Vandals trim unkempt bush in park into shape – the wrong shape says the Mayor

City staff says vandals are responsible for trimming a shrub to look like a phallic symbol on the waterfront.

Workers on Wednesday moved quickly to fix the three-metre tall shrub…A photo of the shrub was first posted on an online blog sometime Wednesday.

The city made changes after CBC News brought it to the city’s attention.

Cathy Masterson, the manager of cultural affairs, said the city was unaware of the situation until CBC News emailed her a photo…

Mayor Eddie Francis was not happy when CBC News informed him of the prank.

Staff trimmed the bush into what Masterson called a “more traditional shrub shape.”…Workers cut the shrub back to its trunk in some parts.


The truth about the deficit

This is reblogged from The Big Picture, Barry Ritzholtz’s blog

…If you are truly concerned about deficit, then what you must do is (eventually) raise taxes and cut spending — that is how you balance the budget.

Current deficit is now ~$550B, down from over $1T. Ian Shepherdson, the chief economist of Pantheon Macroeconomics, wrote “We are baffled by the idea that the pace of deficit reduction needs to be increased, given how rapidly the picture is improving already.”

If the tax cuts from 2001, 2003 were repealed, half of that deficit goes away.

If the FICA cap is lifted from $113k and allowed to rise to $250k or $500k, SS is solvent for 75 years…

Want to fix the deficit? Then make the hard choices to cut spending and raise taxes (even if you implement this in later years).

Sitting here in a family with at least one Recovering Republican who left that benighted party after 50 years of loyalty – it’s a treat to read my favorite RR, Barry Ritholtz. He’s one of the few financial analysts who actually understands how social security functions as an insurance program. There is nothing about SSA that contributes to debt or deficit. It is well enough self-funded that the creeps in Congress steal from it as often as they can get away with it.

The most recent survey that the NY TIMES did resulted in 76% of respondents in favor of eliminating the existing cap – which is around an income of $113K/year. Doing so would guarantee solvency well into the next century. You can’t do much better than that.

Gunshots land kids in the ER with the most serious injuries – 21% of deaths from serious injury

Guns are a leading cause of death among U.S. children, and the number of kids getting killed by bullets has been on the rise over the past three decades. But the toll that gun violence takes on kids’ health goes far beyond those high fatality rates, according to a new study. Even when children survive being shot, bullet wounds tend to cause the most serious types of injuries on their bodies, requiring complicated and costly types of surgery.

Researchers analyzed hospital data collected over the course of three years in several urban areas. They found that gunshot wounds contributed to the highest proportion of serious injuries (23 percent), major surgeries (32 percent), and deaths in hospitals (8 percent). Altogether, gunshot wounds were associated with 21 percent of all deaths among kids who landed in the ER after sustaining a serious injury.

And because the wounds caused by bullets are more likely to require specialized treatment, the emergency care for kids’ gunshot wounds typically costs more than $28,500 — much higher than the costs associated with any other type of injury. Injuries resulting from car accidents were the next most expensive, averaging a little more than $15,500…

“If we focus on just fatalities, we’re only looking at the tip of the iceberg,” Craig Newgard, who directs the Center for Policy and Research in Emergency Medicine…explained to USA Today. “In every metric that we looked at, the front-runner far and away for worst outcome and greatest impact was gunshot-related injuries.”

Last year’s mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, which killed nearly two dozen kindergartners, brought the issue of gun violence and children back to the forefront. But policy solutions to the problem have faltered, and thousands of Americans have gone on to be killed by guns since the Sandy Hook tragedy. Very young children are often accidentally shot by other children with firearms kept in their homes.

Medical advances have ensured that fewer Americans are dying from bullet wounds. But, since gun violence has actually been on the rise, that means more people are surviving after receiving treatment for serious gun-related injuries. According to research from the Centers for Disease Control, treating wounds resulting from gun injuries costs Americans an estimated $5.6 billion in medical bills each year.

Part of the core problem with American gun nuts is that the cost of killing our kids, the cost of keeping them alive but not really living anymore – doesn’t mean a damned thing. Income isn’t so much a decider as ideology. If you’re filled with enough dementia and fear, simple economics, humanist ethics are irrelevant.

BTW, guns are not part of a foreign culture to me. From one family member classed among the best military prototype gunsmiths in the nation, trap-shooting at the old Remington gun club, a friend who did [appropriate] time for manufacturing illegal machine guns – to decades of hunting, I’ve experienced an amazing range of legal and illegal gun culture. None of it was as lost and demented as what passes for today’s NRA and the gun nuts who support their extremely profitable religion.

Judge explains to man he’s still legally dead

A man who disappeared decades ago is finding out there’s no easy way to come back from the dead.

Donald Miller Jr. went to court this week to ask a county judge to reverse a 1994 ruling that declared him legally dead after he had vanished from his home eight years earlier. But the judge turned down his request, citing a three-year time limit for changing a death ruling.

Hancock County Probate Court Judge Allan Davis called it a “strange, strange situation…We’ve got the obvious here. A man sitting in the courtroom, he appears to be in good health,” said Davis, who told Miller the three-year limit was clear.

“I don’t know where that leaves you, but you’re still deceased as far as the law is concerned,” the judge said.

Miller resurfaced about eight years ago and went to court so that he could get a driver’s license and reinstate his Social Security number.

His ex-wife had opposed the move, saying she doesn’t have the money to repay the Social Security benefits that were paid out to her and the couple’s two children after Miller was declared dead.

Robin Miller said her former husband vanished because he owed big child support payments and that the overdue payments had totaled $26,000 by 1994, The (Findlay) Courier reported…

His parents told him about his “death” when he came back to the state, he said.

It kind of went further than I ever expected it to,” Miller said.

Yes, we are a nation of laws – not of men and women, not of justice.