Monday, November 30, 2015

Shit For Brains - A Cure for Cancer?

Egan was a friend of Muizelaar’s, and, like Terri Bradley, he had exhausted the standard therapies for the disease. The tumor had spread to his brain stem and was shortly expected to kill him. Muizelaar cut out as much of the tumor as possible. But before he replaced the “bone flap”—the section of skull that is removed to allow access to the brain—he soaked it for an hour in a solution teeming with Enterobacter aerogenes, a common fecal bacterium. Then he reattached it to Egan’s skull, using tiny metal plates and screws. . . as the consent form crafted by the surgeons, and signed by Egan and his wife, made clear, the procedure had never been tried before, even on a laboratory animal. Nor had it been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The surgeons had no data to suggest what might constitute a therapeutic dose of Enterobacter, or a safe delivery method. The procedure was heretical in principle: deliberately exposing a patient to bacteria in the operating room violated a basic tenet of modern surgery, the concept known as “maintaining a sterile field,” which, along with prophylactic antibiotics, is credited with sharply reducing complications and mortality rates. “The ensuing infection,” the form cautioned, “may be totally ineffective in treatment of the tumor” and could cause “vegetative state, coma or death.”

For four weeks, Egan lay in intensive care, most of the time in a coma. Then, on the afternoon of November 10th, Muizelaar learned that a scan of Egan’s brain had failed to pick up the distinctive signature of glioblastoma. The pattern on the scan suggested that the tumor had been replaced by an abscess—an infection—precisely as the surgeons had intended. “A brain abscess can be treated, a glioblastoma cannot,” Muizelaar told me. “I was excited, although I knew that clinically the patient was not better.”
It makes some kind of medical sense. Healthy, well organized tissue is pretty good at resisting bacterial infections, while disorganized, and often metabolically abnormal cancer tissue might be lacking in the ability to resist common infections.
. . . for decades talk has circulated in the field about glioblastoma patients who, despite hospitals’ efforts to keep the O.R. free of germs, acquired a “wound infection” during surgery to remove their tumors. These patients, it was said, often lived far longer than expected. A 1999 article in Neurosurgery described four such cases: brain-tumor patients who developed postoperative infections and survived for years, cancer-free.

Three of the patients were infected with Enterobacter, the fecal bacterium, and although the cases were anecdotal, and the alleged connection between the bacterium and survival was unproven, the notion became operating-room lore. One neurosurgeon, currently in private practice, told me that his former boss would joke during operations, “If I ever get a GBM, put your finger in your keister and put it in the wound.”
Unfortunately, it didn't work out in the end. The patients all died after various lengths of time, and the doctors got in trouble for violating all the rules.

But patients with no hope need to be free to allow doctors to try new therapies that offer some slight chance of success, and some way needs to be found to prevent their heirs for suing the doctors and hospitals after the fact, if, as will likely happen in most cases, the results are less than sterling.

Washington D.C. Sues EPA to Allow More Shit in the Potomac

The District’s water and sewer utility has sued the Environmental Protection Agency, alleging that it improperly calculated new limits on the amount of E. coli that the region’s sewage treatment facility may discharge into the Potomac River.

D.C. Water says the EPA didn’t account for the fact that the Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant can have spikes in E. coli levels when rain water rushes into the plant during storms. In addition to being in human waste, E. coli is found in animal waste that runs off lawns with rain water.
Not to mention wildlife. They poop too.
The lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court is being closely watched by sewer utilities across the country because they also must abide by limits on E. coli as specified in the permits that govern their wastewater treatment facilities.

D.C. Water said flaws in how the EPA calculated the new daily limits for its upcoming permit renewal would result in “unreasonable mandates” that would require as much as $1 billion in upgrades to the Blue Plains plant in Southwest D.C. Blue Plains, the largest such plant in the world, treats sewage for more than 2 million people in the District, and parts of suburban Maryland and Northern Virginia.
I've actually toured the Blue Plains plant once when we had a project to look that the output of toxics from the plant into the Potomac. It's remarkable how it takes the natural products of Washington D.C., literally a river of shit a piss, and produces a clear, clean disinfected stream of water. Most of the time. It can be overwhelmed when rain produces too much flow in the system.

Chesapeake Bay Strangely Clean

But, thankfully, the watermen of Tangier have found a happier topic of conversation. Lately and without a ready explanation, the bay around them looked unusually clear.

At times, it’s been the clearest some folks like Mayor James “Ooker” Eskridge can remember in years.

“It’s been the talk of the town some days,” the mayor said last week. “Lots of folks noticed it. … I was commenting to some of the other crabbers: We’ve got water like you’d see in the Caribbean.”

The mayor, a waterman himself, remembers first noticing the greater clarity toward the end of September. It’s typical for bay waters to sparkle more at that time as temperatures drop and algae growth slows. But this fall, even some old-timers have been struck by just far down into the water they could peer some days.
Another thing that contributes to the clarity in fall that the article didn't mention is that the community of organisms that filter algae, oysters, clams and mussels, and a host of attached animals like sea squirts, grows up over the summer, so that they are able to filter the water faster in fall. That, combined with the reduced algae growth due to less light and lower temperatures results in much lower amounts of algae in the water. Combine that with a good stretch of favorable (not rainy) weather, and you can get remarkable water clarity.

I've seen very clear water in Fall before; sometimes we have been able to see almost 10 feet down, but it seems better and more widespread this year. The last time I was out in the eastern shore islands with Pete, it was very clear, and we could see more of the foundation of the old house on Holland Island than ever before, even on a pretty high tide.
Now, scientists have become intrigued. Is it a one-time event or a sign of more to come?
Chris Moore, senior scientist in Virginia for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, is hoping it’s the latter.

Clearer water is good for the bay’s health, Moore said. It allows more sunlight to reach the bottom of shallow areas. That helps restore underwater grasses, which provide food and habitat for crabs, fish and other creatures.

What’s not so clear is why Tangiermen and other folks who venture out on the Chesapeake began seeing the bottom for the first time – or at least the first time in a long while – in many places.

Moore’s theory for this is rooted in the weather. During long periods of dry weather in the late summer and fall across the mid-Atlantic, less water flowed into the bay from rivers, creeks and streams. Moore looked up a U.S. Geological Survey website that shows discharge rates in Harrisburg, Pa., for the Susquehanna River. During some stretches in September and October, the river was flowing at two-thirds the rate or less of its 125-year average. There were many more days of below-average than above-average readings.

It Happens Every Year

And sometimes twice: Expedition To Study Global Warming Put On Hold Because Of TOO MUCH ICE
An expedition to study the effects of global warming was put on hold Wednesday. The reason? Too much ice.

The CCGS Amundsen, a Medium Arctic icebreaker and Arctic research vessel operated by the Canadian Coast Guard, was to travel throughout Hudson Bay, a body of water in northeastern Canada, but was rerouted to help ships who were stuck in the icy water.

A Coast Guard officer said the conditions were the “worst he’s seen in 20 years,” reports CBC news.


“Obviously it has a large impact on us,” says Martin Fortier, executive director of ArcticNet, which coordinates research on the vessel. “It’s a frustrating situation.”

ArcticNet is a network of scientists who study “the impacts of climate change and modernization in the coastal Canadian Arctic.”

The vessel is one of only two icebreakers in the Arctic, leaving the ship obligated to reroute their travel plans to help break ice for resupply ships.
I'm sure this will be widely discussed at the Paris Climate Conference.

America's Longest Legs



Wombat-socho provides "Rule 5 Sunday: Tigers On Top" this week.

Small Craft Warning


USS Kittyhawk CV-63 vs. rough seas
WHOA! This huge U.S. Navy aircraft carrier is being tossed around by rough seas.
Posted by We Are The Mighty on Thursday, August 20, 2015

Sunday, November 29, 2015

We're Back!


