Friday, January 28, 2011

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

text of the official Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union

The text of the official Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union address from Rep. Paul Ryan, as prepared for delivery.

Good evening. I'm Congressman Paul Ryan from Janesville, Wisconsin — and Chairman here at the House Budget Committee.

President Obama just addressed a Congressional chamber filled with many new faces. One face we did not see tonight was that of our friend and colleague, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona. We all miss Gabby and her cheerful spirit; and we are praying for her return to the House Chamber.

Earlier this month, President Obama spoke movingly at a memorial event for the six people who died on that violent morning in Tucson. Still, there are no words that can lift the sorrow that now engulfs the families and friends of the fallen.

What we can do is assure them that the nation is praying for them; that, in the words of the Psalmist, the Lord heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds; and that over time grace will replace grief.

As Gabby continues to make encouraging progress, we must keep her and the others in our thoughts as we attend to the work now before us.

Tonight, the President focused a lot of attention on our economy in general — and on our deficit and debt in particular.

He was right to do so, and some of his words were reassuring. As chairman of the House Budget Committee, I assure you that we want to work with the President to restrain federal spending.

In one of our first acts in the new majority, House Republicans voted to cut Congress's own budget. And just today, the House voted to restore the spending discipline that Washington sorely needs.

The reason is simple.

A few years ago, reducing spending was important. Today, it's imperative. Here's why.

We face a crushing burden of debt. The debt will soon eclipse our entire economy, and grow to catastrophic levels in the years ahead.

On this current path, when my three children — who are now 6, 7, and 8 years old — are raising their own children, the federal government will double in size, and so will the taxes they pay.

No economy can sustain such high levels of debt and taxation. The next generation will inherit a stagnant economy and a diminished country.

Frankly, it's one of my greatest concerns as a parent — and I know many of you feel the same way.

Our debt is the product of acts by many presidents and many Congresses over many years. No one person or party is responsible for it.

There is no doubt the President came into office facing a severe fiscal and economic situation.

Unfortunately, instead of restoring the fundamentals of economic growth, he engaged in a stimulus spending spree that not only failed to deliver on its promise to create jobs, but also plunged us even deeper into debt.

The facts are clear: Since taking office, President Obama has signed into law spending increases of nearly 25 percent for domestic government agencies — an 84 percent increase when you include the failed stimulus.

All of this new government spending was sold as "investment." Yet after two years, the unemployment rate remains above 9% and government has added over $3 trillion to our debt.

Then the President and his party made matters even worse, by creating a new open-ended health care entitlement.

What we already know about the President's health care law is this: Costs are going up, premiums are rising, and millions of people will lose the coverage they currently have. Job creation is being stifled by all of its taxes, penalties, mandates and fees.

Businesses and unions from around the country are asking the Obama Administration for waivers from the mandates. Washington should not be in the business of picking winners and losers. The President mentioned the need for regulatory reform to ease the burden on American businesses. We agree — and we think his health care law would be a great place to start.

Last week, House Republicans voted for a full repeal of this law, as we pledged to do, and we will work to replace it with fiscally responsible, patient-centered reforms that actually reduce costs and expand coverage.

Health care spending is driving the explosive growth of our debt. And the President's law is accelerating our country toward bankruptcy.

Our debt is out of control. What was a fiscal challenge is now a fiscal crisis.

We cannot deny it; instead we must, as Americans, confront it responsibly.

And that is exactly what Republicans pledge to do.

Americans are skeptical of both political parties, and that skepticism is justified — especially when it comes to spending. So hold all of us accountable.


In this very room, the House will produce, debate, and advance a budget. Last year — in an unprecedented failure — Congress chose not to pass, or even propose a budget. The spending spree continued unchecked.

We owe you a better choice and a different vision.

Our forthcoming budget is our obligation to you — to show you how we intend to do things differently … how we will cut spending to get the debt down… help create jobs and prosperity … and reform government programs. If we act soon, and if we act responsibly, people in and near retirement will be protected.

These budget debates are not just about the programs of government; they're also about the purpose of government.

So I'd like to share with you the principles that guide us. They are anchored in the wisdom of the founders; in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence; and in the words of the American Constitution.

They have to do with the importance of limited government; and with the blessing of self-government.

We believe government's role is both vital and limited — to defend the nation from attack and provide for the common defense ... to secure our borders ... to protect innocent life ... to uphold our laws and Constitutional rights ... to ensure domestic tranquility and equal opportunity ... and to help provide a safety net for those who cannot provide for themselves.

We believe that the government has an important role to create the conditions that promote entrepreneurship, upward mobility, and individual responsibility.

We believe, as our founders did, that "the pursuit of happiness" depends upon individual liberty; and individual liberty requires limited government.

Limited government also means effective government. When government takes on too many tasks, it usually doesn't do any of them very well. It's no coincidence that trust in government is at an all-time low now that the size of government is at an all-time high.

The President and the Democratic Leadership have shown, by their actions, that they believe government needs to increase its size and its reach, its price tag and its power.

Whether sold as "stimulus" or repackaged as "investment," their actions show they want a federal government that controls too much; taxes too much; and spends too much in order to do too much.

And during the last two years, that is exactly what we have gotten — along with record deficits and debt — to the point where the President is now urging Congress to increase the debt limit.

We believe the days of business as usual must come to an end. We hold to a couple of simple convictions: Endless borrowing is not a strategy; spending cuts have to come first.

Our nation is approaching a tipping point.

We are at a moment, where if government's growth is left unchecked and unchallenged, America's best century will be considered our past century. This is a future in which we will transform our social safety net into a hammock, which lulls able-bodied people into lives of complacency and dependency.

Depending on bureaucracy to foster innovation, competitiveness, and wise consumer choices has never worked — and it won't work now.

We need to chart a new course.

Speaking candidly, as one citizen to another: We still have time ... but not much time. If we continue down our current path, we know what our future will be.

Just take a look at what's happening to Greece, Ireland, the United Kingdom and other nations in Europe. They didn't act soon enough; and now their governments have been forced to impose painful austerity measures: large benefit cuts to seniors and huge tax increases on everybody.

Their day of reckoning has arrived. Ours is around the corner. That is why we must act now.

Some people will back away from this challenge. But I see this challenge as an opportunity to rebuild what Lincoln called the "central ideas" of the Republic.

We believe a renewed commitment to limited government will unshackle our economy and create millions of new jobs and opportunities for all people, of every background, to succeed and prosper. Under this approach, the spirit of initiative — not political clout — determines who succeeds.

Millions of families have fallen on hard times not because of our ideals of free enterprise — but because our leaders failed to live up to those ideals; because of poor decisions made in Washington and Wall Street that caused a financial crisis, squandered our savings, broke our trust, and crippled our economy.


Today, a similar kind of irresponsibility threatens not only our livelihoods but our way of life.

We need to reclaim our American system of limited government, low taxes, reasonable regulations, and sound money, which has blessed us with unprecedented prosperity. And it has done more to help the poor than any other economic system ever designed. That's the real secret to job creation — not borrowing and spending more money in Washington.

Limited government and free enterprise have helped make America the greatest nation on earth.

These are not easy times, but America is an exceptional nation. In all the chapters of human history, there has never been anything quite like America. The American story has been cherished, advanced, and defended over the centuries.

And it now falls to this generation to pass on to our children a nation that is stronger, more vibrant, more decent, and better than the one we inherited.

Thank you and good night.

text of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address

Here is the text of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address as prepared for delivery at 9 p.m. ET.

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans:

Tonight I want to begin by congratulating the men and women of the 112th Congress, as well as your new Speaker, John Boehner. And as we mark this occasion, we are also mindful of the empty chair in this Chamber, and pray for the health of our colleague – and our friend – Gabby Giffords.

It’s no secret that those of us here tonight have had our differences over the last two years. The debates have been contentious; we have fought fiercely for our beliefs. And that’s a good thing. That’s what a robust democracy demands. That’s what helps set us apart as a nation.

But there’s a reason the tragedy in Tucson gave us pause. Amid all the noise and passions and rancor of our public debate, Tucson reminded us that no matter who we are or where we come from, each of us is a part of something greater – something more consequential than party or political preference.

