Why Won’t Donald Trump Speak for America?

The president lays himself at Vladimir Putin’s feet.

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The last time President Trump claimed that “both sides” were responsible for bad behavior, it didn’t go well. That was nearly a year ago, after a march of neo-Nazis descended into violence and a white supremacist drove his car into a crowd of peaceful protesters, killing a woman.

On Monday, Mr. Trump again engaged in immoral equivalence, this time during a gobsmacking news conference after his meeting in Helsinki, Finland, with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. A reporter referred to last week’s indictments of 12 Russian military officials for a coordinated cyberattack on the 2016 election and asked Mr. Trump if he held Russia responsible. “I hold both countries responsible,” Mr. Trump said. Even in a presidency replete with self-defeating moments for the United States, Mr. Trump’s comments on Monday, which were broadcast live around the world, stand out.

The spectacle was hard to fathom: Mr. Trump, standing just inches from an autocratic thug who steals territory and has his adversaries murdered, undermined the unanimous conclusion of his own intelligence and law enforcement agencies that the Russian government interfered with the 2016 election with the goal of helping Mr. Trump win.

“My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me, and some others, they said they think it’s Russia,” Mr. Trump said at one point, speaking of his director of national intelligence. “I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.” (In a statement on Monday afternoon, Mr. Coats reiterated that, in fact, it was.)

Mr. Trump called the special counsel’s Russia investigation “a disaster for our country” and then performed a selection of his greatest solo hits: “Zero Collusion,” “Where Is the D.N.C.’s Server?” and finally the old chestnut, “I Won the Electoral College by a Lot.”

Even top Republicans felt moved to speak up.

“The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally,” Paul Ryan, the House speaker, said. “There is no moral equivalence between the United States and Russia, which remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals.”

READ MORE:https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/16/opinion/donald-trump-putin-russia.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-left-region&region=opinion-c-col-left-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-left-region

Hidden From View: The Astonishingly High Administrative Costs of U.S. Health Care

It takes only a glance at a hospital bill or at the myriad choices you may have for health care coverage to get a sense of the bewildering complexity of health care financing in the United States. That complexity doesn’t just exact a cognitive cost. It also comes with administrative costs that are largely hidden from view but that we all pay.

Because they’re not directly related to patient care, we rarely think about administrative costs. They’re high.

A widely cited study published in The New England Journal of Medicine used data from 1999 to estimate that about 30 percent of American health care expenditures were the result of administration, about twice what it is in Canada. If the figures hold today, they mean that out of the average of about $19,000 that U.S. workers and their employers pay for family coverage each year, $5,700 goes toward administrative costs.

Such costs aren’t all bad. Some are tied up in things we may want, such as creating a quality improvement program. Others are for things we may dislike — for example, figuring out which of our claims to accept or reject or sending us bills. Others are just necessary, like processing payments; hiring and managing doctors and other employees; or maintaining information systems.

That New England Journal of Medicine study is still the only one on administrative costs that encompasses the entire health system. Many other more recent studies examine important portions of it, however. The story remains the same: Like the overall cost of the U.S. health system, its administrative cost alone is No. 1 in the world.

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Using data from 2010 and 2011, one study, published in Health Affairs, compared hospital administrative costs in the United States with those in seven other places: Canada, England, Scotland, Wales, France, Germany and the Netherlands.

At just over 25 percent of total spending on hospital care (or 1.4 percent of total United States economic output), American hospital administrative costs exceed those of all the other places. The Netherlands was second in hospital administrative costs: almost 20 percent of hospital spending and 0.8 percent of that country’s G.D.P.

At the low end were Canada and Scotland, which both spend about 12 percent of hospital expenditures on administration, or about half a percent of G.D.P.

Hospitals are not the only source of high administrative spending in the United States. Physician practices also devote a large proportion of revenue to administration. By one estimate, for every 10 physicians providing care, almost seven additional people are engaged in billing-related activities.

