Archive for the ‘Media Slant’ Category

Suspect in Attack on AZ Congresswoman Acted Alone   Leave a comment

Well, I wasn’t sure where to start today, but this event is definitely a glaring place to start!

Suspect in attack on Congresswoman acted alone.

Okay, first of all, I hope this poor woman comes out of this okay! What a tragedy! No reason one can give can condone this kind of act, I don’t care who the target is. And to have innocent people get caught in the crossfire only makes it worse. It is amazing, though, that she has so far survived her attack. Being shot in the head is obviously no minor matter.

However, what is scary about this attack isn’t so much that a single person lost it and shot a congresswoman and random people in a crowd–that doesn’t happen often enough to concern me really–but it’s all the ramifications that are going to come out of this. Already I see it coming through the liberal media, all the contemplating of what could have driven this man to kill those people and to target a congressperson! Interestingly I did not find a single mention of her political leanings, which was democrat, so I am not sure yet if that was done on purpose on not. I need to read more about this.

Suspect in attack on congresswoman acted alone

AP/Chris Carlson
Well-wishers gather outside the offices of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., during a candlelight vigil for Giffords in Tucson, Ariz., Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011.

Emergency personnel attend to a shooting victim  outside a shopping center in Tucson, Ariz. on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011 where U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffor 

AP – Emergency personnel attend to a shooting victim outside a shopping center in Tucson, Ariz. on Saturday, …
By PAULINE ARRILLAGA and AMANDA LEE MYERS, Associated Press Pauline Arrillaga And Amanda Lee Myers, Associated Press 58 mins ago

TUCSON, Ariz. – Federal prosecutors brought charges Sunday against the gunman accused of attempting to assassinate Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and killing six people at a political event in Arizona.

Investigators said they carried out a search warrant at Jared Loughner’s home and seized an envelope from a safe with messages such as “I planned ahead,” “My assassination” and the name “Giffords” next to what appears to be the man’s signature. He allegedly purchased the Glock pistol used in the attack in November at Sportsman’s Warehouse in Tucson.

Court documents also show that Loughner had contact with Giffords in the past. Other evidence included a letter addressed to him from Giffords’ congressional stationery in which she thanked him for attending a “Congress on your Corner” event at a mall in Tucson in 2007.

Heather Williams, the first assistant federal public defender in Arizona, says the 22-year-old suspect doesn’t yet have a lawyer, but that her office is working to get one appointed. Williams’ office is asking for an outside attorney because one of those killed was U.S. District Judge John M. Roll.

Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said Sunday that Loughner acted alone.


AFP/Getty Images/John Moore

Meanwhile, authorities released 911 calls in which a person witnessing the mass shooting outside a grocery store in Tucson describes a frantic scene and says, “I do believe Gabby Giffords was hit.”

Loughner fired at Giffords’ district director and shot indiscriminately at staffers and others standing in line to talk to the congresswoman, said Mark Kimble, a communications staffer for Giffords.

“He was not more than three or four feet from the congresswoman and the district director,” Kimble said, describing the scene as “just complete chaos, people screaming, crying.”

Map

Loughner is accused of killing six people, including an aide to Giffords and a 9-year-old girl who was born on Sept. 11, 2001. Fourteen others were wounded. Authorities don’t know Loughner’s motive, but said he targeted Giffords at a public gathering around 10 a.m. Saturday.

Doctors treating the lawmaker provided an optimistic update about her chances for survival, saying they are “very, very encouraged” by her ability to respond to simple commands along with their success in controlling her bleeding.

Mourners crammed into the tiny sanctuary of Giffords’ synagogue in Tucson to pray that she quickly recovered. Outside the hospital, candles flickered at a makeshift memorial. Signs read “Peace + love are stronger,” “God bless America and “We love you, Gabrielle.” People also laid down bouquets of flowers, American flags and pictures of Giffords.

One of the victims was Christina Taylor Green, who was a member of the student council at her local school and went to the event because of her interest in government. She is the granddaughter of former Philadelphia Phillies manager Dallas Green.

She was born on 9/11 and featured in a book called “Faces of Hope” that chronicled one baby from each state born on the day terrorists killed nearly 3,000 people.

Aw, poor kid! Ironic that she should have been born on 9/11. Hopefully this act won’t be associated with 9/11 now like on a subliminal level…

The fact that Christina’s life ended in tragedy was especially tragic to those who knew her. “Tragedy seems to have happened again,” said the author of the book, Christine Naman. “In the form of this awful event.”

Authorities said the dead included Roll; Green; Giffords aide Gabe Zimmerman, 30; Dorothy Morris, 76; Dorwin Stoddard, 76; and Phyllis Schneck, 79. Judge Roll had just stopped by to see his friend Giffords after attending Mass.

An unidentified man who authorities earlier said might have acted as an accomplice was cleared Sunday of any involvement. Pima County sheriff’s deputy Jason Ogan told The Associated Press on Sunday that the man was a cab driver who drove the gunman to the grocery store outside of which the shooting occurred.

In one of several YouTube videos, which featured text against a dark background, Loughner described inventing a new U.S. currency and complained about the illiteracy rate among people living in Giffords’ congressional district in Arizona.

“I know who’s listening: Government Officials, and the People,” Loughner wrote. “Nearly all the people, who don’t know this accurate information of a new currency, aren’t aware of mind control and brainwash methods. If I have my civil rights, then this message wouldn’t have happen (sic).”

