Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Observations 31 OCT 2010

Much has occurred, and I am remiss as usual in reporting it.

Broke the logjam in the living room by constructing a shelf. Now, I can hold game sessions in it, but more improvements are needed.

Went through the basement. My many dozens of storage tubs are out of order, so finding my DVD's is a problem. I found plenty of half filled tubs, the ones I need to dispose of. Much is to be EBayed.

My counselor and I have been having some more successful sessions. It seems I have my parents on a pretty high pedestal. I felt I failed them. No allowance was made for my being a gifted kid with lots of issues. My parents were not perfect. I found myself defending them over and again. Also, my need to win is linked to the many failures and frustrations in earlier life. No wonder I need to be right all the time.

No amount of winning can make up for those miserable years prior to my military service. My Adult Child of Alcoholic syndrome insists on absolutist thinking, plus misery over missed expectations, etc. The thought that there has to be a *perfect* chain of decisions for the optimal outcome is a futile one. Of the sunk cost fallacy of making up for the past, it's a loser's game.

My new ICOM IC 7200 has surpassed all expectations. It is a magnificent radio. The G5RV, plus autotuner and computer control make it a splendid radio system.

Speaking of cleaning up, I've been going through the files on my old PC. It's fairly long in the tooth. So, I backed up my data. And, I found a refurb laptop at Micro Center, with Windows 7 and a years warranty left, for $223.00.

Wally bought a laptop as a backup computer- the end is nigh.

It's a large form laptop, with larger keys, and a 15.7" 16:9 screen. Works splendidly. and, my home network is functioning well. The new AT&T router and DSL service is simply wonderful. My wireless coverage area has greatly improved, as well.

I also now have U-Verse. Quality of service is excellent- no pixellation due to demand, easy, simple operation. My package is essentially the "expanded basic" tier, ,and there are only about four channels that I would like to have- but not at the cost of paying $40.00/month to have them. Just in in time for the idiotic midterms.

Of the 127 channels available, I'm using about thirty. That includes local stations and HBO (free for 3 months). And, the channels have morphed. Many of my old, favorite channels are simply bad UHF stations running infomercials. It's not worth the price paid for the dozen or so that I watch regularly. A la carte is long overdue. I think that the Internet/discs will provide the paid content after my year's contract is up. I do not think I'm alone on this. The battles being fought over content (Cablevision vs Fox, et al) are ultimately self defeating. In a stagnant economy, sat/cable content will be one of the discretionary expenses to pare. It will happen slowly.

As will my land line be pared, wired at such great expense earlier this year. (I literally have a Caller ID phone across from the toilet).I should consider VOIP, but my cell phone is already serving admirably. $50+ bucks a month can be freed up for Scruffy treats.

Being Wally, I have a 1500 W UPS dedicated solely to my DSL router. And one for the PC, and one for the radio system, and one for the entertainment center... :)

Work is good, but my GI tract is still suffering from delayed grief and stress. Like my other issues, it takes me a long time to deal with things. It's cost me some time off. I'm now drinking more water, and less soda. My MD (a SLU Professor Of Medicine) has forbidden my continuous chocolate snacking at work. It's maddening, but survivable.

I am going to re-finance the house at 2+ percent less interest. This will make a great difference. If I can't get a pay increase due to the economy, I have to give myself a pay increase by cutting costs.

I exchanged salvo's with some of my old opponents on the debate board late last week. That was a mistake. They have not changed. Nor will they. I'm wasting time, and frustration over there. More content will be posted here, in future. "Casting pearls before swine" is what comes to mind when I chronicle things on the board, and not here. There are good people on the board, a majority in fact. But the fools drown them out. I like my friends, but the idiots in the bar are too loud to be heard over.

I gave out foreign coins for Halloween this year. Response was excellent. There's a new group of Homelanders (less than age 10) coming into the neighborhood, and they adore Scruffy. He's still frightened of large groups, but when picked up by me, and petted/ears scratched one-on-one, he's a happy doggie. The younger kids are intelligent, and well-behaved. Possibly the new Artist Generation?

We're sure to have divided government until 2016, let alone 2012. This midterm simply confirms it. No real progress will be made, until external events, or "Black Swans" force a change. State and local government defaults may well be the next trigger.

The majority of the campaign spending seems to be from the Republicans. The relaxed campaign funding environment will be the subject of many treatises on why the US declined, in about 50 years. the money contaminates all parties, but the Mad Hatters have taken it to a new level of stupid, this year.

The Tea Party supporting the puppy mill owners is just too perfect. You can guess how Scruffy and I are going to vote... :)

I've missed most of the wonderful Indian Summer this year. Being sick, and depression have kept me indoors much of the time I should have been outside. Each year I promise myself to spend more time walking, and outdoors, and each year I don't. Scruffy's walks have been a great involuntary stimulus. Hard to resist a poodle licking your face, wanting out. Aaack! Germs! Mouthwash! Damn, I'm awake now...

Midnight. Time to clock in for tomorrow.


Friday, October 29, 2010

Ind. parents told drop disabled kids at (homeless) shelters

By KEN KUSMER, Associated Press Ken Kusmer, Associated Press – Wed Oct 27, 11:06 pm ET

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana's budget crunch has become so severe that some state workers have suggested leaving severely disabled people at homeless shelters if they can't be cared for at home, parents and advocates said.

They said workers at Indiana's Bureau of Developmental Disabilities Services have told parents that's one option they have when families can no longer care for children at home and haven't received Medicaid waivers that pay for services that support disabled people living independently.

Marcus Barlow, a spokesman for the Family and Social Services Administration, the umbrella agency that includes the bureau, said suggesting homeless shelters is not the agency's policy and workers who did so would be disciplined.

However, Becky Holladay of Battle Ground, Ind., said that's exactly what happened to her when she called to ask about the waiver she's seeking for her 22-year-old son, Cameron Dunn, who has epilepsy, autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Holladay, a school nurse, said she and her husband would go bankrupt trying to pay for services themselves, so Cameron spends most days sitting in his stepfather's truck while he works as a municipal employee.

"It's heart-wrenching as a parent to watch it. We are people and they are people," Holladay said, referring to her son and others with disabilities. "They have lives that are worth something."

There have been no confirmed cases of families dumping severely disabled people at homeless shelters because Indiana wouldn't provide the care needed.

But some families have been on waiting lists for waivers for 10 years. The lists contained more than 20,000 names last month, and one advocacy group predicted they will only grow longer because Gov. Mitch Daniels ordered budget cuts that have eliminated 2,000 waiver slots since July.

Budget cuts also have resulted in the state moving foster children with disabilities to a lower cost program that doesn't provide services for special needs and eliminating a grocery benefit for hundreds of developmentally disabled adults.

Kim Dodson, associate executive director of The Arc of Indiana, said her group has received reports of state workers in several of BDDS's eight regional offices telling families to take disabled adults to homeless shelters. She speculated that the suggestion resulted from frustration among BDDS staff as families become more outspoken about the effects of state cuts.

"It is something we are hearing from all over the state, that families are being told this is an alternative for them," Dodson said. "A homeless shelter would never be able to serve these people."

State lawmakers said they also have received reports from several people who were told they could always abandon their adult children at homeless shelters.

Rep. Suzanne Crouch, R-Evansville, said she found it "deplorable that people are being told to go to a homeless shelter."

Leaders of several agencies serving homeless people across Indiana could not be reached for comment after business hours Wednesday.

Some parents said homeless shelters have also been suggested — or threatened — as an option by private care providers.

Daunna Minnich of Bloomington said Indiana Department of Education funding for residential treatment for her 18-year-old daughter, Sabrina, is due to run out Sunday. She said officials at Damar Services Inc. of Indianapolis told her during a meeting that unless she took Sabrina home with her, the agency would drop the teen off at a homeless shelter.

Sabrina, who's bipolar and has anxiety attacks, has attempted suicide, run away during home visits and threatened her older sister, Minnich said. Bringing Sabrina home isn't a viable option, but the two group home placements BDDS offered weren't appropriate, she said.

"I don't want to see the state of Indiana hasten her demise by putting her in a one-size-fits-all solution that will drive her to desperate acts," Minnich said.

Jim Dalton, Damar's chief operating officer, said he could not comment directly on any specific case but his nonprofit would never leave a client at a homeless shelter — even though it is caring for some for free after they got too old for school-funded services and haven't yet been granted Medicaid waivers.

"We're talking about youth that absolutely require services, and no one is willing to fund them anymore," Dalton said.

Missouri Tea Partiers, Joe The Plumber Join Movement Against 'Radical' Anti-Puppy Mill Legislation

Dog bites man or man bites dog?

A conservative group in Missouri is picking up the backing of the Tea Party and Joe The Plumber in its quest to stop the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and other animal rights groups from passing "radical" anti-puppy mill legislation.

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Tea Partiers Storm DC For Second (And Smaller) 9/12 Rally]

The measure, which can be read in full here, is called Proposition B or the "Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act." It aims to help eliminate the "3000 puppy mills" in Missouri that constitute "30% of all puppy mills in the U.S.," according to Michael Markarian, the Chief Operating Officer of the HSUS.

The HSUS is a national animal rights advocacy group that doesn't financially support local Humane Society shelters.

"This measure would provide common sense standards for the care of dogs," Markarian told TPM, including sufficient food and clean water, vet care, regular exercise, and adequate rest between breeding cycles, among other things. Markarian said the measure only applies to "commercial dog breeding facilities" that have more than 10 breeding females who they use for "producing puppies for the pet trade."

