Obama invokes mother’s battles against cancer, insurers

August 12, 2009

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“She was the kindest, most generous spirit I have ever known,” Obama wrote, “and that what is best in me I owe to her.” – I know exactly how he feels…love you Mom!
– FlashAddict

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WASHINGTON (AFP) – Among the heartrending tales invoked by President Barack Obama as he stumps for healthcare reform, none is more poignant than that of his own mother’s losing fight against cancer.

As he presses for an overhaul of the healthcare system, Obama often recounts the crises faced by Americans who with their jobs have lost their medical coverage, or who file for bankruptcy when faced with a health calamity.

But Exhibit A among the tragic examples is that of his own mother, Ann Dunham, who lost her fight to cancer nearly a decade and a half ago as she battled insurance companies.

“It’s… personal for me,” Obama told a crowd at a high-profile forum on Tuesday in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

“I will never forget my own mother as she fought cancer in her final months, having to worry about whether her insurance would refuse to pay for her treatment,” he told the crowd.

He was reprising a story he told frequently on the campaign trail, and more recently on the road, while drumming up support for his health industry reform agenda.

“The insurance company was arguing that somehow she should have known that she had cancer when she took her new job, even though it hadn’t been diagnosed yet,” Obama told the New Hampshire audience Tuesday.

“If it could happen to her, it could happen to any one of us. And I’ve heard from so many Americans who have the same worries.”

In the preface to his first book, “Dreams From My Father,” an elegy to his absentee dad, Obama also eulogizes the mother “whom we lost, with a brutal swiftness, to cancer a few months after this book was originally published.”

According to some news accounts, Ann Dunham’s cancer at first had been misdiagnosed in Indonesia as indigestion.

It was later determined by experts at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York to be a fast-moving uterine cancer that had spread to her ovaries.

In remarks that seem informed by his mother’s ordeal, Obama added that his goal now with healthcare reform is to set up a system “that gives a little bit of help to people who currently are working hard every day but they don’t have healthcare insurance on the job.”

He also hopes to ensure that patients already insured “are not going to be dropped because of a pre-existing conditions or because you lose your job or because you change your job — that you’re actually going to get what you pay for, that you’re not going to find out when you’re sick that you got cheated.”

“If we can set up a system that gives you some security, that’s worth a lot,” he said.

His mother, who held a doctorate degree in anthropology, forged a career in international economic development, working for a while with the Ford Foundation in Jakarta and later with the US Agency for International Development and the World Bank, and helping to guide micro-enterprise projects to aid poor women.

Her mother’s frustrating odyssey as a cancer patient also figured into his historic presidential campaign, when he vowed to remake the medical coverage system.

“In (her) last painful months, she was more worried about paying her medical bills than getting well,” Obama said in one campaign advertisement that aired in 2008.

“I hear stories like hers everyday. For 20 years Washington has talked about healthcare reform and reformed nothing. Unless we stop the bickering and the lobbyists we will be in the same place 20 years from now,” he said.

Ann Dunham returned to her home state of Hawaii where she lived out the final months of her life, and died at the age of 53 on November 7, 1995, before Obama — who by then was living in Chicago — could get to her bedside to say goodbye.

Obama has said that his greatest regret is not being at his mother’s side when she died, and has called her the most influential person in his life.

“I think sometimes that had I known she would not survive her illness, I might have written a different book — less a meditation on the absent parent, more a celebration of the one who was the single constant in my life,” he wrote in “Dreams From My Father.”

“She was the kindest, most generous spirit I have ever known,” Obama wrote, “and that what is best in me I owe to her.”

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/afp/090812/usa/us_politics_obama_health_mother

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Halifax band an overnight Internet sensation with ‘United Breaks Guitars’ song

July 9, 2009

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I’m not the biggest fan of country music, but this guy PWND United Airlines big time!!!
– FlashAddict

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TORONTO – When Halifax’s Dave Carroll got off his United Airlines flight last spring and discovered his $3,500 custom-made guitar was severely damaged – allegedly by overzealous luggage handlers – at first he was mad.

When the airline’s customer service team gave him the runaround and refused to address his complaints to his satisfaction, he was incensed.

But in typically Canadian fashion, the songwriter decided to be the nice guy, shrug off his anger, and instead wrote a song about his experience.

