Posted on August 19, 2014
In recent years it has become increasingly apparent that the US government is not representing the interests of the people that voted for them, but instead furthering the interests of banks, pharmaceutical companies and mega-corporations. And the latest government spending bill dubbed the “CRomnibus” just goes to prove that fact with lots of Christmas presents for banks and politicians.
In simple terms, there was a bunch of last minute inclusions in the bill that allows for banks to recklessly invest money and expect taxpayers to bail them out when it goes wrong. Just like during the 2008 financial crisis where banks were bailed out because of their FDIC insured status. A status that was revoked in the aftermath of the crisis so banks couldn’t be bailed out with public money if they made bad investments under the “too big to fail” mentality. That provision has now been repealed in this bill, so tax payers will be on the hook for bailing out these mega banks when inevitably they screw the pooch and lose all their our money. And, this addition was written by… mega-bank, CitiGroup.
Additionally politicians will be allowed to accept 10 times the current amount in donations from individuals, no doubt these payments will come from CEO’s of banks, pharma and corporations. This needs to stop NOW; Americans should not stand for this amount of corruption, we elect these people to represent us; the people of the US of A, not the 2%-ers, remove corporate money (influence) from politics, let’s face it lobbying is a legal name for bribery. Yet we accept this as normal, back home in the UK, many years ago there was a “cash for questions” scandal which was immediately stamped out because it was considered bribery and corruption, which is exactly the same as lobbying in the USA.
Big pharma have managed to buy enough support in Washington to defund legalization of marijuana in Washington state, the same state that 70% of the electorate voted to legalize the drug. Why is big pharma against the legalization of pot? Because Marijuana is well know to act as a pain reliever and big pharma stands to lose billions as people use it as a natural alternative to expensive pain pills.
According to represent.us, $479m has been allocated for the purchase of F-35 Lightning II warplanes, which the pentagon did not order. Of course, inevitably to pay for these corporate concessions, funding for essentials services are being cut, most notably, WIC funding, which millions of people rely on to survive, the people that work for corporate giant, Walmart for example. Politicians will also get a $1000 subsidy to pay for their car, enough to buy a top of the range Mercedes or BMW, SERIOUSLY? these people get paid more than enough to afford their own car payment, absolutely disgusting.
Represent Us’ Video Explaining what has been hidden in the bill!
After a stupidly long and drawn out affair, McLaren have finally decided on who will partner Fernando Alonso in 2015 and maybe beyond. There has been no announcement of contract length or salary for Jenson Button, all we know for sure is that he will drive for McLaren in 2015 alongside 2 x WDC Alonso.
It has been widely assumed that Fernando Alonso had signed for McLaren back in September; despite McLaren and Alonso’s coyness on the subject, neither driver nor team confirming or denying it. 2014 drivers Button and Kevin Magnussen were left hanging by McLaren with no announcement made at the season finale in Abu Dhabi with Ron Dennis saying there would be no announcement until December.
It’s widely known that Ron Dennis was in favour of ditching Button for his rookie Magnussen; but Dennis did not have enough shares to push through his driver choice at the MTC board meeting on December 4, 2014, which broke up with no agreement meaning that both drivers had to wait for a decision. Maybe Dennis was hoping that Button would walk away to pursue new challenges elsewhere?
I would assume that a decision was finally made at another board meeting on December 10, 2014 with Sky Sports putting out a tweet saying a driver decision will be announced tomorrow (Thursday, December 11, 2014). And here we are; Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso for 2015 with Kevin Magnussen remaining on board as test/reserve driver, maybe to get a race seat for McLaren in 2016?
I do have to say that it concerns me that McLaren talk more about their history with Honda rather than the future of McLaren with Honda and their two drivers for 2015 in their official press release. Past glories mean absolutely nothing in 2015; it’s been 17 years since McLaren’s last constructors title and 6 years since their last drivers title and the driver’s title prior to that was another 9 years previous.
Personally, after the way the drivers were treated by McLaren and more specifically Ron Dennis, I was kinda hoping that Jenson would get the nod; only for Jenson to say “thanks, but no thanks, I have signed to race in WEC”. Which would mean Dennis would get his wish to have Kevin Magnussen partner Alonso, but at least Jenson will have had the last laugh at Ron’s expense after all the digs from Dennis.