In Loughner’s middle-class neighborhood — about a five-minute drive from the scene — sheriff’s deputies had much of the street blocked off. The neighborhood sits just off a bustling Tucson street and is lined with desert landscaping and palm trees.

Neighbors said Loughner lived with his parents and kept to himself. He was often seen walking his dog, almost always wearing a hooded sweat shirt and listening to his iPod.

Why is the fact that he wore hooded sweatshirts and listened to iPod important? Just curious…I mean, considering that Homeland Security is making a big push to put telescreens in like Wal-Mart and whatnot telling people to report suspicious behavior, is this going to be it now? I am not sure why that stood out to me but I just thought I should comment on it.

The assassination attempt left Americans questioning whether divisive politics had pushed the suspect over the edge.

Really? Or is that what government wants us to start thinking about. That was not what I thought of when I first heard about this taking place. Interesting that it occurred in Arizona where we have already seen intense political debate taking place–mainly about illegal immigration–and I am shocked that this did not happen in the name of that charged issue, but I tell you, that is not what I thought of at all. I’m not so much into conspiracy theories, but that statement of assumption does not sit right with me.

Giffords faced frequent backlash from the right over her support of the health care reform last year, and had her office vandalized the day the House approved the landmark measure.

Dupnik lashed out at what he called an excessively “vitriolic” atmosphere in the months leading up to the rampage as he described the chaos of the day.

The sheriff said the rampage ended only after two people tackled the gunman. A third person intervened and tried to pull a clip away from Loughner as he attempted to reload, the sheriff said.

“He was definitely on a mission,” according to event volunteer Alex Villec, former Giffords intern.

___

Associated Press Writers Jacques Billeaud, Raquel Maria Dillon and Terry Tang contributed to this report.

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Latino KKK: Brown Beret Says “This is America–Go back to Europe”   Leave a comment

Hi All!

My goodness, so much has been happening since I last updated my blog that I’m not sure where to start, but I’m going to go ahead and start with this video that I meant to post a few days ago but I was speechless to make comment on it.

Well, I guess the video speaks for itself.  This most likely will not make it into mainstream liberal media, much the way the new black panther video went. 

This is jus the most lunatic, insane thing I have ever seen or heard in my entire life.  These people are REALLY out of touch with reality!

ILLEGAL Immigrant Deaths in Arizona Desert Soaring in July   Leave a comment

First of all–they are ILLEGAL immigrants, NOT immigrants

First point that should be made: if the borders were sealed, this wouldn’t happen.  If we enforced our laws and prevented illegal immigrants from getting jobs, housing, welfare, benefits and the like, then THEY WOULD HAVE NO REASON TO COME HERE!!!!!!  And what’s worse is that Americans are trying to help them.  Okay, I see the point of saving human life and I respect greatly that the Border Patrol took that woman back, but IF WE DIDN’T GIVE THEM INCENTIVE TO COME THEN THEY WOULDN’T COME!!!!!!

Period.  End of story.

This is very sad–but preventable.

And also think, 30 illegal immigrants may die, but HOW MANY MAKE IT?  Too many apparently. 

Immigrant deaths in Arizona desert soaring in July

AP

By AMANDA LEE MYERS, Associated Press Writer Amanda Lee Myers, Associated Press Writer Fri Jul 16, 8:59 pm ET

PHOENIX – The number of deaths among illegal immigrants crossing the Arizona desert from Mexico is soaring so high this month that the medical examiner’s office that handles the bodies is using a refrigerated truck to store some of them, the chief examiner said Friday.

The bodies of 40 illegal immigrants have been brought to the office of Pima County Medical Examiner Dr. Bruce Parks since July 1. At that rate, Parks said the deaths could top the single-month record of 68 in July 2005 since his office began tracking them in 2000.

“Right now, at the halfway point of the month, to have so many is just a very bad sign,” he said. “It’s definitely on course to perhaps be the deadliest month of all time.”

From Jan. 1 to July 15, the office has handled the bodies of 134 illegal immigrants, up from 93 at the same time last year and 102 in 2008. In 2007, when the office recorded the highest annual deaths of illegal immigrants, 140 bodies had been taken there through July 15.

Parks said his office, which handles immigrant bodies from three counties, is currently storing roughly 250 bodies and had to start using a refrigerated truck because of the increase in immigrant deaths this month.

He said many of the bodies seem to be coming from the desert southwest of Tucson, where it tends to be hotter than eastern parts of the border or the Tucson metro area.

Authorities believe the high number of deaths are likely due to above-average and unrelenting heat in southern Arizona this month and ongoing tighter border security that pushes immigrants to more remote, rugged and dangerous terrain.

Erik Pytlak, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said Tucson’s average nighttime lows in the first 15 days of July are the hottest for that period in recorded history.

If nighttime temperatures don’t cool down enough, the human body doesn’t get a break from the daytime heat, which has hit 109 degrees in recent days in southern Arizona.

“Instead of having one day of a lot of heat, you have day after day after day, and you have a steady stream of people in the desert — people start succumbing, unfortunately,” Pytlak said.

He said if possible thunderstorms materialize over the weekend, that could lower temperatures. But if rain doesn’t fall and there’s cloud cover, the situation could get worse because clouds hold temperatures up at night, he said.

While the bodies that go the Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office don’t represent all the deaths on the Arizona border, the Border Patrol also is seeing the effects of the weather.