Sounds pretty straightforward, no?

Well, according to the Alliance For Truth, the main force behind the anti-Prop B movement, there is something much more nefarious afoot (er, apaw) in the HSUS measure. The Alliance For Truth claims that the HSUS has a "radical agenda" and is "misleading the public with its intentions on Prop B. The society seeks only to raise the cost of breeding dogs, making it ever-more difficult for middle-class American families to be dog-owners."

Anita Andrews from Alliance For Truth told TPM that it's a "deceptive, lying bill" that is "trying to purposefully get rid of the breeders." The state of Missouri, she said, has been given a bad rap as "the puppy mill capitol" of the U.S. but "in truth we have the best ribbon breeders in the country." And, Andrews said, the state already has anti-cruelty laws on the books.

"They don't like animals," she said of the Humane Society of the United States.

Andrews also explained that Cass Sunstein, "one of the biggest animal rights activists," and President Obama's Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, is tied to the HSUS, and is helping them give Obama "a punch list" of the animals rights activists' agenda.

You see, there's a difference between animal rights activists and animal welfare activists. Unlike the HSUS, Sunstein, and other animal rights activists, animal welfare activists like the Alliance For Truth have "no intention of wiping every animal off this earth," Andrews said. Animal welfare activists believe in hunting and that people should take care of animals.

Rights activists, on the other hand, think "humans and animals are on the same level, ownership of an animal is slavery," and that "animals should have attorney representation" (presumably so every dog can have his day in court).

The reference to Sunstein is probably related to a paper he wrote in 2002, called "The Rights of Animals: A Very Short Primer," in which he explores whether or not animals should have rights. Sunstein also co-wrote a book in 2004 about animal rights, in which he writes: "On this view, representatives of animals should be able to bring private suits to ensure that anti-cruelty and related laws are actually enforced."

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Uni-Tease: Scenes From The Tea Party's Failed Diversity Day]

The Alliance For Truth also has the support of some better-known conservative activists, like Joe 'The Plumber' Wurzelbacher, who wrote on the Alliance For Truth site that the HSUS is "cowardly hiding behind animal cruelty, lying to our citizens and taking our constitutional rights away - one state at a time."

He continues:

This bill forces breeders to limit the number of dogs they can own - regardless of care. Think about this a minute . . . . Should the government have the right to limit the number of houses a realtor can sell? Or the number of cattle a rancher can raise?

The Tea Party has also gotten on board the anti-Prop B bandwagon. A meeting called "Vote NO on Proposition B" on October 12 is advertised on websites for the Missouri Tea Party and the Tea Party Patriots. The event, held at Coach's Pizza World, is being organized by the Mexico Tea Party, which activist Ron Beedle told TPM is a relatively new chapter of the Tea Party. This is their first meeting, he said, and Prop B is about the "government or the big company trying to tell people what to do."

The Missouri chapter of Phyllis Schlafly's conservative Eagle Forum has also gotten behind the movement, calling the measure (.pdf) part of a "hoax."

Markarian said that the Alliance For Truth's claims "are nonsensical arguments. The Humane Society celebrates pets everyday."

"We want people to have pets," he said. "We just want the pets to come from good sources." Accusations like these, he said, are "par for the course when these groups cannot defend the cruelty of puppy mills."

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Mad Hatters' Tea Party Triumph,8599,2027959,00.html?xid=rss-fullnation-yahoo

The Party Crashers: Behind the New Republican Revival

Read more:,8599,2027959,00.html?xid=rss-fullnation-yahoo#ixzz13i2XnyTy

1. The Upstart
It was the winter of 2009, and the echoes of "Yes, we can!" still reverberated across the land. Barack Obama had just been elected President with more than 53% of the vote - a huge number for a Democrat, the biggest in more than 40 years. In Congress, the Democrats had blitzed their opponents for the second time in a row. They now occupied 54 more seats in the House and 12 more in the Senate than they had held a mere 28 months earlier.

You might not have known it by following the news in those days, but Republicans still existed. Most were just trying to figure out how to make their way in that hostile environment. One of them, Florida Governor Charlie Crist, reckoned something along the lines of: if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. He appeared onstage with the new President on the eve of a congressional vote to spend nearly $800 billion on economic stimulus and liberal initiatives. On that sunny Florida day, Crist heartily endorsed the bill. For good measure, he gave Obama a hug. (See pictures of souvenirs from the Tea Party.)

Another Florida Republican had a different idea. His name was Marco Rubio. He was the baby-faced former speaker of the Florida legislature. Well-wired Floridians knew that Rubio was thinking about challenging Crist for a seat in the U.S. Senate, and they also knew that this was quixotic because Crist had at least a 30-point lead in the polls, plus friends and money and endorsements from powerful Republicans around the country.

But Rubio saw an opportunity in that hug. If one possible Republican strategy was to embrace the Democratic spending agenda, surely there was a case to be made for opposing it. Rubio decided to "stand up to this Big Government agenda, not be co-opted by it," and three months after The Hug, tossed his hat into the ring. The date was May 5, 2009. (See "40 Under 40: The Rising Stars of American Politics.")

Looking back, that was the day the 2010 election truly began - not just the campaign for a Senate seat from Florida but the broad national campaign for control of Congress and the direction of the country. Rubio's decision to wage a philosophical battle for the soul of the Florida GOP was a catalyst for the surprising and outrageous events that followed. He became a darling of the nascent Tea Party movement and a point man in the movement's purge of the GOP establishment. Rubio led the way for a dust-kicking herd of dark-horse candidates - some thoroughbreds, some nags. And most of all, Rubio symbolized the fact that this year's midterms have become a referendum on such fundamental issues as the role of government and the size of the public debt.

Midterm elections are often just rough measurements of the public's mood and the President's popularity. But this year, pressed by an uprising on the right, the election has become a fight for the identity of the Republican Party. In a sense, 2010 has turned into Act II of the 2008 GOP drama, in which the free-spending George W. Bush was barely welcome at his own party's convention and the nomination went to a man famous for flouting party loyalty. As in Hamlet, the action ended with most of the main characters forgotten or dead. Now we're seeing how an empty stage gets repopulated, as conservatives across the country have elbowed their way into the spotlight, some ready for their star turn, others stumbling over their lines. (See TIME's special report "2010: Races to Watch.")

The theme of the drama is clear. In an age of Big Government solutions to crushing public problems, the new script for the GOP is adapted from the famous words of the late William F. Buckley Jr., conservative guru. The Republican Party is standing athwart the Age of Obama, yelling, Stop! The party may not have an agenda, entirely, but it certainly has a battle cry. As Rubio has put it, "We have reached a point in our history when we must decide if we are to continue on the free-market, limited-government path that has made us exceptional or if we are prepared to follow the rest of the world down the road of government dependency."

For embattled Democrats, facing the looming loss of the House of Representatives and a much weakened position in the Senate, this is rich. They can't help feeling that talk of fiscal discipline from the GOP is like a Sunday-morning temperance sermon delivered by a Saturday-night drunk. It's especially galling because they believe the mess of broken glassware and dirty ashtrays is being blamed on them. And the GOP insurgents couldn't agree more. As Tea Party rock star Ken Cuccinelli, attorney general of Virginia, declared to roisterous cheers at a recent rally: "I don't think there'd be a Tea Party if the Republican Party had been a party of limited government in the first part of this decade." (Comment on this story.)

We'll read the public's reaction on Election Day, but the verdict inside the GOP has already been rendered. Republicans propose to take a fresh shot at being the party of smaller government (or no government), and anyone who won't sing that hymn is being thrown out of the choir. The budget-stomping bull of New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie, is the party's new role model, while in the GOP stronghold of Utah, longtime Senator Bob Bennett was rudely dumped simply because he engaged in earmarking and voted for the bank bailout. Small-government purists have captured GOP nominations for major offices from New York to Alaska, Colorado to Kentucky.

"Look, the time to go along and get along is over," House Republican conference chairman Mike Pence of Indiana said in an Oct. 21 radio interview. In other words, don't look for a return to the wheeling and dealing of the Bush years. "We've got a cavalry of men and women headed to Washington, D.C., that are going to stand with us," Pence said, and there will be "no compromise on stopping runaway spending, deficits and debt. There will be no compromise on repealing Obamacare."

As for the original upstart, Rubio, he guessed right. By the winter of 2010, he had gone from pip-squeak to powerhouse, raising millions of dollars from energized conservatives while radiating the glow of a budding star. Crist's huge lead on the day of The Hug evaporated like a puddle on a Sarasota parking lot as Rubio gained heat, until finally, in April of this year, Crist announced that he would quit the GOP primary and run as an independent. Entering the final days of the campaign, Rubio had a commanding lead in the polls.

2. The Populist
Rubio sounded positively Reaganesque as he brought down the house earlier this year at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington. At 39, he has some growing to do before he can wear the old man's shoes, but the family resemblance is there. His speech blended Democrat bashing and muscle flexing with a ringing dose of only-in-America uplift.

Something different is at work with Rand Paul, something more theoretical and astringent. Poised to win a Senate seat from Kentucky, Paul promotes a version of the small-government revival that owes little to Horatio Alger's rags-to-riches tales and much to Ayn Rand, the radical prophet of extreme individualism. "What is greed?" Paul has asked. "Greed is an excess of self-interest, but what drives capitalism? Self-interest and profit. They are good things." Paul isn't a spiritual son of Ronald Reagan, but he is an actual son of libertarian Ron Paul, the Texas Congressman and onetime Republican presidential candidate whose ties to the GOP have always been tenuous. Why? Because the Paul family philosophy disapproves of not just spending projects adored by Democrats but also federal interventions of all kinds, from a too muscular military to the Federal Reserve. (See pictures of the emergence of Rand Paul.)