As of Wednesday evening, that song, “United Breaks Guitars,” was the most popular music video on YouTube with about 169,000 views, and to his shock, his phone rang and rang and rang all day, with calls from across the continent.

One minute it was CBS asking him to play the network’s morning show, the next it was CNN, asking for details about his story so he could be featured on “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.”

What started off as a lark has turned into far more exposure than Carroll has ever had with his band Sons of Maxwell, the kind of publicity he could never afford to buy, he said in an interview.

“I’ve been at this for well over 15 years, slugging away at it and … this has been an incredible lift to our career and my career as a solo artist,” he said.

After months of badgering with United for some sort of compensation he gave up, and told the last company representative that he spoke with that he planned to write a trilogy of songs about his disappointing experience.

“The whole thing has been a challenge artistically and that’s what makes this so fun,” he said, and added that he’s no longer bitter or seeking any kind of compensation from United.

“I think not only does it resonate with people because it’s an airline song, which all people can relate to, but I think the fact it’s a light-hearted song and fun is something that everyone can appreciate, because not everyone – including myself – likes to hear angry, hateful songs all the time.”

“It’s nice to have a light-hearted chuckle at things.”

He posted the video late Monday night and went to bed with the view count at about half a dozen. The next day he emailed a few hundred fans, friends and family and within 24 hours, the hits started to grow exponentially, by about 20,000 per hour.

Carroll said United has attempted to call him a couple times since the song went viral online, but he never got to the phone. But someone who spoke with United on his behalf said the company was gracious in accepting the criticism.

“They seem encouraged, by all the bad publicity I guess, to change the way they do things and change the culture of customer complaints,” he said.

“I think they’re actually having a great attitude about the whole thing, they’re not coming across as angry or threatening or anything like that. And maybe this will be a love story at the end of the day,” he said, noting that while song two of his trilogy is already written, song three could be about a happy ending.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/capress/090708/entertainment/halifax_band_vs_united


HAPPY CANADA DAY!!!

July 1, 2009

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Now this girl is really showing off her Canadian pride and spirit!!!
– FlashAddict

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CanadaFlagGirl01


Feds lend Tesla $465 million to build electric car

June 24, 2009

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We could see full scale production models in showrooms by 2011…
– FlashAddict

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By Chuck Squatriglia

(WIRED) — The Obama Administration will lend Tesla Motors $465 million to build an electric sedan and the battery packs needed to propel it. It’s one of three loans totaling almost $8 billion that the Department of Energy awarded Tuesday to spur the development of fuel-efficient vehicles.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk behind the wheel of a Model S electric car in March.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk behind the wheel of a Model S electric car in March.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced that the Department of Energy is also lending $5.9 billion to Ford to retool factories in five states. Nissan will receive $1.6 billion to refurbish a factory in Tennessee to produce electric cars.

The loans are the first awarded under the $25 billion Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program to help automakers offset the cost of retooling to build eco-friendlier cars that are at least 25 percent more fuel-efficient than 2005 models.

“We have a historic opportunity to help ensure that the next generation of fuel-efficient cars and trucks are made in America,” the president said in a statement. “These loans — and the additional support we will provide through the Section 136 programs — will create good jobs and help the auto industry to meet and even exceed the tough fuel-economy standards we’ve set while helping retain our competitive edge in the world market.”

The Obama Administration announced last month that it is raising fuel-efficiency standards from the current average of 27.5 miles per gallon to 35 miles per gallon by 2016. Chu said the loans will help automakers achieve that goal.

“The American innovation machine, when it revs up, is the greatest in the world,” he said during a press conference at Ford’s headquarters in Detroit, according to the Detroit News. “Today, we’re putting that engine into gear.”

Tesla said its share of the pie will help get the Model S sedan (pictured) on the road by the end of 2011.

“We are honored to receive one of the first loan awards in this program,” company CEO Elon Musk said. “I’m confident we’ll put the money to very productive use. We look forward to producing the Model S.”

Tesla has long been counting on the loan to help it build the sedan it unveiled in March and had been in discussions with the agency for about nine months. It had sought $350 million to retool a factory to build the car and $100 million to manufacture battery packs and drivetrain components. Those packs and components will be used in vehicles built by Tesla and other automakers  most notably Daimler, which recently bought nearly 10 percent of Tesla to jump-start development of the Smart EV.