“It does seem like the heat is really having a pretty significant impact right now,” Agent Colleen Agle said.

Agle did not have statistics for July but said agents have been seeing “quite a few” deaths that appear heat-related.

On Thursday, she said the Border Patrol responded to a call from a husband and wife from Mexico who were experiencing difficulties because of the heat. When agents got there, the 25-year-old man had died; his 22-year-old wife survived and will be taken back to Mexico.

“Unfortunately, (agents) just didn’t get there in time,” she said, adding that finding immigrants in distress is often extremely difficult because of the vast and treacherous terrain. “It’s really sad when this happens. Even one death is too many for us.”

Deaths among immigrants occur despite public service advertisements warning them of the dangers of the desert, and the efforts of humanitarian groups that man aid stations for immigrants in distress and 20 Border Patrol rescue beacons in remote areas of the desert that immigrants can activate if they need help.

Border Patrol statistics for the entire U.S.-Mexico border show that deaths among illegal immigrants peaked at 492 in fiscal year 2005 and declined every year until last fiscal year, when they rose to 422.

The Border Patrol says the agency rescued nearly 1,300 people last fiscal year.

Why is This News? Obamas Continue Busy Maine Vacation   Leave a comment

Oooh, I’m so excited to hear this news!  Obama is doing well on his vacation

Wow–everyone, three cheers!  Bombs are going off across the border, the economy is going to heck, and half the nation doesn’t have any jobs…but the Obamas are going out for ICE CREAM!!!

OOOOOOOH!

*facepalm*

Funny how they mention he went out for ice cream with his family.  Were he in Arizona he might have been pulled over by racist cops and asked to show his papers.  Problem is, he probably doesn’t have any and would get deported.

OH!  That would explain why he doesn’t WANT to go to Arizona!!!!!!  Hmmmm…interesting!

Surely it’s not because he doesn’t CARE or because he’s LAZY or because he has BETTER THINGS TO DO THAT THINK ABOUT AND PROTECT OUR COUNTRY!!!!

Nooo.  I wouldn’t believe that if you told me. >rolls eyes

Anyway, here’s the article in all it’s pandering glory.  Still, WHY IS THIS FRONT PAGE-YAHOO NEWS?

Obamas continue busy Maine holiday

AP

By MARK S. SMITH, Associated Press Writer Mark S. Smith, Associated Press Writer Sat Jul 17, 6:21 am ET

BAR HARBOR, Maine – The nation’s coastlines have been good to President Barack Obama this week — first with news BP’s gushing oil well is finally capped, then with a family vacation that got off to a spectacular start.

In the first day alone it spanned the tallest mountain peak along the Eastern Seaboard, a bicycle ride beside a pristine lake and an exhilarating boat ride through a wind-whipped bay.

The vacation for Obama, his wife, Michelle, and daughters Malia and Sasha continued Saturday with other planned activities centered on Acadia National Park, a 47,000-acre gem that brackets this upscale summer resort.

The weekend was an idyllic punctuation mark at the end of a good week for Obama.

On Thursday, Congress sent him the most sweeping overhaul of financial market rules since the New Deal. Obama plans to sign it next Wednesday.

And Friday, BP confirmed it had closed the valves on the new cap fitted to its Deepwater Horizon well, meaning for the first time in 12 weeks, no oil was flowing into the Gulf. Obama called it welcome news, even though he noted it’s a temporary fix, and even after the well’s cemented shut a massive cleanup remains.

But after speaking to reporters about the spill Friday, Obama left those matters behind, flying to Bar Harbor for a short holiday in this famous summer refuge for the well-heeled and well-known.

Aides said they had prepared a menu activities for the first family to choose from during their stay, which ends Sunday. From the look of things, they checked “all of the above.”

The Obamas began with ride along a secluded park bike trail next to Witch Hole Pond, then motorcaded up a switchback road to the summit of Cadillac Mountain — elevation 1,530 feet — to take in a breathtaking, sun-drenched view of Frenchman Bay.

After a stop for ice cream in Bar Harbor, the Obamas boarded a National Park Service boat for a tour of the bay — only to have it cut short when clouds and fog rolled in, and rain threatened.

But that just made the first family a little early for dinner at a harborside restaurant. A small crowd gathered along the seafront to watch the Obamas’ boat chug up to the dock — the president seated in the stern, one arm around Malia, 12, the other waving at well-wishers snapping pictures on shore.

First of Arizona Anti-Illegal Immigration Law S.B. 1070 Hearings Held Today   Leave a comment

Well, it has begun.  The courts are finally going to be hearing the cases against Arizona’s anti-Illegal Immigration laws which mirror the Federal Law on the books. 

Firstly, please note that these trials are happening in Phoenix—a reputed ‘Sanctuary City’—with a judge that sides with Illegal Immigrants.

This does not bode well.  I am trying not to be negative about this and I’m praying for a miracle, but seriously folks . . . the odds are totally against them, even THOUGH THEY ARE IN THE RIGHT!  My prayers are with Arizona though this and it looks like these first frivolous law suits might get thrown out, but still . . .

And the fact that this officer refuses to comply with FEDERAL LAW should also be put under examination.  If he refused to pay his Federal Taxes—which paying them IS A FEDERAL LAW—do you honestly think he would get away with it and be able to use the fact that he refuses to pay his taxes as a reason to sue in court?  THAT is ridiculous!  I can see the point of these illegal immigrant groups that are suing, no matter HOW misguided, but not this guy!  He’s the most misguided of them all!