It is no surprise then that a majority of American doctors say that generating bills and collecting payments is a major problem. Canadian practices spend only 27 percent of what U.S. ones do on dealing with payers like Medicare or private insurers.

Another study in Health Affairs surveyed physicians and physician practice administrators about billing tasks. It found that doctors spend about three hours per week dealing with billing-related matters. For each doctor, a further 19 hours per week are spent by medical support workers. And 36 hours per week of administrators’ time is consumed in this way. Added together, this time costs an additional $68,000 per year per physician (in 2006). Because these are administrative costs, that’s above and beyond the cost associated with direct provision of medical care.

In JAMA, scholars from Harvard and Duke examined the billing-related costs in an academic medical center. Their study essentially followed bills through the system to see how much time different types of medical workers spent in generating and processing them.

At the low end, such activities accounted for only 3 percent of revenue for surgical procedures, perhaps because surgery is itself so expensive. At the high end, 25 percent of emergency department visit revenue went toward billing costs. Primary care visits were in the middle, with billing functions accounting for 15 percent of revenue, or about $100,000 per year per primary care provider.

“The extraordinary costs we see are not because of administrative slack or because health care leaders don’t try to economize,” said Kevin Schulman, a co-author of the study and a professor of medicine at Duke. “The high administrative costs are functions of the system’s complexity.”

Costs related to billing appear to be growing. A literature review by Elsa Pearson, a policy analyst with the Boston University School of Public Health, found that in 2009 they accounted for about 14 percent of total health expenditures. By 2012, the figure was closer to 17 percent.

One obvious source of complexity of the American health system is its multiplicity of payers. A typical hospital has to contend not just with several public health programs, like Medicare and Medicaid, but also with many private insurers, each with its own set of procedures and forms (whether electronic or paper) for billing and collecting payment. By one estimate, 80 percent of the billing-related costs in the United States are because of contending with this added complexity.

Read More:https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/16/upshot/costs-health-care-us.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

In a statement for People, Whitney Houston’s mother said that learning about the claims of her daughter’s abuse were “overwhelming and unfathomable.”

Screen Shot 2018-07-14 at 8.08.50 AMWhitney Houston’s mother says allegations that her superstar daughter and her son were molested by her niece are “unfathomable.”

In a statement to People magazine on behalf of herself and sister singer Dionne Warwick, Cissy Houston revealed they first learned of the claims two days before the documentary Whitney premiered in May.

In the film, Whitney Houston’s longtime assistant said the singer told her that cousin Dee Dee Warwick molested her as a child and Whitney’s oldest brother also made the same claim.

In the statement, Cissy Houston says Dee Dee Warwick may have had her “personal challenges,” but the idea that she would have molested her children is “overwhelming and unfathomable.”

Dee Dee Warwick died in 2008. Whitney Houston died in 2012.

Read More: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/box-office-whitney-houston-fred-rogers-ruth-bader-ginsburg-fuel-documentary-boom-1125567

‘Pose’ Shows The Importance Of Accurate Casting While Scarlett Johansson Drops Out Of ‘Rub & Tug’

Screenshot_2018-07-13 'Pose' Shows The Importance Of Accurate Casting While Scarlett Johansson Drops Out Of 'Rub Tug'(1)Scarlett Johansson has dropped out Rub & Tug vacating the role of the role of kingpin Dante “Tex” Gill. Johansson’s involvement in the role was controversial because Gill, a real-life figure, was a transgender man, whereas Johansson is a cisgender woman.

Johansson had taken a huge amount of online criticism for initially taking the role, and things only got worse when Bustle reported that Johansson said in a statement from a representative, “Tell them they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.” Also, the film would have reteamed her with Rupert Sanders, who helmed Johansson’s other controversial film, the Hollywood adaptation of Ghost in the Shell, in which she plays the Major, who was originally Japanese character Major Motoko Kusanagi in the manga and anime adaptations. In this new statement, given to Out.com, Johansson states how she’s learned more about the lack of sensitivity held in her initial comments about her involvement in the film.

