Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Tale of Two Disasters

Trapped in the Superdome: Refuge becomes a hellhole
Crack vials littered the restroom. Blood stains the walls next to vending machines smashed by teenagers.

The Louisiana Superdome, once a mighty testament to architecture and ingenuity, became the biggest storm shelter in New Orleans the day before Katrina's arrival Monday. About 16,000 people eventually settled in. Within two days, it had degenerated into unspeakable horror.

"There is feces on the walls," said Bryan Hebert, 43, who arrived at the dome Monday. "There is feces all over the place."

The Superdome is patrolled by more than 500 Louisiana National Guard, many of whom carry machine guns as sweaty, smelly people press against metal barricades that keep them from leaving, shouting as the soldiers pass by: "Hey! We need more water! We need help!"

The soldiers — most are sleeping only two or three hours a night, and many have lost houses themselves — say they are doing the best they can with limited resources and no infrastructure. But they have become the target of many refugees' anger.

One man tried to escape yesterday by leaping over a barricade and racing toward the streets. The man was desperate, National Guard Sgt. Caleb Wells said. Everything he was able to bring to the Superdome had been stolen.

Some images here.

Survivors reveal Superdome horror

Katrina Survivors Face Cops, Gougers, Scams, ‘Gangs’
Outside the worst-hit areas, refugees have found themselves in harsh competition for necessities like gasoline and temporary shelter as opportunistic merchants are reportedly raising prices, taking advantage of increased demand for staples in the wake of the natural disaster.

Even in New Orleans, where very little buying and selling is taking place, price exploitation is at play. Hawaiian emergency medical workers stranded in New Orleans told their hometown paper, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, that they had to pay $45 for two plates of fried squash and rice and one can of warm cola to split among four women.

On Tuesday, survivors absconded with everything from food to computers at a Wal-Mart on Tchoupitoulas Street in New Orleans, according to a detailed report by local daily Times-Picayune. The paper’s reporters said the scene began as a giveaway of essential items orchestrated by police but quickly erupted into a free-for-all looting extravaganza with police losing control and civilians accusing police of stealing "all the best stuff."

Police officers interviewed by the Times-Picayune said the looting was beyond their control throughout the city. "We don't have enough cops to stop it," the officer said. "A mass riot would break out if you tried."

Many law enforcement agents readily acknowledged to reporters that they recognized many people in the affected areas have no other access to food, clothing or first-aid supplies. With few emergency supplies making it to stranded survivors, supplies held in vacated storefronts constitute a vital lifeline.

By Wednesday evening, the relative goodwill of authorities had run out in New Orleans as well. Mayor Ray Nagin announced that nearly the entire active city police force was under orders to cease any search-and-rescue efforts and focus on suppressing looters.

"It's really difficult because my opinion of the looting is it started with people running out of food, and you can't really argue with that too much," Nagin said. "Then it escalated to this kind of mass chaos where people are taking electronic stuff and all that."
The Psychology of Looting

For Japan Tsunami Survivors, Woes Keep Mounting
Nearly a week after their home town was annihilated in a catastrophic tsunami, the 1,000-plus survivors of the small Japanese fishing town of Otsuchi are hanging by a thread.

With no water or electricity, and scant food, survivors keep each other company at one of three emergency shelters on the outskirts of what remains of the town.

"You can't wash your hands or face," says 72-year-old Katsu Sawayama, seated in the middle of the high school gymnasium, the biggest of the shelters in a town where more than half the 17,000 residents are still missing.

Adding to their woes, an unseasonal snowstorm sent temperatures plunging to below zero and blanketed acres of tsunami debris in white.

Like tens of thousands of people along Japan's northeast coast, the Otsuchi survivors have nowhere else to go.

Meals are barely enough to sustain them — half a rice ball and a small bowl of miso soup is a luxury; a slice of bread might have to feed a family of three.

"Whatever they give us, we just gratefully receive. At least they're feeding us three times a day," said Sayawama.

Earthquake refugees battle for survival in freezing northeast Japan
About 400 people found shelter at the hastily arranged welfare center in an elementary school gymnasium in Ofunato, on the Pacific coast, one of the areas hit hardest by the March 11 devastating earthquake.

