Links 11/20/12

Forgive the absence of my own posts. I am leaving town Thursday (and I have more to do than I can possibly get done) and think I have a BBC radio session tomorrow which entails an hour of round trip transit time, so I need to turn in really early for me.

Toxic waste ‘major global threat‘ BBC

SMALL, FAST AND CHEAP, THERANOS IS THE POSTER CHILD OF MED TECH — AND IT’S IN WALGREEN’S Singularity Hub

Warner Bros. Admits To Issuing Bogus Takedowns; Gloats To Court How There’s Nothing Anyone Can Do About That techdirt (Chuck L)

One reason corporate culture sucks for women Cathy O’Neil

Oil Prices Unlikely to Climb Much Higher OilPrice

Leaked Memo Reveals U.S. Plan to Oppose Helping Poor Nations Adapt to Climate Change Democracy Now (Chuck L)

Greece: Ten cancer patients died because they couldn’t pay for exams!failed evolution (no more banksters)

The boiler rooms amongst us FT Alphaville. I walked right by this spot regularly when I was a volcano refugee in London.

Egyptian troops die in Sinai attack BBC

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Wrong Agency, Wrong Minimization: Two More Ways the Original Phone Dragnet Application Violated the Law Marcy Wheeler

US Government Says CIA Black Site Prisoners’ Memory Of Their Own Torture Is Classified And Cannot Be Revealed techdirt (Chuck L)

NSA ‘disregarded’ Fisa court rules Guardian

North Texas Drivers Stopped at Roadblock Asked for Saliva, Blood NBCDFW

Obamacare Launch

In Stance on Renewal of Old Health Policies, States Run the Gamut New York Times

New York Won’t Make Obamacare ‘Fix’ National Review (Cynthia)

This Slide Shows Why HealthCare.gov Wouldn’t Work At Launch NPR (martha r)

Tech chief: Up to 40% Obamacare work left Politico

Can This Man Figure Out How To Fund Single Payer? Vermont Public Radio (martha r)

Obama laments health care website, IT problems Politico. Now he says it’s because government is no good at IT. Help me. Oh, I guess he can’t officially know what the NSA can do. It took the private sector 5 to 7 years to get any meaningful benefit out of data mining, which was a simpler version of the problem here, namely, data integration. And Wall Street has lots of multi-hundred million dollar IT dead bodies it’s largely kept out of the press (I knew of several in the 1990s, when “several hundred million dollars” was worth a lot more than it is now).

Tech problems trip up Md.’s health exchange Washington Post

Pentagon Plugs: New Study Finds Pentagon Has Hidden Trillions In Missing Money And Equipment Jonathan Turley. They need all that dough for black ops. Chuck L: “People in the military reform movement (e.g. Chuck Spinney, Pierre Sprey, Winslow Wheeler, etc.) have been on this case for 30+ years. No one listens because the Pentagon’s dysfunctional accounting systems and processes are features, not bugs.”

Census ‘faked’ 2012 election jobs report New York Post. Guardian says the charges are being investigated.

CEOs Seeking to Slash Social Security Stumble Over Their Own Hypocrisy Bill Moyers

Seattle’s election of Kshama Sawant shows socialism can play in America Guardian

Dad Arrested for Complaining About School’s Absurd Pick-Up Policy Gawker. Only in America.

The evolution of Bloomberg News Felix Salmon

Without Fear, Without Favor CounterPunch (Chuck L)

Federal Judge Orders MF Global to Pay $1.2 Billion to Customers DailyFinance (Carol B)

About That Unemployment Threshold…. Tim Duy

Bernanke confronts his Frankenstein MacroBusiness

An end to US deleverageing? MacroBusiness

What Economy? Ian Welsh (Carol B)

Andrew Ross Sorkin is Upset People Criticized Geithner’s Move to Finance While It Was Still in the News Dean Baker. This is a particularly good “just the facts, ma’am” takedown.

J.P. Morgan Is Haunted by a 2006 Decision on Mortgages Wall Street Journal. Anodyne headline. The DoJ caught JPM execs cooperating with a mortgage originator to fake documentation for securitized loans. Oops!

Antidote du jour (Paul S):

Mail Attachment

And a bonus antidote (a video) courtesy JTFaraday:

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87 comments

  1. George Hier

    The Theranos story caught my eye earlier. Disclaimer: I am a Biomedical Equipment Technician by trade, and often work on automated laboratory equipment (though nothing by the Theranos brand name).

    Cutting through the hype, there is no technical reason why this shouldn’t work out. However, I expect there’ll be a lot more costs involved than Thanatos execs planned on.

    First of all, these machines are fragile, finicky, and break frequently. There’s been a real strong trend to “Fisher-Price”-ify hospital equipment in the last decade, making things so idiot-proof that you don’t need any certification and hardly any training to “use” it. Unfortunately, that also means that when the thousand and one geegaws and gizmos behind the pleasingly sculpted rounded corners and neutral pastel plastic go out of alignment, there is only one person who knows how to fix it. And that one person is 50 miles away and has 20 other clinics in line ahead of you. And that’s just the medical sector. This being retail, you can guarantee that Walgreens/Thanos will be cutting costs to the bone, so expect there to be even less technicians available for a region.

