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Stats on Security

What kind of security are we talking about?  All kinds of security that includes protection from a wide range of threats – terrorism, cyber attacks, natural disasters, and other emergencies.  Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will:

– Pre-screen 2 million passengers before they fly into, out of, within, or over the U.S.;

– Screen 1.8 million passengers and their checked baggage for explosives and prohibited items at 448 airports before they board aircraft;

-Perform 200 inspections of air carriers and airport infrastructure;

– Patrol 3.4 million square miles of U.S. waterways;

– Seize 19,040 lbs. of drugs at/near U.S. ports of entry;

– Lead 100+ waterborne patrols near maritime critical infrastructure and key resources;

– Conduct 54 search and rescue cases;

– Train 350 members of law enforcement, faith-based, academic, and private sector communities to respond to Active Shooter scenarios;

– Screen 100% of cargo and vehicles entering the U.S. from Canada and Mexico;

– Process 1 million travelers entering the U.S. by air, sea, and land;

– Natualize 3,200 new U.S. citizens;

– Seize $500,000 of counterfeit U.S. currency before it gets into circulation;

– Verify the identities of 109,000+ applicants for visas and border-crossing cards;

– Train 5,880+ federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial emergency management and response personnel;

– Train 2,100 officers and agents from 90+ federal agencies, as well as 125+ state, local, rural, tribal, territorial, and international officers and agents;

– Train 94 stakeholders from critical infrastructure sectors to identify, mitigate, and respond to cyber attacks;

– Provide $3.7+ million in federal disaster grants to individuals and households, following presidentially-declared disaster declarations;

– Provide Secret Service protection for an average of 30 U.S. government officials and their families;

– Prevent $6.8 million in potential loses through cyber crime investigations;

– Respond to 70 cybersecurity incidents per month while issuing warnings for each;

– Issue 20+ actionable cyber alerts for public and private sector to protect their systems.

Note:  Data is approximate and represents daily averages based upon annual Department-wide statistics. 

Source:  DHS.GOV

As the World Turns

Healthcare law, unemployment rates, taxes – yikes!  Who to believe, where to turn?  What will we do? 

It’s hard to know what to think or how to choose a path if pieces of the puzzle are missing.  Worse yet, it’s even harder if you don’t know that some of the facts or numbers just aren’t correct or have been, hmmmm…maybe manipulated?  Let’s start with healthcare laws and see if we can shed some light on the topic and how the above-mentioned subjects may relate to each other. 

In many countries around the world, there is some form of mandated healthcare coverage system – universal health care – for their citizens.  These systems include Single Payer, Two-Tier, and Insurance Mandate.

In a Single Payer system the government provides insurance for all citizens and pays for all health care expenses except for copays and coinsurance.  Health care providers may be public, private, or a combination of both.  Examples of  countries with a Single Payer system are Norway, Japan, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Sweden, Canada, Italy, and Spain.

In a Two-Tier system, the government mandates catastrophic or minimum insurance coverage for all citizens, but allows for additional, voluntary insurance coverage for a fee-for-service care.  Examples of countries with this kind of system are France, Australia, Ireland, Denmark, and Hong Kong (a city-state in the People’s Republic of China).

In an Insurance Mandate system, the government mandates all citizens purchase insurance from either private, public, or non-profit insurers.  Examples of countries with an Insurance Mandate are Germany, Austria, Greece, South Korea, Switzerland, and the United States in 2014 if things don’t change by then.

Now, for the next question…Where does the money come from to pay for universal health care in countries who have it?  Well, one of the major ways is by taxing the citizens of that country.  Taxes, you say?  Ah, yes indeed. 

That leads to the next topic – Income Taxes and other Taxes around the World for 2012.

In the United Kingdom, the personal income basic tax rate for wages starts at 20% and goes as high as 50% for annual wages over 150,000 euro dollars (EUR). 

In France, there is no income tax for anyone making under 6,089 EUR annually.  However, starting at that amount citizens are taxed at a rate of 5.5% up for up to 12,146 EUR.  The tax rate increases until anyone making above 72,317 EUR annually is taxed at a rate of 41%.

Greece’s income tax rate begins at 18% and increases to 45% for anyone making over 100,000 EUR annually.  In addition to the income tax, other taxes may apply to wages or profits earned, including social services, medical care, and capital gains taxes.

