Tuesday Dec 17, 2013
North Kingstown, RI – Good morning, Ocean State. This is Bob Plain, editor and publisher of the RI Future blog podcasting to you from The Hideaway on the banks of the Mattatuxet River behind the Shady Lea Mill in North Kingstown, Rhode Island.
It’s Tuesday, December 17 … the day after a federal judge ruled against the NSA’s mass spying program calling it “almost Orwellian.” C’mon your honor, if the NSA isn’t full-blown Orwellian, I don’t know what is…
In a total twist of irony though, Judge Richard Leon, also put a stay on his own ruling to give the government time to appeal because of the national security implications. The gears of Democracy turn much slower than in the espionage industry…
Judge Leon wrote on the NSA randomly spying on as many Americans as it can: “I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary’ invasion than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval.”
There’s a super interesting article in New York Times today that could have local implications. Here’s the lede: “The billions of dollars in tax breaks granted to the nation’s nonprofit hospitals are being challenged by regulators and politicians as cities still reeling from the recession watch cash-rich medical centers expand.”
Cities all over the country are challenging the non-profit status of non-profit hospitals, with some saying they don’t do enough charity to warrant being considered a charity. A lawyer representing the city of Pittsburgh which is suing its local hospital for some property and payroll taxes, said, “Its commitment to charity is dwarfed by its preoccupation with profits.” The Times reports that the average non-profit hospital spends about 7.5 percent of its earnings on charity care and community benefit. Do we know yet what Lifespan spends on these line items?
In any case, the Ocean State does get a shout out – of sorts – in Times’ coverage:
Some patients who are hard pressed to pay today’s high charges found that hospitals can be aggressive in bill collection. When David DiCola, 61, went to Roger Williams Medical Center in Providence, R.I., for treatment of a finger infection, the bill was about $1,500. Uninsured, he offered the hospital $500; it refused his offer and sent it to a collection agency, he said.
The political soothsayers have spoken, specifically on a “A Lively Experiment” this weekend, and they don’t seem so jazzed on the legislation progressives will be pushing at the State House during the upcoming session. Ed Fitzpatrick, Ian Donnis, Ted Nesi and Jim Baron joined Diana Koelsch to talk about Voter ID, payday loans and ending pot prohibition in 2014. Fitz thought legalizing pot has a chance of passing and Voter ID could be repealed. But Donnis had a good point about pot, saying it’s unlikely to happen during an election year.
Because of faulty equipment the Johnston landfill is pumping harmful pollutants in the air, according to a lawsuit filed by the Conservation Law Foundation. The quasi-governmental agency that operates the landfill is ‘failing to adequately capture the gas,’’ Tricia Jedele, of the CFL told the Associated Press. ‘‘We need to be treating this more comprehensively and be managing this as a major source of air pollution, not just as a source of odors that sometimes bother the neighborhoods.’’
Did Cranston police officers write tickets to residents as a way to punish the politicians who represent them? That’s what two Cranston City Councilors said at a meeting last night, according to Greg Smith of the Providence Journal. This is a serious allegation, as such action would be a monumental abuse of power.
Joe Caramadre gets the New York Times treatment today. Caramadre either bilked insurance companies or the terminally ill, depending on whether you believe the prosecution or friends of the defense. A judge sided with the prosecution and Caramadre will be doing six years behind bars.
And NPR reports that environmentalists are split over the need for nuclear power … no we aren’t. But in other news, Kos reports that a former coal company CEO thinks we should better utilize renewables … so I suppose the 1% is split on fossil fuel extraction too…
Marion Simon, one of the early pioneers at Trinity Rep. in Providence, died in New York City yesterday. she was 90 years old. According to obituary in today’s Providence Journal, ”
Great moments in literature … today in 1843, Charles Dickens publishes “A Christmas Carol.” In case you have gone all Scrooge and forgotten the theme of this holiday classic it’s that being a good person is more important than being a good businessperson.
And today in 1944, the American military announced it will no longer be randomly imprisoning Japanese Americans.
And on this day in 1977, Elvis Costello infuriates Lorne Michaels and his record company when, while appearing on Saturday Night Live, he enthusiastically stops his band from playing “Less Than Zero” and instead rips into a now-famous rendition of his anti-mainstream media classic “Radio, Radio. Our song for the day is a terrible recording on the classic moment of corporate defiance on live TV.