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    Moderately Moderating Michinokudriver's Avatar

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    Default WI General Discussion

    This will be more of an all-purpose thread, to post and discuss topics which you find interesting but you think might not warrant its own thread.

    It will also be a thread to provide feedback and recommendations for the WI forum.

    To kick things off --
    http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/world...s-clinton.html
    May 8, 2007
    Bill Clinton Brokers Generic AIDS Drug Deal
    By REUTERS
    Filed at 12:24 p.m. ET

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former President Bill Clinton announced deals with two Indian generic drug companies on Tuesday to cut prices of AIDS treatment for second line anti-retroviral drugs for 66 developing countries.

    The new prices for the second line drugs, which are used when a previous drug regimen fails, will mean an average savings of 25 percent in low-income countries and 50 percent in middle-income countries, Clinton said.

    ``Seven million people in the developing world are in need of treatment for HIV/AIDS,'' Clinton said in a statement announcing the deal in New York. ``We are trying to meet that need with the best medicine available today.''

    The pact between the Clinton Foundation and Indian companies Cipla Ltd. and Matrix Laboratories Ltd. covers 66 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.

    Clinton also said a new once-daily pill currently prohibitively expensive in developing countries would be made available to the countries involved. He said the pill combines the drugs Tenofovir and Lamivudine and Efavirenz.

    ``The new cost for this treatment of $339 per patient per year represents a 45 percent reduction from the current rate available to low income countries,'' the statement said.

    The AIDS virus infects nearly 39 million people globally, and has killed 25 million people since it was identified 25 years ago. Virtually all -- 95 percent -- of people infected with the virus live in the developing world.

    It's not uncommon for countries outside the US, to get medications cheaper than we do here in the States.

    Certainly, part of it is the drug companies recouping their R&D costs for the new medication -- but should Americans have access to cheaper medication or is it just part of the cost of living in a nation where TONS of money gets put into research (and by extension, we would get first dibs on the new stuff)?

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  2. #2
    Mr.TaterSalad
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    Default Re: WI General Discussion

    I think you have to have the free market and the idea of government regulation find there happy medium here. American's should not be completly restricted by law from getting presciptions out of the nation because they are cheaper. Because it is very true that certain precsiption drugs do end up costing people an arm and a leg, and if they can get the same for cheaper elsewhere it can be benefical to them certainly. So they should be allowed to have some free market buying power there in choosing where they want to buy drugs from. The key though is some, not total buying power but some free market buying power.

    However, even the Conservative, like myself, thinks there should be some restrictions mandatied by the government on the amount people can spend and the types of drugs they can bring in and out of other countries. This needs to be done so we can continue to have the funds to have the most technilogically advanced medical reaserch system in the world. If too much money starts getting drain out of the pharmaceutical market then either the drug companies will just scale downt he amount of reaserch they do or they will just raise the prices even higher to compensate for it. And that would make a lot of people even uneasier and unhappier then they arelady are. It would also make the Conservative in me upset because it would inturn mean medicare has to payout more to the citizens of this country; to which the Politicans in D.C.'s excuse would be for more spending on Medicare and Medicade, which inturns leads to more fraud and waste within those programs. It would also lead to more buracracey within the Department of Health and Human Services which oversee's Medicare and Medicade!
    Last edited by Mr.TaterSalad; 05-09-2007 at 09:17 PM.

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    Moderately Moderating Michinokudriver's Avatar

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    Default Re: WI General Discussion

    http://edition.cnn.com/2007/LAW/05/09/simpson.snub.ap/

    Steakhouse refuses to serve O.J. Simpson

    LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (AP)
    -- The owner of an upscale steakhouse said he asked O.J. Simpson to leave his restaurant the night before the Kentucky Derby because he is sickened by the attention Simpson still attracts.

    "I didn't want to serve him because of my convictions of what he's done to those families," Jeff Ruby said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

    "The way he continues to torture the lives of those families ... with his behavior, attitude and conduct," he added. (Watch Ruby describe Simpson's dumbstruck lookVideo)

    Simpson, an NFL Hall of Famer and Heisman Trophy winner, was found innocent in 1995 of killing his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Ron Goldman but was found liable in a civil trial that followed.

    Ruby -- who owns restaurants in Cincinnati, Ohio; Louisville, Kentucky; and Belterra, Indiana -- said Simpson, who was in town for the Derby on Saturday, came in with a group of about 12 Friday night and was seated at a table in the back. A customer came up to Ruby and was "giddy" about seeing Simpson, Ruby said.

    "I didn't want that experience in my restaurant," Ruby said, later adding that seeing Simpson get so much attention "makes me sick to my stomach."

    He said he went to Simpson's table and said, "I'm not serving you." Ruby said when Simpson didn't respond, he repeated himself and left the room.

    Ruby said Simpson soon came up to him and said he understood and would gather the rest of his party to leave.

    Simpson's attorney, Yale Galanter, said the incident was about race, and he intended to pursue the matter and possibly go after the restaurant's liquor license.

