Thursday, June 29, 2006

If you’re poor, and you die, hey, that’s the best we could do: Transplant Centers Not Meeting Standards for Federal Funding

Love of money....The LA Times determined that roughly 20 percent of federally funded transplant centers across the country are failing to meet minimum standards. These substandard programs have poor patient survival rates or do not perform enough operations to be certified for funding. The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has not issued sanctions or pulled certification from any center that fails to meet its standards. Tracy Weber and Charles Ornstein, LA Times 06/29/2006 Read Article: LA Times

Ah, quit whining! Go live somewhere else: Homeowners Being Driven Out of FL by Rising Insurance Rates

Love of Money. Part II....Many homeowners in the state of FL can no longer afford to pay the rising insurance rates. Some face foreclosure on their homes and others have packed up and left before the rates go up any higher. Insurance has become a top campaign issue, but many cannot wait for the Legislature to provide homeowners or the depleted state-created insurer, Citizens, with assistance. Lynn Waddell, The New York Times 06/29/2006 Read Article: The New York Times

It might be your civic duty, but insurance lawyers will make it your hell: Insurance Attorneys Use Aggressive Tactic to Challenge Med Mal Verdict

Attorneys representing an obstetrician-gynecologist and his medical group are challenging a $28 million verdict awarded to a state Health Department investigator. The defense attorneys plan to attack individual jurors by hauling them back into court and will also accuse the entire panel of prejudice. The case involves a botched surgery that caused a urinary tract problem for the 42-year-old woman. Rene Stutzman, Orlando Sentinel 06/26/2006 Read Article: Orlando Sentinel

Insurers Says 'Stiffed' Katrina Victims

Love of money. Part III...

Jon Haber, Association of Trial Lawyers of America, said, U.S. Homeland Security is being called to investigate reports of insurance companies improperly denying claims filed by victims of Hurricane Katrina. Haber said, "This isn't the first time policyholders who have dutifully paid their premiums for years and years have been stiffed by the insurance industry."

You’re hungry and no place to sleep, but "vhere" are your papers! New Medicaid Law Could Hurt Hurricane Victims

Yah...Vhere is your papers? Officials with the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals said the new Medicaid law that requires proof of American citizenship to receive benefits could pose hardships for hurricane victims who have lost personal documentation. Nine plaintiffs, who are American citizens, filed a class action lawsuit in Chicago say various circumstances prevent them from providing the required documentation. The new law is effective Saturday. Jan Moller, New Orleans Times-Picayune 06/29/2006 Read Article: New Orleans Times-Picayune

Once, twice, three times a victim: New Medicaid Law Could Hurt Hurricane Victims

Officials with the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals said the new Medicaid law that requires proof of American citizenship to receive benefits could pose hardships for hurricane victims who have lost personal documentation. Nine plaintiffs, who are American citizens, filed a class action lawsuit in Chicago say various circumstances prevent them from providing the required documentation. The new law is effective Saturday. Jan Moller, New Orleans Times-Picayune 06/29/2006 Read Article: New Orleans Times-Picayune

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Greedy Doctors set up fake charities...

Doctors around the country have started setting up tax-exempt charities that have become conduits for money from drug companies and medical device makers. Some argue that these foundations are created to keep the industry money away from doctor's private practices. However, critics believe these funds often go towards studies that do little to advance science and sometimes go towards for-profit medical groups to cover business expenses or even pay part of doctors' salaries. Reed Abelson, The New York Times 06/28/2006 Read Article: The New York Times

Elliot Mainway & CPSC: Subjective Factors to Determine if Product is Defective

Remember Elliot Mainway on Saturday Night Live. The guy who had his own subject measure for determining if his product were defective. Well, Mr. Mainway is now employed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the Federal agency that is supposed to protect you and your children.

The CPSC proposes a rule change that would allow a manufacturer to consider several subjective factors to determine whether a product is "defective" and whether it must warn consumers about certain product hazards. Recalled toys are also included in the types of products affected by the rule change. The toy industry lobbied heavily to have the rules revised.

Electronic Medical Records Are More Easily Exposed to Theft

Four groups are currently working on a way to standardize medical records and convert them into electronic data. This effort could expose extremely sensitive information to hacking or accidental release. Dr. Halamka of Harvard believes a decentralized approach is better because the data lives in the doctor's office or hospital, not in a large central database that could be hacked. Judy Foreman, The Dallas Morning News 06/27/2006 Read Article: The Dallas Morning News

We need Doctors who care, not Tort Reform

In a question-and-answer format, Ken Suggs, president of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, discusses why he believes lawyers who sue doctors are unfairly singled out as the reason for skyrocketing health care costs. Suggs says the real issue is politics rather than medical crisis. Read the article here. UPI, 06/28/2006

Tort Reform Group Monitors State Attorneys General

The American Tort Reform Association launched a Web site that targets litigation agendas of state attorneys general. ATRA is a Washington-DC-lobby formed in 1986 to represent hundreds of U.S. and foreign corporations in their bid to overhaul civil liability laws at the state and national levels. ATRA coordinates the activities of "Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse' (CALA) that is a sham front groups for Fortune 500 companies with a direct financial stake in restricting lawsuits, such as tobacco, insurance, chemical, auto and pharmaceutical industries. ATRA President Sherman Joyce said since the tobacco industry litigation of the 1990s, AGs have formed similar partnerships with plaintiff attorneys to litigate against other corporate interests. View the Web site. PRNewswire, PR Newswire 06/27/2006 Read Article: PR Newswire

Good Guys Win: Welding Case could influence thousands of other cases...

