Obama Names Eric Lander for Science Council

Source 

Eric Lander is the founding director of the Broad Institute.

I worked for Eric Lander (and MIT) on the Human Genome Project for 3 years in the late 90′s.
Mr. Lander is brilliant, and not only am I proud to have worked for him, I am also proud that President Elect Obama is looking to *real* scientists to advise him. 

It’s a great feeling, hope. I feel that when I think of these men.

O’Reilly to end radio show

Buh-Bye, Bill

tv-20081205-Fox.News.O'Reilly

Poor Bill.

President-Elect Obama,  through this election, gave Americans a renewed sense of hope and pride in our country. He has  breathed new life into a disillusioned generation of young voters.

In short, the 8 year cloud is lifting. The life-sucking vampire Bill O’Reilly can’t seem to stand the light of this new day.

Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Mr. O’Reilly.

NY Election “Mix Up”…?

In upper state New York, hundreds of absentee ballots were sent out with the following candidates names:

John McCain

Barack Osama

That’s right. Osama.

Are you kidding me?

Sure, it only affected 1 in 13 ballots that were sent out, but what do you think the overall effect was?

http://www.comcast.net/articles/news-politics/20081010/Osama.Ballot/

Palin Inquiry Report to be Released Friday

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – The state Supreme Court refused Thursday to halt an ethics investigation into Govenor Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee.

The ruling clears the way for lawmakers on Friday to release a report on their investigation into whether Palin abused her power by firing her public safety commissioner. The report could prove to be an embarrassment for Palin and a distraction for John McCain’spresidential campaign.

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Gonzales Mishandled Classified Info – But Not On Purpose

Comcast News

You’ve got to be kidding me. Alberto Gonzales’ lawyers are admitting that he broke the law, but say it was some sort of Constitutional breach ‘accident’? He was the United States Attorney General, right?

Am I missing something?

WASHINGTON — Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales mishandled highly classified notes about a secret counterterror program, but not on purpose, according to a memo by his legal

Alberto Gonzales

Alberto Gonzales

team.

The memo, obtained by The Associated Press, acknowledges that Gonzales improperly stored notes about the program and might have taken them home at one point.

Removing secret documents from specially secured rooms violates government policy.

Gonzales’ lawyers wrote in their memo that there is no evidence the security breach resulted in secret information being viewed or otherwise exposed to anyone who was not authorized.

The classified notes focus on a March 2004 meeting with congressional leaders about a national security program that was about to expire. Efforts to renew the program sparked an intense Bush administration debate that played out at the hospital bedside of then-Attorney General John Ashcroft.

The memo was prepared by Gonzales’ legal team as a response to a report being finalized by the Justice Department’s inspector general. The report, which could be released as early as Tuesday, is expected to criticize Gonzales’ handling of sensitive compartmentalized information, or SCI, according to the memo.

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117 US Banks Put On ‘Trouble’ List

FDIC: 117 troubled banks, highest level since 2003
By MARCY GORDON, AP Business Writer

WASHINGTON – The number of troubled U.S. banks leaped to the highest level in about five years and bank profits plunged by 86 percent in the second quarter, as slumps in the housing and credit markets continued.

Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. data released Tuesday show 117 banks and thrifts were considered to be in trouble in the second quarter, up from 90 in the prior quarter and the biggest tally since mid-2003.

The FDIC also said that federally-insured banks and savings institutions earned $5 billion in the April-June period, down from $36.8 billion a year earlier. The roughly 8,500 banks and thrifts also set aside a record $50.2 billion to cover losses from soured mortgages and other loans in the second quarter.

“Quite frankly, the results were pretty dismal,” FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair said at a news conference, but they were not surprising given the housing slump, a worsening economy, and disruptions in financial and credit markets.

The majority of U.S. banks “will be able to weather” the economic and housing storms, with 98 percent of them still holding adequate capital by the regulators’ standards, Bair said.

Total assets of troubled banks jumped from $26 billion to $78 billion in the second quarter, the FDIC said, with $32 billion of the increase coming from IndyMac Bank, which failed in July _ the biggest regulated thrift to fail in the United States.

“More banks will come on the (troubled) list as credit problems worsen,” Bair said. “Assets of problem institutions also will continue to rise.”