Making his first run for office, Rand Paul, a Bowling Green ophthalmologist, steamrolled the anointed candidate of the Kentucky GOP establishment. Rank-and-file Republicans were drawn to the purity of Paul's message: no new taxes, fewer federal agencies, dramatically less spending. He frowned on the invasion of Iraq, dreamed of privatizing Social Security and proposed to leave such divisive cultural issues as abortion and gay marriage to be decided state by state.

Like his dad, Paul, 47, is an ideological purist running in a year when a lot of voters are looking to draw bright, hard lines. Libertarians enjoy thinking outside the box; give them a choice between Column A and Column B and they'll tell you why both columns are a threat to freedom. Paul's Democratic opponent, Kentucky attorney general Jack Conway, tried to make hay of the fact that years ago, Paul joined an iconoclastic underground club while attending straitlaced Baylor University. But Conway missed the point: iconoclasm isn't a flaw for Republicans this year; it's a religion. In the party of neocons, paleocons, and social cons, libertarians are the contra-cons - they don't buy anyone else's agenda. Theirs is a right-wing brand of politics that can be anti-war and pro-marijuana. This may help to illuminate Paul's awkward straddle on the 1964 Civil Rights Act. He said he would have marched with Martin Luther King Jr. but had certain reservations about the landmark law. Because while bigotry is bad, Paul doesn't think the federal government should limit the freedom of private citizens to be bigots. "Decisions concerning private property and associations should, in a free society, be unhindered," he has said. (See "Rand Paul: A True Believer Tries to Survive a Rocky Campaign.")

Heading to Election Day, Paul appeared to have a solid lead over Democrat Conway - though that was before a violent incident involving Paul volunteers. On Oct. 25, when a protester from the liberal group approached the candidate, she was wrestled to the ground, and a Paul supporter pushed his foot down on her head as cameras rolled. Paul blamed lax crowd control, adding, "Any level of aggression or violence is deplorable."

If Dr. Paul goes to Washington, he will find the purity of his ideas severely tested by the popularity of the government programs he opposes. Voters may like the sound of his small-government speechifying, but they also like their Social Security and Medicare and Pell Grants and nearby jobs generators like Fort Campbell and Fort Knox. For every dollar the state sends to Washington in taxes, its delegation brings home at least $1.50. How will voters feel about a Senator who wants to turn off the money tap? (Comment on this story.)

3. The Billionaire
As CEO of eBay, Meg Whitman helped create the online-auction economy and some 15,000 jobs in the bargain, becoming a billionaire in the process. She seemed like the perfect embodiment of the Republican alternative to Big Government - the free-market entrepreneur. But while the upstart Rubio and the outsider Paul have prospered this election season, Whitman has struggled. Despite spending more than $100 million of her own money on the campaign, Whitman is heading to Nov. 2 trailing the opposition - in her case, the eternal California Democrat Jerry Brown. Whitman's story, unlike Rubio's or Paul's, points to the limits of the GOP's message. Even if she pulls off an upset, the uphill nature of her campaign suggests that her timing was off. You would expect that California voters would be hungry for something new, given the depth of their economic woes and the paralysis of the state's government. Yet Brown, elected statewide four times over 40 years, is the opposite of new.

Se the top viral campaign videos.

See "Poll: Independents Keep GOP Ahead in Four Key Senate Races."

Whitman's problem is that the bloom is off the rose of the CEO. If the economic collapse proved anything, it is that having a lot of money doesn't always make a person wise. What's more, recent years have shown us that some of the same tycoons who extol small government when it's time to pay their taxes will dash to Washington on their private jets to beg a bailout the minute things go sour. They admire the creative destruction of the free market only until it's their turn to be destroyed.

In a Gallup poll earlier this year, Big Business ranked among the least trusted institutions in America - even lower than the news media. The free-spending Whitman has been whipsawed by that perception. On issues large and small, ranging from her ties to Goldman Sachs to her former nanny's immigration status, Democrats have endeavored to convert Whitman's most obvious strength (her financial acumen) into a fatal flaw. (See TIME's video "Social Issues and the 2010 Midterms.")

Voters are ready to throw the bums out, and CEOs have joined the ranks of the bums. The same dilemma faces former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina as she seeks to unseat California Senator Barbara Boxer. After three terms in office, Democrat Boxer has struggled to reach 50% support in the polls, yet she held a slight lead over Fiorina in the last days of the campaign. Meanwhile, in the race to be Florida's next governor, Republican Rick Scott, a hospital-industry entrepreneur, was neck and neck with former banking executive Alex Sink, a Democrat. Their debates have largely boiled down to trading jabs over which of them was the more rapacious and irresponsible mogul. It's that kind of year.

4. The Troublemaker
But if it's good to be an underdog and a step or two outside the GOP mainstream, the story of Christine O'Donnell suggests that outsidery underdoggedness can be taken too far. (Comment on this story.)

No one familiar with Delaware politics would have been surprised when O'Donnell entered the Republican Senate primary against the state's lone Congressman, Representative Mike Castle. After all, 2010 marked O'Donnell's third bid for the Senate, and her previous two bids showed that she had a weakness for hopeless cases. In 2006, when the Evangelical Christian conservative challenged Senator Thomas Carper as a write-in candidate, she received fewer than 12,000 votes to Carper's 170,000. Two years later, O'Donnell won the GOP nomination to face now Vice President Joe Biden, who won by 30 percentage points. This time around, Delaware Republican chairman Tom Ross, a Castle backer, believes O'Donnell is running because campaign donations help pay her household bills. "She's a candidate who runs for office [who] unfortunately lives off the proceeds," he said.

O'Donnell certainly has none of Whitman's problems of too much money and too many connections. She was an occasionally employed activist known for her appearances as a panelist on comedian Bill Maher's old television show, Politically Incorrect. Voters soon learned that she had fallen behind on her house payments, which helped her relate to real people, she explained. More questions arose: about her record of tardy campaign-finance reports, about the fact that her campaign was paying her rent, about the claims about her education that did not check out. As for the time she told Maher about dabbling in witchcraft? She was referring to high school, she explained. "If I were planning to run for office" during those TV appearances, "I would have been much more guarded," O'Donnell recently told an interviewer. "Not that I regret anything I've said, but because I'm a vocal person. I state my opinion when I think that something's wrong or right. I speak up." The surprise came when O'Donnell defeated Castle for the Republican nomination. This was both a high-water mark and a low moment for Tea Party influence inside the GOP. It proved that the small-government purists were in fact the driving force of 2010. Castle was well known, well funded and well organized. He had solid support from state and national Republican institutions, which saw in him an excellent chance to pick up a seat that had been held by Democrats for decades. Castle's only offense was squishiness, a cardinal sin to the insurgents. So they dumped him in favor of a much weaker candidate, in part just to show that they could. (See pictures of souvenirs from the Tea Party.)

This gesture might end up costing the GOP control of the Senate, because O'Donnell quickly proved herself to be a crate of tea that wouldn't float. With her nomination, Democrat Chris Coons went from a double-digit deficit to a double-digit lead. As his star rose, Republicans' hopes of recapturing the Senate sank, dragged down by a candidate who was not ready even for cable television. But O'Donnell's startling, out-of-nowhere rise has already put a scare into any remaining moderates who might have failed to heed Charlie Crist's lesson.

And so the drama of 2010 plainly sets the stage for Act III in 2012. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky previewed the action in an interview published eight days before the voting, saying the "single most important thing that we want to achieve" after the election "is for President Obama to be a one-term President." To that end, candidates are already jockeying for position at the front of the GOP casting call. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee in late October pandered to the muscle-flexing Tea Partyers by denouncing all doubters of O'Donnell as "country club" elitists. Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, another aspirant, is tacking hard in the Tea Party direction, giving a sharper edge to what used to be his amiable, pragmatic persona. With CEOs out of favor, Mitt Romney of Massachusetts - whose failed 2008 presidential bid was built on his skill as a corporate-turnaround artist - may require retooling. And it goes without saying that all eyes will remain on Sarah Palin's Facebook page.

Remember, at this point two years ago, Crist was king of Florida politics, and Rubio was an asterisk. History tells us that small-government conservatism is a volatile element in the Republican coalition - powerful, restorative but also potentially explosive. It fueled Reagan's landslide victories in 1980 and 1984. But the same energy backfired in Barry Goldwater's crushing 1964 defeat. The fight to harness its power is a big story, and that story is only beginning.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Failure Is Not An Option

Camden, Maine (CNN) -- We live in a time of failure.

We couldn't find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. We didn't predict the housing crisis. BP didn't prevent the oil spill. And, as is apparent to any Twitter addict, we love to write snobbish comments about how every internet blunder is an #epicfail.

But living in an era of devastating and mock-worthy screw-ups can be a good thing, says Kathryn Schulz, author of "Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error," who also writes a blog called "The Wrong Stuff" on

One of our biggest collective failures, she says, is pretending that people don't fail and treating failure as unacceptable.

Schulz spoke with me after a lecture Thursday at the PopTech conference, an event dedicated to fostering smart ideas in technology and social change.

