Monday, December 21, 2009

Online Doctor help

.... from Bangalore ?

Well, this technology, if eventually accepted, will quickly revert to using overseas physicians.

And this is the beginning of the end for American physicians just as using overseas workers was the beginning of the end for high tech jobs here.

Congress is now taking over the national health-care system and they are looking to slash high costs and wastes and programs like this claim to decrease costs. It will be embraced by the national health care provider.

Doctor's earning power will decrease significantly over time time and job openings dwindle just as it has for information technology workers.

How much of doctor visits concern mundane things like sniffles and fever? A great deal.

Add doctors to the list of professions you don't want your children to pursue.

Will anyone in the US profit from this? The large firms that provide this service will make a bundle.

Another indication that soon all jobs that can be done overseas WILL be done overseas.

December 21, 2009

The Virtual Visit May Expand Access to Doctors

SAN FRANCISCO — Americans could soon be able to see a doctor without getting out of bed, in a modern-day version of the house call that takes place over the Web.

OptumHealth, a division of UnitedHealth Group, the nation’s largest health insurer, plans to offer NowClinic, a service that connects patients and doctors using video chat, nationwide next year. It is introducing it state by state, starting with Texas, but not without resistance from state medical associations.

OptumHealth believes NowClinic will improve health care by ameliorating some of the stresses on the system today, like wasted time dealing with appointments and insurance claims, a shortage of primary care physicians and limited access to care for many patients.

But some doctors worry that the quality of care that patients receive will suffer if physicians neglect one of the most basic elements of health care: a physical exam.

“This is a pale imitation of a doctor visit,” said David Himmelstein, a primary care doctor and associate professor at Harvard Medical School. “It’s basically saying, ‘We’re going to give up any pretense of examining the patient and most of the nonverbal clues that doctors use.’ ”

Others, including Rashid Bashshur, director of telemedicine at the University of Michigan Health System, say online medicine is a less expensive way of providing routine care.

“The argument that you need the ‘laying on of hands’ to practice medicine is an old and tired argument that simply has no credibility,” he said. “There are two constants in medicine: change and resistance to change.”

Christopher Crow, a family physician in Plano, Tex., who used the system during its test period, said, “NowClinic gives you the ability to have that gut feel if something is wrong, in tone or facial expression or body language, that you have when you walk in the door with a patient.”

Many patients who do not have primary care physicians nearby use the emergency room for routine problems. Wait times for patients needing immediate attention have increased 40 percent, in part because of overcrowding, according to a study by Harvard Medical School and Cambridge Health Alliance.

In Texas, 180 counties do not have enough physicians, 70 percent of patients cannot obtain a same-day visit with their primary care doctor, and 79 percent of emergency room visits are for routine problems, according to OptumHealth.

“We are, through this technology, replenishing the pool of physicians and making them available to patients,” said Roy Schoenberg, chief executive of American Well, which created the system that OptumHealth is using.

For $45, anyone in Texas can use NowClinic, whether or not they are insured, by visiting Doctors hold 10-minute appointments and can file prescriptions, except for controlled substances. Eventually they will be able to view patients’ medical histories if they are available.

The introduction of NowClinic will be the first time that online care has been available nationwide, regardless of insurance coverage.

American Well’s service is also available to patients in Hawaii and Minnesota, through Blue Cross Blue Shield, and to some members of the military seeking mental health care, through TriWest Healthcare Alliance.

Some hospitals and technology companies provide similar services on a smaller scale, including Cisco, the networking equipment maker, which uses its videoconferencing technology to remotely connect employees with doctors. It is working with UnitedHealth Group to offer the service more broadly.

The service has encountered resistance in states where it is already available. Texas law requires that before doctors consult with patients or prescribe medicine online or over the phone, they form a relationship through means like a physical examination.

The Texas Medical Board, which regulates doctors in the state, is evaluating its telemedicine policies in light of new technologies. But Mari Robinson, executive director of the board, said that an online or telephone exam was inadequate if doctors and patients had not met in person and was “not allowed under our rules.”

After American Well’s service began in Hawaii last year, lawmakers passed legislation that allowed doctors and patients to establish a relationship online, though the Hawaii Medical Association opposed the bill.

“From our perspective, we still are a little bit concerned that a relationship can be established online with no prior relationship,” said April Troutman Donahue, the association’s executive director.

American Well and OptumHealth predict that health care professionals will adapt. “This is new technology, so you have a lot of code written that doesn’t take these medical technologies into account,” said Rob Webb, chief executive of OptumHealth Care Solutions.

Many patients seem ready to embrace the new technology. In a recent study, a Harvard research team at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center found that patients were comfortable with computers playing a central role in their health care and expected that the Web would substitute for face-to-face doctor visits for routine health problems.

Keeping Foreign Labor out

The open border USA?

Not quite.

How about India, one of the very countries that has exported labor to the US over the past 15 years, allowing it to become an 'economic miracle' :

Vietnam and India are among the nations that have moved to impose new labor rules for foreign companies and restrict the number of Chinese workers allowed to enter, straining relations with Beijing.

December 21, 2009
Uneasy Engagement

China’s Export of Labor Faces Scorn

TRUNG SON, Vietnam — It seemed as if this village in northern Vietnam had struck gold when a Chinese and a Japanese company arrived to jointly build a coal-fired power plant. Thousands of jobs would start flowing in, or so the residents hoped.

Four years later, the Haiphong Thermal Power Plant is nearing completion. But only a few hundred Vietnamese ever got jobs. Most of the workers were Chinese, about 1,500 at the peak. Hundreds of them are still here, toiling by day on the dusty construction site and cloistered at night in dingy dormitories.

“The Chinese workers overwhelm the Vietnamese workers here,” said Nguyen Thai Bang, 29, a Vietnamese electrician.

China, famous for its export of cheap goods, is increasingly known for shipping out cheap labor. These global migrants often work in factories or on Chinese-run construction and engineering projects, though the range of jobs is astonishing: from planting flowers in the Netherlands to doing secretarial tasks in Singapore to herding cows in Mongolia — even delivering newspapers in the Middle East.

But a backlash against them has grown. Across Asia and Africa, episodes of protest and violence against Chinese workers have flared. Vietnam and India are among the nations that have moved to impose new labor rules for foreign companies and restrict the number of Chinese workers allowed to enter, straining relations with Beijing.

In Vietnam, dissidents and intellectuals are using the issue of Chinese labor to challenge the ruling Communist Party. A lawyer sued Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung over his approval of a Chinese bauxite mining project, and the National Assembly is questioning top officials over Chinese contracts, unusual moves in this authoritarian state.

Chinese workers continue to follow China’s state-owned construction companies as they win bids abroad to build power plants, factories, railroads, highways, subway lines and stadiums. From January to October 2009, Chinese companies completed $58 billion of projects, a 33 percent increase over the same period in 2008, according to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.

From Angola to Uzbekistan, Iran to Indonesia, some 740,000 Chinese workers were abroad at the end of 2008, with 58 percent sent out last year alone, the Commerce Ministry said. The number going abroad this year is on track to roughly match that rate. The workers are hired in China, either directly by Chinese enterprises or by Chinese labor agencies that place the workers; there are 500 operational licensed agencies and many illegal ones.

Chinese executives say that Chinese workers are not always less expensive, but that they tend to be more skilled and easier to manage than local workers. “Whether you’re talking about the social benefits or economic benefits to the countries receiving the workers, the countries have had very good things to say about the Chinese workers and their skills,” said Diao Chunhe, director of the China International Contractors Association, a government organization in Beijing.

But in some countries, local residents accuse the Chinese of stealing jobs, staying on illegally and isolating themselves by building bubble worlds that replicate life in China.

“There are entire Chinese villages now,” said Pham Chi Lan, former executive vice president of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “We’ve never seen such a practice on projects done by companies from other countries.”

