Tuesday Morning Open Thread

Japan Says China Aimed Military Radar at Ship

Japan lodged a formal protest with the Chinese government on Tuesday after it said a Chinese warship directed a radar used to aim missiles at a Japanese warship, in a new escalation of a standoff over disputed islands.

The Japanese defense minister, Itsunori Onodera, said that a Chinese navy frigate had directed its fire-control radar at a Japanese destroyer in the incident on Jan. 30 near the islands in the East China Sea, known as the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in Chinese. The uninhabited island group has been controlled by Japan for decades, but claimed by China and also Taiwan.

On Tuesday, the Defense Ministry also disclosed that a Chinese frigate had directed the same kind of radar at a Japanese military helicopter in a previously undisclosed incident on Jan. 19. In both cases, the Chinese ships eventually turned off the radar without actually firing a shot.

Trial begins in New Delhi rape case

The man who was accompanying a New Delhi woman when she was gang-raped in December testified Tuesday as the trial of five men accused of attacking her formally began.

The man was the only one of 86 witnesses to testify on the opening day of testimony in the trial, which is being held in a "fast-track" court designed to cut down on red tape.

Iranian ex-prosecutor linked to protester deaths arrested

A former Iranian prosecutor linked to the deaths of anti-government protesters and who is at the centre of a power struggle between the country's president and parliamentary speaker has been arrested, the Tehran prosecutor's office said.

No reason was given for the arrest of Saeed Mortazavi, who has played a key role in stamping out dissent following the disputed reelection of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009, and been described by Human Rights Watch as a "serial human rights abuser".

But the timing suggested it might be linked to his role in the dispute between Ahmadinejad –who is travelling to a summit in Egypt – and the parliamentary speaker, Ali Larijani, which has intensified with the approach of presidential elections.

'Gravely distressed': Religion looms large over Boy Scouts decision on gays

If prayer can't sway Boy Scouts board members as they vote whether to end the organization's ban on gays, it won't be for lack of trying.

The Boy Scouts of America announcement last week that it may eliminate the exclusion of gays from membership at the national level, leaving the decision to its local units, has drawn a harsh backlash from some of the organization's more religious conservative members, who are "gravely distressed," even as more liberal churches hailed the move.

With more than two-thirds of Scouting groups affiliated with religious bodies, faith plays a large role in the private youth organization.

Husband of NYC woman found dead: Haven't told kids

The husband of a New York City woman found dead in Turkey says he hasn't had the strength to tell his children their mother is gone.

For insurance exchanges, states need ‘navigators’ — and hiring them is a huge task

Signing up an estimated 30 million uninsured Americans for coverage under the health-care law is shaping up to be, if not a bureaucratic nightmare, at the very least a daunting task.

While some people will find registering for health insurance as easy as booking a flight online, vast numbers who are confused by the myriad choices will need to sit down with someone who can walk them through the process.

Enter the “navigators,” an enormous new workforce of helpers required under the law. In large measure, the success of the law and its overriding aim of making sure that virtually all Americans have health insurance depends on these people. But the challenge of hiring and paying for a new class of workers is immense and is one of the most pressing issues as the Obama administration and state governments implement the law.

Why unemployment stretches are getting shorter

The average time Americans spent unemployed dropped a record 2.8 weeks in January ... but hold the applause.

The reason is likely because many people ran out of unemployment benefits so they stopped looking for work, experts said.

"People are getting frustrated and are giving up," said Adam Hersh, economist with the Center for American Progress.

More TV, less exercise lead to lower sperm counts

We’ve recently discussed declining sperm counts among French men — a drop by one-third in less than two decades according to one report.

It’s not clear why the sperm counts are falling in France.

But now comes a new study that suggests a strong correlation between a lack of exercise and excess television watching and lower sperm counts. And this was a study of young American men.

Earth safe from asteroid flyby next week

An asteroid will give Earth a historically close shave next week, but there's no chance that the space rock will slam into our planet on this pass, experts say.

The 150-foot-wide asteroid 2012 DA14 will zoom within 17,200 miles of our planet on Feb. 15, coming nearer than the ring of satellites in geosynchronous orbit. While the flyby will be the closest ever known in advance for such a large asteroid, there's no reason to retreat to the doomsday bunker.

"NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office can accurately predict the asteroid's path with the observations obtained, and it is therefore known that there is no chance that the asteroid might be on a collision course with Earth," officials at the space agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., wrote in a statement Friday, Feb. 1.

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Good morning.

Glinda's picture

My blood pressure is rising again:  Navigators?  Really?  Navigators?

We don't have enough people taking a piece of the money pie before We the People can actually get easy access to affordable healthcare?

How about this, how about instead of making it so damned difficult to buy "insurance," that we all just sign up for the SAME INSURANCE as Medicare, and that's that.  See?  Not so hard after all.

The government can do a few PSAs to run for a couple weeks:  Go to this website and sign up, if you don't have a computer, call this number...

How much more money has to be wasted in order for people to get affordable healthcare?

And  this is just disgusting:
 

Added to the logistical challenge is a political one: Insurance brokers in many states are lobbying to prohibit the navigators from giving advice on which plans to choose and to make them liable for their guidance if it results in financial harm.

 

The brokers, who earn commissions and fees by enrolling people in plans and who might lose business to the navigators, contend that the navigators won’t have sufficient expertise.

 

“What you don’t want is for our agents to be cut out and to have this force of untrained, unlicensed individuals giving advice with no financial responsibility,” said Ryan Young, head of government relations for the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, an industry trade group. “Consumers are going to get hammered.”

The elected Democratic officials should all be ashamed of themselves for this POS bill.  They had the opportunity to make a huge, huge difference to better people's lives, but instead... we got job openings for navigators.

 

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Holy Kwap!

sartoris's picture

The 150-foot-wide asteroid 2012 DA14 will zoom within 17,200 miles of our planet on Feb. 15, coming nearer than the ring of satellites in geosynchronous orbit. While the flyby will be the closest ever known in advance for such a large asteroid, there's no reason to retreat to the doomsday bunker.
 

I put more than 17,200 miles on my car last year. That's freaking close.

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