    "He screwed with the wrong guy, he really did," Galanter said by telephone Tuesday night.

    Ruby said the incident had to do with Simpson's past.

    "It was the first time since 1994 he has ever shown any class," Ruby said. "He showed it that night in the restaurant" by leaving quietly.

    Ruby said after Simpson left, people in the restaurant started applauding him. He said he has received about 100 positive e-mails since the incident.

    The walls of Ruby's restaurants are decorated with celebrity photos. A photo of Simpson and Ruby used to be on display, but Ruby said he took it down after the killings.

    Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


    Should the restaurant owner be able to kick out OJ Simpson on the grounds of "I don't like him?" OJ had done nothing at that time -- he had only set foot in the restaurant. It's not racial/gender discrimination -- but does it still count as discrimination?

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  4. #4
    [R]sama
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    Default Re: WI General Discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by Michinokudriver
    http://edition.cnn.com/2007/LAW/05/09/simpson.snub.ap/

    Steakhouse refuses to serve O.J. Simpson

    LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (AP)
    -- The owner of an upscale steakhouse said he asked O.J. Simpson to leave his restaurant the night before the Kentucky Derby because he is sickened by the attention Simpson still attracts.

    "I didn't want to serve him because of my convictions of what he's done to those families," Jeff Ruby said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

    "The way he continues to torture the lives of those families ... with his behavior, attitude and conduct," he added. (Watch Ruby describe Simpson's dumbstruck lookVideo)

    Simpson, an NFL Hall of Famer and Heisman Trophy winner, was found innocent in 1995 of killing his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Ron Goldman but was found liable in a civil trial that followed.

    Ruby -- who owns restaurants in Cincinnati, Ohio; Louisville, Kentucky; and Belterra, Indiana -- said Simpson, who was in town for the Derby on Saturday, came in with a group of about 12 Friday night and was seated at a table in the back. A customer came up to Ruby and was "giddy" about seeing Simpson, Ruby said.

    "I didn't want that experience in my restaurant," Ruby said, later adding that seeing Simpson get so much attention "makes me sick to my stomach."

    He said he went to Simpson's table and said, "I'm not serving you." Ruby said when Simpson didn't respond, he repeated himself and left the room.

    Ruby said Simpson soon came up to him and said he understood and would gather the rest of his party to leave.

    Simpson's attorney, Yale Galanter, said the incident was about race, and he intended to pursue the matter and possibly go after the restaurant's liquor license.

    "He screwed with the wrong guy, he really did," Galanter said by telephone Tuesday night.

    Ruby said the incident had to do with Simpson's past.

    "It was the first time since 1994 he has ever shown any class," Ruby said. "He showed it that night in the restaurant" by leaving quietly.

    Ruby said after Simpson left, people in the restaurant started applauding him. He said he has received about 100 positive e-mails since the incident.

    The walls of Ruby's restaurants are decorated with celebrity photos. A photo of Simpson and Ruby used to be on display, but Ruby said he took it down after the killings.

    Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


    Should the restaurant owner be able to kick out OJ Simpson on the grounds of "I don't like him?" OJ had done nothing at that time -- he had only set foot in the restaurant. It's not racial/gender discrimination -- but does it still count as discrimination?
    Wow, that's just wrong. That sure is discrimination...people like this restaurant owner who can't let go of anything that is best left behind in the past...they're the ones that make me sick with utter disgust.

    If it's not considered to be discrimination based on race or gender, then what kind of discrimination would it be called? Character discrimination?
    Last edited by [R]sama; 05-10-2007 at 03:13 AM.

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    House Frey Brokenlamp's Avatar

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    Default Re: WI General Discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.TaterSalad
    If too much money starts getting drain out of the pharmaceutical market then either the drug companies will just scale downt he amount of reaserch they do or they will just raise the prices even higher to compensate for it.

    I disagree with your market reaction projections. If the pharm companies started losing money due to consumers getting cheaper meds of equal or better quality from other nations...I think they last they thing they would do is raise prices. The object is to compete. Right now the price is artificially inflated due to government regulation (of a product that is vital to many lives: which is what makes it even more ethically deplorable). More competition = more market forces driving quality up and prices down, when you consider the vitality of the product in question (you cant sell meds that dont work for too long, or doctors will stop prescribing them for malpractice reasons).

    And why shouldnt america take advantaged of Canada/EU's socialized medical research to save some research money of our own? Its called comparative advantage. If they can do it more effeciently, let us benefit. Just like China with basic products and Japan with electronics.

    Free and Fair trade. Everyone wins.
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    NunsHaveNoFun
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    Default Re: WI General Discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by Brokenlamp
    Free and Fair trade. Everyone wins.
    Trade with China is neither free nor fair.