We left the Washington PA area around 8 AM after breakfast.  It was still raining (it rained all day yesterday too), and in fact, it rained lightly most of the way down. Since it was ugly we skipped taking the National Pike, and went I-79 to I-68 at Morgantown, and I-70 down to Maryland 32 to avoid I-270 and the Beltway mess on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Other than short slowdowns on I-79 near Hancock and 32, traffic was moderate, and fast. With stops for gas at Morgantown, a dog walk and potty break at Sidling Hill, and lunch in Hagarstown, we made it home a little after 2:30. Not record time, but good. Site seeing was poor due to the persistent drizzle, and dense fog on some of the higher passes on I-68.

Skye II was good the whole way, not whining or giving any grief, and was happy to get home and walk her own street for a change.


Can the Redskins Dwarf the Giants?

We just got home, and at half-time the score is 4-6 Redskins 17, 5-5 Giants 0, so it looks distinctly possible.

Andre Roberts takes the 2nd half starting kick to the 18 yard line. Reed catches a pass to the Giants 45, for a first down.


A reminder, the Giants are one of the weird teams that don't have their own cheerleaders, but share the Gotham City Cheerleaders with other sports.

The Redskins fail to advance and turn the ball over to the Giants at the 45 on downs.

Giants advance to the Redskins 9 yard line. Redskins call a time out. Giants to the 4. Then the Redskins intercept in the end zone.

Redskins to their own 39 on a pass. Morris to the 45. Fail to make the first, but pin the Giants at the 13 on the punt.

ESPN Claims Redskins Name Has Outlived Its ‘Expiration Date’
We’ve known for years that the liberal media loves to foment fear, anger, and disaster only to later shrug their shoulders, turn their palms skyward, and wonder what everyone is freaking out about, as the anger of the opposing sides that they have fueled turns over into a wildfire of uncontrollable rage and conspiracy theory.
Giants fail to go anywhere, kick it away, and the Redskins start at the 19. Three and out. Giants take the punt near the 20. Eli sacked on third down, and the Redskins take the punt out to the 50.
Until now, I thought that was strictly a mainstream liberal media thing.

Now we have tangible proof the sports media is just as guilty. On Monday’s edition of Around the Horn on ESPN, analyst J.A. Adande was asked whether he bought or sold Redskin Jason Hatcher’s claim that calls --specifically an illegal hit call on Redskin Chris Culliver-- were due to bias on the part of officials toward the Redskins name
Adande: I’m selling the nickname being the reason for that call but I’m buying that as being an example that maybe that nickname is passed its expiration date. If the players are thinking that, then guess what? Maybe Dan Snyder should change it so they won’t have calls go against them for no other reason, like it’s really offensive to a lot of people.
Cousins play action pass to Reed at the 40, first down. Unofficial scrimmage as the Redskins reach the 35, flags thrown. Offsetting personal fouls, 2nd down. Start of third quarter. Morris runs for a first down at the 22. Illegal motion Redskin, penalty declined, 4th down. Redskins attempt field goal from 33 yards. Kick is good, 20-0 Redskins.
I guess “a lot of people” qualifies as nine percent in the world of J.A. Adande? Nine can be a lot, I guess.

But more importantly, why is the notion that bias amongst the officials towards the Redskins is some far-fetched idea? Former official Mike Carey asked and received permission from the league to not officiate Redskins games. Specifically, because he felt the name was offensive.
Giants take the kick in the end zone and start at the 20.  Hall tackles the receiver at the 50 illegally, and gets 15 tacked on. First down at the 34. Manning sacked at  to 40 on third down. Ruben Randall catchs a TD pass on 4th down and 16 yards. Kick is good, 20 -7 Redskins.
If an official cares enough to ask off Redskins games because he thinks the name is offensive, why is it crazy to think a call or two might go against them for the same reason?

No one knows why the official threw the flag on Chris Culliver. The call was atrocious. But so were the calls that went called and uncalled when the Lions played the Cowboys in the playoffs last year. Is the league anti-lion?

But what we do know is that the sports media’s cottage industry of Redskins hate has now officially succeeded in making bias from the officials a credible claim.
Redskins collect the kick off and advance to the 36 yard line.  9 minutes remaining. 4th and too many. Redskins punt. Giants rake over at the 23. First down at the 35. 4th and 2. Giants go for it pass to Ty good, first down at the Redskins 33.  Giants TD pass to Beckham, amazing catch. Kick is good 20 - 14 Redskins with 5 minutes left.

Opinion: Time Has Come for Redskins Name Change
Rick Telander November 2015

. . .on Dec. 13, the Bears play the Washington Redskins.

There already are media outlets that refuse to say that nickname, simply referring to the team as ""Washington.''
Redskins take the kickoff at the 24. Pass to Reed out to the 48. First down. Morris take most of another first down, Giants call time out. Morris runs to the Giants 39, first down. 2 minute warning and 2nd and 9. Redskins run the clock down to 29 seconds, and punt, and stop the Giants at the 6, penalty to 16. 12 seconds left. Manning pass for 1st down. 7 seconds. Giants play hot potato on last play, but drop it. and time expires.
""Redskins'' is a pejorative term for Native Americans, an offense to the many tribes that call this country their native land. And there is no other way to slice it. It isn't a harmless term. Americans of Irish, Scandinavian or British heritage who say monikers such as Fighting Irish, Vikings, Pilgrims or Fighting Methodists (Northwestern's old nickname) are just dandy with them don't have a fair argument to make.

The history of Native Americans in their own land - they are the only people here who aren't immigrants, remember - hasn't been a kind one. Much has been taken from them rather than given - or even allowed.
Redskins win 20 -14, and go to 5 and 6 for the season. Giants drop to 5 and 6.
Redskins is a crass, demeaning nickname. Its origin as a word is debatable - some scholars say it originally had no negative connotation and even derived from Native American language - but it no longer is benign.

Because of this, it should go.

When words become offensive because of historical and cultural evolution, they can be retired without anyone feeling guilty. Do we mindlessly use ""retarded,'' ""spastic'' or ""crippled'' to describe people these days? No.

At any rate, the Washington football front office has said it won't change the name.
Owner Daniel Snyder, voted in a recent Sports Illustrated poll as ""the most hated owner'' in the NFL, has said: ""We'll never change the name . . . NEVER.''

That's pretty adamant. And sad.

Yes, there is tradition in a treasured sports name. But ask the Baltimore Colts, Houston Oilers and Los Angeles Rams how tradition worked out for them. Change happens.
Now, my personal story:

When I grew up in Peoria, there were eight local high schools. None was as feared and respected in sports as nearby Pekin. And Pekin's nickname was the Chinks.

It had to do with the alleged fact that this town in central Illinois was exactly opposite geographically from Peking, China. Of course, this wasn't technically true.
Wombat-socho provides "Rule 5 Sunday: Tigers On Top" this week.

Kaley Cuoco Regrets . . .

Before
Her tattoo Kaley Cuoco: Don't get a tattoo like I did
Kaley Cuoco has a three-word message for people thinking about tattooing their wedding date on their backs:
Ouch, ouch, ouch.
OK, her actual tweet was: "Note to self - do not mark your body with any future wedding dates. #under30mistakes #donttakeyourselftooseriouslykids"

She tattooed over it, following her divorce.
After

I must say, that butterfly, or moth, whatever it is, really hides the date.

If I had to guess, it's intended to be some kind of Hawk or Sphinx Moth, but it might also be one of the open-winged skippers. I'd like to see the colored version.