At this construction site northeast of the port city of Haiphong, an entire Chinese world has sprung up: four walled dormitory compounds, restaurants with Chinese signs advertising dumplings and fried rice, currency exchanges, so-called massage parlors — even a sign on the site itself that says “Guangxi Road,” referring to the province that most of the workers call home.

One night, eight workers in blue uniforms sat in a cramped restaurant that had been opened by a man from Guangxi at the request of the project’s main subcontractor, Guangxi Power Construction Company. Their faces were flushed from drinking Chinese rice wine. “I was sent here, and I’m fulfilling my patriotic duty,” said Lin Dengji, 52.

Such scenes can set off anxieties in Vietnam, which prides itself on resisting Chinese domination, starting with its break from Chinese rule in the 10th century. The countries fought a border war in 1979 and are still engaged in a sovereignty dispute in the South China Sea.

Vietnamese are all too aware of the economic juggernaut to their north. Vietnam had a $10 billion trade deficit with China last year. In July, a senior official in Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security said that 35,000 Chinese workers were in Vietnam, according to Tuoi Tre, a progressive newspaper. The announcement shocked many Vietnamese.

“The Chinese economic presence in Vietnam is deeper, more far-reaching and progressing faster than people realize,” said Le Dang Doanh, an economist in Hanoi who advised the preceding prime minister.

Conflict has broken out between Vietnamese and Chinese laborers. In Thanh Hoa Province in June, a drunk Chinese worker from a cement plant traded blows with the husband of a Vietnamese shopkeeper. The Chinese man then returned with 200 co-workers, igniting a brawl, according to Vietnamese news reports.

One reason for the tensions, economists say, is that there are plenty of unemployed or underemployed people in this country of 87 million. Vietnam itself exports cheap labor; a half-million Vietnamese are working abroad, according to a newspaper published by the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor.

Populist anger erupted this year over a contract given by the Vietnamese government to the Aluminum Corporation of China to mine bauxite, one of Vietnam’s most valuable natural resources, using Chinese workers. Dissidents, intellectuals and environmental advocates protested. Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, the 98-year-old retired military leader, wrote three open letters criticizing the Chinese presence to Vietnamese party leaders.

No other government in the world so closely resembles that of China as Vietnam’s, from the structure of the Communist Party to economic policies and media controls. Vietnamese leaders make great efforts to ensure that China-Vietnam relations appear smooth. So over the summer, the central government shut down critical blogs, detained dissidents and ordered Vietnamese newspapers to cease reporting on Chinese labor and the bauxite issue.

But in a nod to public pressure, the government also tightened visa and work permit requirements for Chinese and deported 182 Chinese laborers from a cement plant in June, saying they were working illegally.

Vietnam generally bans the import of unskilled workers from abroad and requires foreign contractors to hire its citizens to do civil works, though that rule is sometimes violated by Chinese companies — bribes can persuade officials to look the other way, Chinese executives say.

At the Haiphong power plant, the Vietnamese company that owns the project grew anxious this year about the slow pace of work. It sided with the Chinese managers in pushing government officials to allow the import of more unskilled workers.

The Chinese here are sequestered in ramshackle dorm rooms and segregated by profession: welders and electricians and crane operators.

A poem written on a wooden door testifies to the rootless nature of their lives: “We’re all people floating around in the world. We meet each other, but we never really get to know each other.”

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Federal running of Medicare

... and they want to use this 'expertise' to run ALL healthcare .

Note the very last paragraph that shows the expertise and efficiency of the current Medicare program and how it is managed by the Federal Gov't :

The raids came a week after a report that Miami-Dade County got more than half a billion dollars from Medicare in home health care payments intended for the sickest patients in 2008, more than the rest of the country combined, even though only 2 percent of those patients nationwide live there.

December 16, 2009

26 Arrested in Three States in Medicare Fraud Schemes

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Federal agents arrested 26 suspects in three states on Tuesday, including a doctor and nurses, in a crackdown on Medicare fraud totaling $61 million.

Arrests in three separate cases in Brooklyn, Detroit and Miami included a Florida doctor accused of running a $40 million home health care scheme that falsely listed patients as blind diabetics so he could bill for twice-daily nurse visits.

The Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services said 32 indicted suspects lined up bogus patients and otherwise billed Medicare for unnecessary medical equipment, physical therapy and infusions for H.I.V.

The doctor in Miami, Dr. Fred E. Dweck, along with 14 people with whom he worked, was accused in an indictment of running a scam to tap a Medicare program that pays high rates to care for the sickest patients.

Dr. Dweck referred about 1,250 Medicare beneficiaries for expensive and unnecessary home health and therapy services, the indictment said, and bribed the owners of two clinics in Miami to join the scam. He also faked medical certifications, according to the indictment.

A telephone listing for Dr. Dweck could not be found.

Also arrested in Miami was Yudel Cayro, owner of Courtesy Medical Group. He is accused of stealing millions of dollars from Medicare.

“No matter what type of fraud is committed, there is one common denominator and that denominator is greed,” said Lanny Breuer, an assistant attorney general. “Medicare fraud is not a victimless crime. It hurts every American taxpayer by raising the cost of health care.”

The raids came a week after a report that Miami-Dade County got more than half a billion dollars from Medicare in home health care payments intended for the sickest patients in 2008, more than the rest of the country combined, even though only 2 percent of those patients nationwide live there.


A feel good story.

Finally many 'victims' of predatory lending are getting the relief they 'deserve'.

At the bottom of the article they discuss the case of Rosie Brooks.

She bout her house for $38,000 so the mortgage was originally less than this. She then used her house as an ATM, she ' ....had refinanced the loan a couple of times..' , so that eventually her mortgage had swelled to $42,000.

So what does she get for this behavior ? 'The bank forgave her entire debt in exchange for a one-time payment of just $3,000.'

So this is a feel good story?

Well , for these fortunate few no doubt.

Not so for the vast majority of mortgage holders who did not get involved with the re-mortgage-a-round ride of the last 10 years.

I have not re-mortgaged my house numerous times, but I would like some 'relief' from my mortgage payments also.

Fat chance.

They system rewards the abusers. And those who stay the straight-and-narrow actually pay for the abusers, i.e. the bank gets the money to 'forgive' from other depositers and honest loan keepers.

Extreme modifications: 2% mortgages

By Les Christie, staff writer

NEW YORK ( -- At 8 a.m., homeowner Rodney Wynn was drowning under his $1,800-per-month, 13.4% interest rate mortgage. But by 5 p.m., he had found some relief: a 4.7% loan with a $970 monthly payment.

Wynn, a program director for a youth home in North Carolina, is just one of a growing number of homeowners getting dream workouts on their mortgages. Some are even getting sweet 2% deals.

Rosie Brooks had her $48,000 mortgage forgiven in exchange for a one-time $3,000 payment.

Nearly 80% of all loan modifications resulted in lower payments in the second quarter (the latest figures available), according to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Office of Thrift Supervision. That's up from just over 50% three months earlier. Still, just a paltry 4% of all homeowners in need of workouts are receiving them.

When loans are made affordable, borrowers are less likely to default. A year after modifications, according to the OCC report, just 34% of borrowers whose loan payments had been reduced 20% or more had redefaulted compared with 63% of borrowers whose payments had been left unchanged.

"We're hearing there's a lot more give from lenders," said Rick Sharga, a spokesman for RealtyTrac, the online marketer of foreclosed properties. "It often makes sense for the banks to take anything they can get."

Wynn was able to get his modification at a "Save the Dream" event offered by the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA) in New York City last Friday.

Lenders from nearly all the major banks and servicers were in attendance and promising to restructure loans based on what borrowers could afford. As a result, many homeowners walked in with their mortgage problems and walked out with solutions.

In fact, according to Bruce Marks, NACA's founder, 40% of attendees left with decisions the same day. About 80% are expected to receive workouts within weeks. His organization has already hosted about 400,000 borrowers at more than a dozen of these events.

