And they come with no warning,
nature loves her little surprises.
Continual crisis!

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Linkee-poo Tuesday April 20

Walter Mondale, and so it goes.

"A Humana Inc. health plan for seniors in Florida improperly collected nearly $200 million in 2015 by overstating how sick some patients were, according to a new federal audit, which seeks to claw back the money… The Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General's recommendation to repay, if finalized, would be "by far the largest" audit penalty ever imposed on a Medicare Advantage company, said Christopher Bresette, an HHS assistant regional inspector general." Oopsie. Also note, this audit has a lot of grey areas, in some cases Medicare underpaid. It was the overall effect that Medicare overpaid. And the majority of the issues here are the billing codes and if the diagnosis matched to the billing code. This is a HUGE concern in medical care billing. But, again, privatization of government is, in general, a Bad Idea™.

"A couple of doses of a psychedelic drug may treat depression as well as one of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants, a small and short study published Wednesday shows… A Phase 2 clinical trial, conducted by researchers in London, was the first randomized trial to compare therapeutic doses of psilocybin — the psychedelic compound found in so-called magic mushrooms — with a daily medication. The results were released in The New England Journal of Medicine." For a long time I've been on the opposite side of this, but they're convincing me.

"The U.S. State Department on Monday announced plans to expand travel advisories, urging U.S. citizens to stay home as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose 'unprecedented risks' around the globe."

"The risk of surface transmission of Covid-19 is low, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday. Far more important is airborne transmission -- and people who obsessively disinfect surfaces may be doing more harm than good." Ta-da! But note there is a window of infectiousness that it is important to clean surfaces, and that window of time is before a person shows symptoms. Kind of a conundrum, ain't it.

"Before the Vietnam War there was a law that banned women from reporting on the frontlines of any war for the U.S. When President Johnson refused to officially declare a state of war in Vietnam, an opening appeared: no war, no ban. A handful of pioneering women bought one-way tickets into the battlefield. They had no editors, no health insurance and little or no formal training. This week, Brooke spoke about this time to reporter Elizabeth Becker, formerly a Washington Post war correspondent in Cambodia, NPR's foreign editor and then national security correspondent for the New York Times. Becker is the author of a new book: You Don't Belong Here: How Three Women Rewrote the Story of War."

"The Biden administration is ordering U.S. immigration enforcement agencies to change how they talk about immigrants… The terms 'illegal alien' and 'assimilation' are out — replaced by 'undocumented noncitizen' and 'integration.'" Words are important.

"It has meant that once a decade, states have had to face the prospect of joining a list of winners and losers after those House seats are reshuffled based on how the states' latest census population counts rank. How those seats are reassigned also plays a key role in presidential elections. Each state's share of Electoral College votes is determined by adding its number of House seats to its two Senate seats."

"When groups of sinister drones began hovering over homes in America’s Midwest, the FBI, US Air Force and 16 police forces set up a task force. But the drones vanished. Did they even exist?"

"First Amendment groups are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to make public major decisions authorizing government surveillance, opinions that until now have remained almost secret… For years, the ACLU and other groups have maintained that the public has a First Amendment right to see major decisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, decisions that authorize everything from surveillance of suspected spies and terrorists to metadata mining aimed at ferreting out potential terrorist plots, including those that involve contacts between foreigners and American citizens." This would be a huge win for transparency of government.

"Former President George W. Bush described the modern-day GOP as 'isolationist, protectionist, and to a certain extent, nativist' in an interview Tuesday that was packed with implicit criticism of the most recent Republican president… 'It’s not exactly my vision' for the party, Bush told NBC’s 'Today' show in a rare live TV appearance. 'But, you know, I’m just an old guy they put out to pasture.'" Hey, GW, no real acknowledgement on how you used that to gain power and, while you did try to modify it a little while president, on the whole you went in deep in this territory and took the party with you. As my friend Jim Wright says, "All the self-awareness of a dog licking it's own asshole in public."

"The American ambassador to Russia is returning to Washington for 'consultations' after a new round of sanctions imposed on Moscow last week by President Biden, including the expulsion of 10 U.S. diplomats – a move quickly followed by reciprocal measures from the Kremlin… A brief statement from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow on Tuesday announced that Ambassador John Sullivan was returning to the U.S. this week after his Russian counterpart was recalled amid increasingly strained relations between the two countries."

"Trumbull County man says he’s an angel, arrested at stranger’s house claiming to rid it of demons." Whackaloon quotient is still sky-high.

"A federal judge on Monday ordered two alleged leaders of the far-right extremist group the Proud Boys detained pending trial on conspiracy and other charges tied to the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol."

"U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who engaged with pro-Trump rioters during the Jan. 6 insurrection, died of natural causes the day after the attack, Washington, D.C.'s chief medical examiner announced Monday."

"House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is introducing a resolution to censure Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters, after she encouraged protesters in Minnesota to 'stay on the street' and 'get more confrontational' if they don't see a guilty verdict returned in the Derek Chauvin trial regarding the death of George Floyd."

"Florida's governor has signed a law that he called the "strongest anti-rioting, pro-law enforcement measure in the country." The law was written in response to protests around the country following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. It provides new protections for police and increases the penalties for people who take part in property damage or violence during protests." Making "seeking redress" a crime. Not only is it an attack on citizen rights, it's an attack on home rule. My guess is it won't withstand Constitutional scrutiny.

"After weeks of talks with corporate executives of some of the state’s largest companies, Georgia faith leaders will officially call for a boycott of Home Depot on Tuesday claiming the company has not done enough to oppose the state’s new voting law."

"Democratic Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema posted a photo of herself brandishing a ring that read 'F*** Off' a little over a month after she voted against a measure to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour." Assholes are asshole no matter what party they belong to.

"Former aides to former President Donald Trump are reportedly looking back at the end of his term as a major missed opportunity to encourage his supporters to get vaccinated against COVID-19." Oh there's a lot more for them to be upset about.

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