Later On

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

Archive for May 27th, 2014

Worse than the VA scandal about wait times for healthcare

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Everyone seems to be upset about the wait times that veterans have to endure to get healthcare from the Veterans Administration. And yet we seem unconcerned that the wait times for the poor in states that refused to expand Medicare is infinite: they will have to wait until they die.

This is worse than the VA scandal. Ezra Klein writes at Vox.com:

The investigation is ongoing, but as of now, it looks like overwhelmed VA hospitals shunted some veterans onto secret wait lists and delayed their care (read Vox’s explainer here). The revelations are correctly being treated by both parties as a national scandal: denying Americans health care to which they’re legally entitled doesn’t simply inconvenience them. It can kill them.

We don’t know how many veterans were hurt by the VA’s secret wait lists. The VA was aiming for waits of no more than 14 days for non-urgent appointments, but Timothy Noah cites “an internal VA estimate” based on more reliable data that puts the average wait closer to 21 days. The investigation is likely to find hospitals where the average wait was much longer, and individual cases where the waits were truly appalling — and perhaps fatal.

It’s a relief to see so much outrage over poor access to government-provided health-care benefits. But it would be nice to see bipartisan outrage extend to another unfolding health-care scandal in this country: the 4.8 million people living under the poverty line who are eligible for Medicaid but won’t get it because their state has refused Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.

As appalling as the wait times are for VA care, the people living in states that refused the Medicaid expansion aren’t just waiting too long for care. They’re not getting it at all. They’re going completely uninsured when federal law grants them comprehensive coverage. Many of these people will get sick and find they can’t afford treatment and some of them will die. Many of the victims here, by the way, are also veterans. So here are 24 health-care scandals that critics of the VA should also be furious about:

Alabama: Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion would provide 272,000 poor Alabamans with comprehensive health insurance, including 13,000 veterans. But the state has refused to let the expansion go forward.

Alaska: Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion would provide 30,000 poor Alaskans with comprehensive health insurance, including 2,400 veterans. But the state has refused to let the expansion go forward.

Florida: Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion would provide 1,212,000 poor Floridians with comprehensive health insurance, including 41,200 veterans. But the state has refused to let the expansion go forward.

Georgia: Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion would provide 599,000 poor Georgians with comprehensive health insurance, including 24,900 veterans. But the state has refused to let the expansion go forward.

Idaho: Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion would provide 86,000 poor Idahoans with comprehensive health insurance, including 3,800 veterans. But the state has refused to let the expansion go forward. . . .

[complete list in the article – LG]

Kaiser graph

All in all, the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that more than 7.5 million uninsured adults would be eligible for Medicaid but live in a state that has refused the expansion. Of that group, 4.8 million are too poor to be eligible for subsidies in Obamacare’s insurance exchanges. So they’re out of luck.

This is a problem that affects veterans, too: The Pew’s Stateline estimates that around 250,000 uninsured veterans would be eligible for Medicaid if their states accepted the expansion.

The point here isn’t to minimize the problems at the VA, which need to be fixed — and fast. But anyone who feels morally outraged over the extended wait times at the VA should be appalled by the literally endless wait times the poor are enduring in the states that are refusing to expand Medicaid.

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

27 May 2014 at 11:35 am

Posted in GOP, Healthcare

Misogyny

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Women, simply by virtue of being women, tend to be targets of misogynistic men. Certainly it’s true that not all men are misogynistic, but all women experience harassment and worse misogynistic men, which is why the topic is worth discussion.

Some cultures are notably misogynistic: the Taliban, for example, things that it right to murder women who go to school. Quite a few fundamentalist communities (Christian, Jewish, and Muslim) are misogynous: women’s freedom is curtailed (women are not allowed to drive cars in Saudi Arabia), women are punished (or murdered) if they are raped. Some cultures require women to marry their rapist (apparently because they think that rape is an act of love instead of a felonious assault).

Focusing on the US, I have heard quite a few stories about the kind of treatment women are expected to endure. You can get an idea of it by browsing the Twitter hashtag #yesallwomen. (And take a look at this (repeating) animated graphic of the hashtag activity on 5/24-25/2014. When I’ve asked why women don’t speak up, one explanation I’ve heard is that men will simply deny that such things happen—I would guess that men who would not do such things can’t believe it and men who would do (or actually do) such things don’t want to look at the behavior: denial. And given the stress of living in such a situation I can well imagine that many women are also in denial, at least to the extent of minimizing the aggression directed toward them.

I observed an example of overt sexual harassment of a woman by a co-worker, and I told her that if she wanted to file a complaint, I would back her up. She responded, “Oh, that’s just Irv.” Apparently accepting such behavior is how many if not most women have been trained to deal with it, as though the fault were theirs.