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    Permanently Insane Alex Ace's Avatar

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    Default Re: WI General Discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by Michinokudriver
    http://edition.cnn.com/2007/LAW/05/09/simpson.snub.ap/

    Steakhouse refuses to serve O.J. Simpson

    LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (AP)
    -- The owner of an upscale steakhouse said he asked O.J. Simpson to leave his restaurant the night before the Kentucky Derby because he is sickened by the attention Simpson still attracts.

    "I didn't want to serve him because of my convictions of what he's done to those families," Jeff Ruby said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

    "The way he continues to torture the lives of those families ... with his behavior, attitude and conduct," he added. (Watch Ruby describe Simpson's dumbstruck lookVideo)

    Simpson, an NFL Hall of Famer and Heisman Trophy winner, was found innocent in 1995 of killing his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Ron Goldman but was found liable in a civil trial that followed.

    Ruby -- who owns restaurants in Cincinnati, Ohio; Louisville, Kentucky; and Belterra, Indiana -- said Simpson, who was in town for the Derby on Saturday, came in with a group of about 12 Friday night and was seated at a table in the back. A customer came up to Ruby and was "giddy" about seeing Simpson, Ruby said.

    "I didn't want that experience in my restaurant," Ruby said, later adding that seeing Simpson get so much attention "makes me sick to my stomach."

    He said he went to Simpson's table and said, "I'm not serving you." Ruby said when Simpson didn't respond, he repeated himself and left the room.

    Ruby said Simpson soon came up to him and said he understood and would gather the rest of his party to leave.

    Simpson's attorney, Yale Galanter, said the incident was about race, and he intended to pursue the matter and possibly go after the restaurant's liquor license.

    "He screwed with the wrong guy, he really did," Galanter said by telephone Tuesday night.

    Ruby said the incident had to do with Simpson's past.

    "It was the first time since 1994 he has ever shown any class," Ruby said. "He showed it that night in the restaurant" by leaving quietly.

    Ruby said after Simpson left, people in the restaurant started applauding him. He said he has received about 100 positive e-mails since the incident.

    The walls of Ruby's restaurants are decorated with celebrity photos. A photo of Simpson and Ruby used to be on display, but Ruby said he took it down after the killings.

    Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


    Should the restaurant owner be able to kick out OJ Simpson on the grounds of "I don't like him?" OJ had done nothing at that time -- he had only set foot in the restaurant. It's not racial/gender discrimination -- but does it still count as discrimination?
    This is a difficult one. In Spain a lot of places have signs saying "reservado el derecho de admision" which basically means they can shoose who to serve. However, I don't know how far that goes in terms of rights and discrimination. I'm pretty sure if someone was kicked out because of something racial or similar, there'd be trouble. However, in a case like this, where OJ was not served because of who he is and what that means, it's a sticky one.

    gycax

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    Moderately Moderating Michinokudriver's Avatar

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    Default Re: WI General Discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by NunsHaveNoFun
    Trade with China is neither free nor fair.
    I know this is going to be a more relaxed WI thread -- but still, you gotta elaborate a bit more than this.

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  9. #9
    NunsHaveNoFun
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    Default Re: WI General Discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by Michinokudriver
    I know this is going to be a more relaxed WI thread -- but still, you gotta elaborate a bit more than this.
    Trade with China isn't free because their government cheats. It provides significant subsidies to its export industries, and its banking policies keep the yuan artificially low. It isn't fair because American workers aren't competing on a level playing field. Laws protecting the environment and workers' rights are minimal and enforcement is spotty at best.

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    House Frey Brokenlamp's Avatar

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    Default Re: WI General Discussion

    Who said anything about China though? The specific article was talking about India. And I was talking about American's getting cheaper prescription medications from other industrialized nations like Canada or the EU.

    Now an argument can be made that India isnt using fair trade practices themselves, but its still besides MY point.

    I'd also like to point out that a good chunk of medical R&D is done in publically funded universities in both america and europe. The free market has tended to avoid the innovation aspects and aimed most of their attention towards marketing and protectionism.
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  11. #11
    Dr. Detfink
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    Default Re: WI General Discussion

    Well, American pharmaceutical companies cash in on their patents. Keep in mind, a patent is only good for 5 years when it comes to most medications which is why you don't hear about how dangerous the side-effects are till AFTER they lose their patent and hit the over the counter shelves.

    A perfect example of what happens when a pharmaceutical firm loses their patent is Phizer who held America's patent on Viagra. This firm was so powerful they owned half of the American Natural History Museum in NYC. They were cutting exclusive deals with personal physicians where they would prescribe only their medications for a cut of the pie.

    So they lost their patent and suddenly their labs all over the U.S. were shutdown making states such as New Jersey panic because that's a lot of tax dollars and jobs lost.

    no one wants to endure the grueling and ultracompetive nature of a 5 year PharmD program (and nearly 100K in debt from loans) only to have their occupation changed to 23K a year which is most of the world's pharmacists salary. Keep in mind, when job salaries are reduced that doesn't mean inflation is slowed or cost of living declines.

