BLM To Re-educate Native Americans On How To Live With Nature; Mitigate Climate Change

Native Americans, infamous throughout human history for their notoriously scornful attitude toward nature and their lustful despoliation of pristine land, are about to get learned on how they can modify the way they interact with the environment and save their corner of the planet from climate change – all thanks to the missionary outreach of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

In the Federal government’s latest noble attempt to soften the edges of brutish native savagery, the BLM is spending nearly half a million dollars to teach Indians in the American northwest how to incorporate climate adaptation plans into their routine interactions with the great outdoors.

From a report Tuesday at CNS News:

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) plans to spend up to $450,000 in taxpayer dollars to teach Native American tribes in the Great Basin region ”climate adaptation plans” for their hunting, fishing and gathering activities.

… The Great Basin Landscape Conservation Cooperative (GBLCC) is one of 22 LCCs nationwide established by the Department of the Interior (DOI) in 2010 to “better integrate science and management to address climate change and related issues.” The Great Basin area covers parts of Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and California.

… Todd Hopkins, GBLCC’s science coordinator, told that the trainings will focus on “actions that the tribes can take in response to changing climatic conditions.”

The initiative involves four tribes, each of which has GBLCC representation, and will follow a climate change curriculum developed by the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals.

“In July, President Obama announced the Tribal Climate Resilience Program to ‘help tribes prepare for climate change,’” CNS News reported. “As part of this initiative, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell will ‘dedicate $10 million in funding for tribes and tribal organizations to develop tools to enable adaptive resource management, as well as the ability to plan for climate resilience.’”

There’s no word on whether the BLM will be handing out Bibles (or the Obama Administration’s religious book du jour.)

Michelle Obama’s School Nutrition Plan Kills Bake Sales, School Fundraisers

Over the past week, you may have seen a story or two about the rollout of more Federal school nutrition standards as the implementation timeline for the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 continues to unfold.

As the new school year begins, many districts have again begun another round of grousing about how they’ll handle the difficult and unpopular food restrictions championed by first lady Michelle Obama — part of her one-size-fits-all nationwide approach to curbing child obesity and promoting public health at a young age.

In tiny Pawleys Island, S.C., the local newspaper brought a ground-level perspective to the law’s real effect on efforts to carry on school-based civic traditions — traditions that forge close bonds across the beachfront community in the spirit of doing good.

The Coastal Observer ran a recent story on how the first lady’s well-intentioned, cookie-cutter, nanny-state ideas are proving to be anything but helpful:

When Waccamaw Middle School students began a campaign to raise money to send a World War II veteran on the region’s final Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., they turned to the kitchen. They baked cupcakes and cookies and sold them at lunch as part of the effort that raised $2,500 in just over three weeks.

This year, that strategy won’t fly.

Federal nutrition standards that took effect this month limit the calories, sodium, fat and sugar content of food sold in schools as snacks and as fundraisers. “It’s going to be devastating,” Georgetown County School Superintendent Randy Dozier said.

… The standards are part of the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act that has changed the menus in school cafeterias. “They changed the menu so that it isn’t as attractive to kids,” Dozier said. The district’s cafeteria managers have continued to come up with new recipes to make the healthier ingredients more appealing.

The Barack Obama Administration doesn’t exactly have a strong track record of reaching out to the Honor Flight veterans anyway, as any observer of last year’s government shutdown — and its neglect of Honor Flight veterans who faced rows of barricades at Washington, D.C. landmarks — illustrates.

Now, a small community that appeared to be doing just fine on its own has to come up with some way to continue sending veterans on the Honor Flight, as well as support an array of other school-sponsored activities — all in the name of slimming kids down (or keeping them hungry, depending on your point of view).

“Milkshake Mondays and Biscuit Fridays are out,” the Coastal Observer reports. “The fate of candy sales to benefit the Calypso Gators steel drum band is uncertain. The guidelines apply to food sold on campus during school hours, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which created the standards.”