It’s a bad situation, and it doesn’t seem to be getting better.

Written by Leisureguy

27 May 2014 at 11:08 am

The corporate state shows its teeth in crackdowns on dissidents

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Authoritarian states do not tolerate dissent, and as the US moves in that direction crackdowns are likely to become more frequent and more violent. Pam Martens and Russ Martens report at Wall Street on Parade:

Last week, the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) released a trove of some 4,000 documents it obtained under the Freedom of Information Act showing that the movements of the mostly peaceful participants in the Occupy Wall Street protests were subjected to an “enormous spying and monitoring apparatus” that included coordination between the Pentagon, FBI, Department of Homeland Security, local police, private security contractors and corporate interests.

Increasingly, Americans’ time-honored First Amendment rights to peacefully assemble and dissent are playing out as open-season on protesters and mass arrests, followed by years of evidence destruction or tampering in court cases.

As Wall Street On Parade perused the new documents from PCJF, one in particular raised red flags. Its subject line referred to the Occupy Wall Street movement as “Friggin Occupy” and it came from a veteran police officer.

The PCJF is currently representing plaintiffs in a class action on behalf of some 700 peaceful marchers who were herded like cattle on the Brooklyn Bridge on October 1, 2011 during the height of the Occupy Wall Street protests and subjected to mass arrest by the New York City Police Department.

On June 7, 2012, Judge Jed Rakoff ruled that New York Police Department officers are not entitled to qualified immunity from the mass arrests and ordered the lawsuit to proceed. The NYPD filed an appeal. A decision from the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals is expected at any time.

The red flag document from the PCJF is an email from Neil Trugman, the Deputy Chief of Police of the Amtrak Police Department, who previously worked for 31 years for the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). Trugman titles his missive dated January 19, 2012: “Friggin Occupy.” It concerns potential protests at court buildings. (See image of document at end of this article.)

The bias suggested by this email toward peaceful protestors engaging in constitutionally protected First Amendment activities is exceeded only by the role that Trugman played in a previous, outrageously corrupted court case. The lawsuit involved the mass arrests of peaceful demonstrators who were not only herded like cattle but hog-tied with their right hand handcuffed to their left ankle for upwards of 24 hours – a tactic that should be challenged as torture and is clearly meant to chill dissent.

It all started on the morning of September 27, 2002. Protesters were assembling in Pershing Park in Washington, D.C. to protest the inhumane actions of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank as well as global corporations’ exploitation of the poor. The Metropolitan Police Department turned out in riot gear and effectively arrested everyone in or near Pershing Park, grabbing approximately 400 protesters, tourists, passers-by and legal observers in the process. The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of those arrested in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

The case has become infamous in legal circles not just for police abuse but for the degree to which the police and lawyers within the General Counsel’s office for the MPD and District of Columbia’s Attorney General’s office, and potentially the FBI, would go to obstruct justice, destroy evidence and thwart discovery in a case which is costing taxpayers millions and has yet to be concluded after 12 years.

After bringing evidence to the court that there had been serious wrongdoing by the defendants in withholding and/or destroying documents demanded in discovery, the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund settled the case for $8.5 million, which would result in an approximate award of $16,000 for each person arrested, expunging of arrest records, and stiff court monitoring of the MPD’s handling of evidence going forward for a number of years.

A smaller group of plaintiffs who had been arrested on September 27, 2002, the “Chang, et al” case, went forward with their separate lawsuit under separate legal representation.

Judge Emmet G. Sullivan was so appalled by the obstructionist tactics by the police and their lawyers that he appointed John M. Facciola, a Magistrate Judge, to serve as a Special Master and conduct hearings into the sprawling evidence tampering allegations. Facciola filed his report on the matter on December 16 of last year and the revelations are nothing short of breathtaking in terms of enshrined corruption with impunity in a critical law enforcement apparatus of the United States that justifies its existence as protecting “homeland security.”

This travesty has now played out for a dozen years in the Nation’s capitol under the nose of Congress and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Trugman, author of the “Friggin Occupy” email, is mentioned more than two dozen times in the Facciola report on evidence tampering. Following are excerpts where Facciola calls out Trugman’s potential involvement in destruction of the Joint Operations Command Center’s (JOCC) detailed written account of the events on the day of the mass arrests, including missing details on who ordered the arrests, the involvement of outside entities such as the FBI and homeland security personnel, and any factual basis for ordering the arrests. The document was known internally as the “JOCC Running Resume”:

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

27 May 2014 at 10:54 am

Posted in Law Enforcement

CallCentric VOIP Service

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Cool Tools has a nice write-up of an innovative and inexpensive VOIP phone service. We went with AT&T U-verse since we wanted fast Internet and just threw in the phone as well, but after the first-year contract ends, I’m certainly going to look at alternatives for phone.