The two recent Grand Jury rulings deciding to not indict Officer Darren Wilson for the fatal shooting of Mike Brown and Officer Daniel Pantaleo for the outlawed chokehold death of Eric Garner has sparked mass protests across the country, which so far has been peaceful, but how much longer will the peace last as white police officers continue to get away with murdering black men? How Pantaleo managed to avoid being indicted I will never know, the whole event was caught on video. Pantaleo was seen using the illegal chokehold to bring Garner down, which the coroner later ruled as the cause of death.
It’s not only these two cases, in the last three months, we have seen two more cases of black men being gunned down by white police officers, one in St Louis a few days after the Mike Brown shooting. Kajieme Powell was shot dead by two officers, again caught on video. Powell was well known in the community to have mental health issues, but it seems that these officers did not know that, community policing at it’s worst. There were other non-lethal options, but the officers got out of the car with guns drawn and I can’t help think the outcome would have been different if Powell was white.
The other case resulted in the death of John Crawford III, while talking on his cellphone holding a BB replica rifle which he had picked up in-store at a Walmart in Beavercreek, Ohio. Security camera footage clearly shows that Crawford did nothing illegal, he held the replica firearm over his shoulder and by his side, at no point did he point the weapon at anyone, like the 911 caller claimed. Officers stormed in and after a brief verbal warning, shots were fired and Crawford was dead on the floor. And again, the officers involved were not indited by the grand jury and one of the officers is back on duty.
The attitude I have seen from people commenting on news stories and videos of the deaths has been “another black criminal off the street” and worse. Clearly racism is still a massive problem in the US and that seems to be as prevalent within the police force as in the general public. Darren Wilson shoots and kills a young black man, with excessive force [in my opinion] and gets rewarded with $500,000 raised for him by white conservative Christians, this says a hell of a lot about America in general. It still seems that the white majority see black lives as less important, seeing all black people as criminals.
If the federal government does not take up these cases, we want more than words, Eric Holder, actually prosecute these officers, send a message to police all over the US that this can not continue to happen, we will see a full-on race war and more bloodshed with innocent officers being targeted.
What message does seeing officers kill black men and get away with it do? It says that it’s fine to shoot and kill young black men without any seeming consequence. Clearly better training is needed, to be able to assess the situation and use appropriate force, a taser should be the first choice, not the gun, especially against an unarmed person as was the situation in three of the four cases in this write-up.
You can bet your bottom dollar that if a black officer shot and killed a young white man in the same circumstances, he would be in the courtroom before you can say indictment. I find Jamil Smith’s tweet very apt, “Benefiting from white privilege is automatic. Defending white privilege is a choice“.
Lewis Hamilton took victory and his second world drivers title at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last weekend as his only title rival and team mate Nico Rosberg suffered hybrid power issues, being reduced to running on his V6T motor only, losing 160HP and fell backwards out of the top 10.
Hamilton got off to a dream start, rocketing off the line past his pole sitting team mate into turn 1, while Jenson Button jumped two places to fourth after being promoted to sixth place by virtue of both Red Bulls’ being disqualified from qualifying for an illegally flexing front wing. Williams’ Valteri Bottas had a terrible start, dropping five places from third on the grid while Kevin Magnussen bogged down, dropping back to 11th before making contact with Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez, dropping back to 13th.
Despite starting from the pitlane, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo finished the race in fourth place utilizing his trademark overtaking skills going wheel to wheel with a number of drivers while team mate Sebastian Vettel could only manage eighth place in his final race for Red Bull before switching to Ferrari for 2015. It’s safe to say that Ricciardo put the current world champion in the shade in 2014.
Williams duo Felipe Massa and Bottas finished the race in second and third, scoring the highest team points haul in the history of F1, 66 points because of Bernie’s stupid double points finale idea. Massa drove a pretty flawless race to bring his FW36 home in second, benefiting from Rosberg’s power unit issues, while Bottas made an excellent recovery to finish on the third step of the podium. A great end to Williams’ season, which makes me very happy, it’s no secret that I have a soft spot for Williams.
