Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sebelius Says Amnesty Needed to Increase ObamaCare Enrollment


Speaking Thursday at an event in Philadelphia, hosted by a Latino community service group, Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius revealed that the success of ObamaCare is dependent upon the passage of comprehensive immigration reform and amnesty.

Susan Jones at CNS News reported Friday that, when asked if the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) will help “undocumented individuals,” Sebelius responded that it would not, and that this is the reason why immigration reform is so important.

"Well, the (Obamacare) bill is crafted in such a way that those who are undocumented will not have access to the tax credits or shopping in the (health insurance) marketplace,” Sebelius told Latinos at an event sponsored by Congreso. “That has been limited, which is, frankly, why -- another very keen reason why we need comprehensive immigration reform." 
Sebelius went on to say, “Unfortunately, you can’t fix – we won’t fix the immigration system, unfortunately, through the health care bill, but I think having the immigration bill that passed the Senate, pass the House, would be a huge step.”
The immigration bill that passed the Senate would allow at least 11 million illegal immigrants a path to citizenship. First, however, they would gain provisional legal status. 
According to CNS News, Sebelius recommended that, until illegal immigrants can access ObamaCare, they continue to obtain medical care at community health centers where they will find federally funded, “culturally competent” health care providers “who actually speak the language and can reach out to a neighborhood.

Sebelius also announced that the Obama administration has doubled the size of the Public Health Service Corps, “which, to me, is one of the great, well-kept secrets in America. It’s like the Peace Corps for health workers,” she said.

“If you agree to serve in an underserved area, the federal government helps pay off the student loans and debt that a lot of health professionals carry,” Sebelius explained. “And what we find is that when people actually take up service in the National Health Service Corps, they stay in the communities that they are serving long beyond their assignments. So there will be continued access for undocumented.”
When Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter was also asked about “dealing with folks who may not have all their documentation in order,” he also indicated that illegal immigrants already have access to health care in this country.
“Even through the worst of the recession, we did everything we possibly could to minimize any negative impact on our health centers,” Nutter said. “We have eight health centers across the City of Philadelphia, and they were last, last, last on any list to get any reductions, although we made cuts all over the city government.”
The mayor also announced that he had signed an executive order that directed city government workers “that you cannot deny someone service…just because you may be in an undocumented status.”
“And I signed that executive order specifically to make sure that while folks are trying to deal with their paperwork and dealing with immigration and all those folks over there at the federal side, that’s not our responsibility,” Nutter added. “Our responsibility is to provide service. Anyone who shows up, who’s in this city (applause) and so folks – and so people should continue to come, certainly, to our health centers.”
Nutter further said that Philadelphia is “doing our best in trying to provide services to folks, notwithstanding any language challenges, documentation status. If you are here, it is our job to try to provide the best, high-quality service and care that we can as a local government. That’s our commitment.”
Sebelius said that Latinos comprise about 25 percent of individuals who are eligible for new coverage in the exchanges.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Brain supplements

Said to be an energizer:



For cognitive enhancement:


For adrenal recovery, stops headaches:

For sleep, calm:

More about the company:



Obama aware of Merkel spying since 2010: German media


Berlin (AFP) - US President Barack Obama was personally informed of mobile phone tapping against German Chancellor Angela Merkel, which may have begun as early as 2002, German media reported Sunday as a damaging espionage scandal widened.

Bild am Sonntag newspaper quoted US intelligence sources as saying that National Security Agency chief Keith Alexander had briefed Obama on the operation against Merkel in 2010.

"Obama did not halt the operation but rather let it continue," the newspaper quoted a high-ranking NSA official as saying.

News weekly Der Spiegel reported that leaked NSA documents showed that Merkel's phone had appeared on a list of spying targets since 2002, and was still under surveillance shortly before Obama visited Berlin in June.

As a sense of betrayal spread in many world capitals allegedly targeted by the NSA, the spying row prompted European leaders late last week to demand a new deal with Washington on intelligence gathering that would maintain an essential alliance while keeping the fight against terrorism on track.
Germany will send its own spy chiefs to Washington soon to demand answers.
Meanwhile, several thousand protesters gathered in Washington on Saturday to call for new US legislation to curb the NSA's activities and improve privacy.