A jury ruled that welding rod manufacturers are not liable for the health problems a worker allegedly developed after being exposed to welding fumes at his job. His lawsuit claimed the exposure caused him to suffer from manganese poisoning, a disease with symptoms similar to Parkinson's. The ruling could influence thousands of other cases, but a plaintiffs' spokesman noted that "The vast majority of cases filed against the welding industry are far stronger than this one." Associated Press, The New York Times 06/27/2006 Read Article: The New York Times

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Boston Scientific Issues Second Recall of Faulty Heart Device

Boston Scientific recently recalled almost 23,000 pacemakers and defibrillators because of a possible defect. The latest recall involved an electrical flaw in a low-voltage capacitor. Doctors have been warned to check for signs of a malfunctioning capacitor in the devices. Mark Jewell, LA Times 06/27/2006 Read Article: LA Times

Emergency Room Visits and Waiting Times Increase

A survey of more than 400 hospitals and 1,400 doctors' offices found that visits have increased 31 percent in the past 10 years. The amount of time a patient waited for a physician in ER also increased from 38 minutes to 47 minutes between 1997 and 2004. The National Center for Health Statistics said the increase in visits only "partly reflects the 11 percent increase in the U.S. population, but people also were seeking care more often." Associated Press, USA Today 06/27/2006 Read Article: USA Today

Train Crash Survivors and Volunteer Firefighters File Suit

The city of San Antonio, Bexar County and a sheriff's deputy are being sued over their rescue efforts in a 2004 Union Pacific train derailment. The derailment resulted in a deadly chlorine gas leak that claimed the lives of nearby residents. The lawsuit contends volunteer firefighters were kept away from the scene of the wreck even though they could have helped save lives. Elizabeth Allen, San Antonio Express News 06/26/2006 Read Article: San Antonio Express News

New Orleans Deadline Approaches for Damaged Houses

New Orleans homeowners face an Aug. 29 deadline to clean up their houses wrecked by Hurricane Katrina or have the city demolish the homes. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin foresees legal problems and said the city will try to enforce the law while respecting property owners' rights. Bruce Eggler, New Orleans Times-Picayune 06/27/2006 Read Article: New Orleans Times-Picayune

Republican Judge sticks it to working families, declares Louisiana Governor’s Katrina order illegal

Republican Judge Tim Kelley of 19th JDC ruled the Gov. Blanco "exceeded her authority" when she suspended the statute of limitations to give citizens more time to file lawsuits after hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Judge Kelley also ruled that the Legislature acted "improperly" when it ratified the governor's order. The court’s ruling helps insurance companies avoid liability by not paying those who, through no fault of their own, could not file suit timely because of Hurricane Katrina.

Judge Kelley said while the governor has such authority over agencies of the state, the courts are not agencies of the state. Plaintiff attorney Jeff Nicholson of Baton Rouge said an appeal is being prepared. Others speculate on the serious and far-reaching effect the ruling could have upon numerous lawsuits filed between Aug. 29 and Jan. 3. Penny Brown Roberts, The Advocate 06/27/2006 Read Article:
The Advocate

Good guys win! 11-Person Jury Orders ExxonMobile to Pay $5 Million in Asbestos Case

An 11-person Baton Rouge jury ordered ExxonMobile to pay $5 million to the widow of a contract worker who died from mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos in the 1960s. Plaintiff attorney Lewis Unglesby said the company protected its own employees from asbestos exposure but did not do the same for contract workers. During recent weeks an issue erupted over whether the case should proceed with only 11 jurors after one juror became ill and there were no provisions for an alternate. ExxonMobile moved for mistrial. A district court judge ruled that the case should proceed. The 1st Circuit Court of Appeal ruled for ExxonMobil. One day later the state Supreme Court reversed the 1st Circuit ruling and the trial resumed. Adrian Angelette, The Advocate 06/27/2006 Read Article: The Advocate

Monday, June 26, 2006

Doctors Have Upper Hand at Trial

Remember the idea of a fair trail. No such thing exist when an individual is injured by a doctor. A Massachusetts newspaper investigation reveals that patients rarely win in medical malpractice lawsuits against doctors. The article shows that since 1998 only five plaintiffs in the county were awarded judgments; 88 had their claims dismissed. A spokesman for the Massachusetts Medical Society said outright that doctors usually win; yet, the medical society is lobbying the Legislature for more restrictions on medical malpractice lawsuits. The medical society claims jury awards and settlements are driving up the cost of malpractice insurance rates, forcing doctors to leave Massachusetts. Milford Daily News, Massachusetts, 06/25/2006

