Republicans pushing GE to ship $10 billion in work overseas

General Electric Co is taking steps to shift some U.S. manufacturing work overseas now that the U.S. Export-Import Bank will be shuttered at least until September…

GE Vice Chairman John Rice said the conglomerate is bidding on over $10 billion worth of projects that require support from an export credit agency (ECA) like Ex-Im.

With Ex-Im unable to extend new loans or guarantees thanks to an effort by congressional Republicans to shut it down, GE is arranging with ECAs in other countries to finance the deals involved, with much of the production going to GE plants in those foreign locations. The prospective government partners include Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, China and Hungary, he said…

Ex-Im has been unable to consider any new financing requests since Congress allowed the bank’s charter to expire on June 30.

Rice’s comments come as the U.S. Congress starts a five-week summer recess with no clear path to revive Ex-Im in the months ahead. A group of conservative Republicans, who say the 81-year-old trade bank is a nest of “crony capitalism” that doles out government welfare to GE, Boeing Co and other wealthy corporations, want to keep it closed for good…

Rice, who is based in Hong Kong, said GE is not moving to shift work and jobs overseas “just to make a point” to Congress, but to win contracts that require export credit agency support. “We’re doing this because if we don’t, we can’t submit a valid tender,” he said.

In one such power-sector bid, for example, GE would do final assembly work on its aero-derivative gas turbine power generation units at GE plants in Hungary or China instead of a factory in Houston. It already has capacity in place, and export credit agencies willing to support the work, he said.

“Next year, if we win this bid, work that would have been in Houston will be someplace else,” Rice said.

In practice, shutting down the Ex-Im Bank handicaps small-biz as much or more than any other. Such questions devolve from commercial regulations and cause problems just like this one.

I expect Tea Party idjits will ignore the result they cause as often as ever. And if we’re really lucky, Luddites who panic over commerce taking place in a real world which now stretches well beyond the boundaries of the industrial landscape pre-World War 2 will join their peers on the Right.

After more than a half-century of political activism on behalf of the working class I was born into I’m still frustrated by sectarians who can turn an ordinary question of guaranteeing a loan – into religious fears over the purity of their bodily fluids.

Do you risk Mad Cow Disease – from cutting the grass?

Grass plants can bind, uptake and transport infectious prions, according to researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). The research was published online in the latest issue of Cell Reports.

Prions are the protein-based infectious agents responsible for a group of diseases called transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, which includes bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease) in cattle, scrapie in sheep, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans and chronic wasting disease (CWD) in deer, elk and moose. All are fatal brain diseases with incubation periods that last years.

CWD, first diagnosed in mule deer in Colorado in the late 1960s, has spread across the country into 22 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including the counties of El Paso and Hudspeth in Texas. In northeastern Colorado and southeastern Wyoming, the disease is endemic. Soto’s team sought to find out why…

There is no proof of transmission from wild animals and plants to humans,” said lead author Claudio Soto, Ph.D., professor of neurology at UTHealth Medical School and director of the UTHealth George and Cynthia W. Mitchell Center for Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Brain Related Illnesses. “But it’s a possibility that needs to be explored and people need to be aware of it. Prions have a long incubation period.”

RTFA. It’s a serious study and should be treated as such.

OTOH, any excuse to get out of cutting the grass is OK with me.

The scary truth about sugar

At risk of being the Grinch who stole Halloween, perhaps we should rethink a holiday built around candy.

Even without that annual fix, we’re already sugar junkies. Each week we gulp or eat nearly three pounds of the white powder — up 43 percent from two pounds weekly in 1959, reports the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

And pound by pound, we’re killing ourselves. The resulting obesity leads to diabetes, heart disease, inactivity and possibly dementia…

“Thanks to obesity, our kids are expected to have shorter life spans than their parents,” says Shreela Sharma, Ph.D…associate professor of epidemiology at UTHealth School of Public Health…“We’re in a health crisis.”

Even though this report is a half-year-old, the word just seems to be getting round to mainstream media. After finally hearing quotes almost every day in the last couple of weeks, I figured it was time to put it up at my personal site.

Break it down and the average American mainlines 32 teaspoons of added sweeteners daily. That’s more than three times the American Heart Association’s suggested levels of nine teaspoons or 150 calories for men, five times the six teaspoons or 100 calories for women and 10 times the three teaspoons or 50 calories for children.