The most common restructuring seemed to be one that reduced interest rates to the minimum of 2% for the entire life of the loan. That's partially because NACA has agreements with all the top lenders to reduce interest rates to as low as 2% if that's what it takes to make loans affordable.

For example, Californians Steve and Elena Servi received a 2% fixed-rate loan from Wells Fargo that replaced the 6.75% adjustable rate mortgage on their Rowland Heights house.

"We had a jumbo loan and we thought no one would work with us," said Elena.

But it's in the bank's self interest to salvage deals -- even if it means slashing payments -- because the alternative, foreclosure, can cost them more.

"We're getting a lot of borrowers looking for a better interest rate," said Jason Ferebee, a Wells Fargo Community Relations exec who was supervising his company's operation at the NACA event.

He explained that his auditors send each applicant through a kind of flow chart, or "waterfall" as he called it, of possible fixes. It starts with seeing if they fit the guidelines for a Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) workout. If borrowers don't qualify, then the bank will go through a series of its own programs, ticking down the list to more radical cuts until they reach one that's affordable for the borrower.

At that point, the lender then decides whether it's more profitable to offer that workout or take the borrower to foreclosure. Most times these days, they try harder to make the modification work; foreclosures are simply too costly.

In the case of the Servis, their house had lost perhaps 40% of its value since they purchased it five years ago. Repossessing the home would have cost Wells Fargo more than $100,000 in lost value alone, plus the legal expenses, commissions, taxes and other expenses the bank would have incurred.

"I'd say we restructure loans for close to half the borrowers we see here," said Ferebee.

But wait, there's more

More severely stressed borrowers in many hard-hit areas have gotten even more radical deals. There are even some who are having their debts forgiven entirely.

"The interest rates they're offering [delinquent borrowers] are a lot lower than they used to be," said Tanya Davis, a foreclosure prevention counselor for Empowering and Strengthening Ohio's People (ESOP) in Cleveland. "They cut them to 0% for three years, then 2% for a year, then 4%, capping out at 5%. I have a case where they lowered the interest rate to zero for the entire life of the loan."

Lenders are very reluctant to repossess properties in the worst hit parts of cities such as Cleveland, according to Jim Rokakis, treasurer of Cuyahoga County, where Cleveland is located. "Rather than going to a sheriff's sale, some banks are just giving back the houses," he said.

Rosie Brooks, a retired hairdresser, has been paying off her house for more than 20 years, but it hasn't been easy since one of her daughters came down with leukemia 10 years ago.

"She was very sick and that cost me every dollar I had," she said. "I got behind."

She had paid $38,000 for the house and had refinanced the loan a couple of times. By last year, her mortgage balance was more than $42,000. She no longer works and is dependant on Social Security. The payments became impossible to afford.

She contacted ESOP, and her counselor, Scott Rose, knew her lender was unusually sympathetic. Three weeks later, Rose was able to tell Brooks that he had gotten her a workout -- and it was a real dream.

The bank forgave her entire debt in exchange for a one-time payment of just $3,000, which Rose was able to obtain through a loan from the county's foreclosure-prevention program.

Why was the bank so generous?

"To some extent, there an altruistic component to it," said Rose. "Mostly though, it's because it's in the bank's financial interest." To top of page

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Foreign invasion

... of US colleges.

A good news story in this harsh recession with millions out of work indefinitely.


Reports like these implicitly assume that Americans who read them are nitwits.

Well, that's a bit harsh. They probably just assume that the readers are graduates of US colleges, and perhaps with no better reasoning or reading skills than the people who write these articles.

Take this quote from the story :

“International education is domestic economic development,” Mr. Goodman said. “International students shop at the local Wal-Mart, rent rooms and buy food. Foreign students bring $17.8 billion to this country

They spend almost $18Billion at Wal-Mart ? Or any significant amount of $18Billion there?

I don't think so. The vast majority of this 'domestic economic development' is tuition and college costs. This is a boon for colleges as these students typically pay full freight.

Again, this is another example of journalists not being required to take a math course in their own college educations.

$18 billion divided by 670,000 foreign students is just $27,000 each. Most of this is tuition that goes to colleges. Where do they 'rent rooms and buy food' ? Wow, what a coincidence, again at colleges mostly.

At State schools , collecting $27K a year from a student is a pretty good deal, much higher than what they can charge locals from their states. A good business model.

The old phrase, 'What's good for General Motors is good for the USA' for this article has morphed into 'What's good for American Colleges is good for the USA'. The former was untrue chutzpah as is the the latter now.

And this quote is also inadvertently funny ... more Chinese coming here and shopping at Wal-Mart , where they can buy virtually all Chinese-made goods. How's that for spurring the US economy!

By the way, haven't we been told that all US products are inferior to overseas ones without exception?

Why are US colleges deemed a better product than their foreign 'competitors'?

If they were better then wouldn't these US colleges also be producing some home-grown 'talent' , i.e. graduates ?

Then how come we have such an urgent need to take their graduates to fill our 'skilled' jobs here at home?

Many overseas Universities are 2nd rate ?

Then how come we have such an urgent need to take their graduates to fill our 'skilled' jobs here at home?

November 16, 2009

China Is Sending More Students to U.S.

American universities are enrolling a new wave of Chinese undergraduates, according to the annual Open Doors report.

While India was, for the eighth consecutive year, the leading country of origin for international students — sending 103,260 students, a 9 percent increase over the previous year — China is rapidly catching up, sending 98,510 last year, a 21 percent increase.

“I think we’re going to be seeing 100,000 students from each for years to come, with an increasing share of them being undergraduates,” said Peggy Blumenthal, executive vice president of the Institute of International Education, which publishes the report with support from the State Department.

Over all, the number of international students at colleges and universities in the United States increased by 8 percent to an all-time high of 671,616 in the 2008-9 academic year — the largest percentage increase in more than 25 years, according to the report.

With the current recession, the influx of international students has been especially important to the American economy, according to Allan E. Goodman, president of the institute.

“International education is domestic economic development,” Mr. Goodman said. “International students shop at the local Wal-Mart, rent rooms and buy food. Foreign students bring $17.8 billion to this country. A lot of campuses this year are increasing their international recruitment, trying to keep their programs whole by recruiting international students to fill their spaces.”

The number of international students exceeded the past peak enrollment year, 2002-3, by 14.5 percent. In 2008-9, undergraduate enrollment rose 11 percent, compared with only a 2 percent increase in graduate enrollment.

In China, that shift has been quite sharp. Last year, China sent 26,275 undergraduates and 57,451 graduate students to the United States — compared with 8,034 undergraduates and 50,976 graduate students five years earlier.

Ms. Blumenthal said the growing share of undergraduates would change the face of the Chinese students’ presence in the United States.

“It used to be that they were all in the graduate science departments, but now, with the one-child policy, more and more Chinese parents are taking their considerable wealth and investing it in that one child getting an American college education,” she said. “There’s a book getting huge play in China right now explaining liberal arts education.”

The book, “A True Liberal Arts Education,” by three Chinese undergraduates from Bowdoin College, Franklin & Marshall College and Bucknell University, describes the education available at small liberal arts colleges, and the concept of liberal arts, both relatively unknown in China.

Meanwhile, many large public universities are devoting new resources to building up their share of international undergraduates. The State University of New York, for example, recently made Mitch Leventhal the vice chancellor for global affairs. Mr. Leventhal, who at the University of Cincinnati helped build a network of ties abroad, expects to increase undergraduate recruiting, especially in India and China.

“There’s growing disposable income in China, and not enough good universities to meet the demand,” he said. “And in China, especially, studying in the United States is a great differentiator, because when students get home, they speak English.”

Although the report tracks only the 2008-9 numbers, a smaller survey by the institute last month found that over all, the increase in international students seems to be continuing, with China remaining strong. Of the institutions surveyed this fall, 60 percent reported an increase in Chinese students, and only 11 percent a decline. In contrast, the number of institutions reporting increases in their enrollment of Indian students equaled the number reporting declines.

