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March, 2017

 

U.S. Physician Pleads Guilty In $17.1 Million Health Care Fraud Scheme

Second Detroit-Area Physician Pleads Guilty In $17.1 Million Health Care Fraud Scheme

Handcuffed hands (line drawing)

A second Detroit-area physician pleaded guilty today for his role in a $17.1 million Medicare fraud scheme involving medically unnecessary physician visits and drug prescriptions.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Daniel L. Lemisch of the Eastern District of Michigan, Special Agent in Charge David P. Gelios of the FBI’s Detroit Division and Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Chicago Regional Office made the announcement.

Leonard Van Gelder, 69, of Caledonia, Michigan, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud before U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn of the Eastern District of Michigan.  Sentencing will be set at a later date.

Van Gelder was a physician for Lake Michigan Mobile Doctors, a Chicago-based home physician service with an office in Southfield, Michigan, from November 2011 to August 2013.  As part of his guilty plea, Van Gelder admitted that he saw patients who did not qualify for his services and whose visits were billed to Medicare at the highest billing codes.

Van Gelder also admitted that he prescribed to patients medically unnecessary narcotics, such as Vicodin, in exchange for the ability to bill Medicare for the patients’ visits.  According to court documents, Mobile Doctors billed Medicare approximately $17.1 million as a result of the scheme.

In December 2016, Van Gelder’s co-conspirator, Stephen Mason, 46, of Zionsville, Indiana, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. One additional doctor, Gerald Daneshvar, 41, of West Bloomfield, Michigan, is awaiting trial.  All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The FBI and HHS-OIG investigated the case, which was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Michigan.  Fraud Section Trial Attorney Amy Markopoulos is prosecuting the case.

The Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force.  Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 3,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $11 billion.  In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

[Source: U.S Department of Justice -/- Media Relations]
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The World Is Facing Severe Food Insecurity, 108 Million People At Risk

108 Million People In The World Face Severe Food Insecurity – Situation Worsening

Africa Food Security 15 (10665294293)

New global report on food crises offers benchmark for action needed to avoid catastrophe. Despite international efforts to address food insecurity, around 108 million people in the world were severely food insecure in 2016, a dramatic increase compared with 80 million in 2015, according to a new global report on food crises released in Brussels.

The report, whose compilation required integrating several measurement methodologies, represents a new and politically innovative collaboration between the European Union and USAID/FEWSNET, regional food security institutions together with UN agencies including the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Food Programme and Unicef.

The dramatic increase reflects the trouble people have in producing and accessing food due to  conflict, record-high food prices in local markets in affected countries and extreme weather conditions such drought and erratic rainfall caused by El Niño.  

Civil conflict is the driving factor in nine of the 10 worst humanitarian crises, underscoring the strong linkage between peace and food security, says the Global Report on Food Crises 2017 report.

By joining forces to deliver neutral analytical insights drawn from multiple institutions, the report – to be issued annually – enables better-informed planning decisions to respond to food crises in a more timely, global and coordinated way.

“This report highlights the critical need for prompt and targeted action to effectively respond to the food crises and to address their root causes. The EU has taken leadership in this response. In 2016, we allocated €550 million already, followed by another €165 million that we have just mobilized to assist the people affected by famine and drought in the Horn of Africa,” said Neven Mimica, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development.

“The report is the outcome of a joint effort and a concrete follow-up to the commitments the EU made at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, which identified the urgent need for transparent, independent but consensus-based analysis of crises. I hope this document will be a strong tool for the whole international community to improve the coordination of our responses to crises,” added Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management.

Most critical situations are worsening

This year, the demand for humanitarian and resilience building assistance will further escalate as four countries are at risk of famine: South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and northeast Nigeria.

Other countries that require massive levels of assistance because of widespread food insecurity are Iraq, Syria (including refugees in neighbouring countries) Malawi and |Zimbabwe. In the absence of immediate and substantive action not only to save people’s lives, but also to pull them back from the brink of famine, the food security situation in these countries will continue to worsen in coming months, according to the new report.

“The cost in human and resource terms only increases if we let situations deteriorate,” said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva. “We can prevent people dying from famine but if we do not scale up our efforts to save, protect and invest in rural livelihoods, tens of millions will remain severely food insecure.”

