Good News Friday

As I mentioned, this week has been busy so I just have a few items. But hey, the best news of all is that it’s a three-day weekend! Yay!

• This week in Your Awesome Hippie Pope: Pope Francis says Christians should fight climate change, saying,

“Safeguard creation. Because if we destroy creation, creation will destroy us! Never forget this! … [...] Creation is for us to use well, not exploit …”

• Be sure to check out the first-ever Camelopardalid meteor shower tonight.

• Tanzanian children naturally immune to malaria may be the key to an anti-malaria vaccine.

• Austin Energy has signed a 20-year agreement with Recurrent Energy to purchase 150 megawatts of solar energy at under 5 cents per kilowatt-hour. That price is less than the,

[...] estimates for natural gas at 7 cents, coal at 10 cents and nuclear at 13 cents. It has also been suggested that a developer could overbuild the solar project beyond the contracted capacity and sell into the spot market if the developer gained approval from ERCOT.

Yes, DO tell me how coal and natural gas are cheaper than solar, I’m ALL ears.

• Related: Georgia’s first wind purchase has received approval from the state’s Public Service Commission. The state will buy wind from Oklahoma.

• In a historic deal, a $215 million fund has been created to protect 150 million acres of Brazilian Amazon rainforest.

• Pennsylvania’s governor won’t fight a court ruling overturning the state’s ban on gay marriage.

• Hey, guess what: NASA has a book on how to talk to extraterrestrials, and it’s free! I’ve gotta check this one out.

Good News, Tennessee Edition:

• A Vanderbilt poll of registered voters found only 23% support a state constitutional amendment granting the state legislature additional powers to restrict abortion in the state. 71% disapprove of the amendment.

• Gov. Haslam vetoed an “anti-flash mob” bill that would have reduced criminal penalties to corporate polluters by amending the vandalism statute. Sounds like this is another one of those boiler-plate ALEC bills that didn’t quite translate to Tennessee law.

This week’s cool video: I’m always busting Williamson County’s chops, but this video from the City of Franklin was pretty cute, IMHO:

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18 Comments

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18 responses to “Good News Friday

  1. In other good news. That bigoted asshole up in Wolfeboro, NH (the one who referred to the PotUS as that “fucking nigger”) finally resigned.

    OT, but so what; my nephew’s wife said that she was having “elevator dreams” so I told her.

    “I am from mid-western people. When we dream of elevators, they are always grain elevators. Here’s one link: http://www.dreaminginterpretation.com/what-do-elevators…/. It’s too bad that Freud’s not around or he’d prolly explain it, but he’s dead, so he Kant. If it’s any consolation he didn’t die Jung.”

    Bet she’s more concerned about ME, now, than she is about the dreams!

  2. A little more lithium sprinkled on your oatmeal prolly tamp those manic episodes right back down DC.

  3. CB

    Love the bermuda shorts. :D

  4. Jim in Memphis

    Hey DC – did you check with your local VA to make sure you are on the correct waiting lists for any future procedures? Luckily Obama knows about the problem now and he is going to get it fixed. Boy was he mad that this was going on without his knowledge!

    • At least Obama is trying to do something about it, unlike Bush and the Congressional Republicans, who cut the VA’s budget repeatedly, then trotted out soldiers for photo ops. Yes the budget is up now but so are costs. Thanks to Republican warmongering and Republican delusions that wars are free.

      Oh and remember this?

      “Senate Republicans blocked the veterans bill by using a procedural maneuver to invoke the 60 vote rule. The final vote to waive the budget point of order failed, 56-41. Only two Republicans (Sen. Dean Heller and Sen. Jerry Moran) joined with Democrats on the vote.

      “The only message that can be taken away from today’s vote is that Senate Republicans think it is more important to deny President Obama a “win” than it is to help our nation’s veterans. The bill contained provisions that would restore the COLA for vets, and protect them from losing their benefits in the event of another government shutdown. It also would have authorized the construction of 27 new clinics and medical facilities, and it would have provided tuition assistance to post-9/11 vets.”

      Wow, building new clinics … think that might have created JOBS, too? Can’t have that!

      Part of me wonders if this isn’t all part of a GOP plan to privatize the VA. We’ve seen it happen a million times: elect Republicans, they cut budgets under some false “the deficit is killing us” meme, then amazingly government programs no longer work efficiently. And that’s their excuse to privatize everything. Government designed to fail.

      • Jim in Memphis

        “unlike Bush and the Congressional Republicans, who cut the VA’s budget repeatedly,” Please show me the year that VA spending went down under either Bush or the GOP congress.

      • Okay. Try March 2003.

        Or 2005:

        “In October, the VA reported that more than 300,000 veterans nationwide were waiting for disability assessments to determine if they would receive benefits for injuries they received in combat. Many wait months.”