(And it's an event, by the way, that started with a giant domino-effect demonstration that failed epically when a robot couldn't kick over the first in a long line of books).

The following is a list of five ways to deal with failure, taken from that conversation. Originally, it was going to be a Q&A. But after a phone voice recorder failed during the first question, I rethought that plan a bit. #cnntechfail

Figure out when you're wrong

Here's a common scene from Looney Tunes: Wile E. Coyote chases the Road Runner off of a cliff. The coyote runs across the air until he realizes he can't fly.

Then he looks down, discovers he was wrong to run past the precipice. Poof -- he falls.

When we're in the midst of being wrong, we're like Wile E. Coyote, Schulz says. We don't feel anything -- because we incorrectly think we're right.

The first step in dealing with failure, she said, is to realize that you're wrong. You can't do that by looking inward, because you'll always (wrongly) think you're right, she said.

You can illuminate failure by surrounding yourself with diverse -- if not a bit critical -- people who can tell you when that Lady Gaga meat-hat Halloween costume is just not working for you.

Also, turn to the internet, she said, since most arguments these days happen between two people and Google. A quick search may settle things. (Note: Bing works, too).

Go all kindergarten on yourself: Learn from mistakes

If your social network (and/or the entire internet) tells you that you're wrong, go with it, Schulz says. Don't cover it up or point fingers.

Our school systems need to do a better job of encouraging this kind of behavior, she said, but early education systems in particular are very focused on making students feel the need to be right all the time.

Getting a paper returned with red marks all over it unfairly labels certain students as failures, she said.

Also, take comfort in the fact that everyone fails.

Schulz referenced a theory to support this. It has a wackadoodle name: The Pessimistic Meta-Induction from the History of Science.

It basically means that almost every major scientific theory -- the Earth as the center of the solar system, for example -- is later proven to be at least partially wrong.

Scientists also tend to learn more from failed experiments, she said, than from test tube tinkerings that go just as planned.

Learn from awesome failures

The government is bad at failing, Schulz said. Elected politicians tend to dig their heels into partisan camps and rarely admit they've been wrong.

But some companies -- particularly those in the tech sector -- do a good job of trying to recognize a fail as soon as possible and adapt to make themselves stronger.

Google is one of many examples, she said. That company is known for putting its products in eternal "beta mode," meaning they're out for the public to test and troubleshoot. They're rarely polished and fail-safe.

Asked what she thought the "most awesome failure" in history has been, Schwarz referenced the Vikings, who saw an optical illusion, thought it was a land mass and chased that failure all the way across the Atlantic to "discover" North America.

Being willing to take risks and fail is how you win big, she said.

The idea applies to art, too. "You actually can't create anything good," she said, "without creating a lot of wrong stuff along the way."

Don't put too much trust in technology

People who (smartly) recognize their own fallibility tend to back themselves up with technology -- from smartphone calendars for the forgetful to autopilot mode in an airplane.

Backup is good, but a change in how our society views and plans for failure would be more useful than more safety-net technology, Schulz said.

Take the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Blow-out preventers -- contraptions designed to prevent such an oil spill in the case of a blowout -- did not work, for whatever reason. More helpful, she said, is realizing that failure can lead to catastrophe and planning for that in earnest, rather than just assuming tech has our collective back.

Don't be too snarky with those #epicfail hashtags

You've probably noticed the #fail theme on the internet. It's on Twitter. There's the now-famous Fail Blog. The People of Wal-Mart is arguably about fashion failure.

That's all healthy, Schulz said, as long as it doesn't get too snarky.

"All of those little 'epic fail' things, they're not snarky exactly. Like, you would expect them just to be snarky, like 'Oh, haha, look at all these dumb people.' That note can be in there. And to the extent that that note is in there, I think it's destructive," she said.

"I think it works against what I am working toward and what I would like to think a lot of people from the 'fail movement' are working toward, which is accepting and embracing these things as inevitable. And you're not going to do that if people feel embarrassed for doing it."

Friday, October 15, 2010

Power Point Hell

Editor's note: Nancy Duarte is the author of "Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences." She is CEO of Duarte Design, a presentation design firm based in Mountain View, California, that worked with Al Gore on the presentation featured in "An Inconvenient Truth" and whose clients include Cisco, Facebook, Google, TED and the World Bank.

(CNN) -- A few weeks ago Col. Lawrence Sellin, a Special Forces officer stationed in Afghanistan, fell victim to a particularly modern hazard of war: PowerPoint fatigue.

Col. Sellin was fired from his post at NATO's International Security Assistance Force after he wrote an essay for the UPI wire service in which he voiced his frustration about PowerPoint-obsessed officers who spend more time worrying about font size and bullet points than actual bullets.

Col. Sellin's was just the latest in a series of complaints about the military use of slide presentations -- you may recall public ridicule of the famously incomprehensible "spaghetti slide," and a recent New York Times article, that cited other officers just as frustrated with the emergence of the military bureaucracy's "PowerPoint rangers."

But PowerPoint isn't inherently bad -- just misunderstood. And bad PowerPoint presentations aren't just a concern of the military. We've all sat through presentations -- or suffered or even dozed through them. The truth is, most are poorly constructed and instantly forgettable.

Why does this matter? Because presentations decide elections, military strategies and multibillion-dollar business deals; they educate our children and they spread the ideas that shape society's most important goals and directives.

Ultimately, a presentation succeeds or fails on the strength of its message and how well it's told. And those elements have nothing to do with the brand of the software package involved in its production. You know instantly when you're watching a great presenter at work -- you may even own the ShamWow to prove it.

Sometimes, presenters try to punch up weak content with stunts. I remember one speaker who rode onto the stage on a motorcycle -- and promptly lost control and crashed. (He was okay.) Another presenter rappelled down to the stage like a mountain climber. I remember the stunts, but not the messages.

Poor presentations can have disastrous consequences. Edward Tufte, perhaps the most important writer on the display of information, demonstrated how the disintegration of the space shuttle Columbia in 2003 might have been averted by a more objective presentation of the damage inflicted on Columbia's wing by a piece of foam debris during takeoff.

As it was, Tufte wrote in his article, "PowerPoint Does Rocket Science: Assessing the Quality and Credibility of Technical Reports," NASA officials came away from PowerPoint-driven briefings by Boeing engineers with an overly optimistic view of the situation, in part as a result of hard-to-understand slides overloaded with bullet points. In other words, a bad presentation may have caused that disaster, and a good one might have prevented it.

Of course, we can't be naive: a persuasive presentation isn't necessarily a good presentation. In 2001, Enron Corp. executives Ken Lay, Jeff Skilling and Richard Causey presented PowerPoint slides at an employee meeting that winningly depicted the company's robust health and the bright future of its projected earnings. By the end of that year the company was worthless. Eventually, the U.S. Department of Justice charged those executives with 10 counts of a variety of crimes -- based on their presentations.

Meanwhile, the Enron scandal may have been preventable by the right presentation. In 1999, a presentation by the Arthur Andersen accounting firm feebly warned the Enron Board of Director's audit committee of the company's sketchy accounting. Had that presentation sounded a bold warning, the audit committee might have been able to save the company. For that matter, it might have saved Andersen, which did not recover from its role in Enron's dealings.

Unfortunately, the development of presentations is a skill that is rarely taught and for which few sources of best practices exist. Bad presentations kill ideas, waste money and impede progress. Great ones illuminate, persuade, generate consensus and spark action.

How do you create a great presentation? I've been in the business for 20 years, but until recently even I couldn't define the deep structures and elements of truly superior presentations.

My research into this question led me in unexpected directions. The answers I found had nothing to do with technology or the internet; they were revealed in screenwriting, Greek and Shakespearean drama, mythology and literature.

Great presenters employ the basic narrative techniques used throughout history to connect with audiences and move them to action and new understanding.

The presentations that work are not the ones with the most data or the most elaborate charts and graphs; the winners are those with the most compelling and convincing narratives.

We're a distracted, multi-tasking society. So presentations need to lure and re-lure an audience simply to keep their attention. Audiences are looking at the clock or fiddling with their handheld devices throughout a presentation. You don't connect with your audience by throwing information at them -- you do it by taking them on a journey toward your perspective.

Whether you're a CEO, a salesperson, a general or a biochemist, you must understand how to connect with an audience, how to construct a powerful narrative argument, and how to visually display information for maximum audience comprehension.

I read recently that our nation is suffering a crisis of literacy, with only 35% percent of high school seniors able to read proficiently. Yes, you read that correctly (assuming you're not part of the 65% of high school seniors.) But literacy really means the ability to communicate effectively. For professionals and citizens in every strata of society, true literacy now includes the ability to communicate effectively through presentations.

The stakes could not be higher for our country. If corporate executives communicate poorly, businesses and the economy suffer, and jobs are lost. If teachers communicate poorly, our children don't learn and advance. If generals communicate poorly, our troops and their missions are put at risk. These are dangers we cannot ignore.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Nancy Duarte.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

America's new poor: the end of the middle-class dream

he men clustered in the shade of trees, in the 90F heat of a car park in Atlanta, form the lowest layer of America's so-called middle class. They stare, alert like greyhounds, at the vans leaving the hardware store. When one pulls up they rush, 15 or 20 together, to the driver's window to negotiate. The hired man leaps in with his bag of tools: he'll earn $10 an hour, cash, for basic building work.

But even the lowest layer has layers within: the Hispanic men are recent migrants; mainly young. The African Americans are older, gaunt. "They're only hiring Mexicans," one tells me, and gives a hard-faced stare when I ask why.

