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.

Advertisements

Car Bomb Signals New Dimension to Mexican Drug War   Leave a comment

And we want this here

What is this going to take for anyone to realize that this is a WAR?!!!!  You know–bring troops, lay the law down and all that.  These aren’t just simple drug cartels, as though they are not worth the effort.  These are TERRORISTS!  I have said that from the very beginning.  I’ve pointed out that this has gotten way out of control.  This has been going on since I lived in California, over almost two years ago, and it’s only going to get WORSE! 

Which, apparently, it has.  And this happened right across the border from Texas!!!!!

This is what the Taliban use.  This is what Middle Eastern terrorists do.  Next there’ll be suicide bombers. 

AND THEY ARE CROSSING OVER HERE TO AMERICA WITHOUT BEING STOPPED!

THEY ARE COMING HERE WITHOUT A PROBLEM–WHAT MAKES ANYONE THINK FOR ONE MINUTE THAT THIS WON’T HAPPEN HERE??????

SEAL THE BORDERS PLEASE, MR PRESIDENT!  THIS IS SAD!  THIS IS PATHETIC! 

And I’m tempted to say, “Don’t these drug cartel guys have anything better to do with themselves that kill people?”

This is wrong on so many levels!  Mexico needs to get their act together.  We can send troops to two countries overseas thousands of miles away, but we can’t send them to our borders to PROTECT AMERICA!!!!?????? 

This, to me, sounds more eminent and important.  I’m not bashing the Iraq and Afghanistan wars by any means, I’m just pointing out that we need to also be thinking about the home front.  When this starts happening here, and I’m sure it will, is Obama going to protect us?  Doubt it. 

These people need to be stopped!

Car bomb signals new dimension to Mexican drug war

AP

AP – The remains of a vehicle are cordoned off in a street in the northern border city of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, …
 

By ALICIA A. CALDWELL and E. EDUARDO CASTILLO, Associated Press Writers Alicia A. Caldwell And E. Eduardo Castillo, Associated Press Writers Sat Jul 17, 2:29 am ET

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico – A drug cartel has used a car bomb for the first time in Mexico’s decades-long fight against traffickers, setting a deadly trap against federal police in a city across the border from Texas, the mayor of Ciudad Juarez said Friday.

Mayor Jose Reyes said federal police have confirmed to him that a car bomb was used in the attack that killed three people Thursday.

It was the first time a drug cartel has used a bomb to attack Mexican security forces, marking an escalation in a raging drug war that already is extremely deadly: On Friday alone, a dozen people were killed and 21 wounded in a series of gun battles between soldiers and cartel gunmen in the Mexican border city of Nuevo Laredo, the federal Interior Department said.

In Thursday’s bombing, federal police and paramedics were lured to the scene by a phone call reporting that shots were fired at a major intersection and a municipal police officer lay wounded, Reyes told The Associated Press.

As the paramedics were working on the wounded man, a parked car exploded, he said.

Reyes said authorities later determined that the wounded man was not a policeman, although he was wearing a fake uniform. The man was among the three people who died in the attack. The others were a federal police officer and a medical technician.

Brig. Gen. Eduardo Zarate, the commander of the regional military zone, told reporters that up to 22 pounds (10 kilograms) of explosives might have been used, although investigators were still trying to determine what type.

He said the bomb might have been detonated remotely with a cell phone, adding that burned batteries connecting to a mobile phone were found at the scene.

“From what distance? We don’t know. But we think it was a distance that allowed (the assailants) to watch the area, waiting for the police to get out of their vehicle,” Zarate said.

The car bomb demonstrates the growing boldness and military sophistication of Mexico’s drug traffickers, who have dramatically stepped up attacks against security forces and government officials since President Felipe Calderon deployed thousands of troops and federal police to crush the cartels in their strongholds.

“We have to change the way we operate,” Reyes said. “We’ve started changing all our protocols, to include bomb situations.”

City and federal authorities said the attack appeared to target only security forces.

“The threat was directed at the police departments, so it is not a threat against the population,” he added. “But we have to be very careful with our police departments, their actions and how we protect them, and of course, how we protect the population from the fallout.”

A graffiti message appeared on a wall of a Ciudad Juarez shopping mall Thursday night warning of more car bombs.

In Nuevo Laredo, meanwhile, the shootouts in at least three points of the city prompted the U.S. Consulate to warn American citizens in the city to remain indoors. The Consulate said gunmen were blocking some streets with hijacked vehicles at the height of the battles.

“We have received credible reports of widespread violence occurring now between narcotics trafficking organizations and the Mexican Army in Nuevo Laredo. We have credible reports of grenades being used,” the Consulate said in a statement. “We advise all U.S. citizens in Nuevo Laredo to remain indoors until the security situation improves.”