Showing signs of fatigue, the refugees are cuddling together under thin blankets for warmth amid freezing temperatures in the cramped evacuation center with no electricity. There are two electric stoves with a power generator which is about to run out of fuel. "I could sleep only for three hours because it was so cold," Yotsuko Tanaka said after waking up at 4 a.m. on March 15, four days after the killer tremor devastated the region. "Seven of us are sharing a large blanket," said the 72-year-old Tanaka, whose home was wiped away by powerful tsunami waves.

Over a dozen nursery school children, haunted by fears of tsunami waves, are also cuddling together at the candlelit refugee center.

In Rikuzentakata, another city on the Pacific coast in Iwate Prefecture, about 800 people found shelter at a nursery home. The refugee center begins to get shrouded in complete darkness at around 6 p.m. and the evacuees light candles given by a nearby temple.

Some images here.

Hilltop city in Japan becomes a refuge for earthquake, tsunami survivors
The city's resilience in the face of a still-unfolding tragedy that killed at least 10,000 people and destroyed whole towns on the northeast coast is credited to its topography.

“We were so lucky really. I haven’t heard of any serious injuries amongst people I know,” says a security guard keeping watch outside the Hitachi Futo shipping company’s lot in the city’s harbor.

Behind him, brand new Mercedes-Benz cars are stacked on top of each other like toys in a child’s playroom, recently arrived from Germany but tossed around and mangled by the tsunami.

at the Hitachi Hotel Crane, families escaping the devastation of the worst-affected areas are simply happy to have a dry place to stay, despite a lack of running water – although the unfolding crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, only 60 miles away, weighed heavily.

“There’s no electricity where we were and it’s still cold at night, so it feels great to be here,” says a man checking into the hotel with his young family.

Japan Earthquake and Tsunami 2011, a Queue, Crowd Control, How You Can Help
We all know the typical response immediately after a tragedy – chaos, looting, violence, mob mentality, and other look-out-for-yourself behaviors. But, for now anyway, that seems to be absent in Japan.

if there’s looting and mob violence, medical and security personnel will be on the scene to assist victims and to enforce order. But, since there isn’t any of that in the Japan earthquake so far, medical and security personnel can continue to focus on finding real victims from the tsunami and the earthquake.
Reports of looting in Japan?

At Miyagi in earthquake disaster going on board and theft 40 case prefectural police note calling

Why No Looting In Japan? Ctd

Why is there no looting in Japan after the earthquake?

And what about:
Aceh, Indonesia
Sri Lanka
New Zealand

Looting, like pricing, is taking unfair advantage of a disaster or tragedy. Dogs know when they've been kicked or accidentally stepped on. In the history of the common law we find that law courts could only go by the books, so the chancery courts had to step in to deal with the human questions of fairness and civility. That is how we ended up with different remedies in law and in equity.

Yes, questions of looting, as filtered through the notions of fairness and civility, is in the somewhat in the eye of the beholder, but most of us can agree differences do exist.

Of course, some people just don't have much sympathy for disaster of any sort, if they can make political mileage out of it, regardless where or how or whom the disaster strikes.

Rush Limbaugh, for instance, but as only one politically contempt example.

Labels: ,

Friday, March 11, 2011

See the USA, in Your Chevrolet ...

Woulda watched it, but couldn't

An 8.9 earthquake and tsumani in the neighbourhood is something that dilates the eyes around Guambat's burrow.

But at 15 miles or more deep and 1500 miles away, Guambat poured another one and simply watched mesmerized by the televised NHK images of ravaged northeastern Honshu, sound muted because of the constantly recurring warning blasts of the over-testosteroned homeland security types who would rather be heard than sorry. At the duly appointed time, the tides on Tumon Bay had no discernible change.

Of course, it was dark, so it was hard to tell for sure. But there were no white caps, no churning haze and no sounds of breakers in the distance.

Still, to give the under-worked Homeland Security Guards their due, by shutting off all traffic to Tumon Bay, Guambat and the Mrs enjoyed one of the quietest evenings in the Guambat burrow in yonks. Could almost get to enjoy these tsunami alerts so long as the mute button continues to work.

