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spread of the red
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one nation, under surveillance
Weather
News
Weather
in bed with the red
number 148    
04.20.08
source: OECD
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The health insurance industry
has adopted a new pricing
structure that charges
consumers a percentage of
the cost of expensive
medicines instead of fixed co-
payments, resulting in
skyrocketing health care bills
for patients with serious
illnesses. The shift in policy
began with the introduction of
the Medicare prescription drug
program and is now
incorporated into 86 percent of
those plans, as well as at least
ten percent of private group
coverage plans, according to
an investigation by the
New
York Times
. The newspaper
found that some patients
receiving advanced drug
treatments have seen their out
of pocket expenses rise
thousands of dollars a month.

The pricing system, referred to
by insurers as “Tier 4”, has
been adopted as a response
to employers seeking ways to
keep the cost of group
coverage down, according to
health insurance industry
spokesmen. But heathcare
analysts and patients’ rights
advocates warned that the
move toward Tier 4
represented an erosion of the
basic concept of private
insurance: spreading narrow
risks over a large membership
pool. Health economist James
Robinson of the University of
California at Berkeley told the
Times, “It’s very unfortunate
social policy. The more the
sick person pays, the less the
healthy person pays.”
Insurance industry analysts
expect more plans to adopt
Tier 4 pricing, and note that
some plans already have a
Tier 5 for more expensive
drugs.        
it's all true
The Bush administration has
signaled that it intends to proceed
with its plan to reorganize the nation’
s spy satellite operations, making
detailed satellite imagery available
for the first time to federal, state, and
local law enforcement agencies.
Critics have questioned the legality of
the overhaul, saying it improperly
diverts military assets to domestic law
enforcement purposes.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael
Chertoff announced last week that
the controversial National
Applications Office, which will have
authority over a wide array of
sophisticated surveillance
technologies, is ready to begin
operations, despite a host of
unanswered questions from
Congressional committees about the
legal basis for the new program and
the scope of the surveillance being
undertaken. Members of the
academic community have also
expressed fears that law enforcement
priorities will change the focus of US
satellite programs, which have
traditionally
served primarily scientific functions.

In October Congress blocked DHS
from funding the National
Applications Office until questions
about its legality and operations were
resolved and until a Government
Accountability Office review of the
proposed surveillance and data
sharing program was completed. The
GAO has yet to report on the satellite
office, and Democratic congressional
leaders last week expressed
dissatisfaction with the assurances
Chertoff has provided so far.
But last week Chertoff told a group of
reporters, "I think we've fully
addressed  anybody's
concerns."            
it's all true
Insurance Policies
Test Patients
Privacy Off the Radar for Spy Satellites
Record low levels in the Colorado
River system and steadily decreasing
snowpack in the Sierra Nevada
Mountains may combine to create
major water shortages in California
and other Western states that derive
their supply from these sources,
according to recently published
government data.

A report compiled by the US
Geological Survey concluded that
even a modest rise in the mean
temperature of 1.5 degrees
Fahrenheit over the course of this
century would severely impact water
supplies for at least seven states.
Other government statistics indicate
that as many as 36 states could face
water shortages within the next five
years. Some Southeastern states
have already begun to experience
unprecedented local conditions,
including a shortage
that recently resulted in a court battle
over water rights involving Georgia,
Florida, and Alabama.

The USGS report on the Colorado
River calculated average flows using
historical data and models using
various temperature thresholds. The
researchers found that flows would
be dramatically reduced if
temperatures rose just 1.5 degrees,
even though the United Nations
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change projects global warming to
proceed at more than twice that rate.
Researcher Gregory McCabe, who
coauthored the USGS report, told
Bloomberg News, “It turns out, in
the Colorado, just modest warming
can have significant impacts.”

Environmental scientists have
warned that one effect of rising sea
levels caused by global warming will
be saltwater
infiltration of coastal aquifers,
rendering obsolete much existing
civic infrastructure for the
treatment and delivery of water. At
the same time, inland aquifers will
be depleted by decreased annual
snowmelt and periodic droughts.
Major reservoirs in the Northeast,
Midwest, and Rocky Mountain
states are already at dangerously
low levels, and recent studies
have shown that Nevada’s Lake
Mead and Utah’s Lake Powell, the
two most important reservoirs in
the country, are threatened, with
one report warning that Lake
Mead could be dry by 2021.

In recent years, major investment
funds have bought stakes in
filtration and desalinization
technologies, as well as privatized
municipal water delivery
systems.            
it's all true
Climate Change Causing Trickle Down Effect To
Evaporate
The combination of higher production
costs and the diversion of food crops
to bio-fuel crops has led to a
situation where 100 million people
could be driven in to deeper poverty
threatening the stability of fragile
nations across the globe.  Rising
food prices have led to riots in
Morocco, Mexico, Senegal,
Egypt and Haiti.  Russia and
Thailand have instituted price
controls on basic food products, and
last week the world’s fifth largest
exporter of rice, Kazakhstan,
imposed a ban on rice exports.  

