“Choice” is an Illusion

From Non-Profit Website focused on assisted suicide and euthanasia: For More Info, Go Here…

“Choice” is an Illusion welcomes everyone who is against assisted suicide or euthanasia, regardless of your views on other issues. 


Where assisted suicide and euthanasia are legal, laws allowing these practices are stacked against the individual.

With US laws, the most obvious problem is a complete lack of oversight at the death. If the individual objects or even struggles against taking the lethal dose, who would know?

“Choice” is an Illusion.

White House responsible for delayed decision on new Agent Orange diseases, documents show

By: Patricia Kime: For More Info, Go Here…

Two years ago, then Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin decided to add three health conditions to the list of diseases eligible for Agent Orange benefits, but White House officials challenged his authority and impeded enactment, according to internal documents obtained by a veteran through the Freedom of Information Act.

Now tens of thousands of veterans are still waiting.

Shulkin decided to add three health conditions — bladder cancer, Parkinson’s-like symptoms and hypothyroidism — to the list of diseases eligible for Agent Orange benefits. Heavily redacted emails and briefings released recently to former Army Spc. Jeff O’Malley, of Pearland, Texas, show Shulkin made the decision sometime before Oct. 3, 2017 — a move that would have given ailing veterans faster access to disability compensation and health benefits.

But the Office of Management and Budget, including Director Mick Mulvaney, and other White House officials objected, according to the documents.

While the specifics of OMB’s opposition were redacted, legible portions show that that the office believed the scientific evidence supporting the proposed additions was limited and it had concerns about the budgetary impact of the expansion, as well as any adverse effects on the existing disability benefits program.

According to the documents, roughly 83,000 veterans are afflicted with one of the three proposed presumptive conditions. The estimated cost for providing disability compensation to these former service members was redacted.

Skynet, But For Welfare: Automating Social Services Is Killing People

By Tim Cushing: For More Info, Go Here…

ngd- This approach is gradually becoming a reality here, as well…

We’ve talked before about the over-reliance on tech to do certain jobs that cannot be simplified to the sum of mathematical parts. The criminal justice system is starting to turn over sentencing to algorithms — something that seems like the smart thing to do but removes judicial and prosecutorial discretion from the mix, leaving defendants with the unpalatable option of challenging software they’re never allowed to examine.

Police departments are also moving towards predictive policing. Relying on historical data, cops are hoping to head off future crimes by allocating resources to areas where crime appears to be more likely to be committed. Sounds good on paper, but in reality, all it does is reinforce biases and push law enforcement to treat everyone in targeted areas as criminals. If the data being fed in reflects biased policing, crunching the numbers even harder isn’t going to erase that. It’s only going to reinforce it. And, again, suspected criminals aren’t able to access the data or software that puts them in law enforcement’s crosshairs.

A certain amount of automation is expected as government agencies seek to streamline public services. The problem isn’t necessarily the tech. It’s the removal of human interaction. As has been stated here frequently, moderation at scale is impossible. So is automated governing. Automated processes are as prone to failure as the people overseeing them. But when you decide software is going to do almost all of the work, those who need the assistance of other humans most are cut out of the loop.

Citizens looking for government assistance have grown accustomed to jumping through red tape hoops. Now, the hoops are inaccessible, but still must be jumped through. The most marginalized members of society are given URLs instead of contact names and numbers when many of them have no reliable access to the internet or a computer. A new series by The Guardian shows the human cost of going paperless. It’s happening all over the world, and it’s literally killing people.

 Governments aren’t looking to defense budgets or law enforcement agencies to make cuts. Instead, they’re adding to their bottom lines by pursuing citizens they think have screwed the government. Another process being automated is governments’ attempts to collect alleged overpayments of social services funds. There’s a statute of limitations on most debt, but software is being used to resurrect ancient debt governments feel they’re owed. This is resulting in the destruction of people’s lives and finances as they find themselves unable to challenge these automated determinations.

In Illinois, the Guardian has found that state and federal governments have joined forces to demand that welfare recipients repay “overpayments” stretching back in some cases 30 years. This system of “zombie debt”, weaponized through technology, is invoking fear and hardship among society’s most vulnerable.

As one recipient described it: “You owe what you have eaten.”

It’s not just “zombie debt.” It’s also “robodebt.” The determinations of owed debt are made by automated processes. The collection process is also automated, separating those suddenly facing possibly undeserved clawbacks from the human assistance they need to determine whether or not the claim is valid. Bureaucracies have always been faceless. With the addition of cold calculations, they’ve weaponized this facelessness to deter citizens from pushing back against a decision-making process composed of 1s and 0s. This, too, is linked to a rising human cost.

4 Types of Microaggressions People With Disabilities Are Tired of Hearing

By Erin Migdol: For More Info, Go Here…

Sometimes, an act of aggression toward disabled people is overt, like firing them from a job or not providing an accessible entrance to a bathroom or building. Other times, it’s subtler — an offhand comment that they’re “so inspiring,” or a cashier assuming they can’t communicate with them. These “microaggressions,” as they’ve come to be known, can still cause pain and reflect ableist attitudes. And people with disabilities can get pretty tired of hearing them.

What Are Microaggressions? 

Microaggressions are subtle comments or behaviors that convey a negative belief about someone based on their membership in a particular group (like the disability community), Kristin J. Conover, Ph.D., psychologist and assistant professor of clinical psychology at the California School of Professional Psychology, told The Mighty. These comments and behaviors can be well-intentioned — which makes it harder to know how to react or cope with them, Conover said.

“Microaggressions are everyday reminders of common oppressive and damaging stereotypes that can become internalized by marginalized groups,” Conover said. “In this way, the impact of microaggressions on mental health has been described as ‘death by a thousand cuts.’”

