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Monday, January 24, 2011

High Military Funding for Washoe Schools
(IRIS) Reno, NV – A nation-wide push to expand military in schools is set to be complete this year and under this push, the Washoe County School District and the Department of Defense are spending up to six times the national average for the military's Recruit Officer Training Corps in schools.

According to the 2007 budget, the DOD has allocated $340 million for 3,229 ROTC units nation wide. $68 million is for personnel costs for an average of $21,000 on each program. But in Washoe, the total cost of salaries and benefits here is $263,636 for each of the 11 programs.

“Lets look at ROTC,” said Washoe County School District Superintendent Heath Morrison in an interview on KOLO-TV. “It’s a great program, we have one of the best ROTC programs in the entire country.”

The total cost of the 11 programs in salaries and benefits is $2.9 million, but the WCSD isn’t bearing the entire cost.

“The Federal government pays half of the salaries and half of the cost of the programs of ROTC,” Morrison says.

Half the cost of $263,636 of salaries is more than $130,000 and six times the national average of $21,000 the DOD pays on average per program across the US. Not only is the federal government paying well above the national average, so are taxpayers and the Washoe County School District.

According to a search of the state salary database on Transparent Nevada, the district has 34 ROTC Instructors, 32 of which are earning $71,900 or more in pay and benefits. WCSD ROTC top earner is picking up $112,000 each year. Meanwhile the top base salary for a WCSD teacher with a PhD in education is $70,000 year.

According to Indeed.com, the average salary for an ROTC instructor nation wide is $61,000. Of the WCSD’s 34 ROTC instructors, 32 have base salaries higher than $51,000 and $20,000 in benefits. The number of instructors in the WCSD is also high.

To compare, Dallas Independent School District has only 5 instructors, paid $60,000 to $92,000 per year. Austin Independent School District has 8 instructors paid $47,000 to $67,000 per year. Some areas have so few instructors that school districts bus kids to other schools to participate like in Louisiana. 

WCSD on the other hand has two and, up to four instructors (McQueen & Hug High Schools) instructors per program. Not only that, the district has an ROTC Director, Operations Manager and Military Logistics coordinator.

ROTC is being expanded by the Department of Defense in recent years. It hopes to add nearly 300 units, from 3,229 ROTC units to 3,500 nation-wide by the end of fiscal year 2011. To do that, the DOD has increased its budget by more than $120 million, from $224 million in 2004 to $340 million in 2007.

The effort seems to be working. Los Angeles had seen a 43 percent drop in ROTC enrollment at some schools, but recent its overall enrollment has increased.

The expansion is being threatened by budget cuts including Washoe. According to a report by the American Friends Service Committee, local school districts spend $222 million in local tax dollars on ROTC nation-wide.  San Fransico laid off its 12 instructors in 2009.

As the Washoe County School District faces 17 percent cuts, up to $74 million this year, the district may face similar tough choices.

“So if we cut ROTC those kids are still going to need to take a class but we will actually be paying more by cutting a program like ROTC,” said Superintendent Heath Morrison. “So everyone is going to say cut that or cut this. If it is a cut in 17, every aspect of our school district will be impacted.”

LIST OF UNITS IN WCSD

(Number of Instructors)

Incline (2), McQueen (4), Spanish Springs (3), North Valleys (3), Sparks HS (2), Damonte Ranch (2), Reed (3), Hug (4), Wooser (3), Reno (3), Galena (3).

Mon, January 24, 2011 | link          Comments

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Entrenched Interests Behind Autism Scare Emerging

(IRIS) -- Today's big international story about Autism's fake link to vaccines alleges fraud behind the scenes of the medical industry for financial gain. There is a lot of pressure behind the scenes even in the Nevada media to increase the financial liability in Autism.


The result of this pressure, is that starting 2011 there is a big costly change for insurance companies operating in Nevada, making coverage for autism mandatory. There are major entrenched interests in the program's success and children and parents are now caught in the middle of a new multi-million dollar insurance program.

