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Mexican State Attorney General Arrested At U.S. Border In San Diego On Drug Trafficking Charges
Created: Thursday, 30 March 2017 17:41

Federal agents in San Diego have arrested the attorney general for the Mexican state of Nayarit on charges that he conspired to smuggle heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine into the U.S.

Edgar Veytia, 46, was detained Monday at the U.S. border in San Diego on an indictment handed down by a grand jury in New York, Ralph DeSio, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said Wednesday.The indictment was filed March 2 in the Eastern District of New York — the same jurisdiction where federal prosecutors have charged Sinaloa cartel commander Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán — and a U.S. magistrate judge in Brooklyn unsealed the charging papers on Tuesday.

As attorney general, Veytia is the top law enforcement official in Nayarit, a state in western Mexico between the cities of Mazatlán and Puerto Vallarta.

The indictment accuses Veytia of conspiring to manufacture and distribute illicit drugs and import them into the U.S. from 2013 — the year he became attorney general — until February of this year. Court papers refer to Veytia by a range of aliases, including Diablo, Eepp and Lic veytia.

Federal officials did not release additional details about the inquiry except that it involved agents from the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

Mexican media reported allegations of ties between Veytia and the Jalisco New Generation cartel. In 2011, Veytia was the target of an unsuccessful assassination attempt later linked to those affiliated with the Sinaloa cartel, local media reported.

After his arrest, Veytia appeared before a federal magistrate judge Tuesday and was being held in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in San Diego, according to custody records.

Defense attorney Guadalupe Valencia said he was retained to represent Veytia for removal proceedings to New York, where the criminal case was filed. The removal hearing is scheduled for April 11.

“It’s a brand-new case,” Valencia said. “No one has any info other than the indictment.”

Roberto Sandoval Castañeda, the governor of Nayarit, issued a statement pledging to uphold public safety. At a news conference, he also announced that Carlos Alberto Rodriguez Valdez would assume the duties of attorney general.

“I want to make it very clear to the people of Nayarit, men and women, as your governor, I will personally take care of security,” Sandoval Castañeda said. “We will not lower our guard; we will remain one of the safest states.”

Source:  latimes.com

When $65,000 A Year For A Drug Is Applauded
Created: Monday, 03 April 2017 18:24

(CNN)Two new drugs were cleared to hit the market last week: an eczema drug that will cost $37,000 per year and one for multiple sclerosis that will cost $65,000.

The drugs drew both praise and criticism for their five-digit price tags.
Researchers and patient organizations applauded the prices, which were cheaper than similar drugs on the market. They hoped the prices would please insurers and make the drugs more widely available.
"We encourage other companies to follow suit, creating a drug pricing trend that keeps patients first," said Cyndi Zagieboylo, president of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, in a statement about the multiple sclerosis drug Ocrevus.
But the following day, a group of lawmakers introduced legislation to crack down on high drug prices, reflecting a growing public outrage over the cost of medicines.
"No one should have to choose between affording a lifesaving drug and putting food on the table," said Sen. Al Franken, one of the lawmakers, speaking to the Senate on Thursday.
The public is becoming increasingly aware of soaring drug prices; a Kaiser Health Tracking Poll in October revealed that tackling high drug costs was the top health care priority for Americans leading up to election day. Rising deductibles and out-of-pocket payments could also mean that patients themselves are seeing more of these costs.
"The root of (the public's negative opinion) is that there's a huge problem that's getting worse," said Peter Maybarduk, who runs the Access to Medicines program for watchdog group Public Citizen. "But added on to that, you have scandals and ... political leaders pointing out the changes that need to happen."
The past few years have seen a number of high-profile price increases.
Pharmaceutical company Mylan upped the price of its EpiPen at least 15 times since 2009. Under "pharma bro" Martin Shkreli, the price of a drug called Daraprim surged 5,000%.
Meanwhile, lowering drug prices and health care spending became a major presidential campaign promise across party lines last year, and the failure to address it may have added to the recent public disapproval of the American Health Care Act.
"That was a big part of the election cycle," Maybarduk said. "But I do feel it's an area where pain and public opinion are driving the candidates."