The survey also found continuing growth this year in the number of students from the Middle East, and continuing declines in the numbers from Japan.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Another indication that ...

... an elementary-level math course is not a requirement for a Journalism degree.

'Sergeant Todd, 42, is a native of California who spent most of his adult life as a military police officer in the Army. He left the military police after 25 years to join the civilian force at Fort Hood. Like most members of the military, he has moved around a lot, serving at four bases in the United States and two in Germany.'

Since he is working on the civilian force and had a 25 year career already we can assume that he has worked over 25 years.

Being 42 years old that would mean 42 -25 = 17. He joined the military at 17. If he has worked at least one year as a civilian then he would have had to join the military at 16.

It's not legal to join up before age 18.

What about his birth certificate? That would prove his age.

Well if his commander-in-chief doesn't have to produce one why would a former troop have to?

November 12, 2009

At Fort Hood, Witness Credits Second Officer

KILLEEN, Tex. — Sgt. Kimberly D. Munley has been applauded as a hero across the nation for shooting down Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan during the bloody rampage at Fort Hood last week. The account of heroism, given by the authorities, attracted the attention of newspapers, the networks and television talk shows.

But the story of how the petite police officer and the accused gunman went down in an exchange of gunfire does not agree with the account of an eyewitness who had gone to the base’s processing center, where the shooting occurred, to conduct business before being deployed.

The witness, who asked not to be identified, said Major Hasan wheeled on Sergeant Munley as she rounded the corner of a building and shot her, putting her on the ground. Then Major Hasan turned his back on her and started putting another magazine into his semiautomatic pistol.

It was at that moment that Senior Sgt. Mark Todd, a veteran police officer, rounded another corner of the building, found Major Hasan fumbling with his weapon and shot him.

How the authorities came to issue the original version of the story, which made Sergeant Munley a national hero for several days and obscured Sergeant Todd’s role, remains unclear. (Military officials also said for several hours after the shooting that Major Hasan had been killed, although he had survived.)

Six days after the deadly shooting rampage at a center where soldiers were preparing for deployment, the military has yet to put out a full account of what happened.

At a news conference outside the post on Wednesday, Lt. Col. John Rossi refused to take questions about who shot Major Hasan or why the initial reports said it had been Sergeant Munley rather than Sergeant Todd.

“These questions are specific to the investigation and I am not going to address that,” Colonel Rossi said.

Public affairs officials also declined to make Chuck Medley, the director of emergency services at the post, available for questions. It was Mr. Medley, who oversees the post’s civilian police and fire departments, who gave the first account of how Sergeant Munley stopped the gunman.

On Tuesday night, Lt. Col. Lee Packnett, of the Army’s Office of the Chief of Public Affairs at the Pentagon, declined to say whether it was Sergeant Todd who had shot Major Hasan. “It could have been, but the final outcome will be determined by the results of the ballistics tests.”

In an interview on Wednesday, Sergeant Todd’s wife, Lisa, said he had asked the Army to protect his identity in the immediate aftermath of the shootings. Her husband did not consider himself to be the real hero of the day, she said. “They were in this together,” she said.

Neither Sergeant Todd nor Sergeant Munley were made available by the military for this article, but on Wednesday on the “Oprah Winfrey Show,” they offered their first public comments on the shooting. They did not give a detailed chronology of what happened, nor did they say who had fired and hit the suspect.

Both are members of the civilian police force at Fort Hood. Sergeant Todd said on the talk show that he and Sergeant Munley had arrived at the Soldier Readiness Processing Center in separate squad vehicles about the same time.

Sergeant Todd acknowledged that he had played a major role in bringing the violence to an end. He said that he had fired at the suspect, kicked his weapon away and placed him in handcuffs. It was the first time in his 25 years in law enforcement and the military, Sergeant Todd said, that he had used his weapon.

“I just relied back on my training,” Sergeant Todd said. “We’re trained to shoot until there is no longer a threat. And once he was laying down on his back, his weapon just fell into his hand and I’m, like, ‘O.K., now’s the time to rush him and secure him.’ ”

The confusion over what happened and the quickness of the military to label someone a hero seemed reminiscent of the case of Pfc. Jessica Lynch in 2003, when the Army initially reported Private Lynch had been captured in Iraq after a Rambo-like performance in which she emptied her weapon and was wounded in battle. It was later learned she had been badly hurt in a vehicle accident during an ambush and was being well cared for by the Iraqis.

On Friday, the day after the Fort Hood shooting, Mr. Medley said Sergeant Munley had encountered Major Hasan, pistol in hand, chasing down a bleeding soldier. It was 1:27 p.m. She fired at him, he turned, they rushed at each other firing and both fell, Mr. Medley said.

“He turned and charged her rapidly firing, and she did what she was trained to do,” Mr. Medley said that day. He added, “She is absolutely a hero.”

Several hours later, at a late-night news conference on the post, Colonel Rossi expanded upon the story slightly in speaking to reporters. He said Sergeant Todd had arrived at the scene in the middle of the gunfight and had also fired his weapon.

The eyewitness, however, offered a different account. He said he was walking in a roadway between the main building, known as the Sportsdome, and five smaller buildings. Major Hasan was headed toward the main building, the witness said, when Sergeant Munley came around the corner of a smaller building. Major Hasan wheeled on her and shot her several times, the witness said. It was unclear whether she squeezed off a shot or not, but she fell over backward, disabled with wounds in her legs and one of her wrists, the witness said.

Major Hasan then turned his back on her and began to shove another magazine into his pistol. He did not appear wounded, the witness said. A few seconds later, Sergeant Todd came around another corner of the same building. He raised his weapon and fired several times at Major Hasan, who pitched over backward and stopped moving.

“He shot her, turned away from her and was reloading, when he was shot,” said the witness, who was nearby.

On the Winfrey show, Sergeant Munley, 35, said the incident was confusing and chaotic. “There were many people outside pointing to where this individual was apparently located,” she said. “When I got out of my vehicle and ran up the hill, that’s when it started getting bad and we started encountering fire.”

Sergeant Todd, 42, is a native of California who spent most of his adult life as a military police officer in the Army. He left the military police after 25 years to join the civilian force at Fort Hood. Like most members of the military, he has moved around a lot, serving at four bases in the United States and two in Germany.

Ms. Todd said her husband did not seem upset in the wake of shooting Major Hasan.

“He say’s he’s O.K.,” she said. “And I have to take him at his word.”

Good news for GM and America?

Not Quite.

'The Buick Regals sold in the U.S. will be built in Opel's factory in Russelsheim, Germany.'

Well, ok, manufacturing is a dirty business we'll do the higher-end work.

Note Quite.

'In Europe, where most of the engineering work on the car was done, it's sold as the Opel Insignia. The Insignia car was named 2009 European Car of the Year.'

So they have re-badged an Opel designed and built car and will sell it here.

That should help our economy and American workers.

An 'American' car company, GM, getting back on it's feet!

Those Toyotas and Hondas on American streets, many of them are made in the USA.

But they are 'foreign' companies.

Labels, they're a funny thing. A Buick that's not an American car and a Honda that is .

GM brings back the Buick Regal

The new model, which is slated to be unveiled in the U.S. next month, is already a hit in Europe and China.

By Peter Valdes-Dapena, senior writer

NEW YORK ( -- General Motors will bring back the Regal name on a new Buick car set to be unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show next month.

The 2011 Buick Regal will be smaller and sportier than the new Buick LaCrosse that went on sale this year. The new Regal is expected to hit the market in the spring.

"The Regal is the next chapter in Buick's transformation, and will expand the portfolio to include a sport sedan." said Susan Docherty, general manager of Buick GMC. Docherty is also in charge of sales for GM.

