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Who’s Paying for Gabrielle Giffords’ Rehabilitation? [The Pump Handle]

It's wonderful to hear what substantial progress US Representative Gabrielle Giffords has made in recovering from the traumatic brain injury she sustained from being shot in the head in January. As the Associated Press reported this morning, Giffords has spent the past five months in a rehabilitation facility and has regained some of her speaking ability. Now she'll move to the suburban Houston home of her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, and continue daily intensive therapy on an outpatient basis. While at home, she'll have round-the-clock help from a home care assistant.

On hearing about the 24-hour-assistance Giffords will receive, Celeste and I both had the same questions: Is her insurance paying for this? It turns out that Representative Giffords' office has addressed this question - while noting that many other traumatic brain injury patients wouldn't get the same extensive rehabilitative services.

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Also check out the featured ScienceBlog of the week: Inside the Outbreaks on the ScienceBlogs Book Club


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Speaker Perez Reacts to the Veto

Well, the Speaker isn't very pleased:



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2012 plug-in Prius to include selectable EV mode, full battery regeneration


We already know to expect Toyota's Entune infotainment system in the dash of the 2012 Prius V, but the hybrid's monster EV batteries will be powering much more than a touchscreen and apps. According to ConsumerSearch, next year's plug-in vehicle will include two new features aimed at improving the car's electric-only range for local driving, especially when your commute also includes a trip down the freeway. The first improvement comes in the form of an EV mode button, allowing you to turn off EV for highway driving, which tends to drain those batts faster than a Thunderbolt in Hotspot mode. The V will also offer full battery regeneration, so power-off activities like braking and driving downhill will restore the hybrid's EV-only range -- especially helpful if you live in a hilly area or tend to make frequent stops. Both new features should have a fairly significant impact on efficiency, so you'll soon be able to drive further in the city without tapping a single drop of crude.

2012 plug-in Prius to include selectable EV mode, full battery regeneration originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 16 Jun 2011 17:02:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Breitbart TMZ

Old man Drudge must be feeling a little bit put out to pasture. This used to be his beat:

They have to cover the Democratic penis beat because the Republicans force them to. (And so do the Democrats, actually.)

They've been making this excuse for decades now but it's always been bullshit. The right has created a tabloid political media that knows how to get the Village kewl kids' prurient juices flowing. You can see how stimulated they are when one of these surreal feeding frenzies comes along and the right knows exactly how to hit their sweet spot.

The political press loves Drudge/Breitbart and they don't really care whether what they says is true or why they doing what they're doing. It's sexy and trivial lizard brain junk news and that's what they love.

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California stops automatic phone book delivery following pressure from Verizon

We've long known paper books are on the decline, but now we're seeing the first death knell for the fattest of them all. California's public utilities commission has ruled that it will no longer deliver doorstops residential phone books unless folks specifically ask for it -- a move that's expected to prevent 1,870 tons of material from entering the state's waste stream. Californians, like everyone else, can search the White Pages online, but they'll still be able to request a paper copy or CD-ROM if they're feeling old-fashioned. For now, though, the state will continue to ship government White Pages and the Yellow Pages for local business listings (in a post-Yelp world, that seems antiquated). What's especially fascinating about all this is that the pressure to cease automatic phone book deliveries came from none other than Verizon, which mounted a case back in October, citing the enormous human and natural resources requires to get updated phone books into people's hands each year. Of course, the estimated 1,870 tons of averted waste is a fraction of the 660,000 tons BanthePhoneBook.org says these tomes create every year, but here's hoping it'll be enough to make other states take note.

California stops automatic phone book delivery following pressure from Verizon originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 16 Jun 2011 15:55:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Tax Vote without 2/3?

Michael Salerno, a professor at UC-Hastings, thinks that the Democrats do not need a 2/3 vote of the Legislature to get the tax extensions on the ballot:

While the state constitution requires a two-thirds vote to raise taxes, a proposal to extend taxes by placing the question on the ballot would not raise taxes - it would leave that question to the voters. Because the constitution is silent, it does not limit the ability of the Legislature to place a measure on the ballot effective only if approved by the voters. The Legislature has that power.

However, if the Legislature passed a resolution to place the extensions on the ballot without further action, the question would appear on the next regularly scheduled election in 2012. Obviously, this would not address the current crisis, which needs near immediate action. The Legislature may pass a bill by a majority vote to call a special election at the earliest time that is logistically feasible. If signed by the governor, that bill would take effect immediately. Why would it take effect immediately? Again, the answer is in the constitution - a bill calling an election is one of the few instances the constitution specifies that goes into immediate effect with a majority vote.(SacBee)

At which point do we give up looking for political cover to get a sane budget through?  I understand the political reasons for the Governor's caution.  Democrats, taxes, yeah, I get it.  But there has to be a time where we just ask the people of California what kind of state that they really want to live in.  A state for the super rich? Or one for all Californians to succeed and thrive?