Mrs Guambat is trying to connect perceived dots between the Christchurch quake, the China quake and the Sendai quake, but Guambat reckons its just Rorschach by the numbers painting. If he's right, he can gloat. If he's wrong, there won't be anyone around to say "I told you so".


Labels: ,

The rich thimble game

Who gets the government's largess? The poor, the middle class, the minorities, the welfare bludgers, labor unions, ... the rich???

Commentary: Uncle Sam subsidizes the lifestyle of the rich, famous
The budget hides $1 trillion in spending that primarily benefits wealthy and upper middle-class Americans and corporations.

If we reined in this hidden spending, it’d be a lot easier to balance the budget. But we can’t eliminate it — or even slow its growth — unless we’re willing to look at it squarely and call it what it is: welfare for the wealthy and for the middle class.

I’m talking about private spending that the government subsidizes through loopholes, deductions and credits in the tax code. These tax breaks — known as tax expenditures — subsidize some of the most expensive items in the family budget: buying a home, buying health care, saving for retirement and paying for college and child care.

Because the government provides these subsidies through the tax code instead of through direct spending, the benefits go largely to those who make the most money. A $1,000 deduction provides $350 in benefits to a taxpayer in the top 35% tax bracket, but just $100 to one in the bottom bracket of 10%. The 65% of taxpayers who don’t itemize deductions but take the standard deduction instead get nothing at all.

The richest 20% of families — those who make more than $115,000 a year — capture 71% of the benefits from the housing subsidies, as well as 80% of the benefits of retirement-savings deductions, according to the Tax Policy Center.

Meanwhile, the 20% at the bottom, who make less than $27,000 a year, get just 0.1% of the benefits of the housing subsidies and none of the benefits from the tax breaks for saving. Those in the exact middle 20% — families that make between $50,000 and $75,000 a year — get 8% of the benefits from the housing subsidy and 6% of the retirement subsidies.

The middle class doesn’t get much … just enough to ensure that Congress wouldn’t dare touch these giveaways.

These tax expenditures get in the way of balancing the budget, because the spending is largely hidden from view during the budget process. Congress doesn’t vote on these provisions each year, as it does for discretionary-spending programs, so they don’t get any scrutiny at all. In many cases, a direct subsidy would be a more efficient way of promoting a public good than a tax break.

Most of these incentives don’t actually do what they are intended to do. The deduction for mortgage interest just drives up the cost of housing, rather than making housing more affordable. Subsidies for saving mostly go to those who would save anyway. Also, one of the biggest reasons we can’t control health-care costs is that the tax code encourages us to buy too much health care.

In 2012, these so-called tax expenditures will amount to $1.1 trillion, more than twice as much as the $462 billion budgeted for nondefense discretionary spending. It’s a third of all federal spending, but you never hear about it.

The Republicans aren’t talking about the $1 trillion elephant in the room.

Fortunately a bipartisan deficit-reduction commission is.

Should we really be subsidizing mansions? Or cottages by the lake? Or “Cadillac” health-insurance plans? Or millionaires’ 401(k) plans?

Labels: ,

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Premature ejection costs Medicaid big time after Big Pharma gets involved

Guambat's second grandchild was ejected yesterday on time, if only a few days earlier than the St Paddy's Day ETA. He is healthy and whole.

Some mothers, though, have very serious problems keeping baby in until safe to eject. The serious medical problem was not a serious financial problem until a Big Pharma player got official approval for a preemie prescription. Before, the cost of medication was $20/shot. Now it is $1,500/shot. And the shot doesn't go to the bottom of the baby, it goes to the bottom line of Big Pharma, and the top line of Medicaid and other insurance costs.

Price of drug to prevent preemies jumps from $20 to $1,500 after FDA approval
Since 2003, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has recommended that doctors offer the progesterone shots to high-risk women. But because there has not been a commercial product available, women have obtained the drug from so-called compounding pharmacies, which make it to order. The pharmacies have typically charged about $10 to $20 per shot for the drug, which is given weekly.

