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December 30, 2009

2010 California Marriage Protection Act

A real initiative approved for petition circulation by the Attorney General.

1379. (09-0026)

Eliminates the Law Allowing Married Couples to Divorce. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.

Summary Date: 10/23/09 | Circulation Deadline: 03/22/10 | Signatures Required: 694,354

Proponent: John Marcotte

Changes the California Constitution to eliminate the ability of married couples to get divorced in California. Preserves the ability of married couples to seek an annulment. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Savings to the state of up to hundreds of millions of dollars annually for support of the court system due to the elimination of divorce proceedings. (09-0026.) (Full Text)

Supported by RescueMarriage.org

Filed under California,Gay Issues | permalink | December 30, 2009 at 10:44 AM | Comments (0)

"a nice girl, just in need of guidance"

You know when you see a quote like that in a news story that the "nice girl" just got caught doing something awful. In this case, an 11-year old girl and her 15-year old boyfriend poured gasoline on her mother's bed, while the mother slept in it, and then lit it on fire. I wonder what "guidance" would have helped?

| permalink | December 30, 2009 at 10:20 AM | Comments (0)

December 29, 2009

Avatar at the IMax

In Line For Avatar (5094)

This was my first time seeing a film at the Cathedral City IMax, which is subsidized by that city's RDA. If I were a resident of Cathedral City, the next time the theater requests a chunk of change, I would encourage the RDA to consider pressuring for a change of management at the theater. Now that they've got their first successful film there in god knows how long, they are running the place like a government office, unprepared for success.

It's still selling out every show, but you can't buy tickets online or by phone, so you've got to send someone over there early in the day to buy your tickets. So Soviet! A friend of mine got there at 9 o'clock this morning to buy tickets for the 3:45 show. The first show of the day is at 9:15, but the box office does not open until 9. 270 people have to stand in line to buy tickets. Then 270 people have to stand in another line to get their 3D glasses. Then 270 people get in another line to go into the theater and be seated. Do you think that can be done in 15 minutes?

When we got in for our 3:45 show we were treated to ads before the movie, as one expects. But I haven't seen pre-movie ads like this since maybe the 1960s. They seem to be projecting actual slides onto the screen. Some of them are so old that much of the color has faded away, leaving only a low contrast greenish image. Many of the slides were dirty. The light bulb in the slide projector was inadequate, as though they had substituted a compact fluorescent light for a halogen to save a little electricity. The ads were mostly for nearby restaurants and a car dealership in Coachella. There were no ads for any of the snacks being sold in the lobby. When was the last time you went to a movie and did not see an ad for some Coca-Cola product on the screen? I did once, but I was in Moscow. There were no ads for upcoming movies—but that may be because the IMax plans to show nothing but Avatar until hell freezes over.

But then the movie starts and it's incredible! If you ever get shipped off to Pandora be sure to take a camera with lots of storage capacity because the place is all bright colors and glow-in-the-dark things.

You know the story. It's the ugly Europeans come to destroy the local, well adapted culture of Native Americans/Vietnamese/Africans/Whoever because there's something under the ground the ugly Europeans want. At least in Avatar they didn't waste any energy distracting us with some irrelevant explanation of what Pandora has underground or why we want it. They just call it "unobtainium." Genius. I hope more movies follow that lead. They could just insert a screen of text for a minute saying something like "Arbitrary but necessary plot point #1 posited henceforth" and then just roll with the photography, action and character development.

In 2154, you will be disappointed to learn, we still don't have personal jetpacks. Maybe that's due to a mess of nuisance lawsuits filed in the late 21st century by people who didn't read the directions and burned their own feet off.

The 3D is the best I've seen yet, and the film IS beautiful, and so creative I'm sure much of it was conceived under some form of intoxication.

Sigourney Weaver: could we name an extra-solar planet for her, or maybe the first manned spacecraft to leave the solar system? Probably the only living person who's been to more planets than Sigourney Weaver is William Shatner.

Filed under Coachella Valley,Film/Movies | permalink | December 29, 2009 at 10:15 PM | Comments (7)

A Bad Day For Mr. Bryant

Kevin Anthony Bryant
Kevin Anthony Bryant
who was stabbed in the neck this morning and then arrested on an outstanding warrant in the afternoon.

