U.S. arrests 111 in largest Medicare fraud bust

FBI Asst Director Shawn Henry, Eric Holder and Kathleen Sebelius behind him
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

The U.S. government on Thursday charged 111 doctors, nurses and other defendants with Medicare crime schemes that exceeded $225 million in false billings, the largest health care fraud crackdown so far.

Attorney General Eric Holder and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the charges in the latest of a series of cases brought by the Obama administration…

Medicare reform represented a key part of the sweeping year-old health care law championed by Democratic President Barack Obama, but opposed by many Republicans in Congress.

The latest charges covered defendants in nine cities. In addition to arrests, law enforcement agents also executed 16 search warrants.

The defendants were charged with various crimes, including conspiracy to defraud the Medicare program, false claims, kickbacks and money laundering, administration officials said.

They said the alleged schemes involved various medical treatments, tests and services, such as home health care, physical and occupational therapy and medical equipment…

A top FBI official, Shawn Henry, said 2,600 health care fraud cases were under investigation and that organized crime groups have been increasingly linked to the alleged schemes.

Sebelius said $4 billion was recovered last year, and the government’s Medicare Fraud Strike Force was recently expanded to nine cities, with the addition of Dallas and Chicago.

Go get ’em! Throw a couple of insurance companies into the meatgrinder while you’re at it.

They deserve to be sorted out for their role in inflating healthcare costs. They could care less about phony costs when they know American taxpayers get stuck with the bill regardless of legitimacy.

Ford clean sweep in first battle of 2011 WRC cars

WRC is the closest of all world class motorsport competition to the genuine road environment, though conditions vary considerably across the 13 race, five continent series from last weekend’s first round in Sweden where blizzards and -28ºC temperatures necessitated tungsten-tipped studded Michelin tyres, through to the gravel and rocks and 40ºC temperatures the cars will encounter a fortnight from now in Mexico.

New “environmentally aware” regulations were introduced this year based around 1600cc turbocharged, 4WD cars, and Ford’s all-new Fiesta RS made a dream debut with a 1-2-3 finish

RTTFA for all the details – and lots of photos. Most countries show at least delayed coverage of each event. VersusTV is the likely source here in the USA.

Thawing permafrost will accelerate global warming

Good thing there’s no permafrost in the United States, eh?

Up to two-thirds of Earth’s permafrost likely will disappear by 2200 as a result of warming temperatures, unleashing vast quantities of carbon into the atmosphere, says a new study by the University of Colorado Boulder’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences.

The carbon resides in permanently frozen ground that is beginning to thaw in high latitudes from warming temperatures, which will impact not only the climate but also international strategies to reduce fossil fuel emissions, said CU-Boulder’s Kevin Schaefer, lead study author. “If we want to hit a target carbon dioxide concentration, then we have to reduce fossil fuel emissions that much lower than previously thought to account for this additional carbon from the permafrost,” he said. “Otherwise we will end up with a warmer Earth than we want.”

The escaping carbon comes from plant material, primarily roots trapped and frozen in soil during the last glacial period that ended roughly 12,000 years ago, he said. Schaefer, a research associate at CU-Boulder’s National Snow and Ice Data Center, an arm of CIRES, likened the mechanism to storing broccoli in a home freezer. “As long as it stays frozen, it stays stable for many years,” he said. “But if you take it out of the freezer it will thaw out and decay.”

While other studies have shown carbon has begun to leak out of permafrost in Alaska and Siberia, the study by Schaefer and his colleagues is the first to make actual estimates of future carbon release from permafrost

Schaefer and his team ran multiple Arctic simulations assuming different rates of temperature increases to forecast how much carbon may be released globally from permafrost in the next two centuries. They estimate a release of roughly 190 billion tons of carbon, most of it in the next 100 years…

“The amount we expect to be released by permafrost is equivalent to half of the amount of carbon released since the dawn of the Industrial Age,” said Schaefer. The amount of carbon predicted for release between now and 2200 is about one-fifth of the total amount of carbon in the atmosphere today, according to the study…

Greater reductions in fossil fuel emissions to account for carbon released by the permafrost will be a daunting global challenge, Schaefer said. “The problem is getting more and more difficult all the time,” he said. “It is hard enough to reduce the emissions in any case, but now we have to reduce emissions even more. We think it is important to get that message out now.”

Using importance and science in the same sentence won’t mean much to politicians, pundits – or the pipsqueaks who prance around at the behest of fossil fuel profiteers. And the average consumer isn’t as likely to be impressed by computational analysis as how much their pocketbook is being squeezed for fuel oil and gasoline.

Fortunately, the Oil Patch Boys and their bubbas in the Middle east are doing a reasonably effective job of the last-named activity.

Judge tells crook bitten by police dog: ‘Good, I hope it hurt’



On being told that the 8 year old German Shepherd Zak had sunk his teeth into a thief’s buttock, Judge Julian Lambert exclaimed “Good! I hope it hurt. Well done Zak..!”

But sitting at Gloucester Crown court today the judge had no hesitation in locking up persistent thief John Davies for nine months. Davies, 35, of Summerfield Gardens, Evesham, had admitted trying to steal a £3,000 bronze statue from a park in Cheltenham, Glos, on the night of 4th August last year.

His efforts were foiled by a couple walking through Sandford Park who spotted him and raised the alarm.

Davies fled when he saw police arriving but Zak was unleashed and sent after him.