So what kind of foods can you still fundraise on? Probably not the kind that people want to pay for. “Maybe we’ll have Kiwi Wednesday,” Waccamaw Intermediate School principal Tim Carnahan joked.

Obamacare Incentivizes Doctors To Deny Treatment To Patients Covered Under ACA

It’s begun: doctors turning away patients covered under the Affordable Care Act because the physicians aren’t being reimbursed at a rate that allows them to “keep the lights on.”

It’s a twofold problem, because doctors need patients in order to stay in business, and patients need doctors because, well, they’re either sick or trying to manage their health to reduce their chances of getting sicker.

But more and more doctors are beginning to decline patients covered under Obamacare plans because the reimbursement rates are too low to make accepting their insurance an economically viable option. Meanwhile, many patients under ACA plans are funneled into coverage networks that offer limited healthcare choices in order for insurers on the network to keep their costs manageable.

NPR recently interviewed Connecticut doctor Doug Gerard for a story on Obamacare — from a physician’s point of view. Gerard said it makes no sense to admit Obamacare patients whose coverage pays out at a rate that’s roughly 80 percent of what he receives from private insurers that cover patients who aren’t participating in an Obamacare exchange.

On a recent afternoon at his office in Hartford, Conn., Dr. Doug Gerard examines a patient complaining of joint pain. Gerard, an internist, checks her out, asks her a few questions about her symptoms and then orders a few tests before sending her on her way.

For a typical quick visit like this, Gerard could get reimbursed $100 or more from a private insurer. For the same visit, Medicare pays less — about $80. And now, with the new private plans under the Affordable Care Act, Gerard says he would get something in between, but closer to the lower Medicare rates.

That’s not something he’s willing to accept.

“I cannot accept a plan [in which] potentially commercial-type reimbursement rates were now going to be reimbursed at Medicare rates,” Gerard says. “You have to maintain a certain mix in private practice between the low reimbursers and the high reimbursers to be able to keep the lights on.”

Three insurers offered plans on Connecticut’s ACA marketplace in 2014, and Gerard is only accepting one. He won’t say which, but he will say it pays the highest rate to doctors.

“I don’t think most physicians know what they’re being reimbursed. Only when they start seeing some of those rates come through will they realize how low the rates are they agreed to.”

Smaller private practices have much more difficulty maintaining that “certain mix” of patients at different coverage levels in order to run a business that’s both ethical and profitable. But even hospitals, which have historically accepted more types of coverage from broad patient demographics, are beginning to struggle with the small returns on Obamacare plans.

“[H]ospitals — especially top-tier ones that treat the most difficult diseases — are also increasingly rejecting the low reimbursement rates,” The Daily Caller observed Monday. “The nation’s best cancer treatment centers are often covered by very few exchange plans in their states; if Obamacare customers end up with a difficult-to-treat cancer, they’re likely to face a lower quality of care right off the bat.”

Over time, this trend could lead to a form of quality-of-care segregation in which certain types of health care providers who accept Obamacare patients dole out faster, cheaper and poorer services than providers who limit their acceptance of Obamacare-backed plans.

“If reimbursement rates to doctors stay low in Obamacare plans, more doctors could reject those plans. And that could mean that people will get access to insurance, but they may not get access to a lot of doctors,” NPR reported.

“I think it could lead potentially to this kind of distinction that there are these different tiers of quality of care,” Kevin Counihan, manager of Connecticut’s AccessHealthCT insurance exchange, told the network.

Sheriff In North Carolina Understands Law Enforcement Isn’t The First Line Of Defense

Harnett County, N.C. Sheriff Larry Rollins gets it. He wants his deputies to respond to calls as fast as they can, but he knows that it takes a while to drive from point A to point B, no matter how urgent a call sounds.

He also knows that citizens who’ve been targeted by criminals have the right to protect themselves and hold down the fort until help arrives.

“When I am out with my family, even though I am a cop, I don’t go anywhere without a gun,” Rollins told a packed crowd Monday evening at the Spring Hill United Methodist Church in Lillington, N.C.

“I mean it’s sad we have to have that attitude,” Rollins continued, “but I am going to protect myself and my family. I want my deputies at your house just as fast as they can when you got a problem, but you better be able to take care of business until we get there if you have to protect your family.”

According to local television news station WTVD, the crowd was there in response to a recent “explosion” in violent crime, having answered a call to a community meeting to discuss solutions with law enforcement.

In late July, a rash of violent incidents in the area shocked small-town residents in Harnett County, home to 120,000 people. There was a murder in Spring Lake, in nearby Cumberland County, on or around July 30. Two other men were shot in the town of Cameron, about half an hour away from Lillington, on Aug. 1. A crash resulting from a high-speed police chase in Lillington sent a man to the hospital July 29.


LAPD Cries Foul After Private Citizen Flies Drone Over Police Station

Following an incident in which a drone enthusiast stood on a public sidewalk and piloted his camera-equipped drone above the Los Angeles Police Department’s Hollywood station, the LAPD is attempting to find a legal basis for prohibiting the practice.

Last week, the LAPD consulted with city and county attorneys in an attempt to come up with a legal argument against operators of drones who would seek to gain a bird’s-eye view of their facilities. The topic came to a head for the department after the police confronted privacy advocate Daniel Saulmon, who films police officers on the job in order to underscore the “double standard” that protects bad cops from facing true accountability, as he operated his drone recently outside the Hollywood station.

Saulmon, who goes by the Internet handle “Tom Zebra,” published the drone footage to YouTube following the incident.

Saulmon gets arrested often in order to prove his point. In his YouTube commentary on the Hollywood video, he explains why he keeps going back for more:

Police violate our 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 14th amendment rights on the regular. Suddenly they want to talk about expectation of privacy? Oh, is that how it works? They want privacy, but want to give none?

LAPD Lt. Michael King’s remarks to the Los Angeles Times Friday set forth the department’s argument.

“What concerns us is that they are filming over private property and it’s gated – you’re looking at the layout of the police station, how we operate, personnel license plates,” he said. “It’s kind of like if it was your house, if they’re flying over your backyard you’d start asking questions about it.”

Saulmon insisted that argument constitutes a double standard – one that favors the state by denying the same freedoms to the citizen.

“They bring up the expectation of privacy, I’m not buying it,” he told the Times. “Suddenly they’re talking about how I’m trespassing on a public sidewalk. They do not have an expectation of privacy…if you want privacy, build a roof.”

A Plurality Of Registered Voters Wants A Republican-Controlled Congress

Voters may be sick of Congress, but they appear to be more disgusted with Democrats in Congress than Republicans. A new poll indicates that a plurality of voters not only wants the House of Representatives to continue with a Republican majority, but that they also want a Republican majority in the Senate.

The poll, sponsored by NBC News and The Wall Street Journal, predictably found that people view Congress negatively, with 50 percent indicating Congress has been “very unproductive” this year. Another 24 percent said Congress has been “somewhat unproductive.”

But the survey then asked voters which party they preferred in the majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate individually.

For the House of Representatives, 43 percent of registered voters said they want to see a Republican majority, while 41 percent said they favor a Democratic majority. An identical question concerning a Senate majority yielded the same numbers: 43 percent favoring Republicans and 41 percent favoring Democrats.

The poll also asked “residents” who indicated they are not registered voters the same series of questions. Interestingly, the plurality that slightly favored a Republican majority in both chambers among registered voters was reversed when non-voting “residents” weighed in. Forty-two percent of “residents” said they favored a Democratic majority in the House, compared with 41 percent that favored a Republican majority; 43 percent of “residents” said they favor a Democratic majority in the Senate, compared with 42 percent who favored Republicans.

Another interesting piece of data lies in the political demographics of the pool of voters who participated in the randomized survey. Twenty-five percent of voters said they consider themselves “Tea Party Supporters,” while another ten percent said they weren’t sure. The remaining 65 percent said they do not identify with the Tea Party.