  12. #12
    NunsHaveNoFun
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    Default Re: WI General Discussion

    I had taken your comment to mean that our trade with China was a model worthy of emulation. I didn't mean to go off on a tangent.

    Anyway, yeah. A good chunk of the medically imporant R&D is funded by the government. That's because the money isn't really in the stuff that saves people's lifes. It's in lifestyle drugs like Viagra.

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    Moderately Moderating Michinokudriver's Avatar

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    http://www.cbs13.com/video/?id=19882@kovr.dayport.com
    (CBS13) The terrain across the United States and Mexican border is unforgiving, still a half million undocumented immigrants cross each year over rocks, cliffs and desert where any step could be your last.

    A family theme park in the heart of Mexico has been training immigrants on how to cross the U.S. broder, some say. Our journey to find the park named Parque Eco Alberto began in Mexico City. The park is located in the financial heart of Mexico, and people there know about the park's featured "Night Border Crossing Experience." We drove to the small town of El Alberto to see it for ourselves.

    The Mayor of El Albeto, Bernardino Martin, says at one point half of the town just packed up and left. That's 1,100 people. He said most of them crossed the border into the United States -- something he thinks is very dangerous.

    "(We're) trying to get people to realize its not worth risking your life to get to the other side," said Martin.

    Despite Martin's claim, some people in the U.S say the "Border Experience" this might help people illegally cross the border.

    "Yes we've heard that. But those people are interpreting that incorrectly," said Martin.

    A park employee said he's crossed five times and now plays a fake border patrol agent who stops people from crossing during the border experience. In Mexico he was an iron worker, but while in Phoenix he could only find landscaping work for a third of the money so he came home, had a family, and now plays a border patrol agent in the "Border Experience."

    "We don't play because we like it. We just try to give the position that they can change before they make a decision to leave their country," said the employee.

    Once the sun set, we decided that we needed to go through it ourselves.

    9:15, Saturday night.
    Announcing the night tour, the night border tour is about to start. They load us up into small pick up trucks, having to ride in the back.

    Once we reached our destination, we came across "Poncho", a tour guide who wears a mask. Poncho pulled out a Mexican flag, and the "border experience" began with the singing of the Mexican national anthem.

    10:15 pm
    For the first half hour of the experience, our guide Poncho had spent the whole time pumping up the crowd. He said that he understands what the American dream is, but people can have that dream here. Poncho tries to instill confidence in them to create a better life in Mexico -- even in El Alberto. Immediately after that the guides tell us to run, and run fast-- because the border patrol is coming.Everybody hits the ground. Lights and sirens are pretty much expected, but nobody was picked up. There are also kids probably as young as seven years old that also went through the "Experience."

    Later, we slide down a rocky hill, and straight into the mud. People even lost their shoes in the thick muck. All of a sudden everyone jumps into the bushes to hide.

    Border Patrol officers talk over a loud speaker telling people do not cross the river saying that there are snakes and other deadly animals. The border patrol is also telling these people "You could drown. We have water, we have food. If you're suffering we can help you." The agents try to entice people to turn themselves in but instead, the group moves on.

    We cross a wire fence, and without warning, gunshots!

    The gunfire come from border patrol officers and we learn that some in our group get caught. Those who didn't get nabbed rest and hide in nearby bushes and watch as the handcuffs and flashing lights take away a large number of the group.

    The park gets some funding from the Mexican state and federal government. It not only brings in tourists but also creates jobs and now, El Ablerto's population's been restored. The park's biggest attraction just happens to be its "Night Border Crossing Experience".

    11:15 pm
    In total, the border patrol came through arrested about five people. They asked who the coyote was and who is it that brought people. The people said that they didn't know. Then they arrested, hand cuffed, and told they were going to jail. Tomorrow they were going to be deported.

    Once the border patrol leaves, the group pushes on again. The cold comes strong as we walk through the river's rushing water. Near a rocky ledge we watch each step. After that, there are miles of more running, climbing, and more rocks.

    It definitely was not fun. Our guides had us climb up a thin ledge and walk for 300 yards -- a scary experience when nothing protects you from dropping hundreds of feet to your death.

    The border patrol came back and while the group hides, they witness men get shot. That had to be the most disturbing part of the experience. The guys were running across the street when the border patrol showed up, and shot them. They were not dead; however, the border patrol supposedly left them for dead.

    "That's a very poor message to send to people: don't cross the border because the border patrol will kill you," said Robert Harvey, a U.S. Border Patrol Supervisor.

    The Border Patrol told us they know about the park, and frankly, aren't worried about what people are learning.

    "They're not going to experience the dehydration that some might experience or the lack of food on a real trek to cross the border," said Harvey.

    Time and time again, what we witnessed, while running and hiding were people getting caught and people dying.

    1:00 am
    After crossing a very long, shaky bridge, blindfolded, we were asked to feel with our hearts as we walked to the end of the border experience.

    When the blind folds came off, what we saw was a beautifully lit mountainside.