We are part of the American family. We believe that in a country where every race and faith and point of view can be found, we are still bound together as one people; that we share common hopes and a common creed; that the dreams of a little girl in Tucson are not so different than those of our own children, and that they all deserve the chance to be fulfilled.

That, too, is what sets us apart as a nation.

Now, by itself, this simple recognition won’t usher in a new era of cooperation. What comes of this moment is up to us. What comes of this moment will be determined not by whether we can sit together tonight, but whether we can work together tomorrow.

I believe we can. I believe we must. That’s what the people who sent us here expect of us. With their votes, they’ve determined that governing will now be a shared responsibility between parties. New laws will only pass with support from Democrats and Republicans. We will move forward together, or not at all – for the challenges we face are bigger than party, and bigger than politics.

At stake right now is not who wins the next election – after all, we just had an election. At stake is whether new jobs and industries take root in this country, or somewhere else. It’s whether the hard work and industry of our people is rewarded. It’s whether we sustain the leadership that has made America not just a place on a map, but a light to the world.

We are poised for progress. Two years after the worst recession most of us have ever known, the stock market has come roaring back. Corporate profits are up. The economy is growing again.

But we have never measured progress by these yardsticks alone. We measure progress by the success of our people. By the jobs they can find and the quality of life those jobs offer. By the prospects of a small business owner who dreams of turning a good idea into a thriving enterprise. By the opportunities for a better life that we pass on to our children.

That’s the project the American people want us to work on. Together.

We did that in December. Thanks to the tax cuts we passed, Americans’ paychecks are a little bigger today. Every business can write off the full cost of the new investments they make this year. These steps, taken by Democrats and Republicans, will grow the economy and add to the more than one million private sector jobs created last year.

But we have more work to do. The steps we’ve taken over the last two years may have broken the back of this recession – but to win the future, we’ll need to take on challenges that have been decades in the making.

Many people watching tonight can probably remember a time when finding a good job meant showing up at a nearby factory or a business downtown. You didn’t always need a degree, and your competition was pretty much limited to your neighbors. If you worked hard, chances are you’d have a job for life, with a decent paycheck, good benefits, and the occasional promotion. Maybe you’d even have the pride of seeing your kids work at the same company.

That world has changed. And for many, the change has been painful. I’ve seen it in the shuttered windows of once booming factories, and the vacant storefronts of once busy Main Streets. I’ve heard it in the frustrations of Americans who’ve seen their paychecks dwindle or their jobs disappear – proud men and women who feel like the rules have been changed in the middle of the game.

They’re right. The rules have changed. In a single generation, revolutions in technology have transformed the way we live, work and do business. Steel mills that once needed 1,000 workers can now do the same work with 100. Today, just about any company can set up shop, hire workers, and sell their products wherever there’s an internet connection.

Meanwhile, nations like China and India realized that with some changes of their own, they could compete in this new world. And so they started educating their children earlier and longer, with greater emphasis on math and science. They’re investing in research and new technologies. Just recently, China became home to the world’s largest private solar research facility, and the world’s fastest computer.

So yes, the world has changed. The competition for jobs is real. But this shouldn’t discourage us. It should challenge us. Remember – for all the hits we’ve taken these last few years, for all the naysayers predicting our decline, America still has the largest, most prosperous economy in the world. No workers are more productive than ours. No country has more successful companies, or grants more patents to inventors and entrepreneurs. We are home to the world’s best colleges and universities, where more students come to study than any other place on Earth.

What’s more, we are the first nation to be founded for the sake of an idea – the idea that each of us deserves the chance to shape our own destiny. That is why centuries of pioneers and immigrants have risked everything to come here. It’s why our students don’t just memorize equations, but answer questions like “What do you think of that idea? What would you change about the world? What do you want to be when you grow up?”

The future is ours to win. But to get there, we can’t just stand still. As Robert Kennedy told us, “The future is not a gift. It is an achievement.” Sustaining the American Dream has never been about standing pat. It has required each generation to sacrifice, and struggle, and meet the demands of a new age.

Now it’s our turn. We know what it takes to compete for the jobs and industries of our time. We need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world. We have to make America the best place on Earth to do business. We need to take responsibility for our deficit, and reform our government. That’s how our people will prosper. That’s how we’ll win the future. And tonight, I’d like to talk about how we get there.

The first step in winning the future is encouraging American innovation.

None of us can predict with certainty what the next big industry will be, or where the new jobs will come from. Thirty years ago, we couldn’t know that something called the Internet would lead to an economic revolution. What we can do – what America does better than anyone – is spark the creativity and imagination of our people. We are the nation that put cars in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers; of Google and Facebook. In America, innovation doesn’t just change our lives. It’s how we make a living.

Our free enterprise system is what drives innovation. But because it’s not always profitable for companies to invest in basic research, throughout history our government has provided cutting-edge scientists and inventors with the support that they need. That’s what planted the seeds for the Internet. That’s what helped make possible things like computer chips and GPS.

Just think of all the good jobs – from manufacturing to retail – that have come from those breakthroughs.

Half a century ago, when the Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a satellite called Sputnik¸ we had no idea how we’d beat them to the moon. The science wasn’t there yet. NASA didn’t even exist. But after investing in better research and education, we didn’t just surpass the Soviets; we unleashed a wave of innovation that created new industries and millions of new jobs.

This is our generation’s Sputnik moment. Two years ago, I said that we needed to reach a level of research and development we haven’t seen since the height of the Space Race. In a few weeks, I will be sending a budget to Congress that helps us meet that goal. We’ll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology – an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people.

Already, we are seeing the promise of renewable energy. Robert and Gary Allen are brothers who run a small Michigan roofing company. After September 11th, they volunteered their best roofers to help repair the Pentagon. But half of their factory went unused, and the recession hit them hard.

Today, with the help of a government loan, that empty space is being used to manufacture solar shingles that are being sold all across the country. In Robert’s words, “We reinvented ourselves.”

That’s what Americans have done for over two hundred years: reinvented ourselves. And to spur on more success stories like the Allen Brothers, we’ve begun to reinvent our energy policy. We’re not just handing out money. We’re issuing a challenge. We’re telling America’s scientists and engineers that if they assemble teams of the best minds in their fields, and focus on the hardest problems in clean energy, we’ll fund the Apollo Projects of our time.

At the California Institute of Technology, they’re developing a way to turn sunlight and water into fuel for our cars. At Oak Ridge National Laboratory, they’re using supercomputers to get a lot more power out of our nuclear facilities. With more research and incentives, we can break our dependence on oil with biofuels, and become the first country to have 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.

We need to get behind this innovation. And to help pay for it, I’m asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but they’re doing just fine on their own. So instead of subsidizing yesterday’s energy, let’s invest in tomorrow’s.

Now, clean energy breakthroughs will only translate into clean energy jobs if businesses know there will be a market for what they’re selling. So tonight, I challenge you to join me in setting a new goal: by 2035, 80% of America’s electricity will come from clean energy sources. Some folks want wind and solar. Others want nuclear, clean coal, and natural gas. To meet this goal, we will need them all – and I urge Democrats and Republicans to work together to make it happen.

Maintaining our leadership in research and technology is crucial to America’s success. But if we want to win the future – if we want innovation to produce jobs in America and not overseas – then we also have to win the race to educate our kids.

Think about it. Over the next ten years, nearly half of all new jobs will require education that goes beyond a high school degree. And yet, as many as a quarter of our students aren’t even finishing high school. The quality of our math and science education lags behind many other nations. America has fallen to 9th in the proportion of young people with a college degree. And so the question is whether all of us – as citizens, and as parents – are willing to do what’s necessary to give every child a chance to succeed.

That responsibility begins not in our classrooms, but in our homes and communities. It’s family that first instills the love of learning in a child. Only parents can make sure the TV is turned off and homework gets done. We need to teach our kids that it’s not just the winner of the Super Bowl who deserves to be celebrated, but the winner of the science fair; that success is not a function of fame or PR, but of hard work and discipline.

