Later On

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

Archive for February 10th, 2015

Best healthcare in the world except it refuses to pay for treatment

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Darcy Lockman writes in the NY Times:

The phone call came two billing cycles after Ben and I had increased his session frequency to twice a week. A woman identifying herself as “an independently licensed care advocate” with a large insurance company left a message asking me to call back. My neck tightened. No psychologist wants to hear from an insurer. Like some ne’er-do-well relative, insurers call only when they want money — or rather, when they want to keep money they’d once promised to disburse.

With Ben’s approval, I called back. The problem turned out to be the addition of the second session. I explained that Ben had become suicidal in the aftermath of his father’s death. He had recently purchased bullets, though so far he owned no gun.

“Well, how much longer will you need to see him twice a week?” the woman asked.

Ben had a long history of abuse at his father’s hands. Though his father’s death had brought on this bout of suicidal ideation — the first he’d had in the year we’d been working together — Ben had been considering killing himself off and on since getting sober 10 years back. He needed extra support now, certainly, but realistically I didn’t see this changing for some time.

My response was measured: “He has a history of trauma and addiction. It’s hard to say how long.”

“We don’t really pay for that,” the woman said. “Twice a week is only for a crisis.”

I told her that her statement was in violation of the mental health parity laws, which prohibit outright session limitations, and she told me she’d be passing me along to the next level of investigation: the peer review. The peer reviewer would be the one to decide whether two sessions were really necessary. He’d be in touch.

In the meantime, I revisited the issue with Ben. Sharing the particulars of a treatment with a third party requires consent. Like many survivors of childhood abuse, Ben felt deep shame about his past, and though I’d offer as few details as possible to the peer reviewer, Ben could choose to forgo reimbursement to protect his privacy. He told me to proceed.

If Ben was worried about his insurer knowing too much, he needn’t have been. The peer reviewer, when I spoke with him by phone, seemed less interested in hearing about Ben than in finding a sanctioned justification for cutting off reimbursement. Denial of treatment is allowed under a handful of conditions, and the reviewer moved down a list of them: I should have referred Ben out for something more cost effective (he suggested electroshock therapy); I should have been measuring Ben’s progress quantitatively in order to determine when to discharge him (by asking him, for example, to rate his depression on a scale of 1 to 10).

Finally, the reviewer implied that it was Ben himself who was the problem. After all, hadn’t Ben decided against a medication consultation despite my suggestion of it? “He’s noncompliant,” the reviewer declared, triumphant. With this he seemed to be offering me an out: Let’s attack him and then we can spare you. I thought of Ben’s mother, who never took a stand against her husband’s abuse of their son.

I clarified to the reviewer that I’d never insisted Ben go on medication; Ben had not defied me. Thwarted, the reviewer went back to his list: I’d given Ben the wrong diagnosis; he wasn’t making any progress; if I really thought he needed two sessions a week, then why wasn’t he in the hospital, and if he didn’t need to be in the hospital, then why were we doing two sessions a week?

I got off the phone knowing I’d lost a contest rigged from the start. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

10 February 2015 at 4:05 pm

US media and 13-year-old Yemeni boy burned to death by a drone attack

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The US expresses incredible outrage when a pilot of a friendly nation is burned alive, despite the US routinely burning people alive in its wars—civilians as well as combatants. How many tons of napalm has the US used over the years?

Glenn Greenwald reports at The Intercept:

On January 26, the New York Times claimed that “a CIA drone strike in Yemen. . . . killed three suspected Qaeda fighters on Monday.” How did they know the identity of the dead? As usual, it was in part because “American officials said.” There was not a whiff of skepticism about this claim despite the fact that “a senior American official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, declined to confirm the names of the victims” and “a C.I.A. spokesman declined to comment.”

That NYT article did cite what it called “a member of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula” (AQAP), who provided the names of the three victims, one of whom was “Mohammed Toiman al-Jahmi, a Yemeni teenager whose father and brother were previously killed in American drone strikes.” The article added that “the Qaeda member did not know Mr. Jahmi’s age but said he was a member of the terrorist group.”

In fact, as the Guardian reported today, “Mr. Jahmi’s age” was 13 on the day the American drone ended his life. Just months earlier, the Yemeni teenager told that paper that “he lived in constant fear of the ‘death machines’ in the sky that had already killed his father and brother.” It was 2011 when “an unmanned combat drone killed his father and teenage brother as they were out herding the family’s camels.” In the strike two weeks ago, Mohammed was killed along with his brother-in-law and a third man.

Mohammed’s older brother Maqded said he “saw all the bodies completely burned, like charcoal” – undoubtedly quite similar to the way the Jordanian combat pilot looked after he was burned alive last month by ISIS. That’s not an accident: the weapons the U.S. military uses are deliberately designed to incinerate people to death. The missiles shot by their drones are named “Hellfire.” Of his younger, now-deceased 13-year-old brother, Maqded told the Guardian: “He wasn’t a member of al-Qaida. He was a kid.”