Sorry, I like to use the term ‘misguided’ in reference to those who are ‘misguided’ and ‘misinformed’ about the law.  LOL!!!  It just seems fitting.

Anyway, you had better believe that next week, when the Department of Justice makes their case, I will be paying attention!  My ears will be perked and my hackles raised to find out what is going to go down and will be until a verdict has been issued.

WE NEED YOUR PRAYERS PEOPLE!  SUPPORT ARIZONA!  FRIEND GOV. JAN BREWER ON HER FACEBOOK PAGE!  IF YOUR STATE ISNT’ ONE OF THE 9 WHO IS SIDING WITH ARIZONA, BUG YOUR CONGRESS-PERSON!  THIS NEEDS TO HAPPEN!

>steps off soapbox<

K, here’s the article:

Attorney: Immigration law puts cop’s job at stake

By JACQUES BILLEAUD, Associated Press Writer Jacques Billeaud, Associated Press Writer – 3 mins ago

PHOENIX – A Phoenix police officer’s attorney says the officer could be fired if he doesn’t enforce the state’s new immigration law, which he has sued to block.

Officer David Salgado and the statewide nonprofit group Chicanos Por La Causa filed one of seven lawsuits to try to overturn the law.

Attorneys for the Arizona governor told U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton Thursday that the lawsuit should be dismissed because Salgado and the group lack legal standing to sue and that there’s no valid claim of immediate harm.

Bolton didn’t rule immediately after hearing approximately 40 minutes of arguments on Gov. Jan Brewer’s dismissal motion.

Instead she began hearing arguments on the challengers’ request for an order blocking implementation of the law beginning July 29.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

PHOENIX (AP) — A federal judge heard arguments on Thursday morning over whether Arizona’s new immigration law should take effect at the end of the month, marking the first major hearing in one of seven challenges to the strict law.

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton also is considering Gov. Jan Brewer’s request to dismiss the challenge filed by Phoenix police Officer David Salgado and the statewide nonprofit group Chicanos Por La Causa.

Bolton began by quickly dismissing Brewer as an individual defendant to the lawsuit, a motion unopposed by Salgado’s lawyer. She then began considering whether to dismiss the case.

Bolton said last week that she may not rule on the officer’s request to block the law before it takes effect July 29.

Hearings on the six other lawsuits, including one filed by the federal government, are set for next week.

The large ceremonial courtroom at the main federal courthouse in Phoenix was packed with more than 100 spectators as the hearing began. More than a dozen lawyers were in place along two L-shaped tables, evenly divided between each side. The jury box was filled with law clerks for judges who work in the building who came to observe.

Protesters and supporters of the law gathered outside the courthouse amid heavy security.

About two dozen supporters of the law, many dressed in red, white and blue, held up signs praising Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a major backer of the crackdown on illegal immigrants, and one said “American Pride.”

About 50 feet away a group opposed to the law held up signs calling for repeal of the law.

The groups competed with each other using bullhorns.

“We demand an injunction. We demand a federal intervention,” opponent Sandra Castro of Phoenix, 22, yelled into a bullhorn.

The law requires police, while enforcing other laws, to question a person’s immigration status if officers have a reasonable suspicion that the person is in the country illegally.

Supporters say the law was needed because the federal government hasn’t adequately confronted illegal immigration in Arizona, the busiest illegal gateway for immigrants into the United States. Opponents say the law would lead to racial profiling and distract from police officers’ traditional roles in combating crimes in their communities.

Since Brewer signed the measure into law April 23, it has inspired rallies in Arizona and elsewhere by advocates on both sides of the immigration debate. Some opponents have advocated a tourism boycott of Arizona.

It also led an unknown number of illegal immigrants to leave Arizona for other American states or their home countries and prompted the Obama administration to file a lawsuit seeking to invalidate the law.

Salgado’s attorneys argue the judge should block the law before it takes effect because it would require an officer to use race as a primary factor in enforcing the law and because the state law is trumped by federal immigration law.

Attorneys for Brewer asked that the officer’s lawsuit be thrown out because Salgado doesn’t allege a real threat of harm from enforcing the new law and instead bases his claim on speculation. They also said the state law prohibits racial profiling and that it isn’t trumped by federal immigration law because it doesn’t attempt to regulate the conditions under which people can enter and leave the country.

The other challenges to the law were filed by the U.S. Department of Justice, civil rights organizations, clergy groups, a researcher from Washington and a Tucson police officer.

Bolton plans to hold similar hearings July 22 in the lawsuits filed by the federal government and civil rights groups.

__

Associated Press Writers Paul Davenport and Michelle Price contributed to this report.

British Government Plans to Bribe Patients Into Health   Leave a comment

Wow.  This is really powerful.  And you KNOW my cynical mind has brought this positive sounding article down to a negative.

Consider: It sounds too happy.  Too fluffy.  Too positive.  There has GOT to be more to this than meets the eye.  It sounds too good to be true, or to be as real as it’s sounding!  Monitoring these people every week?  Really?  It sounds like these people are criminal drug addicts on parole being tested to make sure that they’re clean.  And I fail to see how this is going to have long term benefits considering the first woman they highlighted has been smoking for 35 years.  Yes, she is going to be better off without smoking, but the damage is done.  There is no coming back from that.  She is still going to have major health problems that are going to cost her insurance and the socialist healthcare a lot of money. 