Our schools share this responsibility. When a child walks into a classroom, it should be a place of high expectations and high performance. But too many schools don’t meet this test. That’s why instead of just pouring money into a system that’s not working, we launched a competition called Race to the Top. To all fifty states, we said, “If you show us the most innovative plans to improve teacher quality and student achievement, we’ll show you the money.”

Race to the Top is the most meaningful reform of our public schools in a generation. For less than one percent of what we spend on education each year, it has led over 40 states to raise their standards for teaching and learning. These standards were developed, not by Washington, but by Republican and Democratic governors throughout the country. And Race to the Top should be the approach we follow this year as we replace No Child Left Behind with a law that is more flexible and focused on what’s best for our kids.

You see, we know what’s possible for our children when reform isn’t just a top-down mandate, but the work of local teachers and principals; school boards and communities.

Take a school like Bruce Randolph in Denver. Three years ago, it was rated one of the worst schools in Colorado; located on turf between two rival gangs. But last May, 97% of the seniors received their diploma. Most will be the first in their family to go to college. And after the first year of the school’s transformation, the principal who made it possible wiped away tears when a student said “Thank you, Mrs. Waters, for showing… that we are smart and we can make it.”

Let’s also remember that after parents, the biggest impact on a child’s success comes from the man or woman at the front of the classroom. In South Korea, teachers are known as “nation builders.” Here in America, it’s time we treated the people who educate our children with the same level of respect. We want to reward good teachers and stop making excuses for bad ones. And over the next ten years, with so many Baby Boomers retiring from our classrooms, we want to prepare 100,000 new teachers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.

In fact, to every young person listening tonight who’s contemplating their career choice: If you want to make a difference in the life of our nation; if you want to make a difference in the life of a child – become a teacher. Your country needs you.

Of course, the education race doesn’t end with a high school diploma. To compete, higher education must be within reach of every American. That’s why we’ve ended the unwarranted taxpayer subsidies that went to banks, and used the savings to make college affordable for millions of students. And this year, I ask Congress to go further, and make permanent our tuition tax credit – worth $10,000 for four years of college.

Because people need to be able to train for new jobs and careers in today’s fast-changing economy, we are also revitalizing America’s community colleges. Last month, I saw the promise of these schools at Forsyth Tech in North Carolina. Many of the students there used to work in the surrounding factories that have since left town. One mother of two, a woman named Kathy Proctor, had worked in the furniture industry since she was 18 years old. And she told me she’s earning her degree in biotechnology now, at 55 years old, not just because the furniture jobs are gone, but because she wants to inspire her children to pursue their dreams too. As Kathy said, “I hope it tells them to never give up.”

If we take these steps – if we raise expectations for every child, and give them the best possible chance at an education, from the day they’re born until the last job they take – we will reach the goal I set two years ago: by the end of the decade, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.

One last point about education. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of students excelling in our schools who are not American citizens. Some are the children of undocumented workers, who had nothing to do with the actions of their parents. They grew up as Americans and pledge allegiance to our flag, and yet live every day with the threat of deportation. Others come here from abroad to study in our colleges and universities. But as soon as they obtain advanced degrees, we send them back home to compete against us. It makes no sense.

Now, I strongly believe that we should take on, once and for all, the issue of illegal immigration. I am prepared to work with Republicans and Democrats to protect our borders, enforce our laws and address the millions of undocumented workers who are now living in the shadows. I know that debate will be difficult and take time. But tonight, let’s agree to make that effort. And let’s stop expelling talented, responsible young people who can staff our research labs, start new businesses, and further enrich this nation.

The third step in winning the future is rebuilding America. To attract new businesses to our shores, we need the fastest, most reliable ways to move people, goods, and information – from high-speed rail to high-speed internet.

Our infrastructure used to be the best – but our lead has slipped. South Korean homes now have greater internet access than we do. Countries in Europe and Russia invest more in their roads and railways than we do. China is building faster trains and newer airports. Meanwhile, when our own engineers graded our nation’s infrastructure, they gave us a “D.”

We have to do better. America is the nation that built the transcontinental railroad, brought electricity to rural communities, and constructed the interstate highway system. The jobs created by these projects didn’t just come from laying down tracks or pavement. They came from businesses that opened near a town’s new train station or the new off-ramp.

Over the last two years, we have begun rebuilding for the 21st century, a project that has meant thousands of good jobs for the hard-hit construction industry. Tonight, I’m proposing that we redouble these efforts.

We will put more Americans to work repairing crumbling roads and bridges. We will make sure this is fully paid for, attract private investment, and pick projects based on what’s best for the economy, not politicians.

Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80% of Americans access to high-speed rail, which could allow you go places in half the time it takes to travel by car. For some trips, it will be faster than flying – without the pat-down. As we speak, routes in California and the Midwest are already underway.

Within the next five years, we will make it possible for business to deploy the next generation of high-speed wireless coverage to 98% of all Americans. This isn’t just about a faster internet and fewer dropped calls. It’s about connecting every part of America to the digital age. It’s about a rural community in Iowa or Alabama where farmers and small business owners will be able to sell their products all over the world. It’s about a firefighter who can download the design of a burning building onto a handheld device; a student who can take classes with a digital textbook; or a patient who can have face-to-face video chats with her doctor.

All these investments – in innovation, education, and infrastructure – will make America a better place to do business and create jobs. But to help our companies compete, we also have to knock down barriers that stand in the way of their success.

Over the years, a parade of lobbyists has rigged the tax code to benefit particular companies and industries. Those with accountants or lawyers to work the system can end up paying no taxes at all. But all the rest are hit with one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world. It makes no sense, and it has to change.

So tonight, I’m asking Democrats and Republicans to simplify the system. Get rid of the loopholes. Level the playing field. And use the savings to lower the corporate tax rate for the first time in 25 years – without adding to our deficit.

To help businesses sell more products abroad, we set a goal of doubling our exports by 2014 – because the more we export, the more jobs we create at home. Already, our exports are up. Recently, we signed agreements with India and China that will support more than 250,000 jobs in the United States. And last month, we finalized a trade agreement with South Korea that will support at least 70,000 American jobs. This agreement has unprecedented support from business and labor; Democrats and Republicans, and I ask this Congress to pass it as soon as possible.

Before I took office, I made it clear that we would enforce our trade agreements, and that I would only sign deals that keep faith with American workers, and promote American jobs. That’s what we did with Korea, and that’s what I intend to do as we pursue agreements with Panama and Colombia, and continue our Asia Pacific and global trade talks.

To reduce barriers to growth and investment, I’ve ordered a review of government regulations. When we find rules that put an unnecessary burden on businesses, we will fix them. But I will not hesitate to create or enforce commonsense safeguards to protect the American people. That’s what we’ve done in this country for more than a century. It’s why our food is safe to eat, our water is safe to drink, and our air is safe to breathe. It’s why we have speed limits and child labor laws. It’s why last year, we put in place consumer protections against hidden fees and penalties by credit card companies, and new rules to prevent another financial crisis. And it’s why we passed reform that finally prevents the health insurance industry from exploiting patients.

Now, I’ve heard rumors that a few of you have some concerns about the new health care law. So let me be the first to say that anything can be improved. If you have ideas about how to improve this law by making care better or more affordable, I am eager to work with you. We can start right now by correcting a flaw in the legislation that has placed an unnecessary bookkeeping burden on small businesses.

What I’m not willing to do is go back to the days when insurance companies could deny someone coverage because of a pre-existing condition. I’m not willing to tell James Howard, a brain cancer patient from Texas, that his treatment might not be covered. I’m not willing to tell Jim Houser, a small business owner from Oregon, that he has to go back to paying $5,000 more to cover his employees. As we speak, this law is making prescription drugs cheaper for seniors and giving uninsured students a chance to stay on their parents’ coverage. So instead of re-fighting the battles of the last two years, let’s fix what needs fixing and move forward.

Now, the final step – a critical step – in winning the future is to make sure we aren’t buried under a mountain of debt.

We are living with a legacy of deficit-spending that began almost a decade ago. And in the wake of the financial crisis, some of that was necessary to keep credit flowing, save jobs, and put money in people’s pockets.