Salerno's legal take on the issue is sound, though sure to be quickly tested in the courts.  To be honest, we really can't wait much longer.  Brown and the Democratic leaders in the Legislature need to make up their minds as to whether they think getting Republican votes is a viable option within the next couple of weeks.  If not, we need to adopt some more creative solutions, whether Prof. Salerno's plan or otherwise.


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Chart ‘O the Day—projections o’er the years

This should be used whenever anyone starts talking about budget projections as if they were handed down from God on Mt Sinai:


h/t to Jared Bernstein

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Don’t tell us where you’re going, Nissan Leaf driver, we already know (video)

That cute little bugger above certainly looks innocent enough, but it might have been spreading some pretty detailed gossip behind your back. Leaf-driver Casey Halverson was playing around with the RSS reader in his Carwings system when he discovered that it wasn't just collecting feeds from RSS servers, it was also telling those servers his car's current location, speed, heading and even the destination he'd set in the sat nav. Strangely, Halverson's undercover tattletale appears to have halted its indiscretions after he posted the discovery on his blog, but we're surmising there's still hundreds of server logs up and down the country that prove it really happened, not to mention his video after the break. Cue Rockwell, fade to black.

Continue reading Don't tell us where you're going, Nissan Leaf driver, we already know (video)

Don't tell us where you're going, Nissan Leaf driver, we already know (video) originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 16 Jun 2011 14:11:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Brown to Veto Budget Today

Well, Jerry Brown, you fooled me.  Yesterday I said that you would probably wait on the budget bill for a week or two as you tried to negotiate a deal with the Republicans.  Well, apparently you didn't even want the stench of it on your desk:

Gov. Jerry Brown will veto his own party's budget on Thursday, less than 24 hours after Democratic lawmakers sent him a majority-vote plan balanced with risky solutions, according to sources in the Legislature.

The Democratic governor said during his campaign and throughout this year he would not sign a budget filled with "gimmicks," though he suggested earlier this week he had relaxed that stance.(SacBee)

Well, back to begging and pleading then?  Check the veto message here.

UPDATE: The Governor has posted a video about the veto, basically saying that he's not going to kick the can down the road.  Good for him, and likely good for the people of the State of California.  At least we can hope that we'll never see the stupid sale/leaseback again.

Now, as to the question raised about the legislators' salaries, commentor DarwinBG is right, they will continue to get paid.  Basically Prop 25 requires that the Legislators pass a budget, not actually impliment it.  I'll check back if the June 30/July 1 deadline has any significance on that front, but I don't think so.

UPDATE 2: Well, it appears that John Chiang isn't quite so sure whether yesterday's budget passed the smell test.

Controller John Chiang spokeswoman Hallye Jordan said Wednesday that Chiang had not yet reviewed the budget bills. The Democratic controller, who issues state paychecks, determined earlier this month that Proposition 25 requires lawmakers to send the governor a "balanced budget" to meet the pay requirement.

Brown said in his letter to lawmakers Thursday, "Unfortunately, the budget I have received is not a balanced solution" and that it was "not financeable." Jordan was not immediately available Thursday to say whether the controller would issue paychecks to lawmakers in light of the governor's message and veto. Proposition 25 does not speak to a balanced budget requirement, but Chiang included that interpretation two weeks before the deadline.(SacBee)

If this lingers on for very long, the question of "balanced" might end up becoming the stuff a legal case is made of.  For the time being, if they miss a week or two of paychecks, no legislator is going to make a big stink.  If it runs longer, well, maybe a termed-out legislator decides that he (or she) wants that paycheck after all and doesn't like Chiang's interpretation.  But that will still be a while.


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Adobe Air bids adieu to Linux, shifts focus to mobile

Adobe Flash Platform and Linux
Well, Linux users, say goodbye to Air. Adobe has announced that version 2.7 will be your last official release and, going forward, you'll have to rely on kind-hearted souls willing to fire up the Linux porting kit the company will be providing. Development teams will instead be focusing on the growing realm of mobile and improving Air support on iOS and Android, and likely bringing the browser-plus-flash app environment to webOS. With the world's favorite open-source operating system holding steady at roughly one-percent of the desktop market it's hard to take issue with the choice. Of course, it probably doesn't help that Adobe has had trouble getting it to play nice with *nix -- especially the 64-bit flavors. Besides, with Tweetdeck prepping a proper web-app, what do you need Air for anyway?

Adobe Air bids adieu to Linux, shifts focus to mobile originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 16 Jun 2011 13:40:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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