Merkel confronted Obama with the snooping allegations in a phone call on Wednesday saying that such spying would be a "breach of trust" between international partners.

The suspicion also prompted Berlin to summon the US ambassador -- a highly unusual move between the close allies.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung reported that Obama had told Merkel during their call that he had been unaware of any spying against her. It did not cite its sources.
Der Spiegel said he told her that if he had been informed of the operation he would have stopped it at once.
Other media reports said that Obama's National Security Advisor Susan Rice had also told German officials the president knew nothing of the spying.

Merkel's office declined to comment on what Obama told her during their talk.
The White House has said it is not monitoring Merkel's phone calls and will not do so in future, but it has refused to say whether the United States has ever spied on her in the past.

Two phones monitored

Bild am Sonntag said that Obama wanted to be informed in detail about Merkel, who has played a decisive role in the eurozone debt crisis and is widely seen as Europe's most powerful leader.
As a result, the report said, the NSA stepped up its surveillance of her communications, targeting not only the mobile phone she uses to conduct business for her conservative Christian Democratic Union party but also her encrypted official device.

It said US intelligence specialists were then able to monitor the content of her conversations as well as text messages, which Merkel sends by the dozen each day to key associates.

Bild said only the specially secured land line in her office was out of the reach of US spies.
The intelligence gathered was forwarded straight to the White House, without bypassing the NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland, according to the report.

Bild and Spiegel described a hive of spy activity on the fourth floor of the US embassy in central Berlin, a stone's throw from the government quarter, from which the United States kept tabs on Merkel and other German officials.

If the spying against Merkel began as early as 2002, it would mean the United States under then president George W. Bush targeted her while she was still the country's chief opposition leader, three years before she became chancellor.

Bild said that Merkel's predecessor Gerhard Schroeder was also in the NSA's sights because of his vocal opposition to the US invasion of Iraq.

Bush was also mistrustful of the Social Democrat because of his close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the report added.

As anger simmered in Berlin over the alleged NSA action, Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich sharpened his tone against Washington.

"Surveillance is a crime and those responsible must be brought to justice," he told Bild am Sonntag.
A poll for the newspaper found that 76 percent of Germans believe Obama should apologise for the alleged spying on Merkel, and 60 percent said the scandal had damaged or badly damaged German-US ties.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Michelle Obama’s Princeton classmate is executive at company that built Obamacare website

Smells a lot like Haliburton ...


First Lady Michelle Obama’s Princeton classmate is a top executive at the company that earned the contract to build the failed Obamacare website.

Toni Townes-Whitley, Princeton class of ’85, is senior vice president at CGI Federal, which earned the no-bid contract to build the $678 million Obamacare enrollment website at Healthcare.gov. CGI Federal is the U.S. arm of a Canadian company.

Townes-Whitley and her Princeton classmate Michelle Obama are both members of the Association of Black Princeton Alumni.

Toni Townes ’85 is a onetime policy analyst with the General Accounting Office and previously served in the Peace Corps in Gabon, West Africa. Her decision to return to work, as an African-American woman, after six years of raising kids was applauded by a Princeton alumni publication in 1998.

George Schindler, the president for U.S. and Canada of the Canadian-based CGI Group, CGI Federal’s parent company, became an Obama 2012 campaign donor after his company gained the Obamacare website contract.

As reported by the Washington Examiner in early October, the Department of Health and Human Services reviewed only CGI’s bid for the Obamacare account. CGI was one of 16 companies qualified under the Bush administration to provide certain tech services to the federal government. A senior vice president for the company testified this week before The House Committee on Energy and Commerce that four companies submitted bids, but did not name those companies or explain why only CGI’s bid was considered.

On the government end, construction of the disastrous Healthcare.gov website was overseen by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a division of longtime failed website-builder Kathleen Sebelius’ Department of Health and Human Services.

Update: The Daily Caller repeatedly contacted CGI Federal for comment. After publication of this article, the company responded that there would be “nothing coming out of CGI for the record or otherwise today.” The company did however insist that The Daily Caller include a reference to vice president Cheryl Campbell’s House testimony. This has been included as a courtesy to the company.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Mozilla's Lightbeam tool will expose who is looking over your shoulder on the web


Adam Sherwin
Just who is looking over your shoulder when you browse the Internet? Tomorrow, web users will be given a new tool to shine a light on the commercial organisations which track your every movement online.

