Society's Child

Heart - Black

Non-profit hospitals are suing poor patients and seizing their wages

keith herie
© Steve Hebert for ProPublica
Northwest Financial Services first sued Keith and Katie Herie when they couldn't afford the $14,000 bill for Katie's emergency appendectomy. Since 2006, the Heries have had almost $20,000 takes from their wages to repay medical bills and still owe at least $26,000 with interest mounting.
Some wealthy nonprofit hospitals are going after their low-income patients' wages.

According to a new report by NPR and ProPublica, the Heartland Regional Medical Center (recently renamed Mosaic Life Care) in St. Joseph, Missouri, plays hard ball with poor people who cannot afford high bills.

When people are treated at the nonprofit Heartland Regional Medical Center and they cannot pay, their bills are turned over to Northwest Financial Services, a for-profit debt collection agency owned by Mosaic Life Care.

Northwest Financial Services reportedly sued (under its corporate name Midwestern Health Management) more than 11,000 people between 2009 through 2013. The collection agency garnished the wages of almost 6,000 people, which totaled up to $12 million, according to state records, says ProPublica and NPR.

Comment: Nonprofits, which make up nearly 60 percent of U.S. hospitals, have a history of aggressive debt collection, yet they are given tax-exempt status because they are supposed to be serving the public and especially the poor. Instead they are taking advantage of their tax status and yet profiting handsomely. This is another reason why medical debts are the biggest cause of bankruptcies and that American 'healthcare' is a travesty.

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Crowd erupts when cop beats handcuffed boy in New York

© pisaphotography/Shutterstock
The cell phone video of Eric Garner may not have resulted in a trial for the police officers who choked him to death, but New Yorkers are still recording incidents of police using over-the-top force against African Americans.

In a recent video recorded by an onlooker on the streets of New York City, several large uniformed cops have a young African-American boy subdued and pinned against a car, when a white plainclothes police officer runs up and throws several punches at the immobilized boy.

The video clearly shows that there is no reason or justification for this, and the bystanders erupt in horror, particularly one outspoken woman.

"He's 12!" she shouts. "Why would you do that? After everything that's happened! I'm a lawyer, I'm writing all this down."

"Stop it, get off of him!" yells another.

"You guys...need a different profession. Go to war, this is not a war, this is a 12-year-old kid!" says a woman standing on the sidewalk facing the officers, who do not respond to her. Another boy is pinned by other officers against another car. He cries out as the officers yank his hands behind his back.

Blackmail opportunity? More than 48,000 federal employees affected by background check hack

© Shutterstock
The Office of Personnel Management is alerting more than 48,000 federal employees their personal information may have been exposed following a breach at KeyPoint Government Solutions, which conducts background investigations of federal employees seeking security clearances.

The total number of employees affected is 48,439, according to an email from OPM Chief Information Officer Donna Seymour obtained by Nextgov.

Seymour said OPM worked closely with the Department of Homeland Security to investigate the incident, "and while we found no conclusive evidence that [personally identifiable information] was taken by the intruder, OPM has elected to conduct these notifications out of an abundance of caution."

Affected employees will receive free credit monitoring.

DHS spokesman S.Y. Lee on Thursday evening told Nextgov the breach was detected by a DHS entity.

"Recently, the DHS National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center became aware of a potential intrusion of a private sector company that conducts U.S. government security background investigations for OPM," he said in a statement. "Working with OPM and other interagency partners, the NCCIC, per standard procedure, deployed an on-site [U.S.-Computer Emergency Readiness Team] to assess and mitigate any risks identified."

"As we examine the potential impact on DHS employees, we are committed to ensuring the privacy of our workforce and will take all appropriate measures to safeguard it," he added.

Comment: It wouldn't be surprising to find out that the information gleaned from this breach of security were used to blackmail federal employees. On the other hand, this could all be a set up by the U.S. government to blame China and further increase public distrust of China. That would be logical, seeing as though China is strengthening ties with Russia.


8 children stabbed to death in Australia, mother in serious condition

© Screenshot from YouTube video by peaseraunews
Eight children aged from 18 months to 15 years have been found stabbed to death inside a house in Manoora suburb of the city of Cairns in far north Queensland, police have confirmed.