Worst offenders are teens, with about 34 teaspoons of the sweet stuff daily, says a recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Stats grow more atrocious for precocious youths. “A child by age 5 has eaten more sugar than their parents did by age 18,” Sharma says. “Before every lunch, they’ve already had more sugar than you need in an entire day, from cereals, sodas, juices, granola bars and yogurt…”

Continue reading

Firefighter helps trucker put out fire – with the truck’s cargo

Will this become standard equipment?

When a Houston firefighter came across an 18-wheeler with smoke pouring out of it on Texas 71, he didn’t have any water with him because it was his day off…He got creative.

During a trip back from Austin with his wife, Capt. Craig Moreau was able to assist a truck driver putting out a brake fire on his vehicle by using the truck’s cargo — Coors Banquet beer.

“The brakes had caught and the tire was burning,” said Moreau. “I crawled underneath and thought we’d got it out but it flared back up. So I said to the driver, ‘what have you got in here?'”…

It’s beer! It’s all beer,” the driver said.

“Thankfully they were tall-boys,” Moreau said. “I couldn’t help but laugh at the irony of it all, he was so shaken up that the humor escaped him.”

All three people at the scene started shaking and spraying and cans of beer on the blaze and it was eventually extinguished.

“I have no doubt if the beer hadn’t been there, the whole trailer would have burned up,” Moreau said. “A few more minutes down the road and it may not have worked. It’s in our nature to help folks, but this is the first time I’ve done it with beer.”

Poisonally, I think this is about the best thing you can do with Coors Beer.

Take the Bud Light 18-pack out of the fridge – reach in and grab – a dead snake!!!

A Houston man said he was shocked to find a dead snake coiled around a bottle in a case of beer but his friends found the discovery “entertaining.”

Marcus Forson said he opened an 18-pack of Bud Light last week and immediately noticed the expired reptile wrapped around a bottle…

“When I first opened the box, his head was like this and his head was in between my fingers, and I didn’t know what it was at first,” Forson said. “Then I realized now what it was.”

Forson said he initially thought the snake might be a rubber fake placed in the case as a prank, but he knew it was real when he caught a whiff of its odor.

There’s no way I was going to drink the beer. It stunk bad,” Forson said. “The snake was dead. The snake was ice cold. It’s kind of shrunk up and the eyes are missing out of it…”

“Luckily, it didn’t come out of the box and bite anybody,” he said. “But it was dead, so we basically — it was entertaining. We had a good time.”

Forson said the makers of Bud Light have agreed to send him a refund.

They’d have to send me fresh underwear for a month. Woo-hoo!

Fans, employees wig out at stadium to set record

Congratulations are in order for the Los Angeles Angels organization and the fans who attended Saturday night’s 2-0 loss to the Houston Astros. And no, we’re not congratulating them for losing to Houston two nights in a row (or the fans for sitting through it) but that is pretty darn impressive in and of itself.

Actually, we’re congratulating them for achieving their goal to set a new Guinness World Record for ‘most people wearing wigs.‘ In total, 32,682 people were counted wearing the red and white wigs handed out prior to the game for the designated ten minutes. That was more than enough to shatter the previous mark of 12,083 which had been set by an Australian rugby team.

Amazing isn’t it – what goals satisfy some folks?

17 years in prison for kidnap and rape he didn’t commit – WTF?

George Rodriguez – and Annise Parker, apologizing for the wrong committed in the name of Houston

Houston — Tears flowed freely at City Hall on Friday as an innocent man who spent years behind bars for a crime he did not commit settled his grudge with the city.

“I just want to get on with my life, go on living, you know,” said George Rodriguez. “Try to do whatever I can for my family.”

There is no question George Rodriguez was wrongly put behind bars for a rape and kidnapping, now with 17 years of his life gone. On Friday he and the city came to an agreement on how to right a wrong that was made so long ago.

Surrounded by his family, Houston Mayor Annise Parker and other officials, Rodriguez tentatively stepped into the spotlight and spoke from his heart.

It’s kind of hard, really, you know, because I’ve been through a whole lot. Seventeen years,” he said…

Rodriguez spent 17 and a half years behind bars for a rape and kidnapping he didn’t commit. He was convicted in 1987, because of faulty evidence at HPD’s then troubled crime lab. On Friday Rodriguez reached a $3 million settlement with the city and received an apology…

The Rodriguez case was just one example of the many problems that plagued the crime lab for years. Changes in the past few years have greatly improved the lab and the city is developing an independent lab so what happened to Rodriguez won’t happen to others.