Lightbeam, a download produced by Mozilla, the US free software community behind the popular Firefox browser, claims to be a “watershed” moment in the battle for web transparency.
Everyone who browses the Internet leaves a digital trail used by advertisers to discover what your interests are.

Users who activate Lightbeam will be able to see a real-time visualisation of every site they visit and every third-party that is active on those sites, including commercial organisations which might potentially be sharing your data.

Mozilla wants users who install the Lightbeam add-on to Firefox, to crowd-source their data, to produce the first “big picture” view of web tracking, revealing which third-parties are most active.
Lightbeam promises a “Wizard of Oz” moment for the web, “where users collectively provide a way to pull back the curtains to see its inner workings,” Mozilla claimed.

Mark Surman, Mozilla’s executive director, said: “It’s a stake in the ground in terms of letting people know the ways they are being tracked. At Mozilla, we believe everyone should be in control of their user data and privacy and we want people to make informed decisions about their Web experience.”
Mozilla already offers users the ability to disable “cookies” - small files that download from websites onto a computer, allowing advertisers to target users based on their online activity – an option taken up by 18 per cent of UK Firefox users.

Lightbeam will reveal the source of the third-party adverts, scripts and images stored on a web page which are linked to servers in other domains. An expanding graph visualises the interactions between the sites a user intentionally visits and the third parties which may not be welcome.

Mozilla has come under “tremendous pressure” from trade bodies over its mission to bring transparency to the web, said Alex Fowler, the company’s Privacy Officer.

The software company said it was responding to increased privacy concerns following the revelation that the US National Security Agency (NSA) had tapped directly into the servers of Internet firms including Facebook, to track online communication in a surveillance programme.

Firefox released a security upgrade after it emerged that the NSA was exploiting vulnerabilities in the browser to gain access to computers using Tor, a sophisticated anonymity tool.

But Mozilla insisted that Lightbeam itself will not compromise the privacy of users who agree to upload and share data. Lightbeam will not log IP addresses, the information will be aggregated anonymously and the software can be uninstalled, Mr Surman promised.

Lightbeam initially will only be available for desktop browsers. Apple has reportedly rejected from its store apps by developers which incorporate “cookie tracking” technology. “The whole mobile environment is closed,” Mr Surman said. “You have to go through Google and Apple for apps.”
Mozilla, which is developing its own tablet, Mr Surman disclosed, is hosting its UK Mozfest this weekend, a brain-storming “hack”, attended by 1,400 people.

Mr Surman said: “Our focus in on building a web based on openness and transparency. Our dream is a world where people know more about how the web works and take control of their lives online. We need a posse of people to get involved and make that happen.”

He accepted that some cookies can help consumers navigate sites by providing content relevant to the user but said it was important that tracking happens with a person’s knowledge.

Lightbeam is released ahead of “Stop Watching Us,” a “rally against mass surveillance” in response to the Snowden revelations, which will be held in Washington D.C. on Saturday.

Friday, October 11, 2013

What a caricature: Jared Remy

Hollywood could hardly top this with a Batman or Dick Tracy villian, but compare this guy's mug to the "Gashouse Gorillas" player in the Baseball Bugs cartoon below and we have a winner. Photographer, Mark Garfinkel should be proud of capturing this perfect moment.

Note the head scar and neck tattoo:

Online system may ID mental health disorders


By C. E. Huggins
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - An Internet-based system could be a useful tool for screening adults for mental health disorders and giving preliminary diagnoses, according to a new Dutch study.
This eDiagnostics system is already used in primary care practices in The Netherlands, the researchers say, but nowhere else, and more study is needed to determine if it is reliable, valid and cost-effective.

"Using the Internet to diagnose mental health problems in primary care seems very promising," writes lead author Ies Dijksman and colleagues from Maastricht University.
"The great advantage of an electronic system is that patients can complete diagnostic tests at home," Dijksman told Reuters Health in an email, adding that people may be quicker to reveal themselves over the Internet and provide genuine responses to questions because of their perceived anonymity.
"This could lead to a more accurate information collection process compared to conventional clinical interviews," Dijksman said.

