Republicans prepare to sabotage flood insurance program

Republicans want no coverage for events like this boat blown ashore

Draft legislation to overhaul the U.S. National Flood Insurance Program will be unveiled next week, said the Republican chairman of a congressional insurance oversight panel…

Representative Judy Biggert told Reuters…”We want to make sure we can find some way that taxpayers aren’t going to be on the line for a lot of money, which of course has been the case,” Biggert said. “We’ve got a draft. We’re working on it. We’ll be bringing it up” on March 11.

The draft excludes wind damage coverage — a point of contention that wrecked the last overhaul effort in 2009…

Big insurers with a stake in the NFIP debate include Allstate, Travelers, Hartford Financial Services Group and Fidelity National Financial.

Insurance companied had to pay off to a certain extent for Katrina. Even those who had to be dragged kicking and screaming to court. Republicans don’t want that to happen again.

Standard homeowners’ insurance does not cover flooding.

This coverage must be purchased through the NFIP, which is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency…

Biggert said her draft does not yet have a firm strategy for dealing with the NFIP’s debt.

Apparently she hasn’t yet received appropriate guidance from Allstate, Travelers, Hartford Financial Services Group and Fidelity National Financial.

How many criminals work in nursing homes in your state?

More than 90 percent of nursing homes employ one or more people who have been convicted of at least one crime, federal investigators said in a new report…

The report was issued by Daniel R. Levinson, inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, who obtained the names of more than 35,000 nursing home employees and then checked with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to see if they had criminal records…

The inspector general said that no federal law or regulation specifically required nursing homes to check federal or state criminal history records for prospective employees. Ten states require a check of F.B.I. and state records, Mr. Levinson said, while 33 require a check of state records, and the remainder do not have explicit requirements.

Given the patchwork of requirements, people convicted of crimes in one state have been able to obtain jobs at nursing homes in other states. Moreover, Mr. Levinson said, “Some states allow individual nursing facilities to make decisions regarding the employability of individuals with criminal convictions, while others rely on a state agency…”

Federal rules say that nursing homes must not employ people who have been found guilty of abusing, neglecting or mistreating patients. But F.B.I. records do not always indicate if the victim was a nursing home resident…

“Even some of the better nursing homes have problems with theft, rampant theft of residents’ clothing and personal possessions, including jewelry,” Dr. Harrington said. “People convicted of crimes are often left alone with nursing home residents because the supervision of care is, in many homes, very inadequate.”

The new health care law offers $160 million to states to improve criminal background checks on prospective employees at nursing homes and other providers of long-term care.

Yup. Let’s fork over more money to states to continue the wonderful job they’ve been doing.

States Rights are a delightful 2-way street. When federal programs invest taxpayer funds mandated for a better, safer life for all, states battle for the money – and may even succeed at a half-competent job.

But, when the other side of the coin involves responsibility to citizens, especially those with limited means – no one is faster than a governor or a member of a state legislature to abdicate responsibility. But, hey – it’s just your mom or dad, eh?

“Missing” girl was in hiding to avoid Pakistani arranged marriage

A 13-year-old Hesperia [California] girl and three siblings are in protective custody after authorities discovered the girl holed up at a motel to avoid being taken to Pakistan for an arranged marriage.

San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department officials said detectives found Jessie Marie Bender safe and in good condition in an Apple Valley motel, where she was being hidden by another family member.

Bender’s mother had told detectives that her daughter did not want to go on a two-month family trip to Pakistan and ran away. She later told police her daughter may have been abducted by someone she had been corresponding with on Facebook, triggering a massive search for the teenager that included local law enforcement, the FBI, agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the U.S.Marshals Service and detectives from the Los Angeles and Chicago police departments.

After combing through cellphone records and computer data and interviewing her friends and families, however, sheriff’s detectives found no evidence that her disappearance was related to her correspondence on Facebook and that the family’s initial reports were false.

…. “It was revealed that a member of the Bender family concealed Jess in the town of Apple Valley out of fear that she would be taken to Pakistan for an arranged marriage.”

Let’s hear it for separation of state from church. One more time.

The fight to modernize civil rights is different in every country. Here in the GOUSA folks still haven’t gotten past the ignorance stage when it comes to equal civil rights for marriage.