The Ugly: Merck Seeks to Block FDA Whistle Blower's Testimony

Dr. David Graham's testimony for federal Vioxx trials "goes beyond anything he has said previously and shouldn't be heard by jurors," said Merck's attorneys. Graham alleged that the drug maker dragged its feet about adding a warning label and that Vioxx should not have even been approved when it was. A hearing is scheduled for later this week to decide what part of his depositions will be allowed in a lawsuit filed by a retired FBI agent who took Vioxx before suffering a heart attack. Janet McConnaughey, Houston Chronicle 06/23/2006 Read Article: Houston Chronicle

Bad Faith: Use of Aftermarket Parts by Insurers is Focus of Debate

Aftermarket parts are not made by the original car maker but are typically cheaper and therefore reduce the cost of car repairs. Insurance companies like them but many body shops believe the parts are often inferior, don't fit correctly, or are unsafe. State laws governing the use of these parts vary and some states allow their use without the consumer's knowledge or consent. Julie Tripp, Houston Chronicle 06/26/2006 Read Article: Houston Chronicle

Caveat: Finding Insurance That Has Your Back, But Won't Stab You In The Back

Consumers are advised to weigh the cost of homeowners insurance against the coverage and how well prepared the company is to handle disasters. Article provides tips on buying insurance. Pamela Yip, The Dallas Morning News 06/26/2006 Read Article: The Dallas Morning News

More Insurance shenanigans: Insurers Say They Never Promised Rate Reductions

At least seven insurance companies selling medical malpractice insurance to doctors in Georgia raised their rates within 16 months after a law was passed that severely restricts a person's right to sue for medical mistakes and dangerous errors, including death. Insurance lobbyists said rates would go down if SB 3 would be passed. "However, the result is that people have been stripped of their rights, while insurers continue to gouge doctors." Since February 2005, medical malpractice policies have increased from 3 to 57.5 percent. A spokesman for the American Insurance Association said, "We have not promised price reductions with tort reform." Also, a Georgia law requires some plaintiffs who win in court to pay the loser's legal costs. Macon Telegraph, Georgia, 06/24/2006

Problems with your car? You better live in the right place! Court Upholds Use of Regional Recalls by Automakers

Public Citizen and the Center for Auto Safety challenged a government guideline that says automakers can limit recalls to certain regions. The groups claim the guidelines amount to a "de facto regulation" and violate a federal law requiring that all vehicle owners be notified of a recall no matter where they live. The court disagreed and said the "guidelines are nothing more than general policy statement with no legal force" and that regional recalls are not barred by the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. Ken Thomas, Boston Globe 06/26/2006 Read Article: Boston Globe

Believe it or not: State created insurance company to pay $19.6 Million Dividend to deserving corporation...

Louisiana Workers' Compensation Corporation (LWCC), a state created insurance company that help corporate America, announced it will pay a $19.6 million dividend to qualified corporations, which is believed to be the largest dividend ever paid by a workers' comp insurer in the state. LWCC News Release, 06/22/2006

Sensata Denies Allegations in Lawsuit Over Cruise Control Switch

Texas Instrument's sensors and controls division was sold to Bain Capital LLC and is now known as Sensata Technologies. The manufacturer developed a cruise control switch that has been linked to a number of engine fires in Ford vehicles. The company denies allegations that they failed to address problems with the switch and claims that it was Ford's responsibility to alert consumers of any potential hazards. David Pitt, Boston Globe 06/23/2006 Read Article: Boston Globe

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Xenophobia's one thing, but concentration camps are another! GOP candidate calls for labor camp…

EFE, a Mexican news service, reports Republican gubernatorial candidate Don Goldwater, the nephew of the late Republican Sen. Barry Goldwater, advocates holding undocumented immigrants in camps to use "as labor in the construction of a wall and to clean the areas of the Arizona desert that they're polluting."

Ann Coulter made a similar argument months back, which Fox News considered seriously during one of its Noise Machine segments.

Hey, folks, this kind of talk is seriously sick!

The Miami Seven: The gang that couldn’t shoot straight. A Major Terror Ring Or 'Al Qaeda Lite'?

Imagine, if you can, you’re President of the United States. You’re the only president in the history of the country to be appointed, rather than elected. Then, 9/11 happens on your watch! Now, you have to perform. With characteristic schoolboy bravado, you naively proclaim, “bring it on.”

You stake your entire presidency on the invasion of two countries. After all, you do command the strongest military in the history of the world. You can’t miss, right? You foolishly proclaim, “Mission accomplished,” before the last shot is fired. But, your tough talk and braggart ways leads to bloodshed with no end in sight.

Then, you’re caught spying on American citizens and coaxing major corporations into selling you personal data on private individuals. You’re caught searching international business records of Americans.

Couple international blunder after blunder with a soaring federal deficit, employment numbers that aren’t great, and a Misery Index that’s rising. Your job approval numbers are low and getting lower. Respected journalists consider you the worst president in the history the country. And, mid-term Congressional elections loom.

Ah, there’s the rub: mid-term Congressional elections.

If your party loses the House and the Senate, you’ll likely be the first president in the history of the country to be impeached and convicted. So what do you do to salvage your presidency? How do you avoid accountability?