A recent UNESCO report on the state
of the world’s agriculture reported
that wheat prices have risen by 137
percent and soy prices have risen by
87 percent
since last year.  The study’s authors
found, “the diversion of agriculture
crops to fuel can raise food prices
and reduce our ability to alleviate
hunger throughout the world.”

Ministers from 185 countries
attending a scheduled conference of
the International Monetary Fund and
the World Bank agreed that the
international food crisis is a greater
threat to stability than the global
financial emergency that has
received greater attention.  World
Bank President Robert Zoellick said
that the bank estimates “that a
doubling of food prices over the last
three years could potentially push
100 million people in low-income
countries into deeper
poverty.”  IMF managing director
Dominque Strauss-Kahn said that
the diversion of food crops to fuel
crops is a “crime against
humanity.”

United Nations Secretary General
Ban Ki-moon has organized a task
force to formulate programs to
help impoverished populations
deal with the food crisis. Ki-moon
said in his address at the opening
of the United Nations Conference
on Trade, “We hear the call of the
least developed countries to deal
with market failures and stabilize
world food prices.  The millions of
deprived populations of
developing nations expect
definitive time bound actions."     
it's all true
A federal audit of the Pentagon’s
largest defense contracts found that
projects are consistently delayed and
severely over budget.

The Government Accountability
Office found that 95 Defense
Department contracts have exceeded
their budgets by a combined $295
billion.  The auditors found that the
projects were delivered an average
of two years behind schedule and
that none of the 72 projects reviewed
this year met best practices
standards for stable design and
processes critical for cost, schedule
and performance oversight.  The
total cost of the defense projects that
were audited is $1.6 trillion.  The
report found that “In most cases,
programs also failed to deliver
capabilities when promised, often
forcing war fighters to spend
additional funds on maintaining”
older equipment.

The GAO reported, “Total acquisition
costs for major defense programs in
the fiscal year 2007 portfolio have
increased 26 percent from first
estimates.”  That compares with six
percent total cost increases for
projects in the year 2000.   Auditors
also reported that costs for research
and development for the weapons
projects reviewed increased 40
percent over the original estimated
final costs.

One of the projects reviewed was the
development of the Littoral Combat
Ship for the Navy.  Auditors reported
that the final cost of building the first
two ships will exceed the $472 million
budgeted by the Pentagon by 100
percent.  The original cost estimate
for the entire project is $5.2 billion.  
The government’s contract with
Boeing to build weaponized
unmanned aircraft and vehicles
called Future Combat Systems has
exceeded its final cost by 40
percent.  A radio system being
developed by Boeing is currently 310
percent over budget.  

Representatives for Boeing said in a
statement that the company is
committed “to deliver on our
promises to our military
customers…in the most cost-effective
way possible.”  

The GAO began reviewing the costs
associated with specific military
weapons systems contracts in 2002.  
Since that time, The Pentagon has
doubled its commitment to purchase
weapons systems.  The auditors
reviewed 72 of 95 high cost weapons
systems contracts.          
it's all true
State and federal agents have
killed or captured and sent to
slaughterhouses a third of one of
the last remaining herd of wild
buffalo over the course of this
past winter threatening the
genetic diversity of the herd.  
More bison have been
slaughtered this year than any
time since the late 1800’s.

The herd, which roams an area of
federal land, parts of which are in
Yellowstone National Park and the
Gallatin National Forest in
Montana, has been thinned by
more than 1550 bison due to a
federally mandated program
intended to protect the health of
privately owned beef cattle herds
that graze on the same federal
lands.  A group of citizens,
conservationists, Native
Americans and outfitting
businesses have come together
to file an emergency rule-making
petition with the US Department of
the Interior to put an end to the
slaughter of the bison.  The
petition calls for halting the
thinning program when the herds’
populations reduce to 2000.  Both
herds have been thinned to less
than that number this winter.   
it's
all true
...If Iran makes the
wrong choice,
America will act to
protect our interests"
Washington DC 04.10.08
verbatim                                                                  number 29.1
"The regime in Tehran
also has a choice to
make...If Iran makes the
right choice, America will
encourage a peaceful
relationship between Iran
and Iraq...
450              500                  550   
finland
united
kingdom
united
states
15 years old reading literacy
mean value of performance
scale
selected countries
italy
Global Hunger Crisis Looms Larger Than Financial Meltdown
Cowboys Hide
Behind Buffalo Bill
Contractors Hit DOD With Budget Busting Bombs
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