    I can already visualize a lot of scenarios where a hapless phlebotomist dutifully feeds reagent cartridge type B5 in slot B5, hits enter, and is rewarded with ERROR CODE 647PJY3 CALL SUPPORT. They call the number and find out no one will be available for 2 days. Meanwhile, there’s 4 dozen blood samples quickly becoming non-viable. You can’t just leave them there, then you’ll have to call back 4 dozen customers, who will not be happy having to take more time out of their day after having spent their lunch break standing in line at a Walgreens. Expect harried stories of unmanned Theremin kiosks as the sole tech on shift runs red lights trying to deliver their samples to the store across town.

    There’s other hidden issues as well. One is that a significant portion of the population does not react well to blood draws, whether intravenous or just a subcutaneous finger prick. In a hospital or clinic, the technicians/nurses are well practiced at getting the patient to a couch or stretcher and letting them recover with a cup of water, while keeping an eye on them for anything more serious. Not so much in a convenience store. Again, expect horror stories of 10 people in line, the tech is rushing to get through them, and then the 350 pound woman in the front suddenly keels over and cracks her head on the linoleum. Lawsuits ahoy.

    There’s also infection control issues. I’m sure they’ll be armed with gloves, alcohol wipes, and bandaids at the counter, but there’s lots of folks who won’t mind bleeding all over the rest of the merchandise in the store. Including HIV and Hepatitis positive invidividuals. If you doubt my assessment of the cleanliness of the general human population, just think of how many clean gas station bathrooms you’ve visited.

    Then there’s the HIPAA aspects of the situation. If you thought credit card fraud was an issue in retail, wait until you’re handing over social security numbers, birthdates, and credit card numbers to a tech barely making more than minimum wage. Hoo buddy. Hope you’re keeping up on those credit reports.

    So yeah. Bottom line, don’t expect any miracle healthcare savings from this kind of thing. There’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes in the medical world, and trying to technologize it away rarely works right the first couple of tries.

    1. Bill the Psychologist

      George, terrific post with lots of “common sense” info that is not so common, as many of us never think about it this way. I surely won’t be having blood taken at a pharmacy thanks to your wisdom.

    2. Susan the other

      It was interesting that the board of directors is a who’s who of government insiders and NSA types. A device like this is surely being designed to catch virulent outbreaks before they take off. Before your doctor can fit you in, say in a week or 10 days, if your doc is like mine. I think blood makes this a more difficult problem. Maybe saliva would be better?

    3. afisher

      I was amazed that one of the “wins” was an exit for phlebotomist – as they are the lowest paid employee of a laboratory. Then they are being replaced by what – a pharmacist tech – who actually requires more training for their registry to work in a pharmacy.

      Let us overlook the huge amount of technology that will be required for the Pharmacy to connect to the physician office.

      As a retired Medical Technologist, a quick scan of the Test Menu sounds like they have overshot their target as many of those test are considered esoteric. Reagent packs have a shelf life and those that expire drive up costs. Ignore all the other quality control constraints that are required by the FDA, just to make it sound easy? Lots of technology is now point of service – and is in use in both Emergency Centers and at hospital patient bedside. This technology is also being performed in some physician offices and out patient urgent care clinics.

      While this may be a wonderful innovation, there are some overlooked technical issues that are associated with medical licensure / compliance in order to be reimbursed by FED. The billing codes appear to be CPT codes, so I assume that they are looking to insurance for payment, not over the counter payment. NOT to mention competition with existing labs.

      Just one more weird observation – some tests require whole blood and others serum or plasma, which is not mentioned, but both are tested in the menu. One assumes this is a simplification for the article, but now that is not one but two different vials – which involves possible patient ID errors and more human handling.

      Yes, laboratory medicine is complicated and not as simple as most assume to be nothing more than push a button.

  2. DakotabornKansan

    Henri, Le Chat Noir ‏@HenriLeChatNoir

    “The opportunity for doing mischief is found a hundred times a day, and of doing good once in a year.” – Voltaire

  3. Sebastian

    Love today’s video antidote!

    Makes you wonder too, since guilt is a complex emotion that implies consciousness of wrongdoing, the prospect of punishment as well as means of escaping it. And as the video shows, the latter includes not just flight and hide, but also attempts to mollify the would-be punisher.

    Great compilation, thank you.

        1. Strangely Enough

          “I never worry about being driven to drink; I just worry about being driven home.”

          -W. C. Fields

  4. XO

    Cats can also demonstrate embarrassment. When I was a kid, our cat fell asleep on the ironing board after my mom had finished using it, and while it was still warm. As we watched TV, the cat — ever so comfortable and secure in his perch, rolled over to get more comfortable. He hit the ground on his feet before he woke up. The entire family laughed at him, as he slinked away, glaring over his shoulder at us every couple of steps.

    We all slept with our shoes turned upside down, that night.

    Cats also know revenge.