CITY OF DESERT HOT SPRINGS
POLICE DEPARTMENT

PRESS RELEASE

**UPDATE**

Date/Time of Update: Dec. 29, 2009, 4:45 PM

Regards to the below incident:

The person stabbed has been identified as Kevin Anthony Bryant, 5-22-86, with a last known address in Cathedral City. We received conflicting information at the scene as to his true identity. It turns out he had an outstanding felony warrant out for his arrest for assault with a deadly weapon.

He responded well to his treatment for the stab wound and was medically cleared from the hospital. When we learned of his warrant we arrested him before he could leave. We transported and booked him into the county jail.

The investigation into this incident continues.

+++++++++++++++

INCIDENT: Man Stabbed, Suspect Fled the Scene

DATE/TIME OF INCIDENT: Dec. 29, 2009, 10:55 AM

LOCATION OF INCIDENT: 8TH and Mesquite, DHS

VICTIM: [name withheld] Male Black, 23, 5-8, 150 lbs, Black hair, Brown eyes, last known address in Cathedral City

SUSPECT #1: Male, described as being of Puerto Rican descent, 25-30, wearing baseball cap, plain black t-shirt, blue jeans

DESCRIPTION OF INCIDENT:

At the above date and time we received a phone call that a person had been stabbed in the neck in the area of 8th and Palm. Officers arrived to find Victim bleeding from a stab wound to the neck. His injuries were initially considered critical by responding medics.

The incident happened in front of an apartment complex at 66734 8th St. near the intersection with Mesquite. Victim was with his friends in a white MBZ [Mercedes Benz]. Victim got out and engaged a group of three persons in conversation in the street. That group of three persons had been on foot.

For an unknown reason, the suspect grabbed a knife and stabbed Victim in the neck. Victim's friends loaded him into the MBZ and they drove for help. They came across a CDF Engine and flagged it down. This was at Palm and San Juan. Medics were called and they responded. Medics transported Victim to Desert Regional where he is being treated for his injuries.

A motive for the stabbing is not known.

When the suspect stabbed Victim, he was with two females. The first was a female in her 20's described as being of mixed descent. The second was a Hispanic lady in her 60's. Those two were right there when all of this happened. We would like to talk to them as soon as possible in order to ascertain their involvement.

+++++++++++++++++

Any information regarding this press release should be directed to Desert Hot Springs Police Sergeant Dan Bressler at 760.329.6411 x315.

Dispatch Tel: 760.329.2904

UPDATE: More information on this case on February 24, 2010.

Filed under Desert Hot Springs | permalink | December 29, 2009 at 09:42 PM | Comments (0)

Errors and Corrections

Regret The Error offers a year-end round-up of media errors, corrections and fact checking. At the same time that professional fact-checkers are being laid off, the web has allowed amateur fact-checkers to flourish.

You may already know about an interesting example of that from TMZ and the Smoking Gun. Yesterday TMZ published this photo with a story saying that the obviously gay man reclining on board the ship and ignoring the cavorting naked babes "appears" to be John F. Kennedy (the one who became President) in the mid-1950s.
Not JFK on boat with naked women from TMZ

Quick as a bunny, The Smoking Gun let the world know that TMZ had been fooled by a photoshopped image from a November 1967 Playboy photo spread. TMZ acknowledged the error.

The Regret The Error article links to this article at Columbia Journalism Review which addresses the subject of unpublishing. Unpublishing works both ways. There are requests made to publishers to unpublish a story because the requestor doesn't like the story for some reason. Here at Ron's Log I've been asked to unpublish a couple of things because the subject didn't like what I had written. Neither said I had made any errors; they just didn't like being written about. I did not remove the postings.

The other side of unpublishing happens when the publisher deletes a story rather than correct or update it. The Desert Sun does this routinely. They rush an error-filled story to publication. Readers point out the errors. The Desert Sun republishes the story incorporating the corrections, and maybe revising the headline, under a new URL without acknowledging the errors. Well, maybe they acknowledge errors about 1% of the time. At least a couple of times the Desert Local News has deleted articles rather than making corrections to errors pointed out by readers.