The Mexican Interior Department said it “energetically condemned the cowardly acts.”

Seven of the 21 wounded were listed in serious condition, and three of the seriously wounded were children apparently caught in the crossfire, the Interior Department said in a statement.

The dead included nine suspected gunmen, two civilians and one soldier. Nuevo Laredo has been the scene of vicious turf battles between the Gulf cartel and their former allies, the Zetas drug gang.

Army officials reached by phone in Nuevo Laredo declined to comment.

Roadblocks have been another tactic to recently emerge in Mexico’s drug war. Gangs in the neighboring northeastern states of Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas, where Nuevo Laredo is located, have thrown up the blockades to impede soldiers from coming to the aid of colleagues under attack.

Drug gangs have previously attacked Mexican soldiers and police with grenades and powerful rifles, and there had long been fears they might turn to bombings. Soldiers have seized homemade explosives from gang vehicles after gunbattles, and assailants have stolen explosive material from transport vehicles.

Federal police said the bombing attack was in retaliation for the arrest of a top leader of the La Linea drug gang, Jesus Acosta Guerrero, earlier in the day.

Police said Acosta Guerrero, 35, was the “operations leader” of La Linea, which works for the Juarez drug cartel. He was responsible for at least 25 killings, mainly of rival gang members, and also ordered attacks on police, a federal police statement said.

The Juarez cartel appeared to claim credit for the attack in the graffiti message, which accused federal police of supporting the rival Sinaloa cartel, led by Mexico’s most-wanted kingpin, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

“What happened … is going to keep happening against all the authorities that keep supporting ‘El Chapo,'” the message read. “We have more car bombs.”

Calderon’s government has long faced allegations that his government does not pursue the Sinaloa cartel as aggressively as other gangs, accusations he vehemently denies.

Oh snap!  Even the mainstream media is bringing this sordid detail up.  I NEVER expected to see that!!! 

Sorry compadre, you got busted!

The question is though–what will America do about it?  Probably nothing.  Obama will just continue to kiss Calderon’s feet and roll over like a puppy to have his tummy scratched, completely ignoring the facts and the problems.  All the two of them talk about is why Arizona isn’t allowing un-hindered illegal immigration up through its deserts.

GEEEEEEE!  I WONDER WHY?!!!! >rolls eyes

What appeared to be the charred bottom half of the explosives-rigged car still lay at the scene of the attack Friday. The debris from the blast was spread out over a 300-yard (300-meter) radius. The explosion also blew out the windows of a nearby home and blackened the corner of the building nearest to the crash.

“Thank God we weren’t home,” said a woman who lives in the damaged house. She refused to give her name, citing safety concerns, before driving away from the scene Thursday.

Although the car bomb was a new tactic, it was far from the deadliest attack on Mexico’s security forces. Last month, a carefully planned ambush killed 12 federal police officers in the western state of Michoacan.

And a week before July 4 local and state elections, suspected cartel members ambushed and killed the leading candidate for governor of Tamaulipas. Calderon called the assassination — which followed a series of attacks and threats against candidates throughout the campaign — evidence that drug cartels were trying to control Mexican politics through intimidation.

Federal Attorney General Arturo Chavez said he could not confirm if the latest attack involved a car bomb and said investigators were running forensic tests to determine if the assailants packed the car with explosive material or launched grenades.

Chavez said the killings did not qualify as terrorism.

“We have no evidence anywhere in the country of narco-terrorism,” he said.

The attorney general says at least 24,800 people have been killed in drug-gang violence since Calderon launched his military-led offensive in 2006.

Ciudad Juarez has become one of the most dangerous cities in the world, with more than 4,000 people killed since the beginning of 2009. Reyes said at least 14 police officers have been killed in the city and surrounding areas in recent weeks.

___

E. Eduardo Castillo reported from Mexico City.

Maricopa County California Sheriff Launches 16th Illegal Immigrant Sweep in Desert   Leave a comment

Now this is how it’s SUPPOSED to be done!

Brave Maricopa County, CA and Sheriff Arpaio!!!!!!!!  My hat goes off to you!!!!!

Here’s the article:

Arpaio launches 16th immigration sweep in desert

Posted: Thursday, July 15, 2010 4:29 pm |

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office launched its 16th crime and immigration sweep Thursday in a stretch of desert in the southwestern portion of the county.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio says the one-day sweep was prompted by reports of many drug and immigrant smugglers moving through the Vekol Valley.

Since early 2008, Arpaio has launched patrols that seek out traffic violators and arrest other offenders, such as people accused of human smuggling.

Critics say officers racially profile Latinos in the patrols. Arpaio denies the allegations, saying people pulled over in the sweeps are approached because deputies have probable cause to believe they committed crimes.

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.

Yet Another Vacation for Obama?   1 comment

Really?  Yet ANOTHER vacation?  For reals?

