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Tags: Israel.Submarines | Nuclear | Weapons | Another Solyndra | Fisker Automotive | Medicare | Medicaid

Israel Arming Submarines with Nuclear Weapons; Another Solyndra?

By    |   Sunday, 10 June 2012 08:53 PM EDT

Insider Report

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Medicare, Medicaid Called 'Open Invitation' to Fraud
2. Fisker Automotive Could Be Another 'Green' Fiasco
3. Israel Arming Subs With Nuclear Missiles
4. Cash-Strapped Calif. Building 'Bullet Train to Nowhere'
5. Boy Scouts Stand by No-Gays Policy
6. Half of Americans Now Believe in Creationism

1. Medicare, Medicaid Called 'Open Invitation' to Fraud

Medicare and Medicaid's model for paying out claims is an "open invitation" to fraud that could amount to nearly $200 billion a year.

But the programs could drastically cut down on fraud by adopting common-sense procedures already used by the private sector.

"When President Obama pushed through his healthcare bill, he cut more than $500 billion (over 10 years) in future Medicare spending in order to claim the bill was 'paid for,'" Forbes magazine observed.

"A better option would have been to aggressively target Medicare and Medicaid fraud, which could have provided the same amount of savings, and possibly more."

The major problem is the two programs' "pay and chase" model. The private sector uses pre-claims adjudication, searching for possible fraud or discrepancies before claims are paid, but Medicare and Medicaid routinely pay out claims and only pursue wrongdoers if information regarding fraud is later discovered.

As a result, fraud is rampant:

  • Federal officials in May announced that they had arrested 107 healthcare providers in several cities and charged them with defrauding Medicare out of $452 million.
  • The Medicare Fraud Strike Force, established in 2007, visited nearly 1,600 businesses in Miami that had billed Medicare $237 million for durable medical equipment, and found that nearly one-third of them didn't even exist.
  • A former official in New York City said 40 percent of the city's Medicaid payments could be "questionable," and The New York Times reported that a Brooklyn dentist had filed 991 claims in one day.

"Scamming Medicare and Medicaid is so lucrative that the Russian and Nigerian mobs have gotten involved," Forbes disclosed. One New York crime family has found that "defrauding Medicare is both more lucrative and less dangerous than some of the traditional organized crime activities."

The most common form of Medicare and Medicaid fraud is "phantom billing": The medical provider bills Medicare for procedures or tests that are unnecessary or never performed, or for unnecessary equipment or equipment that is billed as new but is in fact used.

The Government Accountability Office released a report in 2010 claiming to have identified $48 billion in "improper payments" — nearly 10 percent of the $500 billion in outlays that year.

But U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and others suggest there is an estimated $60 to $90 billion in fraud in Medicare and a similar amount in Medicaid.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is "beginning to embrace" the pre-claims adjudication model long used by the private sector, which limits fraud to just 1 to 1.5 percent compared to 10 to 15 percent for Medicare and Medicaid. "That is certainly a step in the right direction, but it doesn't go far enough, nor fast enough," Forbes opines.

"HHS's pay and chase model has been an open invitation to fraud — and criminals gladly accepted it.

"Catching the scammers after the fact is too late; most of the money is already gone. The government needs to process claims in a way that identifies questionable and improper claims before they are paid. If the Obama administration really wants to lower health care spending, Medicare and Medicaid fraud is a good place to start."

Editor's Note:

2. Fisker Automotive Could Be Another 'Green' Fiasco

Solar panel maker Solyndra made headlines when it declared bankruptcy last year after receiving $535 million in federal loans as part of the Obama administration's efforts to promote alternative energy.

Less publicized is the Obama administration's loan of a nearly identical amount, $529 million, to Fisker Automotive to produce plug-in hybrid vehicles. And it now appears that Fisker could leave taxpayers holding the bag for an investment that won't produce its promised American jobs.