McLaren’s Jenson Button finished what is likely to be his last F1 race in fifth place after initially running in fourth place. Team mate Magnussen never recovered from his first lap incidents finishing just outside of the points in 11th place. I’ll be sad to see JB leave F1, but hopefully he’ll join Mark Webber in World Endurance Championship. I doubt that Ron Dennis will pick Button over Magnussen to partner Alonso in 2015; but stranger things have happened, assuming JB doesn’t tell Dennis where to go!
It was a good day for Force India, Nico Hulkenberg drove from 14th on the grid to finish sixth ahead of his team mate Sergio Perez in seventh place. Despite the 28 points scored for Force India, Button’s fifth place kept McLaren ahead in the constructors championship. McLaren will be disappointed to have been fighting with Force India rather than frontrunners Mercedes, Williams and Red Bull in 2014.
Ferrari ended their hugely disappointing season with Fernando Alonso finishing two seconds ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in ninth and 10th respectively. Hardly the way that Alonso would have liked to end his Ferrari career, but despite Alonso’s obvious talent, the F14T has been a real dog of a car all season, Alonso is good, but he’s not a miracle worker. I hope Ferrari go away and come back stronger in 2015.
Finally, we come to Lewis Hamilton, who I believe had it all under control despite Rosberg seemingly reeling in the Briton before his power unit issues and later Massa closing in on Hamilton in the final laps, closing to within 2.5 seconds at the chequered flag. I could say Hamilton only won because of the dominant Mercedes, like some claimed of Sebastian Vettel in the past four years, but I will give Lewis props as he drove brilliantly to come back twice this season to snatch the title from Rosberg.
Caterham crowdfunded their way to the Abu Dhabi grid, but were also rans as usual. I believe the only reason that they came back in Abu Dhabi was to steal Marussia’s prize money as Marussia failed to finish the season meaning both Sauber and Caterham finish ahead in the constructors standings despite Marussia scoring points in 2014 thanks to Jules Bianchi’s ninth place in Monaco… Forza Jules.
2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Results
Nico Rosberg won the Brazilian Grand Prix after team mate and title rival Lewis Hamilton’s error allowed him to cruise home and collect 25 valuable points against Hamilton’s 18 points ahead of the season finale in Abu Dhabi which has been dubbed Abu Dhouble because of the double points on offer.
Mercedes were once again untouchable despite their claims that Williams could give them a run for their money. Rosberg and Hamilton got off the line well and that was the closest any other driver got to the duo. Positions 1 through 5 remained unchanged, while Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel made a bad start allowing Kevin Magnussen and Fernando Alonso to move up one place to 6th and 7th while Vettel fell 2 places to 8th immediately in front of team mate Daniel Ricciardo who maintained his position.
Felipe Massa picked up a 5 second stop/go penalty for speeding in the pitlane when changing from option to prime tyre on lap 6, which gave me hope, being a Jenson Button fan that JB would be on for a podium finish. But it was not to be, despite Massa driving through the McLaren pit box by mistake, the Brazilian still managed to hold onto the final podium position leaving Button out in the cold in fourth!
Massa’s Williams team mate Valteri Bottas also had issues which meant he finished in 10th place after starting from fourth on the grid. During his second pit stop, there was some sort of issue with the Finn’s seatbelt which took some time to correct, dropping him back to 15th place while the high tyre wear at Interlagos limited his ability to use his Williams inherent speed to move further up the field.
Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel recovered from his bad start to finish in fifth place, following Jenson Button through as he passed Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, Button upto fourth and Vettel fifth. Fernando Alonso, after a battle with his Ferrari team mate also passed the Finn for sixth place, Raikkonen eventually finishing in seventh place, while Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo DNF’ed with suspension failure.
McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen struggled with tyre wear all race long eventually finishing the race in ninth place down two places from his grid position. Nico Hulkenberg had a decent day in Brazil taking the chequered flag in eighth place, up four places from where he started ahead of the recovering Bottas.
