Will new focus on rape kit tests put thousands behind bars?

http://krqe.com/2015/05/30/will-new-focus-on-rape-kit-tests-put-thousands-behind-bars/

The evidence piled up for years, abandoned in police property rooms, warehouses and crime labs. Now, thousands of sexual assault kits are giving up their secrets — and rapists who’ve long remained free may finally face justice.

A dramatic shift is now taking hold across the country as police and prosecutors scramble to process these kits, and use DNA matches to track down predators, many of whom have attacked more women while evidence of their crimes sat in storage…

It’s too soon to know how much testing will cost. But in some cases, it’s too late for justice because statutes of limitations have expired. In others, investigators will have to dig through old files and track down suspects and rape survivors. It’s an enormously time-consuming venture…

In resurrecting old crimes, investigators have detected an alarming pattern: Many rapists are repeat offenders who might have been stopped with a timely testing of sexual assault kits. In Wayne County, home to Detroit, authorities say 288 potential serial rapists have already been found among the kits analyzed…

New financial commitments, though, will help. President Barack Obama’s 2015 budget set aside $41 million to help reduce the backlog. Another $41 million has been proposed for the 2016 budget, along with $20 million for reforms…

Rebecca Campbell, a Michigan State University professor who has consulted and trained police departments, says officers often doesn’t understand trauma. “If a victim is very calm and quiet they think there’s no possible way she could have been raped,” she says.

Campbell was chief author of a recently released multi-year study that reviewed 1,595 untested sexual assault kits in Detroit. Her research, funded by the National Institute of Justice, found evidence of “police treating victims in dehumanizing ways.” Women were often assumed to be prostitutes, the study found, and adolescents frequently perceived as concocting stories to avoid getting in trouble…

https://painkills2.wordpress.com/2015/05/25/wheres-the-national-database-for-rape-kits/

Woman tosses Apple computer that turns out to be worth $200K

http://krqe.com/ap/woman-tosses-apple-computer-that-turns-out-to-be-worth-200k/

Victor Gichun of Clean Bay Area says the woman dropped off boxes of electronics that she had cleaned out from her garage after her husband died. She didn’t want a tax receipt or leave her contact information, and it wasn’t until a few weeks later that workers at the recycling center opened the boxes to discover an Apple I (one) computer inside. The San Jose Mercury News reports (http://bayareane.ws/1QiwrkE) it was one of only about 200 first-generation Apple computers made in 1976.

Gichun sold the computer to a private collection, and he wants to split the proceeds with the mystery donor.

FBI notifies crime labs of errors used in DNA match calculations since 1999

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/fbi-notifies-crime-labs-of-errors-used-in-dna-match-calculations-since-1999/2015/05/29/f04234fc-0591-11e5-8bda-c7b4e9a8f7ac_story.html

The FBI has notified crime labs across the country that it has discovered errors in data used by forensic scientists in thousands of cases to calculate the chances that DNA found at a crime scene matches a particular person, several people familiar with the issue said…

Thinking of you, Beau Biden

Biden announces death of son, Beau, of brain cancer

He was hospitalized earlier this month at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center…

http://www.aol.com/article/2015/05/30/biden-announces-death-of-son-beau-of-brain-cancer/21189152/?icid=maing-grid7%7Cmain5%7Cdl1%7Csec1_lnk2%26pLid%3D178882009

Can’t help but wonder if cannabis could have saved him…

(Photo taken 5/25/2015.)

Unum and ERISA

http://www.lawyersandsettlements.com/articles/first_unum/interview-unum-lawsuit-insurance-21-19924.html#.VWpc2M9Viko

Seattle, WA: For most Unum, or Unum Provident, policyholders, trying to comprehend the role ERISA plays in Unum denied disability claims is like groping in the dark. Disability attorney Chris Roy sheds some light…

Another major component of ERISA is it “only allows an insured to sue for back-benefits, interest, and, if successful, reasonable attorney fees and costs. ERISA does not allow recovery of incidental, consequential, or extra-contractual damages.”

