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Halfway Houses Prove Lucrative to Those at Top

Published: December 29, 2012

The Kintock Group, the second-largest operator of halfway houses in New Jersey, is a nonprofit agency that is financed almost entirely by government contracts. But it is run like a well-heeled family business.

Kintock paid its founder, David D. Fawkner, roughly $7 million in salary and benefits over the past decade, according to federal disclosure records. Mr. Fawkner’s daughter, brother-in-law and son-in-law altogether received more than $2.5 million during that period, the records show.

The nonprofit agency hired the brother-in-law as a consultant even though he has no corrections experience and lives in California. And it employed the son-in-law to run a subsidiary unrelated to its mission: duplicating DVDs and other electronic media.

New Jersey has disbursed more than half a billion dollars to nonprofit groups over the past decade to run halfway houses, which handle thousands of state and county inmates annually. But regulators have often failed to scrutinize how that money has been spent, especially by the two nonprofit groups that run most of the facilities in the state, according to an examination by The New York Times.

dude's just the picture of 'respectability'

Speaker Boehner spotted 'having a good time' downing margaritas hours after WH meeting

In the midst of a grueling, final-hour push by Congress to rescue the economy from the looming fiscal cliff, House Speaker John Boehner sought brief reprieve with an evening of margaritas and Mexican fare in Arlington, a source told Mail Online.

Dressed in a festive, bright red sweater, a cheery Boehner arrived through a side door at Guapo's in Shirlington around 7:15 p.m. Friday - about three hours after he left stone-faced from a meeting at the White House with other congressional leaders and President Obama - according to a diner who happened to arrive at the restaurant around the same time.

Accompanying Boehner to his table Friday were about six men - all security detail - who stood behind him for about 30 seconds and then sat down at a table nearby, said the diner, who works in government and said she wished to remain anonymous.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2254731/Having-good-time-Boehner-goes-post-White-House-margaritas-Mexican-fare-Arlington.html

Drug goes from $50/vial to $28,000/vial. Best Healthcare in the world, Baby!

Published: December 29, 2012

THE doctor was dumbfounded: a drug that used to cost $50 was now selling for $28,000 for a 5-milliter vial.

The physician, Dr. Ladislas Lazaro IV, remembered occasionally prescribing this anti-inflammatory, named H.P. Acthar Gel, for gout back in the early 1990s. Then the drug seemed to fade from view. Dr. Lazaro had all but forgotten about it, until a sales representative from a company called Questcor Pharmaceuticals appeared at his office and suggested that he try it for various rheumatologic conditions.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Dr. Lazaro, a rheumatologist in Lafayette, La., says of the price increase.

How the price of this drug rose so far, so fast is a story for these troubled times in American health care — a tale of aggressive marketing, questionable medicine and, not least, out-of-control costs. At the center of it is Questcor, which turned the once-obscure Acthar into a hugely profitable wonder drug and itself into one of Wall Street’s highest fliers.

At least until recently, that is. Now some doctors, insurance companies and investors are beginning to have doubts about whether the drug is really any better than much cheaper alternatives. Short-sellers have written scathing criticisms of the company, questioning its marketing tactics and predicting that its shareholders are highly vulnerable.


Blood. Sucking. Leeches.

Woman Accused of Hate-Crime Murder in Subway Push

Published: December 29, 2012

A 31-year-old woman was arrested on Saturday and charged with a hate crime in connection with the death of a man who was pushed onto the tracks of an elevated subway station in Queens and crushed by an oncoming train.

The woman, Erika Menendez of the Bronx, has been charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime, Richard A. Brown, the Queens district attorney, said.

“The defendant is accused of committing what is every subway commuter’s nightmare,” Mr. Brown said in an interview. “Being suddenly and senselessly pushed into the path of an oncoming train.”

In a statement released by the district attorney’s office, Mr. Brown quoted Ms. Menendez, “in sum and substance,” as having told the police: “I pushed a Muslim off the train tracks because I hate Hindus and Muslims ever since 2001 when they put down the twin towers I’ve been beating them up.” Ms. Menendez conflated the Muslim and Hindu faiths in her comments to the police and in her target for attack, officials said.


The fox-washed minions are following their instructions a bit too literally, it seems.

French Panel Overturns 75 Percent Tax on the Very Rich

PARIS (AP) — Embattled French President Francois Hollande suffered a fresh setback Saturday when France's highest court threw out a plan to tax the ultrawealthy at a 75 percent rate, saying it was unfair.

