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Shocker: Covering Adult Children Will Raise Premiums

Via AP:
WASHINGTON – Letting young adults stay on their parents’ health insurance until they turn 26 will nudge premiums nearly 1 percent higher for employer plans, the government said in an estimate released Monday. The coverage requirement, effective starting later this year, is one of the most anticipated early benefits of President Barack Obama’s new health care law. Many insurers have already started offering extended coverage to families who purchase their coverage directly. And employers say parents have flooded their benefits departments with questions. The Health and Human Services Department released estimates of the costs and benefits of the requirement as part of a regulation directing employers and insurers how to carry it out. The new benefit will cost $3,380 for each dependent, raising premiums by 0.7 percent in 2011 for employer plans, according to the department’s mid-range estimate. Some 1.2 million young adults are expected to sign up, more than half of whom would have been uninsured.
Who could have seen this one coming? - Greg Pollowitz

Fact-Checking Sen. Cornyn On Elena Kagan: TRUE

Via PolitiFact:
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, the junior senator from Texas, urged the Senate to thoroughly review Kagan’s record — and aired his trepidations about it. [...] “There is no doubt that Ms. Kagan possesses a first-rate intellect, but she is a surprising choice from a president who has emphasized the importance of understanding ‘how the world works and how ordinary people live,’ ” Cornyn said in a May 10, 2010, press release. “Ms. Kagan has spent her entire professional career in Harvard Square, Hyde Park and the D.C. Beltway. These are not places where one learns ‘how ordinary people live.’ ” [...] But it’s fair to say that Kagan has spent the bulk of her professional career in academia at the University of Chicago and Harvard Law School, and at various positions inside the Beltway. Again, whether that puts Kagan out of touch with “how ordinary people live,” is a political discussion. But Cornyn’s claim that Kagan “has spent her entire professional career in Harvard Square, Hyde Park and the D.C. Beltway” is True.
But honestly, they're fact-checking this? - Greg Pollowitz
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Fannie Mae Wants $8.4 Billion More

Via Fox Business News:
Mortgage giant Fannie Mae (FNM: 1.0675, 0.0475, 4.66%) bled another $13.1 billion during the first quarter, prompting the U.S.-owned company to request another $8.4 billion cash infusion from the Treasury Department. Fannie Mae, which was placed into conservatorship in 2008 amid enormous mortgage losses, said it lost $13.1 billion, or $2.29 a share, last quarter, compared with a loss of $16.3 billion, or $2.87 a share, during the fourth quarter of 2009. The company blamed the heavy losses on credit-related expenses that remain “at elevated levels” due to weakness in the U.S. economy and the housing market. “In the first quarter we continued to serve as a leading source of liquidity to the mortgage market, and we made solid progress in our ongoing efforts to keep people in their homes,” CEO Mike Williams said in a statement. Fannie said it purchased or guaranteed about $191.4 billion in loans during the first quarter and completed 94,000 loan modifications. The company said its purchases and guarantees financed about 516,000 conventional single-family loans and about 61,000 multifamily units.
More debt! - Greg Pollowitz

Paging Mark Steyn: Canada Won’t Investigate Huge Mortgage Fraud Case With Ties To Mideast

Via CBC News:
RCMP and the Calgary police have told the Bank of Montreal they won’t investigate what could be the biggest mortgage fraud in Canadian history, CBC News has learned. Both police forces stated last week they were reviewing the voluminous case — more than 35,000 documents — assembled by the bank’s investigators to see if a criminal investigation was warranted. But sources have told the CBC that top investigators from both forces recently met with the bank and told it they were not interested in pursuing a criminal investigation. In an email Sunday, the bank’s Calgary lawyer, Munaf Mohamed, declined comment. The lack of police response does not surprise former RCMP officer Chris Mathers, who said police forces simply can’t tackle alleged frauds of this magnitude. “There just aren’t enough police officers to investigate these crimes,” said Mathers, a Toronto-based corporate crime consultant. Mathers said fraud is rampant in Canada and police forces are already swamped.
The money wired to Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Dubai and Lebanon doesn't raise any red flags? - Greg Pollowitz