California-based Fisker used the first $169 million of the loan to manufacture and market the Karma, a $100,000 luxury hybrid sports sedan that is assembled not in the United States, but in Finland.

Fisker began delivering the Karma to U.S. customers in July 2011. But sales have been slow. And earlier this year, a Karma stopped working in the middle of a Consumer Reports road test, and the vehicle's battery was suspected of a defect that raised the risk of fires, according to ABC News.

Then in May, a Karma went up in flames in the garage of its Texas owner. Fisker claimed neither the car nor its battery was to blame, but an investigation was launched.

Fisker received federal funds in part to help purchase a shuttered General Motors plant in Wilmington, Del., where it was to produce a new hybrid model, the Atlantic. The company predicted the plant would employ 2,000 workers, and Vice President Joe Biden was on hand when the company announced the purchase.

But the Department of Energy has frozen Fisker's green energy loan in response to its poor performance, ABC News reported.

Now Fisker officials have been signaling that the company could abandon plans to assemble the Atlantic in Delaware if it loses federal support, and instead build the vehicle overseas.

"If Fisker no longer gets government monies, then obviously we are in a place where other options are open to us and have to be considered from a business perspective," Fisker spokesman Roger Ormisher told ABC News.

The website reported on the Fisker mess, noting: "Insiders tell Big Government that the Fisker Karma scandal is a 'green car Solyndra.'"

Editor's Note:

3. Israel Arming Subs With Nuclear Missiles

Israel is placing nuclear-tipped cruise missiles on submarines supplied by Germany, according to a new report — assuring a retaliatory capability following a nuclear attack from Iran.

The German news weekly Der Spiegel disclosed that Berlin had until now denied any knowledge that Israeli submarines, largely financed by Germany, were being used as part of an Israeli atomic arsenal.

But former high-ranking officials of the German defense ministry told Der Spiegel that the government had long assumed that Israel was putting nuclear warheads on the Dolphin-class vessels.

Germany has supplied Israel with three Dolphin-class subs, footing most of the bill, and another three are scheduled to be delivered by 2017.

In Israel, foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told AFP: "I can confirm that we have German submarines. It's no secret. As for the rest, I am not in a position to talk about their capacity."

A spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the submarines had been delivered unarmed and stated: "The federal government will not speculate on subsequent arming."

Israel fears an attack from arch-foe Iran if the Islamic Republic obtains nuclear weapons, and like the United States has refused to rule out bombing Iranian nuclear sites.

Der Spiegel quoted Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak as saying: "The Germans can be proud to have ensured the existence of the state of Israel for several years to come."

Editor's Note:

4. Cash-Strapped Calif. Building 'Bullet Train to Nowhere'

A new poll shows that California voters no longer support building a $68 billion high-speed rail line connecting Los Angeles and San Francisco.

But the Democratic-controlled state legislature is expected to approve the initial $6 billion, 130-mile section of the line — which could lead to the construction of a costly "orphan track" in rural California not connected to either city.

The high-speed line was approved by 53 percent of voters in a 2008 ballot, allowing the state to raise $10 billion from bonds and secure $3.5 billion in stimulus money from the Obama administration.

Construction of the first section of the line is scheduled to begin in California's Central Valley near Merced, a town of 80,000, and proceed south for about 300 miles to the outskirts of Los Angeles. The link from Merced to San Francisco would not be completed until 2028.

But the project remains about $54 billion short of what is required for completion, "raising fears that the state will be unable to find the funds to finish later sections, and could be left with a futuristic rail line linking minor cities and farming communities" — an "orphan track linked to neither major city," The Telegraph reported in an article headlined "Buyers' remorse for California's 'bullet train to nowhere.'"

The new poll found that 59 percent of voters would oppose the bullet train project and halt borrowing if given another chance to vote. And only 33 percent said they would prefer the train's 2 1/2-hour trip — costing about $125 each way — over a one-hour plane ride or seven-hour drive.