There are a few observations worth making about this repugnant episode:

(1) The U.S. media just got done deluging the American public with mournful stories about the Jordanian soldier, Moaz al-Kasasbeh, making him a household name. As is often the case for victims of America’s adversaries, the victim is intensely humanized. The public learns all sorts of details about their lives, hears from their grieving family members, wallows in the tragedy of their death.

By stark contrast, I’d be willing to bet that the name “Mohammed Tuaiman al-Jahmi” is never uttered on mainstream American television. Most Americans, by design, will have no idea that their government just burned a 13-year-old boy to death and then claimed he was a Terrorist. If they do know, the boy will be kept hidden, dehumanized, nameless, without the aspirations or dreams or grieving parents on display for victims of America’s adversaries (just as Americans were swamped with stories about an Iranian-American journalist detained in Iran for two months, Roxana Saberi, while having no idea that their own government imprisoned an Al Jazeera photojournalist, Sami al-Haj, in Guantanamo for seven years without charges).

When I was in Canada last October during two violent attacks – one in northern Quebec and the other in Parliament in Ottawa – both of the soldiers killed were (understandably) the subject of endless, intense media coverage featuring their lives, their dreams and their grieving parents. But I’d bet that the Canadian public was incapable of naming even a single foreign individual killed by their own government over the last decade.

It’s worth considering the extreme propaganda impact that disparity has, the way in which the U.S. media is so eagerly complicit in sustaining ongoing American militarism and violence by disappearing victims of U.S. violence while endlessly heralding the victims of its adversaries.

(2) I have no idea whether this 13-year-old boy was “a member of al-Qaeda,” whatever that might mean for a boy that young. But neither does the New York Times, which is why it’s incredibly irresponsible for media outlets reflexively to claim that those killed by U.S. drone strikes are terrorists.

That’s especially true since the NYT itself previously reported that the Obama administration has re-defined “militant” to mean “all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants.” In this case, Mohammed did not even qualify for that Orwellian re-definition, yet still got called a terrorist (by both the Obama administration as well as a “member of AQAP,” both of whom are, for different reasons, motivated to make that claim). Whatever else is true, extreme skepticism is required before claiming that the victims of the latest American drone strike are terrorists, but that skepticism is virtually never included.

(3)  . . .

Continue reading.

Later in the article:

If it were American teenagers rather than Yemeni ones regularly being burned to death – on American soil rather than Yemeni soil – does it take any effort to understand why there’d be widespread calls for violence against the perpetrators in response? Consider how much American rage and violence was unleashed by a single-day attack on American soil 13 years ago.

In fact, if it were the case that this 13-year-old boy were a “member of AQAP,” is it hard to understand why? Do we need to resort to claims that some primitive, inscrutable religion is to blame, or does this, from the Guardian article, make more sense:

When the Guardian interviewed Mohammed last September, he spoke of his anger towards the US government for killing his father. “They tell us that these drones come from bases in Saudi Arabia and also from bases in the Yemeni seas and America sends them to kill terrorists, but they always kill innocent people. But we don’t know why they are killing us.

In their eyes, we don’t deserve to live like people in the rest of the world and we don’t have feelings or emotions or cry or feel pain like all the other humans around the world.”

In 2009, the U.S. got caught using cluster bombs in Yemen in an attack that slaughtered 35 women and children. Obama then successfully demandedthat the Yemeni journalist who proved that the attack was from the U.S., Abdulelah Haider Shaye, be imprisoned for years. In December, 2013, a U.S. drone strike killed 12 people as they traveled to a wedding.

The NY Times is quite credulous of government claims—it functions somewhat along the lines of Pravda in the old Soviet Union: the “official” story (and the “official” suppression of stories, as when the NY Times refused to report on the massive program of illegal surveillance administer by the Bush Administration because the government told them not to).

See also this report.

Written by Leisureguy

10 February 2015 at 3:48 pm

Parker 24C and Gillette NEW short-toothed comb

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SOTD 10 Feb 2015

I sitting here feeling the kind of stupidity that comes with a cold, which is what the doctor thinks I have, rather than flu: no chills, for example, and no sore throat. If it is a cold, it will be noticeably better by Thursday and on the way out Friday (but getting worse tomorrow).

But let’s not get into that. I spent two hours this morning sitting in the doctor’s office, had hot and sour soup for lunch, came home, and went to sleep. Up now, tottering about.

The lather was excellent and the Duke 3 Best really is a nice little brush—it has good backbone, which many like, but it’s not insane about it. I got a great lather with the Strop Shoppe Lemon Eucalyptus shown, and compared the performance of the Gillette NEW short tooth comb with a Kai blade and the Parker 24C with a Shark Chrome. Both performed admirably. I might give a slight edge in comfort to the Parker, but really that could have just been the difference in the blades. Either is a good choice.

A good splash of Myrsol Lemon, and I left for the doctor’s office.

I told the doctor I was kicking myself for not washing my hands a lot during and after the 4-hour wait in the crowded DMV room, but he said not to worry: it’s in the air in that situation. So it goes.

Written by Leisureguy

10 February 2015 at 3:18 pm

Posted in Shaving

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