The nation’s food stamp program, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), provided a record $74.6 billion in benefits to needy Americans in Fiscal Year 2012 — paying out $2 billion too much, according to the annual quality control report for FY 2012, the most recent year for which data is available.
And only in Washington could that $2 billion in overpayments be viewed as a good thing.
Combining the $2,069,402,427 in overpayments with the $484,885,314 in underpayments for fiscal 2012 yields a “payment error rate” of 3.42 percent. “This remains the lowest national payment error rate in the history of SNAP,” the report noted. (The 3.42 percent payment error rate is the sum of the FY 2012 overpayment rate — 2.77 percent — and the underpayment rate –0.65 percent.)
The data show the payment error rate has declined over time, from 5.64% in FY 2007; 5.01% in FY 2008; 4.36% in FY 2009; 3.81% in FY 2010; 3.80% in FY 2011; and the record low 3.42% in the latest FY 2012 report.
But over a five-year period, covering most of the Obama presidency, the size of the SNAP program — both in dollars and the amount of overpayments — has greatly increased.
Read the full article at CNSNews.com.
A Justice Department fraud prevention program came under fire Thursday for allegedly morphing into actively pressuring banks to deny financial services to businesses for political reasons.
Operation Choke Point functions as a partnership between the Department of Justice (DOJ) and various other federal agencies which deal with bank regulations, specifically the Treasury and the SEC. The objective of the project is to choke-off fraudulent businesses from accessing financial services, in an effort to protect consumers.
The controversy, however, is over allegations that the DOJ is pressuring financial institutions to decline doing business with so-called “high risk” industries which line up squarely against the political leanings of the current administration. These businesses include ammunition sales, payday loans, pornography, fireworks companies, and others—24 industries in total, as listed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
“Operation Choke Point is one of the most dangerous programs I have experienced in my 45 years of service as a bank regulator, bank attorney and consultant, and bank board member. Operating without legal authority and guided by a political agenda, unelected officials at the DOJ are discouraging banks from providing basic banking services…to lawful businesses simply because they don’t like them,” said William M. Isaac, former chairman of the FDIC.
Read the full article at The Daily Caller.
“At this time we need to ask everyone to PLEASE REMAIN CALM!!”
Three more plague cases were found in Colorado, a week after the first infection of the deadliest form of the disease was reported in the state in a decade.
The man initially reported with pneumonic plague on July 11 is hospitalized. Two of the new cases also had pneumonic plague, while the third had a milder form. All four cases may be linked to the original man’s dog, which died from the illness, state health officials said.
The people newly-found to be infected were treated with antibiotics, recovered, and are no longer contagious. Health officials suspect the dog that died may been exposed to plague-infected fleas from a prairie dog or rabbit, said Jennifer House, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment department.
“While this is not a daily, weekly, or monthly occurrence, it isn’t without precedence,” said Jim Siedlecki, director of public information of Adams County, where the original victim lives, in a telephone interview. “A case of plague where fleas and prairie dogs are involved isn’t earth shattering for Colorado.”
Read the full story at Bloomberg.com.
“For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.”—Matthew 24:7-8
A Southern California couple who scaled back watering their lawn amid the state’s drought received a warning from the suburb where they live that they might be fined for creating an eyesore – despite emergency statewide orders to conserve.
Michael Korte and Laura Whitney, who live near Los Angeles in Glendora, said on Thursday they received a letter from the city warning they had 60 days to green up their partially brown lawn or pay a fine ranging from $100 to $500.
“I don’t think it’s right for us to start pouring water into our lawn in the middle of July during a drought,” said Whitney. “We’re kind of in a quandary about what to do.”
The letter, bearing the official symbols of Glendora and its police department, came the same week that statewide water regulators passed emergency drought restrictions for outdoor water use. Those regulations, to take effect this August, require cities to demand cutbacks in water use, and empower them to fine residents up to $500 for overwatering their lawns.
Read the full story at Yahoo News/Reuters.
Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called a pattern of recently-discovered safety lapses — including a mishandling of live anthrax and an incident involving a strain of bird flu at the Atlanta-based health agency — “deeply troubling” and vowed to fix the issues.
Frieden told a House subcommittee on Wednesday that the incidents “should have never happened” and called the lack of adequate procedures and oversight that allowed them to take place “totally unacceptable.”