At Goodwill, a charity-run job centre in Atlanta, you can meet the next layer up: former legal clerks, accounts secretaries, computer technicians – the whole story of black self-advancement is present in this room. But now it's all one story: most have been out of work for months, some for years.

Go to the pristine cul-de-sacs where this supposed middle class lives and you will find, every couple of streets, a lawn as high as a wheatfield, indicating a home that has been repossessed. Even the survivors hang on by a thread. Juan and Kenyoda Pullen have been renting here since their home was repossessed. Sometimes the rent does not get paid. When they lost their jobs – as postman and bank clerk – their combined income dropped from $75,000 to $14,000 a year.

Do you still feel middle class, I ask them. They do, they say, "though we're not really certain what that means any more". America's "middle class" was always a construct of ideology, indeed the expression of a dream. For the black and Mexican casual workers in the car park the dream is the thing they have in common: they are there because they prefer work to welfare. They believe themselves to be entrepreneurs and will battle against the economic headwind to the point of self-abasement to avoid admitting otherwise.

Yet America's middle class is disappearing. A lifestyle sustained for 30 years by rising debt is dissolving as the credit dries up. And the question beyond the crisis is: can it ever come back?

Figures released last month by the US Census Bureau show it will be hard. Middle incomes are lower, in real terms, than in 1999. The median income, stagnate for a decade, fell by 4.2% once the crisis hit. Since December 2007 more than six million Americans have been pushed below the official poverty line.

It is dawning on millions that the term middle class might be a misnomer. But the label "working class" does not fit either: in the US it denotes a lifestyle choice involving trade union activism or support for the grittier baseball teams, not a sociological category.

This sudden collapse in lifestyle will have economic and psychological impacts long after the crisis is over. Since the 1980s US growth has been driven by the spending power of the salaried workforce. In turn the consumer has been the dynamo of global growth.

To get things back to the way they were the US has to find a way to create nine million jobs, plug the gap in disposable incomes and reopen the personal credit system to the millions excluded from it. Judged against that, the Obama fiscal stimulus has failed.

The credit system, having created the crisis, compounds the agony: the "payday loan" stores – shameless and neon amid the closed-down high streets – do brisk business. So do the credit reference agencies: Juan Pullen told me he'd actually been refused a job because the employer had checked his credit score: "They think credit indicates character; bad credit equals bad character," he shrugs. Unable to borrow or earn, a whole generation is being shut out of the American lifestyle.

Meanwhile, some states have begun a race to the bottom: slashing welfare, labour regulations and local taxes to attract investment. High-wage companies close and relocate to low-wage states, and foreign investment flows to the towns where labour costs are lowest. These states are being transformed by the arrival of low-waged Hispanic migrants even as the rightwing politicians who support the economics rail against the demographics.

As a result the so-called Sun Belt, identified by Republican strategist Kevin Phillips in the 1970s as the new political bedrock of conservatism, now feels like the unhappiest place in America. Median incomes in the south are, on average, $8,000 lower than in the northeast; poverty rates are higher than anywhere else in America – and so are the racial and religious tensions.

In the midterm elections politicians have promised to "do something" for the middle class. The kindest thing they could do is tell the truth: Americans have been living a middle-class lifestyle on working-class wages – and bridging the gap with credit. And it's over.

In a free-market society the real middle class is always a minority: if your street has a gate and a security camera at the end of it then you are middle class. A real middle-class kid can afford a college education, not a web-based degree. The real middle-class family does not skip meals or find its automobiles trapped in the repair shop because of unpaid bills.

And even in America, if you are standing in 90F heat, jostling with 30 other guys for a few hours' work, it is the man in the station wagon curling his finger at you that is middle class – not you.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Our Pals, The Izzy's

A lot of what went on forty years ago is coming out, and it is not pretty.

By Richard Sale, author of Clinton’s Secret Wars

The USS Liberty was a former merchant ship stationed at Norfolk, Virginia. Its sister ship, soon to become another infamous tragedy, was the USS Pueblo. Israel had begun to plan for war against a truculent Egypt and bellicose Syria early in 1967. On May 14, Soviet intelligence warned Cairo and Damascus that Israel was planning to invade them on May 17 using 13 brigades.

This report was a Russian fabrication given to Egyptian leader Nasser by the KGB in Cairo as a means of making him more dependent on Moscow. Egypt had signed defense pacts with Jordan and Baghdad. Jordan was a “friend” of America, its leader King Hussein was being paid $7 million per year by the CIA for “security,” according to a former CIA official. America wanted to keep that “friend” in the region.

On June 2, the U.S. Ambassador to Egypt warned Nasser to expect an Israeli invasion in three days. Syria was jittery about the prospect of war, and Nasser, instead of striking first, decided it would be better public relations if Egypt and its allies were to be seen as a victims. But most of all, he wanted to avoid conflict and sent a peace mission to New York. Nasser had closed the Tiran Strait which leads from the Red Sea to the Gulf of Arabia and Eilat, but in New York offered to reopen it in return for a U.N. force. It was about this time that Israel decided on a Pearl Harbor style preemptive attack against him.

For years the CIA had tried to use covert operations to topple Nasser from power but no American administration wanted the Egyptian toppled by Israel. France was another strong opponent of Israel in the region and tried to warn it off of war. For its part, Moscow was urging Israel to back off, pledging that the Arab countries would rein in the Palestinians. Moscow did promise, however, to support any Arab countries that were attacked.

On June 5, the war began, and a key element of the Israeli plan was to lure Jordan, on false pretenses, into the war. This would allow Israel to seize East Jerusalem and the West Bank, Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and Syria’s Golan Heights. After the fighting began, Washington urged restraint on Israel, asking for assurances that Egypt would be Tel Aviv’s only target, not Syria and certainly not Jordan. The United States also asked that in the event Jordan joined the war, there would be no attempt by Israel to occupy any Jordanian territory.

There was a viper in the Easter Basket, however. James Angleton (with whom I have spoken many times), was then the head of CIA covert operations and a friend of Israel. (It gave him his own cypress tree when he died.) He was the funnel through which U.S.-Israeli communications passed, and some U.S. spooks felt he was not to be trusted, and U.S. Navy officials quietly asked the National Security Agency to verify Israeli assurances by technical means.

The Liberty was part of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s Joint Reconnaissance Command, and its crew of 19 officers and 395 men included 100 technicians, mainly Hebrew and Arabic speakers. The Liberty sailed from the west coast of Africa where it had been monitoring the outbreak of Nigeria’s civil war into the Mediterranean. Sailing 200 feet below it was the US Polaris ballistic missile submarine, the Andrew Jackson. The times couldn’t have been more tense, the stakes could not have been higher, and the Andrew Jackson was tasked with taking out any Israeli long range missile sites before the Soviets attempted to do so and produce the horrors of World War III.

The U.S. interceptors had a moment of sickening surprise when they discovered that Israel was intercepting Jordan’s radio traffic, doctoring it, and re-sending it to Amman. This was a vital and closely held Israeli secret. On June 7, the then Under Secretary of State Eugene Rostow met with Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Avarham Harman and told the Israeli that Tel Aviv must cease its invasion of Egypt and Jordan. Harman said that Israel was merely “resisting aggression,” but Rostow spat that the United States knew that Israel had lured Jordan into the war by means of fake reports of Egyptian victories.

Harman was deeply troubled by the meeting and phoned Israel in the middle of the night. Tel Aviv then issued orders for its aircraft to sink the U.S. communications ship, the Liberty.

The Liberty’s decoding equipment, computers, spectrum analyzers were all stored below the water line. The ship’s captain William McGonagle drove his ship over pre-planned routes and knew nothing of the content of NSA activities. On June 8, three Israeli French-made Mirage III fighters attacked with 72 rockets, napalm and machine guns. They wounded McGonagle and killed the chief NSA officer Allen Bloom. The attack was filmed in its entirety through the Andrew Jackson’s periscope.

When news of the attack reached Washington, the Joint Chiefs of Staff ordered a counterstrike by U.S. A-4 Skyhawks on the Israeli MTB (Motorboat/Torpedo Base) at Haifa but the order was countermanded by President Johnson.

The battered Liberty with 34 dead and 171 wounded finally limped into Malta and the first Court of Inquiry was convened under Admiral Isaac Kidd in London The Israelis claimed that their forces had mistakenly thought the Liberty to be an Egyptian supply ship half its size. But in its final findings, another court, then headed by Admiral John S. McCain, U.S. Commander-in-Europe, rejected the Israeli explanation as preposterous. (Indeed, Israel apologized and that was accepted.) The Court said the Liberty had been attacked by “foreign boats and planes” but did not mention their nationality.

Former U.S. intelligence officials said later that the White House had not pressed Israel harder because Israel was party to several U.S. covert operations meant to oust Nasser of Egypt which Israel would release to the world, poisoning the American position in the Arab world. Apparently the threat worked.

Documents released in 1977 under the Freedom of Information Act show clearly that Israel knew the Liberty’s identity and that General Moshe Dyan ordered the sinking over the protest of close advisors. Other NSA intercepts, still classified, support this. As British statesman Lord Palmerston said, in foreign policy, “there are no friends, only interests.”