Science: The Hangover Molecule Has Been Discovered

Via Live Science:
Scientists have discovered the molecule in the brain that leads to hangovers. The neuropeptide, a brain-signalling molecule, is believed to cause the body to experience withdrawal symptoms as the brain tries to adapt to different intoxication levels. The neuroscientists from the University of Southampton’s School of Biological Sciences studied the simple brains of C. elegans worms, which have a makeup similar enough to the human brain when intoxicated or dependent on alcohol. What they found was striking. Basically, when a worm brain (similarly, a human brain) is exposed to drinking over a long period of time, it becomes accustomed to certain intoxication levels. The brain experiences a series of withdrawal symptoms when the drinking stops. Typically, these hangover symptoms can include anxiety and agitation, even seizures. “This research showed the worms displaying effects of the withdrawal of alcohol and enables us to define how alcohol affects signalling in nerve circuits which leads to changes in behavior,” said professor Lindy Holden-Dye, a neuroscientist of the University’s School of Biological Sciences and member of Southampton Neurosciences Group (SoNG), who led the study.
Ironically, the study also seems to verify that "hair of the dog" is an effective cure for the hangover, with the pesky side effect of increasing alcohol dependency, however. - Greg Pollowitz
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False Alarm In Pakistan? Vibrating Shoes Or Bomb Components?

Via Reuters:
KARACHI (Reuters) – A Pakistani man arrested at Karachi airport with batteries and electrical circuits in his shoes was likely wearing “therapy shoes” and his detention could be a false alarm, officials said on Monday. The man, identified as Faiz Mohammad, 30, was about to board a Thai Airways flight to Muscat late on Sunday when the devices were found during a routine security check. He was not carrying any explosives nor were any other suspicious items found on him or in his luggage, an airport security official said. Senior police investigator Niaz Khoso said the suspect had told the police that the shoes were used for massage. “We have seen such shoes for the first time and have sent them for analysis to verify his claims,” Khoso told Reuters. “To be honest, we did not know that such shoes are available in the market but we are checking. We have not released him yet but if he is found innocent, we will let him go for sure,” he said. Mohammad was wearing the “Good Vibrations” shoes, described on a website as “designed to massage away the aches and pains throughout the day rather than after the damage is done.”
I vote "false alarm." - Greg Pollowitz

Ooops: Bomb Squad Blows Up ‘Suspicious Donation’ At Church; Destroys $2500 In Cash

Via Orlando Sentinel:
Here’s how suspicious we’ve become in the post- 9/11 world. A cardboard box left at a church near Lake Mary caused the closure of Markham Woods Road while a bomb squad X-rayed it and then blew it up. The note on the 40-pound bundle said, simply, “For Pastor Nick.” In the old days, someone would have taken it inside and opened it. But a church member who found the package on the doorstep about 11 a.m. today thought the corrugated box secured with duct tape might be dangerous. He drove it from Master’s Touch International Church, 555 Markham Woods Road, to a nearby fire station to have it checked out. The Seminole County Sheriff’s Office bomb squad couldn’t figure out what was inside even after the box was X-rayed. So, deputies blew it up. “It didn’t look normal,” sheriff’s spokeswoman Kim Cannaday said. “That’s all we knew.” The result: More than $2,500 in paper money was turned into confetti. Four hundred ninety-eight rolled silver dollars remained intact, Cannaday said. The church won’t be out any money, though, because the U.S. Treasury will replaced damaged paper money, she said.
Wait a minute: the person, who thought it might be a bomb, picked it up and put it in their car? - Greg Pollowitz

DCCC Says ‘Aloha’ To The HI-01

Via Weekly Standard:
Fighting within the party over two Democrats on the ballot —former Rep. Ed Case and state senator Colleen Hanabusa— has led national Democrats to abandon the race, “effectively ceding the race to Republicans and likely setting the party up for what could be their first special election loss of the cycle.”
In this case, "Aloha" translates as "see you in November instead." - Greg Pollowitz