Musk said the money will be disbursed on a monthly basis. Repayment will commence within one year of the start of Model S production and the loan must be repaid by 2022.

“There are incentives for early repayment,” he said, without elaborating, “and I suspect we will have repaid the loan well before 2022.”

There’s still no word on where the factories will be located, but Musk said they most likely will be in California. An announcement could come as early as next month, he said. As for the Model S, Musk said it could share components with Mercedes sedans now that Daimler has a stake in Tesla.

“There’s a possibility the car will use a Mercedes-derived suspension and other components such as safety systems, crash structures, interior fit and finish,” he said. “There are a number of areas where Daimler can be quite helpful.”

Musk said Daimler’s investment in Tesla coupled with the federal loan and revenue from the Roadster leaves the company “in pretty good shape” financially. Tesla has gotten the cost of goods for the Roadster the materials and labor cost to build the car down to about $80,000 and the company expects to be profitable in July, he said. The company has delivered more than 500 Roadsters and received more than 1,200 refundable deposits at $5,000 apiece for the Model S.

Ford was the big winner, walking away with a promise of $5.9 billion in loans through 2011. The automaker says it will use the money to retool 11 factories in five states to build more-efficient gasoline engines and electric vehicles. It also will use the money to convert two truck factories to automobile production. Ford has said it will have an EV by 2011, and it plans to spend $14 billion on advanced technology during the next seven years. It expects to begin drawing on the government loan within 35 days.

“This is the kind of partnership that will help American manufacturing not just survive, but thrive,” company president Alan Mulally said after Chu announced the loans at Ford’s headquarters in Detroit, according to the Detroit Free Press. “Ford intends to be the fuel-economy leader.”

Nissan is charging ahead with plans to put an electric car in showrooms next year. Although the first cars will be built in Japan, Nissan says it will use the $1.6 billion loan to retool a factory in Smyrna, Tennessee, to take over production by 2012. Construction on the factory is slated to begin by the end of the year. Nissan says the factory will employ 1,300 people and build 50,000 to 100,000 cars at full production.

“This loan is an investment in America,” Dominique Thormann, a senior vice president at Nissan North America, said in a statement. “It will help us put high-quality, affordable zero-emissions vehicles on our roads. This project will expand our Smyrna plant, and that’s great economic news.”

Chu said the Obama Administration hopes to disburse the loans quickly.

More than 100 companies ranging from General Motors to Aptera Motors are seeking funding through the program. The government is expected to announce recipients for the remainder of the $25 billion program next year. The DOE did not disclose the terms of the loans.

http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/06/23/tesla.electric.cars/index.html


The Best of FAIL Blog

June 22, 2009

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For your viewing pleasure, I present to you the very BEST of the WORST of FAIL Blog…
– FlashAddict

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Will you take my temperature?

Will you take my temperature?

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This made me laugh for over 10 minutes last night…

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I want to party with this girl…

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I want this guy to be my best man when I get married…

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This guy got PWND…

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http://failblog.org/


Jury rules against Minn. mom in download case

June 18, 2009

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A mother is now facing financial ruin over 24 songs on Kazaa…
– FlashAddict

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Retrial with same verdict; she owes recording companies $1.92 million

MINNEAPOLIS – A replay of the nation’s only file-sharing case to go to trial has ended with the same result, finding a Minnesota woman to have violated music copyrights and ordering her to pay hefty damages to the recording industry.

A federal jury ruled Thursday that Jammie Thomas-Rasset willfully violated the copyrights on 24 songs, and awarded recording companies $1.92 million, or $80,000 per song.

Thomas-Rasset’s second trial actually turned out worse for her. When a different federal jury heard her case in 2007, it hit Thomas-Rasset with a $222,000 judgment.

The new trial was ordered after the judge in the case decided he had erred in giving jury instructions.

Thomas-Rasset sat glumly with her chin in hand as she heard the jury’s finding of willful infringement, which increased the potential penalty. She raised her eyebrows in surprise when the jury’s penalty of $80,000 per song was read.

Outside the courtroom, she was resigned.

“There’s no way they’re ever going to get that,” said Thomas-Rasset, a 32-year-old mother of four from the central Minnesota city of Brainerd. “I’m a mom, limited means, so I’m not going to worry about it now.”

