Sunday Reads: Curvy is cool…

Good Morning…

After being away from the computer for 36 hours, I went online and found that my reader had under a 100 items unread. Usually I can judge if the day is a big news day by how many new rss items there are.

Dak had a post last night that I want to bring to your attention, you may have missed it…

Dakinikat’s Joblessness 

Boston Boomer has a post called The Solyndra Story Just Keeps Getting Worse, which is scheduled for noon today, so be sure to check that out.

Okay, as far as today’s morning reads, here are a few links I found for you.

Monday is going to be a busy day for Obama, he is going to beg for a new minimum tax rate for those people who make more than a million dollars a year.  Obama Tax Plan Would Ask More of Millionaires –

President Obama on Monday will call for a new minimum tax rate for individuals making more than $1 million a year to ensure that they pay at least the same percentage of their earnings as middle-income taxpayers, according to administration officials.

With a special joint Congressional committee starting work to reach a bipartisan budget deal by late November, the proposal adds a new and populist feature to Mr. Obama’s effort to raise the political pressure on Republicans to agree to higher revenues from the wealthy in return for Democrats’ support of future cuts from Medicare and Medicaid.

Mr. Obama, in a bit of political salesmanship, will call his proposal the “Buffett Rule,” in a reference to Warren E. Buffett, the billionaire investor who has complained repeatedly that the richest Americans generally pay a smaller share of their income in federal taxes than do middle-income workers, because investment gains are taxed at a lower rate than wages.

Let’s see if it works out in a positive way, personally I think Obama will be calling for this new Buffet Rule with his fingers crossed behind his back.

In other Obama news, Obama admin reworked Solyndra loan to favor donor  | (Be sure to read BB’s post on this, it has more details!)

The Obama administration restructured a half-billion dollar federal loan to a troubled solar energy company in such a way that private investors — including a fundraiser for President Barack Obama — moved ahead of taxpayers for repayment in case of a default, government records show.


The loan restructuring is one element congressional investigators are focusing on as they look into the federal loan guarantee Solyndra received under the economic stimulus law.

Under terms of the February loan restructuring, two private investors — Argonaut Ventures I LLC and Madrone Partners LP — stand to be repaid before the U.S. government if the solar company is liquidated. The two firms gave the company a total of $69 million in emergency loans. The loans are the only portion of their investments that have repayment priority above the U.S. government.

Argonaut is an investment vehicle of the George Kaiser Family Foundation of Tulsa, Okla. The foundation is headed by billionaire George Kaiser, a major Obama campaign contributor and a frequent visitor to the White House. Kaiser raised between $50,000 and $100,000 for Obama’s 2008 campaign, federal election records show. Kaiser has made at least 16 visits to the president’s aides since 2009, according to White House visitor logs.

Madrone Partners is affiliated with the Walton family, descendants of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton. Rob Walton, the eldest son of Sam Walton, contributed $2,500 last year to the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Hmmmm, billionaire Kaiser and the Walton family…nah, money doesn’t matter does it?

We’ve been talking about a couple executions lately, one in Georgia and one in Texas. I wanted to give you some updates on those.

Troy Davis’ life in board’s hands  |

This Wednesday marks the fourth time the state has set a date for Davis to be put to death by lethal injection.

In July 2007, the state parole board granted Davis a stay after he’d said final goodbyes to visitors. A year later, the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in less than two hours before he was to be placed on the gurney. Seven months after that, the federal appeals court halted another planned execution, leading to an almost-unprecedented U.S. Supreme Court order that granted Davis a new hearing that ultimately proved unsuccessful.

Anneliese MacPhail, the mother of the slain officer, said she is cautiously optimistic the execution will be carried out this week. “I want to get it over with,” she said. “I want to have some peace.”

After Davis’ new execution date was set, it appeared there was nowhere for him to turn because his appeals are exhausted. But the parole board quickly agreed to again consider Davis’ request for clemency. It set a hearing for Monday and did not say when it will issue its decision.

The parole board denied clemency to Davis three years ago, but the five-member board has three new members.

The board is expected to hear from witnesses who did not testify in its prior hearings. This includes a woman who has signed an affidavit saying she heard Sylvester “Redd” Coles, who was at the crime scene, say he was the real killer. Davis’ lawyers are also expected to submit sworn statements from at least three jurors who sentenced Davis to death, but who are now asking that Davis be spared execution.

“Because there is evidence that creates doubt about Mr. Davis’ involvement in the shooting, I do not think Mr. Davis should be executed,” juror Isaiah Middleton said in an affidavit signed Sept. 11.