But now that the worst of the recession is over, we have to confront the fact that our government spends more than it takes in. That is not sustainable. Every day, families sacrifice to live within their means. They deserve a government that does the same.

So tonight, I am proposing that starting this year, we freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years. This would reduce the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade, and will bring discretionary spending to the lowest share of our economy since Dwight Eisenhower was president.

This freeze will require painful cuts. Already, we have frozen the salaries of hardworking federal employees for the next two years. I’ve proposed cuts to things I care deeply about, like community action programs. The Secretary of Defense has also agreed to cut tens of billions of dollars in spending that he and his generals believe our military can do without.

I recognize that some in this Chamber have already proposed deeper cuts, and I’m willing to eliminate whatever we can honestly afford to do without. But let’s make sure that we’re not doing it on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens. And let’s make sure what we’re cutting is really excess weight. Cutting the deficit by gutting our investments in innovation and education is like lightening an overloaded airplane by removing its engine. It may feel like you’re flying high at first, but it won’t take long before you’ll feel the impact.

Now, most of the cuts and savings I’ve proposed only address annual domestic spending, which represents a little more than 12% of our budget. To make further progress, we have to stop pretending that cutting this kind of spending alone will be enough. It won’t.

The bipartisan Fiscal Commission I created last year made this crystal clear. I don’t agree with all their proposals, but they made important progress. And their conclusion is that the only way to tackle our deficit is to cut excessive spending wherever we find it – in domestic spending, defense spending, health care spending, and spending through tax breaks and loopholes.

This means further reducing health care costs, including programs like Medicare and Medicaid, which are the single biggest contributor to our long-term deficit. Health insurance reform will slow these rising costs, which is part of why nonpartisan economists have said that repealing the health care law would add a quarter of a trillion dollars to our deficit. Still, I’m willing to look at other ideas to bring down costs, including one that Republicans suggested last year: medical malpractice reform to rein in frivolous lawsuits.

To put us on solid ground, we should also find a bipartisan solution to strengthen Social Security for future generations. And we must do it without putting at risk current retirees, the most vulnerable, or people with disabilities; without slashing benefits for future generations; and without subjecting Americans’ guaranteed retirement income to the whims of the stock market.

And if we truly care about our deficit, we simply cannot afford a permanent extension of the tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans. Before we take money away from our schools, or scholarships away from our students, we should ask millionaires to give up their tax break.

It’s not a matter of punishing their success. It’s about promoting America’s success.

In fact, the best thing we could do on taxes for all Americans is to simplify the individual tax code. This will be a tough job, but members of both parties have expressed interest in doing this, and I am prepared to join them.

So now is the time to act. Now is the time for both sides and both houses of Congress – Democrats and Republicans – to forge a principled compromise that gets the job done. If we make the hard choices now to rein in our deficits, we can make the investments we need to win the future.

Let me take this one step further. We shouldn’t just give our people a government that’s more affordable. We should give them a government that’s more competent and efficient. We cannot win the future with a government of the past.

We live and do business in the information age, but the last major reorganization of the government happened in the age of black and white TV. There are twelve different agencies that deal with exports. There are at least five different entities that deal with housing policy. Then there’s my favorite example: the Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they’re in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them in when they’re in saltwater. And I hear it gets even more complicated once they’re smoked.

Now, we have made great strides over the last two years in using technology and getting rid of waste. Veterans can now download their electronic medical records with a click of the mouse. We’re selling acres of federal office space that hasn’t been used in years, and we will cut through red tape to get rid of more. But we need to think bigger. In the coming months, my administration will develop a proposal to merge, consolidate, and reorganize the federal government in a way that best serves the goal of a more competitive America. I will submit that proposal to Congress for a vote – and we will push to get it passed.

In the coming year, we will also work to rebuild people’s faith in the institution of government. Because you deserve to know exactly how and where your tax dollars are being spent, you will be able to go to a website and get that information for the very first time in history. Because you deserve to know when your elected officials are meeting with lobbyists, I ask Congress to do what the White House has already done: put that information online. And because the American people deserve to know that special interests aren’t larding up legislation with pet projects, both parties in Congress should know this: if a bill comes to my desk with earmarks inside, I will veto it.

A 21st century government that’s open and competent. A government that lives within its means. An economy that’s driven by new skills and ideas. Our success in this new and changing world will require reform, responsibility, and innovation. It will also require us to approach that world with a new level of engagement in our foreign affairs.

Just as jobs and businesses can now race across borders, so can new threats and new challenges. No single wall separates East and West; no one rival superpower is aligned against us.

And so we must defeat determined enemies wherever they are, and build coalitions that cut across lines of region and race and religion. America’s moral example must always shine for all who yearn for freedom, justice, and dignity. And because we have begun this work, tonight we can say that American leadership has been renewed and America’s standing has been restored.

Look to Iraq, where nearly 100,000 of our brave men and women have left with their heads held high; where American combat patrols have ended; violence has come down; and a new government has been formed. This year, our civilians will forge a lasting partnership with the Iraqi people, while we finish the job of bringing our troops out of Iraq. America’s commitment has been kept; the Iraq War is coming to an end.

Of course, as we speak, al Qaeda and their affiliates continue to plan attacks against us. Thanks to our intelligence and law enforcement professionals, we are disrupting plots and securing our cities and skies. And as extremists try to inspire acts of violence within our borders, we are responding with the strength of our communities, with respect for the rule of law, and with the conviction that American Muslims are a part of our American family.

We have also taken the fight to al Qaeda and their allies abroad. In Afghanistan, our troops have taken Taliban strongholds and trained Afghan Security Forces. Our purpose is clear – by preventing the Taliban from reestablishing a stranglehold over the Afghan people, we will deny al Qaeda the safe-haven that served as a launching pad for 9/11.

Thanks to our heroic troops and civilians, fewer Afghans are under the control of the insurgency. There will be tough fighting ahead, and the Afghan government will need to deliver better governance. But we are strengthening the capacity of the Afghan people and building an enduring partnership with them. This year, we will work with nearly 50 countries to begin a transition to an Afghan lead. And this July, we will begin to bring our troops home.

In Pakistan, al Qaeda’s leadership is under more pressure than at any point since 2001. Their leaders and operatives are being removed from the battlefield. Their safe-havens are shrinking. And we have sent a message from the Afghan border to the Arabian Peninsula to all parts of the globe: we will not relent, we will not waver, and we will defeat you.

American leadership can also be seen in the effort to secure the worst weapons of war. Because Republicans and Democrats approved the New START Treaty, far fewer nuclear weapons and launchers will be deployed. Because we rallied the world, nuclear materials are being locked down on every continent so they never fall into the hands of terrorists.

Because of a diplomatic effort to insist that Iran meet its obligations, the Iranian government now faces tougher and tighter sanctions than ever before. And on the Korean peninsula, we stand with our ally South Korea, and insist that North Korea keeps its commitment to abandon nuclear weapons.

This is just a part of how we are shaping a world that favors peace and prosperity. With our European allies, we revitalized NATO, and increased our cooperation on everything from counter-terrorism to missile defense. We have reset our relationship with Russia, strengthened Asian alliances, and built new partnerships with nations like India. This March, I will travel to Brazil, Chile, and El Salvador to forge new alliances for progress in the Americas. Around the globe, we are standing with those who take responsibility – helping farmers grow more food; supporting doctors who care for the sick; and combating the corruption that can rot a society and rob people of opportunity.

Recent events have shown us that what sets us apart must not just be our power – it must be the purpose behind it. In South Sudan – with our assistance – the people were finally able to vote for independence after years of war. Thousands lined up before dawn. People danced in the streets. One man who lost four of his brothers at war summed up the scene around him: “This was a battlefield for most of my life. Now we want to be free.”

We saw that same desire to be free in Tunisia, where the will of the people proved more powerful than the writ of a dictator. And tonight, let us be clear: the United States of America stands with the people of Tunisia, and supports the democratic aspirations of all people.