In a stinging rebuke to one of Socialist Hollande's flagship campaign promises, the constitutional council ruled Saturday that the way the highly contentious tax was designed was unconstitutional. It was intended to hit incomes over €1 million ($1.32 million).

The largely symbolic measure would have only hit a tiny number of taxpayers and brought in an estimated €100 million to €300 million - an insignificant amount in the context of France's roughtly €85 billion deficit.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault was quick to respond, saying in a statement following the decision the government would resubmit the measure to take the court's concerns into account. The court's ruling took issue not with the size of the tax, but with the way it discriminated between households depending on how incomes were distributed among its members. A household with two earners each making under €1 million would be exempt from the tax, while one with one earner making €1.2 million would have to pay.


Toon that pretty much sums up the situation in Washington

Webster, N.Y., sniper's ex-neighbor charged with buying him guns

By Richard A. Serrano, Washington Bureau
December 28, 2012, 5:21 p.m.
WASHINGTON — A former neighbor of the Webster, N.Y., sniper who killed two volunteer firefighters on Christmas Eve illegally bought the guns used in the killing, federal authorities charged Friday.

Dawn M. Nguyen, 24, of Greece, N.Y., was charged in federal court with acting as a straw purchaser for William Spengler, who as a felon could not legally buy guns for himself. Spengler was convicted of killing his grandmother in 1980. Nguyen also faces state felony charges on allegations of falsifying business records.

U.S. Atty. William J. Hochul Jr. said Nguyen purchased a Bushmaster .223 semiautomatic rifle and a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun from the Gander Mountain store in Rochester on June 6, 2010. But in truth, he said, she "knowingly made a false statement in connection with the purchase of the two firearms" and actually was acquiring them for Spengler.

She did not immediately enter a plea in the more serious federal case, in which she could face 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.


China requiring people to visit their aged parents

BEIJING (AP) -- Visit your parents. That's an order.

So says China, whose national legislature on Friday amended its law on the elderly to require that adult children visit their aged parents "often" - or risk being sued by them.

The amendment does not specify how frequently such visits should occur.

State media say the new clause will allow elderly parents who feel neglected by their children to take them to court. The move comes as reports abound of elderly parents being abandoned or ignored by their children.

A rapidly developing China is facing increasing difficulty in caring for its aging population. Three decades of market reforms have accelerated the breakup of the traditional extended family in China, and there are few affordable alternatives, such as retirement or care homes, for the elderly or others unable to live on their own.


Exploring the Mind of the Mountain Gorilla

On July 17, 2012 several young mountain gorillas did an extraordinary thing: They dismantled a poacher’s snare.

John Ndayambaje, a field data coordinator for the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund was working in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda near a group of mountain gorillas known as Kuryama’s group, when he noticed a snare. Snares are illegal (but ubiquitous) in the region and are dangerous, especially to young gorillas. Realizing the animals were moving towards the snare, Ndayambaje decided to deactivate it.

Here is what happened next (from the press release):

Silverback Vuba pig-grunted at him (a vocalization of warning) and at the same time juveniles Dukore and Rwema together with blackback Tetero ran toward the snare and together pulled the branch used to hold the rope. They saw another snare nearby and as quickly as before they destroyed the second branch and pulled the rope out of the ground.

The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund hailed the gorillas’ accomplishment because this was the first time researchers had witnessed snare-removal by young gorillas. In past, only mature gorillas (usually silverbacks) had been observed disabling snares. That’s exciting because it implies that the young gorillas are learning from the older ones.


Coast Guard cutter entangled trying to aid Shell rig and tug off Alaska

By Kim Murphy
December 28, 2012, 2:59 p.m.

SEATTLE — Adding to a season full of headaches for Shell Alaska’s debut offshore drilling program in the U.S. Arctic, the company’s Kulluk drilling rig was stuck in monster seas off the coast of Alaska on Friday as its tugboat’s engines failed and the Coast Guard cutter that came to assist became entangled in a tow line.

There were no immediate threats to crew or equipment, but Shell Alaska was rushing additional aid vessels to the scene as the Kulluk, which drilled the beginnings of an exploratory oil well in the Beaufort Sea over the summer, sat without ability to move forward in 20-foot seas about 50 miles south of Kodiak.

“You become at the mercy of the seas when you don’t have propulsion. The boat is going to go where the seas push it,” Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class David Mosley told the Los Angeles Times. “Twenty-foot seas, my office here, the ceilings are 10 feet high, and you’re looking at double that.”

Shell Alaska officials said emergency power generators were enabling the tug vessel, the Aiviq, to avoid significant drift, even with the 266-foot Kulluk drilling barge, which does not have its own propulsion engines, in tow.


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