  5. AbyNormal

    Trillions of dollars worth of oil found in Australian outback

    Up to 233 billion barrels of oil has been discovered in the Australian outback that could be worth trillions of dollars, in a find that could turn the region into a new Saudi Arabia.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/australiaandthepacific/australia/9822955/Trillions-of-dollars-worth-of-oil-found-in-Australian-outback.html

    “Unless government appropriately regulates oil developments and holds oil executives accountable, the public will not trust them to drill, baby, drill. And we must!”
    Sarah Palin (i’d pay to watch Elly May Clampett remove Palin’s tongue)

    1. eeyores enigma

      This is not a find.
      By 1950’s virtually every oil field around the world had been discovered.
      By 1990 there was not a speck of oil tight or loose that was not already known about.
      This is another Shale oil field and the only thing found is easy/dumb money to go after it.

      1. Synopticist

        The Aussie outback, a big, dry, seasonal near water-less desert, whose rainfall depends more on el nino than anything else.
        And fracking.
        Anyone else see a problem here?

    2. diptherio

      One of the things Palin did pretty well as Governor of AK was dealing with Big Oil. My pops was a federal regulator up there during her tenure and, against all odds, he actually liked her. As much of an ass as she consequently made of herself, there was a time when she didn’t seem totally incompetent.

      1. Strangely Enough

        With all the al Qaeda franchises popping up, the al Qaeda in Western Australia (AQWA for those keeping score) should be a huge investment opportunity…

    3. Emma

      Aby Normal,
      In 0z, Bruce the Ocker would be more inclined to say “Drill Sheila, Drill”!
      The great thing about Aussie oil too is that it comes in vegemite flavor too. That way we can ship it to starving US Walmart employees as well…….win-win all-round I’d say…

  6. rich

    Soaring UK personal debt wreaking havoc with mental health, report warns Centre for Social Justice says poorer people ‘bearing brunt of storm’ as debt hits £1.4tn – almost as high as economic output

    Personal debt in Britain has reached £1.4tn – almost the same amount as Britain’s national economic output – according to a report that warns debt is wreaking havoc on people’s mental health and wellbeing.

    Poorer people are “bearing the brunt of a storm” during which average household debt has risen to £54,000 – nearly double what it was a decade ago, the report by the Centre for Social Justice thinktank warns.

    The report, entitled Maxed Out, found that almost half of households in the lowest income decile spent more than a quarter of their income on debt repayments in 2011. More than 5,000 people are being made homeless every year as a result of mortgage or rent debts.

    Christian Guy, director of the thinktank established in opposition by the work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, said: “Problem debt can have a corrosive impact on people and families. Our report shows how it can wreak havoc on mental health, relationships and wellbeing. Across the UK people are up until the early hours worrying about their finances and bills.”

    http://www.theguardian.com/money/2013/nov/20/personal-debt-mental-health-report

    1. Synopticist

      That and rocketing house prices in London is the entirety of the UK’s “recovery”. Debt and asset inflation.

  7. Jim Haygood

    Why do bad things happen to good progressives? The NYT takes a stab at answering this existential riddle:

    Despite grand ambitions, an early start, millions of dollars from the federal government and a tech-savvy population, Oregon’s online enrollment system still isn’t ready more than a month after it was supposed to go live.

    Oregon insists its exchange must be a “one-stop shop” for both Medicaid and private insurance. The state also wants its exchange to eventually be able to help enroll people in a wide array of public-assistance programs, not just health care.

    Exchange leaders stuck with their plan even as risk consultants warned repeatedly that they were in danger of missing the Oct. 1 deadline to launch.

    Exchange officials say they haven’t fully launched their website because their software still can’t accurately determine whether applicants are eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, particularly for people with complex family arrangements.

    http://www.myfoxny.com/story/23994830/oregon-health-exchange-represents-biggest-woe#ixzz2lBunJd5h

    Clipped by CHIP, that Nineties relic of the Hillary era! The perfect is the enemy of the good, Oregon comrades. We must tolerate the flaws of the mixed socialist economy, until we can make the transition to full Obamunism.

    Love the bit about ‘complex family arrangements’ — are we talkin’ concubines? And will Cover Oregon PAY for them? See y’all in Portland! ;-)

    1. savedbyirony

      Wasn’t the Gov. of Oregon the lucky soul sitting in the Pres. box by the first Mrs. during the State of the Union Address last winter who Naked Capitalism predicted to be the years most likely to be thrown under the bus because of the ACA/Obama? (think so)

      1. Jim Haygood

        Was that the night Obamao quipped, ‘Marketing power grows out of the barrel of an IRS gun’?

        106,000 served!

  8. Brick

    Bundesbank head Weidmann is at it again: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/11/20/us-ecb-qe-weidmann-idUSBRE9AJ0G520131120

    I don’t get why they call him hawkish. He is timid:
    “The Council has only just eased monetary policy further, so I do not think it is sensible to immediately herald the start of the next round”

    I also don’t understand what is taking the German Constitutional Court so long(deciding the OMT issue). That is Weidmann’s only card he has left. It should now be obvious to anybody that he is not a good central banker or a good economist; so perhaps the court should just ignore his “expertise”.

  9. from Mexico

    @ “An end to US deleverageing?”

