On October 23, 2009, Harrison "Harry" Kothari celebrated his second birthday by blowing out candles on a cake decorated with a giant airplane. At age two, Harry could ride a tricycle, stack blocks, and say words like "mama," "airplane," and "thank you." A month earlier, surgeons at a Houston hospital had removed a benign cyst from Harrison's head without problems. In follow-up visits, nurses drained cerebrospinal fluid to test for infection, and following normal protocol, wiped the area around the drain with what they assumed were sterile alcohol wipes. On December 1, Harry was dead, his tiny brain swollen by a Bacillus cereus infection apparently caused by contaminated alcohol wipes.
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) may appear on the surface to mimic the bipartisan educational archetype of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), but ALEC's corporate governance structure, near total reliance on corporate funding, and strong ties to legislators from predominantly one political party make it distinctly different.
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch moved quickly to shut down one of his oldest media holdings -- a 168 year-old, best-selling weekly British tabloid newspaper called News of the World -- amid charges that the paper's journalists hacked into the telephones of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, murder victims and their families, and bribed police in exchange for information and tips. News of the World was Britain's best-selling Sunday newspaper. Its last issue will be this Sunday, and will not carry any commercial advertisements.
Murdoch dumped the paper at the same time his media empire, News Corp., is trying to win U.K. government approval to take over British Sky Broadcasting Group. News Corp bid US$12.5 billion for the British Sky Broadcasting, but the government has received more than 135,000 comments protesting the acquisition.
In the wake of allegations that Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser placed fellow Justice Ann Walsh Bradley in a chokehold in her office, women's rights organizations and elected officials across the state are calling for him to step down until investigations are complete.
Tense Confrontation Over Collective Bargaining Ruling
On June 13, the day before the state's highest court issued their politicized contentious split decision upholding Governor Scott Walker's controversial collective bargaining law, members of the court were debating whether to issue an opinion. At that point it was uncertain if the court would get involved, since no hearings had been held and no facts had been presented to the court. Prosser and the conservative justices tracked Justice Bradley and Chief Justice Abrahamson down in Bradley's chamber. According to new reports, Bradley demanded Prosser leave her chamber after he made disparaging remarks about Abrahamson. That was when Prosser is alleged to have put his hands around her throat and placed her in a chokehold. "It was in no way playful," said one source who was present.
At the end of May, as the Wisconsin Joint Finance Committee (JFC) worked day after day and late into the night voting on changes and amendments to the state budget bill, Joint Finance Co-Chair Alberta Darling (R-River Falls) quietly slipped a small provision into the massive budget bill that has received little attention.
After four months of massive public opposition to a Wisconsin bill that strips the collective bargaining rights of most state employees, the law has taken effect.
More and more Americans are falling victim to one of the most insidious bait-and-switch schemes in U.S. history. As they do, health insurance executives and company shareholders are getting richer and richer. This industry-wide plot explains how health insurers have been able to reap record profits during the recent recession as the ranks of the uninsured and underinsured continue to swell.
It also explains why the insurance industry and its allies are pulling out all the stops to kill a measure in the California legislature that could protect state residents from losing their homes and being forced into bankruptcy if they get seriously sick or injured.
On June 2, the California Assembly passed AB 52, a bill that would give state regulators the authority to reject excessive health insurance rate increases. Similar legislation has been introduced in other state legislatures, but nowhere are the stakes higher than in California -- not only because AB 52 would allow the insurance commissioner to turn down requests for unjustifiably high rate hikes, but also because it would enable the commissioner to reject increases in deductibles as well.
On June 29, the New Jersey Senate banned fracking within state boundaries in a 33-1 vote. Fracking, also known as hydraulic fracturing, is the environmentally-hazardous process through which methane gas companies extract what the industry touts as "America's Clean Energy Future," methane gas. The drilling industry's public relations term for methane is "natural gas."
While the ban is cause for celebration for those truly in favor of a "clean energy future," it is largely symbolic because only a tiny sliver of the Marcellus Shale actually touches the state. There is actually some truth to the statement made by Energy in Depth's Chris Tucker, who stated that the ban, by-and-large, is "irrelevant."
Over and over, cable TV and Sunday news show pundits have been telling us that Social Security is going bankrupt, and we have to raise the retirement age or the economy will collapse. These two axioms have practically become common knowledge. The only problem is, there isn't a shred of evidence that either statement is accurate.