But Gov. Jerry Brown remains committed to the project, even though he is proposing tax increases and austere public spending cuts, including a pay cut for state workers, to deal with a $16 billion budget deficit.

Jim Nielsen, Republican vice chairman of the state Assembly Budget Committee, told The Telegraph that the rail project is "an idea that gets worse the more information we get about it."

Editor's Note:

5. Boy Scouts Stand by No-Gays Policy

The Boy Scouts of America will not reconsider its ban on openly gay scouts and scout leaders despite a recent petition, signed by 275,000 people, calling for a change in policy.

In April, Jennifer Tyrrell was removed from her post as den leader of an Ohio Cub Scout troop because she is openly a lesbian. After her removal, Tyrrell started a petition for reinstatement with the scouts on It gained the support of several celebrities, including actress Julianne Moore and Max Adler of TV's "Glee."

Last week, Eagle Scout Zach Wahls from Iowa, who was raised by two lesbians, delivered the petition with 275,000 signatures to the annual meeting of the Boy Scouts of America.

As a courtesy to Wahls and Tyrrell, the Boy Scouts of America accepted the petition in a private meeting.

Also in April, a resolution was submitted to the national office by a member of the BSA voting board, asking the Boy Scouts of America to allow local chapters to determine their own membership policies.

According to the bylaws of the BSA, any resolution, regardless of subject matter, must be reviewed by committee.

In response, the Boy Scouts of America's national office issued an official statement: "Contrary to media reports, the Boy Scouts of America has no plans to change its membership policy. The introduction of a resolution does not indicate the organization is 'reviewing' a policy or signal a change in direction.

"The BSA is a voluntary, private organization that sets policies that are best for the organization. The BSA welcomes all who share its beliefs but does not criticize or condemn those who wish to follow a different path."

Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, gave his "kudos to the Boy Scouts for not buckling" to the demands of gay activists.

"I wish they would just leave the Scouts alone," he told CNS News. "[Homosexual activists] have all the freedom in the world to form the pro-gay Scouts, or the Gay Scouts."

This is not the first time the organization has been challenged on its membership policy, CNS News noted.

In June 2008, the Supreme Court ruled in the Scouts' favor protecting BSA's constitutional right to exclude members based on sexual orientation.

The current BSA policy on sexual orientation reads: "While the BSA does not proactively inquire about the sexual orientation of employees, volunteers, or members, we do not grant membership to members who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA."

Editor's Note:

6. Half of Americans Now Believe in Creationism

Only 15 percent of Americans now believe the human species evolved from lower forms of life and God had no part in the process, a new Gallup poll reveals.

And nearly half of those polled say they believe God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years.

The survey asked respondents which of the following statements came closest to their views on the origin and development of human beings:

1. Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process — the "theistic evolution" choice.

2. Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process — the "secular evolution" choice.

3. God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so — the creationism choice.

Creationism was chosen by 46 percent of respondents; 32 percent said they believe in theistic evolution; and 15 percent opted for secular evolution.

Not surprisingly, creationism was the choice of 67 percent of respondents who said they attend church weekly, while 25 percent of those who rarely or never attend church agreed with that view.

But it is somewhat surprising that 46 percent of college graduates — and 25 percent of those with postgraduate education — say God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years.

Only 5 percent of Republicans said they think humans evolved without divine guidance, compared to 19 percent of Democrats and 19 percent of independents; 58 percent of Republicans adhere to the creationism view, along with 41 percent of Democrats and 39 percent of independents.

"Despite the many changes that have taken place in American society and culture over the past 30 years, including new discoveries in biological and social science, there has been virtually no sustained change in Americans' views of the origin of the human species since 1982," Gallup observed.

"Some 78 percent of Americans today believe that God had a hand in the development of humans in some way, just slightly less than the percentage who felt this way 30 years ago."

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Editor's Note:

Editor's Notes:

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Sunday, 10 June 2012 08:53 PM
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