"The First Amendment says that you can say whatever you want. However, decency and common sense require that one carefully consider their words and ideas before opening their mouth (or hitting that keyboard). There are too many people in America who think the First Amendment is a license to simply be outrageous." -- Michael Rivero

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By Mish Shedlock of MishTalk

If you are in the hospital emergency room, and that’s where most people without insurance go, then you get treated. Otherwise, many hospitals are turning to pay in advance for services.

Please Pay in Advance

The Wall Street Journal reports Hospitals Are Refusing to Do Surgeries Unless You Pay in Full First

For years, hospitals and surgery centers waited to perform procedures before sending bills to patients. That often left them chasing after patients for payment, repeatedly sending invoices and enlisting debt collectors.

Now, more hospitals and surgery centers are demanding patients pay in advance.

Advance billing helps the facilities avoid hounding patients to settle up. Yet it is distressing patients who must come up with thousands of dollars while struggling with serious conditions.

Those who can’t come up with the sums have been forced to put off procedures. Some who paid up discovered later they were overcharged, then had to fight for refunds.

Among the procedures that hospitals and surgery centers are seeking prepayments for are knee replacements, CT scans and births.

Federal law requires hospitals to take care of people in an emergency. Hospitals say they don’t turn away patients who need medical care urgently for lack of prepayment.

They are seeking advance payment for nonemergencies, they say, because chasing unpaid bills is challenging and costly. Roughly half the debt hospitals wrote off last year was owed by patients with insurance, the Kodiak analysis found.

Finding money for treatment is a challenge for many American households. Half of adults say they can’t afford to spend more than $500 on medical care should they be suddenly sick or injured, a survey by health policy nonprofit KFF found. They would need to borrow.

No Skin in the Game

It’s interesting to note that hospitals want payment in advance for births. Most illegals just walk in and never pay for anything.

Nonpayment is one of the reasons costs are soaring for everyone who does pay. Medicare for all is not the answer. When consumers have no skin in the game, no one is interested in reducing costs.

Pets Treated Better Than Humans

Much money is wasted on keeping people alive who have less than a year to live.

We treat our pets in pain better than we treat humans. I just went through that myself. Our 15-year-old dog lost his eyesight due to ruptured eyes and was running into walls. He was in pain and could not see.

The total bill for that crying experience was only $232.

Right to Die

If what happened to our dog happened to me, I would want to go. Someone else might not.

But for those who cannot pay for services and don’t have insurance, I suggest they should be given painkillers only, or select a right to die.

We need to prioritize. And the only way for that to happen is for people to have some skin in the game.

Something Wrong Somewhere

Something is wrong somewhere when half of adults do not have $500 dollars to any emergency (auto repairs, medical, and home repairs).

Inflation is certainly a problem. Thank Biden, the Fed, and Congress (both parties) for that.

Ridiculous regulations are part of the cost. Medical malpractice insurance and lawsuits are a problem.

The minute someone tries to discuss these things, the Right starts screaming about “death squads”.

With millions of aging boomers, this problem is only going to get worse.

Claire's Observations:  This is one of the key reasons why we need to understand how best to take care of ourselves, through nutrition and some kind of daily movement, even if it is slow and gentle.  Knowledge is power; the right use of the power of knowledge, is wisdom.  I think that generally, Mike and I are eating far more intelligently than we ever did when we were younger, and I think that makes a real difference.  We are using supplements, but reading everything we can get our eyes on (on line) to understand the pros and cons of any nutritional intervention we might make in our diet.


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Authored by Vijay Jayaraj via RealClear Wire,

Vietnam and other Asian countries are on a coal spree! Given the dynamics of energy use in the rapidly developing industrial sector there, it is no surprise that these nations have backpedaled on big promises made at international climate conferences to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels. 

Vietnam's projected 2024 growth rate for Gross Domestic Product (GDP) stands at 5.8%, the sixth highest in Asia. Among the biggest contributors to GDP is the industrial sector (38 percent), especially manufacturing. S&P Global has noted a considerable improvement in Vietnam’s manufacturing sector in the fourth quarter of 2023 and is expecting Vietnam to perform well this year

Electricity is a cornerstone of manufacturing operations in Vietnam. In 2023, coal produced more than 40% of all electricity in the country, while the country’s abundant hydro reserves contributed around 30%. Natural gas accounted for about 10%. 