As Brazilian Grand Prix go, I thought that this one was rather dull, not very much drama at all, but this result does set up a great finale in Abu Dhabi in two weeks time. If Nico Rosberg wins, Lewis Hamilton will need to finish second to claim the world drivers title, if the Briton finishes third or lower, the title goes to Rosberg should he win the race. I hope that for Bernie Ecclestone’s sake, this double points race doesn’t result in Hamilton having the title snatched away, the Hamiltonians will be out for blood!
2014 Brazilian Grand Prix Results
Yesterday we finally received our medical insurance cards eight days after the coverage officially started on Nov, 1 and… what a freaking disappointment! Let’s start with today, generic medications were advertized as costing $15; but when my wife visited the pharmacy to pick up her Duloxetine, the generic version of Cymbalta, she was told it would cost $56. Now here is the stupid thing, instead my wife used a free Android app called GoodRX to get the very same prescription for $34, a saving of $22!
After further investigation, we find out that branded drug, Lyrica still costs over $424, which will not be covered until we pay off our $5,600 deductible. Basically the sort of drugs that are covered for $15 cost less than $30 without insurance for over $460 per month, are you freaking kidding me? We all know that insurance companies pay nowhere near the price consumers pay for the same drugs.
And the actual implementation of the Coventry Healthcare service is poor, for example; to allow my wife access to her own and our children’s healthcare online, we had to create an account for me and an account for my wife and then had to allow access to each others accounts. Why would there not be a single account for the policy holder that allows access to every persons healthcare on the policy?
The other thing of annoyance is that they select your primary care physician for you; you can change it but it wont be effective until the first of the next month. It seems they just decided, oh this [in network] doctor is close to the policy holders address, so obviously that’s who they want to see. To add to this, if you have questions on the weekend, forget about it, office/phone lines are closed.
Bottom line, I don’t recommend Coventry One/Healthcare after nine days without a single claim being filed. The plan is for myself to get employee only insurance through my employer, my wife will do the same when she becomes eligible on January 1, 2015 and the kids will get catastrophic insurance from the heathcare.gov marketplace. The Bronze Plan from Coventry Healthcare is useless to us.
Lewis Hamilton claimed his third race victory in four years at the US Grand Prix in Austin, TX today to extend his World Drivers Championship lead to 24 points over Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg, who trailed Hamilton home to secure second place after being passed by the Briton on lap 24.
As expected the Mercedes duo drove off leaving the pack behind to battle it out into the first corner, Williams’ Valteri Bottas bogged down off the start allowing team mate Felipe Massa to pass while Bottas had to fend off an attack from Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo got a terrible start, dropping back as far as ninth before recovering to sixth by the end of the first lap.
There was more first lap drama with Force India’s Sergio Perez first ploughing into the back of Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari, then took out Sauber’s Adrian Sutil with a double hit seconds later, which brought out the safety car to clear the aftermath of Perez’s overzealous actions. On top of retirement today, the Mexican will also receive a seven place grid penalty for the Brazilian GP.
On the restart, Ricciardo was on the move again with a super late move into turn one on Alonso, almost running into the back of Massa’s Williams, but still managed to make the move stick for fifth place. The Aussie then made up a further two places through a better pit strategy to move upto third ahead of the Williams duo; but did have to fend off Massa during the closing stages of the race.
Ricciardo’s Red Bull team mate Sebastian Vettel had an anonymous afternoon after starting from the pitlane because of a complete power unit change. Running well off the pace in the first half of the race, but came alive during the closing stages to finish the race in seventh passing five drivers in the final five laps, finishing half a second behind the Ferrari of Alonso s as they took the chequered flag.
Williams had a generallly good day, extending their World Constructors Championship lead over the prancing horse by beating both Ferrari’s on the track. Felipe Massa won the intra-team battle today, finishing four seconds ahead of Valteri Bottas, who has bettered Massa for much of the season. You’d have to say that Williams dropped the ball strategically, failing to cover Red Bull’s strategy.
Lotus’ Pastor Maldonado ended up in ninth place behind McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen despite his five second time penalty for speeding in the pitlane, which had dropped him back to 10th place. But Jean Eric Vergne was also given a five second time penalty for his collision with Maldonado’s team mate Romain Grosjean, which meant that the drivers were classified as finishing as they did on the road.
