Yale Graduate Students on Hunger Strike!
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Dr. David Watkins may be a rookie legislator, but he's not reluctant to speak out on issues.
"I'm the new kid on the block," Watkins (D-Henderson), who was elected state representative last year, told a Henderson Chamber of Commerce audience Monday. "I've got a lot to learn."
But he has firm opinions on a number of topics that could come before the short 2007 General Assembly, which reconvenes today in Frankfort.
"I will introduce a bill asking people not to smoke in public buildings in Kentucky except taverns and bars," he said.Now come on you can be more direct than that. Its the smokers draining the health care system. You know the ones that come in to ER on a regular basis dragging their little O2 tank behind them reeking of smoke. Spending weeks at a time in the hospital on their Medicaid card using their disability check (because they obviously can't work if they can't breathe) to buy their smokes. I get tickled at people who say they can't afford their inhalers but brought a bag full of Pall Mall's with them. Thats not counting the millions spent on various cancers due to smoking or chewing for that matter.
"I hate smoking," he said, explaining that he has seen the effects of tobacco use during his 42 years in medicine.
"Tobacco is a burden on our health care system," the Henderson family physician said. "It costs Medicaid a half billion dollars annually."
Watkins also wants to raise the price of cigarettes by 50 cents a pack to discourage youngsters from picking up the addiction. "I want to make cigarettes so damned expensive they can't afford them," he said.
"It will raise $160 million (a year), but that's not the reason I'm introducing it," Watkins said, though he added that he would want the proceeds to be used for schools.
Watkins also spoke out in favor of requiring middle school girls to receive a new immunization for human papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted virus that is responsible for most cases of cervical cancer.
Some critics have suggested that receiving the Gardasil vaccine, which prevents infections from four strains of the virus, might encourage girls to become sexually active. Watkins dismissed that as "tremendous ignorance."
"Any time we can prevent anybody from getting cancer, why not?" he said.
"It's not for promiscuity. It's for responsibility," Watkins said.
On another medical matter, Watkins acknowledged that the Medicare Part D prescription medicine program "is confusing. Our federal people did a poor, poor job. It confuses our older people.
"But it does help people if they read the literature and get the right program."
Watkins said the federal government should be empowered to negotiate prescription prices it pays under Medicare. "When I submit a bill to Medicare, they fix my prices," he said. "There should be a price fix for medications. The cost of medicine has gotten out of hand. It's ridiculous."
Watkins also spoke out in favoring of raising the state's minimum wage and applying it to restaurant workers.
"I think employers need to raise the rates to pay girls a decent wage, or men a decent wage," he said. "There is a projection that we will lose a few jobs, but I doubt it."
Watkins would like incentives provided to employers to hire blind workers and the physically disabled.
But he said employers should take greater care to not hire illegal immigrants. "I think the reason we have illegal immigrants is there are too many lazy Americans," he said.
EVANSVILLE, IN - The EVSC said they are installing alarms, which cost almost $20 thousand, on school buses to keep kids safe.
Last week, a seven-year-old girl was left sleeping on a bus after the driver did not check all the seats. The EVSC said it will now put alarms on the back of all 275 school buses to alert bus drivers to check all seats before they exit.
David Coker, president of the Vanderburgh County Taxpayers Association, has strong words for the EVSC.
"They spend money like drunken sailors," said Coker.
Coker said it is typical for the corporation to over react to a problem, and that costs the taxpayers.
He added checking seats daily should be a routine for all drivers.
(CNN) -- A Hummer used by CNN to cover the war in Iraq and then renovated on The Learning Channel netted $1.25 million for charity on Saturday.
Proceeds from the sale of Warrior One, which toured military bases and medical centers nationwide before the auction, will be donated to the Fisher House Foundation. The organization temporarily houses families of patients receiving major medical care in military hospitals and Veterans Affairs facilities.
Dave Liniger, founder of Re/Max International Inc., had the winning bid of $1 million for the Hummer. An additional $250,000 was thrown in by Dave Ressler, a businessman from North Dakota and Montana.
Lee's Birthday to Be Commemorated in Va.
By ZINIE CHEN SAMPSON
RICHMOND, Va. - History buffs still captivated by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee nearly 150 years after the Civil War planned lectures, a banquet and artillery salutes to mark the 200th anniversary of his birth.
While many Southern groups revere him, the glorification of Lee and the Lost Cause strikes a raw nerve among others in a state that still has a "Lee-Jackson Day" to commemorate Lee and another Confederate war hero, Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson.
State NAACP director King Salim Khalfani said he doesn't have a problem with those who mark Lee's 200th birthday "as long as public dollars aren't used for promoting the Lost Cause."
Federal officials said early inspections indicate the crew of a CSX train acted properly just before it derailed, igniting a massive chemical fire that forced evacuations south of Louisville.
The fire sent thick black clouds of smoke into the sky, prompting officials to evacuate residents and shut down a major highway. Firefighters were finishing a controlled burn of some chemicals from tanker cars.
"We have not found any anomalies in operations at this point; we've not seen any train handling issues at this point," said Mark Rosenker, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board. "So it seems that we need to be focusing more our efforts on examining equipment and track."
Investigators are inspecting the track for nicks and abrasions, Rosenker said. The federal agency considers the derailment an accident.
Meanwhile, seven Bullitt County residents sued CSX, the rail operator, in federal court in Louisville on Thursday. They alleged that CSX officials acted negligently before the crash and chemical fire forced them to either stay in their homes or evacuate. The suit seeks a class action against CSX and an unspecified amount of money.
Castro 'in a serious condition'
Ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro is in a serious condition following three failed operations, according to Spain's El Pais newspaper.
Mr Castro is suffering from a serious intestinal infection, the report says.
January 15, 2007: A "perpetual" peacekeeping operation may work in Haiti, where the peacekeepers essentially are serving as a police force intended to keep the wilder criminal elements out of political power, but it's doubtful it would work in Somalia. There are no clans or tribes ( with significant militia forces on call) in Haiti. In Somalia, there are dozens of well armed clan militias, and past attempts to disarm the clans have all failed. It would be well to examine that history.