Friday, June 2, 2017

Cloak of Surveillance

They want the shirt on your back:

"New fabric center seeks to spin out advanced textile technology" by Deirdre Fernandes Globe Staff  June 01, 2017

LOWELL — The University of Massachusetts Lowell is returning to its textile roots, albeit with a high-tech spin.

The school plans to open the Fabric Discovery Center later this year with the help of an $11.3 million grant from the state, Governor Charlie Baker and university officials announced on Wednesday.

The facility, which will be built on two floors of converted textile mill in downtown Lowell, is one of several centers the state is rolling out as it invests in developing a wave of sophisticated fabrics that incorporate sensors and technology to help industries, hospitals, the military, and consumers.

Did you see who came last there?

The Lowell center will concentrate on the development, testing, and manufacturing of consumer and commercial fabrics that are blended with flexible electronics. The state announced the launch of another center last week at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory that will focus on developing fabrics for military use.

Good old Military Industrial Tech!

What are they doing in $ecret over there?

“This is a perfect example of honoring the past and building and looking to and grabbing as fast as we can to the future,” Baker said in announcing the funding.

UMass Lowell was born out of the Lowell Textile Institute, founded in 1895 as the city became a center of fabric manufacturing in the Industrial Revolution. At that time, the school was focused on researching the production of traditional fabrics, such as cotton and wool.

Those traditional textile mills, along with the thousands of labor-intensive manufacturing jobs they provided, are gone.

Where did they go? Bangladesh and China? 

Such a damn my$tery as to how to open and American factory, huh?

But the Fabric Discovery Center seeks to spur a new generation of textile manufacturers and high-tech jobs, said Julie Chen, the vice chancellor for research and innovation at UMass Lowell.

The center will look at creating fabrics that incorporate technology to detect, for example, when a wearer is dehydrated or that can be wrapped around pipes so companies know if there’s a leak, or be inserted into the body to help organs heal, Chen said.

I'd rather die of thirst or go naked.

The grant money will fund the building of the facility and the purchase of equipment needed to test and manufacturer the fabrics and train students to work with this next generation of textiles, Chen said.

Companies and startups in the region are experimenting with these new fabrics but can’t always invest in the expensive equipment to test for durability, moisture, and temperature and to manufacture samples to show investors, Chen said.

Yeah, let the taxpayers pay for all the development -- and THEN turn it over to private indu$try so $ome well-connected $omeone (like Bill Gates) can reap the profits if it works. If not, it's only the taxpayer who has been looted. 

Isn't that Fa$ci$m?

The UMass facility and its equipment should open more opportunities to these firms, with the aim of also drawing other startups to consider moving their companies nearby, she said.

“We’ll be able to help them to get a sample, a prototype,” Chen said. “We’re hoping that this will draw people to think about Lowell as a place they’d want to locate their business.”

Massachusetts has set aside about $100 million to invest over five years in advanced manufacturing.


Another $ET-A$IDE! 

So that is hundreds of millions $et-a$ide for corporations like GE that pay no taxes, thus it is a subsidy and transfer of wealth (I know he is angry), another $80 million a year $et a$ide for Hollywood, and now this? 

How many other $et-a$ides are out there (other than debt interest payments that are always fir$t in line at any level of government)?

The federal government has also poured money into innovative textile development.

Last year, the Department of Defense announced it had invested in a $317 million venture run by the Advanced Functional Fabrics of America, an independent nonprofit founded by MIT, to support projects that integrate fibers and yarns with circuits, LEDs, and solar cells, among other technologies.

Nonprofit means they pay no taxes!

For the companies that have been working on textile technology and flexible electronics, the investment and interest by the state and federal government, along with academic institutions, can’t come soon enough.

Joseph M. Kunze, the founder of SI2 Technologies Inc., a military contractor in Billerica that manufactures miniature communication antennas, said that when he started his company in 2003 he expected the technology to print electronics into any material would be available within a few years.

He’s still waiting, Kunze said, but he hopes the investment by the state will speed up innovation.

“There’s a lot of work left to do,” he said. “This provides visibility into these efforts.”

He wants his $trip of cloth!


Couldn't chi$el off the 0.3m for the kids they claim to care so much about?

"Lawmakers urge Baker to save homeless youth program" by Matt Murphy State House News Service  June 01, 2017

Nearly two dozen state lawmakers are lobbying Governor Charlie Baker to find $300,000 to keep a homeless youth program in Cambridge open after the AIDS Action Committee said state budget cuts would force the closure of Youth on Fire in November.