 “The numbers tell a deeply worrying story with more than 100 million people severely food-insecure, a level of suffering which is driven by conflict and climate change. Hunger exacerbates crisis, creating ever greater instability and insecurity. What is a food security challenge today becomes tomorrow’s security challenge,” said Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director of the World Food Program. “It is a race against time – the world must act now to save the lives and livelihoods of the millions at the brink of starvation.”

 The 108 million people reported to be facing severe food insecurity in 2016 represent those suffering from higher-than-usual acute malnutrition and a broad lack of minimally adequate food even with external assistance. This includes households that can cope with their minimum food needs only by depleting seeds, livestock and agricultural assets needed to produce food in the future.

Without robust and sustained action, people struggling with severe food insecurity risk slipping into an even worse situation and eventual starvation.

[Source: UN FAO -/- Media Relations]
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Afghanistan Military To Receive 200 Helicopters To Enhance National Security

Afghan Air Force MD-530F helicopter fires machine guns

Afghanistan is expected to get up to 200 helicopters and other aircraft as part of a four-year plan to improve the nation’s security forces to help beat the Taliban insurgency, according to Dawlat Waziri, the spokesman for the Afghan Defense Ministry. Waziri said discussion of the plan is part of the agenda of a top level… Read More


Turkish Military Terminates ‘Euphrates Shield’ Operation In Syria

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Turkey is declaring an end to its 7-month-old operation in northern Syria to clear Islamic State militants and Syrian Kurds from the region along its border. It is not clear to what extent Turkey’s military operations will change inside northern Syria, where the Syrian government, Islamic State, Kurdish forces and rebel groups are all competing for… Read More


France’s Islamic Deradicalization Program Is Failing, Young Muslims Still Joining Jihad In Iraq And Syria

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France’s Islamic deradicalisation programme is designed to stop young, embittered Muslims embarking on violent jihad in Iraq and Syria. More French nationals have left to fight in Syria and Iraq than any other European country, however it was one of the last to embark on a deradicalisation programme. But a recent report by the Senate has… Read More


Hawaii Judge, Thwarts Trump Refugee Plan, Sets U.S. Refugee Acceptance Back To Original Obama Numbers

United States District Court for the District of Hawaii

The U.N.’s massive Dadaab camp in Kenya sends a steady stream of Somali refugees to the United States. More than 200 Somalis have entered the U.S. as refugees since Trump’s first full day in office on Jan. 21. The U.S. State Department is ramping up refugee admissions back to more normal levels after it had slowed… Read More


Luxembourg Claims Legal Right, Wants EU Banking Body Post Brexit

Luxembourg stakes claim for EU banking body post-Brexit

Luxembourg City pano Wikimedia Commons

Luxembourg has claimed the legal right to host the London-based European Banking Authority after Brexit, a government spokeswoman said today. Citing a European Union law dating back to 1965, Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel made his case in a letter to EU Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker, the spokeswoman said.

Bettel’s letter is dated Wednesday (29 March), the same day that Britain’s own letter to Tusk officially notified the EU that the UK intended to leave the bloc.

“Luxembourg’s claim to host the EBA is nothing more than the implementation of this agreement that is still valid today,” the spokeswoman told AFP.

“We want the 1965 decision to be respected and therefore claim that the EBA’s new host should be Luxembourg.”

The move fires the opening shot in what will certainly be a furious battle by EU countries to claim UK-based Brexit spoils. 

Up for grabs also is the case for the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and its London staff of 900, including pharmaceutical experts, biologists and doctors from every corner of Europe.

The EBA is perhaps best known for its regular stress tests on the EU’s financial sector, which have become a vital focus for investors and regulators in the wake of the global financial crisis.

Member states “are willing to locate in Luxembourg, or to transfer there, to other community bodies and departments, particularly those concerned with finance”, Bettel’s letter quoted the law as saying.

But media reports suggest that cities including Amsterdam, Dublin, Frankfurt, Paris and Vienna are also trying to woo the EBA away.

Germany’s powerful Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble last week said he would plead strongly to have the EBA based in Frankfurt.

Luxembourg believes that the 1965 law stipulates that any decision to locate an economic institution of the EU elsewhere than Luxembourg requires a special exception.

This was granted to Britain in the case of the EBA, now in London, and Germany for the European Central Bank, which is based in Frankfurt.

Luxembourg already hosts the European Court of Justice as well as the European Stability Mechanism, the eurozone rescue fund that plays a leading role in the Greek debt crisis.