However, 2024 is expected to see a shortfall in hydroelectric generation because of less rainfall. Simultaneously, electricity production with natural gas is being complicated by forecasts of higher gas prices. Bloomberg reports that state-run PetroVietnam Gas “recently decided not to purchase a cargo for June due to high offer prices.”

So, the heavy lifting to meet power demand must now come from coal. The country is urging coal miners to maximize production before demand reaches peak in the summer months. The country’s prime minister has asked for an increase in coal exploration as well, signaling a sustained interest in the medium to long-time reliance on coal. 

Vietnam’s move to increase coal use was inevitable. It cannot continually risk a huge demand-supply gap whenever dams go dry or gas prices skyrocket. The growth rate of power demand from expanding industries is increasing at a fair pace, and energy security is critical in ensuring manufacturing’s positive trend. 

Similar patterns across Asia

Across Asia, a similar phenomenon is unfolding. The regional coal resurgence can be attributed to the rapid economic growth in these countries. China, the world's largest coal consumer, witnessed a rise in consumption in 2024. Earlier this year, reports showed the construction of dozens of new coal plants in China. In 2023, the country accounted for 95% of the construction of the world's new coal power plants. There are a total of 1,142 operating coal-fired plants in China, which is five times more than in the U.S.

India, another major player in the Asian energy market, also saw an increase in coal imports and production. India has increased its spending on infrastructure, with an expected rebound in demand for coal-based steel and raw material manufacturing. Indonesia has 254 operational coal-fired power plants and 40 new plants under construction. Japan, too, is a big consumer of coal, being the top importer of Australian coal in recent years.

Like Australia, the U.S. has been a top source of coal imports for these Asian countries. S&P Global says, “U.S. metallurgical coal exports have seen growth fueled by Asian demand over the past few years. The potential for seaborne volumes to grow hinge on expansions in blast furnace steelmaking and met coke production in India, China, and Southeast Asia.” New mines such as Arch Resource's Leer South and the AMCI, POSCO, and Itochu-led Allegheny Met's Longview mine will play a role in meeting this demand from Asia.

Ironically, U.S. miners can meet Asian needs while their government rejects them as a fuel source for cheap electricity!

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by Tyler Durden

Since the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1 virus was first identified in humans in 2003, approximately 600 cases have been reported worldwide, with a laboratory-confirmed case-fatality rate (CFR) of 60%.

Image removed.

The recent death of a woman in southwest China who had no contact with poultry signals a potentially alarming shift in the virus's transmission dynamics, raising the specter of human-to-human transmission, according to a report by the Federation of American Scientists.

Health authorities in Guiyang, Guizhou province concluded that two patients, including the woman who died, did not have contact with poultry before showing symptoms of the illness. Currently, the public health community remains cautious as H5N1 influenza viruses continue to evolve and potentially gain the ability to be transmitted efficiently to humans.

The evolution of H5N1 over two decades necessitates an urgent and strategic response from the global health community. Scientific efforts are primarily focused on understanding the genetic shifts that facilitate the virus’s leap among species, aiming to forestall a possible pandemic. This has led to the controversial practice of gain-of-function (GoF) research, wherein viruses are deliberately engineered to be more potent or transmissible.

And of course, as we all know - a bunch of over-educated idiots cobbling together chimeric viruses that can better-infect humans may have led to the COVID-19 pandemic - as GoF research is fraught with ethical, biosafety, and biosecurity dilemmas.

The dual-use nature of this research—where scientific advances could potentially be misused to cause harm—places it under intense scrutiny. The debate is not just about managing the risks of accidental release but also about the moral implications of potentially providing a blueprint for bioterrorism. This precarious balance between advancing human knowledge and safeguarding public health was thrown into relief in 2012 when a moratorium was placed on H5N1 GoF studies following experiments that showed increased transmissibility in ferrets, an established model for human influenza transmission.

Claire's Observations:  Gain of Function research, can be a very slippery slope, both scientifically and ethically, which is why it must be constrained intelligently, and with a universal protocol adopted by all nations on this planet.

But what about countries who are pursuing this gain of function research which have no compunctions about using this as a "mass kill/weapon of war"  opportunity, which doesn't involve the dropping of one bomb or the shooting of one bullet?!?   Aye, there's the rub, as William Shakespeare said.

