The Devils Will Remain the Devils

And they will continue to plague the land, or at least the National Hockey League, that is IF the National Hockey League survives.

Essex County Assemblyman Craig Stanley, though, is going to introduce a bill in the New Jersey Assembley to change the name of the team, because he cringes every time he [...]

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

And they will continue to plague the land, or at least the National Hockey League, that is IF the National Hockey League survives.

Essex County Assemblyman Craig Stanley, though, is going to introduce a bill in the New Jersey Assembley to change the name of the team, because he cringes every time he sees the logo. Evidently Mr. Stanley has reason to worry over a mythical beast that is the pride of the New Jersey Pine Barrens. (You can read all about the Jersey Devil here, or here.) Heck, I can’™t figure out some of these radical religious types, but this isn’™t the first time.

Perhaps they’™ll be taking on the Tasmanian Devil next?

Monday, May 30th, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: Holy War

Memorial Day?

As is explained well by sportswriter Phil Sheridan, it is not for us to wait for the Bush Administration to honor our soldiers, but for us to do so. We simply can’™t trust the Bushies with so important a task.

I will be making a pilgrimage to the tomb of the unknown soldier [...]

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

As is explained well by sportswriter Phil Sheridan, it is not for us to wait for the Bush Administration to honor our soldiers, but for us to do so. We simply can’™t trust the Bushies with so important a task.

I will be making a pilgrimage to the tomb of the unknown soldier in Washington Square today ‘” the unknown soldiers from the Revolutionary War. I hope you all take the time to honor our soldiers.

Monday, May 30th, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: General

Philly has a Lesbian Common Pleas Judge

From the Philadelphia Inquirer today comes word that the Democratic Primary a week or so ago we got a Lesbian winner for the Court of Common Pleas. In Philly, that means she’™ll win in November, as this is a heavily Democratic city. Good for Ann Butchart!

Credit is given in the article [...]

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

From the Philadelphia Inquirer today comes word that the Democratic Primary a week or so ago we got a Lesbian winner for the Court of Common Pleas. In Philly, that means she’™ll win in November, as this is a heavily Democratic city. Good for Ann Butchart!

Credit is given in the article to the Liberty City Gay and Lesbian Democratic Club for getting out the vote. Pity that this group has to flex its muscles to be heard and that regular old gay and lesbian candidates can’™t just be chosen by the Democratic machine here, but I’™ll take progress gotten by this means, no doubt.

Sunday, May 29th, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: Politics - Pa.

More For The US Press To Ignore

THE RAF and US aircraft doubled the rate at which they were dropping bombs on Iraq in 2002 in an attempt to provoke Saddam Hussein into giving the allies an excuse for war, new evidence has shown.

Read about it here.

Commentary By: somegirl

THE RAF and US aircraft doubled the rate at which they were dropping bombs on Iraq in 2002 in an attempt to provoke Saddam Hussein into giving the allies an excuse for war, new evidence has shown.

Read about it here.

Sunday, May 29th, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: Iraq

No One is Counting, No One is Noticing and No One Cares

Last night I was out having a couple beers (okay, it was a couple pitchers) with my friend and talk inevitably turned to how depressing it is living in Commander Cuckoo Banana’™s world, where you never know what’™s gonna happen next. I started telling him about this Haliburton/KBR story I came across the other [...]

Commentary By: somegirl

Last night I was out having a couple beers (okay, it was a couple pitchers) with my friend and talk inevitably turned to how depressing it is living in Commander Cuckoo Banana’™s world, where you never know what’™s gonna happen next. I started telling him about this Haliburton/KBR story I came across the other day, which combined with this one and this one got me so worked up I had to stop reading news for a couple days. Nonetheless I vowed to myself that I would work harder to overcome the despair that frequently paralyzes me when I try to put together something to post here, and tarry on.

I’™ve never been able to understand the push for the use of independent contractors. Wait, let me rephrase that – I’™ve never been able to understand how contractors succeeded in selling their services as cost saving measures to the people who use them, and to the general public. I don’™t see anyone talking about it actually saving money now, but do remember that cost cutting was the primary selling point when the idea was introduced as part of the streamlining of the peacetime military. Now I see that it was just another component of the evil empire’™s plan to make gazillions off of perpetual war.

I used to be involved in a non-profit organization that experienced a big drop in donations after 9/11. In order to deal with the loss of income, they looked to some corporate bigwigs (their first mistake) to tighten up operations. I watched in horror as they, over two short years, destroyed (to my eyes) an organization I had loved dearly, partly by substituting contract labor for inexpensive and volunteer workers. They paid the contractors exorbitant fees and the contractors in turn abused their workers and skirted every labor law they could, a la Wal-mart. These practices, and the adoption of the culture they engendered, led to my leaving the organization. So I kinda take this stuff personally, and I’™ve seen firsthand, though on a much smaller scale, how easily an organization that previously had struggled financially, but thrived as an institution, with committed, caring and valued workers, can be corrupted when it adopts certain corporate values. In that way I think it very much mirrors the military and its privatization.