… Conover said her research has found four primary categories of microaggressions that people with disabilities hear most often: helplessness, minimization, denial of personhood and otherization. We asked our Mighty disability community to share some microaggressions they have experienced and organized their examples into the category they each represent: …

AI can now read the thoughts of paralysed patients as they imagine they are writing

By Daphne Leprince-Ringuet: For More Info, Go Here…

A team of neuroscientists has demonstrated that an algorithm could be trained to recognise the mental preparation for the act of writing letters, and that it could be twice as effective as existing technologies.

Handwriting is becoming a rare skill in the digital age. But researchers have now discovered a new application that could significantly improve the way tetraplegic people, who are often also unable to speak, communicate with the outside world.

Writing, since it’s a movement, requires a certain cerebral organization that has already been located in previous studies as happening in the primary motor cortex. This ‘preparatory state’ to the act of writing is what the researchers used for their new tool.

Because letters have distinct trajectories, the attempt to write — even if only a mental one — triggers types of brain activity that are different enough to be separately recorded via microelectrodes and used to train a neural network.

The computer read the volunteer’s sentences with 92% accuracy at a speed of 66 characters per minute, according to the neurologists.

FAQs: Health Insurance Marketplace and the ACA

From KFF: For More Info, Go Here…

FAQs: Health Insurance Marketplace and the ACA

FAQ Sections

New National Center to Support Timely, Coordinated Services for Brain Injury

From ACL: For More Info, Go Here…

ACL is announcing the launch of the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Technical Assistance and Resource Center. The aim of the center is to help states promote access to integrated, coordinated services and supports for people who have sustained a TBI, their families, and caregivers. These services and supports will encourage both community inclusion and the personal independence of people with TBI.

The Human Services Research Institute (HSRI) will administer the new center along with its partners from the National Association of State Head Injury Administrators (NASHIA) and a group of subject matter experts, including people with lived experience of TBI. Coordination between state programs is essential and the HSRI/NASHIA team has experience helping states to leverage existing resources.

The Center will provide program support to ACL and technical assistance to ACL’s TBI State Partnership program grantees. It will also develop and compile resources that will be available to the general public. The effort reflects ACL’s commitment to independent living and person-centered planning. A central focus for the new center will be to help grantees develop or enhance their person-centered, consumer-directed service delivery systems. Consumer-direction and consumer leadership will be embedded across all activities and aspects of technical assistance—guiding grantees through the various stages of development, implementation, and quality management.

The complex relationship between dementia and domestic violence

By Donald Weaver: For More Info, Go Here…

very week in my neurology clinic, I see patients and their families who are dealing with the realities of dementia. Of the many people I encounter, these three stories highlight a growing health issue that I feel is neglected — the complex relationship between dementia and domestic violence.

The first is a story of confusion:

“Dad is a nice guy, always has been. But now, because of the Alzheimer’s, he’s confused most of the time — and Mom isn’t coping. She doesn’t know what to do and she is frustrated. It started with her twisting his arm to get him to do things, but now she even hits him sometimes.”

The second is a story of public safety:

“The dementia has changed him — he’s not the same man I fell in love with and married so many years ago. He gets suspicious and angry a lot. He screams at me, he yells at our son, he shouts at the postman. He has even punched the caregiver who comes to help him bathe. I suppose we can cope, but I’m worried. We have two shotguns and a rifle in our basement — what do you think I should do with them?”

The third is a scene of abuse:

“I got divorced a long time ago because he used to hit me … a lot. He would get drunk every Saturday night and beat me up. He even knocked me out cold, probably five or six times. I haven’t seen him in more than 30 years, but I still feel that he is hurting me. Do you think all of these beatings caused my dementia? Did that bastard cause my dementia?”

These stories are united by a common theme: the complex relationship between dementia and domestic violence.

GAO: Restrictive Medicaid Waivers Have Steep Administrative Costs

By Jennifer Wagner: For More Info, Go Here…

Medicaid waivers that take coverage away from people not meeting work requirements have steep administrative costs, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report notes. Nevertheless, the report adds, the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) — which approves such waivers — does not require states to include administrative cost estimates in waiver proposals, and it does not factor these costs into its own budget calculations.

As the GAO report makes clear, policies that take health coverage away from people who can’t meet rigid work and reporting requirements don’t just cost eligible beneficiaries their coverage; they also require a costly bureaucracy to implement. Agencies or managed care organizations (MCOs) must send notices and conduct outreach, modify computer systems to track exemptions and work hours, and hire staff to answer questions, process exemption requests, and track compliance.

GAO analyzed the implementation costs in five states with CMS-approved work requirement waivers, ranging from $6.1 million in New Hampshire to $271.6 million in Kentucky. (Beyond the five states that GAO studied, other states have estimated similarly large costs to implement work requirements, and we summarize the full set of public estimates below.)

GAO’s estimates don’t even include all costs associated with the waivers. Some states couldn’t estimate their higher payments to MCOs or other health plans to administer the requirements, and others couldn’t estimate ongoing costs, such as for staff to process exemptions. Many states planned to use non-Medicaid funds, such as from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, to cover some costs, which they excluded from their estimates.

How to treat peripheral neuropathy naturally

By Zawn Villines: For More Info, Go Here…

The peripheral nerves send information to the brain and spinal cord. Damage to these nerves can affect their signaling, resulting in a variety of painful or otherwise unusual sensations. Doctors call this damage peripheral neuropathy.

Below, find out about six of these natural treatments, as well as more information about the condition.

1. Exercise

2. Dietary changes

3. Quitting smoking

4. Vitamins

5. Relaxation techniques

6. Alternative medicine