Found via Wombat-socho's "Late Night With In The Mailbox." Wombat-socho provides "Rule 5 Sunday: Tigers On Top" this week.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Rule 5 Saturday - Holy Cannoli - Elisabetta Canalis

This week's Rule 5 spectacular is dedicated to Elisabetta Canalis, the Sardinian actress and dancer:
Canalis was born in Sassari, Italy. . . Canalis was educated in Sassari, where she attended the "classical" highschool (Liceo classico), and then moved to Milan to study foreign languages at UniversitĂ  degli Studi di Milano, though she never graduated because she started to work as a dancer for Silvio Berlusconi's TV channel Canale 5 at the age of 21.
Ah, one of Berlusconi's girls. He may be corrupt, but he has great taste.
Elisabetta Canalis was a dancer on the Canale 5 TV show Striscia la Notizia from 1999 to 2002. Canalis had minor roles in the films Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo and Virgin Territory, a comedy produced by Roberto Cavalli. In 2005, she replaced a busy Michelle Hunziker in Love Bugs 2, the second season of the sit-com Love Bugs.
. . .
In 2010 she played a recurring character in season 3 of the TNT series Leverage.
Elisabetta Canalis was featured in the 2003 Max nude calendar (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10). That's a onea spicey meatball. . .

Linked at Pirate's Cove in the weekly "Sorta Blogless Sunday Pinup" and links. Linked at Wombat-socho's special post-Thanksgiving food coma double-stuffed Rule 5 compendium "Rule 5 Sunday: Them Ain’t Turkeys, Them Are Ducks."


Friday, November 27, 2015

Waterdam Walk

We met Alex at his store later today, after having breakfast at our favorite diner, and long walk in Canonsburg's big Town Park. After he was done with his final lesson for the day, we headed off for another walk, this time at Waterdam, a nice walking trail around one of Canonsburg's water reservoirs, a 0.75 mile loop.

After the walk, we went a tried a new restaurant, the Golden Pig, a small (11 seat) Korean BBQ a few miles out. Good, but not great; I'd rather have average Thai.

First Half of Pilgrimage Complete

We left home yesterday morning in the "Led Sled" as Skye has facetiously named the dark silver SUV, packed with gifts for Christmas and Kelly's shower, dog crates, dog beds, food, spare clothes and only one guitar.

The trip itself was uneventful until Skye, tethered too loosely by me, climbed over the seat back and into Georgia's lap while she tried to navigate me through Uniontown. This resulted in a missed turn, a stop to throw her back over the seat and tie he down more securely, and a few minutes of back tracking to re-find Highway 40, the National Pike.

Once into Washington PA, the motel was not where we expected it, and we spent a few minutes crawling slowly through the city to find it. We were not in the best of humors when we arrived,

We're staying at a new motel that takes dogs, the Suburban Extended Stay Motel out near Highway 70 on the road to Wheeling WV. The motel was clearly designed for the workers who come for jobs related to fracking. They have a "mudroom" in which to take off dirty boots etc. The floors are all bare and hard, and easy to clean, and they have a minimal kitchenettes and don't provide daily cleaning which is OK with us. Fracking is a bit slow now, with gas and oil prices so low, so the parking lot is mostly empty right now.  But they take dogs, and are a step up from the Motel 6 and the Red Roof Inn, the only other places locally to stay with a dog.

After a brief cooling off and changing clothes, we headed over to Alex and Kelly's in Canonsburg, where Skye and Hendrix, their little (40 lb)  mongrel, made their first introductions, in which it was sort of agreed that certain articles of furniture were off limits to Skye, had a walk and then headed off to Kelly's parents, Jean and Bob, for Thanksgiving dinner. It was truly excellent, the traditional turkey, and mashed potatoes and stuffing, baked pineapple and apples, sweet potatoes. I ate about as moderately as I could stand, and topped it off with two thin slices of pie, apple and pumpkin.

We'll be here until Sunday morning I think. Kelly's shower is Saturday, and I'll probably hang out with Alex in the store. I think we'll avoid the malls here on Black Friday (the amount of stores in WashPA is astonishing.

Blogging will continue to be light, and opportunistic.

Jeggings?

They're just yoga pants designed to look like jeans. . .



Note that this is merely the first in a multi-part series.

Linked at Wombat-socho's special post-Thanksgiving food coma double-stuffed Rule 5 compendium "Rule 5 Sunday: Them Ain’t Turkeys, Them Are Ducks."

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Floron du Jour

Florida woman tased after falling asleep in grease dumpster
. . . 40-year-old Anna Marzita Shinkle is charged with drunken disorderly conduct and resisting an officer after falling asleep in the Lani Kai's grease dumpster just before 2am Saturday, according to an Lee County Sheriff's Office report.  "The female was unresponsive and covered in grease with a shirt on and her pants down at her ankles," the report states.

The deputy woke her up, told her he was a deputy sheriff and that the fire department was also there to help her. She responded "by stating 'go **** yourself'...then continuously stuck her middle finger up at him." and he said it didn't end there adding "she was going to cut us and **** us up."

"The fire department attempted to assist the woman, but she held onto the grease dumpster making it extremely difficult to remove her."

According to the report, deputies and firefighters, "warned the female that if she did not comply she would be tased...as soon as the female threatened us again and took an aggressive fighting stance, I tased the female."

She then complied with officers, was transported to Health Park hospital "to have the taser probes removed" and went to jail. . .
Thanks, Ed. 

Baltimore $#!* More Costly Than Ever

Cost overruns at Back River sewer plant add up
The Board of Estimates is expected to approve tomorrow additional cost overruns at one of the biggest infrastructure projects underway in the Baltimore region – an Enhanced Nutrient Removal facility at the Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The new pumping station, designed to reduce the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus dumped into the Chesapeake Bay, was originally bid at $265 million by Archer Western Contractors two years ago.

The latest overruns of $10.4 million – combined with $5 million in earlier overruns – will add 6% to the cost of the project.
. . .
Under the improvements, nitrogen levels are expected to be cut by 90% in the wastewater released into Back River and the Bay. Chemical treatment at the plant already has reduced a large portion of phosphorus, which will be further cut by the new facility.

The cost overruns will pay for twice moving contaminated soils excavated at the site.
Originally, the soils were to be placed in an unnamed “residential landfill,” but the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) ruled that the soils’ chromium levels were too high for safe dumping.
No word on whether the chromium contamination is a result of Baltimore historical metal mining, refining and manufacturing industries, or naturally high levels in the soil (which is possible, as this occurs in several areas near Baltimore and was part of the reason the metals industries grew near there. But since Back River is traditionally Baltimore waste dump, I would guess the former.
The project is chiefly underwritten by the State of Maryland. The state will reimburse Baltimore about 94% of the cost of the latest EWO, Raymond said.
I would like to point out here, that we, the citizens of Maryland are subsidizing Baltimore's waste system, as part of the Chesapeake Bay cleanup.  I would prefer a system where Baltimore paid for it's own shit, but if this is the way it is (and thanks to Baltimore's weight in Maryland politics, it is), I would think that Eastern Shore farmers would have a valid claim for equal subsidies in their efforts to reduce nutrients and "Save the Bay."

Climate Scientists Unwilling to Reveal Their Motives

A report from the WAPO on the standoff between NOAA and the Congress over emails which might shed light on their motives: Standoff over government climate study provokes national uproar by scientists
A top House lawmaker’s confrontation with government researchers over a groundbreaking climate change study is provoking a national backlash from scientists, who say his campaign represents the most serious threat Congress has posed to scientific freedom.

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, has subpoenaed scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and demanded that they turn over internal e-mails related to their research. Their findings contradicted earlier work showing that global warming had paused, and Smith, a climate change skeptic, has accused them of altering global temperature data and rushing to publish their research in the June issue of the journal Science.
 The study in question, get this, "corrected" global temperature readings for the fact that old sea surface temperature readings were taken with a bucket and a thermometer, which would usually change slightly after collecting the bucket and while the thermometer settled. The adjustment, a few hundredths of a degree centigrade, applied over the right interval, we enough to "bust the pause" in temperature rise in the last 20 years and produce an upward slope, just in time for the upcoming Paris Climate conference. Never mind that the more comprehensive and reliable satellite temperature measurements show no increase in temperature over the same period.


