The John Batchelor Show

Friday 2 August 2013

Air Date: 
August 02, 2013


Photo, above:  Oranges.  See: Hour 2, Block B, Amy Harmon, NYT, on the race to save the orange by altering its DNA. 


Hour One

Friday  2 August  2013 / Hour 1, Block A:   Jim McTague, Barron's Washington, in re: Low Pay Clouds Job Growth  The U.S. labor market's long, slow recovery slowed further in July—and many of the jobs that were created were in low-wage industries.  Good, Bad News in Unemployment Rate Drop

Friday  2 August  2013 / Hour 1, Block B:  Cora Currier, ProPublica, in re: "In a major national security speech this spring, President Obama said again and again that the U.S. is at war with 'Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and their associated forces."  However, when asked who exactly are those "associated forces," the Pentagon is keeping that a secret.  "A Pentagon spokesman told ProPublica that revealing such a list could cause 'serious damage to national security.'"

        Lt. Col. Jim Gregory said, "Because elements that might be considered 'associated forces' can build credibility by being listed as such by the United States, we have classified the list.  We cannot afford to inflate these organizations that rely on violent extremist ideology to strengthen their ranks." It's not an abstract question: U.S. drone strikes and other actions frequently target "associated forces," as has been the case with dozens of strikes against an Al Qaeda offshoot in Yemen."  
While Pentagon officials have offered various reasons for not disclosing a list (although Sen. Carl Levin was provided with one that he could not share with ProPublica), former Bush Administration legal counsel Jack Goldsmith told ProPublica that the military's reasoning seemed weak.   "If the organizations are 'inflated' enough to be targeted with military force, why cannot they be mentioned publicly?"  He added that there is "a countervailing very important interest in the public knowing who the government is fighting against in its name."

 The Drone War.

Friday  2 August  2013 / Hour 1, Block C: A C Thompson, ProPublica, in re: In part 2 of their "Life and Death in Assisted Living" investigation, A.C. Thompson and Jonathan Jones explain how Emeritus' sales policies (to get "heads on beds") and drive for profits were at odds with its admission policies and ability to care properly for residents.

Continuing their reporting through the saga of Joan Boice, the duo note, "California law requires assisted living companies to conduct a 'pre-admission appraisal' of prospective residents, to ensure they are appropriate candidates for assisted living.  But (the Emeritus operated) Emerald Hills took Joan in without performing an appraisal."

Thompson and Jones document other problems at Emerald Hills, such as its failure to report one woman's death to state regulators who would have launched an investigation into what happened and the facility's  admission of a psychologically troubled woman who killed herself.  "The state's investigation into the death was scathing: the woman should never have been allowed to move in; the staff had missed or ignored bulimic episodes and her obvious weight loss; no plan of care was ever developed or implemented despite the resident's profound psychological problems."

          But the centerpiece of the investigation is Emeritus' quest for profits.  "In early 2008, the year Joan Boice entered Emerald Hills, Emeritus rolled out a new business campaign. The company dubbed it the 'No Barriers to Sales' effort.  The concept was straightforward: Move as many people as possible into Emeritus facilities. Wall Street was looking closely at the company's quarterly occupancy numbers and a few percentage points could propel the stock price upward or send it tumbling down...In case there was any confusion about just how seriously the company took this new campaign, a company vice president sent a blast email to facility directors across California. In the body of the email, the vice president got right to it: 'SALES and your commitment to sales are your highest priority right now.'"

Friday  2 August  2013 / Hour 1, Block D:  . A C Thompson, ProPubica, continued, in re: On the heels of Frontline's broadcast of "Life and Death in Assisted Living," comes the third installment of our series, that details the lack of professional care for Emeritus residents and why government agencies have not developed uniform regulations from state to state.

At the heart of A C Thompson and Jonathan Jones' third piece is a letter sent by an Emerald Hills home nurse, Mary Kasuba, to the top 10 executives at Emeritus.  "In the letter, Kasuba warned of 'total dysfunction' at Emerald Hills because of ' the way the corporation mandates this building to be run.'  She pleaded for the bare essentials any assisted living facility needed to operate safely: a key one being an adequate workforce . . . Kasuba's biggest worry was the medication room. The medication technicians . . . aren't nurses or even certified nursing assistants. Typically, they have no formal medical education . . . Again, Kasuba didn't mince words, calling the medication operation 'a sinking ship with no ballast compartments to keep it afloat.'"  Emeritus replaced Kasuba.