Senator Julian Cyr wrote a letter to Baker and Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders Wednesday asking the administration to find a way to provide “bridge funding” for Youth of Fire that could preempt its closing.

“We certainly acknowledge that these are tight fiscal times, but it is difficult to comprehend how this small sum of money cannot be found within existing resources to help the most vulnerable youth in the Commonwealth,” the lawmakers wrote.


Youth on Fire provides services for homeless and “street-involved” youth, a large majority of which belong to the LGBTQ community. Cyr said the program is one of very few that offer daytime services and housing assistance.

Carl Sciortino, executive director of AIDS Action Committee, said, “What we don’t understand is how state agencies can’t find $300,000 in a $42 billion budget to help homeless kids stay out of harm’s way.” 

I do. Too many $et a$ides for well-connected concerns and corporate conglomerates.

Baker in December trimmed more than $900,000 from the HIV/AIDS line-item in the budget as part of $98 million in emergency cuts. Sciortino said he is willing to partner with another state agency or private funder to keep the program alive....

They will be having to cut a lot more than that (see other article further below).


"Westborough health records vendor settles false-claims suit for $155M" by Priyanka Dayal McCluskey Globe Staff  May 31, 2017

Westborough-based eClinicalWorks, one of the country’s largest vendors of electronic medical records systems, has reached a $155 million settlement with federal prosecutors over allegations that the company made false claims about its software and paid kickbacks to customers who promoted it.

And, of course, Obummer poured billions into electronic record conversion via Obummercare. All that money wasted.

The first and largest of its kind, it came after a whistle-blower raised concerns about problems with eClinicalWorks’ patient records system, claiming that the software failed to properly list medications, lab results, and other critical information.

Obama would have prosecuted him, unless it was in his last days (like so much else that guy did after 8 years of mismanagement and neglect as he basked in the adoration of the pre$$ and perks of the office).

The settlement represents more than a third of the company’s annual revenue.

The Department of Justice said eClinicalWorks — a privately held firm whose medical records system houses information about millions of patients nationwide — misrepresented the capabilities of its software.

Electronic records systems must meet a slate of federal requirements. The Justice Department said eClinicalWorks manipulated its software so it could falsely obtain certification, even though the software did not meet federal requirements. The company also allegedly failed to meet requirements for sharing patient data with software systems made by other companies.

“This resolution demonstrates that . . . companies will not succeed in flouting the certification requirements,” Acting US Attorney Eugenia A.P. Cowles said in a news release. The case was filed in US District Court in Burlington, Vt.

Federal prosecutors also argued that eClinicalWorks violated anti-kickback laws by improperly paying certain customers who promoted its product.

EClinicalWorks denied any wrongdoing, saying it cooperated with the federal investigation and settled the allegations to avoid the costs and uncertainty of litigation.

The company maintained that its “customer referral program” was legal but said the program has been discontinued nonetheless.

(Blog editor shakes head)

The settlement requires the company and three of its founders, chief executive Girish Navani, chief medical officer Dr. Rajesh Dharampuriya, and chief operating officer Mahesh Navani, to pay $155 million to the federal government. Three other employees have to pay smaller amounts.

EClinicalWorks has also entered into a five-year “corporate integrity agreement” that requires it to notify customers and patients of the potential for health risks caused by software problems. It must allow customers to obtain updated versions of its software for free and to move their data to another software provider, if they choose, without paying penalties. The company also must take steps to improve its software quality control.

“Today’s settlement recognizes that we have addressed the issues raised, and have taken significant measures to promote compliance and transparency,” Girish Navani said in a statement.

“We are pleased to put this matter behind us and concentrate all of our efforts on our customers and continued innovations to enhance patient care delivery.”

EClinicalWorks is one of the largest companies in the business of making software that is sold to doctors and hospitals. About 125,000 doctors and nurse practitioners use the software, which handled 273 million patient visits last year.

Patient information, including medical histories and medications, was long stored on paper. But over the past several years, these records largely have gone digital, prompted partly by the government, which paid health care providers incentives to adopt electronic records.

That's what I said above.

This transition has been a boon to companies such as eClinicalWorks and its competitors, which include Watertown-based athenahealth.

Jonathan Bush, the CEO of Watertown-based health care company Athenahealth, is a cousin of former President George W. Bush.

Is that why the records are all fouled up?

EClinicalWorks, with 5,000-plus employees, including more than 1,000 in Massachusetts, reported $444 million in revenue last year, up from $404 million in 2015.