Last month, however, the FDA approved a commercial form of the drug, called Makena, manufactured by K-V Pharmaceutical Co. of St. Louis. The company said Wednesday that the drug will be available for shipping March 14 and that it will cost $1,500 per dose.

Meanwhile, women are unlikely to be able to continue to get the drug at compounding pharmacies. K-V sent letters to the pharmacies warning them of potential FDA action if they keep distributing the drug.

The burden for many will fall on insurance companies, which may have to raise rates. The increase will also affect already strapped Medicaid programs.


Britain's baby doomers

In the US, baby boomers are finding that their Age of Aquarius has come and gone, as retirement realities loom. Guambat has personal knowledge. For the generations that followed, including Guambat's offsprung offspring, it's a time for a bit of ribbing the old folks; they have felt (without empirical justifications, Guambat reckons) it's about time someone took the punchbowl away from the boomers.

But in the UK, the boomer doomers threaten the whole muddle class economy.

Public sector staff to be told: Work for longer and get a smaller pension
A major Government report will recommend linking the pension age – currently 60 for most state employees – with the state pension age.

It is due to rise to 68 over the years ahead, threatening the retirement plans of millions of public employees, who will also have to contribute more to their ‘gold-plated’ pension funds. And experts forecast the state pension age will continue to rise, eventually hitting 70 as Britain struggles to meet the cost of its ageing population.

State workers who can currently retire as young as 55 will have to work for many more years to secure maximum pension benefits. Even members of theArmed Forces, police and firefighters, who can currently go on full pension as early as 50, will be told they will have to wait until they are 60 before they qualify.

The dramatic move is part of a broader shake-up of state employees’ retirement funds, which have created a £1trillion black hole in the public finances.

The highest-paid public sector employees are likely to have to pay far more into their pensions as a result – around 5 per cent of their earnings.

Read more:

Most Britons face 60 percent income loss in retirement
Almost two-thirds of people living in Britain today are likely to see a 60 percent drop in their income when they retire over the next 40 years and a plummeting quality of life, a report said Thursday.

"The UK has a distinct problem with middle-income earners who are failing to save enough and are likely to find the drop in income during retirement unexpected and unacceptable," said Paola Subacchi, one of the report's authors.

The report says the problem is worsening because of a shift from defined benefit (DB) pension schemes to defined contribution (DC) schemes, which do not guarantee a predetermined retirement income.

"Furthermore, the recent recession has highlighted how vulnerable wealth and pension funds are to economic shocks and reduced annuity conversion rates," it adds.

Middle-class Britons' meagre savings mean they will have to rely heavily on the relatively small state pension, which "only just ensures a minimum standard of living," Chatham House said.

"Some may even slip into poverty," the report adds.

If the economy fares worse over the next decades than most economists forecast, retirement incomes of the so-called squeezed middle will be pressured even more, it adds.

The report follows a warning by Labour leader Ed Miliband that low and middle-income families in Britain are facing a "cost of living" crisis which will persist for years to come.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Interned Americans oppose demonizing American Muslims

Japanese Americans: House hearings on radical Islam 'sinister'
Although the youngest who were interned are in their late 60s, Japanese Americans remember what it means to be targeted during wartime because of their nationality.

After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered that all ethnic Japanese along the Pacific Coast be sent to one of 10 isolated internment camps in seven states. Of those imprisoned, 62 percent were second- or third-generation Japanese Americans born in the United States. Most lost their property to the government.

During the chaotic days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Basim Elkarra was passing by an Islamic school in Sacramento when he did a double-take: The windows were covered with thousands of origami cranes - peace symbols that had been created and donated by Japanese Americans.

Amid the anger and suspicions being aimed at Muslims at that time, the show of support "was a powerful symbol that no one will ever forget," said Elkarra, a Muslim American community leader in California.

It was also the beginning of a bond between the two groups that has intensified as House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter T. King (R-N.Y.) prepares to launch a series of controversial hearings Thursday on radical Islam in the United States.

In 1988, Congress approved legislation that apologized and distributed $1.6 billion in reparations, blaming the roundup on "race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership."

