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  • We took a lot of heat for using Stephen Hawking as an example of someone who'd suffer under a socialized health system. But a closer look at the treatment he got in the U.K. shows it wasn't all roses.

    Do we have to say more? The sorry reality is that a socialized program with no accountability and no competition is inferior to a free private system that must put its clients first — or go out of business.

  • Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, a medical doctor who served as governor of Vermont, said at a town hall meeting on Tuesday night that Democrats in Congress did not include tort reform in the health care bill because they were fearful of “taking on” the trial lawyers.

    “This is the answer from a doctor and a politician,” said Dean. “Here is why tort reform is not in the bill. When you go to pass a really enormous bill like that the more stuff you put in, the more enemies you make, right? And the reason why tort reform is not in the bill is because the people who wrote it did not want to take on the trial lawyers in addition to everybody else they were taking on, and that is the plain and simple truth. Now, that’s the truth.”

  • Former Massachusetts GOP Gov. Mitt Romney will not seek the Senate seat vacated by Ted Kennedy’s death, a Romney spokesman said Thursday.

    Responding to speculation that Romney may be interested in the seat — which he challenged Kennedy for in 1994 — Eric Fehrnstrom, a spokesman for Romney’s political action committee, told POLITICO that the former one-term governor has no interest in campaigning to replace Kennedy.

    “Gov. Romney’s focus right now is on helping other Republicans run for office, and that is how he will be spending his time,” he said.

    Romney’s name had been floated in state political circles and among conservative bloggers as a viable GOP candidate, but Fehrnstrom said Romney absolutely will not run.

    (tags: Mitt_Romney)
  • Russia has deployed a missile defence system near its border with North Korea and is studying other measures to protect its population from stray missiles, Russia's top general said on Wednesday.

    Russia shares a small border with North Korea in the Far East and its main Pacific port of Vladivostok, with a population of 600,000, lies only 150 km (95 miles) from North Korea.

    A series of missile launches and a nuclear weapon test by North Korea this year alarmed its neighbours, including South Korea, China and Japan.

  • Republican State Senator Abel Maldonado has some tough words for his own party these days — he calls it "suicidal" for the California GOP to even consider its current proposal to bar decline-to-state voters — now 1 in 5 here — from casting a vote in state primary elections.
    We reported the proposal last week, which has the support of some GOP leaders like publisher and SoCal state party chair Jon Fleischman and CA GOP vice chair Tom Del Beccaro, publisher. Both say it will strengthen the two party system, while encouraging voters to register with the GOP.

    But some GOP insiders have already predicted a "bloody" battle is likely to ensue over this proposal when it is take up by delegates to the state GOP convention in Indian Wells next month.
    Uh No!

    Register GOP and then vote GOP.

  • The state Supreme Court today rejected, without comment, a lawsuit filed by Charles Young, former chancellor of UCLA, challenging the constitutional requirement that new taxes obtain a two-thirds legislative vote.

    The suit, filed by Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP on behalf of Young, now director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, alleged that the two-thirds vote, enacted as part of Proposition 13 in 1978, was a revision of the constitution and could not be inserted into the constitution via initiative.

    However, it apparently ran afoul of the Supreme Court's previous decision that rejected that contention. Young's petition for a writ of mandate was denied with a curt "petition dismissed" order filed today.

    The constitution allows amendments to be made by initiative petition but allows revisions

  • One of the problems with any proposed law that's over 1,000 pages long and constantly changing is that much deviltry can lie in the details. Take the Democrats' proposal to rewrite health care policy, better known as H.R. 3200 or by opponents as "Obamacare." (Here's our CBS News television coverage.)

    Section 431(a) of the bill says that the IRS must divulge taxpayer identity information, including the filing status, the modified adjusted gross income, the number of dependents, and "other information as is prescribed by" regulation. That information will be provided to the new Health Choices Commissioner and state health programs and used to determine who qualifies for "affordability credits."

    Section 245(b)(2)(A) says the IRS must divulge tax return details — there's no specified limit on what's available or unavailable — to the Health Choices Commissioner. The purpose, again, is to verify "affordability credits."

    (tags: Obamacare IRS)
  • Does Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger have a deal for you.

    His plans to cut up the state's credit cards didn't go so well, and voters gave the thumbs-down to his bid to shackle government spending. No matter. In his latest effort to balance the budget, the governor is cleaning out the state's storage sheds and holding a garage sale on Craigslist and EBay.

    Need a 2001 Ford Focus wagon with 110,059 miles and Schwarzenegger's autograph on the visor? Someone did, offering the high bid of $1,625.01 for the old state car as of Tuesday afternoon. The governor got the idea to sign the visors from one of nearly 1 million people who follow him on Twitter, and he jumped on it.

  • The Tax Court yesterday rejected a taxpayer's attempt to use the TurboTax defense successfully employed by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Hopson v. Commissioner, T.C. Summ. Op. 2009-130 (Aug. 25, 2009) (citations omitted):

    Petitioners have not met their burden of persuasion with respect to reasonable cause and good faith. Mr. Hopson admitted that he received both Forms 1099-R for the distributions and that he knew they constituted income. After using tax return preparation software for nearly 20 years, he simply filed the return that was generated by the software without reviewing it. The omission of the distributions resulted in the failure to report over 40 percent of petitioners’ total income for the year. Granted this was a one-time event, but petitioners nevertheless had a duty to review their return to ensure that all income items were included. Petitioners were not permitted to bury their heads in the sand and ignore their obligation to ensure that their tax return

  • One million NHS patients have been the victims of appalling care in hospitals across Britain, according to a major report released today.
    In the last six years, the Patients Association claims hundreds of thousands have suffered from poor standards of nursing, often with 'neglectful, demeaning, painful and sometimes downright cruel' treatment.
    The charity has disclosed a horrifying catalogue of elderly people left in pain, in soiled bed clothes, denied adequate food and drink, and suffering from repeatedly cancelled operations, missed diagnoses and dismissive staff.

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