To attract more fuel-conscious consumers, the Regal will be offered with only four-cylinder engines, either turbocharged or not. The base engine will be a 182-horsepower 2.4. liter engine. A 220-horsepower 2.0-liter engine will become available in late summer. The car is expected to get 20 mpg in city driving and 30 on the highway with the base engine, and 18 and 29 mpg, respectively, with the turbocharged engine.

Turbocharged versions will also have suspension settings that the driver can select, so that ride quality and handling can be tuned for either sportier driving or more comfort. The suspension system will also automatically adapt to driving style.

A proven winner

The Regal will be new to the American market but it's been on sale in Europe and China for more than a year.

In Europe, where most of the engineering work on the car was done, it's sold as the Opel Insignia. The Insignia car was named 2009 European Car of the Year.

In China, where it was introduced at the end of 2008, more than 64,000 have been sold, according to GM.

The Buick brand's enormous popularity in China was a major reason that GM cited when it decided to keep the brand even as it shut down or spun off brands like Hummer, Saturn and Pontiac.

GM recently back-tracked on a decision to sell off a major part of its European Opel division. Opel has become an important engineering and design center for small and mid-sized front-wheel-drive cars within GM.

The Buick Regals sold in the U.S. will be built in Opel's factory in Russelsheim, Germany.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

We'll do the high-end stuff here

This is another example that puts the lie to the idea that lower-end work would (and should) migrate to lower-cost countries.

“The Riviera concept made us realize how small the world was,” Mr. Welburn, the design vice president, said. “It’s not east; it’s not west. It’s Buick.”

It has an interior done by a Chinese design lab and an exterior adapted by Americans from a Chinese design, all riding on what Mr. Federico calls “a heavily European-influenced chassis system.”

If they are to get the production duties and now they are doing the design also, what is left?

The engineering and electronics? Also done 'there'.

Accounting, bookkeeping ? Moving 'there'?

Executive suite? Surely set to move 'there' should the bailout resuscitate the company.

Lastly, taxes paid here? Sure to move 'there' when the company moves it's headquarters and incorporates overseas.

November 1, 2009
Design | Buick LaCrosse

How New Buicks Took Shape in China

THE idea of creating a new Buick in a design studio in China, as General Motors has done with the 2010 LaCrosse, is not as loopy as it might sound. Buicks have a certain cachet in China, dating back some eight decades to when the emperor bought one.

But today’s commercial imperative is more compelling than nostalgia: sales of Buicks in China first outpaced sales in the United States in 2006, and the margin is considerable today. For the first nine months of 2009, for instance, Buick sold 312,798 vehicles in China; in the United States, it sold 72,389.

In 1997 General Motors established two joint ventures with the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation in China. One was for manufacturing. The other venture, for design and engineering, is the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center. The center has done the engineering to adapt various G.M. global models for the Chinese market.

It was logical, then, to expect that the Chinese designers and engineers would eventually take the lead in developing a new vehicle for both markets. That became a reality in July 2006 when Ed Welburn, G.M.’s vice president for global design, gave the Shanghai center an assignment to develop a design study for introduction at the 2007 Shanghai auto show.

The design study would be a modern-day version of the Riviera, which in its 1963 version was a trend-setting personal luxury coupe with crisply chiseled surfaces inspired by vintage Rolls-Royces. After the Shanghai debut, the 2007 Riviera concept was not forgotten; its design language, drawn from Buick history and Chinese culture, became the basis for another concept, the Invicta of 2008, as well as the production 2010 LaCrosse.

Under the guidance of Min Cao, lead exterior designer for the Riviera concept, the Pan Asia team looked to the Buick Y-Job concept of 1938, designed by Harley Earl, and to classic Buicks of the ’50s and ’60s. Three signature elements were distilled from those decades: the waterfall grille, the portholes and a “sweep-spear” design line along the side.

The low, wide grille of the Y-Job, a stark contrast to the tall, narrow radiator grilles of that era — probably influenced by the pioneering Lincoln Zephyr — set the stage for the 1942 Buick’s thick convex vertical bars just above the front bumper, a theme continued through 1954. When the vertical bar theme was revived in the 1990s, the previous semi-elliptical form became a full ellipse and moved up the car’s face. A 2004 concept, the Vélite, moved it farther up and wrapped it over the leading edge of the hood, creating a true waterfall form. It was this design that was applied to the Riviera concept.

Portholes appeared in 1949 and were part of Buick styling through 1957, appearing occasionally after that. Usually they were on the side of the fender and were called ventiports; in theory, at least, they vented warm air from under the hood. The Riviera concept moved them to the upper surface of the hood — an extension of the front light clusters.

The sweep-spear styling accent was both a body contour that provided emphasis above the front and rear wheels and a diving chrome accent line that followed those forms. It faded from favor after 1958 on the mainstream models but was resurrected with the 1963 Riviera.

Drawing from Chinese cultural history as well, exterior designers looked to the yuan bao, a gold ingot with convex and concave surfaces, which inspired them to develop similar forms on the car, especially where the roof joined the rear deck and spoiler lip.

Early design sketches by Nenghua Liu, lead interior designer of the Riviera concept, showed a wraparound treatment that had no discernible start or finish. It was an attempt to provide a sense of sanctuary, a place where occupants would feel relaxed and tranquil. A theme of earth and water was adopted for the colors and textures, and avoided hard, aggressive forms. A jadelike material on backlighted interior surfaces was included to signify the importance of that stone in Chinese culture.

“The Riviera concept made us realize how small the world was,” Mr. Welburn, the design vice president, said. “It’s not east; it’s not west. It’s Buick.”

Making clear what the future held for the Riviera’s design, Mr. Welburn continued, “The Riviera communicates the global design vocabulary of the Buick brand and sets the stage for General Motors’ design, engineering and manufacturing centers to work together on the next generation of Buick midsize luxury cars.”

That foretold the path from the Riviera concept to the 2010 LaCrosse. Joining the Pan Asia team in that project were designers at the Warren, Mich., technical center and chassis and body engineers in Rüsselsheim, Germany.

Using virtual reality technology that permitted 3-D visualization of proposed designs, the widely scattered designers took styling themes developed for the coupe body of the Riviera concept and applied them to a four-door sedan based on the new midsize car architecture developed for Opel’s flagship, the Insignia. The Riviera’s pair of gullwing doors gave way to four conventional doors.

The sedan was revealed at the Beijing auto show in 2008 as the Invicta concept. Other than a different front fascia, it was pretty much the 2010 LaCrosse that made its debut at the 2009 Detroit show.

The exterior of the LaCrosse clearly carries design themes drawn from the Riviera. It has a design line that runs along the top of the body side and around the car and is said to have been inspired by Chinese ribbon dancing. It also carries forward the sweep-spear tradition for Buick. Most of the Riviera’s exterior forms have been squared up slightly for a more efficient use of space.

November 1, 2009
Behind the Wheel | 2010 Buick LaCrosse

A Buick With Higher Aspirations

AS if the world needed more proof that General Motors’ stars were out of alignment, the company managed to introduce some of its best cars — true world-class competitors — just before it tumbled into the disgrace of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. G.M. finally found the magic formula just as the momentum from decades of mediocrity carried it over the edge.

The latest example of this belated excellence is the 2010 Buick LaCrosse, which joins other top-notch latecomers — like the Buick Enclave, the Cadillac CTS, the GMC Acadia and the Chevrolet Malibu and Traverse — in the newly shrunken universe of G.M. dealer showrooms.

If your forehead crinkles in mystification at the name LaCrosse, allow me to explain. It is Buick’s midsize front-drive sedan, now available with an all-wheel-drive option. But forget the old car, which was a vehicular nonentity. The new model is quite different, and for a good reason.

“LaCrosse plays a huge role in terms of changing the way people think of the Buick brand,” said Craig Bierley, Buick’s product marketing director.

The LaCrosse was an international effort with new mechanical underpinnings that G.M. calls its “midsize global platform.” Developed in Europe, it was first used for the Opel Insignia, voted the 2009 Car of the Year by European auto writers.