In Pakistan – and more than a couple of other lands – children and young people haven’t the right to choose who they marry. Trying to enforce those customs in the United States is not acceptable, forbidden by our Constitution.

A pleasure to see a safe beginning to a modern ending to this story.

Corporations get cozy with charities like Jindal Foundation

“I hope you remembered the checkbook”

Louisiana’s biggest corporate players, many with long agendas before the state government, are restricted in making campaign contributions to Gov. Bobby Jindal. But they can give whatever they like to the foundation set up by his wife months after he took office…

Marathon Oil, which last year won approval from the Jindal administration to increase the amount of oil it can refine at its Louisiana plant, also committed to a $250,000 donation. And the military contractor Northrop Grumman, which got state officials to help set up an airplane maintenance facility at a former Air Force base, promised $10,000 to the charity.

The foundation has collected nearly $1 million in previously unreported pledges from major oil companies, insurers and other corporations in Louisiana with high-stakes regulatory issues, according to a review by The New York Times.

It is among the newest of charities set up by elected officials, including members of Congress, or their families that are mutually beneficial: companies seeking to influence politicians or curry favor can donate unrestricted amounts of money, while the officials benefit from the good will associated with charitable work financed by businesses…

Ethics watchdog groups say the contributions are no accident

NSS. You don’t need an ethics advisor to point out the inherent corruption in politically-connected charity work.

Alexandra Bautsch, the governor’s top political fund-raiser, is listed as the charity’s treasurer. Ms. Bautsch has continued to be paid by Mr. Jindal’s campaign — $112,500 last year. But none of the officers, including Mrs. Jindal, were paid for their work.

In recent years, foundations linked to more than a dozen members of Congress have routinely accepted donations from businesses seeking to influence them. In some instances, the lawmakers have intervened with federal agencies or taken up legislation on donors’ behalf…

“Foundations tied to politicians see their donations dry up when the politician is no longer in power,” Ms. Sloan said. “That demonstrates the real reason the charities get the donations is their political position, not because of the good works they do.”

Corrupt and deceitful practices continue to be the foundation of American politics. Mail me a penny postcard when Congress or some state legislature actually does something more than quote scripture over the problem.

Montreal bank handed over $1.9 million in gold – for a bad check

Toronto police are appealing to the public to help them find $1.9 million in distinctive gold bars they say were “fraudulently obtained…”

A “fraudulently obtained” bank draft in the amount of $1,895,751 was used to purchase the bars, police said.

The purchase included 75 gold bars, weighing 10 ounces each, that were manufactured by the Perth Mint in Australia.

Investigators allege Senthuran Kanapathipillai, 32, of Toronto, had one of the gold bars and was charged with possession of property obtained by crime. Police say Thevarajah Thambipillai, 55, of Toronto, tried to sell one of the bars and was charged with possession of property obtained by crime…

The bars bear the symbol of the Perth Mint on one side and kangaroos imprinted on the back, police said.

The Canadian Bankers Association is offering a $50,000 reward for anyone who can provide information that leads to the recovery of the bars, and the arrest and conviction of anyone involved.

That’s a serious screwup. So, uh, which bank in Montreal is the pushover, eh?

Pizza maker charged with using mice against competition

The owner of a suburban Philadelphia pizza shop has been arraigned on charges he schemed to plant live mice in competing pizza parlors in hope of putting them out of business.

Nickolas Galiatsatos, owner of Nina’s Bella Pizzeria in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, is accused of putting bags of mice at nearby competitors on Monday afternoon, according to Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood.

The owner of Verona Pizza watched Galiatsatos go into his restroom carrying a bag but emerge empty-handed, and alerted two patrol officers who were in the restaurant, Chitwood said.

The officers found a bag of mice and footprints on a toilet seat, suggesting someone had been trying to reach the ceiling tiles, he said.

The officers then found Galiatsatos near another pizza place, Uncle Nick’s, where he was seen putting something in a trash can. There, police found a bag containing five mice, Chitwood said.

This guy planted them to put these guys out of business,” Chitwood said. “I’ve been at this for 47 years, and I’ve never seen mice used as a criminal tool…”

He faces misdemeanor charges of cruelty to animals, criminal mischief, harassment and disorderly conduct.

I think he should be visited by Mighty Mouse and thoroughly nose-wriggled at.