Authorities were initially called in the scene after reports of a woman with serious injuries around 11.20am local time.

"During an examination of the residence police located the bodies of the children, all aged between 18 months and 15 years," police said in a statement. A 34-year-old woman who was injured in the mass stabbing has been taken to hospital.

Police have cordoned off the house and closed traffic on Murray St. while detectives are searching through the property. Ambulances also remain on scene.

The children were apparently all siblings and the 34-year-old was their mother, a cousin of the injured woman told AAP. According to Lisa Thaiday, another 20-year-old sibling was the one who found his brothers and sisters dead inside the house.

"I'm going to see him now, he needs comforting. We're a big family ... I just can't believe it. We just found out [about] those poor babies," Thaiday said, as quoted by AFP.

Comment: Such a heartbreaking tragedy.


Family of toddler injured by SWAT 'grenade' faces $1M in medical bills

Alecia and Bounkham Phonesavanh
© ABC News
Correspondent via 20/20 Alecia and Bounkham Phonesavanh sat down for an interview with ABC's Matt Gutman for ABC News' "20/20."
Alecia and Bounkham Phonesavanh never imagined their family would be at the center of a controversy over the militarization of police. But that's exactly where they found themselves when their toddler was seriously injured by a SWAT team, also leaving them with a $1 million medical bill they have no hope of paying.

"They messed up," Alecia Phonesavanh told ABC News' 20/20. "They had a faulty search warrant. They raided the wrong house."

In the spring of 2014, the Phonesavanh's home in Janesville, Wisconsin, was destroyed by fire. Homeless with four young children, they packed one of their last remaining possessions - their minivan - and drove 850 miles to the home of Bounkham's sister in Cornelia, Georgia.

Sucker-punching cop shamed by judge for breaking 'Good Samaritan' woman's leg

© Tracy McLaughlin photo
Maria (Tony) Farrell leaves Orillia court house
A judge in Canada this week lashed out an Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officer for causing "catastrophic injuries" to a 49-year-old woman who he said was acting as a "Good Samaritan."

During the trial that lasted longer than a year, the court heard how Maria "Tonie" Farrell responded to a woman screaming behind a convenience store in 2013, according to QMI Agency reporter Tracy McLaughlin.

When OPP Sgt. Russ Watson arrived on the scene, Farrell attempted to point the officer in the direction of the man who had been attacking the woman, but he refused to listen.

"Shut the f*ck up," Watson warned.

"Mrs. Farrell was acting as Good Samaritan who went to the assistance of a woman who was being assaulted," Justice George Beatty said this week. "She had no criminal record and wanted to assist Sgt. Watson."

"Watson kicked her to the side, a karate-kick that snapped her leg," the judge explained, adding that "Watson then jumped on her and punched her on the left side of her face. She turned face-down and Sgt. Watson kept kneeing her in the back."

With her leg dangling, and screaming from the pain, Farrell was handcuffed and placed in the police cruiser. She was later charged with assaulting a police officer.

Comment: While it's nice to see a judge who actually takes a policemen to task for his brutality, it's really not enough. This cop should have his badge taken away and he should be charged with assault. When a cop attacks a person who was doing nothing illegal and causes such horrific injuries, they should be held criminally responsible. Otherwise, there is no deterrent for cops to continue to brutalize the population.


Governor of New York state announces fracking ban


A woman holds an anti-fracking sign at a rally for a Global Climate Treaty December 10, 2014 near the United Nations in New York
Governor Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday he would ban hydraulic fracking in New York State, citing health concerns about the controversial oil and gas drilling technique.

The announcement extends a de facto New York ban on the practice, which offers the potential to unlock vast quantities of natural gas but which has come under intense scrutiny from environmentalists.

The energy industry complains that New York has lost jobs and investment by not following neighboring states by drilling into Marcellus, a huge shale rock formation in the eastern US.

Comment: It appears that the movement to ban fracking is gaining ground, despite the protestations of the industry that can no longer successfully argue that the practice does not involve serious environmental and health risks.

France Becomes First Country to Ban Extraction of Natural Gas by Fracking

Texas town, birthplace of hydraulic fracking, votes to outlaw it

Massachusetts seeks 10 year ban on gas fracking after series of Texas earthquakes

Gold Bar

What is going on in the physical gold market?