But Jim Federico, G.M.’s global vehicle line executive for midsize cars, says the LaCrosse is not a rebadged Insignia with a green card in the glovebox. It has an interior done by a Chinese design lab and an exterior adapted by Americans from a Chinese design, all riding on what Mr. Federico calls “a heavily European-influenced chassis system.”

The 2010 LaCrosse is about the same size as its predecessor, but the look is new. One interesting element is that Buick’s signature “portholes” are on the hood, facing up, rather than on the fenders. Mr. Federico said this was no manufacturing mistake, that putting them on the side would have disrupted the design. “It broke up the car,” he said. “It was not flowing. You had lost the harmony.”

The cabin has a lovely flowing theme that manages to look fresh but not quirky. Many surfaces and panels are soft. The front seats are comfortable, and the back seat has gained about three inches of legroom, a huge increase. There’s enough room for a six-foot passenger to be comfortably seated behind a six-foot driver. Since the LaCrosse is also being built and sold in China — where the big back seat is expected to make it a midsize limo for capitalistic Communists — G.M. had the interior done by the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center, a joint venture with the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation.

My biggest complaint about the interior: there are no trays on which something can be kept in view and easily retrieved.

The 13-cubic-foot trunk provides reasonable storage, although it is smaller — by three cubic feet — than the old model’s.

Buick has decided that one of its brand characteristics will be hushed motoring. Even on the highway there is almost no wind noise. The sound that does intrude tends to come up from the road.

The LaCrosse comes with all the important safety equipment, from electronic stability control to side-impact air bags. After crash-testing the LaCrosse, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety declared it a “top safety pick.”

Mr. Bierley, the marketing director, says the LaCrosse is aimed at buyers in their late 40s and 50s. “The people that we are hoping to attract do not want a soft, cushy ride,” he said. “They do not want to feel every bump in the road, but they want to be connected to the driving experience.”

The LaCrosse team managed that tricky compromise. On a rough surface, the suspension deflects all but the worst impacts. The body is also solid and shake-free. Upward body movements are well controlled, which keeps the LaCrosse from feeling floaty, like so many Buicks of yesteryear.

To my knowledge nobody has ever accurately used “agile” and “Buick” in the same sentence, and though the thought crossed my mind I am reluctant to do so here. But for a front-drive two-ton vehicle, the LaCrosse is surprisingly quick to respond and feels nicely connected to the driver, although the steering could use a little more feel.

Two months ago, Mark LaNeve, at the time G.M.’s vice president for United States sales, said quality issues at the assembly plant in Kansas City, Kan., were holding up delivery of the LaCrosse. In an e-mail message, Randal Fox, a Buick spokesman, said, “The issues are minor (mainly fit and finish), but we want to make sure the cars are right before they’re shipped.” Last week, Mr. Fox said full-speed production had resumed by the end of September.

The midgrade LaCrosse, the CXL, has a 255-horsepower, direct-injection 3-liter V-6 and a 6-speed automatic. The transmission’s gear ratios were well chosen, assuring a quick response and strong acceleration under all conditions. The transmission is also smart enough that midway through a slow turn, just when the driver is ready to accelerate, it immediately and smoothly slips down a couple of gears.

Cruising at 65 miles per hour in sixth gear, the engine works at a relaxed, quiet and fuel-efficient 1,400 r.p.m. The federal mileage rating is 17 miles per gallon city and 26 m.p.g. highway. That is less than the 2009 model, which got 17 m.p.g. in town and 28 on the highway with a 3.8-liter V-6 and a 4-speed automatic. But that engine had 55 less horsepower and was propelling a vehicle 500 pounds lighter.

The fanciest LaCrosse, the CSX, comes with a 280-horsepower 3.6-liter direct-injection V-6, also with the 6-speed automatic. Oddly, its 17/27 m.p.g. rating gives it a 1 m.p.g. highway fuel economy advantage over the smaller engine.

Late this year, in an unusual move for a near-luxury brand, Buick will offer a direct-injection 4-cylinder (2.4 liters, 182 horsepower) as the standard engine in the base-level CX. Mr. Federico says that version is expected to go from zero to 60 m.p.h. in 9.2 seconds and deliver 20/30 m.p.g. That car is expected to cost slightly less than the current CX, which has the 3-liter and a base price of $27,835.

The CXL starts at $30,395 and offers all-wheel drive for an additional $2,175. The CXS is $33,765 and up.

I tested a CXL, which is expected to account for half of LaCrosse sales. Options like a navigation system, heated and cooled front seats and a fancy stereo brought the sticker price to $35,915. What one gets for that money is a near-luxury sedan with a distinctive style that is also interesting to drive. It recognizes that while baby boomers are getting older, they still want a connection with their cars.

The LaCrosse also means good news for the bigger picture. Not only should it help to end Buick’s serial identity crisis, but its underlying structure will be used on a fistful of other G.M. vehicles, including a new Regal to be introduced next year. That bodes well for a company that just limped out of Chapter 11 and is hoping its next chapter will be a happier one.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Economics writers

.... don't need to take any courses in logic obviously:

WASHINGTON – The unemployment rate rose to 9.8 percent in September, the highest since June 1983, as employers cut far more jobs than expected.

The report is evidence that the worst recession since the 1930s .....

If this is the highest unemployment rate since 1983, which by implication is the last time it was this high or higher yet, then how come the current recession is then compared to the 1930's ?

Wouldn't this then be the worst recession since 1983 ? (unemployment in the 1930's peaked around 25%) .

By using this incorrect comparison the writer is being subtly sympathetic to the current Federal administration implying that it is struggling with an economic situation unseen since the great depression.

And therefore we should cut it some slack, not blame the current administration's effort and allow for more time for the economy to unwind.

But the very first two lines cited above put the lie to this comparison.

The writer uses false logic, but can the reader see through this ?

Usually not. People read 'trusted sources' with a low skepticism radar and accept the 'straight reporting'.

The straight reporting is then referenced elsewhere where it becomes more an 'accepted fact'.

Jobless rate reaches 9.8 percent in September

WASHINGTON – The unemployment rate rose to 9.8 percent in September, the highest since June 1983, as employers cut far more jobs than expected.

The report is evidence that the worst recession since the 1930s is still inflicting widespread pain and underscores one of the biggest threats to the nascent economic recovery: that consumers, worried about job losses and stagnant wages, will restrain spending. Consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of the nation's economy.

The Labor Department said Friday that the economy lost a net total of 263,000 jobs last month, from a downwardly revised 201,000 in August. That's worse than Wall Street economists' expectations of 180,000 job losses, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters.

The unemployment rate rose from 9.7 percent in August, matching expectations.

"The labor market is still going backwards," economist Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors, wrote in a note to clients.

The report also points to an uneven economic rebound, analysts said.

"We remain convinced that we are in the early stages of an economic recovery," said Michelle Meyer, an economist at Barclays Capital. But today's report "suggests the recovery will be bumpy in the beginning."

If laid-off workers who have settled for part-time work or have given up looking for new jobs are included, the unemployment rate rose to 17 percent, the highest on records dating from 1994.

According to a separate report Friday, U.S. factory orders fell in August by the largest amount in five months.

The Commerce Department said demand for manufactured goods dropped 0.8 percent, much worse than the 0.7 percent gain that economists had expected. The August decline reflected plunging demand for commercial aircraft, a category that surged in July.

The weak reports sent the stock market down in morning trading. The Dow Jones Industrial average fell 49 points, while broader indexes also declined.

More than a half-million unemployed people gave up looking for work last month. Had they continued searching, the official jobless rate would have been higher.

The number of people out of work for six months or longer jumped to a record 5.4 million, and they now make up almost 36 percent of the unemployed — also a record.

All told, 15.1 million Americans are now out of work, the department said. And more than 7.2 million jobs have been eliminated since the recession began in December 2007.