But anyway, back to Halliburton, or more accurately their tax dodging subsidiary KBR. It seems that there’™s an awful lot of disability and workers comp claims cropping up now from all those contract workers being lured to Iraq with promises of big tax free salaries and benefits. And surprise, surprise, Halliburton’™s insurance company, AIG, immune to the suffering of the sick and injured as only insurance companies can be, is in no big rush to pay up.

‘œInsurance companies are not used to doing this sort of thing in the numbers they are coming in,’ says Washington, DC., attorney Mark Schaffer, who also represented a Merez bombing victim who received medical leave, but only after bickering with adjusters for three months. ‘œEveryone is playing catch up.’ (snip)


‘œAIG is dragging its heels and they only have three adjusters working the claims, so they are swamped,’ says Pitts.

Oh poor AIG! Of course it takes a long time if you’™re trying to prove the claims are fraudulent. If they weren’™t looking to get around paying them it would be no big deal to collect the information and cut the checks. And why don’™t they just hire a few more people to process the claims or transfer people from other departments? It’™s not looking like this is going to be a temporary situation. And it’™s not like they haven’™t had time to adjust to this predicament. It’™s even been in the news now for almost a year, so there is just no excuse. Except that they’™ve been very busy committing and covering up fraud themselves, especially despicable when apparently they were doing quite well without it. But after all, they serve the master, Halliburton, not their poor slaves.

Maybe this is common knowledge, but it was news to me:

Coverage for employees of U.S. contractors, regardless of citizenship, is required under the 1941 Defense Base Act, just as workers in the United States must have workers’™ compensation insurance. Military personnel are not eligible and have a separate program.


Insurers are not required to provide coverage under that act, so as an enticement, the government promises reimbursement to carriers for war-related claims.

And it’™s not like AIG isn’™t making a huge profit from this ï–¿–½riskï–¿–½.

Rates have ranged from an early low of $10 per $100 of an employer’™s payroll to as much as much as $40 per $100 of payroll in recent months, said Hartwig of the insurance institute. That means an employer with a million-dollar payroll would pay between $100,000 and $400,000 in premiums.

So since the government is going to reimburse the insurance companies, the premiums are more like the cost of a loan while they wait to be reimbursed by the government. Do they stall on the loans just because they’™re pissed that they’™re not being reimbursed quickly enough?

But escalating claims are creating concerns for insurers despite the promise of government reimbursement, mainly because it can take the government months to investigate the claims and pay the insurer. In the interim, insurers are responsible for paying the claims, creating cash flow problems even though they get to keep the premiums.

Correct me if I’™m wrong, but aren’™t we lowly taxpayers paying for all this twice? I don’™t imagine that cost plus contracts exclude insurance premiums. And please, does anyone really expect us to believe that AIG has a cash flow problem? What a racket. Can someone please explain to me how this is better than having a regular military to perform all the functions it used to perform without a profit motive?

But it’™s just the beginning of this particular quagmire because each and every employee of every single contractor and subcontractor is technically entitled to this coverage. Is it any wonder there’™s no big push to be more on top of the paperwork in Iraq, especially employment records?

Again, from the Corpwatch story, which you really should read:

The General Accountability Office (GAO), the lead investigative arm of Congress, recently concluded that it is impossible to accurately estimate the total number of U.S. or foreign nationals working for U.S. government contracts in Iraq. The GAO’™s investigation was prompted by concerns in Congress about insurance costs that Iraq contractors are obligated to carry, which are then passed on to the government.

‘œIt is difficult to aggregate reliable data on the cost of DBA insurance due in part to the large number of contractors and the multiple levels of subcontractors performing work in Iraq,’ the GAO reported. ‘œLacking reliable aggregate data, we were unable to calculate the total cost of DBA insurance to the government or the impact of DBA insurance costs on reconstruction activities in Iraq.’

Responding to the GAO’™s report, Labor Department official Victoria A. Lipnic said that assuring all contracted employees have insurance coverage is an ‘œimpossibility’ without having someone in Iraq to ‘œactually demand to see proof of coverage for every level of subcontracted work.’

In the end it’™s just like the entire Halliburton Bush Crime Family Neocon Nightmare. I read an article, google for a little more information or verification, and I find an infinite stream of corruption and destruction of human lives. Kinda mind blowing, and very depressing.