Apparently so. 

How about a lovely stay at La Fronteir de Arizona?  It’s lovely this time of year!  You can stay at The Hotel of Sinaloa, but watch out for those pesky homicidal cartel varmints!  You can tour the American/Mexican border free of any kind of American interference, including the land that is blocked off and given back to Mexico!  You might even see a crossing illegal in its natural habitat!  Make sure you bring your camera!

I’m sure Gov. Brewer would LOVE to chat with you and show you around! 

Okay, sarcasm aside—really?  Vacation and golfing again?  I’m lucky if I get one week off from work to do anything and haven’t had such in like two years!!!  And before that, 6 years! 

It must be nice to not have to take responsibility for anything!

Hope he has a good time.

Here’s the article:

Obama’s Maine island long visited by rich, famous

By CLARKE CANFIELD, Associated Press Writer Clarke Canfield, Associated Press Writer – 2 hrs 3 mins ago

BAR HARBOR, Maine – Serving as a summer retreat for Rockefellers, Vanderbilts and Morgans, this town and the surrounding area have long been known as a place where well-heeled and well-known visitors could beat the heat — and have their privacy respected.

President Barack Obama is the latest influential visitor to flee to Maine in search of a cool ocean breeze. When he arrives Friday for a three-day visit, he’ll be the first sitting president to visit Mount Desert Island since William Howard Taft a century ago.

People in Bar Harbor, a town of 5,000 residents that bustles with tourists in the summer, say they are excited about Obama’s visit.

But with the area’s history of business barons, political power brokers and famous actors among them for generations, they’re used to having the rich and famous in their midst. People in Maine, they say, aren’t likely to get too flustered by the presidential visit.

“There are still famous and wealthy people all over the island, and their privacy is very much respected,” said Craig Neff, owner of The Naturalist’s Notebook, a shop in Seal Harbor village not far from where lifestyle maven Martha Stewart owns an estate originally built for automobile tycoon Edsel Ford. “If I were a billionaire, I would certainly appreciate it. It’s always been that way.”

Beginning in the late 1800s, well-heeled families from New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago and elsewhere came to Mount Desert Island, where they built summer homes to escape the city heat. The 108-square-mile island, located 3 1/2 hours northeast of Portland, is connected to the mainland by a causeway.

There are four towns on the island — Bar Harbor is the largest — and much of the land is owned by Acadia National Park, which was established in 1916 and draws visitors with hiking trails, spectacular scenery and ocean views.

Obama will be the fourth sitting president to visit the island, said Debbie Dyer, curator of the Bar Harbor Historical Society. Chester Arthur visited in 1882, Benjamin Harrison in 1889 and Taft on July 18, 1910, nearly 100 years to the day before Obama’s visit, she said.

Dyer has a newspaper clipping with an old photograph showing Taft playing golf at the island’s Kebo Valley Golf Club, where the newspaper reported the president ending the day with a score of 100. Maybe Obama, who has a fondness for golf, will play at the club, she said.

If he doesn’t play golf, he could hike any of the park’s 125 miles of trails, bicycle its carriage roads or go boating in the cold waters off the island, Dyer said.

“I’m so glad they’re coming to enjoy the beauty of the island so we can share our little neck of the woods,” she said.

Earlier this week, there weren’t any signs in the windows of the numerous shops in Bar Harbor acknowledging the president’s upcoming visit. No restaurants were offering Obama Burgers or the like on their menus. That would be so unlike Bar Harbor, which tries to maintain a somewhat dignified and low-key demeanor.

Residents respect the privacy and space of the well-known people when they come to visit. Stewart can often be found at the Bar Harbor farmer’s market, and the late actor Paul Newman and his wife, Joanne Woodward, enjoyed quiet breakfasts at a local spot when visiting their daughter when she attended Bar Harbor’s College of the Atlantic years ago.

Last summer, Susan Sarandon visited the Sherman’s Books & Stationery bookstore without any fanfare, said Laurie Cote, who works there. People in town treat celebrities just like everybody else, she said, although she admits she’d like to see Obama.

“All that being said, I still hope I get my picture taken with him,” she said.

Still, there’s a certain excitement that the president has chosen the island for his vacation. If he walks the streets of Bar Harbor, he’ll be able to buy Maine gifts ranging from place mats with directions on how to eat a lobster and jars of blueberry jam to wooden models of sailing ships or baseball caps with moose or pine trees on them.

Lou Zawislak, 65, lives in New Orleans and is renting a cottage in Bar Harbor for the summer. As a Maine native, he knows that the culture in Bar Harbor “is to give people their space.” But that’s not dampening the chatter he’s hearing about Obama’s visit.

“People are wondering where will he stay and what will he do,” Zawislak said. “And will there be a sighting?”

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.”