National / International News

Afghans protest over poll 'fraud'

BBC - Fri, 2014-06-27 02:18
Thousands of supporters of Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah march through Kabul to protest against alleged fraud.

British troops' Kenya return delayed

BBC - Fri, 2014-06-27 02:11
A delay in an agreement between the UK and Kenya over British army training in the country leaves 900 troops uncertain of when they can return home.

Ukraine's sink or swim EU agreement

BBC - Fri, 2014-06-27 02:03
Ukraine signs EU deal risking Russian anger

Record passenger getaway expected

BBC - Fri, 2014-06-27 02:01
School holidays and Edinburgh's trades weekend will see more than 250,000 passengers fly from Glasgow and Edinburgh airports in the next few days.

Algeria celebrates World Cup success

BBC - Fri, 2014-06-27 02:01
Tens of thousands of fans party across Algeria after their team qualifies for the knock-out phase of the World Cup for the first time.

Mental health parity opens new business opportunities

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-06-27 02:00

Business may be looking up if you’re a psychiatrist, own a substance abuse clinic or run a residential treatment program for eating disorders. Thanks to changes in the law that have been in the works since 2008, the behavioral health sector will be on more equal footing with general medical care. That means millions more Americans will soon be able to seek treatment for mental health and substance abuse.

As the owner of the Renfrew Center, established in 1985, Sam Menaged could teach a class on ways to persuade insurers to cover patients. But even with all his savvy, Menaged still loses plenty of business.

“Renfrew turns away at least 40 percent of those patients who are referred to us because it’s prohibited under their policies,” he says.

But Menaged thinks the denial days may be ending.

“I’m already investigating other cities to open in, lower levels of care, but also residential care," he says.

If you are in the behavioral health business, 2014 is a defining moment. First, you’ve got the Affordable Care Act, which opens up service to all the uninsured. The law also requires most plans to include mental health and substance abuse services. The University of Maryland’s Howard Goldman says out-of-pocket spending – deductibles and co-pays – is on par with what a patient would spend on general medical care.

“It means that millions more people will be able to seek services in the private sector and have those services covered -- and covered in a way that will not cause them to be bankrupted,” he says.

More patients with better access to care have providers and investors humming. One in four Americans has a diagnosable mental disorder, including individuals with addiction. About 40 million people are expected to get improved access to mental health and substance abuse services by 2016.

With a market like that, it’s no wonder Wall Street has started sniffing around says Mark Covall, President of the National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems.

“There [are] huge investments in healthcare. And mental health has been on the sidelines. Today we are seeing investors look at this part of healthcare very differently,” he says.

Covall expects providers to plough new money back into their businesses and find ways to make services more affordable and attractive for insurers.

These new financial opportunities also represent behavioral health’s coming out party.

NYU Dean Sherry Glied says that makes "therapy" and "addiction" less like dirty words.

“We’ve deinstitutionalized in some sense stigma. We’ve taken it out of our insurance institutions. Whether we can take it out of our social institutions remains to be seen, but it’s definitely a big step forward,” she says.

Glied says finally, mental health is just another condition. And there’s room to make money off it, just like every other health condition.

Could Russia sanctions backfire?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-06-27 02:00

As the Obama Administration considers unilateral sanctions against Russia for its actions in Ukraine, business groups are waving red flags.

Both the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers have sponsored ads in US newspapers that suggest economic sanctions would really hurt US companies and jobs.

Consider sanctions targeted directly at Russia’s financial sector.

“Any manufacturer that has any office in Russia that uses a Russian bank would no longer be able to transact normal business, meet payroll, pay invoices,” says Linda Dempsey with the National Association of Manufacturers.

Consequences for US companies aside, the real question is: will sanctions work?

“I think US unilateral sanctions send much more of a political message than an economic one,” says Olga Oliker who researches Russia for the RAND Corporation.

She says sanctions would have more impact if they were enacted in concert with Europe.

Giving homes to the homeless without preconditions

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-06-27 02:00

Advocates for ending homelessness reported good news this spring: the number of homeless people in the United States has been doing down for years. It’s a trend that the Great Recession slowed, but did not stop. Advocates credit a strategy called “housing first”: putting people in apartments without pre-conditions — like becoming sober, applying for work, or treating mental-health disorders — and then supporting them with social services.

The strategy cuts against a widespread impulse. Few things are less popular than handouts for the “undeserving poor.”

“Who is more of a poster-child for the undeserving poor than a street homeless person with alcohol and drug addiction and behavior and health problems?” says Dennis Culhane from the University of Pennsylvania.

Culhane's research showed that  leaving those undeserving poor people on the street was really expensive. For instance, they got sick and showed up in ERs. A 2006 New Yorker story by Malcolm Gladwell made just this point, profiling a man Gladwell dubbed "Million-Dollar Murray."

“That has inverted the whole argument,” says Culhane. “The fact that they cost society something has now made their cause deserving." 