Jenson Button, who is looking more and more likely to be ending his F1 career after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix could only manage 12th place after falling backwards with tyre degradation as the race came to it’s conclusion. Earlier on Button was battling for seventh place with Fernando Alonso before the Spaniard finally made the move stick, so 12th is an incredibly disappointing result for Button.
A quick word about the teams that didn’t make it to Austin, Marussia and Caterham who are both in administration. F1’s prize money system seriously needs a shakeup, the gap between top teams and the bottom teams is astronomical, the top teams get $200m while the bottom teams get less than 1/8th of that. Distribution of wealth needs to change or else we could see as few as six teams on the grid in the future; and it seems no-one wants 3 car teams with the exception of maybe Ferrari.
2014 United States Grand Prix Results
I have just signed up for Obamacare because family insurance through my workplace would have cost me 41% of my income, which is definitely not affordable in any way, shape or form. And there are a few major issues with the “Affordable Care Act”, ignoring the the fact that you have two choices, either buy medical insurance or receive a substantial fine per uninsured household member.
The first and biggest thing that I find incredibly stupid, what is the point of open enrollment? Why not just have open enrollment 365 days a year? The only way to get insurance through the marketplace outside of open enrollment for the next year is to apply within sixty days of losing insurance through private or workplace insurance. All this does is lock people out unnecessarily and ends up resulting in people being fined for not having insurance for more than three months in a calendar year. Hang on… I might have answered my own question, it’s a conspiracy to screw everyone!
The second thing is the 9.5% standard for employee only coverage through your employer. Which in simple terms means you are not entitled to tax credits which would lower your Obamacare premium if the cost of employee only insurance is less than 9.5% of your gross income. Which is fine if you are buying insurance for yourself, but if you need insurance for your whole family, the cost difference is massive. For example, employee only insurance is $236, but if I want to add my wife and children, it jumps to close to $850 every four weeks, it really defies logic, it’s like comparing an apple to a brick!
The third thing is the payment method (from my experience); it seems the only way to pay the premium is through automatic bank transfer, so you can’t use a debit or credit card to pay for insurance, which makes it difficult to manage your finances if you are on a tight budget. I like to pay my bills by card in advance of the due date quite often to make sure the bills are paid and the money is not spent elsewhere by accident. Plus in my experience, the due date is not always when the vendor takes the money, sometimes its a couple of days before or a couple of days after the due date.
On a personal note, were are far from living in poverty, we have a nice car and big LCD TV, but have little disposable income after rent, utilities, Cable TV/Internet, car payment, fuel, clothes and groceries for a family of four most months. This massive “family” insurance oversight is scandalous and unforgivable, how can these rich Capitol Hill bureaucrats just let this remain unchanged?
They can do it because government has no direct accountability to the people they represent. These are the same people that think that $7.25 is a living wage and giving massive tax breaks and subsidies to multinational corporations is the way to boost the economy. I can understand what Obama has tried to do and I applaud him for trying, but because he has been blocked at every turn, this is what we have ended up with, a forced healthcare system that fails families in the worst possible way.
Lewis Hamilton extended his world drivers championship lead to 10 points after taking victory at Suzuka on Sunday afternoon ahead of team mate and championship rival Nico Rosberg and current world champion Sebastian Vettel. But the main story of the Japanese Grand Prix is the horrific accident involving Marussia driver Jules Bianchi, everything else seems incredibly unimportant.
The Frenchman lost control of his car as rain fell steadily heavier at the same corner that Sauber’s Adrian Sutil went off on the previous lap and ploughed into the recovery vehicle that was removing Sutil’s car. The force of the impact was so great that it actually lifted the recovery vehicle in the air with Bianchi’s car going underneath. It truly is a horrific and sickening accident, the worst in years.
Bianchi was taken to a local hospital where emergency surgery was performed before being transferred to intensive care where he is on a ventilator, but his condition is said to be stable.