    • …QE has done litte to stimulate greater provision of term credit to households and firms, and that a material portion of the increase in corporate credit had been used to alter the capital structure of firms (reduce equity and/or undertake M&A activity) rather than expand productive capacity.

    Well that’s just great! QE stimulated speculation, leaving the real, productive economy unphased. It’s a central banker’s wet dream come true.

    • …established households’ real income has improved little.

    The archenemies of people who have to work for a living — Volcker, Greenspan and Bernanke – set out to intentionally, deliberately and purposefully create a Ponzi economy. Taking income away from households and giving it to transnational corporations is the alpha and the omega of this cult. Vockler, Greenspan and Bernake can now take a well-deserved victory lap.

    • Historically, mortgage credit growth has been the primary driver of aggregate household leverage. But, as we continue to highlight, since the GFC, student and auto debt has provided the primary overall positive impetus…

    Relative to history…the stock of auto credit outstanding ($845bn) is now at the highest level in the history of the NY Fed series…. The rise in student debt has been much larger: the current outstanding stock of $1.027tn is twice that seen in June 2007 and more than four times the level of March 2003.

    Waiting for the harvest, and the time of reaping,
    We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

    Refrain:

    Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves,
    We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves;
    Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves,
    We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

    Sowing in the sunshine, sowing in the shadows,
    Fearing neither clouds nor winter’s chilling breeze;
    By and by the harvest, and the labor ended,
    We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

    • …the positive impetus to consumption growth from auto loans is of questionable credit quality and therefore susceptible to sudden shock. Further, there is a non-trivial probablilty that some of these loans will turn sour in time should macroeconomic conditions remain as challenging as we suspect.

    Whereas the risks to growth linked to the auto loan stock lay in the future, the risks associated with student loans are already clearly apparent. This is best highlighted by the material rise in the proportion of student loans 90+ days delinquent, from around 9% in June 2012 to almost 12% as at September 2013….

    Looking forward, the impact of student debt accrual on the economy will be heavily dependent on the job and income prospects of the affected cohorts. As we continue to highlight, good job opportunities remain slim, making it much harder for individuals to pay back the debt without undue hardship and the loss of credit standing.

    Well whatever you do, just keep it first and foremost in your mind that those young people who can’t pay back their student loans are bad, bad people. And Volker, Greenspan and Bernanke, you can take another victory lap.

    • In a ‘Liberty Street’ blog post that accompanied the latest credit report, the NY Fed characterized the September quarter as potentially being the turning point in the household deleveraging story.

    Volkler, Greenspan, and Bernanke, take yet another victory lap. You have served the merchants of debt well, and have a well-deserved pat on the back coming.

    1. rich

      Blame Rich, Overeducated Elites as Our Society Frays

      Complex human societies, including our own, are fragile. They are held together by an invisible web of mutual trust and social cooperation. This web can fray easily, resulting in a wave of political instability, internal conflict and, sometimes, outright social collapse.

      Analysis of past societies shows that these destabilizing historical trends develop slowly, last many decades, and are slow to subside. The Roman Empire, Imperial China and medieval and early-modern England and France suffered such cycles, to cite a few examples. In the U.S., the last long period of instability began in the 1850s and lasted through the Gilded Age and the “violent 1910s.”

      We now see the same forces in the contemporary U.S. Of about 30 detailed indicators I developed for tracing these historical cycles (reflecting popular well-being, inequality, social cooperation and its inverse, polarization and conflict), almost all have been moving in the wrong direction in the last three decades.

      The roots of the current American predicament go back to the 1970s, when wages of workers stopped keeping pace with their productivity. The two curves diverged: Productivity continued to rise, as wages stagnated. The “great divergence” between the fortunes of the top 1 percent and the other 99 percent is much discussed, yet its implications for long-term political disorder are underappreciated. Battles such as the recent government shutdown are only one manifestation of what is likely to be a decade-long period.

      http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-20/blame-rich-overeducated-elites-as-our-society-frays.html

      1. Chauncey Gardiner

        Thank you for this link, Rich. Much food for thought in both the article you linked and readers’ comments.

        I have been thinking a bit about the strengths and weaknesses of the Myers-Briggs ENTJs (and other less savory personality dimensions) who are currently in control of the system.

        IMO much depends on this comment by the author: … “In some cases, however, societies come through relatively unscathed, by adopting a series of judicious reforms, initiated by elites who understand that we are all in this boat together.”

        Let’s hope the destroyers don’t retain the upper hand.

        1. DolleyMadison

          HAH that’s funny – when I first got into banking many years ago when MB was all the rage…we had a ‘teambuilding’ exercise where we all took the test and EVERYONE was ESTJ or ENTJ….except me. INFP. The moderator looked at me and said the bad news is you have the least occurring personality type. The good news it is also the most good natured, able to get along with the other 15 types very well. I should have run then.

      2. Ed

        Turchin is always worth reading (though ignore the knuckle-dragging commentators to the article).