When you’re the most powerful man in the world, you use that power to create conditions that save your presidency and keep your party in power. You do what’s always done. Find a scapegoat – a patsy – a Quasimodo.

Every generation has an anti-hero who can rejuvenate a political base and salvage control. In the 20s, it was Sacco and Vanzetti. In the 50s, it was Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. In the 60s, it was the Chicago Seven. Ah that’s it! Numbers and traitors… traitors and number…oh my!

Why not a “Miami Seven”? It’ll work. It has to work.

So under the direction of Alberto Gonzales and the FBI, seven men - Narseal Batiste, Patrick Abraham, Stanley Grant Phanor, Naudimar Herrera, Burson Augustin, Lyblenson Lemorin and Rothschild Augustine – from a Miami shantytown were arrested and charged with domestic terrorism.

But, something just doesn’t add up.

First, there’s the perennial "Jeb Bush-George Bush" connection. You know Florida, the rigged election of 2000, the 9/11 terrorist connections, etc. Is it a matter of chance or design that the seven men accused of being Al Qaeda operatives were exposed by FBI undercover agents in a state riddled with questionable activity on behalf of President Bush and controlled by Jeb Bush, Florida’s Governor and the President’s brother?

Next, there’s the accusation that the Sears Towers in Chicago, which is thousands of miles away, was the target.

And then, there’s the Justice Department’s characterization of the Miami Seven. "This group was more aspirational than operational," FBI Deputy Director John Pistole said. What does “more aspirational than operational” mean? Those close to the operation called the Miami Seven "bungling wannabes."

Bungling wannabes? Is that another way of saying the Miami Seven are little more than contemporary Walter Mittys, “Al Qaeda Lite,” or simply “the gang that couldn’t shoot straight”?

The Miami Seven are accused of trying to raise an army. And yet, spokesman for the US attorney's office said, "We are confident that we have identified every individual who had the intent of posing a threat to the United States." What about the army they were raising? Where is it?

Ah, but something is rotten in Miami. The Bush administration insisted the November midterm congressional elections didn’t motivate the arrest. Or, did it? Read: Major Terror Ring Or 'Al Qaeda Lite'? Andrew Cohen Is Skeptical About Arrests In Miami Terror Plot

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Holistic Dentists Become Target of Lawsuits

Holistic dentists believe many of the body's ailments come from the mouth. A 36-year-old California woman had all of her teeth removed after a pair of holistic dentists told her that silver dental fillings were poisoning her. She filed suit against the licensed dentists after learning about the extent of damage they had done. Insurers and regulators are cracking down on this practice by denying claims, suspending licenses and issuing fines. Daniel Yi, LA Times 06/18/2006 Read Article: LA Times

CA Bar Considers Rule on Disclosure of Malpractice Insurance

Some estimate that as many as 20 percent of lawyers in California lack malpractice insurance. The state bar is considering rules to require attorneys to tell new clients that they don't have insurance. The owner of Law-Biz Management Co. agrees that the concept of insurance is a good idea but only if there is a plan to provide affordable insurance. Mike McKee, 06/21/2006 Read Article:

Nurses Claim Hospitals Conspired to Keep Wages Low

Four class action lawsuits have been filed against some the nation's largest hospitals for allegedly sharing information on nurses' wages in an effort to suppress pay. Kim Dixon, Reuters 06/20/2006 Read Article: Reuters

NY Judge Denies Disclosure of Defendant Doctor's Medical Records

Dr. George J. Beraka is being sued for allegedly botching a facelift, which caused his patient to have difficulty swallowing and speaking. The plaintiff claims the surgeon's physical condition caused him to make a mistake. However, the judge ruled that the plaintiff could not compel the doctor to disclose his own medical records but he can be asked questions about his condition during his deposition. Daniel Wise, 06/21/2006 Read Article:

How to Survive a 'Really Broken' Healthcare System

Experts advise patients to be their own health advocates because of the high number of medical errors. The American Public Health Association and Consumers Union say one of the most important things hospital patients can do is to have someone at bedside at all times to help guard against mistakes in overworked, understaffed hospitals. Greenville News, South Carolina, 06/18/2006

Video-Game Industry Granted Restraining Order for New Law

A federal judge has agreed to put a new Louisiana video game law on hold. The law bans the sale of violent video games to minors and establishes a fine of up to $2,000, one year in prison or both for violators. Judges in California, Illinois and Michigan have found that similar laws violated the industry's right to free speech. Reuters, Reuters 06/21/2006 Read Article: Reuters

Proposed Bill to Improve Oversight of Drug Safety

Senators Michael B. Enzi of WY and Edward M. Kennedy of MA plan to introduce a bill that could dramatically change how drugs are tested and approved. The bill would essentially require drug makers to disclose the results of Phase 3 and 4 trials, have a detailed risk management plan to address safety problems after a drug is approved and pay fines for failing to execute this plan. Gardiner Harris, The New York Times 06/21/2006 Read Article: The New York Times