Nor was the Liberty incident, the last incident that displayed Israeli ruthlessness when it came to American lives. On Oct. 3, 1973 in what many called the Yom Kippur or Ramadan War, the Syrian’s were ;poised to recapture the Golan after an Israeli commander warned Defense Minister Dayan of the collapse of Israeli forces. Israel rushed to arm 13 Jericho intermediate range missiles armed with nuclear warheads. The arming took three days and six hours.

On Oct. 12, a U.S. Air Force SR-71 reconnaissance plane that could fly as fast as a rifle bullet, took off from the east coast of the United States. Over the Negev Desert, the Mach-3 Blackbird began to pick up signals indicating the nuclear arming of missiles. Out in the Mediterranean, an Israeli communications ship tracking all combatants suddenly received transmissions from two Israeli pilots done in Hebrew and in the clear. The Blackbird had been spotted. “Affirmative,” said one pilot. “I have it. It’s a Blackbird.” The controller replied, “Down it.” A US Navy E-2C Hawkeye flying off of Cyprus had warned the Blackbird which quickly popped up to 85,000 feet or double the altitude of the Israeli fighters.

Was it a bluff? Or were the Israelis in earnest. We don’t know but we can guess.

So Much For Health Care Reform

1 million workers lose out on better coverage

NEW YORK ( -- Close to a million insured workers will lose out on a significant bump in insurance coverage promised by health reform next year.

McDonald's (MCD, Fortune 500), Jack in the Box (JACK) and other companies won a one-year exemption from a new rule requiring them to raise the maximum amount of coverage they offer employees.

All told 30 companies, also including insurers Cigna (CI, Fortune 500) and Aetna (AET, Fortune 500), received the waiver, affecting 968,765 enrollees.

Companies affected by the law were threatening to drop coverage completely or raise employees' premiums by as much as 200% in order to comply with next year's deadline, according to a government official familiar with the matter.

"We were in a situation where if we didn't take action, folks could lose their only source of coverage or pay an outrageously high premium. That wasn't acceptable," the official said.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs explained the Obama administration's position Thursday.

"We want to ensure that in the time that it takes to implement the law, workers don't find themselves at the mercy of insurance companies jacking up rates," Gibbs said at a press briefing.

Beginning 2011, the new health law mandates that insurers and employers gradually remove annual dollar limits on an individual's insurance coverage and eventually eliminate these limits by 2014.

Cigna said the waiver applies to a plan tha covers about 250,000 people. The company also said it plans to ask for an additional waiver each year until 2014.

In order to phase in this change, the law says that employers and insurers have to offer an annual coverage limit of least $750,000 by next year. The limit would increase to $1.25 million in 2012 and to $2 million in 2013.

Companies that hire a significant number of part-time workers -- such as retailers -- typically offer low-cost, low-coverage plans, called "mini-med" plans. Mini-med plans typically restrict individual insurance coverage to a few thousand dollars a year.

"We remain in conversations with our current provider and are confident that we'll continue to provide health care coverage for our 30,000 hourly restaurant employees," McDonald's said in a statement on Thursday. "We're pleased and encouraged by the progress that's been made by the Federal government on this issue."

The Department of Health and Human Services said waiver applications were taken on a "case by case basis." Among the factors officials consider are how much premiums would increase or how many employees would lose coverage without a waiver.

HHS spokeswoman Jessica Santillo said companies would again be able to apply for waivers next year.

Original Hershey Chocolate Factory Set To Close

Imagine Google wrapped in chocolate.

What the Internet giant is to its employees today — the extra benefits, the comfy workspace — Hershey was a hundred years ago.

A theme park, a theater, low-rent housing and cheap public transportation were all things Milton Hershey brought to the dairy region of Pennsylvania when he created Hershey, the chocolate center of America.

At the heart of the town was the chocolate factory, a brown brick building nestled in the shadows of two smokestacks, where cocoa goodness wafted out into streets and homes.

That factory on the corner of Chocolate and Cocoa avenues, however, will soon be closing, and the chocolate making will move to another facility being built just outside the town.

The Hershey Co. says it needs to close the historic factory, and cut 500 jobs, to remain competitive in the global market.

A Worker's Paradise

When Milton Hershey broke ground on this factory in 1903, he saw more than smokestacks and a brick building.

"He didn't build a factory and say, 'Oh, what do I need to do with my workers? I'll build a town,' " says Pam Whitenack, head of archives at the Hershey museum. "They went hand-in-hand and were developed simultaneously."

Whitenack says Hershey wanted to give his workers more than a paycheck. He wanted to create a worker's paradise. Inspired by another famous chocolate maker of his day, Cadbury, in England, Hershey provided amusement parks, community centers and family events.

A lot has changed. At Hershey's Chocolate World, visitors can make their own candy bars. The amusement park and other recreational activities Hershey originally built for his workers now cater to tourists. The chocolate factory is no longer the biggest employer in town; the Hershey Medical Center is. The number of workers who actually make chocolate continues to shrink.

"You know, they put in new equipment that ran faster, took less people to operate. It was shrinking because of that," says Dennis Bomberger, a union representative. Bomberger started working at Hershey in 1967. He was 18 years old and made Hershey's Kisses.

Bomberger explains how they're produced. "It's on a belt, and the molding thing goes down on the belt, and it basically lifts away from the belt. And, you know, as it pulls away, it gets in the shape of the kiss," he says. "The new plant is going to be making them exactly the same way. It's just newer equipment."

Global Competition

Hershey is spending $300 million on a new facility being built just outside town. Six-hundred workers from the old factory will move there; the rest are being replaced by machinery. Hershey is reshaping itself to fend off global competition. It has a huge new competitor in Kraft, which recently bought the British Cadbury company.

Bomberger understands why the historic factory has to close. It's old and cannot accommodate new equipment.

"The ceilings are low, and they do have a lot of columns .. they'd have to go around," he says, "not that I don't think they could run this plant."

Standing near a ticket counter at Hershey's Chocolate World, company spokesperson Kirk Saville says Hershey is doing this to stay competitive.

"We're creating a cost-effective, efficient facility that will enable us to compete with global players and meet the needs of customers and our consumers," Saville says.

Hershey had wanted to move production out of the Pennsylvania town altogether but decided to keep it here when the union agreed to the job cuts.

That's small consolation to some workers.

At the Parkside Grill, where factory workers come at the end of their shifts for the barbecue sandwiches and beer, the mood is one of uncertainty. It's still unclear who will stay and who will lose their jobs. There has already been one round of voluntary buyouts.

"I hate to say it, but I think Milton's probably turning over [in] his grave, seeing things that have happened in the last few years," says Bob Laird, a local businessman whose fiancee works at the factory.

Laird sees the factory closure and job cuts as a sign of corporate greed, and says it's a rejection of Milton Hershey's original vision of providing for his workers. Hershey biographer Michael D'Antonio disagrees.

"Poor Milton Hershey has been turning in his grave so many times since he died that I imagine he's quite worn out," he says. "He understood that all things change."

D'Antonio says the legendary confectioner was, after all, a businessman and made decisions based on the market and the bottom line.

Time To Cede Part Of The World To India/China

India to spend over $25 billion to induct 250 5th-gen stealth fighters Economic Times of India 10/05/2010
Author: Rajat Pandit
(c) 2010 The Times of India Group. All rights reserved.

NEW DELHI: India will eventually spend over $25 billion to induct 250 advanced stealth fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA), on way to being co-developed with Russia, in what will be the country's biggest-ever defence project.
With a potent mix of super-manoeuvrability and supersonic cruising ability, long-range strike and high-endurance air defence capabilities, each FGFA will cost upwards of Rs 450 crore or around $100 million.
This will be in addition to the huge investment to be made in co-developing FGFA with cash-strapped Russia, as also the huge infrastructure required to base, operate and maintain such jets in India.
"We are looking to induct 200 to 250 FGFA in phases from 2017 onwards,'' confirmed IAF chief Air Chief Marshal P V Naik on Monday. As reported by TOI earlier, New Delhi and Moscow are looking to ink the FGFA preliminary design contract when Russian President Dmitry Medvedev comes visiting here in December.
Under intense negotiations for the last four-five years, the FGFA project will also figure in the talks between defence minister A K Antony and his Russian counterpart Anatoly Serdyukov on October 8.
Though the Indian FGFA will based on the Russian Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA, which flew for the first time this January at the Komsomolsk-on-Amur facility in Siberia, it will be built to IAF's specifications. It's already being touted as superior to the American F/A-22 `Raptor', the world's only operational FGFA as of now.
ACM Naik said the 30-tonne FGFA will be a "swing-role fighter, with very advanced avionics, stealth to increase survivability, enhanced lethality, 360 degree situational awareness, smart weapons, data-links, high-end mission computers'' and the like.
Along with 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft, which India plans to acquire in a $10.4 billion project, 270 Sukhoi-30MKIs contracted from Russia for around $12 billion and 120 indigenous Tejas Light Combat Aircraft, the FGFA will be the mainstay of India's air combat fleet for the foreseeable future.
Even as the Army revises its war doctrine to factor in the worst-case scenario of a simultaneous two-front war with Pakistan and China, is IAF also preparing for the same?
"Our modernisation plans are based on the four pillars of `see, reach, hit and protect'...We prepare for a multi-faceted, multi-dimensional, multi-front war,'' said ACM Naik.
"But our approach is capability-based, not adversary-specific. Our modernisation drive is in tune with our nation's aspirations,'' he said, adding that India's strategic interests stretched "from Hormuz Strait to Malacca Strait and beyond''.
To a volley of questions on China and Pakistan, IAF chief said, "All neighbours, from the smallest to the largest, have to be watched with caution...Their capabilities have to be assessed...Anything that can upset the growth of our nation is a matter of concern.''
With the new planned inductions in the pipeline, IAF's obsolescence rate will come down to 20% by 2014-15 from the current 50% or so. "But this does not mean that we are not fully capable of defending the country from any air or space threat at the moment...We are,'' said ACM Naik.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Germany to end 'nuclear sharing' with US

Germany has moved a step closer to ridding its soil of atomic weapons, bowing out of the “nuclear sharing” agreement under which its fighter jets can be used to drop US bombs, media reported on Wednesday.

