The LuLac Edition #604, Oct. 17th, 2008
PHOTO INDEX: OUR 1968 AND TOP 40 LOGOS.
PALIN ON SNL
It appears reality will follow fantasy. Sarah Palin appears on Saturday Night Live this weekend. Many of my readers have pointed out the similarities between one of my favorite shows "Commander In Chief" (starring Geena Davis) and the Palin Vice Presidency. Well the comparison ends at the fact they are both women. In the TV show, the character Davis played was a college official, was even mentioned for the Supreme Court and seemed to have a little more depth than Palin. Now it's only TV but to compare the two just won't cut it. On Saturday Night Live, we''ve come a long way from President Ford's Press Secretary Ron Nessen appearing on the show to actual candidates themselves. I'm still deciding if that's a good thing or not. But I'll watch if the baseball game is boring.
CINDY McCAIN AT WILKES
Cindy McCain is set to appear at Wilkes university this Saturday. McCain, will speak at the Marts Center on the Wilkes University campus. Doors open at 4 p.m. Saturday and the program starts at 5 p.m. Tickets are available at the Republican headquarters at 25 Public Square and at the McCain victory centers in Dallas and Scranton. There are 1,500 seats available.
ANOTHER ROAD BLOCK
Maryanne Petrilla in her attempt to get a handle on Luzerne County finances has met another broadblock. According to the Times Leader, Petrilla said she called county Court of Common Pleas President Judge Mark Ciavarella on Thursday to discuss upcoming employee layoffs, and he refused to cooperate. Petrilla said the judge told her no layoffs will occur in any court branches, and commissioners can’t “touch” court employees. He said he will get a court order and sue commissioners who attempt to institute layoffs in court branches, Petrilla said.
Those branches include domestic relations, probation services, court administration, district justice offices, central court and stenographers. Petrilla said she advised that he’ll have to sue her because she can’t pay employees once the county runs out of money in November or December. Once more the arrogance and the lack of cooperation of the Luzerne County Judiciary is rearing its ugly head. Of course the court system has to function but the President Judge has shown no inclination for compromise or even a modicum of cooperation in what appears to be a fiscal crisis. I can't help but think if the county ruling came down from a judge other than Ann Lokuta, there might be a different outcome. The County Judges always have had a hold on the Commissioners offices though. This dates back to the 1960s when merit selection of Judges was ruled out and Judges ran for a term on the bench. For the most part President Judges have cooperated with County officials. But not this time. Sad but true.
ELECTION TOP 40
AGRICULTURE # 20
John McCain recognizes that agriculture is one of America's greatest strategic assets. All Americans benefit from the safest and most efficient food production and distribution system in the world. Throughout our history, American farmers, ranchers, timbermen, and commercial fishermen have formed part of the bedrock of our prosperity. The benefits of American leadership in agriculture extend well beyond our borders - America's contribution to meeting the food, fiber, feed and energy needs of a growing world population through efficient production and technology innovation are critical to our national security and world peace.The continuing success of American agriculture and the health of America's rural heartland require leadership that understands that productivity and innovation are created by the effort, ingenuity and investment of individual Americans. Our nation's security depends on the health of American agriculture.
Family farmers are being squeezed: Farm consolidation has made it harder for mid-size family farmers to get fair prices for their products and compete on the open market.
Rural communities are often left behind: Rural communities often struggle to attract capital because of lack of infrastructure and remote distances. There is less access to quality doctors, and schools have trouble recruiting teachers.
Ensure Economic Opportunity For Family Farmers
Strong Safety Net for Family Farmers: Obama and Biden will fight for farm programs that provide family farmers with stability and predictability. They will implement a $250,000 payment limitation so that we help family farmers — not large corporate agribusiness. They will close the loopholes that allow mega farms to get around the limits by subdividing their operations into multiple paper corporations.
Prevent Anticompetitive Behavior Against Family Farms: Obama is a strong supporter of a packer ban. When meatpackers own livestock they can manipulate prices and discriminate against independent farmers. Obama and Biden will strengthen anti-monopoly laws and strengthen producer protections to ensure independent farmers have fair access to markets, control over their production decisions, and transparency in prices.
Regulate CAFOs: Obama's Environmental Protection Agency will strictly regulate pollution from large CAFOs, with fines for those that violate tough standards. Obama also supports meaningful local control.
Establish Country of Origin Labeling: Obama supports immediate implementation of the Country of Origin Labeling law so that American producers can distinguish their products from imported ones.
Encourage Organic and Local Agriculture: Obama and Biden will help organic farmers afford to certify their crops and reform crop insurance to not penalize organic farmers. He also will promote regional food systems.
Encourage Young People to Become Farmers: Obama and Biden will establish a new program to identify and train the next generation of farmers. They will also provide tax incentives to make it easier for new farmers to afford their first farm.