We must never forget that the things we’ve struggled for, and fought for, live in the hearts of people everywhere. And we must always remember that the Americans who have borne the greatest burden in this struggle are the men and women who serve our country.

Tonight, let us speak with one voice in reaffirming that our nation is united in support of our troops and their families. Let us serve them as well as they have served us – by giving them the equipment they need; by providing them with the care and benefits they have earned; and by enlisting our veterans in the great task of building our own nation.

Our troops come from every corner of this country – they are black, white, Latino, Asian and Native American. They are Christian and Hindu, Jewish and Muslim. And, yes, we know that some of them are gay. Starting this year, no American will be forbidden from serving the country they love because of who they love. And with that change, I call on all of our college campuses to open their doors to our military recruiters and the ROTC. It is time to leave behind the divisive battles of the past. It is time to move forward as one nation.

We should have no illusions about the work ahead of us. Reforming our schools; changing the way we use energy; reducing our deficit – none of this is easy. All of it will take time. And it will be harder because we will argue about everything. The cost. The details. The letter of every law.

Of course, some countries don’t have this problem. If the central government wants a railroad, they get a railroad – no matter how many homes are bulldozed. If they don’t want a bad story in the newspaper, it doesn’t get written.

And yet, as contentious and frustrating and messy as our democracy can sometimes be, I know there isn’t a person here who would trade places with any other nation on Earth.

We may have differences in policy, but we all believe in the rights enshrined in our Constitution. We may have different opinions, but we believe in the same promise that says this is a place where you can make it if you try. We may have different backgrounds, but we believe in the same dream that says this is a country where anything’s possible. No matter who you are. No matter where you come from.

That dream is why I can stand here before you tonight. That dream is why a working class kid from Scranton can stand behind me. That dream is why someone who began by sweeping the floors of his father’s Cincinnati bar can preside as Speaker of the House in the greatest nation on Earth.

That dream – that American Dream – is what drove the Allen Brothers to reinvent their roofing company for a new era. It’s what drove those students at Forsyth Tech to learn a new skill and work towards the future. And that dream is the story of a small business owner named Brandon Fisher.

Brandon started a company in Berlin, Pennsylvania that specializes in a new kind of drilling technology. One day last summer, he saw the news that halfway across the world, 33 men were trapped in a Chilean mine, and no one knew how to save them.

But Brandon thought his company could help. And so he designed a rescue that would come to be known as Plan B. His employees worked around the clock to manufacture the necessary drilling equipment. And Brandon left for Chile.

Along with others, he began drilling a 2,000 foot hole into the ground, working three or four days at a time with no sleep. Thirty-seven days later, Plan B succeeded, and the miners were rescued. But because he didn’t want all of the attention, Brandon wasn’t there when the miners emerged. He had already gone home, back to work on his next project.

Later, one of his employees said of the rescue, “We proved that Center Rock is a little company, but we do big things.”

We do big things.

From the earliest days of our founding, America has been the story of ordinary people who dare to dream. That’s how we win the future.

We are a nation that says, “I might not have a lot of money, but I have this great idea for a new company. I might not come from a family of college graduates, but I will be the first to get my degree. I might not know those people in trouble, but I think I can help them, and I need to try. I’m not sure how we’ll reach that better place beyond the horizon, but I know we’ll get there. I know we will.”

We do big things.

The idea of America endures. Our destiny remains our choice. And tonight, more than two centuries later, it is because of our people that our future is hopeful, our journey goes forward, and the state of our union is strong.

Thank you, God Bless You, and may God Bless the United States of America.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

According to Dallas Morning News, the Great Obama Healthcare Compromise is failing on mainstreet with small businesses in Texas....

WASHINGTON — Pushing back against Republican efforts to repeal the health care law, the Obama administration has highlighted one of the law’s most business-friendly provisions: a tax credit that reduces the cost of health insurance for small employers.

Small Business Administration chief Karen Mills said this week that the percentage of employers offering insurance rose last year, thanks in part to the tax credit. Democrats said that repeal, which passed the GOP-controlled House on Wednesday, would result in a tax increase for small businesses claiming the credit.

Getting more small businesses to offer health benefits is key to expanding coverage in Texas, where 49 percent of small-business workers don’t have access to insurance, according to the Texas Department of Insurance. Those workers are most likely to labor in the food service and wholesale industries, according to the Insurance Department’s 2009 survey of small businesses.

The U.S. Treasury Department says 293,000 small firms in Texas were informed last year that they could qualify for the tax credit.

Administration officials say there is evidence that the credit prompted some to start offering insurance.

“There is story after story about people signing up for the tax credit,” Mills said. “As small businesses have understood the facts, they have gone into the marketplace and looked at the potential for them to take on health insurance if they don’t have it.”

The health law requires large employers to provide health coverage for workers or pay a fine. But it exempts small businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

The Kaiser Family Foundation, which tracks the prevalence of employer-sponsored coverage, said in December that the percentage of small firms offering health insurance rose in 2010 from 46 percent to 59 percent.

At the same time, the foundation’s report raised doubts about the cause of that increase.

Its authors said it seemed unlikely that many firms began offering insurance in a weak economy.

“While we have the statistics showing a statistically significant increase, we don’t have any analysis explaining the tax credit had anything to do with it,” said Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Lewisville.

The Internal Revenue Service says it’s too early to know how many employers will claim the credit for 2010. A recent study by the Lewin Group estimated that 81 percent of Texas’ small employers would qualify for some level of credit.

Yet the credit hasn’t been embraced by the small-business lobby. The National Federation of Independent Business says many of its members think the tax credit is too complicated to be useful. The federation supports the GOP repeal effort, which the Senate doesn’t plan to consider.

Complicated credit

The tax credit, which was available for the 2010 tax year, covers up to 35 percent of an employer’s premium costs for small firms that pay for most of their workers’ health costs. The full credit is available to firms with 10 or fewer workers and average wages below $25,000.

The credit declines if a firm has more than 10 but fewer than 25 workers and if average wages are higher than $25,000 but less than $50,000.

“Any kind of tax incentive is going to have to be far less complicated,” said Bill Rys, tax counsel at NFIB. “That is why we think this is no panacea for small businesses to solve their problems relative to health insurance.”

Most small employers in Texas that don’t offer insurance say it’s because coverage is simply too expensive, according to the Insurance Department’s survey.

Restaurateurs speak

Eva Taylor-Jones, owner of two Eva’s House of BBQ restaurants in southern Dallas, said it would be a “stretch” to provide insurance even with the tax credit. She can’t afford insurance for her workers, but would like to provide it, she said.

“If I had to do so, the economy definitely would have to be in a recession-proof environment,” said Taylor-Jones. She said she supported the health law.

“In the past it’s been so intimidating for small businesses and individuals to purchase because it’s been so astronomical in price,” she said.

David Carles, who opened a restaurant in Denton in 2009 with his wife, faces a similar problem. Carles said he’d like to eventually provide health insurance for his workers, but his young business is still unprofitable and coverage is too costly.

“It would just be one more liability that we couldn’t afford,” said Carles, who co-owns Cafe Du Luxe, a bistro. “We don’t even carry workers’ comp insurance. I have had to pay health claims out of pocket.”

Thomas George, president of an employee and executive benefits firm in Dallas, said he’s noticed no effect on the number of small firms offering insurance since the law passed.

He said many employers would hesitate to add insurance because the incentive doesn’t cover the entire cost of premiums.

“In this economy, when companies are struggling, they are loathe to add any expense, tax credit or not,” said George, president of George, Belcher, Evans & Wilmer.

Democrats say the credit is helpful but acknowledge that it isn’t a cure-all. Boosting the incentive is unlikely, given the pressure on Congress to cut the deficit.

“Since the Republicans are not willing to pay for anything except by cutting back on other health benefits, it probably is not possible in this environment to make it more generous,” said Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin.

Congressional Republicans say the tax credit isn’t the health law’s main flaw, but they argue that it’s not meaningful to small businesses. House Republicans say they’re working on new policies designed to lower the cost of insurance for small employers.

The GOP has promoted many of the ideas for years, including new restrictions on medical lawsuits and allowing insurance companies to sell policies across state lines.