    2:00 am
    It all ends. Exactly how it began.

    -------
    Even if the intention of this park is to scare people from crossing the border, Martin admitted that people travel as far north as Sonora to come here and go through the "Experience." Even he said that he can't be 100% sure that people don't come here to learn and train for a border run.

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  14. #14
    Mabus
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    Question May no one seperate what we create

    What will actually create more jobs? That's the question.


    My answer is this: I think getting ppl rightfully educated, somehow, to only think on opening franchises or think on building more corporations will build more jobs here in the U.S. fu*k this 'try to work for someone bullsh*t' or this 'try to get skills to work bullsh*t' when there arent many jobs hiring anymore here in the U.S. We need ppl faced with education that's on creating jobs that require no skills! No skill jobs will help the ppl that were usually poor to begin with because they couldnt find an essential no-skill job. No-skill jobs are what is essential in this modern day society. What say you?

    It should be a free of charge but manditory education to open what will create more jobs because America needs such! Such a free education should be sent out through the mail to everyone in the U.S.
    Last edited by Mabus; 06-20-2007 at 03:41 PM.

  15. #15
    mytildebang
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    Default Re: WI General Discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by [R]esolute
    If it's not considered to be discrimination based on race or gender, then what kind of discrimination would it be called? Character discrimination?
    Opting not to serve someone?

    Sorry to jump in late, but a business owner has the right to choose not to serve someone for pretty much any reason, be it because the guy smells bad or because the owner doesn't like his face. There are exceptions for protected classes, such as race or gender, but I'm baffled as to why anyone would think "Get out of my restaurant because I think you killed a woman and her boyfriend" automatically triggers civil rights protections for race and gender. It cheapens actual race-based discrimination to say that because a man who is infamous for having a media circus of a murder trial was probably thrown out of a restaurant for being black.

  16. #16
    Holzhammer
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    Default Re: WI General Discussion

    The politics and history of the United States of America has always interested me greatly. Nevertheless I have always failed to do some serious research about its past. Could anyone point me in the right direction for good books regarding the evolution of the USA since its early days up until present day? Not only am I in great need of "general history", I am especially interested in the presidents and their policies. So, any help?

    Thanks a lot.

  17. #17
    Raskolnikov
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    Default Re: WI General Discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by Urizen
    The politics and history of the United States of America has always interested me greatly. Nevertheless I have always failed to do some serious research about its past. Could anyone point me in the right direction for good books regarding the evolution of the USA since its early days up until present day? Not only am I in great need of "general history", I am especially interested in the presidents and their policies. So, any help?

    Thanks a lot.
    A good place to start, IMO, would be "A People's History of the United States" by Howard Zinn...

    But I would wait and see what other people have to say before reading anything

  18. #18
    like a brother to you Bonesaw's Avatar

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    Default Re: WI General Discussion

    I've been doing a lot of reading lately concerning China. After watching more and more of my former company's manufacturing positions being lost to China, the subject is now personal because my name just got added to the list a few weeks ago. The CEOs, with their 500,000 dollar houses, claim that these measures are necessary to compete- that our customers demand that we lower our costs by manufacturing our products in China- which they have slowly been doing. Basically, the CEOs are selling out everybody beneath them, cashing in, and taking early retirement.

    So I have been reading and have come to the conclusion that I HATE China just as much as I wish death upon the bloated CEOs that are exploiting them.

    China values men much more than women. Because of their single-child law, many Chinese families abort their females. The men now outnumber the women 4 to 1 and many have nowhere to go but the military.

    China assimilating the rest of the world through capitalism is already in full force, but with all those men, how long before they invade Russia? Communists my ass. Fuck China. My hate doesn't come because I lost my good job to them- I'll be fine. It's their hypocrisy in calling themselves communists in combination with their ruthless attitude toward women. I say again, fuck China.
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    Moderately Moderating Michinokudriver's Avatar

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    http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/08/...ifornia.split/

    Republicans want share of California electoral votes
    Story Highlights
    • Proposal would change winner-take-all system for electoral votes in 2008 race
    • Strategists: Formula based on congressional districts would help GOP win votes
    • Republicans say idea aims to attract presidential campaigns to California
    • Democrats accuse initiative's supporters of trying to grab their votes


    (CNN) -- A GOP-inspired effort to tinker with the Electoral College machinery in California is raising alarm bells among Democrats who fear it could doom the party's chances of winning the White House in 2008.

    Democrats have come to rely on California's block of 55 electoral votes -- the largest haul available in any state -- as part of their arithmetic to win the presidency with a majority in the Electoral College.

    A group called Californians for Equal Representation has submitted a ballot initiative to state Attorney General Jerry Brown that would change the current statewide winner-take-all system to a formula based on congressional districts.

    Republicans say the idea is aimed at attracting presidential candidates to campaign in California, which they rarely do because the statewide vote traditionally leans Democratic. Opponents call the proposal an attempt to grab Democratic votes.