[NOAA chief tells lawmaker: No one will ‘coerce the scientists who work for me’]
No one should have to coerce the scientists for their emails. NOAA has them in giant searchable servers already. Your geeks could produce the relevant emails in a few days; though it might take longer to sort the useful from the useless.
So far, NOAA officials have resisted Smith’s demands, and the showdown has escalated.
The lawmaker has threatened to subpoena Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, while scientists have rallied in solidarity with the researchers.

On Tuesday, seven scientific organizations representing hundreds of thousands of scientists sent an unsparing letter to Smith, warning that his efforts are “establishing a practice of inquests” that will have a chilling effect. . .
As a scientist I was twice involved in studies for the Smithsonian where we were specifically told to preserve all of our emails relating to a project because they might become targets of a lawsuit. It's absolutely not unheard of for scientists emails and other papers to be sought for evidence of motive. Just ask Willie Soon.

The fact that the scientists and NOAA are so determined to keep their internal deliberations hidden suggests they have something to hide.

First Frost

When I took Skye out this morning to get the paper and release some of her pent up energy, I found frost on the mailbox and in patches on the ground. It seems late to me (we've had snow and ice on the Bay before Thanksgiving in the past), but it's within the envelope of variability:


I Just Hope This Doesn't Affect Clothing Sales

University yoga class canceled because of ‘oppression, cultural genocide’
In studios across the nation, as many as 20 million Americans practice yoga every day. Few worry that their downward dogs or warrior poses disrespect other cultures.

But yoga comes from India, once a British colony. And now, at one Canadian university, a yoga class designed to include disabled students has been canceled after concerns the practice was taken from a culture that “experienced oppression, cultural genocide and diasporas due to colonialism and western supremacy,” according to the group that once sponsored it.
Oh, it's only Canada. But I'm sure the issue will soon migrate across the border with some of those Canadian refugees. If only we could tell them from Americans, or had a database or something.
In a telephone interview with The Washington Post, Jennifer Scharf, who taught the class for up to 60 people at the University of Ottawa, said she was unhappy about the decision, but accepted it.

“This particular class was intro to beginners’ yoga because I’m very sensitive to this issue,” she said. “I would never want anyone to think I was making some sort of spiritual claim other than the pure joy of being human that belongs to everyone free of religion.”
 I really regret culturally appropriating that Nehru jacket back in the late 60s. But then, I regretted it almost instantly. However, I don't regret paisley shirts. Those things were killer.
The trouble began on Sept. 7. That’s when Scharf, who said she had taught a class since 2008 through the school’s Centre for Students with Disabilities — part of the university’s Student Federation — got an e-mail.

“I have unfortunate news,” the e-mail from a student representative of the center read. “Apparently our centre has chosen not to do yoga for programming this year. Let me know if you have any questions or concerns in regards to this and I am welcome to explain. Thank you so much for volunteering to do yoga over the past couple years. It has truly been wonderful and I hope to stay in touch in the future.” (Scharf provided the e-mail exchange to The Post, but removed the name of the representative so the person could not be identified, saying: “I don’t want to get anyone in trouble.” A message sent to the representative’s e-mail address was not immediately returned.)
Shaming is too good for them. Tar and feathers would be more appropriate.
Scharf was sorry to hear of the cancellation — attributed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to the University of Ottawa Student Federation, which describes itself as the “instrument of political action” for the undergraduate population at the university.

“That’s disappointing news for sure, is there someone I can speak to about this?” she wrote. “Do you know why the decision was made? I don’t mind doing it for free so if money is a concern, that’s no problem.”
 I'm not giving up Tequila. You can't make margaritas without it.
Money was not a concern, however. Culture was.

“I think that our centre agreed … that while yoga is a really great idea, accessible and great for students, that there are cultural issues of implication involved in the practice,” the response read. “I have heard from a couple students and volunteers that feel uncomfortable with how we are doing yoga while we claim to be inclusive at the same time.”

Explaining that yoga has a fraught history, the representative continued.

“Yoga has been under a lot of controversy lately due to how it is being practiced and what practices from what cultures (which are often sacred spiritual practices) they are being taken from,” the e-mail read. “Many of these cultures are cultures that have experienced oppression, cultural genocide and diasporas due to colonialism and western supremacy, and we need to be mindful of this and how we express ourselves and while practicing yoga.”
I remember the good old days when progressive students like I was (well, sort of) used to honor other cultures by appropriating stealing from them. I'm sure this fad will fade soon, but hopefully yoga pants will last.

Linked at Wombat-socho's special post-Thanksgiving food coma double-stuffed Rule 5 compendium "Rule 5 Sunday: Them Ain’t Turkeys, Them Are Ducks." Linked at Pirate's Cove in the weekly "Sorta Blogless Sunday Pinup" and links.

Scientists vs. Cucumbers

I assume you've all seen Cats vs Cucumbers



You’ve all seen Cats vs. Cucumbers. Interestingly, the same phenomenon occurs in scientists. I give you… Scientists vs. Cucumbers.
Posted by Aubrey Kelly on Thursday, November 19, 2015

Thanks to Heather. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Virginia Islanders Defy the Consensus

Virginia islanders dispute climate change as water rises - Locals see island’s problems as a generations-old loss of land by erosion
Tangier, measuring just 4km by 1½km, lies 19km out in the Chesapeake, which links the Atlantic Ocean with the port city of Baltimore in Maryland and, via the Potomac river in Washington DC.
. . .
For the climate change doubters in Washington’s corridors of power, the island is a very close example of the planet’s race against time. It is just 90 miles from the US capital as the crow flies.

The United States Geological Service (USGS) said in a 2013 report that the southern Chesapeake Bay region is experiencing “the highest rates of sea-level rise on the Atlantic coast of the United States.”

The pumping of groundwater on the mainland is compacting aquifers and leading the land to subside. This combined with rising sea levels is resulting in “a relative sea-level rise” of between 3½-5mm a year, according to Jack Eggleston, a hydrologist with the USGS and a co-author of the report.

“It is a gradual thing but as the years go by, that change stacks up and it makes a difference,” he says.

A 2012 report on climate change in the Hampton Roads, an area of towns and water in the southern Chesapeake, commissioned to prepare the area for the decades ahead, found that given the region was experiencing sea-level rise at a rate greater than the current global average, a one-metre scenario of local sea level rise by the year 2100 is “both plausible and defensible.”
Think about that a minute. Water doesn't pile well. What they are counting as "sea level rise" is actually the land sinking, for reasons both natural and man made, and none of those reasons due to climate change. For all of the 20th century, the water in the Chesapeake Bay has been rising relative to land at about the same rate, with no hint of acceleration due to "climate change":


All this does not bode well for Tangier.

“If a large hurricane came straight up the bay, you would not want to be on Tangier Island,” says Eggleston. The concern is that unless a large sea wall is built around the island, all that will remain is the island’s big water tower.

“There is a definite thought that the island is in danger,” says Eggleston.
Darn right. When your island is only 4 feet high, and a hurricane can throw up a 10 foot storm tide, you're gonna get wet, at a minimum. But it isn't necessarily due to climate change. The salt marsh islands have been rising with sea level for ages, quite literally. Salt marsh grown vertically as grass lays down peat, and high tides supply sediment to fill to soil. However, they have no way to grow from the side, and they can't grow under pavement or buildings. Only the native salt grasses have this ability.

However, the Tangier residents are not being fooled:
Eskridge, pointing to the tidal canals in the marshlands between the island’s ridges, says that during a storm about 75 per cent of the island will go under water. The mayor doesn’t see climate change as the problem.

Tangier has been losing land for centuries, he says – the island was three times the size it is now back in 1608.

“The erosion that is going on, it has been going on since Capt John Smith sailed here,” he said. “We had a lot of land to give up at the time but when the erosion gets to your doorstep, you pay more attention to it. I don’t believe it is increasing. It is just getting so close now that we don’t really have a lot of time to play with.”
. . .
“I’ve been here 72 years and I don’t see no difference. We have our high tide in the spring and in the fall, just like we did when I was a boy,” says George Cannon.