The federal government plans to end the deal by 2013 and perhaps earlier, when it decommissions its ageing Tornado fighter jets, which are equipped to drop the nuclear bombs, the Rheinische Post reported.

At present, the Tornado fighters, stationed at the Bundeswehr base at Büchel in the Mosel region, are ready to drop the estimated 22 American-owned nuclear bombs stored on German soil. Those bombs are housed at the the Büchel base, guarded by US soldiers.

But the Tornado jets are due to be decommissioned and the Rheinische Post reported that Germany would not continue the so-called NATO “nuclear sharing” agreement.

While the change is being driven primarily by budget cuts, it also takes Germany a step closer to getting rid of the remaining nuclear weapons on its soil – a fervent goal of Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle’s.

But Germany's move is likely to spark a row within NATO, which wants to continue with the policy of nuclear deterrence, the paper reported.

The bombs in Büchel are the last nuclear weapons on German soil, according to the report. While authorities will not confirm their number, it is believed to be 22.

The Tornado squadron was supposed to be replaced by the new Eurofighter. But the new jet would have needed to be redesigned to be capable of carrying the nuclear weapons. Because of the recent tough budget cuts in defence and other areas of government spending, it was decided that the “nuclear sharing” squadron be abandoned altogether.

Doggie PTSD


SCIO, N.Y.—Gunner, a bomb-sniffing dog mustered out of the Marines for canine post-traumatic stress disorder, has found a new home with Deb and Dan Dunham, whose Marine son died in Iraq protecting the men beside him.

With patience and a red-rubber toy, the Dunhams are trying to coax Gunner back to emotional health. With liquid brown eyes and Labrador loyalty, Gunner is giving the Dunhams back a little of what they lost. Together, they are healing what they can and living with what they must.

"My Marine never came home," says Deb. "I have a place for a Marine."

In 2004, during a patrol near the Syrian border, Cpl. Jason Dunham found himself fighting an insurgent hand-to-hand on a dusty road. When two other Marines ran over to help, the Iraqi dropped a hand grenade.

Instead of rolling away, Cpl. Dunham covered the grenade with his helmet, shielding his men.

Though peppered with shrapnel, the other Marines walked away. A grenade fragment penetrated Cpl. Dunham's brain, sending him into a coma.

Doctors in the field gave him up for lost, but he survived the trip to the Naval hospital in Maryland.

Deb and Dan met Jason there, expecting to watch him recover. Instead, doctors told them that their son would never regain consciousness.

In keeping with instructions Jason left before going to war, the Dunhams removed him from life support. He was 22 years old.

At the White House in 2007, then-President George W. Bush presented the Dunhams with their son's Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military award.

Gunner's wounds are emotional, not physical. Trained to sniff out explosive booby traps, he was deployed with the Marines to Afghanistan last fall. His trainer wasn't sure what trauma pushed him over the edge—the explosions around the camp perhaps, or gunfire from the rifle range.

Told to hunt for explosives during trial runs, he'd make a token effort then circle back to his trainer's side, hoping to play fetch. Gunner proved so skittish that the troops never risked sending him on patrol.

After almost a year trying to retrain him, the Marines decided that, as a warrior, Gunner was beyond salvation. "Gunner is declared excess," the Marines wrote in August.

Cpl. Dunham and Gunner had been subjects of separate articles in The Wall Street Journal, and, at the Marines' request, the paper forwarded the names of the Dunhams and scores of others who had written asking how they could adopt the dog.

"He was declared excess, which really offended me because he's not excess," says Deb, a 50-year-old home-economics teacher. "He's just disabled."

The Dunhams filled in an adoption application, including an agreement not to sue the government if things went wrong. At the end of August, they drove 16 hours from their home in Scio, a town of 1,900 in western New York, to a kennel in South Carolina to pick Gunner up. On the drive home from South Carolina, Gunner curled up with Deb in the back seat of the pickup truck. He slept next to her in the hotel bed when they stopped. Soon after arriving in Scio, he switched his allegiance to Dan, following and gazing at him with adoration. It soon became obvious why Gunner wasn't cut out to find bombs. Even the sight of cameras sent him slinking behind the sofa that sits beneath the red-and-white banner with the gold star that denotes a child lost in combat.

Days after Gunner arrived in Scio, the town was hit by a storm. Gunner was outside playing when the lightning started to flash, and he threw himself against the Dunhams' sliding door, trying to get inside.

Dan was hoping to persuade Gunner that the whole house is a safe place, not just his plastic kennel. But he soon realized that it was the only place Gunner was going to feel secure that night. Dan moved the kennel into their bedroom, and Gunner dove inside, cowering with his nose in the corner and his tail sticking out the door.

Ziggy, the Dunhams' 120-lb. yellow Lab, stood watch over him for the rest of the night.

"I've never seen a dog so panicked over a thunder-and-lightning storm," says Dan, 49, a former farm and factory worker.

The following day, Deb got special dispensation from the principal and took Gunner to school with her. He slept on a pillow next to her desk, snoring loudly as Deb spoke to her students about the emotional scars that some war veterans bring home with them.

"It's an illness of the mind that can affect the body," Deb told them.

She spoke from experience. Hundreds of military visitors have appeared at the Dunhams' door since Jason's death, some of them still crippled by their own combat experiences. Both of the men that Jason saved struggled with the fact that their friend had died to save them. One wrestled with alcohol and drunk driving. The other ended up so disabled by PTSD and traumatic brain injury that the Marines discharged him.

Both men grew close to the Dunhams and rely on Deb for motherly advice when they go astray.

Gunner is making slow progress, too. These days he sleeps under Deb's vanity, nose out instead of nose in. Dan spends hours playing fetch amid acres of fields and rolling hills. He is, he admits, in love with Gunner. "I think Gunner will overcome," Dan says. "Everybody's resilient—human and dog."

But the Dunhams know that they can't erase all of Gunner's scars, any more than he can erase all of theirs.

"To us it's like Jason died yesterday," says Dan. "To Gunner, whatever happened to him—it's probably like that happened yesterday. We get up each day and find a new way to get through the day realizing that Jason's not here. We have to pass that on to Gunner."

How To Lie On The Internet- Sort Of

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Trauma of Long Term Unemployment

"Given the increasing claims of age discrimination in this recession, older Americans suffering longer bouts of joblessness may not in itself be so surprising. That education seemingly works against anyone in this older cohort is. Nearly half of the long-term unemployed who are 45 or older have "some college," a bachelor's degree, or more. By contrast, those with no education at all make up just 15 percent of this older category. In other words, if you're older and well educated, the outlook is truly grim."

"Worse yet, if you imagine five workers queued up for that single position, the longer you're unemployed, the farther back you stand. Economists have found that long-term unemployment dims a worker's prospects with each passing day. "This pattern suggests that the very-long-term unemployed will be the last group to benefit from an economic recovery," Michael Reich, an economist at the University of California-Berkeley, told Congress in June."

"In the end, facing an economy that may never again generate in such quantity the sorts of "middle class" jobs Rembold was used to, what we may be seeing is the creation of a graying class of permanently unemployed (or underemployed) Americans, a genuine lost generation who will never recover from the recession of 2008."

Nice Essay On Change

Op-Ed Columnist
Change or Perish
Published: October 4, 2010

LONDON — Before leggings, when there were letters, before texts and tweets, when there was time, before speed cameras, when you could speed, before graffiti management companies, when cities had souls, we managed just the same.

Before homogenization, when there was mystery, before aggregation, when the original had value, before digital, when there was vinyl, before Made in China, when there was Mao, before stress management, when there was romance, we had the impression we were doing all right.

Before apps, when there were attention spans, before “I’ve got five bars,” when bars were for boozing, before ring-tone selection, when the phone rang, before high-net-worth individuals, when love was all you needed, before hype, when there was Hendrix, we got by just the same.

Before social media, when we were social, before thumb-typing, when a thumb hitched a ride, before de-friending, when a friend was for life, before online conduct, when you conducted yourself, before “content,” when we told stories, we did get by all the same.

Before non-state actors, when states commanded, before the Bangalore back office, when jobs stayed put, before globalization, when wars were cold, we did manage O.K., it seemed.

Before celebrities, when there were stars, before Google maps, when compasses were internal, before umbilical online-ism, when we off-lined our lives, before virtual flirtation, when legs touched, we felt we managed all the same.

Before identity theft, when nobody could steal you, before global positioning systems, when we were lost, before 24/7 monitoring and alerts by text and e-mail, when there was idleness, before spin doctors, when there was character, before e-readers, when pages were turned, we did get by just the same.

Before organic, when carrots weren’t categorized, before derivatives, when your mortgage was local, before global warming, when we feared nuclear winters, before “save the planet,” when we lived in our corners, before the Greens, when we faced the Reds, it seemed we did somehow manage just the same.