Victim of Sexual Assault Sues is being sued by a 14-year-old girl who claims the Web site does not provide "meaningful protections or security measures to protect underage users." The girl claims she was sexually assaulted by another user who lied about his profile to gain her trust. The chief security officer for said, "Ultimately, Internet safety is a shared responsibility. We encourage everyone on the Internet to engage in smart Web practices and have open family dialogue about how to apply offline lessons in the online world." Associated Press, San Francisco Chronicle 06/19/2006 Read Article: San Francisco Chronicle

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Sunscreen May Be 'Snake Oil of the 21st Century'

A New York attorney, whose firm is filing a class action lawsuit against several major sunscreen manufacturers, claims these companies have given consumers a false impression that they are protected from harmful rays. He would like claims such as "sunblock," "waterproof" and "all-day protection" removed from labels. However, doctors are concerned that these lawsuits may cause people to stop using sunscreen, which may result in even more skin damage. Elizabeth Olson, The New York Times 06/19/2006 Read Article: The New York Times

Fosamax Risks Becoming More Apparent

Fosamax, a drug used to fight osteoporosis, has been linked to jaw decay, also known as osteonecrosis. A Florida attorney filed a class action lawsuit against the drug maker Merck & Co. He believes Merck knew about the risks for years, while many doctors and patients are still not aware of the potential risks of ONJ for dental patients on bisphosphonates. Carey Hamilton, The Salt Lake Tribune 06/20/2006 Read Article: The Salt Lake Tribune

The Pigs are at the trough: Louisiana Legislators Vote Themselves Insurance Perk...

The Pigs are at the trough! Gov. Blanco has not revealed her position on a bill that would authorize the state to pay 75 percent of health and life insurance premiums for former and current legislators who have served for at least 10 years. Existing law permits the state to pay 38 percent of premiums for legislators and state employees who have 10 years of service. Rep. Mike Powell of Shreveport said it is wrong for lawmakers to give themselves privileges while many residents and the state struggle with hurricane issues. Ed Anderson, New Orleans Times-Picayune 06/20/2006 Read Article: New Orleans Times-Picayune

Monday, June 19, 2006

Medical Malpractice Reform Not Working in Georgia

Despite claims that sweeping medical malpractice reform would reduce insurance rates for doctors, a number of medical malpractice insurers in Georgia increased premiums. Some insurers raised liability rates for doctors and dentists by up to one-third. The state passed medical "reform" legislation in 2005 that restricted malpractice lawsuits; capped pain and suffering awards at $350,000; set tougher guidelines for expert witnesses and enticed patients to settle out of court. Associated Press, 06/15/2006

Side Impact Air Bags Can Significantly Reduce Risk of Injury

Several vehicles including the Chrysler 300 and Ford Five Hundred failed side impact crash tests performed without side air bags. The side air bags are standard equipment on 40 percent of 2006 models and should be standard on all models by 2009. Nick Bunkley, The New York Times 06/19/2006 Read Article: The New York Times

Private Judging Has Its Advantages

Many divorcing couples are turning to private judges because of the speed and convenience of a private trial. Courts in Dallas County are swamped, so hiring a private judge can be a way to "fast-track" a case and maximize a lawyer's time in court. This can lead to less expensive cases, but a California justice argues that the same dispute can keep coming up because no precedent is set in a private case. Mary Alice Robbins, 06/19/2006 Read Article:

Lawyer Claims Merck Canceled Vioxx Study After FDA Decision

Merck was planning a study on the cardiac risks of Vioxx but scrapped the project in March of 2002 soon after the FDA decided to tone down its warning about heart risks. The FDA and Merck agreed that a notice should be added in the precautions section of the drug's label rather than a more conspicuous warning section. Merck's former head of marketing claims the decision on the study and the labeling were merely coincidence. Linda A. Johnson, Houston Chronicle 06/16/2006 Read Article: Houston Chronicle

Jury Verdict Sends Message to Drunk Drivers

A family was awarded $28.2 million for the death of 33-year-old man who was hit by a drunk driver. The driver's blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit when his truck pinned the man between two vehicles and dragged him to his death. The driver was sentenced to seven years in prison for intoxication manslaughter and intoxication assault. Dallas News, The Dallas Morning News 06/19/2006 Read Article: The Dallas Morning News

Free markets? What free market? Drug Companies Face Lawsuits Alleging Price Fraud

A number of states are suing pharmaceutical companies for inflating drug prices, which adversely affects Medicaid and Medicare. The industry plans to vigorously defend themselves against these allegations and Baxter International claims "there is a great deal of transparency and has been for quite some time." The DOJ is confident that hard evidence will show overcharging by the industry. Tresa Baldas, 06/19/2006 Read Article:

Insurance Industry Controlled LIBA Pushes House To Vote Down Amendments For Homeowners Insurance Break

The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) opposed House amendments that would have given you, Louisiana homeowners, a $50 million break on premiums after the hurricane season.

