http://www.myappraisalinstitute.org/ano/newsletter/DisplayNwsLtrArticle.aspx?volume=15&numbr=19/20&id=22579

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ndividuals buying health insurance on their own will see their premiums tumble next year in New York State as changes under thefederal health care law take effect, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Wednesday.

 
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State insurance regulators say they have approved rates for 2014 that are at least 50 percent lower on average than those currently available in New York. Beginning in October, individuals in New York City who now pay $1,000 a month or more for coverage will be able to shop for health insurance for as little as $308 monthly. With federal subsidies, the cost will be even lower.

Supporters of the new health care law, the Affordable Care Act, credited the drop in rates to the online purchasing exchanges the law created, which they say are spurring competition among insurers that are anticipating an influx of new customers. The law requires that an exchange be started in every state.

“Health insurance has suddenly become affordable in New York,” said Elisabeth Benjamin, vice president for health initiatives with the Community Service Society of New York. “It’s not bargain-basement prices, but we’re going from Bergdorf’s to Filene’s here.”

“The extraordinary decline in New York’s insurance rates for individual consumers demonstrates the profound promise of the Affordable Care Act,” she added.

Administration officials, long confronted by Republicans and other critics of President Obama’s signature law, were quick to add New York to the list of states that appear to be successfully carrying out the law and setting up exchanges.

“We’re seeing in New York what we’ve seen in other states like California and Oregon — that competition and transparency in the marketplaces are leading to affordable and new choices for families,” said Joanne Peters, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services.

The new premium rates do not affect a majority of New Yorkers, who receive insurance through their employers, only those who must purchase it on their own. Because the cost of individual coverage has soared, only 17,000 New Yorkers currently buy insurance on their own. About 2.6 million are uninsured in New York State.

State officials estimate as many as 615,000 individuals will buy health insurance on their own in the first few years the health law is in effect. In addition to lower premiums, about three-quarters of those people will be eligible for the subsidies available to lower-income individuals.

“New York’s health benefits exchange will offer the type of real competition that helps drive down health insurance costs for consumers and businesses,” said Mr. Cuomo.

The plans to be offered on the exchanges all meet certain basic requirements, as laid out in the law, but are in four categories from most generous to least: platinum, gold, silver and bronze. An individual with annual income of $17,000 will pay about $55 a month for a silver plan, state regulators said. A person with a $20,000 income will pay about $85 a month for a silver plan, while someone earning $25,000 will pay about $145 a month for a silver plan.

The least expensive plans, some offered by newcomers to the market, may not offer wide access to hospitals and doctors, experts said.

While the rates will fall over all, apples-to-apples comparisons are impossible from this year to next because all of the plans are essentially new insurance products.

The rates for small businesses, which are considerably lower than for individuals, will not fall as precipitously. But small businesses will be eligible for tax credits, and the exchanges will make it easier for them to select a plan. Roughly 15,000 plans are available today to small businesses, and choosing among them is particularly challenging.

“Where New York previously had a dizzying array of thousands upon thousands of plans, small businesses will now be able to truly comparison-shop for the best prices,” said Benjamin M. Lawsky, the state’s top financial regulator.

Officials at the state Department of Financial Services say they have approved 17 insurers to sell individual coverage through the New York exchange, including eight that are just entering the state’s commercial market. Many of these are insurers specializing inMedicaid plans that cater to low-income individuals.

Surveillance & Foreign Intelligence Gathering In The US

Part one of a three-part discussion series from the Center on National Security and the Law, and the National Security Law Society: Surveillance and Foreign Intelligence Gathering in the United States: Past, Present, and Future.

http://www.news-gazette.com/news/courts-police-and-fire/2012-10-04/toxic-chemical-missing-danville-milling-facility.html

Toxic chemical missing from Danville milling facility
Thu, 10/04/2012 – 10:30am | Tracy Moss

DANVILLE — Danville police are investigating the theft of a potentially hazardous material from Bunge Milling in Danville.