Republicans also want to gut some of the regulations that stipulate what health care must be covered. Insurers say those requirements will drive up the cost of coverage, particularly on small employers.

“While tax credits are important to help small businesses afford coverage, other provisions in the new law are going to significantly increase the cost of coverage, including new taxes on small-business health insurance and minimum benefit levels that will require businesses to buy more coverage than they have today,” said Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, a lobbying group.

Friday, January 21, 2011

How to Clone a Wooly Mammoth... start with frozen mice and beef cattle until an Elephant comes along.

The extinct woolly mammoth could be brought back to life in as little as four years thanks to a breakthrough in cloning technology, a Japanese researcher says.

Akira Iritani, a professor at Kyoto University, says he wants to resurrect the species that died out 5,000 years ago by recovering nuclei from cells in the skin and muscle tissue of mammoths found in Siberian permafrost and inserting the nuclei into the egg cells of an African elephant, which will act as the surrogate mother for the mammoth, Britain's Daily Telegraph reported Thursday.

Plans to resurrect the mammoth have been in place since 1997. During three separate studies, a research team from Kinki University in Japan obtained mammoth skin and muscle tissue excavated in good condition from the permafrost in Siberia.

But they soon discovered that most nuclei in the cells were damaged by ice crystals and were unusable. So the project was abandoned, according to the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbum.

Japanese researchers said in 2008 that they successfully cloned a mouse from a body that had been frozen for 16 years, which they claimed theoretically opened the door to preserving endangered animals and resurrecting extinct animals such as the woolly mammoth.

Minoru Miyashita, a professor at Kinki University, was asked last spring to join the project. He has petitioned zoos to donate elephant egg cells when their female elephants die so more research can be done.

However, a technique pioneered at the Riken Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe, Japan, was successful in cloning a mouse from the cells of another mouse that had been frozen for 16 years.

"Now the technical problems
have been overcome, all we need is a good sample of soft tissue from a frozen mammoth," Iritani says.

Iritani said he estimates that another two years will be needed before nuclei can be obtained and the elephant impregnated, followed by the approximately 600-day gestation period.

"The success rate in the cloning of cattle was poor until recently but now stands at about 30 percent," Iritani said. "I think we have a reasonable chance of success and a healthy mammoth could be born in four or five years."

It seems that Will Rogers was right when he said, "When Congress makes a joke, it is a law. When they make a law, it is a joke."

My CPA passed this along to me in an email.

At first I thought it was a joke, but no it is a tax law that was buried in the Healthcare Reform law that past last year and starts affecting businesses large and small in 1012 and rental property holders this year... here is the example of buying a laptop computer that originally read as "Apple iPad" when it was sent to me:

NOTE: It seems to have originated with That $1.7 billion a year would supposedly help offset provisions in the bill that increase IRS collection costs. But tax preparers and small business groups only see more paper jams, despite the president’s executive order to cut the red tape for small business. The “new reporting burden, particularly as it falls on small businesses, may turn out to be disproportionate as compared with any resulting improvement in tax compliance," Nina Olson of IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service [TAS], the federal overseer at the IRS who protects taxpayers, said in a June report:

Under the new 1099 Tax Reporting of the Heathcare Reform Law, someone sells your small business a laptop for $600. Today, you don’t have to issue a 1099 to that person because the IRS realizes not only that these transactions count in the millions, but often mistakes are made about the correct amount to report on the form.

The seller often makes mistakes deducting from that $600 his cost of goods to sell that laptop -- prorating payments to a distributor, office overhead, gas costs to go pick it up. You see how crazy this can get.

Next, the small businesses will have to collect from the laptop seller his Social Security or Tax ID to complete the 1099 form. What if a vendor fails to furnish a correct Tax ID? The small business is required by law to calculate and then impose back-up withholding at the rate of 28% of the purchase price.

It gets worse. In that event, under the law, “the small business must prepare and file Form 945, Annual Return of Withheld Federal Income Tax, and make federal tax deposits at an authorized institution on a prescribed schedule,” to comply with the 1099 law, Olson says.

If the small business doesn’t do that? It gets slapped with a penalty.

So say you paid just $200 for the $600 laptop. Say you get in a fight with your laptop seller because he won’t give you his Social Security number due to privacy concerns, or he simply gives you the wrong Social Security number. Then you’ll have to start filing federal forms to do backup withholding for $168. Wouldn’t that make you feel like you shouldn’t pay the full purchase price?
“Failure to withhold an amount generally results in liability for that amount,” TAS Olson says, who acknowledges that “back-up withholding may be impracticable, because a business already may have paid the full price at the point of sale before learning that the Tax ID was incorrect.”
TAS Olson also notes this TIN fight could hurt the economy, especially in this scenario. “A vendor may simply refuse to sell goods to any purchaser that refuses to pay the full purchase price,” Olson says. “Such an outcome could significantly impair the normal course of commerce. No business should have to choose between compliance with back-up withholding and losing access to vendors on the one hand, and noncompliance while keeping vendor access on the other hand.”
There’s more. “Small businesses may have to acquire new software or pay for additional accounting services, incurring additional costs,” in order to transmit these forms, Olson says.
What if your vendors are not computerized to track customer purchases, what if they are not up to speed? Wouldn’t you be inclined to drop them? Wouldn’t that in turn put other small businesses out of work?
And get this -- if a small business makes individual purchases of $600 or more from at least 250 vendors during a calendar year, it must also by law file forms 1099 electronically to the IRS. That’s even more costly, because the small business would have “to pay a per-report fee charged by an e-file service provider,” TAS Olson says.
And what happens if you want to return the item? Aren’t there millions more returns of items at the level of $600?
“The goods market is subject to a high rate of returned items that result in refunds to the purchaser,” TAS Olson notes.
Say your small business wants to return the laptop. But you both already filed 1099 forms for the purchase. You have to file more federal forms showing the transaction was undone.
And what if someone erroneously pumps out a 1099 form that says you sold them a laptop, when you didn’t, and the IRS matches that form to find out you did not report income on your tax return?
The IRS then issues a so-called “CP 2000 “notice of underreported income. That’s basically an IRS form letter explaining to you that the 1099 income information in IRS files does not match entries on your tax return and advises you to respond. At this point, you’re stuck, you’ll “have to prove a negative,” TAS Olson says.
And that means more bureaucracy. “Consequently, the IRS would have to develop a process for verifying and using information reports to establish an accurate amount of gross proceeds,” Olson says.
There’s more nuisances, beyond the new 1099 form. Take health-reform’s insurance mandate, which says if you do not have insurance, you’ll have to pay a fine to the government.

The TAS noted that the “IRS will need to determine a taxpayer's compliance with the individual [insurance purchasing] mandate and assess a penalty if coverage is inadequate.”

But the fine isn’t based on just your personal net income. “This determination is based on a concept of 'household income.' This may differ from the income reported on the taxpayer's return, because it is a composite of all of the income reported by members of a taxpayer's household -- information that may not be readily accessible to the IRS,” TAS Olson says.

That means more bureaucracy.

The IRS will need more training in privacy requirements, in order to avoid a drop in tax compliance, TAS Olson said, as taxpayers may feel they need to protect their confidential household income information for everyone who lives under the same roof.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

How to Build a Better Bed Bug ...

The findings add to a growing body of evidence from molecular-biology studies that bedbugs have recently evolved at least three improved biochemical defenses against common pesticides. Bedbugs today appear to have nerve cells better able to withstand the chemical effects, higher levels of enzymes that detoxify the lethal substances, and thicker shells that can block insecticides.

"These bugs have several back doors open to escape," said evolutionary entomologist Klaus Reinhardt at the University of Tuebingen in Germany, who was familiar with the new research butn't involved in the projects. "Simple spraying around of some pesticides may not [be enough] now or in the future."

In an era of antibiotic-resistant infections and herbicide-resistant weeds, the ability of bedbugs to survive once-lethal doses of insecticides is the newest evidence that efforts to eradicate pests that plague humankind may make some of them stronger. It is a key reason for the spread of bedbugs in the past decade, several researchers who study them said.