“For instance, if you are denied LTD benefits, and, because of that denial you cannot pay for medical expenses, or if you can’t even pay for rent or food, those are incidental and consequential damages related to the denial,” says Roy, “and they are simply not recoverable under ERISA.” …

If you or a loved one have suffered losses in this case, please click the link below and your complaint will be sent to an insurance lawyer who may evaluate your Unum claim at no cost or obligation.

Unum Taking Advantage of a Federal Law

http://www.kantorlaw.net/News/Unum-Taking-Advantage-of-A-Federal-Law.aspx

At issue are cases such as that of Laurie Hindiyeh, who was forced to quite her job as controller of a real estate company because of an inner-ear ailment. For two years, the long-term disability coverage she had from Unum helped to offset her lost income. But then the checks stopped. Unum declared her fit for work, based in part on surveillance videotapes. It cut off her benefits about a year ago, she said…

Because she obtained coverage through her employer, her ability to contest Unum’s decision is sharply limited by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. The 1974 federal law, according to subsequent Supreme Court rulings, exempts employee benefits, such as disability insurance, from state regulation. As a result, Hindiyeh and thousands of similarly insured Americans are not covered by state consumer protection laws and are not entitled to take most claim disputes before a jury…

In fact, the insurance companies often are the only arbitrators of such disputes. Only after the insurer has denied an appeal are policyholders permitted to go to court, where they may receive a hearing before a judge. At that point, policyholders who fall under ERISA are still not entitled to compensatory or punitive damages, even if they prove the insurer knowingly cheated them out of benefits. All they may recover is the amount of the benefits in dispute, and the burden of proof is high. For a policyholder to win, a judge must conclude not only that the insurance company made the wrong decision but that is also acted in an arbitrary and capricious way.

“As a practical matter, you have lost all of your rights, ” said Ray Bourhis, a San Francisco lawyer who represents Hindlyeh. “You can’t even call the California Insurance department and ask them to investigate because they have no jurisdiction. You have nothing, and, as a result, you have no leverage.”

Bourhis and other insurance lawyers say they believe Unum has exploited the ERISA shield in its handling of employer-provided long-term disability coverage. Bourhis cited the insurer’s own internal memos, which he obtained in previous lawsuits, describing the company’s plans to use the federal rules to reduce its payouts to policyholders…

Few lawyers accept ERISA-related disability matters because even if they win, the awards usually are so small that they do not cover the cost of preparing the case…

Want to Feed the Homeless? That Will Be $400, Please

https://makingsenseofcrazy.wordpress.com/2015/05/30/activist-post-want-to-feed-the-homeless-that-will-be-400-please/

http://www.activistpost.com/2015/05/want-to-feed-homeless-that-will-be-400.html

Luke Rudkowski of We Are Change recently visited Los Angeles, California to talk to Cloud 9, which is a non-profit organization that has been helping the homeless. Because no good deed goes unpunished, Cloud 9 recently had the government show up at a charity event and demand they pay over $400 for a permit in order to continue their work…

In April 2015, the LA Times reported that the city of Los Angeles spends roughly 100 million a year on homelessness, with a majority of that money going to the LAPD:

Almost 15,000 people the LAPD arrested in 2013 were homeless, or 14% of those arrested, according to the report from the city administrative office. Labor costs for the arrests were estimated between $46 million and $80 million.

If homeless people sleeping in their cars and vans fail to move along, police sometimes impound their cars, another lengthy procedure…

Medicaid is coming for your pain doctor

http://www.pharmaciststeve.com/?p=10365

Occupy Human Rights, on May 14, 2015 at 4:11 am said:

The motivation for this concern is totally because of the also minuscule amounts of fraud and waste in federally funded programs. If they’d like to stop fraud and waste I suggest they start with Wall Street and Congress and not poor folks in pain of whom the vast majority wouldn’t want to run out of meds. I was prescribed Oxy for 6-7 years on Mefixaids dime and when the state and federal govt decided they could no longer afford to pay for brand name narcs for poor folks, that’s when they started scrutinizing our doctors and us, supposedly for our and the public good when it’s all $ motivated…

Some days are better than most but if they would pay for the meds they once did (or hey at least not blackball me with patient assistance, eh?) the last 4 years of my life wouldn’t have been spent primarily in my bed using my PC to distract me from my mismanaged pain which my current doc initially agreed wholeheartedly with me, that it was discrimination and that if you have private insurance or the ability to self-pay that you have no problem with ANY yet, strangely, ever since I filed an appeal with Medicaid to try and get the right meds paid for and was denied, my doc has come under scrutiny…

Medicare is coming for your pain meds

http://www.pharmaciststeve.com/?p=10365

Last year, the Pharmacy Quality Alliance (PQA) identified opioid abuse as a high priority area for measure development…

The PQA opioid measures are intended for health plans to “examine the quality of use related to the dose of the medications over time, access to the medications, and the combination of both of these criteria.” The denominator for all three measures includes individuals with two or more prescription claims for opioids filled on at least two separate days in a twelve month period with a total equal to or greater than a fifteen day supply. The numerators of these measures correlate to inappropriate medication use, poor care-coordination, or doctor shopping.

Two or more prescriptions for opioids in a 12-month period — my god, how many millions of pain patients would that include?

According to the 2016 Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Call Letter released in April, these PQA measures may be adopted as future display measures in the Medicare Star Rating System or used in the Overutilization Monitoring System (OMS)…

http://www.pharmaciststeve.com/?p=10358

Each PQA member organization will have the opportunity to vote on the endorsement of three new performance measures on May 14th at the PQA Annual Meeting.

1. Use of Opioids at High Dosage in Persons Without Cancer
2. Use of Opioids from Multiple Providers in Persons Without Cancer
3. Use of Opioids at High Dosage and from Multiple Providers in Persons Without Cancer

It appears that no matter what painful medical condition you suffer from, if it’s not cancer, it doesn’t count.

http://pqaalliance.org/membership/organizations.asp

PQA Member Organizations (partial list):

University of New Mexico College of Pharmacy

Cardinal Health
CVS Health
Publix Super Markets, Inc
Rite Aid
Safeway, Inc.
Target
The Kroger Co.
United Drugs
Walgreen Co.
Walmart

Aetna
Anthem
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina
Cigna-HealthSpring
Florida Blue
Humana
UnitedHealth Group
Wellcare

Kaiser Permanente

Allergan
AstraZeneca LP
Bristol-Myers Squibb
GlaxoSmithKline
Johnson & Johnson
Lilly USA
Merck & Co.
Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation
Pfizer, Inc.
Purdue Pharma, L.P.

Express Scripts, Inc. 

American Pharmacists Association (APhA)

Brookings Institution

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)

U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA)

Glad I don’t live in Texas anymore

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/29/texas-handgun-open-carry-_n_7473344.html

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas lawmakers on Friday approved carrying handguns openly on the streets of the nation’s second most-populous state, sending the bill to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who immediately promised to sign it and reverse a ban dating to the post-Civil War era…

Concealed handgun license holders are even allowed to skip the metal detectors at the state Capitol, as state troopers providing security assume they’re armed…

Hacking The Nervous System

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/29/hacking-the-nervous-syste_n_7469526.html

Operating far below the level of our conscious minds, the vagus nerve is vital for keeping our bodies healthy. It is an essential part of the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for calming organs after the stressed ‘fight-or-flight’ adrenaline response to danger. Not all vagus nerves are the same, however: some people have stronger vagus activity, which means their bodies can relax faster after a stress…

Other patients on the trial had similar transformative experiences. The results are still being prepared for publication but Tak says more than half of the patients showed significant improvement and around one-third are in remission – in effect cured of their rheumatoid arthritis. Sixteen of the 20 patients on the trial not only felt better, but measures of inflammation in their blood also went down. Some are now entirely drug-free. Even those who have not experienced clinically significant improvements with the implant insist it helps them; nobody wants it removed…

When pain is caused by inflammation, like in autoimmune conditions, this treatment looks promising.  Something like this won’t help me, but I think it may help those who suffer from fibromyalgia. Unfortunately, I’m sure it’s expensive.  Still, it signifies hope, which is always a good thing.