“I just think lots of people get rich with it,” says Gordy Bruce Gordon (75) of those campaigning to raise awareness about climate change. He names Al Gore.

Although in the growing purple state of Virginia, Tangier is dark red. About 90 per cent of people on the island vote Republican, says Eskridge. It is conservative and Christian. Businessman Donald Trump, retired surgeon Ben Carson and Texas senator Ted Cruz are the most popular Republican candidates on the island.
There have been a lot of islands lost in the Bay, much the same way as fictionalize in Michner's Chesapeake. But more are being created as the marsh lands attached to the Eastern Shore are slowly cut off and turned into islands. The process can be seen on Taylors Island, across the Bay from us.
Carol Moore, sitting in her golf cart, says she is not naive to think that sea levels are not rising. “Is it affecting Tangier? I don’t know,” she says.

She contemplates an uncertain future on Tangier for her grandchildren.

“There may be people living here in the next 50 years. I doubt it. I truly doubt it,” she says. “I would think that at some point in my grandchildren’s lives, they will have to relocate.”
Not necessarily. If the residents of Tangier value the island enough, they can do as the Venetians did to Venice, another island originally built on salt marsh islands. Protect the shore, and build up. Maybe a cathedral or two. 

Clinton.com: Huma in the News

Has it really only been two days? Time flies, or at least waddles

Who’s been leaking info about Huma Abedin to the Judiciary Committee?
There’s been plenty of information on Huma Abedin coming out of the various investigations into Hillary Clinton’s time as Secretary of State. These have ranged from the recent revelation that she had signed and then defied her separation agreement to the earlier finding that the OIG for State had determined there was an embezzlement case against her which Justice later conveniently declined to prosecute. But where was all of that info coming from? That’s what Harry Reid would like to know and he thinks there’s a leak in the system somewhere. (The Hill)
Frustrated with one of his colleagues, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) picked up the phone late last month to express his irritation.
The minority leader wanted to know why Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) was blocking nearly two dozen State Department nominees over work done by Huma Abedin, a longtime senior aide to Hillary Clinton…
The Iowa senator has publicly said he has a “confidential source” helping his investigation of Abedin.
Democrats claim they know who that source is and are accusing the State Department Office of Inspector General (OIG) of leaking information to Grassley about Abedin. They say the source is Emilia DiSanto, a former Grassley aide who is now deputy director of the State Department OIG.
So is DiSanto the insider who is telling tales out of school? She denies it categorically thus far and Grassley seems to indicate that there are plenty of other sources inside the State Department. But the real question here seems like it should be… who cares? We’re not talking about somebody leaking national security secrets to the press here. It’s a case of a Senate committee looking into a pertinent matter of legislative oversight getting information from the agency under discussion. Nobody seems to be disputing the authenticity of the information. The separation agreement document actually exists. It bears the former employee’s signature and appears to clearly have been violated. As for the Inspector General’s report on Abedin’s pay, that’s simple payroll records. Really nothing in dispute there beyond the fact that the Obama Department of Justice didn’t see fit to pursue a case involving the embezzlement of taxpayer funds.
Reid should be familiar with the concept of leaks; he was the person who claimed to have been leaked Mitt Romney's tax returns.

O’Keefe Releases Undercover Video Of Huma Abedin Discussing Syrian Refugees



I don't see the big deal. Both parties fear the policies of the other side, and are not afraid to say so, and even exaggerate (and lie) to make the point.

Hillary and the mystery of the vanishing woman who decided which of her emails were to be erased: Key aide has not taken up expected campaign role 
Heather Samuelson was the Clinton aide who was tasked to go through the former secretary of state's emails and then, later on, was to take a job with the 2016 campaign.

But, according to Politico, Samuelson made the move – from Washington, D.C. to New York, as Clinton's campaign is headquartered in Brooklyn –  but never started her campaign job.

'She moved to Brooklyn to work on the campaign, but then things got really complicated,' a friend of Samuelson's told Politico, asking to not be named.

According to Politico, Samuelson was supposed to work for the campaign and vet senior level hires.
. . .
Her role in the ongoing Clinton email scandal is once again being highlighted because Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, sent her a letter last Wednesday asking about her security clearance.

'It is not clear what level of security clearance you had at the different stages of this process, if any,' Grassley wrote, referring to the email sorting.

The Iowa senator mentioned how the FBI took the emails out of the hands of Clinton's attorney Kendall, who had a Top Secret clearance issued through the State Department, because even that level was 'insufficient to allow him to maintain custody of the emails,' Grassley explained.
I'm sure she still draws a full salary, and then some, from the Clinton.com money machine.

Patriarchal Sexists for Clinton! Hillary’s Hollywood Posse Says Take Off Your Shirt, Starlet (But Step Away From the Director’s Chair) 
That's right: Hillary Clinton's Hollywood posse is an old-boy's network that openly discriminates against women. Or, so says the liberal columnist at the liberal New York Times.

The sexism runs deep and broad, says Dowd, citing a USC study by Stacy Smith.
From 2007 through 2014, according to Smith’s research, women made up only 30.2 percent of speaking or named characters in the 100 top-grossing fictional films.
But the most wildly lopsided numbers have to do with who is behind the lens. In both 2013 and 2014, women were only 1.9 percent of the directors for the 100 top-grossing films. Excluding their art-house divisions, the six major studios released only three movies last year with a female director. It’s hard to believe the number could drop to zero, but the statistics suggest female directors are slipping backward. Prof. Martha Lauzen of San Diego State University reports that in 2014, 95 percent of cinematographers, 89 percent of screenwriters, 82 percent of editors, 81 percent of executive producers and 77 percent of producers were men. -- Maureen Dowd, The New York Times Magazine
Apparently the men who lead most studios channel their inner 15 year old when hiring directors. They allegedly look for edgy hipster manboys who remind them of their younger selves.
Bill Rape Accuser Blasts ‘Evil’ Hillary: ‘Shame on you!’
In one of her first media appearances in nearly a decade, Juanita Broaddrick, the woman who famously accused Bill Clinton of rape, is now speaking out against Hillary Clinton’s candidacy for president.

“Shame on you, Hillary, that’s disgusting,” Broaddrick said of Clinton’s attempt to run for high office in part on women’s issues. “Shame on you, Hillary. It’s time to be truthful,” she added.
. . .
During the exchange with Klein, the notoriously media-shy Broaddrick accused Clinton of complacency in covering up her husband’s alleged sexual crimes and indiscretions.

“I think she has always known everything about him. I think they have this evil compact between the two of them that they each know what the other does and overlook it. And go right on. And cover one for the other,” she said.

She recalled a personal meeting with Hillary in 1978, in which, Broaddrick believes, the future First Lady strongly implied the alleged rape victim must stay silent about her traumatic experience.
. . .
“You have the right to be heard. You have the right to be believed. We’re with you,” Clinton said in the video, which she addressed to “every survivor of sexual assault.”

Broaddrick responded: “Aaron, the only thing that I would like to say is I hope that someday these two people, these people that I feel like are so evil, will be brought to justice.”
Fox News poll: Six Republicans would beat Hillary Clinton
Six GOP presidential candidates would beat Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton in a head-to-head matchup, according to a Fox News poll released Sunday.

Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) would do best against Clinton, 50 to 42 percent, pollsters found.
Billionaire Donald Trump, retired pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie would also win hypothetical elections, according to the new poll, taken after more than 100 people were killed and more than 300 others injured in a wave of terrorist attacks in Paris.

Clinton and former businesswoman Carly Fiorina would tie with 42 percent each.
I know, I know, Faux News and all, but still I think Hillary's oily sheen is wearing thin.