Well-adapted to homes, hotels and dormitories, these tiny blood-sucking parasites usually hide in mattresses, bed frames and furniture upholstery. Bedbugs feed every five to 10 days, leaving painful welts on the skin and sometimes triggering allergic reactions.

Laboratory tests in the U.S., Europe and Africa show today's bedbugs can survive pesticide levels a thousand times greater than the lethal dose of a decade or so ago. "There is a phenomenal level of resistance," said bedbug entomologist Michael Siva-Jothy at the University of Sheffield in the U.K. "It has evolved very recently."

Since the pesticide DDT was banned starting about 40 years ago, people usually have treated bedbug infestations with pesticides based on a family of compounds called pyrethroids, usually deltamethrin or lambda-cyhalothrin, synthetic versions of chemicals found in chrysanthemum blossoms.

There are few chemical alternatives, because the residential market for insecticides is relatively small, and the cost of development, safety tests and regulatory approval is relatively high, several researchers said. Since the bugs don't transmit any serious infectious diseases, there also is little medical funding to research new control measures.

.Repeated applications of the same insecticides act as a form of natural selection for bedbugs. Any surviving insects pass on traits to their offspring and to succeeding generations.

"Insect resistance is nothing more than sped-up evolution," said insect toxicologist John Clark at the University of Massachusetts, who led the research team there.

By analyzing thousands of RNA sequences—the biochemical record of the parasite's genetic activity—entomologist Omprakash Mittapalli and his Ohio State colleagues found that bedbugs exposed to pesticides showed unusually high levels of activity among those genes controlling enzymes able to turn the toxic chemicals into water-soluble compounds that can be safely excreted.

"When we mined our database for these specific genes, we found that the bedbug has quite a few of these enzyme systems," Dr. Mittapalli said.

They all belong to a major family of enzymes called cytochrome P450 that act as a catalyst for a broad range of chemical reactions and are implicated in pesticide resistance in other insect species.

In addition, an independent analysis of bedbugs by researchers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg, Va., suggests that other genetic changes may be giving the insects sturdier hides that can keep these chemicals from penetrating their exoskeletons.

Moreover, resistance to chemicals designed to kill the bugs can become a permanent part of their genetic inheritance. Researchers at the University of Kentucky showed that bedbugs, sampled at a half-dozen U.S. locations, remain relatively immune to DDT generations after the chemical was banned for general household use.

"We have changed the genetic make-up of the bedbugs we have in the United States," said urban pest-management specialist Dini Miller at Virginia Tech. "That's what I call unnatural selection."

The researchers hope that a fundamental understanding of the insect's biochemistry will lead one day to more lasting control measures.

"This is an important first step," said Barry Pittendrigh, an expert in insect genomics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Write to Robert Lee Hotz at

Monday, January 17, 2011

Locals hush as Hobbit date set

Last updated 10:51 17/01/2011
The pitter patter of hairy feet is getting louder in Matamata with The Hobbit to start filming next month.
Wellywood insiders have told the Dominion Post that Valentine's Day – February 14 – is when cameras will start rolling on the two films.
However, Sir Ian McKellen – who is reprising his Lord of the Rings role as Gandalf – said via his website: "I am happy to say I start filming in Wellington on February 21, 2011."
Matamata-Piako locals are watching for the shutdown of the district's famous Hobbiton movie set tours as a definite sign that filming is under way on the long-awaited prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy of films.
Hobbiton Movie Set & Farm Tours manager Russell Alexander was tight-lipped today.
"I've got meetings coming up but I'm bound by confidentiality and I can't talk, and I can't say what I do know," he said.
Film publicist Melissa Booth confirmed filming would start next month but said the exact date had yet to be set.
Matamata-Piako Mayor Hugh Vercoe said the long-term economic benefits for the district outweighed the immediate economic impact of production.
Unlike the set built for the Lord of the Rings films which was dismantled following filming, the one rebuilt for The Hobbit would remain permanently, providing a future drawcard for fans once filming finished.
Ongoing tourism from first movies meant it would be difficult for locals to detect an influx of crew and actors for The Hobbit when filming did begin.
The town was "looking absolutely fabulous" and was ready to welcome the film crews with open arms, he said.
The official announcement that McKellen would play Gandalf in The Hobbit was made only last week.
Other returning cast members have also been announced, with Elijah Wood to return as Frodo and Andy Serkis as Gollum, Cate Blanchett as Galadrial, and Orlando Bloom as Legolas. Martin Freeman, of UK's The Office, will play Bilbo Baggins.
- Waikato Times

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Russia to Ferry US Astronauts and Tourists to ISS in 2013-2016

Russia has again found room for paying private customers aboard the cramped three-seat Soyuz due to plans to increase annual production of the single-use craft -- carried into orbit by Russian rockets -- from four to five in 2013.

While Laliberte never revealed how much he paid, Kostenko said the trip to orbit could be expected to cost future clients "significantly more" than the $35 million shelled out by his predecessor, U.S. software mogul Charles Simonyi, in 2007.

He added that Space Adventures already had a list of interested potential travelers, despite the hefty price tag.

Since Laliberte's return, Roskosmos had reserved Soyuz seats for astronauts only, as it took on full responsibility for ferrying U.S. astronauts amid NASA's plans to retire its 30-year-old space shuttle program later this year.

NASA said this week it plans to book an extra 12 seats aboard Soyuz to fly its astronauts to and from the International Space Station in 2014-2016 -- with each seat set to cost at least $55.8 million.

The U.S. space agency last year signed a $335 million deal with Russia to purchase six seats in 2013, as it prepares to mothball its shuttle program due to high operating costs and to refocus on human space flights far beyond the station's 220-mile high orbit to asteroids and Mars.

The U.S. government is also trying to speed development of a commercial space flight industry, and plans to rely on two U.S. firms -- Space Exploration Technologies and Orbital Sciences Corp. -- for cargo deliveries to the space station. Both companies plan demonstration flights this year.

Very Interesting Article in WSJ about Russian and Chinese Technology Development around Open Source Technology....

What does all of this mean for the future of America's technology industry? If China's expansion into Africa and Russia's into Latin America and the former Soviet Union are any indication, Silicon Valley's ability to expand globally will be severely limited, if only because Beijing and Moscow have no qualms about blending politics and business.

The global triumph of American technology has been predicated on the implicit separation between the business interests of Silicon Valley and the political interests of Washington. In the past, foreign governments have rushed to install the latest version of Microsoft Office or Google's Chrome browser because it was hard to imagine that Washington would tinker with technology to advance its strategic interests.

But just a few weeks before Mr. Putin publicly endorsed open-source software, FBI Director Robert Mueller toured Silicon Valley's leading companies to ask their CEOs to build back doors into their software, making it easier for American law enforcement and intelligence gathering agencies to eavesdrop on online conversations. The very possibility of such talks is likely to force foreign governments to reconsider their dependence on American technology. Whatever the outcome of Washington's engagement with the Internet, Silicon Valley will be the one to bear the costs.

For ordinary Internet users, there is one silver lining: The embrace of open-source technology by governments may result in more intuitive software applications, written by a more diverse set of developers. The possible downside is that the era of globally oriented services like Skype may soon come to an end, as they are replaced by almost certainly less user-friendly domestic alternatives that would provide secret back-door access. As governments seek to assert control, companies will be providing fewer and fewer guarantees about both data security and access by third parties—such as governments.

The irony in these developments is hard to miss. Information technology has been one of the leading drivers of globalization, and it may also become one of its major victims.

Friday, January 14, 2011

It is good to know that something good has come out of Bush's Wars...


Brain swelling is now the biggest threat to Congresswoman Giffords.

When a person is shot in the head doctors can do little to repair the primary injury which is the damage caused by the bullet.

The secondary injury is caused by the subsequent swelling of the brain which can be treated.

"We'll protect the brain with an artificial layer and then close the scalp over and put the skull back when the brain has relaxed." Dr Michael Lemole

Doctors say experience from a decade of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan has helped their understanding of gunshot wounds to the head.