How The Senate Voted: Kagan Confirmed As Solicitor General 61 - 31

Via US Senate:
NAYs —31 Alexander (R-TN) Barrasso (R-WY) Bennett (R-UT) Bond (R-MO) Brownback (R-KS) Bunning (R-KY) Burr (R-NC) Chambliss (R-GA) Corker (R-TN) Cornyn (R-TX) Crapo (R-ID) DeMint (R-SC) Enzi (R-WY) Grassley (R-IA) Hutchison (R-TX) Inhofe (R-OK) Isakson (R-GA) Johanns (R-NE) Martinez (R-FL) McCain (R-AZ) McConnell (R-KY) Murkowski (R-AK) Risch (R-ID) Roberts (R-KS) Sessions (R-AL) Shelby (R-AL) Specter (R-PA) Thune (R-SD) Vitter (R-LA) Voinovich (R-OH) Wicker (R-MS)
Filibuster proof? - Greg Pollowitz

Reverse Panic: Dem Prospects In The Senate Getting Better

Via Public Policy Polling:
There haven’t been a lot of good weeks on the Senate election front for Democrats so far in 2010, but they have received good news on their chances of picking up five different Republican held Senate seats this week: -In Arizona there have been two polls now showing John McCain under 50% against Rodney Glassman. J.D. Hayworth continues to be competitive among Republican primary voters against McCain, and it appears a Hayworth-Glassman contest would be a total tossup. -In Iowa Research 2000 showed Charles Grassley only up single digits against Roxanne Conlin, and although Rasmussen has Grassley up by 13 that’s a far cry from January when they showed him leading her by 28 points. -In Kentucky we found both Jack Conway and Dan Mongiardo within the margin of error against Rand Paul, who all independent public polling continues to show with a double digit lead. -In North Carolina, Rasmussen showed Elaine Marshall improving her standing against Richard Burr by ten points in just two and a half weeks and Cal Cunningham with a nine point movement in his. If we find anywhere near that much momentum for Marshall and Cunningham on our North Carolina poll this weekend then we’ll find each of them almost tied with Burr for the first time. -In Ohio Quinnipiac and Rasmussen now both show Lee Fisher ahead of Rob Portman, and in the case of Rasmussen that’s a six point improvement for Fisher over the last month. Even if his primary victory wasn’t exactly overwhelming, his standing’s improved.
Ooohf. - Greg Pollowitz

Help Wanted: Who Wants To Be A Hangman In India?

Via Telegraph:
Rush of applicants for hangman job to execute Mumbai attacker: The ‘honour’ and status of being known as the man who executed the most notorious terrorist in India’s history, the Mumbai attacker Ajmal Amir Kasab, has attracted a rush of new applicants for the job as hangman. Kasab was convicted on 86 counts of waging war on India, terrorism and joint responsibility for more than 50 murders in an attack in which a total of 166 were killed. There have been calls for his death sentence to be carried out speedily and for any appeal to be fast-tracked, but hopes of a swift execution have been hindered by India’s lack of a single working hangman.
Well, at least we're not at the point yet where such a job is a prize offered on a reality show of some sort, but I do wonder what type of post-hanging benefits this will bring the "lucky" winner? A book deal? Endorsements? - Greg Pollowitz

Kagan’s Problem With Diversity Hiring At Harvard

Via Salon:
Like everyone in the legal academy over the last decade, we have watched with admiration the amazing changes that Elena Kagan brought to Harvard Law School. A fractured faculty, divided among ideological lines, seemed finally content, if not united. A boisterous student body was finally pacified. The logjam that had stopped faculty hiring had burst. Indeed, she hired so many new faculty the Harvard Law School’s newspaper’s 2008 April Fool’s issue declared, “Dean Kagan Hires Every Law Professor in the Country.” The first woman Dean of Harvard Law School had presided over an unprecedented expansion of the faculty — growing it by almost a half. She had hired 32 tenured and tenure-track academic faculty members (non-clinical, non-practice). But when we sat down to review the actual record, we were frankly shocked. Not only were there shockingly few people of color, there were very few women. Where were the people of color? Where were the women? Of these 32 tenured and tenure-track academic hires, only one was a minority. Of these 32, only seven were women. All this in the 21st Century. One of us aired some of these concerns, which we expressed in a joint letter to the White House, on a blog. The White House never responded directly to us, but it did provide a defense of the Solicitor General’s record to concerned civil rights groups, who then made the document public. (Salon obtained a copy, which can be found here.) We are glad that the White House has responded to some of the questions that we have raised.
If this were a Bush nominee, can you imagine the OUTRAGE? - Greg Pollowitz