        Or, Army Times, June 2003: Nothing But Lip Service

        Or Bush’s 2009 budget: “WASHINGTON (AP) — The Bush administration’s budget assumes cuts to veterans’ health care two years from now — even as badly wounded troops returning from Iraq could overwhelm the system.”

        Or the sequestration, which didn’t hit the VA but did hit the DoD, where hundreds of thousands of veterans are employed, not to mention food stamps and job programs which many veterans use.

        If you look at the gross dollar amount it may appear that spending increased, but with thousands of injured veterans returning from the Bush-Cheney oil wars, needing more expensive and longterm care, it wasn’t close to enough. And then there’s this, from 2008:

        Hundreds of VA documents improperly shredded, review finds

        “A review of shredding bins at Department of Veterans Affairs benefits offices around the nation uncovered 489 documents improperly set aside for destruction, the VA confirmed on Thursday.

        “This includes documents in about two-thirds of the VA’s 57 regional benefits offices, including eight at the busiest, Bay Pines in St. Petersburg, the closest office for Tampa Bay’s 330,000 veterans.

        “These new numbers significantly expand the scope of what is turning into a major and embarrassing challenge for the VA.

        “The documents, which didn’t have duplicates at the VA, would have been critical in deciding veteran pension and disability claims. As a result, many veterans are asking whether their delayed or denied claims were affected by lost paperwork.

        “Now that the VA’s been caught with their pants down, everybody’s got to wonder if they’re affected,” said Paul Freeland, 72, a Marine veteran from Pinellas Park who accuses the VA of losing his paperwork on a denied disability claim.

        “With two VA attorneys convicted in the mid 1990s of purposefully destroying paperwork to ease their workload, one question the VA hopes to answer:

        “Is any of this deliberate?”

        And then there’s Senate Bill S.1982, known as the Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014, which the GOP filibustered.

        “…the measure fell four votes shy of the number needed to overcome a threatened GOP filibuster.

        “Every Democrat voted for the bill and only two Republican senators – Jerry Moran of Kansas and Dean Heller of Nevada – voted for the measure.”

        It would have “would have lengthened the period veterans are eligible to receive health care from the VA from five years to 10 years after deployment. The bill also would have allowed the VA to open 27 new health facilities, expand medical and dental care, make more veterans eligible for instate tuition at public universities, repeal the recent cut in cost-of-living adjustments for new enlistees and extend a program that provides care for veterans with mild to severe brain injuries.”

        I think it was Mitch McConnell who said “we can’t afford it.”

        I mean, you can TRY to make it sound like Bush cared about veterans for more than a photo op but no one buys it, least of all the veterans themselves. We all know this about privatizing the VA, as if the private sector healthcare is so wonderful, as if we don’t have wait times in the private sector.

        Fuck off, Jim.

      • Jim in Memphis

        http://hotair.com/archives/2014/05/22/is-the-va-scandal-a-funding-issue-or-a-leadership-failure/

        http://news.investors.com/052014-701560-va-budget-exploded-amid-chronic-treatment-delays.htm

        “From 2000 to 2013, outlays nearly tripled, while the population of veterans declined by 4.3 million.”

        Hmm looks like your information is false false false. No budget cuts by the GOP. No spending reductions at the VA, and the number of veterans has actually dropped not increased over the last 13 years.

      • “while the population of veterans declined by 4.3 million.”

        Jim you dumb fuck a Hot Air link, seriously? That’s not even worth discussing. And John Merline isn’t an “Investors Daily” journalist, he’s a right-wing opinion writer from the fucking Moonie Times. Stop linking to opinion pieces and hacks for starters.

        I’ve already showed where Bush and the GOP cut the VA budget many times. March 2003 the same month we invaded Iraq the VA budget lost $14 billion. Congress had to authorize and emergency appropriation of $1.5 billion two years later to make up for some of the loss. The VA has been constantly underfunded for years.

        The population of World War II veterans might have died off but we were creating a whole bunch of new ones with really expensive issues thanks to the Bush Cheney oil wars, not to mention what I’ve already stated elsewhere, about re-litigating claims from Vietnam due to Agent Orange due to the Nehmer decision, which you can fucking Google if you’re not too busy reading propaganda like Michelle Malkin.

        Fuck off Jim. I’m closing comments to this thread you’ve polluted it enough.

    • Gosh, Jimbo:

      I’m almost at a loss for words. Fortunately for me, and unfortunately for you, you fucking ASSHOLE, it is “almost”.