        I am reading up on the fall of the Chinese dynasties, which seems to be a stronger parellel to the situation in the US. Western historically parellels don’t work as well, because normally elites in Western countries have to worry about threats from elites in other countries, which actually tends to have the effect of limiting just how badly things can deterioriate. You have to look at Chinese history to see examples of societies run by elites that were in as strong a strategic position vs. foreign threats as the US elite now is.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          In China, aristocratic families survived from Qin till Tang, a period of close to a thousand years of many dynasties and invasions.

          Apparently, some clans were more prestigious than the imperial Li family of Tang, who descended partially from barbaric tribes like the Tuoba, Xianbei and Murong.

          Maybe that’s something the elites in the West can emulate.

          But there is already a tradition here. Some Roman senatorial families simply re-made themselves and hung on to a new power, a new institution that still exists today in Roma; whereas their Chinese counterparts had all disappeared, as new emperors bypassed their service via the imperial examination that encouraged their 99.99% towards rote memorization and obedience to the status quo…that culture persists today, even after Mao’s Cultural Revolution, as Confucius is honored in both China and Taiwan…with the only things left to do being making money and spending it, with pride, on re-acquiring blue and white vases pillaged long ago (perhaps not long ago) by imperialist Westerners, even as they acquiesce (quietly) to an outsider as the regional hegemon…a fact that can never be admitted publicly, lest the comrades be reminded of the shame of the Opium Wars. And for that reason, all empires do well to recruit there and similar cultures nearby. And because an adopting culture is usually more hardcore and purity-minded, the latter can be better deals.

      3. susan the other

        The Great Divergence continued until no more “profit” could be extracted. As Andrew Haldane is referenced in one of today’s MacroBz links – “Let’s get real” – If the Fed and other central banks take away the stimulus, the entire economic structure implodes. In the 40 years leading up to this point it was always possible to do a little fine-tuning and then go back to squeezing blood from stones. Apparently not this time. But lest we think this stimulus is in our 99%er behalf, it really should be made clear that it is all for the “Investor State” as they are now calling themselves – since they have exhausted their own source of funds, other than government funds. It’s such a great irony. I wonder if it might not be a good idea for 99ers to organize their own “Looted State” with countervailing demands.

      4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Trust is when I come to clean your house and after several hours of hard work, you simply give a few pieces of paper and I accept them for being equal to my labor.

        That’s trust….a sacred trust, that someone doesn’t sit there, do nothing and say to me, you like them? I have more coming that I don’t have to do anything to earn but by just snapping my fingers.

        1. rich

          I’m pretty sure there’s not much at this point, to trust….

          How a Shadowy Network of Corporate Front Groups Distorts the Marketplace of Ideas

          As Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson wrote in their book Winner Take All Politics, “The organizational counterattack of business in the 1970s was swift and sweeping — a domestic version of Shock and Awe.”

          The number of corporations with public affairs offices in Washington grew from 100 in 1968 to over 500 in 1978. In 1971, only 175 firms had registered lobbyists in Washington, but by 1982, nearly 2,500 did. The number of corporate PACs increased from under 300 in 1976 to over 1,200 by the middle of 1980. On every dimension of corporate political activity, the numbers reveal a dramatic, rapid mobilization of business resources in the mid-1970s.

          And they didn’t organize only at the federal level. In 1975, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) was born in order to take the fight into state houses across the country.

          In a democracy, lobbying and writing model legislation isn’t enough. Big business has also invested heavily in shaping public opinion. Last week, two progressive groups, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) and ProgressNow, released a report detailing another piece of infrastructure in corporate America’s political war machine. “Exposed: The State Policy Network” shines a light on a network of well-funded, ostensibly independent state-based think tanks that are hard at work undermining workers’ rights and environmental and consumer protections, and establishing a climate in which it’s all but impossible to hold their corporate funders accountable.

          http://billmoyers.com/2013/11/19/how-a-shadowy-network-of-corporate-front-groups-distorts-the-marketplace-of-ideas/

  10. AbyNormal

    have our Fearless Finance Leaders located more real estate for their accounting ‘techniques’:

    NCVS counted only 188,380
    FBI totaled only 85,593
    NISVS counted 1.27 million

    We’ve Been Measuring Rape All Wrong
    http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2013/11/national_crime_victimization_survey_a_new_report_finds_that_the_justice.html

    “Most men fear getting laughed at or humiliated by a romantic prospect while most women fear rape and death.”
    Gavin de Becker

  11. Cynthia

    “Nearly 1,500 Hospitals Penalized Under Medicare Program Rating Quality”

    http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Stories/2013/November/14/value-based-purchasing-medicare.aspx

    Other states should do what the state of Maryland has done, which is to exempt itself from the costly and complex bonuses/penalties program set up by the Medicare authorities. Maryland agreeing to have a defined set of price controls on Medicare payments has allowed hospitals in Maryland NOT to have to waste precious healthcare dollars fighting for bonuses and dodging penalties. Oh sure, Medicare payments to Maryland hospitals may be lower than they are in other states, but the amount of the time and money, much of which is purely bureaucratic with very little of it actually going to patient care, that hospitals have to spend trying to fight for bonuses and dodge penalties makes Maryland’s price controls well worth it. At least, that’s how I see it.

  12. DakotabornKansan

    We are in the native land of the hypocrite.