Yet conventional interviews may still have a place in primary care, since the complete use of Internet-based activity may present some "unforeseen obstacles," the researcher said. "For example, there are no visual cues to guide the physician."

Dr. Eric Bender, who was not involved in Dijksman's study, also noted the importance of visual cues. "Someone may say, ‘I'm feeling fine,' but they may look like they're on the verge of tears," he told Reuters Health. He also questioned whether the use of an Internet-based tool may inadvertently cause a delay in diagnosis of mental health disorders among the elderly and people who are not computer literate.

"As a clinical provider, I want to see people," said Bender, a private-practice child/adolescent, adult and forensic psychiatrist who also works as a staff psychiatrist at the University of California, San Francisco. "I think it's critical to see patients," he said.

For their study Dijksman and her colleagues surveyed general practitioners (GPs), practice nurses (PNs) and adult patients about their experiences with TelePsy, an eDiagnostic system that was introduced into primary care practices in The Netherlands in September 2011.

In The Netherlands - similar to the UK, Spain and some managed care plans in the U.S. - patients who desire to see a specialist health care provider must first visit a primary care provider for a referral. TelePsy assists those doctors and nurse practitioners in identifying symptoms and potential causes of psychological problems and gives advice about a patient's need for referral to specialty care.
After an initial referral from the primary care provider, the eDiagnostics process requires patients to complete a questionnaire. The profile created from those responses is reviewed by a TelePsy psychologist who then does a telephone consultation with the patient, and afterward prepares a report that is submitted back to the primary care provider.

The report includes a preliminary diagnosis based on the standard psychiatric diagnostic manual, DSM-IV, and provides advice on whether the patient should be referred to mental health care and the extent of care required - primary, secondary or tertiary, with tertiary indicating a need for inpatient psychiatric treatment.

The most common diagnoses identified via TelePsy were mood disorders, including depression and anxiety, Dijksman and colleagues report. Other less-common diagnoses included suspicion of a personality disorder, substance abuse disorder and developmental disorder.
Overall, the 242 patients surveyed said they were generally "quite satisfied" with the TelePsy system and were neutral about whether they would prefer a face-to-face consultation with a psychologist over the computerized system.

The 49 doctors and nurse practitioners surveyed in the study were very satisfied with the TelePsy system as well. They also tended to agree with the diagnoses suggested by the eHealth system and the referral advice given, the researchers note in the journal Family Practice.

There were some differences in the decisions made by the program and the doctors, however. For instance, the TelePsy system suggested patient referral to more serious secondary-level mental health care about half of the time, compared to primary care providers who arrived at that conclusion about a third of the time.

"In our view the disagreement between the system and the GPs is a positive result of our study," Dijksman said. "If the system would give the same results as the GPs expectations, the system would not have additional value."

If further studies show TelePsy to be "valid and reliable, it could be a useful tool," for use outside The Netherlands, Bender said, adding that it could be helpful in the early detection of mental health disorders. Still, "I wouldn't want it to take the place of a clinical interview," he said.

SOURCE: http://bit.ly/1adf7be Family Practice, September 2013.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Seven rules to stop your phone taking over your life


How often do you check your phone when you’re out and about? I’ve been reflecting on this question while writing in a rented cottage in Scotland, without internet access or phone signal. I counted the number of times my hand twitches towards my pocket, where a smartphone usually nestles. The tally was at least once an hour.

These frequent little checks of personal devices are known among human-computer interface researchers as “micro-interactions” – rapid glances at email, social media and apps, often lasting only a few seconds.

If it’s disconcerting that checking my smartphone has become a habit, there’s a particular irony for me: for the last few months, I’ve been involved in a project to design a “code of conduct” for smartphone usage on Australia’s Sunshine Coast. The code comes in seven parts, and aims to help holidaymakers stop their smartphones taking over time they’ve set aside for leisure, each other and the place they’re in. Behind it, though, lies something that applies to us all: the need for new etiquettes in an era where shared notions of acceptable behaviour lag years, if not decades, behind the tools we’ve incorporated into our lives.