In Austria, the the income tax rate begins at 36.5% of annual wages of 11,000-25,000 EUR, and up to 50% for annual wages of 60,001 EUR and over.  In addition to the income taxes, Austrians are also required to pay social security tax rates between 18.07% – 18.2%.

In Germany, the tax rate is 14% for annual wages (EUR) from 8,005-52,881 and is progressive of up to 45% for annual wages of 250,731 and over. 

Italy has a progressive income tax rate starting at 23% for annual wages (EUR) up to 15,000.  There are 4 bands of tax rates with the highest rate being 43% for annual wages (EUR) of 75,000 and up.

So it seems that citizens in countries with some kind of universal health care system pay a lot of taxes from their annual wages.  So now I ask, what happens if there’s a high unemployment rate in a country and the goverment can’t collect enough taxes at the current tax rate to pay for the universal health care system and other amenities for its citizens?  Does the government raise taxes or create new taxes for certain sectors of the population, thus pitting one group against another?  Does it eliminate or reduce benefits and welfare programs?  Does it create jobs?  What level of unemployment triggers serious government action? 

In the U.S., the current unemployment rate reported for April, 2012 was 8.1%.  Does this number trigger serious government action, or is the number considered not THAT bad?  Let’s look.  According to government figures and research, the 8.1% unemployment number means 12.5 million people out of approximately 154.365 million people in the civilian labor force are not working.  But is this 8.1% unemployment rate correct?  Let’s look again and see…

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment figures by race, sex, and age for April, 2012, included a total of 9.144 million white men and women, 2.383 million black/African American men and women, and 2.498 million Hispanic/Latino men and women who were unemployed.  That’s a total of 14,025,000 people out of work that month.  Now, stay with me…Divide the 14,025,000 unemployed by the 154,365,000 in the civilian labor force, and that produces a 9.1% (real) unemployment rate for the groups reported, not the 8.1% unemployment rate the government reports.  Can someone please explain this discrepancy to me? 

Should we be concerned about an unemployment rate that’s underreported or perhaps, factually manipulated, and why?  Or should we be more concerned that not very much is being done quickly enough, or at all, to reduce the high unemployment rate in this great country?  

Finally, how are we going to pay for mandated health care if so many people are out of work? 

We’d like your thoughts.

World View – A Society’s Decline – Violence Against Toddler in China

Warning – Graphic Violence – Toddler Hit by Trucks and Left to Die  (The video is the smaller box on the lower left of the page.  It takes a few seconds to load.)

This story first appeared on October 17, 2011.

GUANGZHOU – A 2-year-old girl who was ignored by passers-by as she lay injured after being run over twice, has been declared “brain dead” by doctors, who say she could die at any time.

Footage from a surveillance camera presented on local TV shows Yue Yue was walking in a hardware market in Foshan, Guangdong province about 100 meters away from her home, when she was run over by a van at 5:26 pm. Three passers-by who noticed the injured girl chose to ignore her.

The girl was then run over by a light-duty truck. The riders of four electric bicycles, a tricycle and three passers-by all chose to ignore her and no one at a shop close to the scene came to her aid.

Seven minutes after she was first hit by the van, a 57-year-old rag collector noticed the girl and moved her to the curb. The woman then tried talking to the shopkeeper but received no response. She then walked into the street and a few seconds later, the girl’s mother appears and rushes away with the girl.

The girl received emergency surgery in Foshan before being transferred to the General Hospital of the Guangzhou Military Command of the People’s Liberation Army in Guangzhou on the same day.

The girl was critically injured, with no spontaneous respiration and close to brain death when she arrived at the hospital, said Wen Qiang, deputy director of the intensive care unit of the hospital.

The little girl was declared “brain dead” by the hospital on Sunday afternoon and could die at any time, according to a doctor surnamed Peng.

The most optimistic estimate is that the girl will remain in a vegetative state on life support.

Police caught the truck driver soon after the incident and the van driver turned himself in on Sunday afternoon.

Before the accident, the girl, just back with her mother from the kindergarten, was left alone at the hardware shop of the family when her mother went to collect dried clothes. When she returned, the mother could not find her daughter at the shop or anywhere nearby until she heard the rag-collecter shout, according to Guangzhou Daily.