And never one not to hit a woman when she's down:  Trump posts video of Clinton laughing over Benghazi flames

False Advertising

By way of my Facebook feed: Transgender Girl Gets Mad At Straight Guys Because They Don’t Want To Date Someone With Male Parts
According to this, there’s this reality show in the UK that’s called “Young, Trans, and Looking For Love” detailing the experiencing of three transgender teenagers (must-see TV, I’m sure). One of these teenagers, Claire, was born a dude but identifies as female. This clip from the show shows Claire going to the beach in a bikini for the first time (she’s wearing shorts over her bikini bottom, please note) and she’s looking for some “hot guys.” But then, they find out that she’s still got the male equipment under her shorts and… yeah… you can pretty much figure out where this goes –


Yes, I know the feelings may not be there anymore as a result of hormone treatments, but surely she remembers being male and young and shallow. Pretty much interested in one thing and sex with another male, regardless of breasts, wasn't it.

But it would open up all kinds of interesting topics of conversation:

"So when do you get it cut off?"

"Why do you think you have a right to have sex with straight men?"

"Do you still masturbate?"

and so on. . .

Anyway, I have no ill will towards Claire, or any other transgender, but they need to realize that most of us are just living our lives the best way we know how, and don't want or need the complications of a romantic relationship with a transgender. Best you find a nice female to male transgender who will understand your trials.

Linked at Wombat-socho's special post-Thanksgiving food coma double-stuffed Rule 5 compendium "Rule 5 Sunday: Them Ain’t Turkeys, Them Are Ducks."

Whale Watching Porn



That makes me feel so inadequate.

Technically, I think hanging around a whale that close, and touching it is harrassment under Federal law. Not to mention a little dangerous. If that whale had followed through with the tail swipe. . .

Monday, November 23, 2015

Drunk and Stupid is No Way to Go Through Life

Or navigate a ship: Drunk Russian sailor grounds 7,000-ton ship on coast of Scotland at full speed
What shall we do with a drunken sailor?

Don’t put him in charge of a 7,000 ton, 423-ft cargo ship, for starters.

That’s how a Russian mariner who drank half a liter of rum before work managed to crash into the coast of Scotland — at full speed.

The “Lysblink Seaways” was on its way from Belfast, Northern Ireland to Skogn in Norway when it slammed into the rocky shoreline near Kilchoan on the Ardnamurchan peninsula.

When the ship was salvaged, it was so badly damaged that it had to be scrapped.
I guess they'll just have to take that out of his final check. . .
An investigation into what happened found that the vessel’s 36-year-old chief officer — the sole watchkeeper at the time of the crash — had become “inattentive … due to the effects of alcohol consumption,” the UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch said in a report released Thursday.

While off duty in his cabin the officer made a private phone call which “caused him anxiety, after which he consumed about 0.5 liter of rum,” the report added.

He then started his watch at midnight as the sole officer in charge of the vessel.

The amount of alcohol the officer consumed caused him to fail to plot crucial course adjustments — and the ship’s navigation alarm system, which could have alerted the rest of the crew to his incapacity, had not been switched on.

A breathalyzer test taken by the chief officer a few hours after the accident found his breath alcohol at 2.71 mg/ml — almost eight times the UK limit for professional seafarers.



What would you do with a drunken sailor? The ShamRogues at Molloy's Irish Pub last night!
Posted by Naptownmusic on Saturday, November 14, 2015

Huh?

I thought I understood the politics of nutrient and storm water control in the Bay. Then I saw this:

Chesapeake Bay Pollution Policies Under Scrutiny
A credit program approved by the Chesapeake Bay Program last year may change the way pollution control is handled in the region. The program “offers cities a way to get nutrient reduction credits by going beyond the minimum requirements of their stormwater permits,” the Bay Journal reported.
. . .
What changes this year: “In 2015, localities became eligible to seek nutrient credits for the ‘Advanced Nutrient Discovery Program’ by shifting their local programs away from traditional visual outfall screening methods and toward targeted nutrient screening and discovery methods,” the report said.

Still, it is unclear whether the new credit policy will prove effective.
If cities are allowed to get nutrient credits for reducing their output, that essentially locks the current nutrient outputs into law as allowable.

Sci-Fi Sweety Hit With Alimony and Child Support

Morena Baccarin is about to drop major coin on her soon-to-be ex-husband Austin Chick ... a judge just ordered her to pay him almost $23k a month.

Here's the breakdown ... Chick gets $2,693 in child support, and a whopping $20,249 for spousal support. It adds up to more than $275k a year ... so Chick won't exactly have to wait tables.


Not a bad reward for making a bad marriage choice.
As we previously reported, Baccarin and Chick have joint custody of their 2-year-old son Julius, but since she films in NYC, he mostly stays with his mom.
I was clued onto this when the early Rule 5 post suddenly had about 100 hits in one hour. It quit shortly after that. Short attention spans, I guess.
The divorce is still ongoing, but Baccarin has definitely moved on ... she's pregnant with "Gotham" co-star Ben McKenzie's baby.

I have to say, her part on Gotham has not been as good as I'd hoped. OK, just one (NSFW).

Linked at Wombat-socho's special post-Thanksgiving food coma double-stuffed Rule 5 compendium "Rule 5 Sunday: Them Ain’t Turkeys, Them Are Ducks."




How Sarah Palin Made Adele a Star

. . . In a BBC interview, the British singer explained how she suddenly gained worldwide fame in 2008:
“The week I was doing Saturday Night Live, it was meant to be a normal week but the week after, Sarah Palin was supposed to do it, . . . Because something came up in the campaign, she came and did the week I was doing it with Josh Brolin. So it was one of the most watched SNLs ever, and then it was two weeks before the Grammy ballot, which is when people decide what songs they want to maybe nominate, so, like, literally the stars aligned for me. . . . All thanks to Sarah Palin.”
After Adele performed for that huge audience, her album hit number one and she was nominated for four Grammys. Sarah Palin recently sent Adele a copy of her new book, Sweet Freedom: A Devotional, penning this autographed inscription:
“Adele, You look so great! So beautiful! So . . . Rumor Has It you recently threw me some credit for your amazing success — very kind coming from Someone Like You! Congrats on motherhood. Keep Setting Fire to the Rain.
Love, your fan
Sarah Palin”
I think I've already posted every good "Rolling in the Deep Cover", but I can't remember if I posted this. It's little dated (I haven't seen anyone play 'Angry Birds' in a while):



Linked at Wombat-socho's special post-Thanksgiving food coma double-stuffed Rule 5 compendium "Rule 5 Sunday: Them Ain’t Turkeys, Them Are Ducks."

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Red Sky at Night . . .

Sailors delight. A brief but brilliant sunset seen through our already orange oak trees.




Can the Redskins Defang the Panthers?

The 4-5 Washington Redskins about to meet the 9-0 Carolina Panthers at BOA Stadium in Charlotte, NC. Given their respective records it seems unlikely. But they had a great day last week against New Orleans, so who knows?

Panthers take the kickoff to the 40 yard line.

To be continued.

Panthers forced to punt. Good Start!

Darrell Green talks Redskins name, state of franchise
Q: What should the franchise do about the name and the complaints about it being racist?


Cousins throws an interception. Opps!
A: I’ve said on many occasions that my initial response was the owner didn’t want to have a dialogue and I said that wasn’t right. It deserves a conversation, a response, a discovery of the legitimacy of what is being challenged. I still maintain that. I have also been on record that I’m not throwing away anything that is Redskins that I played under that flag. But I think it’s fair and responsible to come to a clear conclusion to say this is right or this is wrong, and this is hurting people.

Touchdown,  Panthers at 9:56 in the first. Kick is good, 7-0 Panthers.
I have not seen their voice and their representation at a national level. I’ve seen people talk about it, but I have not seen anybody representing those people. Back in history, we had a face in Dr. King who had a message that needed to be responded too. … Nobody really knows what the issues are. If that comes, the Redskins are responsible to respond to that. As far as I’m concerned, I’m not throwing anything I have but I’ll support whatever decisions are made down the pike.