“The dog followed the scent to a nearby courtyard where the defendant was hiding,” said prosecutor George Threlfall. “Zak detained him by by biting his left buttock…”

After the hearing Zak’s handler Pc Rich Hunt said it had been the dog’s last bite in the course of duty because he has since retired.

“He’s now living a quieter life with me in Cheltenham and is perfect with children and families.”

Good for you, PC Hunt. And good for you, Zak. I wish you a quiet and long-lasting retirement.

Hawaii’s Governor Abercrombie welcomes civil unions law

Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

Hawaii’s Senate has given final passage to a measure legalizing same-sex unions in the state, and Gov. Neil Abercrombie has said he will sign it.

The state House had already passed the bill, which “extends the same rights, benefits, protections and responsibilities of spouses in a marriage to partners in a civil union,” according to the Legislature’s website. It will take effect January 1, 2012…

I have always believed that civil unions respect our diversity, protect people’s privacy and reinforce our core values of equality and aloha,” Abercrombie said in a statement. “For me, this bill represents equal rights for all the people of Hawaii…”

Five states and the District of Columbia issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Hawaii will join New Jersey in allowing civil unions.

Voters in Hawaii appear to have elected someone capable of bringing their personal politics into the 21st Century. Here in New Mexico we’ve been relegated to a “same old solution” resolution to our last election. Being Hispanic, Catholic, much beloved by police departments was an edge unable overcome by an exceptionally lackluster Democrat.

Here we have Susana Martinez who makes it clear that her bible told her so and therefore it must be obeyed. I shan’t waste your time on what 14th Century guidebooks to success don’t have on offer to modern society. Suffice it to say we all still live in a nation that refuses to accede to questions of civil rights with any more grace than did the bigots of the 1950’s.

History tends to resolve the stupidity and inequity of human behavior grounded in superstition and hatred. But, it seems to take an inordinate length of time. Extending equal civil rights to all citizens seems to be a no-brainer; but, we often have an excess of fools without brains. They also get one vote apiece.

Colin Powell demands hearings about “Curveball’s” WMD lies

Colin Powell, the US secretary of state at the time of the Iraq invasion, has called on the CIA and Pentagon to explain why they failed to alert him to the unreliability of a key source behind claims of Saddam Hussein’s bio-weapons capability.

Responding to the Guardian’s revelation that the source, Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi or “Curveball” as his US and German handlers called him, admitted fabricating evidence of Iraq’s secret biological weapons programme, Powell said that questions should be put to the US agencies involved in compiling the case for war. In particular he singled out the CIA and the Defence Intelligence Agency – the Pentagon’s military intelligence arm. Janabi, an Iraqi defector, was used as the primary source by the Bush administration to justify invading Iraq in March 2003. Doubts about his credibility circulated before the war and have been confirmed by his admission this week that he lied.

Powell said that both the CIA and DIA should face questions about why they failed to sound the alarm about Janabi. He demanded to know why it had not been made clear to him that Curveball was totally unreliable before false information was put into the key intelligence assessment, or NIE, put before Congress, into the president’s state of the union address two months before the war and into his own speech to the UN…

On 5 February 2003, just a month before the invasion, Powell went before the UN security council to make the case for war. In his speech he referred to “firsthand descriptions of biological weapons factories on wheels and on rails … The source was an eyewitness who supervised one of these facilities”. It is now known that the source, Janabi, made up the story.

Curveball told the Guardian he welcomed Powell’s demand. “It’s great,” he said tonight. “The BND [German intelligence] knew in 2000 that I was lying after they talked to my former boss, Dr Bassil Latif, who told them there were no mobile bioweapons factories. For 18 months after that they left me alone because they knew I was telling lies even though I never admitted it. Believe me, back then, I thought the whole thing was over for me.

“Then all of a sudden [in the run up to the 2003 invasion] they came back to me and started asking for more details about what I had told them. I still don’t know why the BND then passed on my information to the CIA and it ended up in Powell’s speech.”

Neocon lies, the self-fulfilling prophecies based on their lies, even the gullible rightwingers who still babble on about the necessity of regime change in Iraq based on these fearsome – and wholly non-existent – weapons of mass destruction need to have their foolishness turned on its head.

Creeps like Cheney and Rumsfeld still trundle about the political landscape making political hay and retirement income from their deceit. True Believers line up cash in hand to plight their fealty.

McDonald’s video helps coppers bust laptop theft ring

Last March, a group broke into military contractor iGov Technologies’ Tampa, Florida, warehouse, where about 3,000 laptops were being stored. While a gang of about 10 were loading the computers onto semi-trucks, police say, the ringleader, Rolando Coca, was caught on a nearby McDonald’s security camera, going through the drive-through.

“That’s really what this came down to,” said Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee.

During the day, witnesses had noticed a red Lincoln Navigator in the area. A canvassing of local businesses by investigators, uncovered the videotape of Coca, in the driver’s seat, ordering a meal at the Tampa McDonald’s.

Coca, an immigrant who came to the U.S. during the Mariel boatlift in 1980, was arrested in Miami, where about 1,900 of the laptops were being stored in a nearby abandoned warehouse in Opa Locka, Florida.

Police say they have bought back a handful of them in two sting operation, but about 1,000 remain on the street. “We continue to find these computers on Amazon and eBay,” said Sheriff David Gee…

The company, iGov Technologies, is a private contractor for U.S. Special Operations. They are classified as a top-secret facility supplying communications and computers to military forces. The laptops are heavy-duty, rugged computers that can be used by the military in extreme field conditions…

The computers are being sold on the street, on eBay and Amazon for 10-20% of normal retail. No one considered that unusual. Of course.