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by Tyler Durden

With the 2024 election season heating up, which should translate translate to our elected officials paying close attention to voter preferences, Americans have mixed feelings about various parts of the government.

To that end, Visual Capitalist's Pallavi Rao and Sam Parker have taken the results of a recent opinion poll conducted by the Pew Research Center between March 13-19, in which 10,701 adults were asked whether they felt favorably or unfavorably towards 16 different federal agencies?

More via Visual Capitalist:

Americans Love the Park Service, Are Divided Over the IRS

Broadly speaking, 14 of the 16 federal government agencies garnered more favorable responses than unfavorable ones.

Of them, the Parks Service, Postal Service, and NASA all had the approval of more than 70% of the respondents.

Only the Department of Education and the IRS earned more unfavorable responses, and between them, only the IRS had a majority (51%) of unfavorable responses.

There are some caveats to remember with this data. Firstly, tax collection is a less-friendly activity than say, maintaining picturesque parks. Secondly, the survey was conducted a month before taxes were typically due, a peak time for experiencing filing woes.

Nevertheless, the IRS has come under fire in recent years. As per a New York Times article in 2019, eight years of budget cuts have stymied the agency’s ability to scrutinize tax filings from wealthier and more sophisticated filers.

At the same time poorer Americans are facing increasing audits on wage subsidies available to low income workers. According to a Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse report, this subset of filers was audited five-and-a-half more times the average American

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By Linda Schadler of PhysOrg

The income of many people around the world has considerably increased due to the economic globalization of the last 50 years. However, these income gains are unevenly distributed. A study by Dr. Valentin Lang, junior professor of political economy at the University of Mannheim, and his co-author Marina M. Tavares of the International Monetary Fund shows that the top 10% of the national income distributions, in particular, have benefited from this development.

In their study, published in The Journal of Economic Inequality, the researchers tried to answer the questions if and how the globalization of the last 50 years has affected inequalities between people worldwide.

Their research found that globalization has led to greater income inequalities within many countries. The gap between rich and poor has widened particularly in countries that have become more integrated into the global economy, such as China, Russia and some Eastern European countries. At the same time, globalization has reduced inequality between countries. The differences between countries therefore play an increasingly minor role in the global inequality rate.

"The influence of globalization on income inequalities worldwide was greater than we had expected," summarizes Valentin Lang, junior professor of International Political Economy at the University of Mannheim and author of the study. "We were particularly surprised that these differences were mainly due to the gains of the richest and that the lower income groups benefited little or not at all."

Increasing skepticism towards globalization

The study also shows that globalization in its early and middle stages led to considerable income increases in the individual countries but that the growth effects diminish as the degree of globalization increases. "The benefits of globalization become smaller during the integration process, while the costs of distribution become higher. This matches the increasing skepticism towards globalization which can be observed in countries with a high level of economic integration," Lang concludes.

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by Tyler Durden 


The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter, has revealed more details about President Biden's big announcement regarding China tariffs scheduled for next Tuesday. 

Officials are particularly focused on electric vehicles, and they are expected to raise the tariff rate to roughly 100% from 25%, according to the people. 

An additional 2.5% duty applies to all automobiles imported into the US. The existing tariff has so far effectively barred Chinese electric vehicles, often cheaper than Western-made cars, from the US market. Biden administration officials, automakers and some lawmakers worried that 25% wouldn't be enough given the scale of Chinese manufacturing.

Bloomberg first reported that the Biden administration was planning to announce China tariffs on semiconductors, solar power, and electric vehicles. 

We suspect Beijing is actively planning a tit-for-tat move later next week as the administration has made their next move very clear in news stories published in US corporate media outlets through anonymous sourcing. 

*   *   * 

The Biden administration is expected to make a major announcement on China tariffs as soon as next week that will impact semiconductors, solar power, and electric vehicles, according to Bloomberg, citing people familiar with the matter. While the possibility of additional tariffs has been widely known, the specific industries to be targeted have now been identified. Moreover, Beijing will likely release angry comments after Biden's speech next week, followed by a tit-for-tat response. 

Two of the people said the decision to hit China's "new three" green goods comes after a review of Section 301 tariffs, which were first implemented under former President Trump in 2018. The tariffs primarily target electric vehicles, batteries, and solar cells, with existing tariffs being maintained. They said the announcement is planned for Tuesday. 