Obamacare Schadenfreude Out of Control

Acck! I've let it go too long again; time for a quick catch up.

Bombshell: United Healthcare may exit individual insurance exchanges after 2016
UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) today reported revised expectations for 2015, reflecting a continuing deterioration in individual exchange-compliant product performance, and provided an initial outlook for 2016.

“In recent weeks, growth expectations for individual exchange participation have tempered industrywide, co-operatives have failed, and market data has signaled higher risks and more difficulties while our own claims experience has deteriorated, so we are taking this proactive step,” said Stephen J. Hemsley, chief executive officer of UnitedHealth Group. “We continue to be pleased with the growth and overall performance of our Company outside of the individual exchange products and look forward to strong, positive and broad based earnings growth across our enterprise in 2016.” …

UnitedHealthcare has pulled back on its marketing efforts for individual exchange products in 2016. The Company is evaluating the viability of the insurance exchange product segment and will determine during the first half of 2016 to what extent it can continue to serve the public exchange markets in 2017.
Covered California: Hey, United Healthcare will expand in our markets
Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt — it’s a government policy in California. After United Healthcare announced that it would not commit to remaining in individual health insurance markets — the ObamaCare exchanges — Covered California insisted that United didn’t mean they would exit all markets. California is different, they insisted:
Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, said he spoke with UnitedHealth officials Thursday and remains confident about the company’s continued expansion in the state.
“We have every indication they are all in for 2016 and 2017,” Lee said in an interview. “The fact United did badly in other parts of the country, like many health plans did, is exactly why they want to be in California.”
UnitedHealthcare seems to have a different take on matters:
A spokesman for United Health said no decision has been made on its future participation in Covered California. “We will make an assessment of 2017 markets in the first quarter of 2016,” spokesman Tyler Mason said. …
UnitedHealth Chief Executive Stephen Hemsley told analysts and investors that “we cannot sustain these losses…. We can’t really subsidize a marketplace that doesn’t appear at the moment to be sustaining itself.”
Anything is possible, of course, but if United Healthcare considers California to be a different case, they certainly didn’t tell investors that. Their announcement yesterday didn’t relate to pulling out of a certain number of specific markets; they announced that they would consider pulling out of the individual-plan market altogether. If they planned to not just stay in California but expand in that market, why not say so? It might have kept their stock price a little higher yesterday.
The Slow-Motion Implosion of ObamaCare
In other words, ObamaCare expanded coverage in 2014 to the extent that it gave people free or nearly free insurance. That goal could have been accomplished without the Affordable Care Act. To justify its existence, ObamaCare must make affordable private insurance available to a broad cross-section of uninsured Americans who are ineligible for Medicaid.

But with fewer people buying insurance through the exchanges, the economics aren’t holding up. Ten of the 23 innovative health-insurance plans known as co-ops—established with $2.4 billion in ObamaCare loans—will be out of business by the end of 2015 because of weak balance sheets.

And while rates vary widely by state, the cost for private insurance through the exchanges is also increasing dramatically. An analysis by consulting firm Avalere Health released on Friday shows that some of the most popular insurance plans in the ObamaCare exchanges will experience double-digit premium hikes in 2016.
 Obamacare death spiral a gift to 2016 GOP candidates
It goes without saying that all the stuff President Obama said while selling Obamacare — that it would save the average family $2,500, that people who liked their coverage could keep it, etc. — have long ago gone up in smoke.

This is a potent political issue. Republican base voters have never gone along with the party's Beltway elites in making their peace with Obamacare. Any candidate who pledges on the stump to repeal every word of the Affordable Care Act wins a raucous round of applause. And in light of recent news, look for them to do it more and more.
ObamaCare Enrollment Flatlines As 6th Insurance Co-Op Fails
Amid massive premium increases, the administration says that ObamaCare enrollment will flatline next year. This news comes just as health insurance co-op No. 6 goes belly-up. The train wreck continues.

With less than a month to go before ObamaCare open enrollment starts, the Health and Human Services Department has massively downgraded how many it expects will sign up. In a report released Thursday, HHS said that enrollment will be between 9.4 million and 11.4 million by the end of next year.

In other words, enrollment will be about half what the Congressional Budget Office projected. And at the low end, it means that ObamaCare enrollment will have declined from where it was in March of this year, when HHS bragged that 10.2 million were covered.
Many Say High Deductibles Make Their Health Law Insurance All but Useless
. . . for many consumers, the sticker shock is coming not on the front end, when they purchase the plans, but on the back end when they get sick: sky-high deductibles that are leaving some newly insured feeling nearly as vulnerable as they were before they had coverage.

“The deductible, $3,000 a year, makes it impossible to actually go to the doctor,” said David R. Reines, 60, of Jefferson Township, N.J., a former hardware salesman with chronic knee pain. “We have insurance, but can’t afford to use it.”

In many states, more than half the plans offered for sale through HealthCare.gov, the federal online marketplace, have a deductible of $3,000 or more, a New York Times review has found. Those deductibles are causing concern among Democrats — and some Republican detractors of the health law, who once pushed high-deductible health plans in the belief that consumers would be more cost-conscious if they had more of a financial stake or skin in the game.
Obamacare’s Bait and Switch Has Left Consumers Scrambling in 2016
Instead of “affordable care” promised by President Obama and Democrats, consumers have instead discovered they have effectively been forced to pay for catastrophic health insurance at comprehensive-plan prices. They have become victims of a bait-and-switch scheme that the government would vigorously prosecute – if it wasn’t masterminding the scheme itself. The consumers interviewed by Robert Pear in The New York Times figured out that they’ve been had.

“Basically I was paying for insurance I could not afford to use,” said one Texas man who decided to drop his coverage. Another 60-year-old New Jersey man told Pear, “We have insurance, but can’t afford to use it,” thanks to a $3,000 deductible on top of his premiums. One woman told Pear that she’d be better off saving the money from her premiums as a form of self-insurance against catastrophe – since Obamacare no longer allows for low-premium catastrophic coverage in most cases.
The ever sensible Megan McArdle: Deductibles Are the Price You Pay for Obamacare
. . .This is actually good insurance design. Insurance that covers routine expenses isn’t really insurance; it’s a sort of inefficiently expensive prepayment plan. If Obamacare forces people away from "first dollar" coverage with low or no deductible, and toward plans that cover people only for unanticipated emergencies, that would be a win for economic logic.

The problem with this is twofold: First, unless they’re pegged to income, high deductibles are regressive, forcing the poorest people to pay the largest share of their income. And second, people absolutely hate economically logical health-care plans. This is why you see unions giving up quite a lot of other concessions on wages and benefits in order to keep those gold-plated health-care plans.

The regressiveness of the deductibles is mitigated by Obamacare’s cost-sharing reduction subsidies, which limit your deductibles if you make less than 250 percent of the federal poverty line (about $60,000 for a family of four). But those subsidies are available only on Silver plans, which carry higher premiums. And economically strapped families often have trouble spending more money now to save money later.

Regardless of subsidies, the political problem remains: Insurance on the exchanges is quite expensive considering how high the deductibles are, and how limited the provider networks are. That’s making people unhappy, and seems likely to generate political pressure to make the policies more generous, which is to say, more expensive. 
And her next article: Obamacare Insurers Are Suffering. That Won't End Well.
What UnitedHealth’s action suggests is that the company is not sure it can make money in this market at any price. Executives seem to be worried about our old enemy, the adverse selection death spiral, where prices go up and healthier customers drop out, which pushes insurers' costs and customers' prices up further, until all you’ve got is a handful of very sick people and a huge number of very expensive claims.
. . .
But on the conference call, Stephen Helmsley, the CEO of UnitedHealth, expressed concerns that the exchanges were seeing adverse selection anyway. Not just that the Obamacare insurance pool is sicker and more expensive than expected, which we already knew. But that the pool is experiencing adverse selection over the course of the year, as healthy people stop paying their premiums, and sicker people buy in. According to Helmsley, the people who bought insurance from them through the exchange, but outside of the open enrollment period, are averaging about 20 percent more expensive than the rest of the pool.

