US House Passes A Bill Cutting Medicare Spending On Penis Pumps, Uses Money To Help Disabled People Instead

Also: more chilling background on the police officers who killed Eric Garner and Tamir Rice.
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Amanda Lauren
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Also: more chilling background on the police officers who killed Eric Garner and Tamir Rice.

Well, this week was certainly eventful. Perhaps the biggest event was the grand jury decision not to indict NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the murder of Eric Garner. I have details on that story, as well the public’s reaction. 

Plus, good news for disabled Americans and some bad news for Medicare recipients who need penis pumps. And a fascinating study about rats in lingerie because it can’t all be doom and gloom, can it?

Has anyone ever had a positive encounter with a police officer? Break the comments or tweet me directly @AmandaLauren.

Eric Garner

On December 3, a grand jury in Staten Island, New York decided not to indict a white police offer, Daniel Pantaleo, in the death of an unarmed black man, Eric Garner. So, what happened exactly? On July 17, a group of officers confronted Garner on the street for selling untaxed cigarettes. Frustrated, he asked to be left alone. Several officers tackled him to the ground. Officer Pantaleo placed Garner in a chokehold, which is a tactic that has been banned by the NYPD. Garner said to the officers, “I can’t breathe,” and went into cardiac arrest.

Garner’s death was ruled a homicide by the coroner, who stated the chokehold as the cause of death. Separately, court records show in the past two years, Pantaleo has been sued three times for unlawful, racially-motivated arrests.

This decision sparked protests throughout New York City. Protestors shut down the Lincoln Tunnel, West Side Highway and Brooklyn Bridge, among many other streets. They also tried to disrupt the Christmas Tree lighting ceremony at Rockefeller Center.

There were additional protests throughout the country from Washington D.C. to Oakland, Minneapolis and Philadelphia.

Cutting Off Penis Pump Coverage Helps Disabled People Save $$$

The House passed a bipartisan bill on Wednesday, known as ABLE or Achieving a Better Life Experience. It allows disabled people to establish tax-exempt accounts to cover their living expenses including health, education, transportation and housing expenses. Because the funds in those accounts will not be considered income, it will allow more people to qualify for Medicaid.

So how did Uncle Sam find $2.1 billion bucks for this? They cut coverage for penis pumps or as they call them, “vacuum erection systems.” It turns out Medicare was blowing $444 million a year on these devices, shelling out twice as much as retail.

Washington Republican Representative, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who has a young son with Down syndrome, told Time,

“We were told don’t put any assets in his name because it may disqualify him for programs that he may need in the future. And it just seems wrong to me. I think that the ABLE Act is going to help fix that. It’s going to help create a way for families to save money [and] set money aside to cover qualified expenses. It can go to education, transportation, housing—those are the benefits that would allow our son potentially to live independently and to hopefully work.”

Another Bad Cop

On November 22, Tim Loehmann, an Ohio police officer, shot and killed a 12 year boy, Tamir Rice, who was holding an airsoft gun, only two seconds after arriving on the scene at a park in Cleveland. 

Some very interesting information was released this week about Loehmann. It turns out he resigned from a smaller police force in the city of Independence, Ohio just six months after being hired. Records from his personnel file indicate he had extreme personal issues and was unskilled with firearms.

In a letter written by Deputy Chief Jim Polak, Loehmann was “distracted” and “weepy” during firearms training.

“He could not follow simple directions, could not communicate clear thoughts nor recollections, and his handgun performance was dismal….I do not believe time, nor training, will be able to change or correct the deficiencies.”

In 2012, Loehmann had a breakdown during gun training at a range, falling asleep and crying. His supervisor sent him home.

“Unfortunately in law enforcement there are times when instructions need to be followed to the letter and I am under the impression that Ptl. Loehmann, under certain circumstances, will not react in the way instructed.”

The Cleveland Police Department admitted they did not review Loehmann’s old file before hiring him saying,

“The Cleveland Division of Police does not have a written policy mandating a review of an applicant’s previous employer personnel file. While our policy does not require obtaining a personnel file prior to employment, the Cleveland Division of Police has amended our policies to request a personnel file from previous employers. Our investigation into this matter has revealed that during the background investigation of Officer Loehmann Cleveland Police detectives, assigned to the personnel unit, interviewed the Human Resources Director for the City of Independence. During that interview detectives inquired if there were any disciplinary actions or incidents that Cleveland Police should be aware of prior to hiring Loehmann, at which point they were told there were none. The reason for departure indicated was resignation. Officer Loehmann indicated that he resigned for personal reasons which was substantiated by the City of Independence.”

Good News About CAPTCHAs

Do CAPTCHAs annoy you? If you hate the garbled text and numbers you have to translate to prove to websites you’re a human and not a robot, well, I have some good news for you. Google’s reCAPTCHA is going to change all that. reCAPTCHAs will require people to check a box next to the statement, “I’m not a robot.” Easy peasy.

So, how does it know if you’re human or not? Google checks your IP address and cookies. It also recognizes humans by the way we hover our cursors over the box.

Now, we all know technology isn’t perfect, so if for some reason it can’t tell you are human through a single click, a window will pop up with the old system. No word yet if screams of frustration will differentiate annoyed people from automated bots. However, in beta tests 60% of WordPress users and 80% of users on another site had no problem passing the new system.

Smartphone and tablet users have their own version of the new CAPTCHAS, a matching game with cute animal pictures.

Headlines

· Several new words have been inducted into the Oxford Dictionary including vape, duckface, lolcat, xlnt, IDC, and hawt. Facepalm!

· It turns out that your friends who only need four hours of sleep to function (and who you might just be a little envious of) are genetic freaks. New studies show that 5% of the population is considered “short sleepers,” meaning they can get by with six hours or less a night.

· A new study shows (I can’t make this up) male rats are more attracted to female rats that wear the rat equivalent of lingerie. Scientists at the University of Concordia in Montreal gave male virgin rats a preference of who they wanted to mate with- regular lady rats or lady rats wearing little jackets (I can’t even believe I just type that). It turns out the naughty virgin rats preferred to mate with the jacketed rats.