    Billionaire Pete Peterson’s favorite philanthropy? Austerity, i.e., Fix-the-Debt!!!

    When asked about his philanthropy on “The Giving Pledge: A new club for billionaires”/CBS 60 Minutes, Peterson stated that reducing the federal deficit was tops on his list.

    [“The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Conduct of Life: A Philosophical Reading]

    Sarah Anderson [Moyers and Company] exposes billionaire Pete Peterson’s Fix the Debt campaign and its central theme of “shared sacrifice” for what it is.

    “And when I speak, I don’t speak as a Democrat. Or, a Republican. Nor, an American. I speak as a victim of America’s so-called democracy. You and I have never seen democracy – all we’ve seen is hypocrisy. When we open our eyes today and look around America, we see America not through the eyes of someone who has enjoyed the fruits of Americanism. We see America through the eyes of someone who has been the victim of Americanism. We don’t see any American dream. We’ve experienced only the American nightmare.” – Malcolm X

    Billionaires like Peterson can leave one feeling more helpless and hopeless than ever.

    We are missing FDR’s values:

    “All agree that, the first responsibility for the alleviation of poverty and distress and for the care of the victims of the depression rests upon the locality — its individuals, organizations and Government. It rests, first of all, perhaps, upon the private agencies of philanthropy, secondly, other social organizations, and last, but not least, the Church. Yet all agree that to leave to the locality the entire responsibility would result in placing the heaviest burden in most cases upon those who are the least able to bear it. In other words, the communities that have the most difficult problem, like Detroit, would be the communities that would have to bear the heaviest of the burdens. And so the State should step in to equalize the burden by providing for a large portion of the care of the victims of poverty and by providing assistance and guidance for local communities. Above and beyond that duty of the States the national Government has a responsibility.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

    1. rich

      Mcd’s says to sing away your stress….

      McDonalds’ Latest Advice to its Peasant Employees: “Quit Complaining” and “Sing a Song”

      Well the company is right back at it in time for the holidays, with several pieces of advice for its legions of serf employees through its ”McResource” website. Three of the more insulting pieces of wisdom include:

      “Sing away stress: Singing along to your favorite songs can lower your blood pressure.”

      “Break it up: Breaking food into pieces often results in eating less and still feeling full.”

      I saved the best for last…

      “Quit complaining: Stress hormone levels rise by 15% after ten minutes of complaining.”

      http://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2013/11/20/mcdonalds-latest-advice-to-its-peasant-employees-quit-complaining-and-sing-a-song/

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Stress levels up 15% after complaining?

        Is that true?

        Suppose it is, why do we do it?

        I think it’s a case of ‘stress a little now so as to have no stress later.’

        A little pain now and hope to be pain free later.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      As I indicated, another news source said the story was being investigated, so I was not relying solely on the Post. But thanks for the information.

  13. Eureka Springs

    “US Government Says CIA Black Site Prisoners’ Memory Of Their Own Torture Is Classified And Cannot Be Revealed” – Tech Dirt

    Is it any wonder a government like ours (one which argues with a straight face to their chosen borg-like judges that a tortured person cannot speak of it anywhere in the world, ever, because torture is a secret classified matter!) that this same governments both unwilling and determined to not provide health care for all of its own people?

    And someone please tell me, why should we look at the fecklessnes of international courts on these decade old war crime / Geneva Convention matters and for one nanosecond consider proposed international TPP type of courts could possibly be reasonable?

    1. DakotabornKansan

      Our government’s lawyers adopted the mantra that the Geneva Conventions were “quaint” and “obsolete,” and did not apply to the “new kind of warfare.”

      Read Scott Horton’s “When Lawyers Are War Criminals” marking the anniversary of the Nuremberg Tribunals:

      “In so doing, they thoughtlessly moved in the same paths traversed by lawyers in Berlin sixty years earlier. Indeed, at the General Staff trial, the world public learned for the first time of the valiant struggle of Moltke when one of his memoranda was put into evidence. It pleaded in forceful terms for respect of the Geneva Convention rights of enemy soldiers, civilians and irregular combatants on the East Front, mustering a series of arguments that bear remarkable similarity to a memorandum sent by Colin Powell to President Bush sixty years later. And in the margins, in the unmistakable pencil scrawl of Field Marshall Keitel, were found the thoughts that these rules were “quaint” and “obsolete,” they reflected the “outmoded notions of chivalric warfare.” This was cited as an aggravating factor justifying a sentence of death against Keitel.”

      http://balkin.blogspot.com/2006/10/when-lawyers-are-war-criminals.html

      Compare our moral failings to Helmuth von Moltke, the German jurist who opposed Hitler and the Nazis and the environment in which the law was constantly subverted to political expedience.

      Helmuth von Moltke’s “tenacious advocacy of the Geneva and Hague Conventions in the face of withering criticism and suspicion from the Nazi hierarchy saved the lives of thousands of civilians and prisoners, particularly on the Eastern Front and in the Balkans. It also led inextricably to his execution at the hands of the Nazis in 1945.”