Of course, they are known for denying medical treatment to those in need if they deem them less than fit.  It just screams ‘Twilight Zone—don’t sign the contract until you read the fine print’!  Are they selling their future medical help for their resulting health issues from these bad habits for a bit of money now?  I sure hope not! 

It’s kind of ironic that this article came out today considering that yesterday the White House just decided to enact new rules to the Health Insurance companies to offer preventative healthcare, which includes screenings, lab tests and the like—where the insurance companies make their money—for free.  That can’t bode well for the insurance companies down the road when they aren’t making any money.  It will most likely drive them out of business and then we are stuck with government healthcare.  Isn’t that what we were promised WOULDN’T happen?

I’m not against preventative healthcare by any means, way, shape or form.  I’m all for it.  But making it a law?  THAT has gone over the line!

Anyway, here’s the article.  The new rules I will put up in another post:

Special Report: In austere times, can bribery be healthy?

By Kate Kelland, Health and Science Correspondent Kate Kelland, Health And Science Correspondent – Thu Jul 15, 9:26 am ET

DUNDEE, Scotland (Reuters) – Moira Christie has to ring the doorbell when she goes to visit friends these days. That’s a new thing for her. Until a few months ago, everyone knew she was coming because they could hear her hacking smoker’s cough from far down the street.

“My cough was my calling card,” the tiny 54-year-old Scot says with a laugh. “But not any more. I’m not coughing now. My friends and relatives can’t believe it. They say ‘You’ve never given up! You? Never!’ — but I have, I’ve done it, and I feel so much healthier already.”

Christie is not only quieter and healthier, she’s a little richer too. That’s because the local health authority paid her to quit. The scheme is one of a clutch of experiments cropping up across Europe, the United States and parts of Latin America which use financial incentives — cash payments, gift cards, shopping vouchers and the like — to encourage or cajole people to drop their bad habits and live more healthily. “The underlying rationale of incentives is that healthier people are less costly to the system than sick ones,” says Harald Schmidt at the Harvard School of Public Health.

The experiments have grown out of studies in the relatively new discipline of behavioral economics, which examines how emotional factors affect economic choices. Some public health experts are yet to be convinced that bribing people can work. But as healthcare costs keep rising in such heavyweight nations as the United States and heavy-smoking locations as Dundee, and as governments move to cut huge budget deficits, hundreds of local authorities, employers and health insurers — even the occasional former investment banker — are dabbling with health incentive schemes.

PAY NOW, SAVE LATER

The idea is simple: pay people to act now and governments will reap the rewards later in lower healthcare costs. Statistically speaking, people who shun harmful habits are more productive and have less need for expensive hospitals, doctors and medicines. By changing “habitual health-related behaviours,” says Theresa Marteau, director of the Center for the Study of Incentives in Health and a psychology professor at King’s College London, those behind the schemes aim to make more people healthier for longer. Specifically, “they’re trying to tackle the big four that are responsible for most of the world’s premature deaths and illnesses — excessive eating, smoking, drinking and lack of exercise,” says Marteau.

Many in Dundee are at risk from all four. Moira Christie had smoked for around 35 years by the time she joined her incentive programme, which is called Quit 4 U. The scheme is backed by Britain’s National Health Service and was born out of a similar project, Give It Up For Baby, which aims to reduce shockingly high rates of smoking among mums-to-be in Dundee. In some of the poorest areas of the city up to 40 percent of pregnant women and half of all adults smoke, while rates of obesity and alcohol-related illness are among the highest in Europe.

“What we have here is a cocktail of influences on our most deprived communities who have the worst health — a cocktail which ensures that trying to change their behavior through simplistic messages is just not going to work,” says Andrew Radley, a public health expert who along with colleague Paul Ballard has championed Quit 4 U and is now overseeing its expansion into other areas. “You therefore have to work with them to come up with motivators that are actually part of their way of thinking.”

Participants get 12.50 pounds ($19) on a grocery store card every week they stay off tobacco, building to a potential total of 150 pounds after three months. For mums-to-be who stay off cigarettes, the payments continue until the baby is three months old. Anyone who gets that far would take home 650 pounds. Participants in both schemes commit to regular carbon monoxide breath tests to prove they’re not cheating.

The lure of extra cash has so far proved enough to get even some of the most die-hard tobacco addicts to quit. Margaret Robertson, a former 40-a-day smoker who attends the weekly breath test and support group sessions alongside Christie, is proud of the little nest egg she’s nurturing. “I’m letting it build up until Christmas. That’s when it’ll really help,” says Robertson, 61, who started smoking when she was 11 years old and has just completed her sixth smoke-free week in 50 years.

“MEGA UNHEALTHY”

When Dundee’s first pilot project started in 2007, critics condemned the idea of incentives as little more than state bribery. So far, though, the results have been impressive: 12-week quit rates are more than double those achieved in any previous years.

By the end of the first year, 55 mothers in the city of Dundee, which has a population of 140,000, had quit smoking using the incentive scheme, and 140 had quit across the coastal Tayside region of eastern Scotland. The year before, just six pregnant women had made contact with Tayside’s stop smoking services — and none of them stayed in touch beyond four weeks.