According to reports the van driver had just split up from his girlfriend and was talking on his mobile phone when he hit the girl.

“If she is dead, I may pay only about 20,000 yuan ($3,125). But if she is injured, it may cost me hundreds of thousands yuan,” said the driver over the phone to the media, before he gave himself up to the police.

When she ran from shop to shop for the identity of the girl, the rag collector was told by a number of shopkeepers to mind her own business.

There have been other examples of the public failing  to assist injured parties. 

The public has been instructed by the Chinese Ministry of Health on how to behave in these kinds of situations.  In guidelines issued in September, 2011 on how to help elderly people who have fallen down, the public are advised: “Don’t rush to lend a hand to the elderly after seeing them fall over. It should be handled by different measures in different situations.”

The Ministry said the guidelines have nothing to do with morality and ethics but explain how to deliver assistance in a scientifically proper way.

Hmmmmm….yeah, sure.  Wouldn’t want to live there [China], thank you very much.

As one travels the globe, or just reads about news collected from different parts of the world, sometimes one is reminded just how lucky it is to be living right here in the good ole USA.

A Trip to Antalya

Antalya is a resort city on the Turkish Mediterranean Coast.  It has beautiful beaches and dramatic views of the sea and mountains.  Many of the buildings in the city are from the Ottoman and Roman time periods.  Our thanks to Bill Gallagher for submitting the photos seen here from his recent trip to Turkey.

Living Royally


Looking Towards Africa


Antalya, Nestled Between Green and Mountains

Traveled Abroad Lately? Slavery Is Still Alive And Well World-Wide.

Have you traveled to any of the countries listed here?  Below is only a partial list of countries still using forced labor, aka slavery, along with the products produced by forced labor.  Perhaps you might want to think twice about purchasing any of the items listed that come from these countries?  As a seasonal reminder, note the Christmas Decorations produced in China, and made with forced labor. 

ANGOLA (Diamonds); ARGENTINA (Garments); BOLIVIA (Brazil Nuts/Chestnuts, Cattle, Corn, Charcoal, Sugarcane, Timber, Tobacco); BURMA (Bambo, Beans [yellow, soy, green], Bricks, Jade, Palm Thatch, Castor Beans, Rice, Rubber, Rubies, Sesame, Shrimp, Sugarcane, Sunflowers, Teak); CHINA (Artificial flowers, Bricks, Christmas Decorations, Coal, Cotton, Electronics, Fireworks, Footwear, Garments, Nails, Toys); COLUMBIA (Coca – stimulant plant); COTE d’IVOIRE (Cocoa, Coffee); DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (Sugarcane); ETHIOPIA (Textiles – hand woven); GHANA (Tilapia – fish); INDIA (Bricks, Carpets, Cottonseed, Embroidered Textiles, Garments, Rice, Stones); JORDAN (Garments); KAZAKHSTAN (Cotton, Tobacco); MALAYSIA (Garments, Oil); NEPAL (Bricks, Carpets, Embroidered Textiles, Stones); NIGERIA (Cocoa, Granite, Gravel – crushed stones); NORTH KOREA (Bricks, Cement, Coal, Gold, Iron, Textiles); PAKISTAN (Bricks, Carpets, Coal, Cotton, Sugarcane, Wheat); PARAGUAY (Cattle); PERU (Brazil Nuts/Chestnuts, Gold, Timber); RUSSIA (Pornography); SIERRA LEONE (Diamonds); THAILAND (Garments, Shrimp).

Source:  U.S. Dept. of Labor, 2010 list.

Ewchie, Coochie, Woof, Woof


Puppy on Australian beach.

Leaving the Snow Behind

Travelers leaving JFK airport in NY during the Christmas holidays to go to far away places.

New Year’s Eve in Times Square

 Celebrating New Year’s Eve for 2011 in New York City with all my friends!

Click this link:  Bringing in the 2011 New Year in Times Square

Las Vegas

I love Las Vegas layovers! The weather, the shows, the gorgeous men! Yes!! One time on a long layover a couple of the other flight attendants and I went to the hotel New York New York for some fun. I wound up dancing on one of the cocktail tables in the bar area. Yippee! OK, OK, someone dared me.