“In light of recent ethical questions raised surrounding my casting as Dante Tex Gill, I have decided to respectfully withdraw my participation in the project,” she states. “Our cultural understanding of transgender people continues to advance, and I’ve learned a lot from the community since making my first statement about my casting and realize it was insensitive. I have great admiration and love for the trans community and am grateful that the conversation regarding inclusivity continues.”

Johansson also brings up a GLAAD statistic that LGBTQ+ characters dropped 40 percent in 2017 with no representation for trans characters in a major studio film.

“While I would have loved the opportunity to bring Dante’s story and transition to life, I understand why many feel he should be portrayed by a transgender person, and I am thankful that this casting debate, albeit controversial, has sparked a larger conversation bout diversity and representation in film. I believe that all artists should be considered equally and fairly.”  While Johansson might credit her debacle as advancing the conversation, Rub & Tug is only part of the larger conversation. FX’s Pose created by Ryan Murphy and renewed for a second season has made history each week thanks to its cast of transgender women of color, MJ Rodriguez, Dominque Jackson, Indya Moore, Hailie Sahar, and Angelica Ross. The show also has trans women behind the scenes, including Janet Mock, who recently made history as the first trans woman of color to write and direct a television show, musician Our Lady J, and dancer/choreographer Leoimy Maldonado.

Not only does Pose show that the talent is out there waiting to be discovered, but it also shows how, when people are allowed to be in charge of their own stories, an authenticity is added that only heightens the film or television show, making it better than it could have ever been if cast otherwise. Pose has great writing and great style, but it wouldn’t be what it is if it didn’t have the authentic voices of the women behind the scenes and in front of the camera, women who have lived through similar struggles as their characters.

In terms of Rub & Tug, Johansson wouldn’t have had any struggle to pull from; instead, she would have been using what is a reality for many people as an actor’s choice in the hopes of gaining recognition during awards season. If anyone should be getting recognized, it should be a trans actor who gets cast as Gill, a colorful and interesting figure in modern American history.

SOURCE:https://shadowandact.com/pose-shows-the-importance-of-accurate-casting-while-scarlett-johansson-drops-out-of-rub-tug

Tinashe Responds to Ben Simmons Beefing Up Security Because of Her: ‘L-O-L’

A new day, a new chapter in the everlasting drama between Tinashe, her ex-boyfriend Ben Simmons, and his new girlfriend Kendall Jenner (who he might have gotten together with while he was still with Tinashe). Kendall, for one, is apparently “annoyed” by the whole thing.

TMZ caught up with Tinashe outside a club in Los Angeles and asked her what she thinks of Ben’s plan to hire more security because he thinks she’s stalking him, and she reacted simply by laughing in the reporter’s face.  Tinashe didn’t do much other than laugh during this interview with TMZ, which, to be fair, seems like a pretty chill response for someone accused of stalking. Tinashe has said previously that she is “done” dating basketball players after this whole mess with Ben, but if reports are true, she did appear to enjoy at least part of the drama surrounding his new relationship with Kendall. The three found themselves at the same club earlier this month, and TMZ caught TInashe just as she was leaving. The reporter asked how she felt seeing him, and she replied by saying he had been texting her the whole time he’d been in there with Kendall.  That was big news for gossip lovers online for a few hours, but soon Ben’s camp denied the rumors, with TMZ reporting that Tinashe admitted she lied about the texts. It was this texting ordeal that triggered reports about Ben’s wish to beef up his own security.

Whatever happens next—and judging by the amount of news generated by these three so far, something will definitely happen—one thing is for sure: TMZ will be right there filming it.

SOURCE: https://www.complex.com/music/2018/07/tinashe-responds-to-ben-simmons-beefing-up-security-because-of-her-laughter

Kendrick Lamar and SZA Call “All the Stars” Lawsuit an “Overreach”

Kendrick Lamar and SZA are calling BS on a copyright infringement lawsuit. Back in February, British-Liberian artist Lina Iris Viktor sued the TDE artists over the official music video for “All the Stars.” The artist claimed the visual—directed by Dave Meyers and the Little Homies—featured elements of her gold-patterned work, and therefore infringed on her copyright.