In addition, a combined 45 percent of voters said they were either “very conservative” (13 percent) or “conservative” (32 percent), while only a combined 22 percent said they were either “very liberal” (eight percent) or “liberal” (14 percent). The remaining 33 percent described themselves as “moderate.”

View the full results here.

Sharp Jump In Public’s Low Opinion Of Obamacare

Polls, polls, polls. Useful as media fodder and for backseat political punditry. But polls, especially tracking polls that follow a single topic over time, can be useful in gauging the general direction of public opinion.

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation’s monthly tracking poll for July is out today, and – in spite of Kaiser’s efforts in helping to introduce and explain Obamacare to the public in a positive light since the October 2013 rollout – the Obamacare numbers aren’t good.

“[T]he news for Obamacare is bad,” wrote Reason’s Peter Suderman today. “Really bad. So bad, in fact, that I’m not entirely sure I believe it.”

In one month, the percentage of Americans who indicated they held an unfavorable opinion of the Affordable Care Act rose from 45 percent (June) to 53 percent (July) – an eight percent increase. At the same time, 37 percent of Americans said they still hold a favorable opinion of the law in July, down from 39 percent in June.

Since Kaiser began tracking public opinion on Obamacare, there’s never been a percentage of Americans who view the law negatively as high as the 53 percent who did so through the end of July.

There’s little reason to expect that number to fall significantly between now and the November Congressional midterm election, regarded in many States as a voter referendum on Obamacare.

A Federal health official predicted this week that will still have functionality problems when enrollment begins this October; Californians are paying an average of 55 percent more for health insurance since the law went into effect; and lawsuits beset Obamacare on all sides.

“It’s beginning to look like the health-care law will never attract the public’s support,” wrote The Daily Caller’s Sarah Hurtubise today. “Premiums are rising, against the promise of Obamacare supporters, but the most drastic premium hikes will likely not take effect until 2017, according to experts.”

One wonders what the Kaiser tracking poll will look like when that happens.

Irony Alert: Pelosi Asks The Press To Shill For Democrats

Asked today why Congressional Democrats haven’t been able to effectively persuade people that evil Republican obstructionists are what’s wrong with America, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) admonished the news media to “be messengers” for her party’s position throughout the midterm election campaign season.

A reporter at a press briefing asked Pelosi why Democratic messaging, designed to warn voters away from the GOP’s “anti-government premise,” hasn’t been “resonating” as the Democrats had hoped.

“So you make this case about the skepticism that people have of this anti-government premise here,” the unidentified reporter said. “You talk about, you know, ‘they’re riding this impeachment horse, and lawsuit horse, and all these things they are doing in the election.’

“Why, for every political analysis that we see – and including the top people in your party [who] don’t believe that the Democrats have a message that can get the House of Representatives back; what government shutdown? Why are these things not resonating with the electorate and won’t resonate this fall?”

Pelosi’s first line of blame was aimed straight at the media. “Well, first of all, we need you to be messengers about what is actually going on here,” she responded, either not satisfied with, or oblivious to the existence of, an already-pliable mainstream press.

She went on to promote her “Middle Class Jump Start” – a final push, in the months leading up to the November midterms, for Democrats to foment voter anxiety about “House Republicans…stacking the deck for the wealthy and their special interest friends at the expense of middle class families.” That initiative pledges a bevy of implausible measures a Democratic-controlled House would enact within “the first 100 days of 2015.”

“But, apart from that, we have come forward with our Middle Class Jump Start,” she offered. “Over the month of August, we go forward with how the jump start talks about bringing jobs home. The Republicans have tax breaks to send jobs overseas. Democrats want tax breaks to keep jobs here at home.”

Go do your job, media: Get Pelosi’s propaganda out there on the streets.

