Is having a cellphone a basic human right?
In more than half the states in America, people who are eligible for Medicaid and food stamps may also be eligible for a free cellphone and 250 free minutes a month.
A story in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that unearthed this program, which has been around for three years, reported that up to 5.5 million people could qualify for a free cellphone and free service in Pennsylvania alone. The article identified two companies that provide free cellphones and free minutes to people who qualify—Assurance Wireless, a program of Sprint subsidiary Virgin Mobile, and SafeLink, a program from Tracphone Wireless. Neither service is available in California.
Settlement on overdraft fees available after class-action suit
If you had a Bank of America account with a debit card between January 2001 and May of this year, you may be due some cash.
The nation’s largest bank has started contacting customers who may be entitled to refunds. It recently reached a class-action settlement over the way it charged overdraft fees. Other suits are working their way through court in Florida. Bank of America is setting up a $410 million fund to settle the overdraft suit.
The bank is one of about three dozen named in a series of class-action lawsuits over the practice of “reordering.”
Studies show errors, inefficiencies still occur in medical services
It has become health care industry dogma that electronic records can help improve efficiency. Reduce errors. Save lives. And—just maybe—put the brakes on runaway health costs, by allowing better sharing of patient information and eliminating duplicative services.
It’s why hospitals and physicians’ practices across the country want a piece of the $27 billion in federal stimulus incentive money to help doctors move their systems away from papers and manila file folders and toward computerization.
Hybrid operating rooms, as they are called, bring together the most modern of surgical innovations with the equipment and staffing for conventional open-heart procedures.
The ECRI Institute, a nonprofit Pennsylvania organization that advises hospitals on spending and planning for new technology, estimates that fewer than 100 U.S. hospitals have hybrid rooms. But the number “is expected to climb rapidly” with 15 percent or more yearly increases in hospitals adding them over the next few years, said Robert Bense, a senior health care technology executive.
Procedures suited to the new hybrid rooms use minimally invasive methods to fix and replace heart valves; correct abnormal heartbeats; and place tiny metal coils, or stents, to fix stiffened, aging heart vessels.
Twenty years ago, the Walkersville Southern Railroad was little more than an overgrown track and a crumbling train station. Today, that station serves 13,000 passengers a year, not for long-distance travel but for excursions along its four-mile-long track between Walkersville and Frederick.
Children, train buffs and couples out for a romantic evening are among those who ride the Walkersville rails, according to Brooke Kovalcik, who serves as administrator of the railroad.
Special rides start in the spring with Easter trains and continue through December with Santa trains. Excursions and dinner trains run May through October; charters are available year-round.
The digital trove of credit card numbers and emails stolen by the group known as Anonymous came from towns across rural America — places like Gassville, Ark. and Tishomingo County, Miss., where officers don’t usually have to worry about international hackers.
That may have made them an easy score.
The loosely-knit hacking collective said Saturday that it attacked 70 mostly rural law enforcement websites in the United States in retaliation for the arrests of its sympathizers. Some county sheriffs said they were told about the hacking, but others appeared to learn of the scope of what had happened only when contacted by The Associated Press.
If it hadn’t been for Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s commitment and energy, 4,000 Federal Aviation Administration employees and at least 70,000 airport construction workers would be sitting on their backsides, out of work for who knows how long.
It looks as though LaHood’s efforts, including his repeated public shaming of Congress, finally paid off Friday afternoon when it was announced that a bipartisan compromise to end the partial shutdown of the FAA had been reached.
Of course, Congress had already gotten out of Dodge, leaving Washington—early, we might add—for a month-long recess. They left a mess back on the Hill that would have affected tens of thousands of people’s lives and, at least in some small way, the foundering national economy. But did they care?
Something good has come out of the dreadful 2007 melamine pet food recall: The Pet Event Tracking Network was launched this week to allow the Food and Drug Administration and federal and state agencies to share information in real time about pet food-related incidents such as food-borne illnesses and defective pet products.
Announced by the Partnership for Food Protection and the FDA, PETNet will allow members to post about suspicious incidents and product defects, alerting others who can then track the data and share more information. Members are federal, state and territorial government officials in charge of pet food product regulation and companion animal disease outbreak investigations, and have experience in epidemiology, animal health, animal feed and public health.
The real danger from the downgrade of U.S. government debt by Standard & Poor’s isn’t higher interest rates. It’s the hit to the nation’s fragile economic psyche and rattled financial markets.
S&P’s decision to strip the U.S. of its sterling AAA credit rating for the first time and move it down one notch, to AA+, deals a blow to the confidence of consumers and businesses at a dangerous time, economists say.