The Senate had added amendments to two spending bills that would have given Louisiana Citizens Insurance Corp. $50 million at the end of hurricane season to pay off bonds early. That would have offset the amount that Louisiana homeowners will be assessed to support the Citizens insurance program. Florida turned all of its $700 million surplus over to its state-operated insurance program, which eliminated the need for a homeowners' assessment. Lake Charles American Press, 06/19/2006

U.S. Supreme Court 'Fractured' Wetlands Ruling Could Impact Louisiana

A 5-4 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on a wetlands development issue is so "fractured" that one justice said "lower courts and regulated entities will now have to feel their way on a case-by-case basis." The court said the federal Clean Water Act may have been misinterpreted in a case that barred Michigan property owners from building a shopping mall and condo on wetlands that they own. Justices could not reach a consensus on whether government protections extend past waterways, which means lower courts will have to decide whether ditches and drainage outlets are included as part of a government-protected waterway and wetland area. The ruling could have significant impact upon Louisiana and the "taking" of property without due compensation. Lafayette Daily Advertiser, The Advertiser 06/19/2006 Read Article: The Advertiser

Panel Created to Redesign Health Care in Louisiana

The Legislature passed a resolution to create a 37-member panel that would recommend ways to improve health care in Louisiana. Panelists would be named from LSU and other medical schools, nursing homes, hospitals, pharmacies, business, lawmakers and others. Head of the panel will be Fred Cerise, secretary of the state Department of Health and Hospitals. The task is to tackle health care problems in the New Orleans area first, then the rest of the state. A final report would be due by Dec. 31, 2007. Will Sentel, The Advocate 06/19/2006 Read Article: The Advocate

If you commit corporate fraud and you can’t deny it, then attack the Courts that hold you responsible: Courts are Newest Target in Tort Reform Effort….

That’s the new tactic of tort reformers! Attack the courts instead of legislatures. Corporate defense counsel are urged to push for jury trials and challenge torts common law case-by-case before business-friendly judges. One corporate defense attorney said, "(T)he quickest and easiest way to change laws is through the courts…All you need are a couple of good rulings from an appellate court, and suddenly you have something to talk about in other jurisdictions and in your own." Critics say under the guise of asking for jury trials, they are really asking juries to "hickjack the law" and that it's "very easy to flimflam a jury" on complex issues. The American Justice Partnership, an attack-dog group formed in 2005 by the National Association of Manufacturers, promotes the tort-reform-in-the-courts effort. Read "Moving Toward the Fully Informed Jury" and a practice guide. ABA Journal, 06/19/2006

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Addicted to war...

It’s reported Bolivia, one of the poorest countries in the world, will spend $6.8B to fight poverty. By contrast, the United States, the richest country in the world, will spend $400B to protect the property of international corporations. So, is the world better off with George W. Bush? who is “addicted to war.”

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

What does Chickenhawk Karl Rove have in common with Dick Cheney and George W. Bush? They dodged the draft during the Vietnam War …

Just hours after the special prosecutor decided not to indict Karl Rove in the Scooter Libby CIA- leak scandal, Rove emerged from hiding and , once more, assumed his role as chief hatchet- man for the Bush administration.

Trying to salvage the Bush administration, Chickenhawk Rove attacked John Kerry and Jack Murtha. Both Murtha and Kerry have distinguished military records as compared to Rove, Bush and Cheney.

We all know that George W. Bush was given preferential treatment during the Vietnam War by which he was allowed to enter, but never complete, military duty with the Air National Guard.

Dick Cheney was no better. After multiple DWIs, Cheney was eventually given a deferment from the draft.

As the Bush administration continues to spiral downward, the Blogs are buzzing with information about the draft-dodging efforts of Bush’s Brain, Karl Rove, during the Vietnam War. Here are some excerpts:

“Except for a lapse of several months, Selective Service records show presidential adviser Karl Rove escaped the draft for nearly three years at the height of the Vietnam War using student deferments....[Rover's]draft record and accounts from friends reveal a young man who didn't necessarily agree with the war and managed to avoid being drafted…. Far from being a conscientious objector, Gustavson [a friend of Rove] recalls, Rove's opposition to the war was political. He considered the conflict a ‘political skirmish that was not being properly administered.’"

Monday, June 12, 2006

More Guantánamo Newspeak...

Yesterday we reported on the suicides at Guantánamo, Cuba. We pointed out the use of Orwellian style Newspeak to confuse the public into believing that an act of desperation was actually an act of asymmetrical warfare.

Continuing that theme, The New York Times examines unspeakable aspects of American justice as applied at Guantánamo:

"[Guantánamo] is a place where secret tribunals sat in judgment of men whose identities they barely knew and who were not permitted to see the evidence against them. Inmates were abused, humiliated, tormented and sometimes tortured. Some surely are very dangerous men, committed to a life of terrorism and deserving of harsh justice. But only 10 of the roughly 465 men at the camp have been charged with crimes. The others, according to senior officers who served there, were foot soldiers of the Taliban or men who just happened to live in a country invaded by the United States after the 9/11 attacks."

Read: The Deaths at Gitmo

In Prisoners' Ruse Is Suspected at Guantánamo , The New York Times details the suicides. Most intriguing is the continued Newspeak. For example, one official described the suicides as “an attempt to influence the judicial proceedings in that perspective." This is a far stretch.

Read: Prisoners' Ruse Is Suspected at Guantánamo

Bush administration continues downward international spiral: The Chilean President Defied US Pressure to Oppose Venezuela's Security Council Bid..