Sheila Jackson Lee Cries Over Obama Impeachment Talk: We Never Tried To Impeach Bush! (Even Though She Did)

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) spoke passionately on the House floor Wednesday against any talk of impeaching President Barack Obama, arguing that Democrats never tried to impeach Republican President George W. Bush when he went to war with Iraq under false pretenses. One small problem with her claim: Lee co-sponsored the Bush impeachment bill in 2008.

Leaving aside the possibility that Democrats are driving impeachment talk, in order to gin up midterm fundraising panic, far more than their Republican opponents these days, Jackson Lee took Republicans to task over a House vote on whether to move forward with a lawsuit against Obama:

I ask my colleagues to oppose this resolution, for it is in fact a veiled attempt at impeachment, and it undermines the law that allows a President to do his job. A historical fact: that President [George W.] Bush pushed this Nation into a war that had little to do with apprehending terrorists. We did not seek an impeachment of President Bush, because as an executive, he had his authority. President Obama has the authority…

Well, here’s the Library of Congress’ bill summary page for H.R. 1258, Congressman Dennis Kucinich’s (D-Ohio) impeachment bill that died in committee in June of 2008. Titled “Impeaching George W. Bush, President of the United States, of high crimes and misdemeanors,” H.R. 1258 not only is an impeachment bill – it’s an impeachment bill Jackson Lee herself co-sponsored, along with ten other Congressmen.

A Jackon Lee spokesman later tried to clarify her remarks, tersely telling Yahoo News Thursday, without elaborating, that “she misspoke.”

“Despite Democratic protests on the House floor, however,” wrote Yahoo News’ Chris Moody, “[Democratic] party lawmakers seem downright gleeful about the exercise after fundraising successfully from the lawsuit and talk of impeachment.”

In March, you might recall, Jackson Lee took to the House floor to celebrate our 400 year-old Constitution.

Two Months Ahead Of Sign-Up Start, Obamacare Website Still Doesn’t Work

An official from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on Thursday told a Congressional panel that Americans shouldn’t expect this year’s Obamacare enrollment period to go smoothly, despite months of bad publicity about’s infamous rollout problems and hundreds of millions of dollars spent to correct them.

“It’s a bumpy process at time. We have committed people, but there will clearly be bumps,” Andy Slavitt, CMS Principal Deputy Administrator told the House Energy and Commerce Oversight subcommittee on Thursday.

Under questioning from Congressman Michael Burgess (R-Texas), Slavitt admitted the underpinnings of the Federal Obamacare website still aren’t completed – and that insurance companies are being subsidized at estimated rates because the “back end” of the website is still not live and able to spit out rates that reflect real-time values.

The Washington Free Beacon provided a transcript of the relevant portion of Burgess’ exchange with Slavitt:

REP. MICHAEL BURGESS: When this thing went live the back end part of the system was not built. Is it now built, available and ready to use? The part that pays providers?

ANDY SLAVITT: The part that pays the issuers, the issuers are getting paid today.

BURGESS: How about the doctors and hospitals?

SLAVITT: The doctors and hospitals get paid by the health plans not by the marketplace.

BURGESS: So the back end part of the system is up and fully functional?

SLAVITT: No. No No. The back end part of the system is going through continuous releases. Today we are paying the issuers at an estimated basis that would be a coming release this year where by the end of this year they’ll begin to get paid at a policy level basis and next year continued automation will occur to tie everything to do with the back end of CMS’ systems.

Slavitt’s attempt at lowering expectations for Obamacare in its second year coincides with the released of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that places the cost of last year’s botched launch at $840 million. That report places much of the blame on CMS bungling, as well as changes to the law that moved the goalposts even as the rollout loomed.

“In summary, we found that CMS undertook the development of and its related systems without effective planning or oversight practices, despite facing a number of challenges that increased both the level of risk and the need for effective oversight,” the GAO stated in prepared testimony.

“…New and changing requirements drove cost increases during the first year of development, while the complexity of the system and rework resulting from changing CMS decisions added to FFM [Federally Facilitated Marketplace] costs in the second year.”


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