A conflict of interest?

The president of the National Eczema Association, Julie Block, said the new drug Dupixent "appears to be priced on the lower end of the cost of biologic therapies." Her response mirrors that of multiple sclerosis advocate Zagieboylo.
But comparing drugs that are already on the market is a poor way of determining what's fair, Maybarduk said.
"The other drugs on the market are sold under monopoly conditions," he said, referring to tactics and policies that discourage price negotiation and prevent competition. "The entire architecture of the market is wacky."
According to some advocates, $65,000 may also seem cheaper due to a conflict of interest.
Source:  cnn.com
Uber Pleads With Users Deleting The App: 'We're Hurting'
Created: Sunday, 26 February 2017 01:34

Uber's damage control efforts continue.

This week, when some users went to delete their Uber accounts, they received an email saying the company is "deeply hurting" following a former engineer's allegations of systemic sexism at the company. The culture detailed by Susan Fowler made some customers vow to stop using the app.


An Uber spokeswoman confirmed to CNNTech the authenticity of the message, which directly references Fowler and the accusations, and was first reported by Mashable. Users received the message in an email from Uber regarding account deletion -- to delete an Uber account, users must fill out a form on the company's website and Uber sends an email to confirm the deletion.

The spokeswoman said Uber sent the message to about 40 users who specifically referenced the allegations while deleting their accounts. She also said Uber has stopped sending the message to customers, which is similar to a memo CEO Travis Kalanick sent internally this week.

Source:  cnn.com

List Of winners For The 89th Academy Awards
Created: Monday, 27 February 2017 05:53

List of winners for the 89th annual Academy Awards presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Best Picture: "Moonlight."

Actor: Casey Affleck, "Manchester by the Sea."

Actress: Emma Stone, "La La Land."

Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali, "Moonlight."

Supporting Actress: Viola Davis, "Fences."

Directing: Damien Chazelle, "La La Land."

Foreign Language Film: "The Salesman," Iran.

Adapted Screenplay: "Moonlight," screenplay by Barry Jenkins, story by Tarell Alvin McCraney.

Original Screenplay: Kenneth Lonergan, "Manchester by the Sea."

Production Design: "La La Land," Production Design: David Wasco; Set Decoration: Sandy Reynolds-Wasco.

Cinematography: Linus Sandgren, "La La Land."

Sound Mixing: "Hacksaw Ridge," Kevin O'Connell, Andy Wright, Robert Mackenzie and Peter Grace.

Sound Editing: "Arrival," Sylvain Bellemare.

Original Score: "La La Land," Justin Hurwitz.

Original Song: "City of Stars" from "La La Land," music by Justin Hurwitz, lyric by Ben Pasek and Justin Paul.

Costume Design: Colleen Atwood, "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them."

Documentary (short subject): "The White Helmets," Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara.

Documentary Feature: "O.J.: Made in America," Ezra Edelman and Caroline Waterlow.

Film Editing: "Hacksaw Ridge," John Gilbert.

Makeup and Hairstyling: "Suicide Squad," Alessandro Bertolazzi, Giorgio Gregorini and Christopher Nelson.

Animated Feature Film: "Zootopia," Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Clark Spencer.

Animated Short Film: "Piper," Alan Barillaro and Marc Sondheimer.

Live Action Short Film: "Sing," Kristof Deak and Anna Udvardy.

Visual Effects: "The Jungle Book," Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones and Dan Lemmon.

Source:  ap.com

Doctors Are Refusing To Operate On Smokers. Here’s Why The Trend Will Grow
Created: Friday, 24 February 2017 04:28

An irate man contacted me recently to complain he’d been turned down for back surgery because he’s a smoker.

“It’s just not right,” said the Charlotte man, who suffers from chronic hip and leg pain. “I need this surgery. It’s to the point where I can’t walk around the block with my dogs.”

He acknowledged smoking is a “bad habit,” but after 35 years, he’s not sure he can quit. And he doesn’t think he should have to.