      This:

      “Results

      Data from 30,058 vascular operations in men at VA hospitals were compared with 5,174 cases performed at private-sector hospitals. The unadjusted 30-day mortality rate was notably lower in the VA system as compared with the private-sector group (3.4% versus 4.2%, p = 0.004). After risk-adjustment, there was no marked difference in mortality between the two hospital types. The unadjusted 30-day morbidity rate was also considerably lower in the VA hospitals as compared with the private sector (17.3% versus 22.3%, p < 0.0001). After risk-adjustment, morbidity in the VA system remained considerably lower than in the private sector, with an odds ratio of 0.84 (95% CI, 0.78 to 0.92).

      Conclusions

      In vascular surgical operations in men, the VA hospitals demonstrated a lower risk-adjusted 30-day morbidity rate than the private-sector group. There is no marked difference in adjusted mortality rates between the two types of institutions." (SOURCE: http://www.journalacs.org/article/S1072-7515(07)00321-3/abstract?cc=y?cc=y)

      is from several years back. Things have gotten far better at the VA than they were before the Walter Reed scandal.

      As many as 40 people may have died while awaiting care at the Phoenix VA according to the media. I wonder if they did a comparison for how many people died because they had no access to ANY healthcare except an ER? I'm gonna guess it's WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY more than 40 people in the same time period.

      I just LEFT the VA, dickhead and I stopped worrying about medical care when I went through the doors the first time. Oh, not the fact that some procedure might be botched or I might be given the wrong meds or get misdiagnosed–that shit happens all the time in the healthcare field and the VA is about as good/bad as the for-profit healthcare system. I just had a discussion with my pcp about some health issues and he said that he would love to just cut all of the red tape and give me what I want, but it's not up to him and I have to believe him because he doesn't get paid more money for taking care of one sort of patient than he does for taking care of some other sort. I was with him for the better part of a half-hour and I see him at least twice a year for check-ups.

      The VA has MILLIONS of patients, many of them elderly, service disabled, mentally/emotionally impaired and–believe it or not–some of them are nearly as much of an asshole as you–true story, Unlike the for-profits the VA cannot pick and choose who it will work with. It also cannot raise its prices or tell people that they need to sell their house to pay their bill. IF a person has private insurance or is above income/net worth thresholds they are subject to co-pays and might not even qualify for care if they are not service connected. But out of a veteran population that approaches 30 million people, the VA has about 9 million currently enrolled.

      If it was up to people like you, the VA would still be the joke that it became between the Vietnam War and 2005–thanks to the Party of GOD and their libertardlican fellow travelers.

      Educate yourself, until then shut the fuck up.

  5. Too big to succeed. Too big to fail. I do wish they’d make up their mind.

  6. Southern Beale:

    FWIW, the VA is already partially privatized. My clinic is run by a company from TX that has something like 30 clinics under management. It is not lost on me that things are a bit different when I go into the VAMedCenter in Syracuse. If I want to see a physician when I’m there, it’s likely it will happen that day even if it’s only a resident or sometimes a NP who will do the intake. They don’t always do what I want them to do but they always let me ask.

    • Speaking of privatizing the VA:

      VA turns to private hospitals for help:

      “The Department of Veterans Affairs says it will let more veterans obtain health care at private hospitals, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki announced Saturday.

      “Shinseki, who faces calls to resign amid reports of lengthy waiting lists and preventable deaths in the VA’s healthcare system, said the agency is “increasing the care we acquire in the community through non-VA care,” according to the Associated Press.”

      God I hate it when I’m right about this stuff. Republicans filibuster the VA bill in February, which included funds to open new clinics. They then wear their shocked face when there’s a backlog, bring out the pitchforks and torches, and in response the VA sends veterans to private hospitals. In the meantime, the GOP have a nice little “socialized medicine never works” meme that they will trot out forever and ever amen, i.e., “remember when the VA had that awful backlog and people died?”

      The discourse in this country is so one-dimensional.

      • The bill in February wouldn’t have put any bodies in hospital beds before next year, most likely. However, the GOP has been trying to gut the VA and other veterans organizations that depend on gummint money since, well, since the VA was established.

      • No of course not, but the point is, the Republicans are intent on creating crises to exploit for political gain and they seem to have succeeded in this case. And how many other attempts to get funding for VA clinics have they filibustered? The Republicans sole purpose during the entire Obama administration has been to obstruct.

  7. Yes, agreed. I’ve just had enough disagreements with them over the years to know that to a wingnut, a misplaced comma is evidence of blackhelicopterin’nannythugs so they will seize on what they see as a LIE about how the CURRENT budget battling (rather than the systemically pernicious legislative activity of the last 90 or so years) is the CAUSE!! 11tyone.

    You’re generally much better than I am at establishing correct framing. I blame it on my preoccupation with coining democomicneologisms! {;>)