I urge you to read that entire AJC article because it describes all the new evidence and what witnesses have recanted their testimony…when you read the summary of doubt that has come forward, it is unbelievable that this man is still scheduled to die on Wednesday.

There have been 51 executions in Georgia since capital punishment was reinstated 35 years ago. (In Texas, Rick Perry has overseen 234 executions since he became governor 10 years ago…) Speaking of Texas, here is a rundown on what’s next for Duane Buck…Duane Buck: what happens next? | World news |

Duane Buck was granted a 30-day reprieve in Texas on Thursday night, but a series of legal obstacles remains before his execution is commuted to a life sentence.

Duane Buck, who has spent the last 16 years on death row in Texas, narrowly avoided lethal injection on Thursday. Now he must await another tense standoff as his lawyers attempt to have his execution commuted to a life sentence.

Buck was granted a 30-day reprieve this week, in a case that put the spotlight on Texas governor and would-be Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry. Perry refused to act on the case, which has been criticised for the involvement of a controversial psychologist who said Buck’s being black could contribute to his “future dangerousness”.

Now Buck’s lawyers have asked the supreme court to look at the case, but legal experts believe it will eventually come back to Perry.

That just does not inspire any confidence, I doubt Perry will do the right thing, do you?

This next story is heartbreaking.  I thought it would resonate with many of you who have experienced cancer first hand.  A woman and her toddler fight dual cancers –

Kezia Fitzgerald and her 15-month-old daughter are both blondes with bright blue eyes. They both giggle easily and share a love of peaches.

The mom and daughter have more in common than Fitzgerald would like. Five months after Fitzgerald received a cancer diagnosis, so did her little girl, Saoirse.

Their cancers, albeit different types, had spread throughout their bodies.

“It’s frustrating. It’s unfair,” said Fitzgerald, 28, who lives in Danvers, Massachusetts. “At the same time, there’s nothing you can do to change it. The only thing you can do is heal and treat yourself.”

Give the rest of the article a read, it is interesting to see how mother and daughter are both dealing with fighting the cancer, but at the same time it is amazing what a positive attitude this family has while dealing with such a difficult situation.

From Minx’s Missing Link File:  Two brothers from Memphis got a chance to see each other for the first time…There is a photo in this article that possesses so much emotion, I wanted to share it with you all.  Conjoined twins Joshua and Jacob Spates say hello after separated by life-saving surgery | Mail Online

I know you! The moment the boys see each other for the first time

It’s you! The moment Jacob and Joshua see each other for the first time at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, where they were born

They were tiny newborn twins, delivered by frantic doctors in an emergency caesarean in January, six weeks before they were due.
And born conjoined at the base of their spines, their chances of survival were made even smaller.
In what is being hailed as a medical miracle, little Joshua and Jacob Spates have survived being separated after a gruelling 13 hours in surgery.
And as this heart-warming picture shows, the boys – who had never been able to see each other – have now been introduced face to face.
The eight-month-old twins from Memphis, Tennessee, are continuing to recover under the watchful eyes of doctors but they have already overcome what is likely to be the biggest obstacle they will ever face.
The twins were joined at the rear of the pelvis and gastrointestinal tract and had to be separated because of the severity of Jacob’s heart condition.
Jacob remains in intensive care and needs a few more operations, while Joshua is already out of the unit and is being prepared to go home.

The doctors expect Joshua to live a normal life, his brother Jacob has a serious heart condition, hopefully the treatment will be successful.

Easy Like Sunday Morning Link of the Week:  This article made me smile.  Misty Copeland On Prince And The Curvy Ballerina Revolution

Wednesday’s episode of the new documentary series “A Day in the Life” from award-winning documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock stars superhot, utterly gorgeous and uber-talented classical ballerina Misty Copeland. The native Californian beauty has not only broken down racial barriers to become American Ballet Theatre’s first African-American soloist, she’s also in tight with Prince. Clearly, she’s doing something right. Copeland’s “Day in the Life” episode features the dancer chilling with kids at the Boys & Girls Club in the Bronx and working with choreographers at the Dance Theatre of Harlem. She talked with us about the episode, her new dance-wear line for curvy girls and, yes, her relationship with Prince.


How do you address the notion that the bodies of black girls and women were not made to be ballerinas?

I speak about it all the time. My body is very different from most of the dancers I dance with. I might not have the stereotypical “black body,” but I definitely am more curvy and have a more athletic build from most ballet dancers. I actually have a dance-wear line coming out especially for curvy women, because most dance wear is made for professional dancers who are very petite with small busts and no real curves. I also have a plus-size line coming out that focuses on support of the bust, while still being very fashionable and elegant.

