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Thursday, August 18, 2016

NPR is making an announcement today that is sure to upset a loyal core of its audience, those who comment online at NPR.org (including those who comment on this blog). As of Aug. 23, online comments, a feature of the site since 2008, will be disabled. With the change, NPR joins a long list of other news organizations choosing to move conversations about its journalism off its own site and instead rely on social media to pick up the slack. ... A user named Mary, from Raleigh, N.C., wrote to implore: "Remove the comments section from your articles. The rude, hateful, racist, judgmental comments far outweigh those who may want to engage in some intelligent sideline conversation about the actual subject of the article. I am appalled at the amount of 'free hate' that is found on a website that represents honest and unbiased reporting such as NPR." read more


Saturday, August 13, 2016

David Ignatius, Washington Post: Job insecurity is a central theme of the 2016 campaign, fueling popular anger about trade deals and immigration. But economists warn that much bigger job losses are ahead in the United States -- driven not by foreign competition but by advancing technology. A look at the numbers suggests that the country is having the wrong economic debate this year. Employment security won't come from renegotiating trade deals, as Donald Trump said in a speech Monday in Detroit, or rebuilding infrastructure, as Hillary Clinton argued in Warren, Michigan, on Thursday. These are palliatives. The deeper problem facing the United States is how to provide meaningful work and good wages for the tens of millions of truck drivers, accountants, factory workers and office clerks whose jobs will disappear in coming years because of robots, driverless vehicles and "machine learning" systems. read more


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Veterans Health Administration has improved the quality of and access to health care for vets over the past two years, but the agency's continuing struggle with hiring and retaining employees is undermining its mission, according to a newly-released report from an outside organization.

"Staffing shortages significantly impacted the organization's ability to meet veterans' needs and led to delays in care," said a Joint Commission survey of 139 VHA facilities and 47 community-based outpatient clinics between October 2014 and September 2015.

The Joint Commission, which is a widely-respected independent non-profit that accredits and certifies nearly 21,000 health care organizations and programs in the country, began conducting surprise surveys of the facilities soon after the 2014 scandal erupted in Phoenix involving patient wait times and access to care. read more


Sunday, August 07, 2016

New York Times reporters have spent over a year covering Donald J. Trump's rallies... what struck us was the frequency with which some Trump supporters use coarse, vitriolic, even violent language -- in the epithets they shout and chant, the signs they carry, the T-shirts they wear -- a pattern not seen in connection with any other recent political candidate, in any party.


WaPo - Dana Milbank: Americans should be alarmed by Donald Trump confidant Roger Stone's suggestion that Trump claim Hillary Clinton is trying to steal the election.

Asserting that there is already "widespread voter fraud," Stone said Trump should say that "if there's voter fraud, this election will be illegitimate . . . we will have a constitutional crisis, widespread civil disobedience, and the government will no longer be the government." In an interview with the conservative outlet Breitbart, Stone continued: "I think he's got to put them on notice that their inauguration will be a rhetorical, and when I mean civil disobedience, not violence, but it will be a bloodbath."

A bloodbath. Rhetorically speaking, of course.

Americans take for granted peaceful transfers of power. But if the losing side declares the government illegitimate and talks of bloodbaths, something else could occur.


Comments

LA Times: A misunderstood statistic: 22 military veteran suicides a day
articles.latimes.com

In most discussions of suicide and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- including the online buzz that followed publication of a Times analysis on how young California veterans die -- one statistic gets repeated most: 22 veterans kill themselves each day.

As a group, veterans are old. Military service being far rarer than it was in the days of the draft, more than 91% of the nation's 22 million veterans are at least 35 years old, and the overwhelming majority did not serve in the post-9/11 era.

That number comes from a study published in early 2013 by researchers at the federal Department of Veterans Affairs. But the recent wars were not the study's primary focus.

In fact, they play a minor role in veteran suicides overall.

About 72% of veterans are at least 50. It is not surprising, then, that the VA found that people in this age group account for 69% of veteran suicides -- or more than 15 of the 22 per day.

Many experts believe that the farther a veteran is from military service, the less likely it is that his or her suicide has anything to do with his or her time in uniform. In other words, many older veterans are killing themselves for the same reasons that other civilians in the same age group kill themselves: depression and other mental health problems coupled with difficult life circumstances.


The suicide of any veteran is a tragedy, but the story at the top of the thread appears to have everything to do with what the LA Times is talking about.

But, but, the care is so much better at the VA..

#2 | POSTED BY HOMERJ

The Cost and Quality of VA Mental Health Services
www.rand.org

Q: What is the VA's capacity to deliver mental health and substance use care to veterans?
A: Basic and specialized mental health services were reported to be widely available, and services have been expanding. The study found that therapies which are linked to improved outcomes have increased substantially, as have suicide prevention services.

Q: What is the quality of mental health care received by veterans, and how does the quality compare with that delivered in the private sector?
A: It is generally as good as or better than care delivered by private plans. The team found that the VA had higher levels of performance than private providers for seven out of nine indicators. However, care is given at less than existing capacity, and less than a third of those targeted for specialized therapy receive it.

Q: How does quality given by the VA vary?
A: It is generally as good as or better than care delivered by private plans. The team found that the VA had higher levels of performance than private providers for seven out of nine indicators. However, care is given at less than existing capacity, and less than a third of those targeted for specialized therapy receive it.

Q: How does quality given by the VA vary?
A: Quality of care varies across regions and populations. Overall, no regional network is above or below the average, but treatment rates varied as much as 20% across networks. Veterans over age 65, veterans under age 35, and veterans who resided in rural areas were less likely to receive appropriate services.

Q: Are veterans satisfied with the care they receive?
A: Overall, veterans' perceptions of VA mental health services were quite favorable: on a 10 point scale, 42% of veterans rated VA mental health care at 9 or 10, and 74% reported being helped by counseling or treatment received in the prior 12 months. Still, only 32 percent perceived improvement in their problems or symptoms.


There you go. I even put the important stuff out there for you on a silver platter.

You want to help veterans, as opposed to bitching about something you know nothing about on an anonymous message board?
Try voting for politicians who will properly fund the VA so it can expand its services.

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