© Gunvor
Back in March, otherwise very under-the-radar Swiss commodities trading giant Gunvor and the fifth largest oil trader in the world, made headlines in the press when one of its then-Russian owners, billionaire Gennady Timchenko (estimated net worth of $8.5 billion), sold his entire 44% stake in the company to his partner in the firm, Torbjorn Tonqvist, just a day before the US revealed its first round of sanctions against individuals affiliated with the Putin regime. Timchenko was among them. As a result of the sale, however, Gunvor avoided falling on the US sanctions list and a Treasury official said that "Gunvor Group Ltd. isn't subject to automatic blocking from dealing with U.S. persons under Russian sanctions because co-founder Gennady Timchenko owns less than 50 percent of the company."

Since then the Geneva-based company rarely appeared in the media which is how the nondescript company liked it. Until last week, that is, when Bloomberg reported that the company was giving up trading physical precious metals, read gold, less than a year after the commodity house started a business dedicated to buying and selling gold. Gunvor is, or rather was, one of the few large commodity firms that handles precious metals. The move into gold was part of an expansion into non-oil businesses that now include iron ore, industrial metals and natural gas. Gold trading was done by a handful of people in Singapore and Geneva.

Comment: We do know of publicized cases where holders of vaulted allocated gold experienced extreme difficulty getting their gold physically delivered - one case threatening legal action. If large quantities of gold are entering the market in a condition of traceless title/ownership, some of it may be coming from allocated accounts. This could indicate that the end of our current ponzi currency system is near (not to mention the importance of physical possession).


12 things to know about the piteous open letter from RBS employee to Russell Brand

© Mail Online
Russell Brand (right) has apologised to business analyst Joseph Kynaston Reeves, 40 (left) following the letter.
Have you seen the open letter from Jo (the disgruntled financial sector worker) to Russell Brand that has been described as "hilarious" and "scathing" by the mainstream press? I have, and I have a few points to make about it.


The letter was far too long - and that's some criticism coming from me, given the length of most of my articles, including this one. I console myself with the fact that when I write my long articles I like to employ internal structure (such as subject headings) in order to break it down a bit into coherent and accessible pieces, rather than just jumbling together a long rambling diatribe.

The only reason that I bothered reading Jo's seemingly endless whining until the end was that after only the first dozen or so paragraphs I knew damn well that there would be plenty of ammunition for one of my "12 things ..." articles, otherwise I would almost certainly have dismissed it as TL;DR (too long; didn't read).

Hilarious? Piteous more like it?

The letter wasn't "hilarious" as claimed by the mainstream press, it wasn't even funny. If endless callbacks to Jo caring more about his cold lunch than society was meant to be a joke, it simply wasn't funny, and it remained unfunny despite the constant repetition.

I found Jo's letter about as hilarious as I found Russell Brand was when he and Jonathan Ross and made those abusive phone calls to an old man who used to be famous. Like 2008 vintage Brand, Jo's letter was was annoyingly self-centred and desperately unfunny.
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New study shows that the most overweight workers in the US are police

Fat Police
As we reported earlier this year, an FBI study recently revealed that roughly 80% of police officers are overweight. Now, a new study published this week by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that police officers also rank as the most overweight workers in the country.

However, this study differed on the percentage of officers who were obese. While the FBI study earlier this year suggested that 80% of officers were overweight, this more recent study said that the number was around 41%. Although, it is possible that the FBI was using more rigorous standards.

The recent study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine calculated their numbers using body-mass-index statistics, while the sources of the numbers in the FBI study are unclear.

Body-mass-index is a measure of relative weight based on the mass and height of an individual, and is defined as the body mass of an individual divided by the square of their height.

Not only are a vast number of police officers in the US overweight, but they are also significantly less intelligent than the average person as well. As we reported, police departments actually reject applicants when they score too high on IQ tests.

Oddly, even with such low standards on both fitness and intelligence, it is actually extremely hard to actually get onto a police force. Police departments tend to look for specific types of individuals, people who they feel are capable of carrying out orders and inflicting violence with minimal reflection.

The American Journal of Preventive Medicine study also included a list of the professions that they found to be most in-shape. On that list was athletes, scientists, janitors, servers and artists, among others.