Turns out, it’s also easier for people to get off drugs and get their act together when they’ve got a roof over their heads.

Which, put in those terms, sounds like kind of a no-brainer.  

“Doesn’t it?” says Michael Banghart, executive director of Renaissance Social Services, an agency that puts homeless Chicagoans in apartments. “It’s kind of — duh, it sort of makes sense.”  

Still, Banghart admits it took him a few years to catch on. In a year-end review, he asked: Who ended up homeless again? Duh, said the data: people who got kicked out for substance abuse. "We said, 'That’s not working,'" Banghart recalls. "We’re creating homelessness again if we just say, 'You know, if you’re not clean you’re gonna go back to the streets.”'"

Since 2005, the number of chronically homeless people nationwide has fallen dramatically.

Pinpointing chronic-homelessness numbers for Chicago is difficult, but over a recent ten-year period, the city almost doubled its stock of permanent supportive housing, the destination for people served by housing-first approaches.  

Like many cities, Chicago now gives first priority to the most vulnerable people: people who are homeless long-term, those who are mentally ill, and those suffering from addiction.

Still, it takes initiative for someone to get housed. Documenting eligibility requires paperwork and months of meetings with doctors and caseworkers.

Mark Scrimenti got an apartment through Renaissance, though some of his friends are still sleeping in the park.  

"I can give ‘em information," he says. "And they’re all like, 'I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care.' But then wintertime comes and they’re underneath their blankets, shaking."

Mental health parity opens new business opportunities

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-06-27 02:00

Business may be looking up if you’re a psychiatrist, own a substance abuse clinic or run a residential treatment program for eating disorders. Thanks to changes in the law that have been in the works since 2008, the behavioral health sector will be on more equal footing with general medical care. That means millions more Americans will soon be able to seek treatment for mental health and substance abuse.

As the owner of the Renfrew Center, established in 1985, Sam Menaged could teach a class on ways to persuade insurers to cover patients. But even with all his savvy, Menaged still loses plenty of business.

“Renfrew turns away at least 40 percent of those patients who are referred to us because it’s prohibited under their policies,” he says.

But Menaged thinks the denial days may be ending.

“I’m already investigating other cities to open in, lower levels of care, but also residential care," he says.

If you are in the behavioral health business, 2014 is a defining moment. First, you’ve got the Affordable Care Act, which opens up service to all the uninsured. The law also requires most plans to include mental health and substance abuse services. The University of Maryland’s Howard Goldman says out-of-pocket spending – deductibles and co-pays – is on par with what a patient would spend on general medical care.

“It means that millions more people will be able to seek services in the private sector and have those services covered -- and covered in a way that will not cause them to be bankrupted,” he says.

More patients with better access to care have providers and investors humming. One in four Americans has a diagnosable mental disorder, including individuals with addiction. About 40 million people are expected to get improved access to mental health and substance abuse services by 2016.

With a market like that, it’s no wonder Wall Street has started sniffing around says Mark Covall, President of the National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems.

“There [are] huge investments in healthcare. And mental health has been on the sidelines. Today we are seeing investors look at this part of healthcare very differently,” he says.

Covall expects providers to plough new money back into their businesses and find ways to make services more affordable and attractive for insurers.

These new financial opportunities also represent behavioral health’s coming out party.

NYU Dean Sherry Glied says that makes "therapy" and "addiction" less like dirty words.

“We’ve deinstitutionalized in some sense stigma. We’ve taken it out of our insurance institutions. Whether we can take it out of our social institutions remains to be seen, but it’s definitely a big step forward,” she says.

Glied says finally, mental health is just another condition. And there’s room to make money off it, just like every other health condition.

Could Russia sanctions backfire?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-06-27 02:00

As the Obama Administration considers unilateral sanctions against Russia for its actions in Ukraine, business groups are waving red flags.

Both the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers have sponsored ads in US newspapers that suggest economic sanctions would really hurt US companies and jobs.

Consider sanctions targeted directly at Russia’s financial sector.

“Any manufacturer that has any office in Russia that uses a Russian bank would no longer be able to transact normal business, meet payroll, pay invoices,” says Linda Dempsey with the National Association of Manufacturers.

Consequences for US companies aside, the real question is: will sanctions work?

“I think US unilateral sanctions send much more of a political message than an economic one,” says Olga Oliker who researches Russia for the RAND Corporation.

She says sanctions would have more impact if they were enacted in concert with Europe.

Bidding on bitcoin in a U.S. auction

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-06-27 02:00

The U.S. Marshal’s office is holding an auction, and those who wish to register are required to send the government $200,000 by wire transfer.

What's for sale? $18 million worth of bitcoins previously stored on the computer servers of Silk Road, an illegal drug website.  

Auctioning off invisible, virtual currency is just like any other U.S. Marshal’s auction, says Andy Schmidt, research director with CEB TowerGroup, a financial services research group.