It was the memory of the camps that led the Japanese to reach out to their Muslim counterparts, said Kathy Masaoka, a high school teacher who co-chairs the Los Angeles chapter of Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress.

"It dawned on us that this is really something that could escalate among Muslims, the same things our parents faced," she said. "They were being scapegoated."

What followed was a candlelight vigil in Los Angeles's Little Tokyo and the "Bridging Communities" program, aimed at educating Muslim and Japanese high school students on diversity. Last year, 40 students participated in five seminars, sharing stories of challenges they face related to race, religion and ethnicity.

"They see clearly that they have similar experiences," said Affad Shaikh, civil rights manager for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "Even though the target group of the discrimination is different, the purpose of that harassment is the same."

Peter King obviously is one who has a strong attraction to provoking fear. That kind of behaviour is socio-pathic and must be stopped.

Next they come for Guambats.


Monday, March 07, 2011

Terrorism makes for strange bed bugs

According to the IrishCentral news site, Libya's Gaddafi to pay billions for IRA atrocities

Say what, thought Guambat? Gaddafi funded the bombing of that plane over Lockerbie, Scotland, but what's that got to do with the right wingnut Irish?

Well, this is the story (from a year ago) below the headline:
Colonel Gaddafi is to pay $3.5 billion to victims of IRA atrocities it has been revealed.

Gaddafi allowed the importation from Libya in the 1980s of tons of semtex plastic explosives to be used in IRA attacks.

Among the attacks carried out with Libyan semtex were the Harrods Christmas bombing of 1983, which killed six and the Enniskillen atrocity of 1987 that left 11 dead during a Remembrance Day service.

It was also used by the Real IRA splinter group in the Omagh bombing in August 1998, which killed 29 and injured 220 in the worst killings of the Troubles.

And Libyan semtex was also used in the 1989 Lockerbie Pan Am 103 airline bombing that left 270 dead.

The IRA don't colour beer green; they coloured it red.

IRA Atrocities
The Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) is an Irish republican paramilitary group - and proscribed Terrorist organization - whose aim was to remove Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom and bring about a United Ireland by force of arms and political persuasion.

This "force of arms" involved violence and murder against civilians - Catholic and Protestant - and members of the British Armed Forces. In all, 1,800 people were murdered by the IRA during the so-called "Troubles".
Thus, Guambat was moved from cynicism to dismay to read the following.

It takes a terrorist: Former IRA supporter to chair hearings on U.S. Muslims
In 1985, the Irish government boycotted the St. Patrick's Day parade in New York City, the biggest celebration in the Irish-American calendar. The cause of its umbrage was Peter King, that year's grand marshal and someone the Irish government said was an "avowed" supporter of a terrorist organization, the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

King, then a local politician on Long Island, was one of the most zealous American defenders of the militant IRA and its campaign to drive the British out of Northern Ireland. He described the IRA, which mastered the car bomb as an instrument of urban terror, as a "legitimate force."

And he compared Gerry Adams, the leader of Sinn Fein, the IRA's political wing, to George Washington.

But King sees no parallel between the IRA and violent Islamist extremism, which he describes as a foreign enemy or a foreign-directed enemy. His preferred comparison for the IRA is with the African National Congress led by Nelson Mandela; the IRA, no less than the ANC's military wing, was fighting for community rights and freedom, he says.

"I felt that the IRA, in the context of Irish history, and Sinn Fein were a legitimate force that had to be recognized and you wouldn't have peace without them," King said. "Listen, I think I'm one of the people who brought about peace in Ireland."

"If civilians are killed in an attack on a military installation, it is certainly regrettable, but I will not morally blame the IRA for it," King said in 1985.

King also clashed with prominent Irish-Americans who condemned IRA violence. He dismissed the Friends of Ireland caucus in Congress, which included Sens. Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Edward Kennedy, as infused with a "moral arrogance and self-righteousness that would do justice to the royal family."

A quarter-century later, the New York Republican is chairman of the powerful House Homeland Security Committee.
So what's the hubbub, Guambat?