Or did we? Before iPads and “Search,” in the era of print, before portable devices, when there were diaries, before the weather channel, when forecasts were farcical, before movies-on-demand, when movies were demanding, before chains and brands, in the time of the samizdat, before curved shower curtain rods, when they were straight, before productivity gains, when Britain produced things, and so did Ohio, did we really and honestly get by just the same?

Before January cherries, when fruit had seasons, before global sushi, when you ate what you got, before deep-fried Mars bars, when fish were what fried, before New World wine, when wine was tannic, before fast food and slow food, when food just was, before plate-size cookies, when greed was contained, before fusion, in scattered division, before the obesity onslaught, in our ordinariness, could we — could we — have gotten by all the same?

Before dystopia, when utopia beckoned, before rap, in Zappa’s time, before attention deficit disorders, when people turned on, before the new Prohibition, when lunches were liquid, before Lady Gaga, when we dug the Dead, before “join the conversation,” when things were disjointed, before Facebook, when there was Camelot, before reality shows, when things were real, yes, I believe we got by just the same.

Before “I’ll call you back,” when people made dates, before algorithms, when there was aimlessness, before attitude, when there was apathy, before YouTube, when there was you and me, before Gore-Tex, in the damp, before sweat-resistant fabric, when sweat was sexy, before high-tech sneakers, as we walked the walk, before remotes, in the era of distance, I’m sure we managed just the same.

Before “carbon neutral,” when carbon copied, before synching, when we lived unprompted, before multiplatform, when pen met paper, before profiling, when there was privacy, before cloud computing, when life was earthy, before a billion bits of distraction, when there were lulls, before “silent cars,” when there was silence, before virtual community, in a world with borders, before cut-and-paste, to the tap of the Selectra, before the megabyte, in disorder, before information overload, when streets were for wandering, before “sustainable,” in the heretofore, before CCTV, in invisibility, before networks, in the galaxy of strangeness, my impression, unless I’m wrong, is that we got by quite O.K.

Before I forget, while there is time, for the years pass and we don’t get younger, before the wiring accelerates, while I can pause, let me summon it back, that fragment from somewhere, that phrase that goes: “The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production ... and with them the whole relations of society.”

Yes, that was Marx, when he was right, before he went wrong, when he observed, before he imagined, with terrible consequences for the 20th century.

And if back in that century — back when exactly? — in the time before the tremendous technological leap, in the time of mists and drabness and dreams, if back then, without passwords, we managed just the same, even in black and white, and certainly not in hi-def, or even 3-D, how strange to think we had to change everything or we would not be managing at all.

Running Out Of Dumb Tech Company Names

Hacker Power

Just wait until UE/Ameren gets it wrong again, and I routinely spend thousands, instead of hundreds of hours without power...

Today, a saboteur can turn off your power by climbing a utility pole. With the smart grid, someone could interrupt your service—and that of your whole city—from China. What are utilities doing to protect us?

Lockheed Martin has partnered with several utility companies on projects that will upgrade the country’s existing electric grid to make it more secure against cyber attacks. I recently talked with Kenneth Van Meter, Lockheed’s general manager of Energy and Cyber Services. Excerpts of our conversation are below.

Why is there so much potential risk associated with the smart grid?

The sheer volume of interactive devices on two-way networks is the biggest risk. By the end of 2015 we will have 440 million new hackable points on the grid. Nobody’s equipped to deal with that today.

Right now if I wanted to cut off the power to your house, I’d climb the pole, and there’s a manual switch. Everything’s physical. Once we have a smart grid in place I could do that from China.

What are these 440 million new hackable points?

Every smart meter is going to be a hackable point. There are devices and routers in all of the substations that are hackable. Automated devices at home all become hackable points. We’re making the whole network from generation to distribution and meter fully automated, so that’s hackable. If you can communicate with it, you can hack it.

The smart grid is a tremendous idea, and we need to do it. We can’t not do it. We will never be able to manage and control our power usage at an efficient level unless we can mechanically control it, so it’s absolutely essential that we do it, given that. It’ll allow people to identify and correct outages much faster. Each transformer will be automated by a computer chip so it can send messages back when it’s in distress. Each smart meter has a little capacitor in there. If it loses power, before it dies, it sends a message that says, “help” so they’ll know real-time which houses are affected. Right now they only get that from people calling the power company.

What’s the worst-case scenario?

There are three. The one everyone thinks about is the neighborhood kid or someone in another country turning off the power to the neighborhood or the hospital in the middle of night. While no one wants that to happen, it’ll be detected pretty quickly, so it’s not a disaster.

The second potential problem has to do with voltage control. If you want to optimize the amount of power the electrical company has, you want to engage in voltage control, where you have devices along the line from the substation. You can adjust the voltage, everyone gets the right voltage, and everyone’s appliances are running more efficiently. Putting in those devices is expensive, and now those become hackable points–because if you can control them, then someone else can control them. So if your power is out, that would be highly inconvenient. But what if they ran the voltage up and down on your house and when it was fixed, the voltage-sensitive equipment like your computer and high-definition TV didn’t work any more?

Third: If you can cause rapid problems in the grid to occur in the right places at scheduled times, you could destabilize the whole grid, black out whole cities or states and cause massive damage. Sometimes this happens accidentally, but it could also happen because someone makes it happen. Some of the devices are very expensive and therefore there are few spares. Substation-sized transformers, for example, aren’t even made in this country anymore and sometimes it can take two years to get one.

What does that mean, when you talk about destabilizing the whole grid?

The best way to think about it is this: Let’s say you have nine substations in an area, and you’re moving voltages up and down and it’s all balanced. Let’s say you blow up a substation—a tornado takes one out; or a saboteur takes one out; or you send messages through the network that take it out. Then the substations around it and those who rely on it for power would be out. Someone’s generators will come on line and those things will start to happen. The big transmission lines could be affected. It’s a big domino effect, so the big risk is that someone would do a massive scale attack that could destabilize the grid.

You are partnering with some utility companies to make the smart grid safer. How are you working with them?

The utilities have been eager to resolve these issues, but it’s all new to them. There are 239 big utilities and over 3,000 little ones. The smaller ones don’t have a cyber security department, and they never will, but they have the same probably of being [sabotaged].

We’re doing a few things:

Blocking and tackling. NERC CIP [North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s Critical Infrastructure Protection—a set of cyber security requirements] compliance. If they don’t comply, NERC can fine them up to $1 million a day. It’s pretty serious stuff—like putting locks on stuff or changing the password of a guy who left the company. You say, surely the utilities were doing these things before, but they weren’t. We help them get ready for the audit.
Advanced cyber security best practices, which includes secure code reviews, security risk assessment, looking for process issues like code that’s out of date or devices that haven’t been approved for secure use.
Threat and information sharing. We are building the first ever real-time cyber center that has been used for utilities. With AEP [American Electric Power], we are inviting leading utilities to participate. We think that will be essential to protecting the electric grid. Right now, if Southern Company, for example, identifies a threat and finds a bug, they fix it but don’t tell anyone else. So we share on a real-time basis and say we just saw this new thing and here’s the fix, and they implement that. There are 3,200 utilities in the U.S.; they’re not going to make 3,200 phone calls a day. We want to be the hub of that sharing.
Advanced forensics and tools. We’d like to think we can work with the Department of Homeland Security and others so we can send them threat data. DHS can’t make 3,200 phone calls either.

Monday, October 4, 2010

"Flash Crash" Report

NEW YORK — Government regulators' detailed account of how a big, computer-generated sell program by a mutual fund firm caused a stock market crash in a matter of minutes in May is unlikely to be enough to restore investors' shaken confidence, Wall Street experts say.

The reason for the lukewarm response to the report on the May 6 "flash crash," released Friday by the Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission, is that it focuses solely on answering one question: What happened?

What the report doesn't do: outline a plan to fix the market's structural flaws. The omission was glaring, as investors' mistrust of the market remains high.

"The problem is what they didn't tell the public," says Joe Saluzzi of Themis Trading. Investors wanted to hear, 'We're going to recommend these steps so May 6 won't happen again.' But we didn't get that."

The report has been given to the Joint Advisory Committee on Emerging Regulatory Issues, a panel charged with coming up with recommendations to fix the glitches and with rules to govern traditional exchanges and electronic trading platforms.

"We now must consider what other investor-focused measures are needed to ensure that our markets are fair, efficient and resilient," SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro and CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler said in a statement. No timetable was given for the panel to issue its recommendations.

Analysts criticized the SEC and CFTC for taking five months to issue a diagnosis of why the market went haywire without also including how to fix it. The report detailed the fallout — loss of liquidity, a computer-driven domino selling effect, massive mispricing of stocks — caused by a large sell trade of futures contracts that mimic trading in the S&P 500 index. The trade was executed "extremely rapidly," using a computer algorithm. "I'm not sure this report does much to placate investors," says Larry Tabb, CEO of Tabb Group.

In defense of the regulators, the report wasn't touted as a policy document. And it did point out some of the steps already taken to remedy some problems — such as single-stock circuit breakers that stop trading for five minutes after a stock falls 10% in a five-minute span — will help dampen volatility and reduce the odds of another flash crash.

But analysts say you can't rule out another flash crash, at least right now. "Can it happen again? Absolutely," Saluzzi says.

Small Biz Big Tech Woes

I used to run a small business, catering to small business owners, and retail customers. It's a tough business to run profitably, and keep customer satisfaction up.

Online Gambling Gets Casino's Support

Now, you don't need to take the walk of shame to the car- just to your own bathroom!