Here, then, are seven “smarter smartphone” rules, designed to stop technology getting in the way of other experiences.

Talk now, text later
Or tweet later. Or email later. The list goes on. The thinking behind this is simple enough. Courtesy of the magic screens in our pockets, we can do almost anything online, anywhere, at any time. And so we do – failing along the way to put boundaries around leisure and pleasure, meals and sleep, vacations and intimate moments. We gorge ourselves on digital delights, and obligations, and somewhere along the way fail to savour who or what is right in front of us. Which leads on to…

Take a phone-free day

There’s an uneasy edge to this challenge: shouldn’t we simply learn self-control? Every device has an off button, after all. Yet we can be peculiarly unwilling to use it - a tendency captured in the delightful acronym FOMO, or Fear Of Missing Out. How can we resist the continual dopamine hits of someone “liking” our status, replying to our messages, or retweeting us?

Our conscious minds have a limited capacity for high-quality decision-making, and guard it jealously.  As author Charles Duhigg put it in his 2012 book The Power of Habit, “most of the choices we make every day may feel like the products of well-considered decision making, but they’re not.” We decide once to keep our mobile phone switched on and fitted snugly into our pocket - and then our initial choice vanishes, sliding instead towards something automatic. Habits are those actions where life has crept under our skin and become a part of us.

So, break the routine – and make your habits visible once again. Perhaps the best way is to leave your phone on the bedside table for the day, but you might also try a technique I discovered by accident while travelling: engage “airplane mode”, and breathe in a blissful few uncontactable hours.

Or, of course, you can take a more extreme approach. Take the method employed by author Evgeny Morozov, who routinely locks his digital devices inside a safe with a timer. He even claims to place his screwdrivers inside as well, which prevents him prising the safe open in a moment of weakness.

Avoid being a search-it-all
In other words, forgo maps, search engines, and review websites once in a while – and embrace serendipity instead.

If you must use your phone to explore your surroundings, consider one of various apps that encourage chance discoveries. Plug in a destination to the (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) app Serendipitor, for example, and it will give you directions that encourage wandering rather than speed, or even instructions such as “follow that car”.

Consider how many conversations and encounters might never have taken place if every question in history had been answered by one person staring at a private screen. Getting a little lost and relinquishing control – both literally and metaphorically – is the perfect way to find new questions you didn’t even know you wanted to ask.

Elbows and phones off the table
I’ve written elsewhere about the habit of “phubbing”: snubbing other people by ignoring them and paying attention to your mobile phone instead. It’s a word that caught the world’s attention for a reason: because of a rising desire to push back against the social consequences of indiscriminate, and undiscriminating, technological immersion.

Nowhere does the rudeness of phubbing matter more than the dinner table, where the idea of good manners arguably began. If there’s a difference between dining and merely ingesting calories, it’s this sense of occasion – and of something owed in gratitude and pleasure to those we’re sharing it with.

With recent studies suggesting that simply leaving your phone on display while dining breeds a host of negative feelings in those around you, it may pay more than you realize to keep your tech out of sight and mind.

Look before you snap
We are, the philosopher Aristotle argued, what we repeatedly do. Among other things, we are people who take pictures on their phones a lot. This is fine - just ask my new-born son’s doting grandparents. Yet we need to recognize that living life through a lens can damage the very things we’re aiming to capture.

Take my most recent experiences of a gig, which consisted almost exclusively of watching the band refracted through the tiny screens of a thousand smartphones held aloft. Musicians, too, have baulked at this practice: in April, the band Yeah Yeah Yeahs posted a sign asking fans to pocket their phones during their performance.

As the filmmaker Sofia Coppola put it earlier this year, it can feel like “living does not count unless you are documenting it.” Yet the very act of mediation substitutes something prefabricated for the process of laying down and living with a memory.

I treasure the video and images I took around my son’s birth. But I treasure them because they point me towards something else: the experiences I lived, intensely and entirely, in those moments.

Taste before you upload

Sometimes, digital technologies treat us like something a little less than human: as merely eyeballs staring at screens and fingers clicking on buttons. But no matter how many geeks may dream of being uploaded into the Matrix, we remain embodied beings. We exist in particular places at particular times – and we can only make the most of our moments by giving full expression to the gamut of our senses.