Even these pilots can be cost-effective, argue Ballard and Radley. They put the overall cost per quitter at 1,700 pounds, which might sound a lot until you consider that smoking costs Britain’s taxpayer-funded health system some 5 billion pounds a year according to a 2009 study by Oxford University researchers. Globally, the World Lung Foundation estimates the annual cost of smoking is $500 billion in medical expenses, lost productivity and environmental harm.

“The whole methodology of this incentive scheme is defined by community-based research. It is driven by what is of most value to the target audience,” says Ballard. If you get it right, it can be “an approach that can really deliver results.”

There is no doubt Scotland can do with the help. It is known, after all, as the land whose citizens don’t just eat Mars Bars and pizza in perilously large amounts, but deep-fry them first. A study published last month found that almost the entire adult population of Scotland — 97.5 percent — have habits that are deemed “dangerous to health” including smoking, heavy drinking, taking no exercise, being overweight and eating a poor diet.

Ballard calls Dundee an “incredibly unhealthy” city in a “mega unhealthy” nation. In truth, the rest of the developed world is not much better. Obesity, smoking, alcohol and lack of exercise are causing more protracted and expensive diseases, and killing more residents of the rich world earlier, than anything else. The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that by 2015, around 2.3 billion adults worldwide will be overweight and more than 700 million will be obese.

In Europe, the WHO reckons obesity alone is already responsible for up to 8 percent of all health costs and between 10 and 13 percent of deaths. Experts predict that in Britain almost nine out of 10 adults and two thirds of children will be overweight or obese by 2050. By then the medical bill and loss of productivity could top 50 billion pounds a year.

Little wonder that drug companies are spending billions of dollars searching for treatments and cures for cancers, diabetes and heart disease. But why develop drugs when the best thing we could do to improve our health is quit smoking, stop eating so much fat, salt and sugar, exercise more and cut back on alcohol? And if getting more people to do that is difficult, which of course it is, then why not pay them?

“INCENTIVES CULTURE”

Former investment banker Winton Rossiter is convinced paying people to get healthier is the next big thing. Rossiter, a 55-year-old American-born businessman who’s lived in England for 20 years, has become one of the pioneers of British incentive schemes. Three years ago he founded a company called WeightWins which now promotes a scheme called “pounds for pounds”.

“We earn incentives from shopping in certain places, flying certain airlines — so why not get financially rewarded for doing something that’s positive?” he says. “We’re in an incentives culture where people need a reason to even think about getting healthy.”

Rossiter’s firm has been running a pilot scheme in Kent, southern England, where the taxpayer-funded local health authority asked him to help cut a 24 percent adult obesity rate. The programme works by adding up how much weight each participant has lost and how long it remains off. A sliding scale of payments is applied; those who lose the most and keep it off earn the most money.

Rossiter says his programme is already working. By last month, of the 402 people who started a “pounds for pounds” plan in the Kent scheme, 321, or 80 percent, had lost weight, while just 20 percent either stayed the same or gained weight. Less encouragingly, more than three-quarters of participants had dropped out by 12 months, meaning their progress, or lack of it, could not be counted in the final results.

Rossiter makes his money through a joining fee, which starts at 45 pounds sterling and goes up to 135 pounds, plus a monthly subscription fee of between 10 and 30 pounds. Participants can earn rewards of up to 3,000 pounds. To get that, they’d have to lose 150 pounds of weight over 21 months and keep it all off for at least three months.

“You get paid to lose weight — two things people definitely want to do,” he says.

In the Kent scheme, taxpayers footed the subscription bills via the local health authority. But Rossiter says the cost to local governments could be returned many times over. He’s broken down British government data that estimated the annual cost of obesity at between 3.3 billion pounds sterling and 3.7 billion pounds. For every pound of obesity weight that is removed permanently, he says, the government saves 170 pounds in medical expenses and 1,200 pounds in lifetime economic costs. Kent paid Weight Wins around 12 pounds for every pound of fat lost.

WAITING FOR THE CALL

Public health scientists are less enthusiastic. “I think they can be useful in some instances, but it depends very much on how they’re implemented,” says Harvard’s Schmidt. Both King’s College’s Marteau and Tammy Boyce, an expert at the King’s Fund healthcare think-tank in London, say the Kent pilot was “not a proper trial” because it lacked the proper scientific procedures needed to evaluate the outcomes.

Marteau’s sense is that the best evidence to support the use of incentives schemes can be found not in large, cross-societal groups, but in specific niches of unhealthy behavior where all the usual health messages have failed. Here, it seems, an immediate and relatively large reward may be enough to change a pattern. “The two places where incentives really have been found to be effective are in drug addict abstinence programmes, and in smoking cessation in pregnancy,” she says. “And when you think about it, these are outliers” — extreme, addictive behaviours generally shown by people on the margins.

Former banker Rossiter is undeterred. Frustrated by what he sees as dithering among public health officials, he is planning to take “pounds for pounds” direct to the public via the internet, where anyone can pay a joining fee and sign up to win cash rewards for slimming down.

“If obesity really is the public health crisis and the ticking timebomb that we keep hearing about, then we need to throw out some of our scepticism and prejudices and really push this thing forward,” he says.

So sure is Rossiter that his scheme will work, he’s ready to guarantee “long-term results” for any government in Europe prepared to back the scheme. “If Scotland wanted to put a million overweight people into my programme, I would guarantee long-term behavior change and weight loss or they would get their money back. But I’m still waiting for the call.”

Perhaps he should meet Gianluca Buonanno, the flamboyant mayor of the small north-western Italian town of Varallo, and another big enthusiast of using health incentive schemes to make whole nations healthier.

