The politics of health care, never pretty, got even uglier, thanks to Republicans in the Assembly who directed people to a fake Obamacare site.
From Philip Bump in The Atlantic Wire: "Republican members of the California State Assembly want to inform their constituents about Obamacare, so they've helpfully sent out mailers pointing people to CoveringHealthCareCA.com. Which isn't the state's Obamacare site. Instead, it's an official-looking site hoping to "help you navigate" the health care changes — with an obviously unfavorable perspective.
"The liberal site Crooks and Liars spotted the effort on Monday. It's not clear how many people received a mailer from their Republican assemblymember, but the site did obtain one example, sent by Assemblyman Scott Walk in the southern part of the state. The cover (pictured) calls the mailer a "resource guide," and prominently features the link to the website. Inside, the mailer is more direct. A frustrated-looking woman appears just above commentary about tax increases. A page of instructions ("What You Need to Do to Follow the Law") highlights the Republicans' site, while mentioning the real exchange site "Covered California" without providing a URL..."
"We've noted past attempts by fraudsters creating fake Obamacare sites meant to trick people into turning over personal financial information. Here, the deception has a different aim: turning Californians against the program, even as the state continues to have one of the most successful exchanges in the nation.
It's not like the fake site is new: The GOP announced it months ago.
From the LAT's Michael Hiltzik: "To be fair, the California GOP announced its website in August. But some members have recently stepped up their promotion of the site. The site has a featured spot, for example, on the homepage of Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway (R-Tulare). Conway's spokeswoman, Sabrina Lockhart, says other members may be pointing their constituents to the site "as a resource" to help them navigate the new law."
"If that's so, constituents needing useful information about how to deal with the Affordable Care Act would be well advised to look elsewhere. As an aid to understanding and navigating the Affordable Care Act's new requirements and opportunities for coverage, the GOP site is worse than useless. Finding a link there to the Covered California website, which after all is the main place residents can go to obtain insurance in the individual market, is a chore -- there isn't a link to it at all on the GOP page."
"Instead, you're offered links labeled "I already have health insurance," "I don't have health insurance," or "I'm an employer." The second link, which presumably covers most residents looking for help through the act, leads to a page dominated by a calculator for the penalties imposed for not buying insurance -- not exactly what you need if you're already looking for insurance. If you have the patience, you can find a link to Covered California toward the bottom of the page."
Meanwhile, people who stay at the snazzy Hotel Del Coronado may be getting something of a two-fer -- nice digs plus the satisfaction of funding campgrounds near the Mexican border.
From the U-T's Michael Gardner: "San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox is pushing to develop a campground in the Tijuana River Valley Regional Park or at nearby Border Field State Park, which he said could help meet growing demand for affordable accommodations along the high-priced Southern California coastline."
"One potential source of funding: a slightly more than $1 million account created three years ago when the Coastal Commission imposed mitigation fees as part of its approval of the Hotel del Coronado’s expansion and renovation master plan. It was the first time the levy was imposed on a San Diego County hotel project."
"The money has been set aside specifically for low-cost accommodations, such as budget hotels, hostels and campgrounds."
Gov. Brown is asking the Obama administration to reconsider its decision to reject California's request for a federal disaster declaration in connection with the Rim Fire near Yosemite.
From the Bee's Jim Miller: "In a letter to Brown early last month, Federal Emergency Management Agency's administrator W. Craig Fugate wrote that the severity and magnitude of the Rim Fire, which burned more than 257,000 acres and all but shut down the Yosemite National Park tourist industry, did not justify the major disaster declaration, which would free up additional federal aid to cover state and local costs."
"Brown disagreed. In his appeal letter Tuesday, Brown said the fire cost the state at least $70 million. Local governments also incurred major costs and the environmental damage totals an estimated $115 million, among other impacts, he wrote."
"In the aftermath of the fire, the state and its communities face infrastructure damage, significant negative economic impact, as well as complex and multifaceted environmental damages," Brown wrote. "The burned area created an enormous potential for catastrophic flooding and debris runoff from winter storms."
The threat of terrorism on U.S. soil is highest in five metropolitan areas, including San Francisco, according to a new report.
From Chris Rauber at the San Francisco Business Times: "The threat of a large-scale terrorist attack in the United States is still high, and is concentrated in five high-profile metropolitan areas, according to a report by catastrophe modeling specialist Risk Management Solutions Inc., including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., in that order."
"In its "Quantifying U.S. Terrorism Risk" white paper, distributed Tuesday, the Newark-based company said the risk of a major attack is still high "and will remain so for the foreseeable future," as evidenced by 30 major plots that have led to convictions since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks."
"Certain types of attacks could cause almost unfathomable destruction, the study reported."
Finally, from our "Vanishing Flicks"
files comes word that the vast majority of Hollywood's silent films are lost forever.
"Only 14% of a total of around 11,000 movies made between 1912 and 1930 exist in their original format, with a further 11% available to view in foreign language versions, or in a lower quality format. Around 70% are completely lost. The failure of the early studios, in most cases, to maintain silent era archives has been described as an "alarming and irretrievable loss" to America's cultural record by officials."
"Historian and archivist David Pierce, who conducted the extensive two-year study, said the silent art form retained a rare resonance. "It's a lost style of storytelling, and the best of the films are as effective with audiences today as they were when they were initially released," he told ABC News. "When you take away dialogue from a narrative story, it actually puts quite a challenge upon the creative people involved to tell the story entirely in a visual fashion. And it's that limitation, I think, which makes the films so effective."
"Many of the lost film prints fell victim to fire or deterioration. Others were neglected or destroyed, according to the common practices of the time..."
"Famous titles now considered lost forever include the 1917 version of Cleopatra, a 1926 take on F Scott Fitzgerald's much-adapted The Great Gatsby, Lon Chaney's 1927 film London After Midnight and 1928's The Patriot. The library's next aim is to contact foreign preservation groups and private collectors in the hope that some of the missing examples can be tracked down."