Nine FDIC-insured banks have failed so far this year, compared with three in all of 2007. More banks are in danger of collapsing this year, Bair and other FDIC officials said, and they expect turbulence in the banking industry to continue well into next year.

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The Real War Claims 101st This Year

Taliban turns lethal: 101 US deaths in Afghanistan
news-general-20080824-Afghan.100.US.Deaths
Map shows where French soldiers were killed Monday and shows the most danger…

KABUL, Afghanistan — Taliban insurgents once derided as a ragtag rabble unable to match U.S. troops have transformed into a fighting force — one advanced enough to mount massive conventional attacks and claim American lives at a record pace.

The U.S. military suffered its 101st death of the year in Afghanistan last week when Sgt. 1st Class David J. Todd Jr., a 36-year-old from Marrero, La., died of gunfire wounds while helping train Afghan police in the northwest. The total number of U.S. dead last year — 111 — was a record itself and is likely to be surpassed.

Top U.S. generals, European presidents and analysts say the blame lies to the east, in militant sanctuaries in neighboring Pakistan. As long as those areas remain havens where fighters arm, train, recruit and plot increasingly sophisticated ambushes, the Afghan war will continue to sour.

“The U.S. is now losing the war against the Taliban,” Anthony Cordesman, of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, wrote in a report Thursday. A resurgent al-Qaida, which was harbored by the Taliban in the years before the Sept. 11 attacks, could soon follow, Cordesman warned.

Cordesman called for the U.S. to treat Pakistani territory as a combat zone if Pakistan does not act. “Pakistan may officially be an ally, but much of its conduct has effectively made it a major threat to U.S. strategic interests.”

An influx of Chechen, Turkish, Uzbek and Arab fighters have helped increased the Taliban’s military precision, including an ambush by 100 fighters last week that killed 10 French soldiers, and a rush on a U.S. outpost last month by 200 militants that killed nine Americans.

Multi-direction attacks, flawlessly executed ambushes and increasingly powerful roadside and suicide bombs mean the U.S. and 40-nation NATO-led force will in all likelihood suffer its deadliest year in Afghanistan since the 2001 invasion.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, on a visit to Kabul last week, said he knows that something must “be raised with Pakistan’s government, and I will continue to do so.” French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who rushed to Afghanistan after the French attack, warned Thursday that “terrorism is winning.”

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Another Bush Plan Failing – Go Figure

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Audits of Medicare drug plans lacking

By KEVIN FREKING, Associated Press Writer Fri Aug 22, 5:51 PM ET

WASHINGTON – Nearly three years into the Medicare drug benefit, federal officials have yet to ensure that private drug plans enacted programs to deter fraud and abuse, government investigators say.

About 24 million people are enrolled in Medicare drug plans subsidized by the federal government. The plans are required to develop programs to stem improper spending, but the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has not conducted audits to ensure those programs were up and running properly. That lack of oversight “risks significant misuse of funds in this $39 billion program,” the Government Accountability Office said in a report to be publicly released Monday.

To get a better handle on that risk, the GAO looked at whether five unnamed insurance plans met requirements for participation in the drug benefit. For example, the companies must have effective training programs for workers that address pertinent laws and discuss common fraudulent schemes. Only two companies fully met that requirement.

The results were better for some of the other requirements. All five companies were in compliance with having written standards for detecting and preventing waste and abuse.

Investigators recommended that Medicare officials make timely audits of the plans’ fraud prevention programs. Medicare officials replied that, while they have not yet conducted onsite audits, they asked plans to complete a self-assessment survey. They also noted that Congress capped funding for its auditing programs at $720 million in 2003. So, they’ve focused on addressing complaints.

With inflation, the funding cap amounts to doing more oversight with fewer resources. The cap “has seriously degraded CMS’ ability to meet its responsibilities in combating fraud and abuse,” said Kerry Weems, acting administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said the companies are acting as federal contractors and should be meeting all conditions for doing business with the government.

“This is unacceptable. Some plan sponsors are dragging their feet on required anti-fraud prevention, and CMS is letting them get away with it,” Grassley said.

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On the Net:

Government Accountability Office: http://www.gao.gov