    Under the proposal, the winning candidate in each of the state's 53 congressional districts would get one electoral vote, with two votes going to the statewide winner.

    Supporters want to put the proposal on the ballot for next June's state primary, which would put the change into effect for the 2008 election.

    Do to so, supporters will have to collect about 434,000 petition signatures from registered voters by November 13, according to the secretary of state's office.

    In the 2006 election, Californians elected 34 Democrats and 19 Republicans to the House.

    Had the proposed system been in effect in 2004, President Bush would have captured 22 of California's electoral votes. The extra electoral votes would have eliminated Bush's need to carry the pivotal state of Ohio to win re-election.

    "This would all but guarantee that the Republican nominee would get 20 extra Electoral College votes, which could certainly impact the outcome of the election," said Allan Hoffenblum, a Republican strategist.

    And that is exactly what has Democrats crying foul.

    "The Republicans are doing this in California because they want a chunk of our vote," said Darry Sragow, a Democratic strategist.

    The ballot initiative was submitted by Thomas Hiltachk, a Sacramento election lawyer who is also general counsel for Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    The purpose of the change is to make California more relevant in presidential elections by forcing candidates to campaign in the state, according to the initiative.

    "Because this is a reliable Democratic state, none of the presidential candidates -- Republican or Democrat -- ever shows up in California," Hoffenblum said.

    On the other side of the divide, Democrats argue that California shouldn't make such a change when the vast majority of other states still operate under a winner-take-all system.

    "This is very fair if it's universal around the country," Sragow said. "It is patently absurd it if only takes place in certain states."

    Under the Constitution, each state gets a number of electoral votes equal to its representation in Congress, including both representatives and senators. Currently, 48 states award all of their electoral votes to the candidate who wins the largest number of votes.

    Two states -- Nebraska and Maine -- have adopted the system that is being proposed for California, assigning their electoral votes based on who wins individual congressional districts, with the statewide winner getting the two votes derived from senators. But this has not generated controversy because both states have just a handful of votes, and the results have never resulted in splitting them between candidates.

    Ironically, while Democrats are up in arms in California over the idea of changing the Electoral College rules, their compatriots in Republican-leaning North Carolina have floated the idea of adopting the Nebraska-Maine system for their state.

    However, national Democratic leaders have tried to discourage that effort, because of concerns it would be difficult to support such a change in North Carolina, where it would help the party, while opposing it in California.

    The change also would help Democrats much less in North Carolina than it would hurt in California. In 2004, the Democratic presidential nominee, Sen. John Kerry, would have garnered three more votes in North Carolina, while losing 22 in California.

    The disputed 2000 election, in which Bush won the electoral vote while losing the popular vote, has generated a flurry of proposals to abolish or alter the Electoral College, both at the federal and state level.

    In 2006, Colorado voters rejected a constitutional amendment that would have divided up the electoral vote pie in proportion to each candidates' share of the popular vote.

    A group called National Popular Vote also is lobbying state legislatures to adopt a system where all of a state's electoral votes would be pledged to the winner of the national popular vote -- an idea which, if adopted by states holding a majority of electoral votes, would ensure that the popular vote winner always became president.

    While National Popular Vote says its plan has been introduced in 47 states, Maryland is the only one so far to pass it. And the change won't go into effect in Maryland until it gains approval in enough states to ensure that the popular vote winner would take the White House.

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  20. #20
    Cena_Hatemonger
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    Default Re: WI General Discussion

    Interesting proposal. I wasn't aware that it was up to the states to decide how the electoral votes are used. However, in the end, it's up to the electors themselves to decide to vote the way the people voted.

  21. #21
    Moderately Moderating Michinokudriver's Avatar

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    Default Re: WI General Discussion

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20430153/

    Iraq fraud whistleblowers vilified
    Cases show fraud exposers have been vilified, fired, or detained for weeks
    The Associated Press
    Updated: 11:57 a.m. PT Aug 25, 2007


    One after another, the men and women who have stepped forward to report corruption in the massive effort to rebuild Iraq have been vilified, fired and demoted.

    Or worse.

    For daring to report illegal arms sales, Navy veteran Donald Vance says he was imprisoned by the American military in a security compound outside Baghdad and subjected to harsh interrogation methods.

    There were times, huddled on the floor in solitary confinement with that head-banging music blaring dawn to dusk and interrogators yelling the same questions over and over, that Vance began to wish he had just kept his mouth shut.

    He had thought he was doing a good and noble thing when he started telling the FBI about the guns and the land mines and the rocket-launchers — all of them being sold for cash, no receipts necessary, he said. He told a federal agent the buyers were Iraqi insurgents, American soldiers, State Department workers, and Iraqi embassy and ministry employees.

    The seller, he claimed, was the Iraqi-owned company he worked for, Shield Group Security Co.

    “It was a Wal-Mart for guns,” he says. “It was all illegal and everyone knew it.”

