Tag Archives: debate

Rio Ferdinand snubbed after dragging Sir Alex into Brexit debate during bizarre EU rant

The England legend has played a central part in the BBC’s coverage of the Three Lion’s incredible journey in Euro 2020 as they prepare to take on Ukraine in the quarter-finals this evening. He was spotted celebrating wildly alongside fellow pundits Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer after England secured a historic 2-0 win over Germany. Ferdinand, who played 81 times for the national side and is one of the most decorated English footballers of all time, often uses his experience to give an expert insight into games.

But he also risked sparking the fury of Brexiteers when he commented on the prospect of the UK leaving the European Union (EU) just days before the vote in 2016.

He wrote on Facebook: “The question about our future in Europe isn’t about Conservative vs Labour, it’s not about which bunch of politicians we want running the country. It’s much bigger than that. 

“It’s not about the next five years, it’s about the next 50. Probably even longer. 

“It’s about the sort of country our kids are going to grow up in, and how the rest of the world will look at Britain from now on. 

“And from all I’ve heard on both sides of this debate, I think our country is at a pretty important fork in the road, and the decision we make could take us to very different places.”

After his passionate opening remarks, Ferdinand stated that he is “for remaining part of the EU” and he gave three reasons for it – one of which bizarrely appeared to take inspiration from his former manager.

He stated: “I think that politics is a team game. 

“I worked for the greatest manager of all time. Sir Alex Ferguson always taught us that no individual is bigger than the team, that just because we played for Man United – a massive, famous club – didn’t mean we could swan around doing our own thing. 

“We had to work even harder, and be even more of a team, to get where we wanted to be. And I think Europe is a bit like that. 

READ MORE: Take that, Southgate! Mancini’s Brexit snub over England manager job

“For myself personally who struggles to make ends meet week-to-week with low wages and four kids, something needs to give.

“With all due respect Rio you don’t have the same worries as the majority of the population.”

Another added: “Rio, the advantages of being in the EU which you are talking about are the reason why it was made in the first place. 

“But this union is not serving the purposes it was made for and clearly it does not look like it is going to.”

And a third claimed: “Rio we love you and you’ll always be a legend to us, but I’m sorry pal this is more scaremongering coming from the rich and mighty.

“We are all able to make our own choice without being told these unfound facts.”

A record sum of almost £5million has been bet with Betfair on hot 15/8 favourites England winning Euro 2020, as more of the public believe football is coming home than ever before.

Author: Callum Hoare
Read more here >>> Daily Express :: Sport

The debate over ‘Dragon Man’ shows that human origins are still kind of messy

For more than 80 years, Chris Stringer says a nearly intact, ancient human skull sat at the bottom of a well in Harbin City, Heilongjiang Province, China. As the story goes, the specimen was originally unearthed from the bed of the Songhua River by workers building a bridge in Japanese-occupied northeastern China in 1933. The crew foreman recognized the skull’s value and didn’t want it falling into the hands of the Japanese occupiers, so he stowed the Harbin cranium away. 

“He wrapped it up, and he put it down an abandoned well. And then about 80 years later, as he was dying, he told his grandchildren the story of how he got the skull. They went to look, and it was still down there. So incredible,” says Stringer, a paleoanthropologist studying human origins at the Natural History Museum in London. After more than an estimated 146,000 years buried in sediment and its additional decades in hiding, the Harbin cranium finally made it into researchers’ hands in 2018.

Now, three years later, the first scientific descriptions of the skull, dubbed the “Dragon Man,” were published on Friday in The Innovation, a new journal funded by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in a series of three papers. Stringer joined the research team in 2019 and is an author on two of the three papers. “The cranium is a fantastically preserved specimen,” he says. “I think it’s one of the most important finds of the last 50 years.” The publication of these studies occurred on the same day as publication of similarly seismic findings based on partial skull specimens found in Israel.

[Related: Controversial study claims Botswana may be the origin of modern humanity]

In the studies, Stringer and his colleagues date the skull to a minimum age of 146,000, placing it in the Middle Pleistocene period. The researchers also declare the specimen representative of a new species on the tree of human evolution, which spans from our first bipedal primate progenitors up to modern humans today. They name this proposed species Homo longi, derived from the Mandarin word for dragon, after the skull’s geographic origin in Heilongjiang, whose name means Black Dragon River. The researchers propose that H. longi may be a more closely related lineage to present-day humans than Neanderthals, the widely accepted “sister group” of our species.