Rally hits Congress’s focus on Muslims, terror
The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Representative Peter King, has said that affiliates of Al Qaeda are radicalizing some American Muslims. King plans hearings starting Thursday on the threat he says they pose.

King, a Republican from Long Island, told CNN’s “State of the Union" yesterday that he sees an international movement with elements in the United States of Muslims becoming more radical and identifying with terrorists.

“I don’t believe there is sufficient cooperation" by American Muslims with law enforcement, King said. “Certainly my dealings with the police in New York and FBI and others say they do not believe they get the same — they do not give the level of cooperation that they need."

This is how an adult addresses the issue: Talking terrorism

Guambat is hopelessly confused:
just who is the terrorist? (See this)


Sunday, March 06, 2011

Japanese Uni student shows App-titude for wiki-uni-leaks

Student under arrest admits uploading 4 universities' entrance exam questions and Student arrested for posting exam questions online hid mobile phone between legs
A 19-year-old student, arrested for uploading Kyoto University entrance exam questions to an online bulletin board, has admitted responsibility for the online leakage of questions in three other universities' entrance exams he took, police sources said.

The 19-year-old stands accused of using a mobile phone to upload questions in the entrance examination of Kyoto University to the "Yahoo Chiebukuro" ("Yahoo pearls of wisdom") online bulletin board on Feb. 26, adversely affecting the fair implementation of the exam and obstructing the institution's operations.

This is reportedly the first time that law enforcers have formed a [criminal] case against someone who cheated in a school examination on suspicion of obstruction of business.

"I was sitting in a corner of the examination site, so I thought it was out of the proctors' line of vision. I did it repeatedly."

Kyoto Prefectural Police plan to re-enact the exam, paying attention to the student's position in the classroom and the placement of the exam supervisor, to determine whether it would have been possible for him to operate the phone without being noticed. They also plan to question the exam supervisor.

Guambat is impressed that the kid's name wasn't released. Very unAmerican, that. And maybe a factor that will mitigate suicide tendencies, let's hope.

But there's more to this story, in a very Japanesey way, too.

Kyoto U. faces backlash, charges of irresponsibility in wake of exam cheat's arrest
Following a preparatory school student's arrest over the recent online leak of entrance exam questions at Kyoto University, the elite school has come under fire from the public for not only failing to prevent the cheating but underlining its position as the "victim."

According to Kyoto University's public relations section, after the arrest of the 19-year-old student of a Sendai prep school was reported on the news on the afternoon of March 3, the university was flooded with angry phone calls, with most of them claiming that the school was too lax in monitoring the test takers or that its decision to file a complaint with police over the leak was wrong. Some also reportedly argued that arresting the culprit over cheating was "going too far," showing pity for the prep school student.

Meanwhile, Kyoto University's handling of the situation has also irked some at the Kyoto Prefectural Police.

"I seriously wonder why the university overlooked the supervisors' failure and immediately left everything to police. Without even conducting an in-house investigation, the school is probably just evading its responsibility in a bid to avoid criticism," one high-ranking Kyoto Prefectural Police officer commented.

On March 3, Kyoto University President Hiroshi Matsumoto attended a press conference for the first time since the leak was detected on Feb. 26.

"We always monitor exam takers properly," Matsumoto said, raising his voice. "If it's an Internet crime that occurred outside (Kyoto University exam supervisors') area of responsibility, we have to take (legal) action."


Most health care professionals do good, some do very well badly

Guambat reckons we just need to pay these folks more?

Atlanta doctor indicted for Medicaid, Medicare fraud
While under contract to provide group psychological therapy to nursing home patients, Dr. Williams, 72, filed about 95,000 Medicare and Georgia Medicaid claims and was reimbursed about $1 million, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Atlanta.

Many of the claims filed during a two-year period beginning in the summer of 2007 were fraudulent, U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said. In some cases, the patients were dead by the time he reported seeing them, she said. In other cases, they were in the hospital and could not have appeared in the nursing home for therapy as claimed.

Brian D. Lamkin, an FBI special agent involved with the case, said such fraud costs the government and private insurers billions. Acts of "sheer greed" such as those alleged against Dr. Williams are "driving up healthcare costs and are depriving those that really need medical help," Lamkin said.