A few years ago, Buonanno set up a plan which promised to pay oversized residents 50 euros ($70) for losing 3 to 4 kilograms in a month, a further 200 euros if they kept the weight off for 5 months, and yet more if they managed to keep their weight down for a year. The scheme, he says, was a great success, particularly for one 42-year-old woman who said she had become so fat that her husband “would not even look at her any more”.

“Sixty percent of participants reached their objectives,” Buonanno told Reuters. He’s now lobbying in Italy’s parliament for the plan to be scaled up across the nation. The results, “can’t be measured only in prizes. If a person feels better, consumes less medicine, then the nation’s entire health system gains.”

“TRENDY IDEA”

The notion of health incentives has been popularised in the past few years by books like ‘Nudge’ and ‘Freakonomics’, which describe how such concepts as “behavioural economics” and “choice architecture” can be used to engineer people toward healthier habits. It’s no coincidence that as the Obama administration started to show an interest in behavioural economics, one of the authors of Nudge, Cass Sunstein, joined the White House staff.

Wow.  THAT was a FREAKY paragraph!  “Engineer people towards healthier habits”? 

To me, that’s very ‘Brave New World’-esque.  What else are we going to ‘engineer people towards’?  I shudder to think…

“Incentives are definitely becoming a very trendy method,” says public health specialist Boyce, who has watched with dismay as governments have become excited by the idea of old-fashioned bribery. The idea, she says, allows politicians to cozy up to the powerful food and drinks industry lobby and duck out of writing tough legislation for better health. It satisfies many governments’ desires to be libertarian and business-friendly and avoid slapping taxes on high-fat or high-sugar junk foods.

WHAT?  So . . . those in congress should not be responsible people, but the ‘subjects’ must submit to the tests?

I’m sorry but I am MAJORLY creeped out right now just from that ‘engineering’ statement!!!!  Seriously, I got chills and this doesn’t make me feel better!

Britain’s health minister, Andrew Lansley, said last week that the country’s new coalition government does not believe in “lecturing or nannying” people to change their behavior, preferring a “non-regulatory approach”. It has not indicated whether incentives may be a part of that.

Mike Kelly, director of public health at Britain’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, which advises government on cost-effective health policies, says incentive schemes are popping up all over the place. So far, though, there isn’t much in the way of hard scientific evidence about incentivising people for health. “If these things are going to go forward it ought to be on a proper evidence-based set of principles. And we desperately need to know whether it is a cost-effective option.”

The London-based Evidence for Policy and Practice Information and Co-ordinating Center (EPPI-Center) published a review last year that found there were studies underway on around 130 incentives schemes globally. More than half were in the United States, with Britain, Germany and Mexico among active countries. It found around half the schemes were aimed at getting people to stop smoking, with healthy eating next and obesity targeted by a minority.

HEALTH INSURERS SEE POTENTIAL

In the United States, where healthcare is largely handled through private insurance companies, major employers such as Safeway and General Electric are also getting into incentives in a big way. In recent years they have begun paying bonuses or offering health insurance discounts to employees who give up bad habits or keep their weight and cholesterol levels in check. That, in turn, has spawned a clutch of new companies such as VirginHealthMiles and RedBrick Health, who sell “pay for prevention schemes” to big corporations.

In Germany, Barmer Ersatzkasse, a large sickness fund which insures around 6.8 million people, offers incentives to members who take part in any or all of 17 named healthy activities — from turning up for immunisations to giving up smoking or going regularly to the gym. Members get a bonus card on which points are credited; anyone earning 500 or more points over two years can redeem them against such “healthy” prizes as cycle helmets or sports watches. Families can pool their points and trade them in for a bigger reward such as a Nintendo Wiifit console (1500 points) or even swap them for hard cash rewards of up to 30 euros a year per person.

The fund also offers schemes giving discounts on premiums to people who don’t use health services that much — a bit like a “no claims” bonus on a house or car insurance policy.

CARROT AND STICKS

The German plan highlights one of the potential disadvantages in such schemes: they may prove self-selecting. Harvard’s Schmidt, who has studied health incentives in the United States and Germany, says incentives may not only improve insurance plan members’ health — so their costs go down — but may also attract more healthy people in the first place. That risks leaving those in the poorest health, who are often also society’s poorest financially, facing higher costs for the healthcare they urgently need.

That’s just one of a broader set of problems that Schmidt sees as inherent in the incentives idea. Why should fat people get paid to do what thin people are doing already? Why should smokers who quit now get a bonus when those who quit last year didn’t? If regular gym-goers were already quite happy to pay for it, why should taxpayers’ money be used to subsidise others just in the hope a few more may be nudged in the same direction? Won’t some people become adept at gaming the system?

Schmidt breaks those affected by incentive schemes into groups:

* the “lucky ones” — those who already go to the gym regularly and will now get extra cash or prizes for doing so;

* the “yes I can” group, who find the incentive gives them exactly the nudge they needed;

* the “I’ll do it tomorrow” group who never quite get around to it and feel punished by not being able to get the reward;

* the “unlucky ones” who have no hope of getting to a gym because of their work or family life or disability;

* and the “leave me alone” group which is self-explanatory.

For all but one or two of these groups, incentives would likely fail, Schmidt says, so using taxpayers’ money to fund them doesn’t look like much of a deal. “I don’t have a problem with incentives if they work. But…” His voice trails off and he gives a shrug of the shoulders.