The panel also was looking into allegations that the federal health agency tried to cover up its mishandling of dangerous pathogens at a laboratory.
“We have seen, at this point, no evidence of a cover-up, but we do see a need to strengthen the culture of safety that encourages reporting anytime there is a problem or potential problem, so we can assess it and take rapid and prompt action,” Frieden said.
The same federal scientist who recently found forgotten samples of smallpox at a federal lab also uncovered over 300 additional vials, many bearing the names of highly contagious viruses and bacteria.
Food and Drug Administration officials said Wednesday the undocumented collection contained 327 carefully packaged vials, listing pathogens like dengue, influenza and rickettsia. Last week the government only disclosed that it had recovered six glass vials of smallpox dating from the 1950s.
The new revelations raise serious concerns about the government’s ability to secure its collections of potentially deadly pathogens.
“The reasons why these samples went unnoticed for this long is something we’re actively trying to understand,” said FDA deputy director for biologics Dr. Peter Marks.
The White House is defying a congressional subpoena by keeping a top political aide to President Barack Obama from testifying at a hearing Wednesday, setting up a potential new legal battle in this midterm election year.
The White House argued that Obama adviser David Simas is immune from the “extraordinary demand” of being forced to testify before the House Oversight Committee as part of its investigation into the White House Office of Political Strategy and Outreach, which he directs.
White House counsel Neil Eggleston said in a letter Tuesday night to Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., that the Simas subpoena “threatens longstanding interests of the executive branch in preserving the president’s independence and autonomy, as well as his ability to obtain candid advice and counsel to aid him in the discharge of his duties.”
The announcement came after White House lawyers spent an hour and 15 minutes Tuesday briefing the committee’s staff behind closed doors on the political office’s efforts to comply with federal law.
In response, Issa said that the White House’s claim violates a 2008 federal court ruling that says presidential advisers are “not absolutely immune from congressional process.”
“Flouting a federal judge’s opinion about our system of checks and balances is yet another attack on our Nation’s Constitution by this President,” Issa said in a statement. “We already know that two members of President Obama’s Cabinet violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits the use of taxpayer funds for political campaigning. Given these examples of known wrongdoing, assertions that this Administration’s taxpayer-funded political efforts should be above Congressional oversight are absurd.”
The Centers for Disease Control had even more security lapses when handling anthrax bacteria than it had previously admitted, according to a congressional report released Monday.
Federal CDC workers kept dangerous anthrax bacteria in unlocked refrigerators, transferred it in Ziploc bags that didn’t meet safety requirements and even let anthrax containers go missing, according to a federal inspection.
The Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service conducted an investigation of the CDC’s procedures after the federal agency admitted recently that officials at the Atlanta campus mishandled live anthrax. Researchers at a high-security bioterror lab studying live anthrax sent what they believed to be inactivated bacteria to a low-security lab with fewer safety protections, potentially exposing over 80 scientists and lab workers to the bacteria.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee revealed the findings from the APHIS investigation on Monday. The committee will question CDC director Thomas Frieden about the multiple safety failures on Wednesday.
Read the full article at The Daily Caller.
Zarbee’s Naturals, a producer of “safe and effective natural [cough] remedies” for children, was sent a warning letter by the FDA for liking comments on its Facebook page implying that its products “are intended for use as drugs.”
Zarbee’s products were designed specifically for children too young for FDA-approved medications and have not been reviewed by the FDA. Happy customers posted their approval on the company’s Facebook page, saying things like “Love Zarbee’s this is the only medicine we use for our 2 year old. Colds and congestion clear up in 2 days,” and “Received the sample for allergy relief and my husband had a terrible problem with allergies … he was very impressed on how well it worked for him.”
Zarbee’s, naturally, liked the comments, which the FDA thinks was a step too far.
“Your products are not generally recognized as safe and effective for the above referenced uses,” the letter says, arguing that the company’s “likes” constitute an admission that its products are “new drugs” that require FDA approval.
The FDA considers anything “intended for use in the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease” a drug, so although Zarbee’s cough syrup contains no dextromethorphan (DXM), the active ingredient in popular over-the-counter cough medicines like Robitussin, the FDA objects to such claims about Zarbee’s products’ usefulness.
Read the full article at The Daily Caller.
If you feel dehydrated, drink some water. That’s medical advice, according to the nitwits at the FDA.