Pharmacist allegedly netted $3.5M in fraud scheme
John D. Love of Brazil, the owner of the Terre Haute Prescription Shop, faces one count of health care fraud and two counts of money laundering. U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett said.

The scheme was the largest case of health care fraud and money laundering ever discovered in the Southern District of Indiana, Hogsett said during a news conference Friday.

"I want to make it loud and clear, that when individuals, who through their own greed, take advantage of the health care system for their own greed, take benefits intended to serve the neediest of Indiana's citizens, it will not be tolerated," Hogsett said.

A tip from an outside contractor uncovered information in an audit that prompted the investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the state's Medicaid Fraud Enforcement Unit and other agencies, Shepherd said.

Investigators said Love would enter bogus prescriptions in Indiana's Medicaid system, wait for his claims to be submitted, and then void them before others could see the orders had not been filled. Love billed Medicaid for more than 6,800 units of various prescription drugs from January 2006 through September 2010, while actually ordering only 156 units of the same drugs.

Love used at least $3 million of the profits to pay for four parcels of land, 15 vehicles, a wedding for one of his children and other personal expenses, prosecutors said. Federal authorities have seized property including five Harley Davidson motorcycles, two sports cars, four SUVs, two pickup trucks, one recreation vehicle and funds from multiple bank accounts.

Labels: ,

That which doesn't kill Wall St. makes it stronger

Paul B. Farrell, that irascible old coot, is at it again.

Commentary: Too late to jail bank CEOs; only revolution will succeed
Just three years after Wall Street’s crooks “brought down the world’s economy” Goldman’s Blankfein and his buddies are paying record bonuses, and laughing at us.

Seriously, think about it folks: Since the 2008 meltdown magazines and newspapers have analyzed the 2008 crash to death. It really is old news, history. Journalists churned out book after book: “Greenspan’s Bubbles,” “House of Cards,” “Trillion Dollar Meltdown,” “13 Bankers,” “Dumb Money,” “Bailout Nation,” “All the Devils Are Here,” “The Big Short,” “Too Big to Fail,” “The Failure of Capitalism,” “This Time is Different,” “And Then the Roof Caved In,” on and on, ad nauseum. All talk, no action, and no effect.

Get it? With every book, every editorial, every expose the past three years, Wall Street bankers actually grew stronger, got richer, more arrogant, bolder on bonuses, impervious to attacks, even taunting us, like the dictators Mubarak, Ben Ali and Gadhafi, confident they could do no wrong, confident no one would rebel. Jail? Our moment to act is long past. We blinked.

I hope that whetted your appetite. The rest is classic. So classic, Guambat wonders if ever Mr. Farrell was a long-haired type, or is just now getting around to being long harried.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Grousing over noodle soup

Guambat has been under the weather for an unusually long time. His eating preferences have turned to the absolutely bland, like meatloaf and mash or chicken noodle soup.

It was his preference for the latter that made this article stand out:

Hokkaido gov't carried recipes for endangered bird on website
The Hokkaido Prefectural Government has been found to have carried on its website recipes to cook an endangered bird as part of an introductory guide to hunting, leading the regional government to delete the page containing the recipes for being "inappropriate."

On the online page, "Hazel grouse soba noodles" was introduced along with various recipes for other wild animals including Yezo deer. Furthermore, the description of hazel grouses reportedly read, "You can make a sophisticated, tasty soup broth from the birds," recommending that they are delicious when used in soba noodles, zoni (soup with rice cakes and vegetables), and samgyetang (Korean soup usually containing glutinous rice-stuffed chicken).

Hazel grouses are small wild birds that inhabit only Hokkaido Prefecture in Japan. The species used to be generally approved for human consumption, and today they are still available for hunting under the Wildlife Protection and Hunting Law. Due to a downward trend in the number of hazel grouses, however, the Hokkaido Prefectural Government registered the birds as a "scarce species" in its 2001 "Red Data Book" for threatened wild animals.

Mmmmmm, Hazel Grouse Noodle Soup