This is potentially extremely bad news for Obamacare. It may be that UnitedHealth simply had an especially bad experience, but with more than 500,000 people covered, that doesn’t seem actuarially likely. Which raises the worrying possibility that only two years in, people have figured out how to game the special enrollment process so that it’s safe for them to go without insurance, and then sign up for coverage if they get sick. That’s not the only possible explanation. Perhaps people who have “qualifying life events” are simply more likely to buy insurance if they need a lot of health care. But we can’t dismiss the possibility of gaming, either -- or that healthier people are dropping insurance as they realize they won’t hit their deductible.
Merry Christmas from the Obama and the Democrats! Shopping for Health Insurance Is New Seasonal Stress for Many
“Every year I feel like I’m starting all over again, and I just dread it,” said Ms. Galen, 63, of Warrenton, Ore. “My stress level just shoots up.”

Over the past two years, the Affordable Care Act has created entirely new markets for health insurance, and a new way of buying it, via online exchanges that allow comparison shopping. They have brought coverage to nine million people, many of whom could not afford it or were rejected by insurers before. But these new markets have also seen sharp price swings, or changes in policies, that are driving many consumers to switch plans each year.
. . .
For many consumers, the volatility in the markets has been a source of anxiety and disruption. To have any choice at all is a welcome development, many say. But switching plans is also becoming an unwelcome ritual, akin to filing taxes, that is time-consuming and can entail searching for new doctors and hospitals each year.

“I don’t have a regular doctor anymore, so I avoid going,” said David Saphier, a self-employed technology consultant in Manhattan who will be switching to his third exchange plan for 2016.
Ratings of U.S. Healthcare Quality No Better After ACA, Worse, really.
Fifty-three percent of Americans rate the quality of healthcare in the U.S. as "excellent" or "good." This is similar to what Gallup has found since 2013, but is down from the more positive ratings of 2008 to 2012.

From 2005 to 2007, a slim majority of Americans rated the quality of healthcare in the U.S. as excellent or good. But this percentage increased slightly in 2008 after President Barack Obama was elected, reaching a high of 62% in November 2010 and again in 2012 just after he was elected to his second term. Those higher ratings could reflect optimism about Obama's promises to reform healthcare and the passage of the Affordable Care Act. However, since November 2013, shortly after the ACA insurance exchanges first opened, no more than 54% of Americans have rated the quality of healthcare in the U.S. as excellent or good.
Not yet out of other people's money, Colorado to vote on single payer health care plan for the entire state
After collecting more than 150K signatures on petitions, the voters of Colorado will next year consider a ballot initiative to move to a first in the nation, single payer health care plan for the entire state. ColoradoCare would, under this plan, cover the insurance bills for all residents through whichever provider they selected. That may sound like a fiscal disaster waiting to happen, but… well, okay. It is. (Denver Post)
“We’re all excited. This is really important for the people of Colorado,” said Ivan Miller, executive director of ColoradoCare Yes and head of the Colorado Foundation for Universal Health Care.
“Gathering signatures is really tough. I think the political consensus was we didn’t have a prayer.”
The initiative calls for a 21-member governing board from seven regions of the state. Its first members would be appointed by the governor and legislative leaders, but an elected board would succeed them.
Miller said the board could use any excess revenues to pay refunds or enlarge benefits, but it could not raise the payroll tax without voter approval.
That last sentence contains a clue regarding the one “feature” of this plan which should just be massively popular. They plan to pay for it by imposing an additional ten percent payroll tax on every working person in the state. That’s right… the state would be lopping an additional ten percent right off the top of everyone’s paychecks – in addition to the many other federal, state and local government deductions which already trim down many people’s take home pay by a third or more – to pay for what is approaching a completely socialized health care plan. I bet the folks who are complaining that they either got no raise or a one percent raise last year will just be doing backflips over that.
HHS: Bailing out Obamacare insurers an 'obligation' of the federal government
The Department of Health and Human Services attempted to reassure private insurers on Thursday that they'll be able to recover losses from participating in Obamacare by claiming it was an "obligation" of the U.S. government to bail them out.

At issue is a provision within the law known as the risk corridors program. Under the program, which runs from 2014 through 2016, the federal government is to collect money from health insurers doing better than expected and use those funds to provide a federal backstop to other insurers who incur larger than expected losses from rising medical claims. The idea was to provide training wheels to insurers in the first years of Obamacare's implementation, and to take away any incentive for insurers to cherry pick only the healthiest customers.

Republicans, fearing that this could turn into an open-ended government bailout in the event of industry-wide losses, included a provision in last year's spending bill that limited the program, requiring HHS to pay out only from the pool of money collected, rather than supplementing it with other sources of government funding. President Obama signed that bill.

Now that insurers have been able to look at medical claims, what they've found is that enrollees in Obamacare are disproportionately sicker, and losses are piling up. For the 2014 benefit year, insurers losing more than expected asked for $2.87 billion in government payments through the risk corridors program, but HHS only collected $362 million from insurers performing better than expected. Thus, the funds available to the federal government only amounts to 12.6 percent of what insurers argue that they're owed.
A new taxpayer bailout to cover up ObamaCare’s failure?
Nearly all insurers are bleeding red ink trying to sell the unworkable plans. Without a bailout, more insurers will abandon ObamaCare, pushing it closer to its demise. A bailout would benefit insurers and the Democratic Party, which is desperate to cover up the health law’s failure. Ironically Democrats (including Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders) bad-mouth bank bailouts but are all for insurance-company bailouts. Truth is, it’s a ripoff for taxpayers, who shouldn’t have to pay for this sleazy coverup.

The pressure is building on Republicans in Congress. Industry groups like the American Health Insurance Plans and giant insurers are joining with the Obama folks to lobby ferociously for a bailout.

UnitedHealthcare’s Thursday bombshell rattled investors, health-plan subscribers and ObamaCare partisans. The insurer currently covers more than half a million ObamaCare plan subscribers in 23 states, including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
Reminder: if you didn’t have health insurance this year, the tax man would like a word with you
In another couple of months you’ll be getting your tax documents in the mail (assuming you have some source of income, that is) and will prepare to file your 2015 returns. That means that at least for some of you, you’ll be dealing with the Obamacare mandate penalties if you didn’t have health insurance. (Or a government accepted form of it anyway.) If you paid the penalty last year it wasn’t much of a bite, but next April the fine is going to be a bit stiffer.
People who weren’t covered under a compliant health plan in 2015 or didn’t meet some specific exemptions will have to pay what amounts to a fine when they file their 2015 tax return. The government has two ways of calculating what you’ll owe in 2015. That’s the greater of $325 for each adult and $162.50 for each child, not to exceed $975, or 2 percent of your family’s adjusted gross income.
The most you can be fined is capped at the national average cost of a bronze-level health plan available on the exchanges. For 2015, that’s $2,570 for singles and $5,140 for families.
That’s basically double what it was last year. The example they provide in the article shows that a young married couple with no children (the most likely to not want to bother paying for insurance) will be paying $1,588 for this year as compared to $797 last year. Depending on your income and how you set up your deductions, if you normally expect a refund every year that could pretty much wipe it out for some people. But maybe you won’t have to pay it after all.

When people filed their taxes for 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported that a vast majority of those without insurance were not motivated to buy a plan off the exchanges by the threat. (Of course, the penalty was lower last year.) And not all of those who should have paid the penalty ponied up the cash anyway. There are actually a couple of ways to avoid paying it even if you didn’t purchase a health insurance plan.
Read on to find out how.