FOOLS RUSH IN?

What evidence there is from scientific assessments is not that encouraging either. Marteau cites a so-called Cochrane review — a systematic analysis of previous peer-reviewed studies — conducted in 2008 on using incentives to help people stop smoking. It found that none of the 17 trials it analysed had higher quit rates at six months when incentives were used.

On obesity, the findings are similar. A 2008 systematic review looking at eight weight-loss trials which were followed up for at least a year found that incentives had no positive effect on weight loss or weight maintenance at 12 or 18 months.

The King’s Fund’s Boyce worries that governments are starting up incentives plans before any proper scientific analysis has been done. “You wouldn’t do this with a drug,” she says, pointing out that many years, even decades, of trials and tests are conducted on medicines before they are distributed to the general public. “But for some reason we allow ourselves to get caught up in the moment and attach ourselves to ideas like this that don’t really have a big evidence base.”

BABY THOUGHTS

But such scepticism doesn’t cut it with Rebecca Garside, who is 28 and just a few weeks off giving birth to her first baby. As part of Dundee’s scheme to stop pregnant mums smoking, she’s at her local pharmacy blowing into a carbon monoxide monitor to prove that despite 11 years as a smoker, she has finally given up.

As the blinking green light officially confirms her as a non-smoker, she strokes her swollen belly. Health statistics suggest her baby will now be a healthier weight and less likely to need intensive care after birth, and that both Garside and her child will be less likely to develop a range of costly chronic diseases like asthma, heart disease and cancer.

But Garside is thinking of the more immediate future. She is saving the “quit” credits on her supermarket gift card, she says, for “all those things I know I’ll have to buy when the baby comes along.”

“Buggies, nappies, and even my weekly food shopping. It’ll definitely be a help.”

(Additional reporting by Philip Pullella in Rome, editing by Simon Robinson and Sara Ledwith)

That sounds so lovely—but the nay-sayers are right.  It probably won’t help and there will DEFINITELY be people playing the system! 

This does not give me a warm, fuzzy feeling and this isn’t happening in America.  Yet.

Obama In Michigan to Promote Electric Car Batteries   Leave a comment

You know, not to sound negative, but we are being invaded from an unsealed border, constantly, day after day, hundreds and thousands a week, without check or concern, bringing guns, drugs, violence, hate, and terrorism into our country, draining already struggling American taxpayers and American resources that are burdened already with very little job market and insane bills being forced through congress. . . and Obama’s in Michigan promoting car batteries?

*facepalm*

There really isn’t much to say in regards to this other than just . . . um . . .

*double facepalm*

I mean, I’m happy that there are jobs coming to Michigan, Lord knows they need them, but only 300?  You took Air Force One that WE the taxpayers pay for and FLEW to Michigan to say we are going to have electric batteries made in the US and will employ 300?  MAYBE 600, but you know these numbers are rounded up.  I’m happy that there is talk of jobs again but . . . um . . . the company could have announced that themselves and Obama could be taking that trip to the border in Arizona that he really should be taking in order to see for himself what this country is facing!  

It just…doesn’t seem right….

Ug, here’s the article:

Obama to promote electric vehicles in Michigan

By JULIE PACE, Associated Press Writer Julie Pace, Associated Press Writer – 1 hr 53 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Facing fresh criticism of his handling of the economy, President Barack Obama travels to Michigan on Thursday to promote investments in the electric vehicle battery industry, a sector the administration sees as a bright spot in the sagging recovery.

Obama will attend a groundbreaking ceremony for a plant that will manufacture advanced batteries for Chevrolet and Ford electric cars. The Compact Power plant in Holland, Mich., is the ninth factory to begin construction following the $2.4 billion investment in advanced batteries and electric vehicles Obama announced last August.

An Energy Department report to be released Thursday says the investments will increase U.S. production of advanced batteries from 2 percent to 40 percent of the world’s supply by 2015, creating thousands of jobs along the way.

“We’re going to build these products in America,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Wednesday. “We’re going to employ Americans. I think that’s a strong economic record.”

But recent polls suggest the public’s confidence in the president’s record on the economy is slipping. A Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted this month found that just 43 percent of Americans approved of Obama’s handling of the economy, down from 50 percent last month.

With unemployment expected to hover near 10 percent through November’s midterm elections, White House officials know they will have a tough sell with voters as they argue that the economy would be even worse had it not been for Obama’s $862 billion stimulus program.

Investing in electric vehicles has been a central tenet of Obama’s message on the economy and clean energy. He’s pledged to put 1 million plug-in hybrid electric vehicles on U.S. roads by 2015. The administration has said the $2.4 billion investment could spur the production of 50,000 batteries a year for plug-in hybrids by 2011 and 500,000 batteries a year for the advanced vehicles by late 2014.

Most of the batteries are now manufactured in Asia, and auto suppliers and manufacturers have sought ways to expand the battery industry in the United States.

Michigan is the largest recipient of the electric battery grants and is expected to receive more than $1 billion. About $150 million of that is going to the Compact Power plant. Administration officials say the construction project will create about 300 jobs, with an additional 300 workers hired once the factory is operational.

With Michigan facing 13.7 percent unemployment, the state’s governor says those jobs are welcome news.

“It’s clearly going to have an impact if we have a whole new sector added to our economy,” Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm said. “It’s not the only answer, but it certainly is a significant one.”