Ron's Log welcomes (begs even!) reader-submitted corrections. If it's more significant than a mere typo or spelling error, I'll acknowledge it in some form when I make the correction. I am embarrassed to discover spelling or even grammatical errors in old postings on Ron's Log that no one ever pointed out.

Regret The Error continues with a long, long list of amusing corrections from this past year. From the Guardian:

A reply to a question in Notes & Queries yesterday recommended purchasing lion and tiger urine from Chester Zoo to stop neighbourhood cats from urinating in a vegetable patch (G2, page 17). Chester Zoo would like to forestall requests for its big cats’ urine: it asks us to make clear that it does not in fact sell either tiger or lion urine. Many years ago the zoo sold elephant dung, but it no longer does.

Filed under Web/Tech | permalink | December 29, 2009 at 11:13 AM | Comments (0)

December 28, 2009

Ford Fiesta

It starts out like a million other dull automotive reviews, but builds from there. You've got to stick with it to the end.

Filed under Automotive | permalink | December 28, 2009 at 08:42 PM | Comments (0)

LAPD Severs Ties To Explorers

After almost 50 years, the Los Angeles police department will end all relations with the Boy Scouts of America. It will still continue with a program very much like the Explorers program, but it will not be called "Explorers" and it won't be connected to the Boy Scouts. The Boy Scouts are a religious organization that does not allow atheist or agnostic Scouts or leaders and also forbids gay leaders. Those polices violate the non-discrimination policies of Los Angeles.

I have wondered how Chief Veik, who is establishing an Explorers program with the DHS firefighters, will determine which firefighters are not atheist, agnostic or gay and will, therefore, be allowed to participate in the program.

Filed under Desert Hot Springs,Gay Issues,Religion | permalink | December 28, 2009 at 08:06 PM | Comments (0)

Merry Christmas!

Let's assume you're resident of Desert Hot Springs, but possessed of low moral character (there are a few) and you are already on probation. If you're going to celebrate Christmas by transporting a stolen rifle across the city, how would you do it? Would you put it in a box and wrap it up like a Christmas present and then walk it to your destination? Oh no, that would make too much sense. What you would do is toss it in the back seat of your car—the car with the obscured license plate that's like a red flag declaring you've waived your 4th amendment rights—and then open a couple of brewskis and light a joint to make your driving all that much more pleasant.

CITY OF DESERT HOT SPRINGS
POLICE DEPARTMENT

PRESS RELEASE

INCIDENT: Two Arrested with Stolen Rifle, Marijuana, Open Container

DATE/TIME OF ARRESTS:Dec. 25, 2009, 3:00 PM

LOCATION OF ARRESTS: Palm and 2nd St., DHS

SUSPECT #1: Aguilera, Manuel, Male, Hispanic, 7-22-90, 5-6, 130 lbs, Brown/Brown; Address: 15695 Avd. Manzana, County Area, DHS; Charges to be Requested: Possession of Stolen Property, Possession of Marijuana while Driving; Status: Booked Riv County Jail on above charges, released on 12-26-09 pending court

SUSPECT #2: Robles, Bryant, Male, Hispanic, 2-20-90, 5-4, 160 lbs, Brown/Brown; Address: 16075 Avd. Manzana, County Area, DHS; Charges to be Requested: Possess Stolen Property, Possess Open Container in a Vehicle, Violation of Probation (previous weapons charge); Status: Cited and released pending court

DESCRIPTION OF INCIDENT:

On the above date and time, Officer G. Mendoza made a traffic stop on a Black Ford Bronco in the area of 2nd and Palm. The stop was based on a vehicle code violation relating to a license plate being obstructed and not visible to officers. Based on the passenger making movements that seemed suspicious, and based on the strong odor of marijuana coming from inside the vehicle, Mendoza got both Aguilera, the driver, and Robles, the passenger, out of the vehicle.

A search of the Bronco revealed a .44 magnum rifle hidden in the back seat of the Bronco. The rifle had been reported stolen in June of this year in a residential burglary here in DHS. Also found was a small quantity of marijuana and an open container of alcohol.