Before you share that Instagram snap, then, make sure you pause, taste, breathe the air deeply, fix the present moment as fully as your physical presence permits – and only then give vent to whatever two-dimensional representation of the experience takes your fancy.

As the computer scientist and philosopher Jaron Lanier has pointed out, sensory measures such as taste and aroma are neglected by almost all digital technologies – together with every other quantity that a programmer hasn’t expressly set out to include in their algorithms. This is how our tools work; but it can also breed a fundamental forgetfulness that, if we’re not careful, causes us to count the value only of those things our screens themselves can measure.

Kiss your phone goodnight

Lying on the pillow, it’s tempting to pick your phone up one last time. Yet prepare for your sleep to be disrupted. Why? The screens on electronic devices emit blue light, which your brain associates with daylight. Exposure plays havoc with your body clock, while stimulation – just one more link, tweet, email or text – does the same to your much-abused attention span. You can forget the joys of reverie, too, and the licence that comes with letting your mind wander.

And that’s before we get onto the more intimate possibilities of bedroom time. For the author DH Lawrence, one of modernity’s worst tendencies was to put “sex in the head instead of down where it belongs” – something that surely counts double for glowing screens and late-night games of Candy Crush Saga.

A code of conduct can’t solve every problem. But it can help us to break out of half-acknowledged habits – and to remember that moments well spent are quite different from time merely filled. As the British author Tim Harford concisely puts it, “smartphones are habit-forming, so think about the habits you want to form.”

In Scotland, meanwhile, my useless phone now rests inert on a chest of drawers. In the absence of physical contact, the pangs of internet cold turkey are starting to ease. I’ll need to pick it up soon, though. I’m off for a brisk walk up a hill where, if I’m unlucky, several days' worth of emails will be waiting at the top.

Do you agree? Would you add your own rules? To comment on this article or anything else you have seen on Future, head over to our Facebook page or message us on Twitter.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

My corpus callosum hangs to the right...

Einstein’s Corpus Callosum Explains His Genius-Level Intellect


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Sinead O'Connor's open letter to Miley Cyrus: Cool or Not Cool?

Here's the story:


So, is this cool or not cool?

Cool to send her a message about self respect, maybe too extreme in that no doubt, sex appeal is part of the picture, but should not be muted to a point of turning into Sinead O'Connor who was certainly pretty as a young woman, and I believe that was a factor of her success. I wonder if Sinead ever launched criticism at Madonna, or if that would have made her look jealous to be critical of her contemporary, and certainly Madonna wasn't coerced into putting her hand down the pants of Marky Mark Wahlberg or whoever it was. Ah, thanks to wiki, here's a little tid-bit about O'Connor vs. Madonna. Guess she didn't really dress down Madonna about being too oversexy (how could she, Madonna dresses herself down):


In November 1991, a year prior to the incident, O'Connor had told Spin Magazine:
Madonna is probably the hugest role model for women in America. There's a woman who people look up to as being a woman who campaigns for women's rights. A woman who in an abusive way towards me, said that I look like I had a run in with a lawnmower and that I was about as sexy as a Venetian blind. Now there's the woman that America looks up to as being a campaigner for women, slagging off another woman for not being sexy.[63]
Maybe also cool that Sinead chooses to send this statement as an open letter for the benefit of other women and as an opportunity to expose the direction of the industry. But maybe it would have been more sincere, personal and effective as a private letter to Miley, and less a podium. She could always follow up with an editorial addressing the issue and I'm sure she'd get heard, but this is likely far more newsworthy and attention-getting for spreading the cause, and possibly a way to affect Miley, so I wouldn't insist it wasn't a worthy gesture. But, I wonder if the embarrassment will overcome the encouragement and cause rebellion. Thankfully she anchored the message with praise and recognition of her talent.

I vote 'Pretty cool'. One has to keep it in context - after all, it's Sinead O'Connor, not Tipper Gore.

Related:  Britney: 'A lot of sex goes into what I do' 
Britney says she feels pressured to be super risque; her camp says otherwise.