I often wonder if promoting this whole idea of “plus-size” isn’t actually hurting us in the long run. What do you think?

Most of the women I’ve talked to who are plus-size don’t even want to make that first step of taking a ballet class or going to the gym because they feel so unattractive, or like the athletic or dance wear out there doesn’t flatter them. They don’t want to put on a big T-shirt and a sports bra that doesn’t fit them properly. So I think the plus-size line is more about promoting a healthy body image and getting women to take those first steps to becoming healthier.

ABT is getting ready to perform a new version of a ballet called “The Firebird,”  with Misty in the lead as the firebird.  I can just imagine how wonderful this production will be, with a dancer like Misty…

Misty Copeland, Photo by Mesiyah McGinnis

That is it for me, have a wonderful Sunday, and hopefully I will catch up with you all in the comments later on.

Late Saturday Night Drifts

Some where in another world (Minneapolis to be precise), I did work for a managed pharmacy benefits plan that was owned by United Health Care but was sold off to SmithKline Beecham  (now GlaxoSmithKline).  This was during the “Hillarycare” debates.  I know a lot about this because one of our VPs was on her panel and one of the hearings was held there.  I honestly thought that the DOJ would call the merger thing off because it was an appalling example of a vertical monopoly.  That didn’t happen.

During the mid nineties,  Big Pharma wanted their hands on the ability to call the plan formularies for defined benefit plans and stack them with their drugs.   All of them were scrambling to buy managed drug plans from Insurance Companies at the time.  Managed pharmacy benefit plans basically meant a windfall for any drug listed on the formulary.    Big Pharma  had a plan and I was privy to the business deal which was to  just tweak some chemical formula enough to call something a new drug, get it subject to a new patent, stick it on a formulary, and watch the profits roll in.

Don’t even get me started on how erectile dysfunction drugs made their way to formularies.  The race for profits is frequently a race to a place with nonexistent ethics.  So, based on the short amount of time I witnessed that situation, I took my fees and ran to New Orleans.  I couldn’t say much then because I was at a level where I was silenced by the merger negotiations and the SEC.

So, why do I mention that now?  Because, this doesn’t surprise me at all. Drug development is a business model and any one who thinks otherwise is sadly mistaken and most likely sadly at the bottom of the food chain and uninformed. Important drugs are not discovered because there is basically no money in it and there will never be any corporate money invested in it.

Public Health is part and parcel of the Public Interest.  The parable of Erectile Dysfunction Drugs may have a different ending if this policy actually sees the light of day.  Fortunately, it’s not completely up to the whims of creationists who hate science.  This move recognizes that the profit motive doesn’t always drive the correct priorities for society.  It only drives the correct money flows for something in high demand at particular time.  Rich people with a flaccid penis and a fear of wrinkles are driving the market.  So, what about Public Health?

The Obama administration has become so concerned about the slowing pace of new drugs coming out of the pharmaceutical industry that officials have decided to start a billion-dollar government drug development center to help create medicines.

The new effort comes as many large drug makers, unable to find enough new drugs, are paring back research. Promising discoveries in illnesses like depression and Parkinson’s that once would have led to clinical trials are instead going unexplored because companies have neither the will nor the resources to undertake the effort.

The initial financing of the government’s new drug center is relatively small compared with the $45.8 billion that the industry estimates it invested in research in 2009. The cost of bringing a single drug to market can exceed $1 billion, according to some estimates, and drug companies have typically spent twice as much on marketing as on research, a business model that is increasingly suspect.

The National Institutes of Health has traditionally focused on basic research, such as describing the structure of proteins, leaving industry to create drugs using those compounds. But the drug industry’s research productivity has been declining for 15 years, “and it certainly doesn’t show any signs of turning upward,” said Dr. Francis S. Collins, director of the institutes.

There’s another idea worth considering.  There are many drugs that are in the public domain.  There are many folks on medicare and medicaid plans.  There are also veterans.  Why not have the government offer to help start up small firms around the country that will produce those drugs at a minimal cost and reasonable profit with big time orders from all these government plans?  The idea is just to save money on drugs going to those covered by public health programs and create manufacturing jobs in places that need them. Many old drugs are just as effective as their minimally tweaked but patented counterparts that are advertised and marketed into a high profit set up per the nifty Big Pharma Business model.   Why pay for maximum profits to a market filled with a few greedy oligopolies when you can promote some nice little business all over Main Streets of American instead and Public Health instead and stir up a few jobs in the process?

Let the competition for government contracts really begin!

So, it’s an Open Thread, but that’s an article and a policy worth some discussion.