Partner with Landowners to Conserve Private Lands: Obama and Biden will increase incentives for farmers and private landowners to conduct sustainable agriculture and protect wetlands, grasslands, and forests.
Support Rural Economic Development
Support Small Business Development: Obama and Biden will provide capital for farmers to create value-added enterprises, like cooperative marketing initiatives and farmer-owned processing plants. They also will establish a small business and micro-enterprise initiative for rural America.
Connect Rural America: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will ensure that rural Americans have access to a modern communications infrastructure. They will modernize an FCC program that supports rural phone service so that it promotes affordable broadband coverage across rural America as well.
SPACE EXPLORATION #19
John McCain: For the past 50 years, space activities have contributed greatly to US scientific discovery, national security, economic development, and national innovation, pride and power (the ultimate example of which was the U.S. victory over the Soviets in the race to the moon). Spurred on by the Soviet Union's launch of Sputnik, the world's first satellite, and the concern that the U.S was falling behind in science and technology, U.S. policymakers enacted several policy actions to firmly establish the U.S. dominance in science and technology. Among them were the establishment of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the national Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), increased research funding, and a reformulation of the nation's science and technology education system. Today, more than 50 years after Sputnik, the US faces a very different world. The end of the Cold War and the space race has greatly reduced the profile of space exploration as a point of national pride and an emblem of U.S. power and thus created some degree of "mission-rut" for NASA. At the same time, the scientific community views the use of space as an important observation platform for advancing science by increasing our understanding of the solar system and the universe. In addition, our recent comprehension of the Earth's changing climate is based on data that we have received from our weather and Earth observation satellites. Much of our communications infrastructure is dependent upon space based assets that are essential to the quality of our everyday lives and the economy. China, Russia, India, Japan and Europe are all active players in space exploration. Both Japan and China launched robotic lunar orbiters in 2007. India is planning to launch a lunar orbiter later this year. The European Space Agency (ESA) is looking into a moon-lander, but is more focused on Mars. China also is actively pursuing a manned space program and, in 2003, became only the third country after the USSR and the US to demonstrate the capability to send man to space. China is developing plans for a manned lunar mission in the next decade and the establishment of a lunar base after 2020.Activity within the commercial sector continues to increase beyond the traditional role of launching satellites. In 2007, the X-Prize Foundation announced a prize of $30 million in a global competition to build the first robotic rover capable of landing on the Moon. Several companies are planning to develop and build spacecraft for space tourism.Senator McCain understands the importance of investments in key industries such as space to the future of our national security, environmental sustainability, economic competitiveness, and national pride as a technological leader. Although the general view in the research community is that human exploration is not an efficient way to increase scientific discoveries given the expense and logistical limitations, the role of manned space flight goes well beyond the issue of scientific discovery and is reflection of national power and pride. History provides some guide to this. In 1971, when the Nixon Administration was looking at canceling the Apollo program and not approving the development of the Space Shuttle - then Office of Management and Budget Deputy Director Casper Weinberger stated that such a policy: "would be confirming in some respects a belief that I fear is gaining credence at home and abroad: That our best years are behind us, that we are turning inward, reducing our defense commitments, and voluntarily starting to give up our super-power status and our desire to maintain world superiority." Three and a half decades later this seems equally valid, if not more so given the increased number of countries that are making significant investments in space.
The Barack Obama campaign has been quiet about its space policy plans since the release of its education policy in November, which called for delaying the Constellation program for five years to help pay for its education initiatives. I contacted the campaign last month to seek clarification and heard nothing back. However, a reader in New Hampshire, Don Doughty, did hear back from the campaign last week on the topic, and forwarded the message he received to me. In the message, Lisa Ellman, Obama’s policy director in New Hampshire, said Obama “will work to strengthen American leadership in space” and that he “believes that the United States needs a strong space program to help it maintain its superiority not only in space, but here on earth in the realms of education, technology, and national security.”
Most importantly, Ellman clarifies what Obama meant by delaying Constellation by five years:
Obama believes we should continue developing the next generation of space vehicles, and complete the international space station. While Obama would delay plans to return to moon and push on to mars, Obama would continue unmanned missions, and use NASA to monitor the forces and effects of climate change, support scientific research, and maintain surveillance to strengthen national security. Obama also believes we need to keep weapons out of space.
That is considerably different than what his original statement sounded like: rather than an additional five-year post-shuttle gap, this approach would appear to permit the continued development of a new launch vehicle and spacecraft (be it Ares/Orion or some alternative), but put on hold anything that would be used for lunar missions and beyond. That puts his approach closer to what Hillary Clinton proposed in October, although she did not endorse any specific delay in human lunar missions.