“From a practical standpoint, there’s no difference," says Schmidt. "You’re breaking up an asset into lots to get the best possible price at auction.”

Schmidt says because this is bitcoin, and the assets to be auctioned were seized from an online drug marketplace, there’s a bit more mystique. But the sale is also just business, says Jaron Lukasiewicz, CEO of Coinsetter, a bitcoin exchange based in New York.

"The auction is a rare opportunity for someone who makes a particularly huge purchase of bitcoin to enter the space at a great price," says Lukasiewicz.

Which is exactly what Lukasiewicz notes several hedge funds are hoping to do.  

Andy Schmidt says it’s unlikely the auction will affect the price of bitcoin. But he says a sale run by the government may have a chilling effect on potential buyers who may not wish to register their names with the U.S. Marshal’s office. Especially after it accidentally leaked email addresses of parties interested in the auction.

Giving homes to the homeless without preconditions

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-06-27 02:00

Advocates for ending homelessness reported good news this spring: the number of homeless people in the United States has been doing down for years. It’s a trend that the Great Recession slowed, but did not stop. Advocates credit a strategy called “housing first”: putting people in apartments without pre-conditions — like becoming sober, applying for work, or treating mental-health disorders — and then supporting them with social services.

The strategy cuts against a widespread impulse. Few things are less popular than handouts for the “undeserving poor.”

“Who is more of a poster-child for the undeserving poor than a street homeless person with alcohol and drug addiction and behavior and health problems?” says Dennis Culhane from the University of Pennsylvania.

Culhane's research showed that  leaving those undeserving poor people on the street was really expensive. For instance, they got sick and showed up in ERs. A 2006 New Yorker story by Malcolm Gladwell made just this point, profiling a man Gladwell dubbed "Million-Dollar Murray."

“That has inverted the whole argument,” says Culhane. “The fact that they cost society something has now made their cause deserving." 

Turns out, it’s also easier for people to get off drugs and get their act together when they’ve got a roof over their heads.

Which, put in those terms, sounds like kind of a no-brainer.  

“Doesn’t it?” says Michael Banghart, executive director of Renaissance Social Services, an agency that puts homeless Chicagoans in apartments. “It’s kind of — duh, it sort of makes sense.”  

Still, Banghart admits it took him a few years to catch on. In a year-end review, he asked: Who ended up homeless again? Duh, said the data: people who got kicked out for substance abuse. "We said, 'That’s not working,'" Banghart recalls. "We’re creating homelessness again if we just say, 'You know, if you’re not clean you’re gonna go back to the streets.”'"

Since 2005, the number of chronically homeless people nationwide has fallen dramatically.

Pinpointing chronic-homelessness numbers for Chicago is difficult, but over a recent ten-year period, the city almost doubled its stock of permanent supportive housing, the destination for people served by housing-first approaches.  

Like many cities, Chicago now gives first priority to the most vulnerable people: people who are homeless long-term, those who are mentally ill, and those suffering from addiction.

Still, it takes initiative for someone to get housed. Documenting eligibility requires paperwork and months of meetings with doctors and caseworkers.

Mark Scrimenti got an apartment through Renaissance, though some of his friends are still sleeping in the park.  

"I can give ‘em information," he says. "And they’re all like, 'I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care.' But then wintertime comes and they’re underneath their blankets, shaking."

House prices show two-pace market

BBC - Fri, 2014-06-27 01:59
Further evidence of a two-pace housing market has been revealed as data shows prices rocketing in London but rising below inflation in some regions of northern England.

Investigation into tenement blaze

BBC - Fri, 2014-06-27 01:56
An investigation is under way into the cause of a fire at tenement flats in Pollokshields in Glasgow.

AUDIO: Carney on 'new normal' interest rates

BBC - Fri, 2014-06-27 01:48
Bank of England governor Mark Carney discusses the possibility of interest rates rising, and whether the Bank has too much power.

Phil Collins donates Alamo hoard

BBC - Fri, 2014-06-27 01:44
Singer Phil Collins donates his extensive collection of Alamo memorabilia to a Texas museum located where the 1836 battle took place.

Nigeria boycott training in money row

BBC - Fri, 2014-06-27 01:36
Nigeria's World Cup squad refused to train on Thursday because of a row over bonus payments for their performance in Brazil.

VIDEO: Pirouetting on the Pyramid stage

BBC - Fri, 2014-06-27 01:35
Glastonbury welcomes music fans, heavy metal band Metallica and even the English National Ballet, on the first official day of the festival

VIDEO: Rain won't stop play at Glastonbury

BBC - Fri, 2014-06-27 01:32
The BBC's Lizo Mzimba meets music fans who are refusing to let rain stop play at the Glastonbury festival

Teach First moves to rural areas

BBC - Fri, 2014-06-27 01:11
Educational charity Teach First will expand into England's deprived coastal and rural areas, including Weymouth, Bournemouth, and Great Yarmouth.
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