The Bush administration is feeling stiff resistance internationally. The latest obstacle: Chile. Roger Burbach reports:

"President Michelle Bachelet came to Washington on Thursday for a one day whirl wind trip that included a meeting with George Bush. Both exchanged pleasantries after the meeting, neither referring to the heavy-handed efforts of the Bush administration to pressure Chile to oppose Venezuela's bid for a seat on the United Nations security council....At a meeting of Latin American and European nations in Austria in May, President Bachelet, alluding to the growing US hostility towards the so-called "power axis" between Venezuela and Bolivia, stated: 'I would not want us to return to the cold war era where we demonise one country or another. What we have witnessed in these countries [Bolivia and Venezuela] is that they are looking for governments and leaders that will work to eradicate poverty and eliminate inequality.'"

Read: Bachelet Refuses to Back Down to Bush

Are Supreme Court Justices Roberts and Alito determined to judicially rollback the racial clock?

New York Times reports, "now that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear two cases challenging racial balancing in public schools, some conservatives hope the end of affirmative action is near."

Perhaps Not All Affirmative Action Is Created Equal

More Executive abuse of power: DOJ targets plaintiffs' law firm….

Determined to keep the average person defenseless against the likes of Ken Lay, the Bush administration has targeted the securities law firm of Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman. Four Democratic congressmen have spoken up in defense of Milberg Weiss and, indeed all trial lawyers, stating:

"The Justice Department's crusade against trial lawyers, the first line in the average citizen's protection against corporate greed, has taken a new low in the indictment of an entire leading law firm in the plaintiffs' bar."

Representatives Charles B. Rangel, Carolyn McCarthy, and Gary L. Ackerman of New York and Robert Wexler of Florida signed the statement.

It’s time for all trial lawyers to sever ties with the Republican Party. For decades, the Republican Party, along with the Chamber of Commerce, have been on a relentless campaign to discredit trial lawyers nationwide.

Read: 4 From Congress Defend Indicted Law Firm

Attorney Whistleblower Sues Orleans Levee Board

Former staff attorney Gary Benoit sued the Orleans Levee Board and two officials, claiming officials tried to force his resignation after he decided in September to tell the governor's office about illegal activities at the agency. Benoit worked for the levee board for 17 years. Frank Donze, New Orleans Times-Picayune 06/09/2006 Read Article: New Orleans Times-Picayune

Editorial: 'Overindulged' Nursing Home Industry Needs No More Special Breaks

Editors call for Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco to veto any bill that offer more special favors to the "politically powerful" nursing home industry.

Louisiana HB 613 would protect nursing homes from state budget cuts and is part of a "long, disturbing pattern" in the way federal Medicaid funds support long-term care in Louisiana. Instead of protecting nursing homes, legislators should pay more attention to the health of Louisiana citizens.

Editorial, New Orleans Times-Picayune 06/09/2006 Read Article: New Orleans Times-Picayune

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Bush administration’s newspeak continues: Is the U.S. at war with Saudi Arabia and Yemen?

Riddle: When is suicide not an act of desperation? Answer: When it’s an act of asymmetrical warfare. At least that’s how Rear Adm. Harry Harris, commander of Joint Task Force-Guantanamo, sees it.

Commenting on the 2 Saudis and 1 Yemeni who committed suicide at Guantanamo, Harris said:

“This was clearly a planned event, not a spontaneous event…I believe this was not an act of desperation, rather an act of asymmetric warfare waged against [the U.S.]”

"Asymmetrical warfare" is defined as "a conflict in which a much weaker opponent uses unorthodox or surprise tactics to attack the weak points of the much stronger opponent."

So, who will Bush bomb next for this asymmetric act of war? Saudi Arabia? Or Yemen?

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Wake up: the American Dream is over

In “Wake up: the American Dream is over,” Paul Harris of The Guardian (U.K.) examines the plight of working class Americans. Calling America the land of extremes, Harris observes:

“America has some of the worst urban sprawl in the world and also the most beautiful and well-protected wildernesses. Its politics is awash with lobbyist inspired corruption. Yet passionate political engagement among millions of Americans puts many other countries to shame.”

Sadly, however, Harris rhetorically asks:

“So in this land of black and white, we should not be too surprised to find some of the biggest gaps between rich and poor in the world. Such a yawning chasm is just the American Way, it would seem. Besides, the American Dream offers a way out to everyone. All someone has to do is work hard and climb the ladder towards the top. No class system or government stands in the way.”

Not so, Harris concludes, supporting his conclusions with startling statistics:

“Over the past 25 years the median US family income has gone up 18 percent. For the top one percent, however, it has gone up 200 percent. A quarter of a century ago the top fifth of Americans had an average income 6.7 times that of the bottom fifth. Now it is 9.8 times. Inequalities have grown worse in different regions. In California, home to both Beverly Hills and the gang-ridden slums of Compton, incomes for lower class families have fallen by four percent since 1969. For upper class families they have risen 41 percent.”

Was he beaten to death, or was he bombed? New questions raised about the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Associated Press reports Iraqis have raised questions about the death Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. According to AP, U.S. officials altered their account of al-Zarqawi’s death. At first, U.S. officials said al-Zarqawi was alive and partly conscious after bombs destroyed his hideout. But an Iraqi witness has raised fresh questions about al-Zarqawi’s death.