What’s A Trillion Dollars Between Friends EU Member States?

Via FT:
Markets rally on €750bn EU bail-out. European stock markets staged their strongest recovery on Monday since the US government stepped in to rescue Citigroup in November 2008, while sovereign bonds of the eurozone’s most heavily indebted nations staged their biggest one-day rally since the launch of the euro over 11 years ago. The Eurofirst 300 rallied 6.3 per cent with the FTSE 100 up 5 per cent, sending the UK stock market index almost back into positive territory for the year to date. Banks led the gainers with European financials up 13 per cent and France’s Société Générale , the continent’s second highest riser, up 24.1 per cent.
Yes, but will it work. . . - Greg Pollowitz

China. Not. Awesome. A Baby Born Each Hour With Syphilis

Via AP:
Every hour a baby is born in China with syphilis, as the world’s fastest-growing epidemic of the disease is fueled by men with new money from the nation’s booming economy, researchers say. The easy-to-cure bacterial infection, which was nearly wiped out in China five decades ago, is now the most commonly reported sexually transmitted disease in its largest city, Shanghai. Prostitutes along with gay and bisexual men, many of whom are married with families, are driving the epidemic, according to a commentary published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine. The increase reflects the country’s staggering economic growth, providing both businessmen and migrant laborers more cash and opportunity to pay for unsafe sex while away from home.
Paging Tom Friedman. (Update: Headline corrected from "A Baby Born Each Minute. . .") - Greg Pollowitz

Eric Holder: Hey, Let’s Change Miranda

Via AP:
WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric Holder says he is discussing with Congress possible modifications in the law where police are required to inform suspects of the right to remain silent. The administration has been criticized for reading Miranda rights to the suspect in the Times Square bombing attempt and to the suspect in the Christmas Day attempt to blow up an airliner over Detroit. Holder, speaking Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” said both suspects continued to talk to law enforcement after the Miranda warnings. But he said the administration needs to consider at least modifying the public safety exception for reading a suspect his rights to ensure law enforcement can act with flexibility and within constitutional bounds.
Change we can believe in. - Greg Pollowitz

Eric Holder: Pakistani Taliban Behind Times Square Plot

Via New York Times:
More firmly and publicly than before, senior officials of the Obama administration on Sunday blamed the failed attempt to blow up a bomb in Times Square on the Pakistani Taliban, an accusation that should increase pressure on the Pakistan military to attack the organization in its bastions in the lawless tribal region of North Waziristan. “We’ve now developed evidence that shows the Pakistani Taliban was behind the attack,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in an interview on ABC television’s news program “This Week.” Later, appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” he said the Taliban in Pakistan “directed this plot” and may have also financed it. The Pakistani Taliban, he said, was “intimately involved” in the attempt on May 1 by Faisal Shahzad, an American citizen of Pakistani descent, to blow up gasoline and propane tanks secreted inside a Nissan Pathfinder parked on West 45th Street just yards from the heart of Times Square. John Brennan, President Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser, echoed Mr. Holder’s statements Sunday morning, saying that it appeared that Mr. Shahzad, a resident of Bridgeport, Conn., who spent five months in Pakistan until February, was working for Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP. The TTP is believed by some military intelligence officials to have joined forces with Al Qaeda and may be hiding some of its senior leaders, including Osama bin Laden, who was the motivating force behind the 9/11 attack.
Wow. Didn't see that one coming. . . - Greg Pollowitz

Who’s Ready For Another ‘Planet Of The Apes’ Movie?