Director of Public Safety Larry Thomason said in a news release Thursday morning that police were called to the plant Wednesday after a pesticide handler reported he was missing five packs of Phostoxin chemicals, used as a pesticide in railroad cars.

“The chemical is a controlled substance and can only be used by licensed persons,” Thomason said in the release. When exposed to water or moist air it will release toxic, corrosive or flammable gases, he said.

At the time of the theft the chemical was in tablet form. The active ingredient in the product is aluminum phosphide. Once the product is activated it will continue to emit gases for up to three days.

Thomason is urging anyone who comes in contact with the material, to report it by calling 911.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aluminium_phosphide

of note:
Evidently poisonous, aluminium phosphide has been used for suicide.[9] Fumigation has also caused unintentional deaths, such as examples in Saudi Arabia[10] and the United States.[11] Known as “rice tablet” in Iran, for its use to preserve rice, there have been frequent incidents of accidental or intentional death. There is a campaign by the Iranian Forensic Medicine Organization to stop its use as a pesticide.[12][13]
Aluminium phosphide poisoning is considered a wide-scale problem in the Indian subcontinent.

Geir Haarde denies negligence as he faces special court over collapse of country’s banks during 2008 financial crisis.

 

The former prime minister of Iceland has gone on trial in a special court in Reykjavik on charges of negligence over his handling of the country’s 2008 financial crisis and the collapse of the country’s banking system.

Proceedings against Geir Haarde are being held at the Landsdomur court, a special body to try cabinet ministers, which has never before heard a case in its more than 100-year existence.

The case will examine how Iceland’s three main banks all collapsed within the space of a few days at the height of the global financial crisis in October 2008, at the cost of billions of dollars to foreign customers who had invested in online savings accounts offering high interest rates.

Haarde, 60, led the Independence Party government at the time.

In a statement to the court, Haarde said: “I reject all accusations, and believe there is no basis for them,”

The former prime minister has called charges made against him “political persecution” and insisted he would be vindicated during the trial.

“I hail the fact that I get to answer questions in the case,” he told the court.

Blame game

In the crisis’s immediate aftermath, as unemployment and inflation skyrocketed, many sought to blame the government for the havoc across the 330,000-strong nation , and a wave of public protests forced Haarde out of government in 2009.

The failure of the Icesave bank led to a dispute over compensation, which remains unresolved [AFP]

Some Icelanders however see the trial of Haarde as scapegoating, while others argue that public accountability is essential following the country’s financial collapse.

Legal experts say he has a strong chance of beating the charges, because of the strength of his legal team, growing sympathy for a politician alone in shouldering blame, and because the court’s structure, laid out in 1905, is flawed because it allows legislators, not lawyers, to press charges.

A parliament-commissioned report put much of the blame on Haarde and his government, saying that officials “lacked both the power and the courage to set reasonable limits to the financial system”.

It was up to legislators whether to indict those officials. After a heated debate, Haarde was referred to the special court, the Icelandic parliament voted 33-30 to pursue charges against Haarde, but not against three other members of his government.

The special court will consist of 15 members, five supreme court justices, a district court president, a constitutional law professor and eight people chosen by parliament.

 

http://consumerist.com/2011/05/fcc-commissioner-approves-comcast-deal-leaves-fcc-to-go-work-for-comcast.html

the woman who made the decision to OK the mix is a former undersecretary of agriculture, Joann Smith. It was a call that led to hundred of millions of dollars for Beef Products Inc., the makers of pink slime.

When Smith stepped down from the USDA in 1993, BPI’s principal major supplier appointed her to its board of directors, where she made at least $1.2 million over 17 years.

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/03/70-percent-of-ground-beef-at-supermarkets-contains-pink-slime/

$1B of TSA Nude Body Scanners Made Worthless By Blog — How Anyone Can Get Anything Past The Scanners.