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crickets's Journal
crickets's Journal
October 21, 2023

Pharmacy benefit managers have an impact.


Pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) play a big role in pharmacy closures. They create pharmacy networks for insurers, which direct patients to visit specific pharmacies. Often, the closest pharmacy in a pharmacy desert is an independent pharmacy rather than a chain—and that independent pharmacy is often not part of pharmacy networks, Qato said.

“A patient really can’t go there to fill their medications unless they want to pay a higher price,” she added. “They actually have to travel even farther to get their medications filled, and then that pharmacy slowly ends up losing customers and patients. So, not only do they get paid less, but increasingly, now they have fewer patients coming into their doors because of the growth of narrow networks.”

PBMs also decide how much a pharmacy gets reimbursed for dispensing a prescription, and rates can be less than what it costs the pharmacy to dispense the drug. According to a 2021 study from Yale Law School, some pharmacies report that up to 80% of their reimbursements are less than what it costs to dispense the drugs. [snip]

It’s even harder for pharmacies to stay open in neighborhoods with large Medicaid populations, as pharmacies get the lowest reimbursements for filling Medicaid prescriptions. A disproportionate share of Medicaid enrollees are Black or Hispanic/Latino, so pharmacies in predominantly Black and/or Hispanic/Latino neighborhoods are more likely to face these reimbursement challenges.

Linked in the article: https://www.healthcare-brew.com/stories/2022/11/18/what-are-pbms

The PBM industry is dominated by three players—Caremark, Express Scripts, and Optum Rx—that control around 80% of the market. Also, they’re all owned by insurers, said Hauser.

Much more explanation of PBMs in the article, but that was the lede buried in the last paragraph.

Eye-opening, and frustrating as hell.
October 11, 2023

MISINFO OPS: False weapons sale story using Bellingcat and BBC as sources


We're aware of a fake BBC video circulating on social media falsely claiming that Bellingcat has verified Ukrainian weapons sales to Hamas. We've reached no such conclusions or made any such claims. We'd like to stress that this is a fabrication and should be treated accordingly.
12:59 PM · Oct 10, 2023


Facebook used to be the propaganda boogeyman; now it's Twitter. Thanks to Elon, it's no longer trustworthy as a media source. This propaganda uses a Russian (perhaps soon Republican) talking point to attempt to discourage aid to Ukraine. It's slick, made believeable by spoofing trusted sources, and this type of misinformation will grow more common by the day. Be vigilant, especially regarding stories about Ukraine, and now Israel.

If you follow Beau of the Fifth Column, he has an excellent video out about this today:

October 9, 2023

Shooting and targeting are two different things.

Try a web search for "Israeli demolition of Palestinian properties" - here's a sample of some results.


I decry what Hamas is doing, but everyday Palestinians are not being treated properly by the Israeli government.


International criminal law has developed two crimes against humanity for situations of systematic discrimination and repression: apartheid and persecution. Crimes against humanity stand among the most odious crimes in international law. [snip]

The crime against humanity of persecution, also set out in the Rome Statute, the intentional and severe deprivation of fundamental rights on racial, ethnic, and other grounds, grew out of the post-World War II trials and constitutes one of the most serious international crimes, of the same gravity as apartheid. [snip]

The term apartheid has increasingly been used in relation to Israel and the OPT [Occupied Palestinian Territory], but usually in a descriptive or comparative, non-legal sense, and often to warn that the situation is heading in the wrong direction. In particular, Israeli, Palestinian, US, and European officials, prominent media commentators, and others have asserted that, if Israel’s policies and practices towards Palestinians continued along the same trajectory, the situation, at least in the West Bank, would become tantamount to apartheid.[1] Some have claimed that the current reality amounts to apartheid.[2] Few, however, have conducted a detailed legal analysis based on the international crimes of apartheid or persecution.[3]

In this report, Human Rights Watch examines the extent to which that threshold has already been crossed in certain of the areas where Israeli authorities exercise control.

Israel's government does not have clean hands in this. The entire situation is a heartbreaking, ugly mess and I claim no wisdom in how it should be handled, but how it has been handled up to now... is not right. And it's now blown up entirely, with innocent civilians caught in the middle. It's horrifying.

If only Jimmy Carter were not so near the end of his days. I don't know who else could possibly convince both sides to stop, talk, and find some common ground for peace. It would be wonderful if Joe Biden once again stunned everyone by pulling a political miracle out of his hat, but it's so much to ask in this case, I won't hold my breath.

My heart goes out to all affected by this. 😔

October 4, 2023

Beau's right. This is tfg's fault, along with those who continue to support him.

He threw away the 11th commandment of the party, one that even Newt followed: "thou shalt never speak ill of another Republican." And they let him do it, and joined in with him in doing it. And here we are.

This part is almost poetic:

Eight Republicans crossed the aisle and worked in a bipartisan fashion, with Democrats, making sure they could get the votes to oust McCarthy... because those Republicans believed that McCarthy was working with Democrats.

Take as much time with that as you need to.

--- tl;dr
Going back over this in my head just so I can keep it straight myself. Correction of misunderstanding on my part is welcome. I've felt like garbage since Friday, so sporadically following along with recent events has been problematic.

McCarthy and Biden had a deal after all of the debt ceiling nonsense from back in May:
Factbox: What's in the debt ceiling deal struck by Biden and McCarthy? https://archive.ph/8JTgY [Reuters]

At the last second, McCarthy broke his word (shocking) & threw out the agreement. He showed up Saturday with a new bill, one he couldn't get passed, one which Jeffries spent about an hour brilliantly lambasting before it eventually failed.