EU ministers are also bound by law to hold their regular monthly gatherings in Luxembourg three times a year, instead of the usual Brussels.

The London headquarters of the European Union’s EBA financial regulator, in the Canary Wharf district, has 170 staff.

Britons voted in June to quit the EU bloc in a referendum that sent shockwaves across the globe and prompted several banks to announce plans to move jobs from London to continental Europe.

The EBA refused to comment on the latest claim. 

Last week, executive director Adam Farkas told AFP of the “really wide interest from European capitals who expressed their desire or intention to host us”.

“We do not have a formal role in deciding this,” Farkas said, adding that it would be up to the EU governments, commission and European parliament to decide.

More:

‘We know we will lose influence’ May tells MPs as she triggers Brexit

UK ambassador to Spain: Gibraltar’s cross-border movement a post-Brexit priority

 
[Source: EurActiv.com -/- Media Relations]
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First Two Months Of The Year Foreign Investors Put $16.8 Billion Into The Brazilian Economy

Foreign Investment Hits Record High For First Bimester

Ground Zero - Recife - Pernambuco - Brazil

In the first two months of 2017, foreign investors put US$ 16.8 billion in the Brazilian productive sector. Resources went to all segments of the economy. After economic reforms, foreign investment in the country has hit a record high for the first two months of the year 

In the wake of the economic reforms implemented by the federal government, Brazil has managed to regain confidence from economic agents and once again arouse the interest of foreign investors. In the first two months of the year, US$ 16.8 billion entered the Brazilian economy from abroad, a record for the first two months of the year.

In practice, these figures mean more resources to expand businesses, develop projects and generate more wealth and economic growth. Compared to the first bimester of 2016, this represents a 57% increase in foreign capital inflows. In February alone, Brazil received US$ 5.3 billion in foreign direct investment.

The money reached almost all branches of the Brazilian economy. The industry sector was the recipient of the most inflows: US$ 7.3 billion. The list then follows with coke and oil products (US$ 2.8 billion), chemicals (US$ 1.5 billion) and metallurgy (US$ 820 million).

Services and agribusiness

The services segment also achieved significant inflows, of US$ 6.9 billion, in the first bimester of 2017. The three largest items in the services heading were electricity and gas (US$ 5 billion), trade (US$ 832 million) and financial services (US$ 201 million).

Agribusiness and mining received US$ 1.6 billion in foreign investment in the same period. The result was positively influenced by the extraction of metallic minerals (US$ 1 billion), oil and natural gas extraction (US$ 362 million) and mining support activities (US$ 162 billion).

Foreign investment hits record high for first bimester

[Source: Republic of Brazil -/- Media Relations]
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France’s Chinese Immigrants React To Police Shooting Of Chinese Man

Dragon - Chinese New Year, Paris, 2011n2

Chinese immigrants and the Chinese government have reacted angrily to a police killing in Paris that prompted violent street clashes and exposed the fears and frustrations of France’s large Asian community. Protesters gathered Tuesday in northeastern Paris for a second day of demonstrations over the fatal shooting of a Chinese man in his apartment, and police… Read More


Opponent Nations In ‘South China Sea Dispute’ Using Tourism To Stake Territorial Claims

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Countries around the disputed South China Sea are opening tiny islets, some once tiny reefs, for tourism as a way of proving territorial claims, but the trend is expected to falter long term for lack of economic returns. In early March, a cruise ship from China took 300 people to the sea’s Paracel Islands, drawing a… Read More


History, Why Did Russia Sell Alaska To America?

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By William L. Iggiagruk Hensley, Visiting Distinguished Professor, University of Alaska Anchorage. One hundred and fifty years ago, on March 30, 1867, U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward and Russian envoy Baron Edouard de Stoeckl signed the Treaty of Cession. With a stroke of a pen, Tsar Alexander II had ceded Alaska, his country’s last… Read More


Air Pollution Leads To The Premature Death Of Millions Of People Worldwide

Yangzhou - industrial area west of Wenfeng Temple - P1130239

Coal is costly Pexels Pollution is a global problem. Air Pollution kills. A study released yesterday in the journal Nature found that in 2007, air pollution lead to the premature deaths of 3.45 million people worldwide—a number equivalent to the population of the state of Connecticut. And to add insult to injury, air pollution doesn’t respect… Read More