The pair explain the concerns of another Emeritus employee, Susan Rotella, who was part of a three-person team overseeing 45 facilities in California.  "Rotella testified under oath that as she traveled around the state meeting Emeritus employees she heard one thing over and over: The facilities needed more staff.  The division, however, wasn't posting the kind of financial numbers Emeritus wanted to see . . . Rotella's superiors directed her to slash labor costs by 10 percent across the board, she said."

Thompson and Jones also lay out the tragic deaths of residents at Emeritus facilities in Texas, Iowa and Pennsylvania; why the firm did not use a patient-to-staff formula to determine how many people should be on duty; and how Emeritus had more verified complaints per bed than any of its major competitors; and they continue to lay out the decline in Joan Boice's health.

Hour Two

Friday  2 August  2013 / Hour 2, Block A: Peter Coy, Bloomberg Businessweek, in re: "GIVE US YOUR YUAN" Chinese investors are eager to acquire more assets in America. Why that could benefit both countries — up to a point.  

Friday  2 August  2013 / Hour 2, Block B:  Amy Harmon, NYT, in re:  "Yesterday's NYT front page had a wonderful article by Amy Harmon about the race to save the orange by altering its DNA."

Friday  2 August  2013 / Hour 2, Block C:  Prashant Ghopal, Bloomberg Businessweek, in re: American Dream Erased as Homeownership at 18-Year-Low – With ownership at 65 percent and home values rising, housing industry and consumer groups are pressing lawmakers to make the American Dream more inclusive by ensuring new mortgage standards designed to prevent another crash are flexible enough that more families can benefit from the recovery. Regulators are close to proposing a softened version of a rule requiring banks to keep a stake in risky mortgages they securitize, according to five people familiar with the discussions.  [more]

Friday  2 August  2013 / Hour 2, Block D:  Lanhee Chen, Bloomberg, in re: why Jerry Brown's most recent term as governor should be considered a failure.    [more]

Hour Three

Friday  2 August  2013 / Hour 3, Block A:  Larry Johnson, NoQuarter, in re: Exclusive: Dozens of CIA operatives on the ground during Benghazi attack CNN has uncovered exclusive new information about what is allegedly happening at the CIA, in the wake of the deadly Benghazi terror attack.

Friday  2 August  2013 / Hour 3, Block B:  Francis Rose, Federal News Radio, in re: Federal News Radio Breaking News - President Barack Obama is nominating John Koskinen, a retired corporate restructuring expert, to be the next commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service. Obama ousted acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller in May after revelations that the agency improperly targeted political groups when they filed for tax-exempt status. Read full story.

Friday  2 August  2013 / Hour 3, Block C: James Taranto, Wall Street Journal, in re: Raymond Cromartie grew up an Army brat. He looked up to his father, James, who retired in 2003 as a lieutenant colonel in the Medical Service Corps. "There's been so many people in the past—men and women that have died in the service of our country—that I don't think I should be sitting on my butt while they sacrifice their lives," the 23-year-old Mr. Cromartie tells me in an interview at his parents' home some 20 miles west of Gettysburg.

Friday  2 August  2013 / Hour 3, Block D: Scott Gottlieb, MD, WSJ OPINION in re: How ObamaCare Hurts Patients   Dr. Gottlieb is a physician and resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. He consults with and invests in life-science companies.

Hour Four

Friday  2 August  2013 / Hour 4, Block A: Soldaten by Harald Welzer Sönke Neitzel (1 of 4)

Friday  2 August  2013 / Hour 4, Block B: Soldaten by Harald Welzer Sönke Neitzel (2 of 4)

Friday  2 August  2013 / Hour 4, Block C: Soldaten by Harald Welzer Sönke Neitzel (3 of 4)

Friday  2 August  2013 / Hour 4, Block D: Soldaten by Harald Welzer Sönke Neitzel (4 of 4) 

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