Reports vary as to how many children may be affected by Autism in the state of Nevada, but since the bill was on the cusp of passage the groups promoting Autism screening have put the number of children in Nevada as having Autism high as 6,600. With the bill's cap of $36,000 per child it has an enormous $237-million financial implication for insurance companies.

Despite the powerful interests of media, legislators and medical industry that are behind this move, parents are now trying to figure out what the programs impacts will be.

At it's core, is the cap of up to $36,000 annual coverage for treatment of Autism.That cap would be enough for Rochelle MaClean of Fallon, parent of a 7 year old Autistic child if the money could be applied to lost income. 

"I am loosing my income because he requires so much care outside of school. So roughly an extra 2-3 thousand dollars a month," she says.

And that doesn't include the cost of psychiatrists and therapy in her small town. For those treatments, there are long waiting lists for approvals from insurance now.

"There are families out there that are spending far more than I am. Therapy is not cheap."

Most parents I spoke to said one of the the biggest challenges is child care since an Autistic child needs constant supervision.

"It depends on what that covers,"  said Karmin Robbins who has a 5 year old boy with a lighter case of autism. She was provided $1,200 every three or four months she says for help with her child through the Sierra Regional Center. It paid for child care and piano lessons.

"They totally took that away," she says and now the stipend is just $200 every three to four months.

It's not clear if the withdrawal of funding is associated with the passage of the new bill, but now she is turning for help from Medicaid, which according to another parent has always been an available option.

"The state paid for 800 dollars a month," says Susie Harrison of Fallon, whose child was severely Autistic. He was "catatonic" she says when he was 4 and 5 years old.

Even without the new bill, "the state pays for his therapy," she says. She questions the new bill because "All truly autistic children who are truly autistic should be paid for by the state."Her child is truly Autistic, and as for her costs, "I know it is not $36,000 dollars a year, it is far less." But unlike many parents she admits that in Fallon, Nevada there isn't as much access to therapy so she spends more on homeopathic medicine, reducing costs. 

Regardless of how an Autistic child is treated, she fears that if additional insurance coverage is required under the law for everyone then "all children will be screened and even normal children with slight variances might automatically be diagnosed with autistic behavior and the autistic insurance might be abused."

There is already pressure to widely expand Autism diagnoses.
 
The Las Vegas Sun reported that Autism affects about 5,000 children in Nevada. That is more than AIDS, childhood cancer and diabetes combined.

However, that number could be much higher with as many  6,600 considering that there are approximately 660,000 children in the state according to Children's Defense Fund November 2008 report. Studies of how many of those children have Autism vary widely. A WebMD report cites the statistic as 2 in every 1,000 children. Meanwhile a report by CBS News and commercials are promoting the statistic of 1 in every 100 children can be diagnosed with Autism. The financial implications for such a wide-spread medical problem are enormous.

Regardless of the conflict, now that the bill is signed into law, a media advertising blitz on local television is underway to publicly promote the higher statistics of this serious and rather scary medical condition. Local media has an interest in the bills success and positive reporting on the issue. The President of Intermountain West Communications, Ralph Toddre is one of the founders of the Autism Coalition of Nevada and was at the governor's side when the bill was signed. Intermountain West owns three TV stations in Nevada.

The triad of media, government and medical industry puts the national network  TV stations of Intermountain West Communication in a precarious situation for reporting on this multi-state issue.

While Nevada has just joined the trend of requiring autism insurance coverage, 35 states have already been trying to tackle the problem this way and some are beginning to question the effectiveness of the legislation.

Wisconsin is among dozens of states that have passed a similar law, however, according to media reports their law doesn't apply to the majority of autistic children there.

The problem is that Wisconsin's law doesn't apply to federally regulated insurers, only state ones.

