While usually I tend to remain hushed in silent opposition to opinion pieces with which I find disagreement, for whatever reason I felt compelled to respond to Robert McMillan’s Harsh Interrogations? in the Oct. 7, 2009 issue, which tackled the possibility of investigating the harsh interrogation tactics used by the CIA under the Bush administration, and instead proposes a different viewpoint for the reader’s consideration. From the onset it must be noted that “harsh interrogations” is simply a propaganda tool and euphemism for what can only be rationally recognized as torture. Water-boarding is not simply the simulation of drowning, it is drowning. While the act is described somewhat accurately by McMillan, the consequences are conveniently overlooked. The water poured over the person’s cloth-covered face not only radically obstructs breathing, but it initiates the panic of drowning as water enters the throat, lungs, and stomach. Oftentimes the suspect will lose consciousness only to awake, vomit and then be subjected to this technique repeatedly, again and again. It feels as though they are drowning, because they are, a little at a time. Under such tortured duress, the subject will say anything in order for the process to stop. This results in notoriously bad information and the intelligence community has known, for many years, that intelligence gathered under tortured coercion is consistently unreliable.
In the event that a disaster strikes, being prepared for the unexpected can make a stressful situation easier to handle for you and your family. It is important to have the proper tools and plans in place today to ensure the safety of you and your family tomorrow. To help you get ready, I am launching a three-part column series about emergency preparedness titled, “Preparing for the Unexpected.”
Assemblyman Tom McKevitt expressed outrage at the blatant money grab orchestrated by Governor David Paterson and his cohorts in the state Legislature. As part of the 2009-10 state budget, which McKevitt voted against, driver’s licenses and registration fees will increase dramatically.
Effective September 1, driver’s license and vehicle registration fees will increase 25 percent, which means an average class D driver’s license will go from $50 to $64.50 and registering an average weight vehicle will increase from $45 to $56. Adding insult to injury, effective April 1 of 2010 all registered vehicles will be required to get new license plates and renewed registrations forcing motorists to pay the new registration fee plus an increased $25 fee for the license plate, up from $15.
Long Island Congressmembers Carolyn McCarthy and Gary Ackerman must stand up for consumers by supporting the Consumer Financial Protection Agency Act (“CFPA”) in the upcoming Financial Services Committee vote. This legislation (HR 3126) will establish a federal watchdog agency solely devoted to protecting consumers. Lack of regulation is among the top causes of the current financial crisis.
On April 2, 2009 at approximately 7 p.m. at the intersection of Third Street and Roslyn Road in Mineola, I was struck by an unknown vehicle. I was walking across the street directly in front of the entrance to Birchwood Court Co-op. To date, the police have yet to apprehend a suspect in this case. I was treated at Winthrop-University Hospital as a result from said accident wherein I suffered injuries to my left arm and left leg requiring hours of surgery to both, as well as additional injuries. Later, I was discharged to Orzac Rehabilitation for physical therapy in Valley Stream where I had to undergo sub-acute therapy to my left arm and leg. Currently, I am still out of work awaiting my next surgery to my left elbow, which is scheduled for November 2, 2009. After, I will be home recovering wherein the physical therapy will become more intense.
(On Sept. 10, residents of Mineola passed a referendum on change in the Length of Service Awards Program (LOSAP) for the members of the Mineola Fire Department. The change now allows members to accumulate credit toward an award past the age of 60. The referendum passed by a 564 to 139 margin.)
The residents of the Village of Mineola had an opportunity to support their volunteer firefighters by casting their vote in favor of our Service Awards Program. At the conclusion of the vote, it was my distinct pleasure to announce the results to my membership with more than 80 percent of the votes cast favoring our department.
In the raging healthcare debate this summer, both sides agree that reducing the cost of medical care for individual Americans is desirable. One important way to decrease costs is something called “tort reform.” A tort is defined as a social wrong. But in the healthcare field, consider a tort an act of medical malpractice where a patient is harmed by a medical error of a healthcare provider (a doctor, hospital, nurse, health aide, etc.). At the present time, a patient who is harmed can sue the healthcare provider for “pain and suffering,” and at trial, the patient could be awarded very large sums of money. The patient’s lawyer shares in that large reward. The award money comes from the malpractice insurance company. And the malpractice insurance company obtains its money from charging physicians tens of thousands of dollars a year (sometimes hundreds of thousands, depending on the medical specialty) in malpractice premiums. Doctors must purchase this insurance in order to practice medicine. Tort reform would place a cap on the amount of money that could be awarded in “pain and suffering” lawsuits. So you would limit these awards to, for example, $250,000, and would do away with massive multimillion dollar awards. This would bring down the price of malpractice insurance doctors pay. Huge monetary awards are a big motivator for many personal injury lawyers. These lawyers are strongly opposed to tort reform because it would limit patients to smaller awards and thus limit the lawyers to lower income.
I was reading recently how Academy Award-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss is now devoting himself to promoting the education of “civics” in our schools in order to give our children real-world knowledge and, hopefully, wisdom about how to run our government. I never realized that Mr. Dreyfuss and I had so much in common and I enthusiastically join his call to bring back civic education.
Assemblyman Tom McKevitt (R,C,I-East Meadow) would like to advise his constituents on ways they can save money. The Long Island Power Authority is offering savings with rebates on two-speed and variable-speed pool pumps, refrigerators, dehumidifiers and central air conditioning tune-ups. “This is a smart program which people should take advantage of to help decrease energy costs for your home or business and replace any older appliances,” the Assemblyman stated.
As students across New York return to school, local education officials are facing the dawn of a new school year with economic storm clouds on the horizon threatening school district resources.
Having dodged the harshest effects of declining state revenue because of federal stimulus funding last year, school board members are still wary about the state’s financial picture, according to a recent poll from the New York State School Boards Association.
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