Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

US Sentencing Commission votes to make drug sentencing change retroactive

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This is good news, though the DoJ seems to be digging in its heels: too much work, they say.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 July 2014 at 8:32 am

New slant, good shave

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SOTD 23 July 2014

It’s “new” in being new to me. The entire head is at an angle, and also the blade has a slight tilt from the baseplate, similar to (but not so extreme as) my black bakelite Walbusch humpbacked slant. This one shaves well enough, though not so good as the Walbusch.

But first the prep. Once again I read of someone who soaks their MWF puck and in addition uses a boar brush in a struggle to load brush and get good lather. I have to believe that he is dealing with very hard water. As a test I periodically bring out my (bone-dry) MWF, use my fluffiest brush, and in 10 seconds have a fully loaded brush and excellent lather. With this, I don’t even need to use the palm-brushing technique: I go directly to beard and have a fine lather.

The shave, with a new Super Max Titanium blade, went well, though not quite BBS on one side—but then, it’s the first time I’ve used this razor, and it does take a few shaves to learn a new razor (plus I might find a brand of blade that works better in this razor).

Written by LeisureGuy

23 July 2014 at 8:23 am

Posted in Shaving

The Link Between Carbs, Gut Microbes, and Colon Cancer

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I feel better and better about my LCHF diet. Read this article in Pacific Standard by John Upton:

Colorectal cancer is a scourge of modern times, killing 50,000 Americans every year. It’s responsible for a heavier death toll than any other cancer besides lung cancer and, when it comes to women, breast cancer.

And new research, which was published last week in Cell, has provided insights into the dangerous link between colorectal cancers and modern diets heavy in wheat, rice, and other complex carbohydrates—diets that became possible with the advent of agriculture.

University of Toronto scientists led research that suggests a common type of gut-dwelling bacteria breaks down carbs into certain metabolites that can lead to cancer. These metabolites appear to cause cells that line the colon to divide and proliferate rapidly, forming polyps. These polyps, which can grow into a cancer, are the abnormal growths that your doctor is probing for when they subject you to a colonoscopy.

The scientists found that they could protect specially bred mice from the cancers in two ways. In some mice, they used targeted antibiotics to kill off the clostridia bacteria that convert carbs into the metabolite butyrate. In other mice, they reduced the amount of carbs in their diets.

“We know it depends on bacteria, and we know it depends on carbs,” says Alberto Martin, an associate immunology professor at the University of Toronto and one of the authors of the study. “This is the part of the study that’s still not solid, but we think that butyrate is somehow fueling the hyperproliferation of colon epithelial cells.” Other metabolites of carbohydrates might also be involved, he says. “It would be naïve to think it’s only butyrate.”

The phyla of bacteria . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 July 2014 at 3:16 pm

Meet the Online Tracking Device That is Virtually Impossible to Block

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Written by LeisureGuy

22 July 2014 at 10:14 am

Posted in Daily life, Technology

Feds seek to air consumer finance complaints

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Jeff Horowitz reports at The Big Story:

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has heard from hundreds of thousands of consumers who feel wronged by banks and finance companies. Now the agency wants the public to hear from those consumers too.

On Wednesday, the bureau proposed allowing consumers to publish online the details of their complaints against lenders and financial service providers. Those narratives would augment the bureau’s consumer complaint database, which lists complaints about checking accounts, credit cards, student loans and other financial products. If consumers choose to make their complaints public, the companies involved would then be given a chance to write a public response.

“By proposing to share people’s stories, we are giving consumers an opportunity to be heard by the entire world and not simply by a government agency and its officials,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in remarks prepared for a Thursday event in El Paso, Texas.

The consumer bureau’s current database simply lists the company being complained about, a general subject matter like “deposits and withdrawals,” and whether the complaint has been resolved. By adding the narratives, the bureau believes it will help consumers determine where to take their business and identify systemic problems. A similar complaint reporting system is already in place at the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which seeks to identify dangerous products from appliances to toys.

Consumer groups were elated by the bureau’s proposal, which Ruth Susswein, a deputy director at Consumer Action, called “essential for consumers to protect themselves.” Banks have complained bitterly about . . .

Continue reading.