Many analysts expect the economy grew at a healthy clip in the July-September quarter, technically ending the recession, but few think the recovery will be strong enough to lower the jobless rate. Most economists expect the rate to top 10 percent and keep climbing.

The economy has received a boost from the Cash for Clunkers auto rebate program and other government stimulus efforts, but many economists believe that growth will slow in the current quarter and early next year as the impact of those programs fade.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Thursday that even if the economy were to grow at a 3 percent pace in the coming quarters, it would not be enough to quickly drive down the unemployment rate. Bernanke said the rate is likely to remain above 9 percent through the end of 2010.

Besides the sagging jobs market, other potential obstacles to a smooth recovery include wary consumers, the troubled commercial real estate market, and a tight lending environment for individuals and businesses, said Eric Rosengren, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

"These challenges will likely make the recovery rather restrained by historical standards, with subdued levels of spending and lending continuing to hold back a more rapid recovery," Rosengren said in a speech in Boston on Friday.

Against that backdrop, key monetary and fiscal policy supports will need to be keep in place to help foster a recovery, Rosengren said.

Hourly earnings rose by a penny last month, while weekly wages fell $1.54 to $616.11, according to the government data.

The average hourly work week fell back to a record low of 33 in September. That figure is important because economists are looking for companies to add more hours for current workers before they hire new ones.

The uncertainty that surrounds the recovery has made employers reluctant to hire. The Business Roundtable, a group of CEOs from large corporations, said earlier this week that only 13 percent of its members expect to increase hiring over the next six months.

While job losses have slowed since the first quarter of this year when they averaged 691,000 a month, the cuts actually worsened last month in many sectors compared with August.

Construction jobs fell by 64,000, more than the 60,000 eliminated in August. And service sector companies cut 147,000 jobs, more than double the 69,000 in the previous month. Retailers lost 38,500 jobs, compared to less than 9,000 in August.

Government jobs fell 53,000, the report said, with local governments cutting the most.

Temporary help agencies eliminated 1,700 jobs, down from the previous month, but still a sign of labor market weakness. Economists see temporary jobs as a leading indicator, as employers are likely to hire temp workers before permanent ones.

President Barack Obama said in a speech earlier this week that his $787 billion stimulus package and other efforts have "broken our economic freefall," though he acknowledged the labor market hasn't improved.

Republicans charge that continued job losses are evidence that the stimulus was an expensive failure.

Graduate Level bullying

You need to the next to the last paragraph to determine what types of 'disability' are mostly targeted. This information should be at the beginning of the article.

I was curious what types of disabled are targeted. Are these cowardly criminals targeting paraplegics? Or perhaps the blind?

No, not those :

The study found that people with cognitive disabilities such as mental retardation, developmental disabilities and cerebral palsy represented the largest group of victims.

Bullying is preying on the weak and bullies in schools pick on those who they see as having an emotional makeup that will preclude them from standing up to the aggression. So the bully can get both his reward such as money or favors and also he can act out some level of physical aggression.

People who suffer from mental disabilities are also perceived as most likely not to resist. And as they become adults trying to live on their own or have some independence they are open to mor opportunities to become targets for these same predators.

A study should be done on the reverse side of this, i.e. who are the types of people who commit violent acts against mentally disabled people?

The profile that will undoubtedly emerge will be people who were bullies when they were young and have now graduated to more serious violent bullying as they got older.

Study: Disabled more likely to be victims of violent crime

  • Story Highlights
  • Study: Young, middle-age disabled people more likely to be victimized
  • Many of the crimes were committed by people who didn't know victims, study finds
  • Study: People with cognitive disabilities represented largest group of victims
By Terry Frieden
CNN Justice Producer

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- People with disabilities are 50 percent more likely to be victims of violent crimes than are people without disabilities, according to a government study released Thursday.

The first national study of its kind found that a wide range of disabled people -- including blind, deaf, developmentally disabled, and others with physical and mental limitations -- were victims of assaults, rapes and robberies in 716,000 cases in 2007.

The study by the U.S. Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics said instances of violence against disabled people occurred overall 1½ times the rate of those without disabilities, but the numbers varied by age group.

The most vulnerable groups were disabled people ages 12 to 19 and 35 to 49, for whom victimization occurred at nearly twice the rate of non-disabled persons.

Michael Rand, chief of victimization research for the Bureau of Justice Statistics, did not speculate on the reasons for the findings.

"It's hard to say," Rand said. "We didn't try to get at motivations."

Rand, a co-author of the study, said many of the crimes were committed by people who did not know their victims. Forty percent of the crimes against disabled male victims were committed by strangers versus 45 percent against those without disabilities.

The difference for females was greater: 34 percent of disabled females were victimized by strangers versus 24 percent for women without disabilities.

The study found that people with cognitive disabilities such as mental retardation, developmental disabilities and cerebral palsy represented the largest group of victims.

Simple assaults accounted for about two-thirds of the crimes against disabled people in the study, which tallied 476,000 simple assaults, 114,000 aggravated assaults, 79,000 robberies, and 47,000 rapes or sexual assaults.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

They are pitching this as a somewhat 'strong' positive development.

Now I wasn't a math major but I can figure out percentage changes, which obviously business reporters cannot.

The 'rolling 4-week average' of claims fell from 572,750 to 570,000 ... 'more than expected!!!!' .

This is less than 1/2 of 1% .

If Claims continue at this 'more than expected!!!!' rate :
- every 2 months it'll be 1% better
- it'll be 6% better within a year
- it'll take 4-8 years to cut the Claims rate in half

Assuming that there are always some number of Claims even during good times and maybe 280K Claims per week is 'normal', then this sounds like a pretty long recession ahead of us.

Granted this decrease should greatly accelerate over the course of the next 12-18 months based on historical records from previous recessions. Hopefully.

The news media slants this minimal change as a great positive rather than strictly reporting the numbers and letting the reader determine the significance.

Damn the objectivity, full speed ahead.

Jobless claims fall more than expected

Initial filings for unemployment insurance slip by 26,000 to 550,000. Continuing claims also drop.

By Julianne Pepitone, staff reporter

NEW YORK ( -- The number of Americans filing for initial unemployment insurance fell last week, and ongoing claims also dropped, the government said Thursday.

There were 550,000 initial jobless claims filed in the week ended Sept. 5, down 26,000 from a revised 576,000 the previous week, the Labor Department said in a weekly report.

A consensus estimate of economists surveyed by expected 560,000 new claims.

The 4-week moving average of initial claims was 570,000 down 2,750 from the previous week's revised average of 572,750.

"We're still talking about declining at a slower pace, not outright job growth," said Tim Quinlan, analyst at Wells Fargo, who noted initial claims were at their lowest level since July.

Quinlan added that claims levels are well off the highs seen earlier this year amid mass layoffs, but they remain "roughly double what they would be in an expansionary economic environment."

Continuing claims: The government said 6,088,000 people filed continuing claims in the week ended Aug. 29, the most recent data available. That's down 159,000 from the preceding week's revised 6,247,000 claims.

The 4-week moving average for ongoing claims fell by 37,750 to 6,182,500, down from the prior week's revised average of 6,220,250.

The initial claims number identifies those filing for their first week of unemployment benefits. Continuing claims reflect people filing each week after their initial claim until the end of their standard benefits, which usually last 26 weeks.

The figures do not include those who have moved to state or federal extensions, nor people whose benefits have expired.

State-by-state data: A total of six states reported a decline in initial claims of more than 1,000 for the week ended Aug. 29, the most recent data available. Claims in Michigan fell the most, by 1,915.

Conversely, five states said that claims increased by more than 1,000. New York reported the most new claims at 4,546, which a state-supplied comment said was due to more layoffs in the transportation and service sectors.

Outlook: "In the short term, [claims] may give up some ground, but we probably have turned a corner," Quinlan said.