Via Variety:
Twentieth Century Fox will release contemporary origins pic “Rise of the Apes” on June 24, 2011, looking to re-energize and introduce a new generation to the classic “Planet of the Apes” franchise. Chernin Entertainment is producing the prequel, with Rupert Wyatt (“The Escapist”) confirmed to direct. Project reteams Fox and Peter Jackson’s WETA Digital, which will use technologies developed for “Avatar” to render photo-real apes. It’s the first pic in the franchise that won’t use costumed actors. Producers are Chernin Entertainment’s Peter Chernin and Dylan Clark, along with Silver and Jaffa. Amanda Silver and Rick Jaffa penned the script. “Rise of the Apes,” set in present-day San Francisco, is a cautionary tale about experiments with genetic engineering. In the movie, those experiments lead to the development of intelligence in apes, and the onset of a war for supremacy.
Probably in 3D, too. - Greg Pollowitz

All Tied Up In Sestak vs. Specter

Via The Morning Call:
Looks Like Those Bush Ads Worked. Snarlen and Joe Sestak are in a statistical dead heat in this morning’s Morning Call/Muhlenberg College tracking poll. The two Democrats are at 43 percent each in the poll of 410 likely primary voters, with 13 percent undecided. Just yesterday, Specter held a 45-40 percent lead, with 14 percent undecided. Yesterday, Sestak began airing an advertisement linking Specter to former Prez George Bush and, worse for Dems, Sarah Palin. Looks like there was some penetration there.
Ha! The video (with poor audio for some reason) is at the link above. Not only did Sestak link Specter to Bush, but to Palin as well. - Greg Pollowitz

More On Those ‘Courageous Restraint’ Medals

Via Washington Examiner:
A proposal to grant medals for “courageous restraint” to troops in Afghanistan who avoid deadly force at a risk to themselves has generated concern among U.S. soldiers and experts who worry it could embolden enemy fighters and confuse friendly forces. Lt. Col. Edward Sholtis, a spokesman for Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who commands NATO forces in Afghanistan, said that no final decision has been made on the award, which is the brainchild of British Maj. Gen. Nick Carter. “The idea is being reviewed at Headquarters ISAF,” Sholtis said. “The idea is consistent with our approach. Our young men and women display remarkable courage every day, including situations where they refrain from using lethal force, even at risk to themselves, in order to prevent possible harm to civilians. … That restraint is an act of discipline and courage not much different than those seen in combat actions.” However, professor Jeffrey F. Addicott, a former senior legal adviser to the Green Berets and director of the Center for Terrorism Law at St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio, said “It’s an absolutely outrageous proposal to our fighting men. “The implication of this award is that we do not engage in war fighting that is appropriate,” Addicott said. “They’re sending a chilling message to our troops that we are not complying with the law of armed conflict. It’s a propaganda victory for our enemies.”
Thanks for all the comments on the previous post. Any new thoughts? - Greg Pollowitz

Rapist Enters Court Similing, Leaves In Tears

Via NY Daily News:
He walked in smiling and left crying. A bawling rapist turned on the waterworks Thursday, begging for forgiveness and claiming he’d turned over a new leaf. But Kevin Rios’ blubbering didn’t sway the judge, who slapped him with a 12-year sentence for the May 2006 gunpoint attack on a prostitute. “This was a crime of extreme violence and cowardice committed against a defenseless victim,” said Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Thomas Farber. Rios and another man robbed and raped a 30-year-old hooker – who testified about how he bragged he would never get caught because she was a woman “nobody cared about.” He came into the courtroom smiling and nodded to his mom but began sobbing as he offered an apology of sorts. “I don’t know what I’d do if that was my sister,” Rios said. He wailed to the court about his “loving and supportive family.” “I also wish to help others,” Rios said through his tears, claiming he someday hopes to help kids and work in a clothing store. Prosecutors laid into Rios, labeling him a conniving sicko who didn’t see his prey as “a legitimate victim” because she worked the streets.
Ah, poor baby. Hope the next 12 years of your miserable life are as tear-filled. - Greg Pollowitz

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