Rodriguez is also due some compensation from the state of Texas. His attorney says he plans to apply for that soon.

If Rick Perry. the compassionate conservative governor of Texas had half the conscience he says he has – he’d be sitting on George Rodriguez’ doorstep with a check in his hand.

Instead – like the beancounter lawyers in charge of sorting the case for the city of Houston – he’ll probably work hardest at negotiating the price of compensation down.

Poisonally, in addition to the cash penalty for wrongful imprisonment, I’d like to see the officials responsible for this injustice serve equivalent time in the same wonderful Texas prison system.

Thanks, Eric.

91 medical “professionals” arrested in $430 million Medicare fraud

Ninety-one people including doctors, nurses and other medical professionals were charged criminally in a new sweep of Medicare fraud involving seven U.S. cities and $430 million in alleged false billing…

It was the government’s second big raid in recent months after a similar effort in May alleged $452 million in fraud in Medicare, the U.S. health program for the elderly and disabled.

The allegations include billing the government for unnecessary ambulance rides in California, writing prescriptions for patients in Dallas who did not qualify for them and paying kickbacks such as food and cigarettes to patients in Houston if they attended programs a hospital could later bill for.

The investigation is part of an effort by President Barack Obama’s administration to find healthcare savings, an issue that also flared during Wednesday’s debate between Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney…

Indictments against the 91 defendants were unsealed on Thursday after a coordinated investigation led by the U.S. departments of Justice and of Health and Human Services, officials said. Most of the 91 surrendered or were arrested.

Those charged were relatively small-time operators who officials said tried to make a living defrauding Medicare and its sibling program, Medicaid, which insures the poor.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said at a news conference that the sweep should “send a clear message to those perpetrating or contemplating Medicare and Medicaid fraud: It’s time to start looking for another line of work…”

RTFA for details of the range of thievery and fraud these medical “professionals” were involved in. They think Medicare and Medicaid are their own private money-printing machine.

The stiffs who sit on the Director’s Board of places like Riverside Hospital in Houston should be indicted, as well, IMHO. They have a responsibility as board members to assure honesty and fair charges to patients. Instead, they’re defending the hospital president, Earnest Gibson – and will probably pick up the tab for his case. They demean the history of this institution.

Put ’em all in the same cell with one roll of toilet paper and throw away the key.

Be careful how you treat the guy who drives the bulldozer!

An apparent disgruntled worker has been blamed for driving a bulldozer into a Houston auction house and causing $1.5 million in damage.

Officials with Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers are not sure why 52-year-old Lynn Benson of Houston was upset. The lot inspector operates the bulldozer as part of his regular duties.

Nobody was hurt Monday night after the auction business closed for the day and Benson allegedly went on his destructive spree. The building was heavily damaged, including a broken water main and destroyed office equipment.

Benson was being jailed Wednesday on a charge of criminal mischief

Operations vice president Frank Wilson says company officials want to help Benson, who was arrested at the scene.

I’d want to help him, too. He might get pissed-off, again!

Scofflaw pays off 58-year-old parking ticket

A debt is a debt. Even if it comes in the form of a 58-year-old parking ticket with a $1 fine.

That’s what 79-year-old Dale Crawford thought when a ticket issued on Feb. 3, 1953, made repeated appearances in his home in recent years.

“It kept popping up every couple of years, and a couple weeks ago I went in the drawer and there it was,” Crawford said. “And I said, ‘I’m going to contact the city.'”

The ticket was issued on the day Crawford was inducted into the Army after being drafted. He had driven his 1946 Nash to the induction center at 1200 Milam, where he left the car for his father to pick up after he reported for duty. Crawford didn’t see the ticket until he found a box of keepsakes after his mother died in 1995, he said.

He sent a letter to the mayor’s office about his outstanding fine and said he wanted to pay it off. Mayor Annise Parker commended Crawford at a news conference Wednesday where he handed over his payment. She praised him as an example for others to follow…

Parker was so impressed with Crawford that she waived all penalties and interest that could have added “some zeroes” to his debt, she said.

Good for you, dude. Cripes – imagine what the interest would have been if Houston decided to bag him!