Wells Fargo estimates the recession ended in July, he said, but the labor market will likely not recover until the second quarter of 2010. Even when some signs of recovery are evident, "it will take a ton" to improve the unemployment rate, he added.

"It doesn't mean the economy overall is [still] in greater trouble, but it lags overall recovery," Quinlan said.

Initial claims will probably fall within a range of 500,000 and 600,000 through the end of 2009, Quinlan said.

"[Filings] could even fall below the 500,000 mark," Quinlan said. "That's optimistic, but it's possible."

Monday, September 7, 2009


The meaning of 'volunteer' must have changed lately, at least at the NYTimes, as evidenced by this paragraph :

His savings are gone. He lives with Ms. Olinger, who makes $10 an hour as a volunteer coordinator at a food pantry, Harvest Food and Outreach Center, where they also get groceries every week. It is her salary that pays their rent.

From this article :

Am I a volunteer at my job? Well, I voluntarily go in most work days and I voluntarily collect my paycheck even though I have other options such as being out-of-work and and without any income.

Yes I am a volunteer worker!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Our partners in 'Free trade'

China has built the world’s largest solar panel manufacturing industry by exporting over 95 percent of its output to the United States and Europe. But when China authorized its first solar power plant this spring, it required that at least 80 percent of the equipment be made in China.

The U.S. led the effort to bring China into the WTO because of their economic power but also supposedly because of their pledge to respect free and open trade.

Apparently 'free and open trade' only applies to the West's end of trade.

Globalization will bring the world together, but for economic warfare ?

July 14, 2009

Drawing Critics, China Seeks to Dominate in Renewable Energy

BEIJING — When the United States’ top energy and commerce officials arrive in China on Tuesday, they will land in the middle of a building storm over China’s protectionist tactics to become the world’s leader in renewable energy.

Calling renewable energy a strategic industry, China is trying hard to make sure that its companies dominate globally. Just as Japan and South Korea made it hard for Detroit automakers to compete in those countries — giving their own automakers time to amass economies of scale in sheltered domestic markets — China is shielding its clean energy sector while it grows to a point where it can take on the world.

Steven Chu, the American energy secretary, and Gary Locke, the commerce secretary, are coming here to discuss clean energy and global warming with Chinese leaders, and to see if progress can be made toward getting China to agree to specific targets for reductions in greenhouse gases. Agreement proved elusive during the Group of 8 summit meeting last week in Italy.

But Mr. Chu and Mr. Locke arrive as Western companies, especially Europeans, are complaining increasingly about Beijing’s green protectionism.

China has built the world’s largest solar panel manufacturing industry by exporting over 95 percent of its output to the United States and Europe. But when China authorized its first solar power plant this spring, it required that at least 80 percent of the equipment be made in China.

When the Chinese government took bids this spring for 25 large contracts to supply wind turbines, every contract was won by one of seven domestic companies. All six multinationals that submitted bids were disqualified on various technical grounds, like not providing sufficiently detailed data.

This spring, the Chinese government banned virtually any installation of wind turbines with a capacity of less than 1,000 kilowatts — excluding 850-kilowatt designs, a popular size for European manufacturers.

Lu Hong, the program officer for renewable energy in the Beijing office of the Energy Foundation, a nonprofit group seeking to support sustainable energy, said that China was willing to invest heavily in renewable energy industries precisely because it helps the Chinese economy.

“The Chinese government won’t consider such a big solar industry without considering the building up of the domestic industry,” she said, adding that China’s policies will also help address global warming.

Zhou Heliang, the president of the China Electrotechnical Society, a government entity that plays a broad role in national and provincial technology policy, predicted at the Wind Power Asia conference here on Friday that Chinese-owned companies would increase their share of the Chinese market by an additional 10 or 20 percentage points this year.

That would give them almost three-quarters of the domestic market, compared with a quarter for European and American companies — the reverse of the ratio four years ago.

This year, China passed the United States as the world’s largest market for wind energy. It is now building six wind farms with a capacity of 10,000 to 20,000 megawatts apiece, using extensive low-interest loans from state-owned banks.

By comparison, T. Boone Pickens delayed his plans to build a 4,000-megawatt wind farm in Texas, once promoted as the world’s largest.

Some foreign companies, particularly European businesses, are starting to express misgivings about China’s promotion of the local manufacturers.

European wind turbine makers have stopped even bidding for some Chinese contracts after concluding that their bids would not be seriously considered, said Jörg Wuttke, the president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China.

European turbine manufacturers are especially disappointed because they built factories in China in order to comply with the country’s requirement that turbines contain 70 percent local content, Mr. Wuttke said. Yet all the multinational manufacturers were disqualified on technical grounds within three days of bidding for wind farm contracts this spring, even as Chinese companies that had never built a turbine were approved, he said.

European solar power companies are also unhappy. “This is not a level playing field,” said Boris Klebensberger, the chief operating officer of SolarWorld AG, which is based in Bonn.

Mr. Wuttke said he was encouraged that Premier Wen Jiabao of China told Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany in a telephone call on June 25 that China would not discriminate against foreign enterprises, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

But no new Chinese renewable energy regulations have been issued since then on local content requirements or other rules.

American companies play a smaller role in the global renewable energy industry, but some of them are also growing exasperated with the Chinese market. “That has been a tough market for non-Chinese manufacturers,” said Victor Abate, General Electric’s vice president for wind energy.

Kevin Griffis, a Commerce Department spokesman, said that the agency had not heard from American companies about difficulties in the Chinese market for renewable energy.

“Generally speaking,” Mr. Griffis said, “we support a business environment that is open, transparent, and fair so that all companies are able to compete based on product performance, not country of origin.”

World Trade Organization rules ban countries from using local content requirements to force companies like the wind turbine manufacturers to set up factories in a country instead of exporting to it. But much of China’s power industry, although publicly traded, is majority owned by the government.

While China promised to sign the W.T.O. side agreement on government procurement “as soon as possible” when it joined the free trade group in 2001 and won low-tariff access to foreign markets, it has never actually signed the side agreement. So its huge state sector remains largely exempt from international trade rules.

Other rules are also making it hard for foreign manufacturers and investors to compete in China.

China’s renewable energy standard requires that renewable energy account for at least 3 percent of the generating capacity of each large power company, excluding hydroelectric power, by the end of next year. But the rules do not dictate how much electricity must actually be generated from that capacity.

So power companies have an incentive to buy the cheapest wind turbines available, so as to increase their renewable energy capacity — even if the turbines break down frequently and do not produce that much electricity.

Turbines from Chinese-owned companies tend to have slightly lower purchase prices than foreign-brand turbines, but have higher repair costs, so the life cycle costs are similar, according to Chinese experts. United Nations data from the trading of carbon credits shows that the Chinese-brand turbines produce less electricity because they are more frequently out of action.

Financial regulations for wind farms also make it harder for foreign-owned farms than domestic-owned farms to borrow money or to sell carbon credits. Even well-connected international funds like Nature Elements Capital have to look hard for projects, while less-connected funds have struggled to find any at all.

Mr. Zhou said that China was also working hard to develop its own capability to manufacture high-tech materials that can withstand the torque, humidity and other stresses that affect wind turbines.

Two American companies are leading suppliers of materials: PPG Industries of Pittsburgh, the leading maker of fiberglass and protective coatings for the wind turbine housings and blades, and the Zoltek Corporation of Bridgeton, Mo., the world’s dominant supplier of carbon fiber for the support struts inside the most high-tech blades.

A report last month by IHS, a global data company, concluded that Chinese wind turbine makers would soon start exporting. That is because Chinese wind farm installations could level off temporarily as the power grid struggles to install enough high-power lines to use all the electricity wind produces.

Asked whether European turbine manufacturers risked sharing Detroit’s overconfidence in the 1970s in the face of challenges from Japan, Mr. Wuttke said that European makers believed that their reputations for quality and reliability would protect them.