Sunday, May 29th, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: Iraq

The Big Dog

Man, he sure is a President to be proud of, isn’™t he?

This man has the respect of the world. Here he is in India helping out Tsunami victims and cradling a child. The news story notes that children serenaded him, singing ‘œClinton, we love you,’ in Tamil.

With [...]

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Man, he sure is a President to be proud of, isn’™t he?

This man has the respect of the world. Here he is in India helping out Tsunami victims and cradling a child. The news story notes that children serenaded him, singing ‘œClinton, we love you,’ in Tamil.

With Bush I’™m always thinking, when he’™s shown with a child, that he’™s ignoring something important, or that he’™s trying to make some larger political point by using the child.

Perhaps we cannot make sweeping conclusions that this is the difference between the two, but I can say Clinton was far more apt to act out of compassion, whereas Bush works out of a Rovian need to twist everything to political advantage. Hey, I’™m more comfortable with the compassion bit, which I find far more Christian as well.

Saturday, May 28th, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: General

Quiet Memorial Day Weekend

I’™m understanding sukabi is busy, and Richard is as well. I’™m working on finishing the sale of this condo ‘” we’™re all up in the air until 3:00 or so, but it looks like we’™ve gotten better than our price.

Just a tidbit or two, the first about death threats against gays and [...]

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

I’™m understanding sukabi is busy, and Richard is as well. I’™m working on finishing the sale of this condo ‘” we’™re all up in the air until 3:00 or so, but it looks like we’™ve gotten better than our price.

Just a tidbit or two, the first about death threats against gays and lesbians on a college campus ‘” Oregon, for God’™s sake. I was expecting North Carolina or something. Not the deasth threats explicitly give a religious context justifying them.

Saturday, May 28th, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: Holy War

Help This Man Help Us!

Remember the letter that Rep. John Conyers and 88 other Members of Congress sent to the preznit on May 5th about the Downing Street Memo? The one that the White House ignored and Scott McClellan told reporters on that the White House saw ‘œno need’ to respond to?

Well, it’™s not going away and now [...]

Commentary By: somegirl

Remember the letter that Rep. John Conyers and 88 other Members of Congress sent to the preznit on May 5th about the Downing Street Memo? The one that the White House ignored and Scott McClellan told reporters on that the White House saw ‘œno need’ to respond to?

Well, it’™s not going away and now Conyers is hoping to get 100,000 of us to cosign his latest letter to Bush, demanding that he answer the questions posed in the previous letter. So please go to his website and sign it this weekend so you don’™t forget.

Wouldn’™t it be great if he got millions?

Friday, May 27th, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: Iraq

Be Careful Out There…

I already heard from a source in my local constabulary that the police are going to be in full cruise control mode this weekend, looking for seatbelt violaters and making random stops (yes, they can actually do that in New Jersey).

Stay cool, stay safe, and enjoy your long weekend. I don’™t expect [...]

/wp/

I already heard from a source in my local constabulary that the police are going to be in full cruise control mode this weekend, looking for seatbelt violaters and making random stops (yes, they can actually do that in New Jersey).

Stay cool, stay safe, and enjoy your long weekend. I don’™t expect to be back online until next Tuesday, unless something extraordinary happens. Hopefully the rest of the crew can pick up the slack, but if not’¦get out and get some sun. You’™re looking awfully pasty pale there’¦

;-)

Friday, May 27th, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: General,Permalink

Memorial Day Insult

All mothers of sons or daughters who lost their lives during service in the military will be remembering their loss this coming Monday, Memorial Day. Apparently, the loss for some mothers is more equal than others. Such is the story of Ligaya Lagman:

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. ‘” Everyone agrees that Ligaya Lagman is a [...]

/wp/

All mothers of sons or daughters who lost their lives during service in the military will be remembering their loss this coming Monday, Memorial Day. Apparently, the loss for some mothers is more equal than others. Such is the story of Ligaya Lagman:

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. ‘” Everyone agrees that Ligaya Lagman is a Gold Star mother, part of the long, mournful line of women whose sons or daughters were killed in combat for the U.S. armed services.

Her 27-year-old son, Army Staff Sgt. Anthony Lagman, was killed last year in Afghanistan when his unit came under fire during a mission to drive out remnants of Taliban and al-Qaida forces.

But the largest organization of such mothers, the American Gold Star Mothers Inc., has rejected Lagman for membership because – though a permanent resident and a taxpayer – she is not a U.S. citizen.

‘œThere’™s nothing we can do because that’™s what our organization says: You have to be an American citizen,’ national President Ann Herd said Thursday. ‘œWe can’™t go changing the rules every time the wind blows.’ [...]

(more’¦)

Friday, May 27th, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: General
« Previous Page