Both were arrested for the above charges and their vehicle was towed. Both have since been released pending court. No mug photos will be released at this time pending further investigation.

+++++++++++++++++

Any information regarding this press release should be directed to Desert Hot Springs Police Sergeant Dan Bressler at 760.329.6411 x315.

Dispatch Tel: 760.329.2904

Here's another news story illustrating the same poor (worse, even) judgement (in Minnesota). Steal a car and then, instead of ditching it on some backroad, you take it out at night with the headlights turned OFF and drive at 100 MPH, all while being intoxicated on alcohol, marijuana and meth.

Filed under Desert Hot Springs | permalink | December 28, 2009 at 05:21 PM | Comments (0)

Metametametametareview of 2009


It's Ron's Log pointing out a YouTube video of a Google Wave review of webstuff from 2009. [I go back and add one more "meta" to that title]:

Filed under Web/Tech | permalink | December 28, 2009 at 03:36 PM | Comments (0)

$837,000 Of Obama Money To Remove Graffiti

The Army Corps of Engineers is spending $837,000 of "federal stimulus money" to remove or overpaint the graffiti along the Los Angeles River. I can think of lots of better uses for $837,000.

| permalink | December 28, 2009 at 03:10 PM | Comments (1)

Oh, you mean THAT Dell laptop and Emerson flat screen TV

Let's imagine you are a fine, upstanding resident of Desert Hot Springs (of course you are!) and as you are out in your yard replacing the turf with something xeriscapish, an acquaintance drives up and says he and his family are moving back to Beverly Hills because DHS is just too beautiful for them. But he doesn't quite have room in his pickup truck for a Dell laptop and Emerson flat screen TV, so he asks you if you'd help him out by taking them off his hands and give him just a few bucks in return. You, always the helpful one, agree.

A couple weeks later the DHS police are knocking at your door. They ask if you have recently acquired a used Dell laptop and Emerson flat screen TV. Do you answer...

  1. "Nope. Not me. Nothing like that here," or
  2. "Why yes, officers. Here are those very things you are asking for. John Doe sold them to me just two weeks ago, that rapscallion! Here is his address in Beverly Hills."

If your answer was "A" then you get to wear the honorary orange t-shirt, because those officers at the door have a surprise search warrant for you!
Mauro R. Rodriguez
Mauro R. Rodriguez, Jr.

CITY OF DESERT HOT SPRINGS
POLICE DEPARTMENT

PRESS RELEASE

INCIDENT: Man Arrested with Stolen TV and Laptop Inside his Residence

DATE/TIME OF ARREST: Dec. 23, 2009, 11:00 AM

LOCATION OF ARREST: 66730 Flora, DHS

SUSPECT: RODRIGUEZ, MAURO RODNEY, JR.; 1-7-84, 5-9, 200 lbs. Black hair, Brown eyes; Address: 66730 Flora, DHS; Unemployed

DESCRIPTION OF INCIDENT:

On Dec. 9, DHS officers received a call of a burglary in progress on the 67900 block of Nicole Ct. When they arrived, witnesses told them a male subject was seen running from the residence just a short time prior. Investigation at the scene showed a suspect tried to pry the front door open. Unsuccessful at that, he kicked the door in. Once inside, he stole a flat screen tv and a laptop—among other items.

On Dec. 23, detectives, acting on information received during the investigation, served a search warrant at 66730 Flora. They were met at the front door by Mauro Rodriguez, who denied possessing the stolen property. Detectives produced the search warrant and went inside. The stolen Dell laptop was sitting on a couch in the living room. The stolen Emerson flat screen TV was found in a child's bedroom. These two items were valued at $2,150.

Rodriguez admitted knowing the items were stolen, saying he bought them. He used that as his rationale for refusing to tell detectives who he got them from. We are still investigating as to whether or not he is the one who stole these items in the first place.

Advice: If someone offers to sell you something, the price of which is too good to be true, it's likely stolen—and if we later find you in possession of that item under suspicious circumstances, you will likely be arrested.

Rodriguez was booked into the Banning jail. He has since been released pending court.

+++++++++++++++++

Any information regarding this press release should be directed to Desert Hot Springs Police Sergeant Dan Bressler at 760.329.6411 x315.