Last ditch effort was a Continuing Resolution to avoid a shutdown for another 45 days, a CR which did not include any support for Ukraine. The lack of money for Ukraine was the (oh-so-clever! teehee!) tug-of-war rope that the Dems were supposed to pick up... but didn't. There was one principled vote against to show disapproval on Ukraine's behalf, but no more. That's how McCarthy supposedly "reached across the aisle to work with Dems."

Cue McCarthy running right to the cameras and talk shows to blame Democrats for how things turned out.

Now McCarthy is gone and a tiny bang-bang with a bowtie decided his most important first act as interim speaker is to take away Nancy's hideaway office in the Capitol. She'd earned it through seniority, and at her age, it was a boon not to have to walk back and forth. Then there's the security issue. Slow clap to you, small and petty man.

Every decade or so, Republicans puff up and loudly crow about how the "adults in the room" are going to show us all "how governing is done" once they get the majority again.

--- /tl;dr

Interesting security note about why there must be an immediate interim speaker in place, dating back to some time around September 2001. I feel safer about the succession, and continuity of government, don't you? 🙄
October 1, 2023

Newt Gingrich happened.


A number of scholars have credited Gingrich with playing a key role in undermining democratic norms in the United States, and hastening political polarization and partisan prejudice.[6][7][8][67][68][69][70][71][9][72][73][10] According to Harvard University political scientists Daniel Ziblatt and Steven Levitsky, Gingrich's speakership had a profound and lasting impact on American politics and health of American democracy. They argue that Gingrich instilled a "combative" approach in the Republican Party, where hateful language and hyper-partisanship became commonplace, and where democratic norms were abandoned. Gingrich frequently questioned the patriotism of Democrats, called them corrupt, compared them to fascists, and accused them of wanting to destroy the United States. Gingrich furthermore oversaw several major government shutdowns.[74][75][76][54]

University of Maryland political scientist Lilliana Mason identified Gingrich's instructions to Republicans to use words such as “betray, bizarre, decay, destroy, devour, greed, lie, pathetic, radical, selfish, shame, sick, steal, and traitors” about Democrats as an example of a breach in social norms and exacerbation of partisan prejudice.[6] Gingrich is a key figure in the 2017 book The Polarizers by Colgate University political scientist Sam Rosenfeld about the American political system's shift to polarization and gridlock.[7]

What a destructive little man.
September 23, 2023

Obama took care of that!

Surprisingly, the first restoration of solar power to the White House came from W.

In 2003, George W. Bush, seemingly acting out of character, brought solar back to the White House. American City and Country reported on the development a decade ago:

The National Park Service, which manages the White House complex, installed a nine kilowatt, rooftop solar electric or photovoltaic system, as well as two solar thermal systems that heat water used on the premises.

Two solar thermal systems, one to heat the pool and spa and one to provide domestic hot water, were also installed.

“With solar systems popping up on homes, businesses and farms across the country, it’s most appropriate to have solar providing energy for America’s most recognizable home,” said Glenn Hamer, executive director at the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

With the Obama administration’s latest additions, the White House will increase its solar capacity with 20 to 50 new panels, USA Today reports. The administration added that the installation should pay for itself within eight years.

More background:

When the Obama administration installed new solar panels on the roof in 2013, they were well aware of the symbolism of their actions. The installation coincided with President Obama’s pledge that the federal government would get 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

President Obama was actually the third US President to install solar. President George W. Bush was the first to install a solar electric system at the White House, powering parts of the White House grounds, but he did so quietly. A second installation by Bush helped warm the presidential swimming pool.

(Lots more about the history of Carter's solar panels earlier in the article. It's pretty interesting.)
September 22, 2023

Questions re Skinner mode, main page

EarlG, I am loving the new site - thanks so much for all of your hard work! After trying all of the different modes, Skinner mode is easiest on the eyes, with one exception. On both my PC and phone, unvisited links are purple, with visited links showing a slightly pinker hue that is very difficult to distinguish. Is this normal? Would it be possible to have colors closer to the usual unvisited blue/visited purple colors on DU3? or even the white/gray option from Night mode?

Just in case:

PC (Asus Laptop)
Windows 10
Brave v 1.58.129

Phone (Pixel 3a xl)
Android 12 Build SP2A.220505.008
Brave v 1.5.62

I'm loving the main page layout, but one major change is a little jarring. Is there any reason why LBN headlines are at the bottom of the page now? I kinda miss 'em at the top. I'm so sorry if any of this is too nitpicky. Latest Videos thumbnail blocked in below image so I could fit everything in.


DU4 (Visited Canada link)


September 14, 2023

Found a link to the pdf


2nd footnote on p2.

Found through rawstory (I know) and their link to a twitter thread by legal analyst Lisa Rubin.


Eta - Yikes, I am so slow. I do not like trying to browse and post on my phone. 🤭

August 10, 2023

Fascinating guy. Thanks for sharing this, applegrove.

I wish there more people like him - and that those who think like him could get elected and successfully enact programs like it all over the country.


Rosen developed a program that costs about $7,400 per student per year. That’s about what states with good pre-K programs spend.

Florida ranks 41st in per pupil spending.

If Rosen were his own state, he’d rank 10th.

Florida’s pre-K program pays for three hours of care and learning a day. Rosen kids can learn all day — and not just their ABC’s and 123’s, but all the basic building blocks of life: How to follow instructions, relate with other kids, use manners and think for themselves. They learn how to learn.

Rosen’s approach is better. Take it from Charles Dziuban, the director of UCF’s Research Initiative for Teaching Effectiveness, who bubbles with enthusiasm when he talks about studies that show Rosen’s Tangelo grads from years ago make more money and do better in life than other kids.

It was impossible to pick an excerpt that fully covers the article's contents - it's well worth reading the whole thing.

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