“Why would they do this?” Viktor told the New York Times earlier this year. “It’s an ethical issue […] Cultural appropriation is something that continually happens to African-American artists, and I want to make a stand.”

Viktor is currently suing for damages as well as a cut of “All the Stars” profits; however, Kendrick and SZA’s legal team insist the artist’s lawsuit is “the epitome of litigation overreach.”

According to legal documents obtained by Pitchfork, the defendants argue that the music video did not use stolen elements from Viktor’s work; and even if it did, the art had no effect on the record’s massive success.

Their motion reads in part:

Common sense and logic dictate that the alleged 19-second use of the Artwork in the Video is far more speculative (and, in any event, no less speculative) a reason for people’s decisions to stream or buy the Single or Album […] Any attempt by Plaintiff to tie such decisions to the alleged use is especially suspect due to the added uncertainty as to whether people who play the Video actually watch it instead of just listening to the audio, and, if they do watch, whether they do so until the final minute when the alleged use occurs.

The document goes on to list Kendrick’s and SZA’s accolades, insisting their popularity and talent is what led “All the Stars” to become so profitable—not the alleged stolen art. They also argue that Viktor’s claim for reputation damages should be dismissed.

Viktor’s attorney responded to the motion with the following statement: “The defendants have filed a motion for partial summary judgment asking the Court to preclude indirect damages, i.e. damages for defendants’ profits from the sale of the single and the album attributable to the infringement in the music video. We have been expecting this motion and we are confident that the law on this issue is in our favor.”

SOURCE:https://www.complex.com/music/2018/07/kendrick-lamar-sza-request-all-stars-lawsuit-dismissed

Why Your Brain Tricks You Into Doing Less Important Tasks Yet again, your brain is working against you, and it’s because of a phenomenon called the urgency effect.

Here’s a list of things I did before starting this newsletter: I filled out the documents to renew my passport; clipped my cat’s nails; bought some household items; responded to a few Instagram DMs; and ate a snack because I was hungry.

Sound familiar?

Some of those tasks were relatively urgent — I need to get my passport in order soon, and those Instagram DMs were weighing on me. But none of those tasks were as important as writing this newsletter. I know I needed to get this done, but the call of those minor-yet-urgent tasks was too strong.

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To all of my procrastinators out there, I offer an explanation: Your brain is working against you, and it’s because of a phenomenon called the urgency effect.Our brains tend to prioritize immediate satisfaction over long-term rewards (you probably remember this from the famous marshmallow experiment). But a study from February found that subjects were more likely to perform smaller-but-urgent tasks that had a deadline than they were to perform more important tasks without one. This was true even if the outcome of the smaller task was objectively worse than that of the larger one.“Normatively speaking,” the researchers wrote, “people may choose to perform urgent tasks with short completion windows, instead of important tasks with larger outcomes, because important tasks are more difficult and further away from goal completion, urgent tasks involve more immediate and certain payoffs, or people want to finish the urgent tasks first and then work on important tasks later.”

In other words: Even if we know a larger, less-urgent task is vastly more consequential, we will instinctively choose to do a smaller, urgent task anyway. Yet again, thanks for nothing, brain.

So what are we to do? To answer that, let’s talk about boxes — specifically, one developed by our 34th president, Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Picture a 2×2 square with four boxes. At the top of the square are two labels: Urgent and non-urgent. On the left are two other labels: Importantand not important.On any given day, try to put every task you have to do into one of those four boxes. You’ll quickly see that the things tied to approaching deadlines are quite often not the most important things you have on your plate. Accordingly, schedule time to finish them later or, if possible, delegate them.

Similarly, it’s very likely you’ll wind up with tasks that don’t have a deadline and aren’t important. Immediately and aggressively remove them from your to-do list.

Two crucial bits I’ll leave you with: