Here’s How One German Artist Turned the Tables on the Surveillance State

http://www.truthdig.com

Florian Freier embraced [the reality of living in a surveillance state] and turned it against Germany’s surveillance state in his project Cached Landscapes, using Google Maps to watch the watchers. The irony is he didn’t take the photos, or even the screenshots featured in his elaborate composite images. All of them were pulled from a subfolder holding a thumbnail cache of every web page he visits. It’s a fascinating yet unsettling look at observation and surveillance, proving that even when you’re spying on others, someone probably is spying on you…

Some time before beginning the project, Freier learned every time he visited a page or clicked around on a map online, his browser cached an image—something he discovered while digging through his hard drive. For Cached Landscapes, he did it intentionally, using Google Maps to explore sites believed to be key to German’s signals-intelligence (SIGINT) apparatus—US and German military bases, embassies and the like…

How Whole Foods Exploits Prison Labor

http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/how_whole_foods_exploits_prison_labor_20150718

The renowned “green capitalist” organic supermarket chain pays what are effectively indentured servants in the Colorado prison system a mere $1.50 per hour to farm organic tilapia.

Colorado prisons already grow 1.2 million pounds of tilapia a year, and government officials and their corporate companions are chomping at the bit to expand production.

Whole Foods also buys artisinal cheeses and milk cultivated by prisoners. The prison corporation Colorado Correctional Industries has created what Fortune describes as “a burgeoning $65 million business that employs 2,000 convicts at 17 facilities.”

The base pay of these prison workers is 60¢ per day. Whole Foods purchases cheeses from these prisons, which literally pay prison laborers mere pennies an hour, and subsequently marks up the price drastically…

So many profiting from the drug war…  it’s rather nauseating.

UCLA Health System reports data breach, millions affected

https://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/ucla-health-system-reports-data-breach-millions-affected-071715.html

UCLA Health is the latest healthcare organization to be hit by a data breach. The Los Angeles hospital and healthcare network says it discovered on May 5 that hackers had penetrated the parts of the UCLA Health system that contain personal information, like name, address, date of birth, social security number, medical record number, Medicare or health plan ID number, and some medical information (e.g., medical condition, medications, procedures, and test results).

UCLA said it notified the FBI but didn’t say why it took it took more than two months to notify the 4.5 million patients whose records may have been accessed…

Steps for Responding to Social Security Number Breach…

4. BE WARY OF PHISHING ATTEMPTS. If you get an email or call from someone claiming to be from Anthem and asking for your personal information, do not provide it. Scammers often take advantage of breaches by offering to help and actually seeking to steal your information. Check with Anthem through the phone number you usually use or one from the phone book, if you want to confirm that such a contact is legitimate.

Customer card data compromised at CVSphoto

https://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/customer-card-data-compromised-at-cvsphoto-071715.html

The pharmacy chain CVS took down its CVS Photo website today and replaced it with a warning that “customer credit card information collected by the independent vendor who manages and hosts CVSPhoto.com may have been compromised.”

The company is shutting down access to online and mobile photo services “as a precaution” while the investigation goes on.

Security expert Brian Krebs, who first called attention to the breach this morning, also noted that Walmart Canada discovered a similar breach in its online photo site last week.

The announcement on CVSphoto.com says that “Customer registrations related to online photo processing and CVSPhoto.com are completely separate from CVS.com and our pharmacies,” and that transactions in-store or at CVS.com don’t appear to be affected.

The company promises to offer updates as more information becomes available, and in the meantime, anyone seeking more information is invited to call 1-800-SHOP-CVS.

Specialty Pharmacies Proliferate, Along With Questions

http://www.pharmaciststeve.com/?p=11059

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/16/business/specialty-pharmacies-proliferate-along-with-questions.html?mwrsm=Facebook&_r=1

SINKING SPRING, Pa. — As the end of each month nears, Megan Short frets. Her 1-year-old daughter, Willow, cannot afford to miss even a single dose of a drug she takes daily to prevent her body from rejecting her transplanted heart.

Because of stringent rules from her drug plan and the pharmacy she is required to use, Ms. Short cannot order a refill until her monthly supply is three-quarters gone. Yet processing a refill takes about seven days, making it touch and go whether the new shipment will arrive before the old one runs out.

“You just feel like every month, you’re hoping that they don’t mess it up,” said Ms. Short, who lives in this town about 70 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

Ms. Short is not dealing with her corner drugstore but with a so-called specialty pharmacy, a new breed of drug dispensary…

But as specialty pharmacies proliferate, questions are emerging about their role and business practices.

Interviews with patients, patient advocates and doctors suggest that specialty pharmacies do not always live up to their billing. There can be onerous refill policies that require hours on the phone, shipments that are delayed or error-ridden, and difficulty reaching a pharmacist or other representatives.

Moreover, many patients are limited to one specialty pharmacy — often one owned by their insurer or pharmacy benefit manager and requiring delivery of drugs by mail. That leaves patients without options if they are dissatisfied…

Consumer Watchdog, a consumer advocate group, has sued four insurance companies over their policies of restricting the pharmacies that patients can use to obtain drugs for H.I.V. Three of the companies — Anthem Blue Cross of California, UnitedHealthcare and Aetna — have since changed their policies to provide more options for H.I.V. patients. The most recent of the lawsuits, against Cigna, was filed in April…

Federal prosecutors are seeking as much as $3.3 billion in a whistle-blower lawsuit against the drug maker Novartis…  Accredo, the specialty pharmacy owned by Express Scripts, agreed in April to pay $60 million to settle civil fraud charges in this matter…

Suicidal Thoughts aren’t About Death

http://brainhatesme.com/2015/07/13/suicidal-thoughts-arent-about-death/

I staunchly state that my suicidal thoughts are not about death, they are about not being able to cope with the things that are happening in my life, so I want that life to stop. I believe that it’s demeaning to essentially say that someone who is suicidal can’t cope so they decided to die.

A person who is suicidal can’t cope, so they decided to stop trying to cope.

If we change the way that we view suicide, we can change how suicidal people are treated by professionals and their family…

Need help? United States:  1 (800) 273-8255 FREE
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Website: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Study: Opioid Overdoses Often Occur at Low Doses

http://www.pharmaciststeve.com/?p=11050

http://www.painnewsnetwork.org/stories/2015/7/17/study-opioid-overdoses-often-occur-at-low-doses

Overdoses from opioid painkillers occur frequently in people who are taking relatively small doses of pain medication, according to a new study that has some experts calling for more restrictions on opioid prescribing.

Researchers at the University of Washington School of Public Health analyzed Medicaid data on opioid overdoses in Washington State between 2006 and 2010 – and found that many non-fatal overdoses didn’t fit the usual profile of a long term opioid user taking high doses of pain medication.

Less than half of those patients were “chronic users” who had been prescribed opioids for more than 90 days. And only 17% percent of the overdoses involved patients taking a high morphine-equivalent dose of over 120 mg per day — what is considered a “yellow flag” in Washington State for possible opioid abuse.

Surprisingly, nearly three out of ten (28%) patients who overdosed were taking a relatively low opioid dose of just 50 mg per day. Sedatives were involved in nearly half of the overdoses.
In 2007, Washington State adopted some of the toughest regulations in the country on opioid prescribing — guidelines that the researchers believe should be even more restrictive…

Based on the recommendations of this and other studies, Washington State’s Interagency Guideline on Prescribing Opioids for Pain was recently revised to caution doctors about prescribing opioids at any dose. The new guidelines extend to the treatment of acute pain, not just chronic pain. Physicians are also advised not to prescribe opioids unless their patients showed “clinically meaningful improvement” in physical function, in addition to pain relief…

More recent data suggest that the “epidemic” of painkiller abuse is abating. Hydrocodone prescriptions fell by 8% last year and it is no longer the most widely prescribed medication in the U.S. A recent report by a large national health insurer found that total opioid dispensing declined by 19% from 2010 to 2012 and the overdose rate dropped by 20 percent.

According to the National Institutes of Health, only about 5% of patients taking opioids as directed for a year end up with an addiction problem.

Wanna get your brain zapped?

http://www.medpagetoday.com/Blogs/CohensBrainBits/52640?xid=nl_mpt_DHE_2015-07-18&eun=g875301d0r

Tinnitus is one of the most common neurologic conditions, affecting 15% (45 million) of the U.S. population, according to the CDC. Commonly described as ringing in the ears, tinnitus can be any phantom sound, including roaring, hissing, or clicking.

Current treatments, including medications, hearing aids, sound therapy, behavioral therapy, and lifestyle modifications, have limited and inconsistent efficacy. As a result, 67% of those suffering from tinnitus report symptom duration of greater than a year, 26% have constant or near constant tinnitus, and 30% describe their condition as a “moderate” to “very big” problem in their lives…

The study looked at repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy for those suffering from chronic tinnitus. TMS works by inducing an electrical current within the brain corresponding to the rate of change in magnetic field produced by the magnetic coils within the TMS device.

Did you get that? Or do you have to be a physicist to understand what they’re talking about?

An increasing number of neurologic and psychiatric conditions are being studied for treatment response to TMS, and TMS is FDA-approved for the treatment of both migraine and depression. There are more than 10,000 studies looking at TMS as a treatment modality, and in 2014 they were being published at a rate of 24 papers per week.

Over the past few years, otolaryngology has jumped on the TMS bandwagon and numerous researchers have sought to determine whether repetitive TMS (rTMS) could be a viable treatment for tinnitus. Results have been rather mixed…

One of the biggest problems is measurement. Tinnitus is most commonly a subjective condition, making it very hard to compare severity between patients or measure change in severity within a patient. A number of tools have been developed to standardize assessment, measure disability, and evaluate treatment outcomes including the Tinnitus Handicap Inventory, Tinnitus Questionnaire, Tinnitus Severity Index, and Tinnitus Functional Index (TFI), among many others.

One problem of studies thus far has been the choice of test – some have chosen only one of these assessment tools, others have not used a test at all, relying on visual analogue scales or numeric rating scales to measure tinnitus severity…

The greatest reduction in TFI was at the 26-week point. The active rTMS group experienced a 30.8% reduction in TFI at 26 weeks compared with only a 7.1% reduction in TFI for the placebo group. However, other measurement tools did not demonstrate a significant change, suggesting that TFI may be a more reliable tool to assess treatment response than other modalities.

The jury is still out on rTMS as a treatment for chronic tinnitus, and larger sample sizes studied at multiple centers for longer periods of time will help sort out whether this option is really viable…

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/struck-living/201306/tms-or-ect-mental-health-consumer-weighs-the-options

First, a layperson’s explanation of each therapy might help. TMS uses magnetic coils to create electrical currents that stimulate the brain. A TMS patient will usually have 20-30 treatments. In the first treatment, the patient has a slightly longer session (1.5 hours approximately) followed by 5 days a week for 45 minutes per session. Dr. Oz did an episode on TMS…

On a sheer treatment basis, TMS is clearly less expensive than ECT. These prices vary by provider, but TMS is typically in the range of $400-500 per session for a total cost of about $15,000. ECT around $2,500 per session, $25,000 for ten sessions, plus the cost of one week hospital stay in some cases…

The most common side effects of TMS are scalp irritation or headaches, but these usually subside within the first week. With ECT, headaches and muscle aches often occur. Some complain of cognition issues up to one month after the last treatment. Typically short-term memory is impacted during this month period, but most patients feel functioning is back to normal within six weeks. Some patients complain of long-term loss of some autobiographical information, but these are in the minority. In my travels talking about my book, I have found people who claim their memory has improved with ECT…