This is excellent news—indeed, the complaints from the banks show how good it is. And as we saw in the previous article, making Federal databases open to the public whenever possible can help mitigate fraud and bad practice.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 July 2014 at 10:13 am

Why Are Obstetricians Among the Top Billers for Group Psychotherapy in Illinois?

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The simple answer is that Medicare was not reviewing its billing data and seemed to have little interest in stopping fraud.  Charles Ornstein reports in ProPublica:

A few years ago, Illinois’ Medicaid program for the poor noticed some odd trends in its billings for group psychotherapy sessions.

Nursing home residents were being taken several times a week to off-site locations, and Medicaid was picking up the tab for both the services and the transportation.

And then there was this: The sessions were often being performed by obstetrician/gynecologists, oncologists and urologists — “people who didn’t have any training really in psychiatry,” Medicaid director Theresa Eagleson recalled.

So Medicaid began cracking down, and spending plummeted after new rules were implemented. In July 2012 the program stopped paying for group psychotherapy altogether for residents of nursing homes.

Yet Illinois doctors are still billing the federal Medicare program for large numbers of the same services, a ProPublica analysis of federal data shows.

Medicare paid Illinois providers for more than 290,000 group psychotherapy sessions in 2012 — more than twice as many sessions as were reimbursed to providers in New York, the state with the second-highest total.

Among the highest billers for group psychotherapy in Illinois were three ob/gyns and a thoracic surgeon. The four combined for 37,864 sessions that year, more than the total for all providers in the state of California. They were reimbursed more than $730,000 by Medicare in 2012 just for psychotherapy sessions, according to an analysis of a separate Medicare data set released in April.

“That’s not good,” Eagleson said when told of the Medicare numbers.

Medicare’s recent data release has led to a string of analyses showing how waste and fraud is inflating the nation’s bill for health care. This work has echoed the findings of ProPublica’s investigation last year into Medicare’s prescription drug program known as Part D, which had fewer barriers to waste and fraud than other government health care programs – and was making less effective use of its own data.

Of the Illinois ob/gyns billing for group psychotherapy, . . .

Continue reading.

Some of these physicians should face criminal charges for fraud and also lose their license to practice medicine.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 July 2014 at 10:09 am

Hedge funds seem to operate from a scam mentality

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Pam Martens reports at Wall Street on Parade:

Only one word comes to mind to describe the testimony taking place before the U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations this morning: Machiavellian.

The criminal minds on Wall Street have twisted banking and securities laws into such a pretzel of hubris that neither Congress, Federal Regulators or even the General Accountability Office can say with any confidence if the U.S. financial system is an over-leveraged house of cards. They just don’t know.

According to a copious report released last evening, here’s what hedge funds have been doing for more than a decade with the intimate involvement of global banks: the hedge fund makes a deposit of cash into an account at the bank which has been established so that the hedge fund can engage in high frequency trading of stocks. The account is not in the hedge fund’s name but in the bank’s name. The bank then deposits $9 for every one dollar the hedge fund deposits into the same account. Some times, the leverage reaches as high as 20 to 1.

The hedge fund proceeds to trade the hell out of the account, generating tens of thousands of trades a day using their own high frequency trading program and algorithms. Many of the trades last no more than minutes. The bank charges the hedge fund fees for the trade executions and interest on the money loaned.

Based on a written side agreement, preposterously called a “basket option,” the hedge fund will collect all the profits made in the account in the bank’s name after a year or longer and then characterize millions of trades which were held for less than a year, many for just minutes, as long-term capital gains (which by law require a holding period of a year or longer). Long term capital gains are taxed at almost half the tax rate of the top rate on short term gains.

There are so many banking crimes embedded in this story that it’s hard to know where to begin. Let’s start with the one most dangerous to the safety and soundness of banks: extension of margin credit.

Under Federal law known as Regulation T, it is perceived wisdom on Wall Street that a bank or broker-dealer cannot extend more than 50 percent margin on a stock account. But since the banks involved in these basket options called these accounts their own proprietary trading accounts, even though the hedge fund had full control over the trading and ultimate ownership of profits, the banks were justified (in their minds) with thumbing their nose at a bedrock of doing business on Wall Street.

We learn from a footnote in the Senate’s report that hedge funds have gamed Regulation T further. The report . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 July 2014 at 9:55 am

Posted in Business, Law

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