VETERANS # 18
America owes its liberty, its prosperity, and its future to our veterans who have dedicated their lives to protecting our great country. John McCain has fought to honor our national commitment to our veterans who have given their careers and livelihoods to ensuring our freedom. He believes we must provide for service members and their families while they serve, we must help those who return from combat to adjust to civilian life, and we must honor and never forget the service of those who do not return.John McCain has been a leader in Congress, fighting for all those who serve and their families, improving veterans' health care, providing veterans with the benefits they have earned, easing their transition to civilian life, and honoring the fallen.Providing for Our Service Members John McCain believes that meeting the needs of our service members who defend us is our obligation and is essential to our national security. He worked to increase pay scales for servicemen and women during both the Persian Gulf War and the current War on Terror and to increase enlistment and reenlistment bonuses for reservists and guardsmen. He also sponsored bills to give special tax relief to deployed service members and to set up overseas savings programs for the men and women fighting in the Gulf War.Honoring the Service of Reservists and Guardsmen The nation's reserve personnel have been a vital component of the Global War on Terror, with reservists serving side-by-side with active duty members in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the globe. John McCain believes that the fundamental role of reservists has changed over the last decade, and given their invaluable role and the tremendous sacrifices that these men and women have made, they should receive additional benefits than those that they have traditionally been granted.For this reason, John McCain has supported legislation to expand retirement benefits for reservists, supported provisions to expand eligibility for health care benefits for reservists and their families, and sponsored legislation to grant survivor benefit payments to the spouses of reservists who die during or as the result of training.Improving Veterans' Health Care John McCain believes that America's veterans who dedicated themselves to protecting our country deserve the highest quality health care. He is committed to ensuring that veterans' health care programs receive the funding necessary to provide the quality health care our veterans need and deserve. He has worked to ensure that the Veteran's Affairs provides care for all eligible veterans, no matter where they live or what they need. In addition, John McCain has fought to ensure that retired servicemen and women have meaningful access to affordable health care.
Expand Vet Centers Vet Centers are often the first line of defense for veterans to get help in their communities by offering counseling for vets and their families, as well as employment assistance, VA claims and benefits information, help for homeless veterans, and social service and health care referrals. Barack Obama will expand and strengthen Vet Centers. Fully Fund VA Medical Care. As president, Barack Obama will fully fund the VA so it has all the resources it needs to serve the veterans who need it, when they need it. The current administration did not adequately plan for the true costs of this war. It has consistently underinvested in healthcare for our heroic veterans. Without assured funding year after year, our veterans are forced to make do with the VA they have rather than the VA they deserve.
Allow All Veterans Back into the VA. When troops serve, they are not divided by income class or priority groups. Yet today the VA is picking and choosing which veterans to serve. Barack Obama is committed to ending the unfair ban on healthcare enrollment of certain groups of veterans, including “Priority 8” veterans who often earn modest incomes. He has voted to end this unfair policy, which has resulted in the VA turning away nearly one million veterans since 2003. As president, one of Barack Obama’s first acts will be signing an executive order reversing this ban.Reduce the Claim backlog There are currently more than 800,000 claims pending within the Veterans Benefits Administration. VA error rates have also grown unacceptably high: over 100,000 cases each year contain significant errors. In the Senate, Barack Obama has voted to increase funding to hire needed claims staff. As president, Barack Obama will hire additional claims workers and convene our nation’s leading veterans groups, employees, and managers to develop an updated training and management model that will ensure VA benefit decisions are rated fairly. Build an Electronic VBA Currently, case files for a veteran seeking compensation are literally stacked on the desks of over-burdened caseworkers. Veterans often have to fill out the same form multiple times. As president, Barack Obama will transform the paper benefit claims process to an electronic system that will be interoperable with the VA’s health network as well as military records. This will reduce error rates, improve timeliness, and enhance the overall quality of the claims decisions. Update the GI Bill. Barack Obama has been a long-time supporter of the bipartisan legislation signed into law in June 2008 to update GI Bill benefits for the 21st Century. He disagreed with opponents of the bill who claimed it was too generous and too expensive. The new GI Bill will allow veterans who served after 9/11 to receive payments covering tuition up to the cost of the most expensive in-state public school, a monthly stipend equivalent to housing costs in their area and additional benefits, and an extended period of time in which vets could use the benefit.
The United States Department of Defense announces that the United States Army and United States Marines will send about 24,000 troops back to Vietnam for involuntary second tours.....In Mexico City, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, 2 African-Americans competing in the Olympic 200-meter run, raise their arms in a black power salute after winning the gold and bronze medals for 1st and 3rd place. Kingston, Jamaica is rocked by the Rodney Riots, provoked by the banning of Walter Rodney from the country.
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