      “Moltke challenges us to test the conduct of the lawyers. Do they show fidelity to the law? Do they recognize that the law of armed conflict, with its protections for disarmed combatants, for civilians and for detainees, reflects a particularly powerful type of law – as Jackson said “the basic building blocks of civilization”? Do they appreciate that in this area of law, above all others, the usual lawyerly tricks of dicing and splicing, of sophist subversion, cannot be tolerated? These are questions Moltke asked. They are questions that the US-led prosecution team in Nuremberg asked. They are questions that Americans should be asking today about the conduct of government lawyers who have seriously wounded, if not destroyed, the Geneva system.”

      The Bush administration’s onslaught on the rule of law continues unabated under Obama’s administration.

    2. Chauncey Gardiner

      Jonathan Turley’s article linked above also goes hand-in-glove with this IMO in terms of the clear position of certain individuals that they are above the law. The sheer magnitude of waste and fraud is so large that it is difficult for us mere mortals to comprehend the amounts involved.

      A link provided by the first respondent to Mr Turley’s article is germane:
      “Behind the Pentagon’s doctored ledgers, a running tally of epic waste”, by Scot J. Paltrow, Filed November 18, 2013
      http://www.reuters.com/investigates/pentagon/#article/part2

      As an aside, wonder where all that money has been going? Doesn’t seem to have been spent in my hometown, but what do I know?

      I also share your concern about the TPP courts, Eureka, as well as other facets of that secret agreement. The terms are being kept hidden from us for a reason.

  14. tyaresun

    Nobel Prize Winner In Medicine Is Telling Students Not To Stay In America

    James Rothman, who won the prize in medicine, believes that the cuts make the U.S. unable to retain the world’s top young scientists. In fact, he said he now tells his students to go abroad.

    “I actually advise my students not to stay in the United States,” he said. “Frankly, if I were 10 years younger, that’s exactly what I would do.”

    Michael Levitt, winner of the prize in chemistry, lamented the fact that NIH money was readily available for those over the age of 65, but had dried up for everyone under the age of 40. He noted that most of the laureates had made their discoveries before they turned 40 and that reduced funding for younger generations could endanger future discoveries.

    Two other laureates who won their prize in medicine spoke against the sequester. Randy Schekman called it an “unmitigated disaster” while Thomas Südof said it “imposes an enormous danger to science, progress and research.”
    ….
    There was one laureate who offered his disagreement. Economist Eugene Fama noted that government spending on research cannot be infinite and that there is a correct level of funding that also must be balanced between the public and private sector.

    Rothman wasn’t amused.

    “I’ve never heard of a more ill conceived remark than that,” he shot back.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/why-a-nobel-laureate-is-telling-his-students-to-go-to-other-countries-2013-11

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We often read about successful immigrant stories and feel good.

      Why don’t we hear more often about successful emigrant stories?

      ‘That samurai left Nihon and went on to be a governor of Nikhon Si Thammarat for the Ayutthaya kingdom in Thailand.’

      ‘There is another good Roman leaving now, to make his fortune elsewhere. My fellow Romans, leave, leave, leave!’

  15. down2long

    In view of the JPM “settlement” in which $4 Billion in short sale earnings will count as a credit toward the fine (with the added bonus of lots more families in the streets – I know from experience Chase likes to pesonally rpunish its borrowers it wants to screw) and this morning’s revelation that $7B is a tax write off, it seems like a good time to ask Eric “Place” Holder some questions.

    Thus the new #askEric at Twitter
    My first question: #askEric When Jamie calls you to ignore crimes and reduce fines do you feel loved or used? Do you think it adds to your WS cred

  16. savedbyirony

    A follow-up on yesterday’s piece about Walmart, workers and boycotts:
    http://www.thenation.com/blog/176054/walmart-workers-plan-widespread-massive-strikes-and-protests-black-friday-2013 if you want to make an impression on them in the only area they pay attention to, their own bottom line, then the time to boycott in large numbers is during the all important 4th quarter Holiday sales!

    also http://www.thenation.com/article/177254/labor-board-sides-workers-walmart-cant-silence-employees-any-longer

    1. skippy

      Cough… need right hand drive~

      Anyway… at this rate maybe I should get a 1945 John Deere Model D Tractor. Referb one as a kid on grandfathers farm and used it along with a JG-A. PTO, Drives belts, multi fueled, no batt, magneto, simplicity in engineering, and best for last – you can wow the kids watching by blowing off the rusty tin can used to cover the exhaust sky high!

      Skippy… might be safer too, no spearing off the road at high speed and you can can’t work the land with pocket rockets.

      1. Optimader

        I hear what your saying… There is great elegance in those old beasts in so far as their scope of capability w/a minimum part count.if your in a rural geography, great fun and a real kid magnet are the austrian Pinzgauers –which you may already be familiar with. Very reasonably priced here right now

        “Oil Field Dodge” This film was made by the Dodge Brothers in the 1920’s to promote their vehicle…..”

        http://www.youtube.com/embed/nq2jY1trxqg?rel=0

        1. skippy

          LOL – bounces like m grandfathers 38′ flatbed Dodge 5 ton – unloaded.

