administration had not established a consolidated repository of intelligence and evidence on each prisoner. It took longer than expected to build such a database, the officials said, because information was scattered throughout agencies and inconsistent.
That database has now been completed, and prosecutors have also concluded their initial review of the detainees and recommended to the Justice Department an unspecified number who appear eligible for prosecution, the officials told the AP. The Justice Department and the Pentagon now will work together to determine which prisoners should be tried in military courts and which in civilian ones, the officials said. They would not provide a number recommended for prosecution since it could change.
The decision on which prisoners will be prosecuted had been expected by Nov. 16, and the officials said they are on track to meet that goal. Navy Capt. John F. Murphy, the chief military prosecutor, had said previously that about 65 cases are viable for prosecution....The officials noted that the U.S. prison system already holds 216 people convicted as international terrorists.
Another front in the effort to close the prison is the problem of finding countries willing to take in those detainees deemed eligible for release. The administration so far has transferred 14 prisoners to other countries, the officials said.
The White House acknowledged for the first time Friday that it might not be able to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay by January as President Barack Obama has promised.
Senior administration officials told The Associated Press that difficulties in completing the lengthy review of detainee files and resolving thorny legal and logistical questions mean the president's self-imposed January deadline may slip. Obama remains as committed to closing the facility as he was when, as one of his first acts in office, he pledged to shut it down, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to more freely discuss the sensitive issue. They said the White House still was hoping to meet the deadline through a stepped-up effort. Read more.
Pointing to experience at the state level, the insurance industry and other health-care experts persuaded Obama that insurers could not go along with a guanteed issue policy without knowing that all adults would be forced into the system.
Insurers say that if you have guaranteed issue -- which means no discrimination on the basis of pre-existing conditions -- without an individual mandate, people will wait until they become sick to buy insurance and the system will fail due to a lack of risk sharing.
The debate over whether the federal government should require all Americans to carry health insurance is heating up.
The latest spark is a letter that Thomas Barthold, the chief of staff to the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, sent Thursday to Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev.
Given that the health-care bill written by Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus contains a $1,900 fee (or excise tax) for not buying health insurance, Ensign wanted to know what would happen if an American didn't pay the penalty.
In a handwritten letter, Barthold told Ensign that under an existing provision of the Internal Revenue Code, willful failure to pay a fine can result in being charged with a misdemeanor which could carry a penalty of up to $25,000, or up to a year in jail, or both. The handwritten letter was a follow-up to an answer that Barthold gave Ensign during Thursday's mark-up of the Baucus bill. Read more.
The portion of this video with Dr. Hochfeld was previously posted, but in this video Ed goes into considerable detail about the health care debate and the Obama administration's leadership on it. Well-worth a second look...