Dr Rhee said: "When the brain swells, it's like when you sprain your knee and the fluid accumulates, it gets very tense and there's a tremendous amount of pain.

"The brain will go though the same situation except when it gets tense the blood flow to the neurons and brain cells get compromised."

Part of Ms Giffords' skull has been removed so her brain can swell without being constrained.

It is being preserved in hospital and will be re-implanted at a later date.

Dr Michael Lemole operated on Ms Giffords: "We'll protect the brain with an artificial layer and then close the scalp over it and put the skull back when the brain has relaxed sufficiently.

"That may take several months but each case is individual."

One of the doctors treating Gabrielle Giffords tells Channel 4 News she is 100 per cent certain to survive. Dr Peter Rhee says he is also optimistic she will not be in a vegetative state.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My Mother Taught Me!

1. My mother taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE .
"If you're going to kill each other, do it outside.. I just finished cleaning."

2. My mother taught me RELIGION.
"You better pray that will come out of the carpet."

3. My mother taught me about TIME TRAVEL.
"If you don't straighten up, I'm going to knock you into the middle of next week!"

4. My mother taught me LOGIC. This made alot of sense
" Because I said so, that's why."

5. My mother taught me MORE LOGIC .
"If you fall out of that swing and break your neck, you're not going to the store with me."

6. My mother taught me FORESIGHT.
"Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you're in an accident."

7. My mother taught me IRONY. I remember this one
"Keep crying, and I'll give you something to cry about."

8. My mother taught me about the science of OSMOSIS .
"Shut your mouth and eat your supper."

9. My mother taught me about CONTORTIONISM.
"Will you look at that dirt on the back of your neck!"

10. My mother taught me about STAMINA .
"You'll sit there until all that spinach is gone."

11. My mother taught me about WEATHER. I remember hearing this phase
"This room of yours looks as if a tornado went through it."

12. My mother taught me about HYPOCRISY.
"If I told you once, I've told you a million times. Don't exaggerate!"

13. My mother taught me the CIRCLE OF LIFE.
"I brought you into this world, and I can take you out.."

14. My mother taught me about BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION .
"Stop acting like your father!"

15. My mother taught me about ENVY.
"There are millions of less fortunate children in this world who don't have wonderful parents like you do."

16. My mother taught me about ANTICIPATION. And this one too
"Just wait until we get home."

17. My mother taught me about RECEIVING .
"You are going to get it when you get home!"

18. My mother taught me MEDICAL SCIENCE. Remember hearing this
"If you don't stop crossing your eyes, they are going to get stuck that way."

19. My mother taught me ESP.
"Put your sweater on; don't you think I know when you are cold?"

20. My mother taught me HUMOR.
"When that lawn mower cuts off your toes, don't come running to me."

21.. My mother taught me HOW TO BECOME AN ADULT .
"If you don't eat your vegetables, you'll never grow up."

22. My mother taught me GENETICS.
"You're just like your father."

23. My mother taught me about my ROOTS. Yep this one too
"Shut that door behind you. Do you think you were born in a barn?"

24. My mother taught me WISDOM.
"When you get to be my age, you'll understand."

And my favorite:
25. My mother taught me about JUSTICE .
"One day you'll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you !"

Monday, January 10, 2011

Noticed that the Republican Strategist Keith Appell was quick to "Go Negative" on this topic...

U.S. born children of Mexican immigrants on Sunday night gaze at a makeshift shrine to the shooting victims at the University Medical Center in Tucson, Arizona.

Tragic Events Bring Cooling Words,

But Rancor Inevitably Returns

By Beth Reinhard
The National Journal
Monday, January 10, 2011 6:20 a.m.

We’ve been here before. An unthinkable, terrible tragedy occurs: the Oklahoma City bombing, the World Trade Center attacks, and on Saturday, a murderous rampage aimed at Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz. – and rounds of recrimination follow. Something is wrong. Political discourse is raging out of control. We have got to tone it down.


But while the take-no-prisoners rhetoric may subside for a while, it’s unclear whether any political truce would last longer than the temporary cooling-off periods after Oklahoma City and 9-11. There's not much interest in kumbaya in a 24/7 media culture that thrives on the latest conflict.

"I'm hoping that people would reflect on some of the language that they use and realize that honorable people can disagree, but I'm not optimistic,'' said John Weaver, a Republican advisor to former presidential nominee John McCain. "We don't reflect on much of anything in this society.''

And a number of conservatives immediately began pushing back against the notion that incendiary, anti-establishment tirades are to blame for the actions of at least one deranged individual.

“The notion that anyone’s rhetoric in the political debate spurs the Timothy McVeighs and the Jared Loughners to commit violent acts against innocent people is insidious, dishonest and divorced from reality,’’ said Republican strategist Keith Appell, referring to the man who was executed for the Oklahoma City bombing and the suspect in the Arizona shootings. “There’s a lot of overheated rhetoric on both sides, and the only person who is guilty is the lunatic who committed this.’’

In an appearance Sunday on Face the Nation, Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., criticized the Pima County sheriff who urged the nation to do some “soul-searching’’ about the vitriolic political climate in the aftermath of the rampage.

"I didn't really think that that had any part in a law enforcement briefing," Kyl said. “It was speculation.’’

Still, there were signs of the volume being turned down. Palin staffer Rebecca Mansour told a radio talk show host Saturday that the former vice presidential nominee never meant to put elected officials in crosshairs, even though Palin declared, "Don't Retreat, Instead- RELOAD!" after posting the map online.

"We never ever, ever intended it to be gun sights," Mansour told radio interviewer Tammy Bruce. “ We never imagined, it never occurred to us that anybody would consider it violent.’’


Sarah Palin new media aide Rebecca Mansour sought to deflect attention from an electoral map Palin posted on her Facebook page last March in an appearance on Tammy Bruce's radio show Saturday. The images long described as crosshairs or rifle sights were actually just surveyor's symbols, Mansour said.

The image showing congressional districts in crosshairs was removed from Sarah Palin’s web site Saturday.

The image was removed from Palin’s web site on Saturday, and she was one of the first prominent Republicans to publicly condemn the violence that killed six people outside a Safeway supermarket.

Bachmann, whose anti-government cries have made her a hero in the conservative tea party movement, also responded to the shootings in strong terms.

"My tears are flowing, and I am stunned and angered Gabby Giffords was savagely gunned down while performing her congressional duties,’’ she said.

When the Constitution was read aloud in Congress this week, it was Giffords who read the part about "the right of people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for an address of grievances."

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Let's talk about it...

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords Talks Palin Cross Hairs

Palin used a map graphic that showed gun sight crosshairs

But the Democratic Party has posted maps with Bull's Eye Targets!

See their map below this link to
Texas for Sara Palin!

Using his own words against him, Verum Serum has put NY Times columnist Paul Krugman into the clown car and locked the door. Krugman attacked Sarah Palin for what he considered "menacing" symbolism on her "Take back the 20" map last week, claiming:

"All of this goes far beyond politics as usual…you’ll search in vain for anything comparably menacing, anything that even hinted at an appeal to violence, from members of Congress, let alone senior party officials….to find anything like what we’re seeing now you have to go back to the last time a Democrat was president."

Well, well, well... Look what John found the DNC:

Finding the DCCC map was especially delicious, John says, because Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) chairman, went on MSNBC's "Hardball" program to attack Gov. Palin for her map, telling host Chris Matthews:

"I really think that that is crossing a line…In this particular environment I think it’s really dangerous to try and make your point in that particular way because there are people who are taking that kind of thing seriously."
Soooo... surveyor symbols -- such as those used on the Palin map -- threaten violence, but target symbols -- such as those on the Democrats' maps -- do not, because everyone knows that surveyors kill more people with their transits than all of the firearms and archers' arrows combined, right?

Democrats and their leftist media fellow travellers are such dishonorable hypocrites...

Saturday, January 1, 2011

I was once a Red Headed Fred.... Happy Birthday Fred Wells!

His Dad did name him Fred.

His favorite color must be red.

Since ev’ry clown knows,

Red covers the nose.

Fred’s clown A.K.A.: Phredfred.