          Skippy… Want a peanut grandpa… open can proffered on washboard roads… hahahaha~

  17. docg

    What it takes to make a great photograph. Note the opposition between the triangle formed by the woman’s head and hands, and the triangle formed by the heads of the three goats. Note also the effect of the baby goat’s tiny head peeking out from behind the others. It’s the smallest element in the photo, but carries the greatest impact thanks to the way it’s composed.

    1. craazyman

      sometimes your in the right place at the right time and you get lucky. If that river current had pushed the bow 1 foot to the right, it would have been a plain old vacation snapshot with a tree growing out of her head.

      It’s a good time now to buy a used country. You can drive your new car to catch a new plane or even fly in your new jet to a new airport in an old country and buy the country for pennies on the dollar.

      You pay for the land and the rocks get all the people for free. Then what? I don’t know, but why worry when it’s your country. You can always walk around in disguise and take their pictures. You might get lucky with a few!

        1. craazyman

          Man, I’d be in La Mancha drinking Spanish wine right now if I hadn’t listened to all the doomers and gloomers for 3 straight years.

          If I think of all the money that I’ve: #1) Lost in GLD and #2) Lost by selling a year or so ago — I nearly get a whole series of convulsions.

          Who can I send the bill to? I’m not somebody like a Fed-subsidized bank or even a woman who makes $780,000 per year doing something at a Fed subsidized bank that requires computers and a chair. I’m not even a woman.

          Who will pay me back for my losses? There’s no self-evident answer at this point and no matter how many macroeconomic articles you read on the internet the answer doesn’t get any clearer.

          I wouldn’t even surround myself with antiques or the appurtanences of financial success. I’d settle for a simple villa and 2 or 3 hot Spanish women for different nights of the week and a donkey for trips to the market.

          1. optimader

            Shoulda Wouda Couda –Didn’t.. that’s the operative bit.

            Percy Barnevik, the CEO of ABB quipped in a torpid management meeting along the lines: “..Whatever decision you make with the best available information at the time is a correct decision, the only wrong decisions are the ones that are not made..”
            This line of reasoning has it’s limitations if your dealing with an idiot of course, but for the most part it is a good policy for a sentient person that is always reevaluating reality with new information.

            1. skippy

              I’m always befuddled by people that don’t make their – own money – and try – speculating their way – to some mythical leisure dreamland.

              skippy… once you’ve got it you have to fight to keep it, that can be a harder job that getting it in the first place. A mugs game if their ever was one imo…

              1. Optimader

                i had an opportunity as a freshly minted engineering grad to go make my mark (or fail) at the chicago BOT.. Fun to visit, but ultimately unfufilling to me to be essentailly just be a parasitic drag. I guess im lucky the path i took worked out.

  18. susan the other

    Two llinks. Democracy Now interviewing Nitin Sethi of The Hindu – The gathering of climate change participants in Poland. Developed countries are reacting to developing countries’ accusations that they are liable for damages because they failed to curb emissions for the last 20 years by organizing their talking point to ignore this liability. A John Kerry memo.

    And the BBC on the prevalence and danger of toxic pollutants all over the world. Dr Caravanos of CUNY is studying the environmental and human impact of all these toxics, mostly heavy metals, which cause some 80% of illness in the developing world. A big problem which governments are all aware of but remain silent about.

  19. BondsOfSteel

    RE: Federal Judge Orders MF Global to Pay $1.2 Billion to Customers

    Hmm. CFTC says that MF Global intentionally lied to it, falsified documents, made “impermissible investments” with customer money, and acted illegally.

    The penalty? They have to give it back. If they can.

    Ooooooh that stop someone next time. Pathetic.

    1. Strangely Enough

      In an order issued last week, Marrero rejected Corzine’s legal bid to dismiss a shareholder lawsuit filed against the former CEO and other MF Global executives.

      The judge’s written decision in that case summed up the defense claims that no one at MF Global could be blamed in a sarcastic, 98-word sentence that suggested the argument amounted to ” ‘stuff happens’ instantaneously, of its own accord, without any knowledge or causal agency whatsoever by anyone of the many sophisticated business executives in charge of the company’s day to day affairs.”

      McNews

      Apparently the judge hasn’t gotten the memo the Corzine is a made man.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Adjusting for how cheaply you can buy Vietnamese labor, it is more than what is sounds.

      Still, it’s not $1 trillion though.

  20. Benedict@Large

    Vermont is trying to figure out how to fund single-payer? (That’s actually pretty easy.)

    What they need to be figuring out is how to control their pool. They have this idiotic idea that because Canada (with its largely isolated provinces) did it, so can they. Except in Canada’s case, people couldn’t readily change provinces to get healthcare, while in Vermont’s case, they can readily change states. Vermont’s state single-payer system will suck in sick bodies from 6 or 8 nearby states, and that will kill the program (and feed the right wing’s anti-government mythology).

    1. jrs

      Yes they do need to, but it shouldn’t be that difficult, colleges have residency (and having lived in a state for a few years) for in-state tuition. It just takes a similar thing. Make a person live in Vermont maybe 3 years before being eligible.

  21. Jerome Armstrong

    At this point in Bush’s presidency his approval/disapproval was 35/57 versus Obama’s 37/57 currently.

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