    So Vance says he blew the whistle, supplying photos and documents and other intelligence to an FBI agent in his hometown of Chicago because he didn’t know whom to trust in Iraq.

    For his trouble, he says, he got 97 days in Camp Cropper, an American military prison outside Baghdad that once held Saddam Hussein, and he was classified a security detainee.

    Also held was colleague Nathan Ertel, who helped Vance gather evidence documenting the sales, according to a federal lawsuit both have filed in Chicago, alleging they were illegally imprisoned and subjected to physical and mental interrogation tactics “reserved for terrorists and so-called enemy combatants.”

    No noble outcomes
    Corruption has long plagued Iraq reconstruction. Hundreds of projects may never be finished, including repairs to the country’s oil pipelines and electricity system. Congress gave more than $30 billion to rebuild Iraq, and at least $8.8 billion of it has disappeared, according to a government reconstruction audit.

    Despite this staggering mess, there are no noble outcomes for those who have blown the whistle, according to a review of such cases by The Associated Press.

    “If you do it, you will be destroyed,” said William Weaver, professor of political science at the University of Texas-El Paso and senior advisor to the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition.

    “Reconstruction is so rife with corruption. Sometimes people ask me, ‘Should I do this?’ And my answer is no. If they’re married, they’ll lose their family. They will lose their jobs. They will lose everything,” Weaver said.

    They have been fired or demoted, shunned by colleagues, and denied government support in whistleblower lawsuits filed against contracting firms.

    “The only way we can find out what is going on is for someone to come forward and let us know,” said Beth Daley of the Project on Government Oversight, an independent, nonprofit group that investigates corruption. “But when they do, the weight of the government comes down on them. The message is, ’Don’t blow the whistle or we’ll make your life hell.’

    “It’s heartbreaking,” Daley said. “There is an even greater need for whistleblowers now. But they are made into public martyrs. It’s a disgrace. Their lives get ruined.”

    One whistleblower demoted
    Bunnatine “Bunny” Greenhouse knows this only too well. As the highest-ranking civilian contracting officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, she testified before a congressional committee in 2005 that she found widespread fraud in multibillion-dollar rebuilding contracts awarded to former Halliburton subsidiary KBR.

    Soon after, Greenhouse was demoted. She now sits in a tiny cubicle in a different department with very little to do and no decision-making authority, at the end of an otherwise exemplary 20-year career.

    People she has known for years no longer speak to her.

    “It’s just amazing how we say we want to remove fraud from our government, then we gag people who are just trying to stand up and do the right thing,” she says.

    In her demotion, her supervisors said she was performing poorly. “They just wanted to get rid of me,” she says softly. The Army Corps of Engineers denies her claims.

    “You just don’t have happy endings,” said Weaver. “She was a wonderful example of a federal employee. They just completely creamed her. In the end, no one followed up, no one cared.”

    No regrets
    But Greenhouse regrets nothing. “I have the courage to say what needs to be said. I paid the price,” she says.

    Then there is Robert Isakson, who filed a whistleblower suit against contractor Custer Battles in 2004, alleging the company — with which he was briefly associated — bilked the U.S. government out of tens of millions of dollars by filing fake invoices and padding other bills for reconstruction work.

    He and his co-plaintiff, William Baldwin, a former employee fired by the firm, doggedly pursued the suit for two years, gathering evidence on their own and flying overseas to obtain more information from witnesses. Eventually, a federal jury agreed with them and awarded a $10 million judgment against the now-defunct firm, which had denied all wrongdoing.

    It was the first civil verdict for Iraq reconstruction fraud.

    But in 2006, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III overturned the jury award. He said Isakson and Baldwin failed to prove that the Coalition Provisional Authority, the U.S.-backed occupier of Iraq for 14 months, was part of the U.S. government.

    Not a single Iraq whistleblower suit has gone to trial since.

    “It’s a sad, heartbreaking comment on the system,” said Isakson, a former FBI agent who owns an international contracting company based in Alabama. “I tried to help the government, and the government didn’t seem to care.”

    U.S. shows little support?
    One way to blow the whistle is to file a “qui tam” lawsuit (taken from the Latin phrase “he who sues for the king, as well as for himself”) under the federal False Claims Act.

    Signed by Abraham Lincoln in response to military contractors selling defective products to the Union Army, the act allows private citizens to sue on the government’s behalf.

    The government has the option to sign on, with all plaintiffs receiving a percentage of monetary damages, which are tripled in these suits.

    It can be a straightforward and effective way to recoup federal funds lost to fraud. In the past, the Justice Department has joined several such cases and won. They included instances of Medicare and Medicaid overbilling, and padded invoices from domestic contractors.

    But the government has not joined a single quit tam suit alleging Iraq reconstruction abuse, estimated in the tens of millions. At least a dozen have been filed since 2004.

    “It taints these cases,” said attorney Alan Grayson, who filed the Custer Battles suit and several others like it. “If the government won’t sign on, then it can’t be a very good case — that’s the effect it has on judges.”