The Biden administration is making a bold move against Beijing in an election year as polling data spirals lower as Bidenomics has become a complete failure. It's not us just saying this. Billionaire investor and Duquesne Family Office Chairman & CEO Stan Druckenmiller told CNBC's Joe Kernen earlier this week that Bidenomics is a disaster

Last month, the president said he would impose  25% tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum. Earlier this week, the administration said it would revoke Intel and Qualcomm's export license to supply semiconductors to Chinese firm Huawei. 

If China were to retaliate, in a tit-for-tat effort, they could hit Elon Musk's Tesla or continue reducing US agricultural exports of corn and soybean. 

"Instead of correcting its wrong practices, the United States continued to politicize economic and trade issues," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian said Friday, adding, "To further increase tariffs is to add insult to injury." 

Meanwhile, if reelected, Trump has promised to hit China with a tsunami of tariffs, vowing a 60% tax on all Chinese imports

Claire's Observations: To President Biden and former President Trump:  Gentlemen, a word, please.

Talking tariffs against Chinese imports may "sound great" in an election year; but what will you be doing, please, to encourage US EV makers to create EVs that Americans will want to buy, because the current "bugs" in their design will be fixed, like freezing in cold weather, and battery replacements which come at prohibitively high prices?!?

The plain truth right now, is that EVs are not yet "driver ready", and that has been the proverbial "fly in the ointment"  in attempting to force Americans to get US cars off of gas power and into electric power. And please, don't get me started on alleged "self drive" mode, or exploding batteries that catch fire!!! 

 Intelligent, thoughtful engineering can resolve these issues, but they are not resolved at this point in the evolution of these vehicles.

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Israel & US Fume As UN Votes To Elevate Palestine's Status


by Tyler Durden
Saturday, May 11, 2024 - 01:00 AM

There were fireworks at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Friday as Israel tried to fight back against a Palestinian bid to become a full UN member.

The assembly adopted a new resolution which puts the 'State of Palestine' on the pathway to future full membership in a vote of 143 to 9, with the US and Israel on the 'no' side. The resolution recognizes Palestine as "qualified to join" and the resolution text was described as essentially a global survey on the open question of full membership

The move formally recommends to the UN Security Council that it "reconsider the matter favorably." Since 2012 Palestine has been a non-member observer state. But now the General Assembly "determines that the State of Palestine…should therefore be admitted to membership" and it “recommends that the Security Council reconsider the matter favorably," according to the resolution text.

A few extra procedural rights were also granted by Friday's vote: "The General Assembly resolution adopted on Friday does give the Palestinians some additional rights and privileges from September 2024 — like a seat among the UN members in the assembly hall — but they will not be granted a vote in the body," Times of Israel writes.

Israel is of course fuming, and the below spectacle played out before the UN General Assembly, complete with an interesting prop...

Foreign Minister Israel Katz also chimed in, describing the upgrade in status of Palestinians in the UN a "prize for Hamas" in a statement released by his office.

"The absurd decision taken today at the UN General Assembly highlights the structural bias of the UN and the reasons why, under the leadership of UN Secretary-General [Antonio] Guterres, it has turned itself into an irrelevant institution," Katz said.

US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield agreed that it was unnecessary and does nothing to advance peace:

"Since the attacks of October 7, President Biden has been clear that sustainable peace in the region can only be achieved through a two-state solution, with Israel’s security guaranteed, where Israelis and Palestinians can one day live side by side with equal measures of freedom and dignity. It remains the US view that unilateral measures at the UN and on the ground will not advance this goal. The General Assembly resolution being debated today is no exception and so the United States will be voting “no” and encourages other Member States to do the same,” the US mission said.

"Efforts to advance this resolution do not change the reality that the Palestinian Authority does not currently meet the criteria for UN membership under the UN Charter," she added.

Claire's Observations:  UN Representative Thomas-Greenfield does an utterly brilliant job of ignoring the obvious, and that is the following reality;  Israel will never allow an independent Palestine to exist, if it thinks it can prevent it, even to the extent of attempting to butcher every Palestinian woman child left standing, as it is doing now in Gaza.  In an allegedly "civilized" world, "self-defense can NEVER be conflated with genocide, which is precisely what Israel is doing in Gaza right now, and is attempting to "sell" to an increasingly skeptical world.  


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