Dispatch Tel: 760.329.2904

Filed under Desert Hot Springs | permalink | December 28, 2009 at 01:36 PM | Comments (1)

NYC Gets No iPhones From AT&T

Consumerist reports that due to AT&T's inadequate infrastructure in the NYC metro area, they no longer sell iPhones to anyone in that area. In a comment below the article one AT&T service rep says they don't sell them online due to massive fraud, but you can still buy an iPhone at a store.

Filed under Shopping | permalink | December 28, 2009 at 07:46 AM | Comments (0)

WiMax For The Rest Of Us

I recently wondered when the rest of us mere civilians could get the convenience of a WiMax internet connection, now that our police have it. Clear is one possible answer. They're an ISP providing WiMax service. Prices for home service range from $25 to $45 per month, depending on how much speed you want. For $45 you get download speeds of up to 6 Mbps. For about the same price Time Warner Cable is supposed to be giving me up to 10 Mbps (but this morning I see I'm getting 21 Mbps - nobody tell TWC, please).

For some reason they offer different rates for mobile service, but the highest level of service is the same as for home service: $45/month for up to 6 Mbps. You can cut that price to $35/month if you agree to a 2 GB/month download limit.

The fastest business service is the same (up to 6 Mbps) and costs $75, but you get additional services with that.

You can combine a home and mobile package for $50/month "for life."

You'll need a modem. A basic USB modem costs $50. A desktop home model is $70. The top-o-the-line USB modem connects to their 4G network and downgrades to 3G if necessary; all for only $225. They also provide a list of laptops that you can order with WiMax capability built-in (no Macs).

Their service area is disappointing:
Clear service coverage map

They've got NO service in California currently.

Filed under Technology | permalink | December 28, 2009 at 06:42 AM | Comments (2)

December 27, 2009

Jay Walker's Library

You've never seen anything like this. It's Jay Walker's private library which includes a genuine Sputnik (built as a backup), a chandelier from a James Bond movie, an instruction manual for the Saturn V, "a framed napkin from 1943 on which Franklin D. Roosevelt outlined his plan to win World War II," the original Thing from The Addams Family, a handpainted celestial atlas from 1660 - the first one NOT to show Earth as the center of the universe, an original 1493 Nuremberg Chronicle, a 1535 Coverdale Bible, and an Enigma machine.

According to Wikipedia, Mr. Walker (and, one assumes, his library) lives in Ridgefield, Connecticut.

| permalink | December 27, 2009 at 08:33 PM | Comments (0)

Routes 14 & 58

Now I understand why there's no gas station or services of any kind at the rather busy intersection of routes 14 & 58 near Mojave: bald-faced government corruption.

Filed under California | permalink | December 27, 2009 at 07:10 PM | Comments (0)

The Terrorists Have Succeeded...

...at pissing off millions of travelers and making the TSA look even more ridiculous and irrelevant. Very likely, this was exactly their goal, not the downing of an airplane by an impractical means in the hands of a mere pawn.

The new rules. You won't be allowed to have anything on your lap for the last hour of a flight. The linked article suggests that means you won't be able to read a book, but I think if you keep that book up out of your lap, it will be permitted.

In this update we learn that books will be okay, but not e-readers.

The Washington Post reports that the use of any electronics will be forbidden on international flights coming to the U.S. I assume you will still be permitted to use your hearing aid, but I could be wrong.

| permalink | December 27, 2009 at 07:04 PM | Comments (0)

Phone Music

Earlier this month I ran across this video about students at the University of Michigan creating music with iPhones. I didn't write about it here, because they seemed much more concerned with the technology involved, and the music was uninteresting. Reminds me of when Moog synthesizers first became available and the novelty of them inspired people to create all kinds of unlistenable music. Go here for their full 46-minute concert (if you have insomnia). It is pure tedium.

Stanford is working with the same technology. More here.

But there are people interested in making listenable music with iPhones:

Here you can see the iPhone's display as it used as a guitar:

This video shows you a more complex interface as "Stairway to Heaven" is played:

Using a piano interface this musician plays "Clocks." (Slow version here, if you want to study the fingering.)