Written by Leisureguy

27 May 2014 at 10:31 am

Posted in Technology

Eliminating a pain receptor makes mice live longer and keeps their metabolisms young

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Interesting finding reported by Kate Yandell in The Scientist:

It is well-known that advancing age comes with aches and pains, but new research suggests that a pain receptor in turn promotes metabolic problems and aging. Mice lacking the pain receptor TRPV1 live longer than controls and have more youthful metabolisms, according to a study published today (May 22) in Cell. The results indicate that over-activation of TRPV1—which responds to extreme heat, inflammation, and other stressors—may contribute to aging and aging-related glucose-processing problems.

“The most provocative data is just the longevity,” said Gerard Ahern of Georgetown University, noting that the connection between TRPV1 and lifespan is “very novel and perhaps unexpected.” Ahern was not involved in the study.

“As the human population gets older it reports that it’s actually in more pain,” said study coauthor Andrew Dillin, a molecular and cell biologist at the University of California, Berkeley. “Are they reporting in more pain because as you get older you’re just in more pain, or does pain drive the aging process?”

Researchers previously found that chronic pain correlates with shortened lifespan in humans. Past research also demonstrated a connection between TRPV1 and metabolism, including the observation that mice lacking TRPV1 are less likely than controls to become obese when fed a high-fat diet.

Dillin and his team discovered their first strong evidence of the relationship between pain perception and longevity when they knocked out TRPV1 in mice. They noticed that the mutant male mice lived around 12 percent longer than controls, while mutant female mice lived about 16 percent longer than controls.

While searching for an explanation for the mutant rodents’ longevity, the researchers discovered that the animals responded to glucose extraordinarily efficiently even once they reached advanced age. Young mice with healthy metabolisms rapidly clear glucose from their blood streams, while it tends to linger in older mice with metabolic disorders. The mice without TRPV1 were able to produce spikes in insulin and to clear the glucose throughout their lives, whereas the control mice were less able to ramp up insulin production to clear glucose as they aged.

Curious about how TRPV1 influences insulin production, the researchers switched to another model organism: Caenorhabditis elegans. When C. elegans lost the worm equivalents of TRPV1, the mutant worms lived up to 32 percent longer than did controls. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

27 May 2014 at 9:09 am

Posted in Health, Science

Low-carb eating and Go

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The game goal in Go is to get more points than your opponent. The trick is that you get one point for each captured stone and also one point for each point of territory. Focusing only on the one or the other is suboptimal: you have to find the best mix, given the situation in the particular game you’re playing. Similarly, the low-carb diet means that you keep total net carbs low, but (as I’m learning) you also have to keep total calories low. Yesterday’s baby back ribs added up to too many calories.

So with low-carb, it’s not as though you can simply forget about calories: they still have the same meaning. You just shift the source a bit.

Written by Leisureguy

27 May 2014 at 8:50 am

No jury duty, as it turns out

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And now I know that there’s a number (carefully printed on the form I received) that I can call to learn this before driving to the court house. However, it was a nice drive and I got to test the new Wallace (of Wallace and Gromit fame) voice on my GPS navigator. Very nice.

So I’ve put a chuck roast in the oven. I rubbed it with a mix of minced garlic, olive oil, smoked paprika, and thyme, browned it on both sides in my Staub cast-iron dutch oven, and then put the lid on and placed it in a 200ºF oven for the day.

Written by Leisureguy

27 May 2014 at 8:45 am

Posted in Daily life

Very nice shave, different camera

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SOTD 27 May 2014

The Wife pointed out that the camera I’ve been using seems to have lost its focus, so I’m switching back to my Nikon P500. I’ll rephotograph the Axwell tomorrow—right now I’m about to leave for jury duty. Strop Shoppe’s Black Tie with Tallow special edition soap has a very nice old-timey fragrance that made me wish I had picked Pinaud Coachman for the aftershave, but Paul Sebastian is nice as well.

The Omega R&B is now well broken in and will sustain abundant lather for as long as you want to shave.

The Fatip is by no means my most comfortable razor, but it does a good job: BBS with no nicks in three passes. And no razor burn; I’ve not experienced razor burn for years.

A good splash of Paul Sebastian and I’m off to the court house in Salinas.

 

Written by Leisureguy

27 May 2014 at 6:59 am

Posted in Shaving

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