“It didn’t used to be this way,” he said. “Everybody’s got on their little righteous path.… My grandfathers on both sides smoked their entire lives. They didn’t die until one of them was 92, and one of them was 88.”

No doubt, genetics play a huge role in how healthy we are and how long we live. But personal behavior is also a big factor.

Most of us know that smoking is linked to heart disease and cancer. But in recent years, research has shown that smoking also inhibits wound healing because it decreases blood flow. As a result, smokers don’t do as well as non-smokers after having spinal fusion surgery and joint replacements.

One study found that smokers who got joint replacement surgery had an 80 percent higher chance than nonsmokers of needing repeat surgery because of complications from infection.

For this reason, surgeons who do those procedures have begun asking patients to quit smoking – or at least stop for four to six months before and after surgery.

“We want the best results possible,” said Dr. Bryan Edwards, head of orthopedic surgery for Novant Health. “We’re not denying you a surgery. We’re preventing you from having a complication.

“If you’re doing surgery, you’re trying to get the bones to unite, and if you don’t have good blood flow, the results aren’t as good,” Edwards said. “I tell patients, ‘Complications from surgery are far worse than whatever condition you have now. If you’ve got an infected back that doesn’t fuse, you don’t want that.’”

Unlike the man who said he was turned away by a surgeon, most patients are counseled about the risks and referred for help, such as smoking cessation classes. They’re not expected to quit cold turkey.

“I expect there may have been a miscommunication” in the case of the irate patient, said Dr. Leo Spector, a specialist in spine surgery at OrthoCarolina. “A lot of things obviously boil down to the physician and patient conversation.”

Smoking isn’t the only behavior patients may be asked to change as part of “surgical optimization” – the doctors’ term for getting patients in the best health possible before an operation to improve the outcome. Obesity and diabetes also decrease the chances of a successful surgery.

Spector said it’s part of a national trend for doctors to run down a checklist of behaviors in preparation for elective surgery. Before spinal fusion, Spector said he might tell a patient: “Listen, I want you to stop smoking, but if you can’t stop smoking, at least cut it in half. A two-pack-a-day smoker is going to have a higher risk (of complications) than a two-cigarette-a-day smoker.”

If patients are overweight or have diabetes, he might refer them for nutrition counseling and even bariatric surgery to help them lose weight and get their glucose levels under control. Spector said he’d ask patients with back pain to stop smoking and try physical therapy for three months to see if the pain would go away without surgery.

“Have I refused to operate because they wouldn’t stop smoking?” he asked. “Yes.”

Helping patients achieve better surgical outcomes will also help doctors as the health care payment system continues to evolve.

Today, most doctors continue to be paid in a fee-for-service system, which means they’re reimbursed for each appointment, test or procedure. Perversely, they make more money if a patient has complications and requires extra care.

In Charlotte, some surgeons who perform spine surgery and knee and hip replacements have begun using a “value-based” system that means accepting a single “bundled payment” for each patient encounter. This gives doctors an incentive to provide the best care for each patient.

If all goes well and care is delivered for less than the contract price, the doctor or hospital keeps the savings. If there are complications and the patient needs more care, the doctor or hospital absorbs the extra cost.

So, operating on smokers, with potentially expensive complications, could hurt the bottom line for physicians.

At OrthoCarolina, Spector said doctors agree that all patients who register for the bundled payment plan must go through “surgical optimization” so they’re as healthy as possible before surgery. At some point, insurance companies may even begin to refuse to pay for elective surgeries on smokers.

“A year from now, I’ll probably be at a point where I would require all my patients to stop smoking,” Spector said. “Currently, I evaluate it on a case-by-case basis. Over time, we’re going to feel comfortable being a little more stringent with our patients about these modifiable risks.”

Edwards said he finds many patients “don’t take it well at first” when he advises them to quit smoking or lose weight. But many of them thank him later.

“Everybody needs something in their life to motivate them,” he said. “Usually, if the patient makes the commitment to stop and gets through the procedure, I find the majority of them just stop smoking.”

Source:  sacbee.com


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