Now that I know this Melody Bell interface exists, I wonder why I didn't run into any iPhone bell recitals this holiday season.

"Oh, Shenandoah" played beautifully on the ocarina interface. If only the musician had friends, one of them could have played the piano part on an iPhone, saving her from having to use that old fashioned player piano.

Hook up a professional musician with an iPhone and prepare to have your socks blown off. Skip ahead to about 8:25 if you are impatient.

By all means, avoid The Mentalists playing iPhones.

Now, here is the ultimate. They aren't using iPhones, but some other unidentified brand(s). I recommend you turn your speakers OFF and just watch to see how these Helsinki musicians rock & roll.

Filed under Music,Technology | permalink | December 27, 2009 at 06:32 PM | Comments (0)

Arcata, California

Earlier this year A&E TV had a special episode on their Intervention series called "Intervention In-Depth: Pot City, USA." A&E synopsis:

A lot of people think that Humboldt County in northern California is an American paradise. Small towns in the county like Arcata look like they've been plucked right out of a Norman Rockwell painting. But the town has a dirty little secret--law enforcement officials say that over 1,000 homes there may be growing marijuana illegally. Capt. Mark Chapman and the Humboldt County Drug Task Force are determined to take back the town, house by house. Our cameras follow as they make busts and fly over forestlands searching for hidden marijuana groves.

Here the Eureka Times-Standard gets the mayor's reaction:

"Seeing the title and the trailer, I was a little fearful that they were sensationalizing things," [Mayor Mark] Wheetley said Tuesday of the special, Arcata-centric episode of the A&E show "Intervention," which aired Monday. "But, in the end, I felt it was a pretty balanced overview of things. In particular, I think it highlighted some of the laments of the reality of what went on."

And now the Sacramento Bee has a long, informative article on the marijuana industry in Humboldt County. Although the state restricts marijuana to "six mature or 12 immature plants and 8 ounces of pot at one time" for those with a physician's recommendation, local governments can have looser limits. Humboldt County's limits are "three annual indoor harvests of 100 square feet, 99 plants and up to 3 pounds of dried marijuana at any one time." The city of Arcata itself has limited growers to 50 square feet of growing space and have set limits on electricity use. I wonder if "electricity use" for purposes of this law is measured at the electric meter. IOW, could a grower get past that limit by supplementing his bought electricity with solar or wind power, or that most reliable of power sources: a diesel generator in the backyard.

"It is the source of income for the county of Humboldt. Nobody wants to say that," [Humboldt County Sheriff's Sgt. Wayne Hanson] added. "But there is no logging here anymore. Fishing is sporadic. And people make their living growing marijuana."

Filed under California | permalink | December 27, 2009 at 04:14 PM | Comments (0)

Comparing the Senate and House Versions of the Health Care Bill(s)

The AP has published this clearly written summary of the two health care bills so that you can compare them, except that the AP laid it out in a way to maximize the number of page views, which makes it extremely tedious to try to compare. But if somebody chopped it up and re-arranged it in a better format, then it might be easier to grasp:

SENATEHOUSE
WHO'S COVERED: About 94 percent of legal residents under age 65 -- compared with 83 percent now. Government subsidies to help buy coverage start in 2014. Of the remaining 24 million people under age 65 left uninsured, about one-third would be illegal immigrants. WHO'S COVERED: About 96 percent of legal residents under age 65 -- compared with 83 percent now. Government subsidies to help buy coverage start in 2013. About one-third of the remaining 18 million people under age 65 left uninsured would be illegal immigrants.
COST: Coverage provisions cost $871 billion over 10 years. COST: The Congressional Budget Office says the bill's cost of expanding insurance coverage over 10 years is $1.055 trillion. The net cost is $894 billion, factoring in penalties on individuals and employers who don't comply with new requirements. That's under President Barack Obama's $900 billion goal. However, those figures leave out a variety of new costs in the bill, including increased prescription drug coverage for seniors under Medicare, so the measure may be around $1.2 trillion.
HOW IT'S PAID FOR: Fees on insurance companies, drugmakers, medical device manufacturers. Medicare payroll tax increased to 2.35 percent on income over $200,000 a year for individuals, $250,000 for couples. A 10 percent sales tax on tanning salons, to be paid by the person soaking up the rays. Cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. Forty percent excise tax on insurance companies, keyed to premiums paid on health care plans costing more than $8,500 annually for individuals and $23,000 for families. Fees for employers whose workers receive government subsidies to help them pay premiums. Fines on people who fail to purchase coverage. HOW IT'S PAID FOR: $460 billion over the next decade from new income taxes on single people making more than $500,000 a year and couples making more than $1 million. The original House bill taxed individuals making $280,000 a year and couples making more than $350,000, but the threshold was increased in response to lawmakers' concerns that the taxes would hit too many people and small businesses.

There are also more than $400 billion in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid; a new $20 billion fee on medical device makers; $13 billion from limiting contributions to flexible spending accounts; sizable penalties paid by individuals and employers who don't obtain coverage; and a mix of other corporate taxes and fees.
REQUIREMENTS FOR INDIVIDUALS: Almost everyone must get coverage through an employer, on their own or through a government plan. Exemptions for economic hardship. Those who are obligated to buy coverage and refuse to do so would pay a fine starting at $95 in 2014 and rising to $750. REQUIREMENTS FOR INDIVIDUALS: Individuals must have insurance, enforced through a tax penalty of 2.5 percent of income. People can apply for hardship waivers if coverage is unaffordable.
REQUIREMENTS FOR EMPLOYERS: Not required to offer coverage, but companies with more than 50 employees would pay a fee of $750 per employee if the government ends up subsidizing employees' coverage. REQUIREMENTS FOR EMPLOYERS: Employers must provide insurance to their employees or pay a penalty of 8 percent of payroll. Companies with payrolls under $500,000 annually are exempt -- a change from the original $250,000 level to accommodate concerns of moderate Democrats -- and the penalty is phased in for companies with payrolls between $500,000 and $750,000.

Small businesses -- those with 10 or fewer workers -- get tax credits to help them provide coverage.
SUBSIDIES: Tax credits for individuals and families likely making up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, which computes to $88,200 for a family of four. Tax credits for small employers. SUBSIDIES: Individuals and families with annual income up to 400 percent of poverty level, or $88,000 for a family of four, would get sliding-scale subsidies to help them buy coverage. The subsidies would begin in 2013.
BENEFITS PACKAGE: All plans sold to individuals and small businesses would have to cover basic benefits. The government would set four levels of coverage. The least generous would pay an estimated 60 percent of health care costs per year; the most generous would cover an estimated 90 percent. BENEFITS PACKAGE: A committee would recommend a so-called essential benefits package including preventive services. Out-of-pocket costs would be capped. The new benefit package would be the basic benefit package offered in the exchange.
INSURANCE INDUSTRY RESTRICTIONS: Starting in 2014: no denial of coverage based on pre-existing conditions. No higher premiums allowed for pre-existing conditions or gender. Limits on higher premiums based on age and family size. Starting upon enactment of legislation: children up to age 26 can stay on parents insurance; no lifetime limits on coverage. INSURANCE INDUSTRY RESTRICTIONS: Starting in 2013, no denial of coverage based on pre-existing conditions. No higher premiums allowed for pre-existing conditions or gender. Limits on higher premiums based on age.
GOVERNMENT-RUN PLAN: In place of a government-run insurance option, the estimated 26 million Americans purchasing coverage through new insurance exchanges would have the option of signing up for national plans overseen by the same office that manages health coverage for federal employees and members of Congress. Those plans would be privately owned, but one of them would have to be operated on a nonprofit basis, as many Blue Cross Blue Shield plans are now. GOVERNMENT-RUN PLAN: A new public plan available through the insurance exchanges would be set up and run by the health and human services secretary. Democrats originally designed the plan to pay Medicare rates plus 5 percent to doctors. But the final version -- preferred by moderate lawmakers -- would let the HHS secretary negotiate rates with providers.
HOW YOU CHOOSE YOUR HEALTH INSURANCE: Self-employed people, uninsured individuals and small businesses could pick a plan offered through new state-based purchasing pools. Would generally encourage employees to keep work-provided coverage. HOW YOU CHOOSE YOUR HEALTH INSURANCE: Beginning in 2013, through a new Health Insurance Exchange open to individuals and, initially, small employers. It could be expanded to large employers over time. States could opt to operate their own exchanges in place of the national exchange if they follow federal rules.