Back to the race itself, it got under way behind the safety car because conditions were considered to be too dangerous to go racing and after just 1 1/2 laps; the red flag was thrown and the grid followed the safety car into the pitlane. The race was once again restarted 20 minutes later once the rain had subsided; again behind the safety car with the race finally getting started on lap 10; but not before Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari lost all power and ground to a halt on track, water in the electrics I’d guess.
There were no notable changes in position off the restart as the drivers felt their way forward on the wet track. But Jenson Button elected to make one of his trademark calls in tricky conditions to come in for intermediate tyres, which by lap 14 seemed inspired as it had catapulted him into a podium position. But it wasn’t to be for the Briton; a forced steering wheel change at this second pit-stop dropped him back to fifth spot, where he finished the race. Team mate Kevin Magnussen had the same problem and a steering wheel change was required, again I’m guessing water in the electronics.
During the middle phase of the race; Red Bull who had elected for a wet setup in qualifying were flying along. Both Red Bull drivers overtaking both Williams drivers in two laps, Vettel passing both Felipe Massa and Valteri Bottas into the hairpin under the bridge while Daniel Ricciardo overtook the Williams duo through the Dunlop Curves on consecutive laps for forth an fifth places, which later turned into third and fourth because of Button’s electrical gremlins causing a steering wheel change.
After following Rosberg around for 28 laps; Hamilton pounced into turn 1 on lap 29 as the German went defensive, Hamilton swept around the outside on the faster line to take the lead. It was quite obvious how much Hamilton was being held up by Rosberg, who was seemingly struggling with tyres, two laps after the overtake, Hamilton had pulled out a four second lead, eventually finishing almost 10 second ahead of his team mate and championship rival as the red flag came for Bianchi’s accident.
It was a good race with all the weather related dramas but there will forever be a dark cloud over the Japanese Grand Prix 2014 because of Bianchi’s life threatening crash; my thoughts are with his friends and family; I hope that the Frenchman can pull through this and come back better than ever.
2014 Japanese Grand Prix Results
Lewis Hamilton took the lead in the world drivers championship after taking victory at the Singapore Grand Prix thanks to Mercedes team mate and former championship leader Nico Rosberg failing to get off the start line with electrical gremlins, which ultimately led to his retirement on lap 14.
Off the line; Hamilton made a great start to lead into turn 1; while the Red Bull duo battled into the first turn with Sebastian Vettel getting ahead of Daniel Ricciardo; but both Red Bull drivers were overtaken by the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso before having to give back second to Vettel to avoid a penalty for exceeding track limits and gaining an advantage. I believe Alonso was lucky to only have to give back one place; the pass on Ricciardo was not complete before going off track in my view.
Despite leading for most of the race; Hamilton had to make a third stop for tyres near the end of the race while Vettel and Ricciardo were trying to complete the race with just two stops. The final stop went well for Hamilton, managing to get out ahead of Ricciardo and just a couple of seconds behind Vettel. The Briton soon caught and overtook Vettel, who was on tyres 18 laps older than Hamilton’s.
Fernando Alonso missed out on a podium taking the chequered flag in fourth place. Was the Ferrari just not quick enough or did the timing of the safety car compromise his race? It’s touch and go; but I believe he probably would have finished in fourth regardless; Red Bull clearly have a faster race car.
Williams managed to get a decent result with Felipe Massa using a very aggressive tyre strategy for fifth. The Brazilian nursing his car across the line with 38 lap old tyres. The same strategy did not work out for stablemate; Valteri Bottas, who could only manage 11th place under the lights of Singapore.
Personally, other than the Mercedes reliability dramas I thought that it was a fairly dull race by this years standards, so I will stop here in regard to the actual race action. Instead let’s talk about the new radio communications stupidity. As I wrote previously, there has been a clampdown on car and driving instruction over the radio, which was relaxed somewhat to just driving instruction; but…
McLaren are protesting that Red Bull gave “driving” instruction to Daniel Ricciardo telling the Aussie to stay off the curbs to protect the KERS batteries. Eric Boullier believes this was a coded message to Ricciardo and nothing to do with car reliability. The truth is, it might well have been, but the issue is the rule, it’s always open to abuse, it’s a stupid rule that causes more problems than it solves.
2014 Singapore Grand Prix Results