    The Justice Department declined comment.

    Placed under guard, kept in seclusion
    Most of the lawsuits are brought by former employees of giant firms. Some plaintiffs have testified before members of Congress, providing examples of fraud they say they witnessed and the retaliation they experienced after speaking up.

    Julie McBride testified last year that as a “morale, welfare and recreation coordinator” at Camp Fallujah, she saw KBR exaggerate costs by double- and triple-counting the number of soldiers who used recreational facilities.

    She also said the company took supplies destined for a Super Bowl party for U.S. troops and instead used them to stage a celebration for themselves.

    “After I voiced my concerns about what I believed to be accounting fraud, Halliburton placed me under guard and kept me in seclusion,” she told the committee. “My property was searched, and I was specifically told that I was not allowed to speak to any member of the U.S. military. I remained under guard until I was flown out of the country.”

    Halliburton and KBR denied her testimony.

    She also has filed a whistleblower suit. The Justice Department has said it would not join the action. But last month, a federal judge refused a motion by KBR to dismiss the lawsuit.

    'I thought I was among friends'
    Donald Vance, the contractor and Navy veteran detained in Iraq after he blew the whistle on his company’s weapons sales, says he has stopped talking to the federal government.

    Navy Capt. John Fleming, a spokesman for U.S. detention operations in Iraq, confirmed the detentions but said he could provide no further details because of the lawsuit.

    According to their suit, Vance and Ertel gathered photographs and documents, which Vance fed to Chicago FBI agent Travis Carlisle for six months beginning in October 2005. Carlisle, reached by phone at Chicago’s FBI field office, declined comment. An agency spokesman also would not comment.

    The Iraqi company has since disbanded, according the suit.

    Vance said things went terribly wrong in April 2006, when he and Ertel were stripped of their security passes and confined to the company compound.

    Panicking, Vance said, he called the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, where hostage experts got on the phone and told him “you’re about to be kidnapped. Lock yourself in a room with all the weapons you can get your hands on.”’

    The military sent a Special Forces team to rescue them, Vance said, and the two men showed the soldiers where the weapons caches were stored. At the embassy, the men were debriefed and allowed to sleep for a few hours. “I thought I was among friends,” Vance said.

    An unspoken Baghdad rule
    The men said they were cuffed and hooded and driven to Camp Cropper, where Vance was held for nearly three months and his colleague for a little more than a month. Eventually, their jailers said they were being held as security internees because their employer was suspected of selling weapons to terrorists and insurgents, the lawsuit said.

    The prisoners said they repeatedly told interrogators to contact Carlisle in Chicago. “One set of interrogators told us that Travis Carlisle doesn’t exist. Then some others would say, ’He says he doesn’t know who you are,”’ Vance said.

    Released first was Ertel, who has returned to work in Iraq for a different company. Vance said he has never learned why he was held longer. His own interrogations, he said, seemed focused on why he reported his information to someone outside Iraq.

    And then one day, without explanation, he was released.

    “They drove me to Baghdad International Airport and dumped me,” he said.

    When he got home, he decided to never call the FBI again. He called a lawyer, instead.

    “There’s an unspoken rule in Baghdad,” he said. “Don’t snitch on people and don’t burn bridges.”

    For doing both, Vance said, he paid with 97 days of his life.

    © 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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  22. #22
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    Default Re: WI General Discussion

    If American businesses can go to other countries in order to get cheaper labor, then Americans damn well deserve the right to get cheaper drugs from other countries.

  23. #23
    Werehunter
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    Default Re: WI General Discussion

    Personally I'm fine with splitting up electoral votes on the basis of how many votes someone got in a state. This will force candidates to think beyond the major cities like many do in a state like California. Right now in Cali all a candidate has to do is win over the people in the cities, whom often lean more left then right, to get all the electoral votes for the state. By splitting the votes up, it will require candidates to appeal more to those outside the main cities as well as those in them.

  24. #24
    Is just 2 sweet Razor_Blade's Avatar

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    Default Re: WI General Discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaysa
    If American businesses can go to other countries in order to get cheaper labor, then Americans damn well deserve the right to get cheaper drugs from other countries.
    This is not just an American problem, industries all over the western world is moving eastward for cheap labour in India and China. Atleast companies dealing with natural recourses can't flag out to other countries, and the U.S has tons of natural recourses that has not been fully utulized yet Oil,minerals,fishing,carpenting etc. So the future might not be as dark as we think.

    Another method of securing jobs and work, is for the people who run this country to buy up Private owned companies to secure thier presence in the USA. Tough this would be very expensive... But in the long run worth it IMO.

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    Default Re: WI General Discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by Razor_Blade
    Another method of securing jobs and work, is for the people who run this country to buy up Private owned companies to secure thier presence in the USA. Tough this would be very expensive... But in the long run worth it IMO.
    Could you be more specific when you mean "the people". Do you mean our elite, or middle class? What? And how would this do anything?

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