DRUGS: Grants 12 years of market protection to high-tech drugs used to combat cancer, Parkinson's and other deadly diseases. Drug companies contribute $80 billion over 10 years with the majority of the money used to limit the prescription coverage gap in Medicare. DRUGS: Grants 12 years of market protection to high-tech drugs used to combat cancer, Parkinson's and other deadly diseases. Phases out the gap in Medicare prescription drug coverage by 2019. Requires the HHS secretary to negotiate drug prices on behalf of Medicare beneficiaries.
CHANGES TO MEDICAID: Income eligibility levels likely to be standardized to 133 percent of poverty -- $29,327 a year for a family of four -- for parents, children and pregnant women. Federal government would pick up the full cost of the expansion during the first three years. States could negotiate with insurers to arrange coverage for people with incomes slightly higher than the cutoff for Medicaid. CHANGES TO MEDICAID: The federal-state insurance program for the poor would be expanded to cover all individuals under age 65 with incomes up to 150 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $33,075 per year for a family of four. The federal government would pick up the full cost of the expansion in 2013 and 2014; thereafter the federal government would pay 91 percent and states would pay 9 percent.
LONG-TERM CARE: New voluntary long-term care insurance program would provide a basic benefit designed to help seniors and disabled people avoid going into nursing homes. LONG-TERM CARE: New voluntary long-term care insurance program would provide a basic benefit designed to help seniors and disabled people avoid going into nursing homes.
ANTITRUST: Maintains the health insurance industry's decades-old antitrust exemption. ANTITRUST: Would strip the health insurance industry of a long-standing exemption from antitrust laws covering market allocation, price-fixing and bid rigging. The bill also would give the Federal Trade Commission authority to look into the health insurance industry at its own initiative.
ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS: Would be barred from receiving government subsidies or using their own money to buy coverage offered by private companies in the exchanges. ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS: Would be barred from receiving government subsidies but permitted to use their own money to buy coverage offered by private companies in the exchange.
ABORTION: The bill tries to maintain a strict separation between taxpayer funds and private premiums that would pay for abortion coverage. No health plan would be required to offer coverage for the procedure. In plans that do cover abortion, beneficiaries would have to pay for it separately, and those funds would have to be kept in a separate account from taxpayer money. Moreover, individual states would be able to prohibit abortion coverage in plans offered through the exchange, after passing specific legislation to that effect. Exceptions would be made for cases of rape, incest and danger to the life of the mother. ABORTION: Private companies in the exchange could not offer plans covering abortion if those plans received federal subsidy money. Most plans in the exchange would be affected, because most consumers in the exchange would be using federal subsidy money to buy coverage. The new government plan could not offer abortion coverage. Insurance companies would be permitted to offer supplemental abortion coverage in separate plans that people could buy with their own money. Use of federal money for abortion coverage would be limited to cases of rape, incest or danger to the woman's life.

Filed under Health | permalink | December 27, 2009 at 01:38 PM | Comments (2)

SuperLotto Winning Ticket NOT Sold In DHS

You'd think with all the recent talk about the Desert Hot Springs annexation, someone at the Desert Sun might know where the city limits are, but I guess my expectations are too high. The Desert Sun is reporting that last night's winning ticket ($7 million) was sold at the Chevron at 54499 Palm Drive. Google maps put that at 18th Avenue, a dirt road which is half a mile south of Dillon. We all know there's nothing but empty desert on all four corners of that intersection. If you go to the California Lottery's website to look at the results there, they say that the winning ticket was sold at the Chevron at 22600 Palm Drive which is the one at the Jack In The Box by the I-10. That, as we all know so well, is in Cathedral City.

The single Chevron station within Desert Hot Springs is at 13900 Palm Drive, which is at the intersection of Two Bunch Palms Trail.

When I first heard the news about this I was hoping that Jason Simpson had been buying SuperLotto tickets in the city's name.

Filed under Desert Hot Springs | permalink | December 27, 2009 at 12:56 PM | Comments (3)