The settlement follows allegations by Brendan Delaney, a New York City government employee who was implementing eClinicalWorks’ system at the Rikers Island jail. Delaney noticed several software problems that he believed put patients at risk. He alleged that eClinicalWorks consistently failed to correct software problems.

Oh, what a horrible place.

The software failed to show the current medications of several patients at Rikers, according to Delaney’s complaint. As a whistle-blower, he will receive about $30 million in the settlement.

Yeah, he blew the whi$tle for the money.

The government, which picked up the case after Delaney made his allegations, said eClinicalWorks, because of its deficiencies, caused health care providers to submit false claims for incentive payments.

“I think this will be a very significant development for the electronic health records industry,” said Colette G. Matzzie, a lawyer who represented Delaney. “I think the entire industry will take notice of this announced settlement.”

Dr. John Halamka, chief information officer at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, where some doctors were early adopters of eClinicalWorks’ software, called the company an important member of the state’s health care technology sector. “The marketplace for electronic health record software evolves rapidly and ensuring vendors comply with regulatory requirements builds customer confidence,” he said.

This story and past experiences just made me lose some!!!


Makes you feel real confident going to the doctor, huh?

"Governor proposes to overhaul state’s tech systems, focusing on security" by Joshua Miller Globe Staff  June 01, 2017

Call it Massachusetts 2.0.

In an effort to better consolidate, streamline, and secure the state’s technology services, Governor Charlie Baker is proposing a new secretary of technology to supervise IT across much of state government.

That includes databases used to track medical marijuana patients by the Department of Public Health, tax-filing systems at the Department of Revenue, and the system that analyzes standardized test scores for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The tech czar would be a member of the Cabinet, joining eight other appointed leaders — from education to health and human services — who together oversee more than 40,000 executive branch employees and billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded spending.

Administration officials say Massachusetts lags behind other states and the private sector in securing information technology systems. They say previous efforts to centralize the state’s IT infrastructure, dating back to 2002, have fallen short. Thus, the reboot.

All that money, wasted.

A state technology agency, MassIT, already exists within the governor’s budget office. But it does not supervise many aspects of technology in state government.

With the state budget facing a half-billion-dollar gap, the memo addresses whether the reorganization is a cost-saving exercise. “No,” it says. “Additional investments are being made to ensure we are fully secure and modernized. This is an effort to improve security, which requires adopting best practices and implementing modern technology platforms, all of which will have the added benefit of also improving quality of service.”

Yup, the unrealistic expectations for tax receipts in this better-than-average (so we are told) economy is the problem, but you can blame Trump even though he has absolutely nothing to do with that.

Administration officials say the effort will probably save money over the long term. An administration spokeswoman said implementation costs would range from $5 million to $11 million annually but said the effort would save taxpayer dollars over time.

They always say that, and then we find Deloitte screwed up the state unemployment system and few other upgrades, the compliance requirement from Obummercare blew up the state website that is still not there it needs to be, and whatever glitches will then have to be fixed at additional cost by the people who f***ed it up -- or it will cost even more to dump them (still having to pay the full contract and then go to court to get money back) and hire a new company to write the programs.


A second memo obtained by the Globe offers some soothing words for state IT employees. It says that in many cases their work would remain the same, but under a new entity. And neither agency seniority, nor civil service status, nor union representation would change. Some employees might see their titles change, but no one would see a reduction in compensation or the loss of rights to vacation and other benefits, the memo says.

Oh, well, I'm so glad the incompetent bureaucrats are well-taken care of, just like all the other political parasites that are stocking the environmental, transportation, and probation offices with their padded pensions and health plans.

As for the services they are supposed to be providing the public, those are gonna be cut -- and after the latest tech upgrade that flames out they will tell us we don't know what's going on. Going to need more money to fix it, though.

Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg said state government should “leave no stone unturned in our efforts to make government more efficient,” and, the Democrat said, modernizing the procurement and management of IT services is long overdue.

How about giving back the pay raise, Stan? 

He needs to retire (as they are facing a half-BILLION hole they added $50.67 million in spending, including at least $24.7 million for earmarks/pork). 

First at the trough:

Seth Gitell, a spokesman for House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, said that as recent events have demonstrated, “Cybersecurity is an issue everyone must confront.”

Gonna take away your horse-racing $et-a$ides, Bob.


Also see: State Ethics Commission could get broader power



In the $tate government of Ma$$achu$etts?