Her attorney, Kiwi Camara, said he was surprised by the size of the judgment. He said it suggested that jurors didn’t believe Thomas-Rasset’s denials of illegal file-sharing, and that they were angry with her.

Camara said he and his client hadn’t decided whether to appeal or pursue the Recording Industry Association of America’s settlement overtures.

Cara Duckworth, a spokeswoman for the RIAA, said the industry remains willing to settle but she refused to name a figure.

In closing arguments earlier Thursday, attorneys for both sides disputed what the evidence showed.

An attorney for the recording industry, Tim Reynolds, said the “greater weight of the evidence” showed that Thomas-Rasset was responsible for the illegal file-sharing that took place on her computer. He urged jurors to hold her accountable to deter others from a practice he said has significantly harmed the people who bring music to everyone.

Defense attorney Joe Sibley said the music companies failed to prove allegations that Thomas-Rasset gave away songs by Gloria Estefan, Sheryl Crow, Green Day, Journey and others.

“Only Jammie Thomas’s computer was linked to illegal file-sharing on Kazaa,” Sibley said. “They couldn’t put a face behind the computer.”

Sibley urged jurors not to ruin Thomas-Rasset’s life with a debt she could never pay. Under federal law, the jury could have awarded up to $150,000 per song.

U.S. District Judge Michael Davis, who heard the first lawsuit in 2007, ordered up a new trial after deciding he had erred in instructions to jurors.

For the retrial, Davis instructed the jurors that in order to find Thomas-Rasset infringed any copyrights, they had to determine that someone actually downloaded the songs. He said distribution needed to occur, though he didn’t explicitly define distribution. Before, Davis said simply making the songs available on the Kazaa file-sharing network was enough.

This case was the only one of more than 30,000 similar lawsuits to make it all the way to trial. The vast majority of people targeted by the music industry had settled for about $3,500 each. The recording industry has said it stopped filing such lawsuits last August and is instead now working with Internet service providers to fight the worst offenders.

In testimony this week, Thomas-Rasset denied she shared any songs. On Wednesday, the self-described “huge music fan” raised the possibility for the first time in the long-running case that her children or ex-husband might have done it. The defense did not provide any evidence, though, that any of them had shared the files.

The recording companies accused Thomas-Rasset of offering 1,700 songs on Kazaa as of February 2005, before the company became a legal music subscription service following a settlement with entertainment companies. For simplicity’s sake the music industry tried to prove only 24 infringements.

Reynolds argued Thursday that the evidence clearly pointed to Thomas-Rasset as the person who made the songs available on Kazaa under the screen name “tereastarr.” It’s the same nickname she acknowledged having used for years for her e-mail and several other computer accounts, including her MySpace page.

Reynolds said the copyright security company MediaSentry traced the files offered by “tereastarr” on Kazaa to Thomas-Rasset’s Internet Protocol address — the online equivalent of a street address — and to her modem.

He said MediaSentry downloaded a sample of them from the shared directory on her computer. That’s an important point, given Davis’ new instructions to jurors.

Although the plaintiffs weren’t able to prove that anyone but MediaSentry downloaded songs off her computer because Kazaa kept no such records, Reynolds told the jury it’s only logical that many users had downloaded songs offered through her computer because that’s what Kazaa was there for.

Sibley argued it would have made no sense for Thomas-Rasset to use the name “tereastarr” to do anything illegal, given that she had used it widely for several years.

He also portrayed the defendant as one of the few people brave enough to stand up to the recording industry, and he warned jurors that they could also find themselves accused on the basis of weak evidence if their computers are ever linked to illegal file-sharing.

“They are going to come at you like they came at ’tereastarr,”’ he said.

Steve Marks, executive vice president and general counsel of the Recording Industry Association of America, estimated earlier this week that only a few hundred of the lawsuits remain unresolved and that fewer than 10 defendants were actively fighting them.

The companies that sued Thomas-Rasset are subsidiaries of all four major recording companies, Warner Music Group Corp., Vivendi SA’s Universal Music Group, EMI Group PLC and Sony Corp.’s Sony Music Entertainment.

The recording industry has blamed online piracy for declines in music sales, although other factors include the rise of legal music sales online, which emphasize buying individual tracks rather than full albums.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31432024/ns/business-local_business/


Train vs Cow

June 10, 2009

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Quite possibly the funniest video I have ever seen.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you, “Train vs Cow”
– FlashAddict

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