Nevada's law (AB 162) only specifies that the law applies to "certain public and private health care plans."
Thu, January 6, 2011 | link          Comments

Sunday, January 2, 2011

High-level Terrorism Tour to End in Belgium
 
(IRIS) -- Efforts to track the flow of terrorist financing is among the top concerns of U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano this week as she tours Afghanistan, Qatar, Israel and, of all places, E.U. member Belgium. Cables released by Wikileaks provide an inside look at how high-level authorities approach these discussions about terrorism financing, but also the unspoken role European Union members like Belgium may play in weapons trades with terrorist organizations.

The public activities of Napolitano on this trip so far are pretty standard. During the first stop in Afghanistan, she met with U.S. troops and Afghan women, raising the question of what role if any, the U.S. hopes that women may play in helping to combat terrorism. The strategy is a keen use of the carrot approach: the U.S. encourages more freedoms for women and that in turn in-directly helps the U.S. fight against terrorism.
 
Women are becoming a battleground in the terrorist front, increasingly involved in terrorist plots, having carried suicide bombs in Lebanon, Russia, Turkey, India, and for the first time this year in Pakistan on Christmas. Women can play strong roles as informants to the United States, being in close proximity to families whose men may be engaged in plotting terrorist acts. Encouraging them to think freely and independently as Napolitano is doing, may enlist them on the side of U.S. interests instead of pawns in the war against America.
 
Napolitano also held a more traditional meeting with President Hamid Karzai and Minister of Finance Mohammad Omer Zakhiwal focused on preventing the trafficking of chemicals for IED’s and bulk cash smuggling. To do that, she is suggesting checkpoints throughout the region.
 
“We really focused on what you need to do first and by way of having a port and a port infrastructure,” she said, adding that it would involve investment in manpower, technology and infrastructure.
 
Monday, in another traditional stop, she will be in Israel to examine “port infrastructure” at its Ben-Gurion international airport. Its security is considered among the most effective in the world.
 
The U.S. interest in Qatar will likely also cover the same interests of improving port security as it was identified as the origin of recent mail bombs intended for the United States. But in the list of countries on her tour about terrorism financing Napolitano is Belgium, which seems out of place, that is until you consider at least one secret document released by Wikileaks. It is an inside look how high-level officials and banks discuss the capitalistic wheels that keep terrorism turning: financing.
 
The cable titled “Treasury Official on the Fight Against Terrorism” outlines an October 2009 meeting in Ankara Turkey between Treasury Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes David Cohen and Turkish banking officials.
 
It says that on October 20th, 2009 an unnamed source said that PKK “terrorists are not using weapons or components made or sold in Turkey, instead they are buying 90 percent of these product from the EU. xxxxxxxx said pressure should be brought against the EU to stop the selling of arms to Iran rather than just asking Turkey to stop the flow after the weapons are sold.”
 
Nonetheless, Cohen outlined how a review by the inter-governmental Financial Actions Task Force would decide if Turkey’s financial regulation related to terrorism has “deficiencies (that) represent a threat to the international financial system and should be publicly identified.”
 
In October, 2010 the FATF did publicly identify Turkey.
 
But so far, Napolitano’s visit has only publicly discussed how to intercept terrorist weapons, not how to prevent their purchase. A review of media sources on Napolitano trip hasn’t included any discussion terrorist financing so far or from whom the weapons of terrorism are being purchased.
Sun, January 2, 2011 | link          Comments


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Nation's First Cold War Memorial Groundbreaking & Book Signing

The Forest Service members of the CIA and workers from Area 51 were at Mt. Charleston outside Las Vegas for the groundbreaking of the nation's first Cold War Memorial on Saturday, November 17. This will enhance the regions international recognition for its role in America's victory in the Cold War. The Atomic Testing museum with its hands-on exhibits, the atomic test site with its bomb-ravaged structures and now the cold war memorial honoring America's heroes who lost their lives in America's longest war. Vistors can get a signed first-edition copy of Silent Heroes of the Cold War (Stephen's Press 2008) and learn more at this first public event on a multi-million dollar Forest Service project in the area.

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UNLV President Resigns

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