The informant, identified only as Mohammed, said, “[al-Zarqawi] was still alive. We put him in the ambulance, but when the Americans arrived they took him out of the ambulance, they beat him on his stomach and wrapped his head with his dishdasha, then they stomped on his stomach and his chest until he died and blood came out of his nose."

Friday, June 09, 2006

"Hate-filled attack," said the 9/11 Comission to the Queen of Mean

"Hate-filled attack." That’s what the 9/11 Commission called Ann Coulter’s latest assault on 9/11 victims.

The Queen of Mean was unmoved and on message, a la Karl Rove, responding: "These broads (9/11 widows) are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arazzis. I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much.” The “grief-arazzis” phrase is a play on words taken directly from Rush Limbaugh who fondly calls independent women “femi-nazis.”

Ah thanks, Ann, for reducing feminity to an all time low as only a rabid right wing wacko could do.

The Bush administration continues its assault on the U.S. Constitution...

The Bush administration continues its assault on the U.S. Constitution. Recently, Republican Sen. Arlen Specter rebuked Cheney for trying to impede subpoenas of the phone company executives.

As only he could, Cheney responded that his behavior was "not unusual" in his role as vice president. "I have frequent contact with senators,” Cheney claimed, “both at their initiative and mine."

Specter, however, put “executive abuse” in the correct prospective: "I am not looking for an apology,” Specter responded. “I am looking for protection of civil rights and recognition of congressional oversight…I am looking for a substantive result and I think we may be on the way."

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Ann Coulter, the Republican Bitch of Buchenwald, attacks 9/11 widows…

Gays and lesbians can breathe easy for the moment. The Republican Inquisitors have a new scapegoat to prop up the failing Bush administration. It's the widows of 9/11 victims!

Ann Coulter, the Republican Bitch of Buchenwald, has been given the responsibility of distracting the public from the Village Idiot’s (GWB) failures by attacking the widows of 9/11 victims. In the spirit of Ilse Koch, who made lampshades out of her Jewish victims, Coulter called the widows of 9/11 victims "witches" saying, "I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much.”

The public will be outraged, and rightly so. But, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh will come to the aide of the Queen of Mean by comparing her rancor to the vitriol of Ward Churchill, which will then cause David Horowitz to crawl from under his rock and enter the deabte.

In the end, America will be distracted from the murder of Iraqi civilians, runaway gas prices, a failing economy, etc., in a way that the debate over gay marriage could never distract.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Has the Bush administration re-ignited the “Cold War"?

“The Mystery of the 'Two Cheneys,'” reads the op-ed piece from People's Daily, China's Communist Party-controlled newspaper.

The article discusses Cheney’s hypocritical criticism Russia, only to embrace dictator and human rights abuser Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan.

The article asks: Has the Bush administration re-ignited the “Cold War"?

Read: The Mystery of the 'Two Cheneys'

Donald Rumsfeld: “Shit happens. Get over it. ”

The Sunday Times, U.K., presents a chilling article on the Haditha massacre.

“As his stomach churned,” the article reads, “Roel Briones mechanically clicked the button on his digital camera. With every shot, he felt his humanity was being tested. The dead, he said, ‘ranged from from little babies to adult males and females. I’ll never be able to get that out of my head. I can still smell the blood.’”

The article also opines: “If proved, the massacre could change the course of the war in Iraq.”

And, Donald Rumsfeld’s response? if you can call it that: “Things that shouldn’t happen do happen in war.” Or, in street slang, “Shit happens. Get over it. ”

Focus: America's shame

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Thank you, Mr. Rumsfeld, for proving “old men lie” and “young men die.”

It was called the “Domino Theory.” If we didn’t stop the advance of Communism in Asia, Communism would eventually engulf the world. The “Domino Theory” became the raison d'être for Vietnam. Of course it wasn’t true. But we learned that too late:

58,148 killed during service;
114 captured and died in captivity;
9,000 suicides as a direct result of the war (1.7 x the non-Veteran population).

Total of approximately 67,000 Americans.

Fighting with the U.S.:

223,748 South Vietnamese soldiers killed,
5,282 of other nationalities.

A total of approximately 300,000.

Fighting for North Vietnam:

1,000,000 military casualties;
600,000 wounded.

Civilian casualties:

2,000,000 in the north,
2,000,000 in the south.

A total of 5.1 million total Vietnamese casualties.

But today…today Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said: the United States wants to expand its military relationship with Vietnam, but has no plans to seek access to military facilities in this former enemy nation.

Thank you, Mr. Rumsfeld, for proving “old men lie” and “young men die.”

Listen to: George W. Bush, the unfeeling president….

Listen to: George W. Bush, the unfeeling president….

Fear and hate…fear and hate and more fear and hate…

How do you convince a nation to vote for you? Fear and hate…fear and hate and more fear and hate…

Watch: THE BBC REPORT on the Ken Lay & George W. Bush connection...

Watch: THE BBC REPORT on the Ken Lay & George W. Bush connection. A must see!