To determine the skull’s age, the scientists analyzed ratios of chemical isotopes found in tiny deposits of sediment trapped in its nasal cavity and also looked at the ratios of uranium isotopes, which decay in a predictable pattern over time, in the bone itself. To place the specimen in evolutionary history, the researchers measured the Harbin cranium’s external physical features like the size of the brain case, facial dimensions and angles, and the single intact molar tooth. They then took those measurements and compared them to 95 other previously studied specimens, including other skull and bone fragments found in China. Using a computer model, Stringer and colleagues reconstructed a possible phylogenetic tree (a diagram representing evolutionary relationships through time).  

[Related: A primer on the primal origins of humans]

“It’s a weird combination of features,” says Stringer. The skull has a distinctive combination of primitive features, like a pronounced brow ridge and broad face, and those associated with more modern humans, like finer cheekbones. Above everything else though, what he says sets the Harbin cranium apart is its enormity, “It’s massive in size. It’s the biggest fossil human skull I’ve ever seen.”

The Harbin skull is massive, with a brain case suggesting a brain size close to modern humans. But the pronounced brow ridge suggests relatedness to more primitive archaic human lineages. [Still from video]

But bigger brain volume doesn’t necessarily mean closer to modern humans.  And the conclusions presented in the new articles aren’t settled, even among the study authors. “I think calling it a different species [from Neanderthal and Homo sapien] is legitimate, but there are different opinions in the research team about what the name of this species should be,” says Stringer, who prefers to group the newly described Harbin specimen with a previously found skull known as Homo daliensis or Dali Man. The Dali Man skull has some differences from the Harbin finding, but Stringer considers that level of difference to be an acceptable amount of variation within a species. “From my point of view, [Homo daliensis] would take priority over Homo longi.” 

The classification and placement of the Harbin cranium as a new human lineage is additionally controversial among scientists unaffiliated with the new research as well.

“We need to have DNA before we really know where this fossil fits in,” says Shara Bailey, a paleoanthropologist at New York University specializing in early human specimens from the same time period as the Harbin skull. Bailey describes our knowledge of the Middle Pleistocene as “the muddle in the middle,” pointing out that lots of remains aren’t well preserved and provide mixed signals. She says the Harbin skull is “an exciting finding, because how often do we get a skull as complete as this?” but is skeptical of the new research’s conclusions. “Their divergence analysis should be taken with a grain of salt.”

Bailey believes the newly described cranium “could be the face of a Denisovan, which is what we’ve been looking for.” Denisovans are an extinct lineage of archaic humans believed to have lived throughout Asia between 50,000 and 300,000 years ago. Our understanding of Denisovans comes largely from DNA analysis of partial bone fragments, including the Xiahe mandible, which researchers say the Harbin skull shares many similarities to. “It’s exciting in its own right,” says Bailey “because it could be the first time we have the face of this enigmatic human group”

[Related: Ancient tooth yields DNA of ancient human cousins, the Denisovans]

Like Neanderthals, Denisovans overlapped and interbred with modern humans, leaving bits of their DNA detectable in populations of present-day people. A small percentage of Neanderthal DNA is common in people of both European and Asian ancestry, while Denisovan DNA is common in Aboriginal Australians, Papuans, and people of Asian ancestry, particularly Melanasians, Bailey explains.

That the Harbin skull represents an intact Denisovan specimen is, “the best hypothesis,” says John Hawks, a paleoanthropologist and professor of anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Hawks doesn’t rule out other possibilities, though, and points out that there are limits to the usefulness of comparing a jawbone like the Xiahe mandible with this skull, which is missing its lower jaw. But he says the similarities between the two specimens are significant. “They both are lacking their third molders. They both have very big second molars. There’s things that are similar. And so I think it’s a good hypothesis that these are Denisovans.”

If the Harbin skull is a Denisovan, Hawks points out that the researcher’s thorough analysis of the cranium’s physical traits doesn’t match the DNA record. The researchers place the skull as more similar to modern humans than Neanderthals, based on their analysis. While Denisovan DNA has placed the group as sharing a most recent common ancestor with Neanderthals, more distantly diverged from modern humans. Hawks and Bailey would believe the DNA over the trait analysis, as traits can diverge, emerge, and shift in non-linear ways, whereas DNA tells a more complete story. An alternate possibility, according to Stringer, is that all three groups diverged simultaneously due to geographic isolation. Their relation to each other may not be easily defined by the standard phylogenetic tree. “In reality, you might actually have something close to a three-way split.”

Stringer acknowledges the possibility that he and his fellow researchers have found a Denisovan, and not a new species, in the Dragon Man. “These are not highly resolved issues,” he says. “I certainly don’t have 100 percent confidence that this is definitely a sister species of Homo sapiens. We’re going to be looking for more data, so this is only the first stage of the research.” Stringer hopes to soon examine the skull’s internal features, like the inner ear bones, to get a better sense of how the specimen relates to both Neanderthals and modern humans. And he says his colleagues are looking into the possibility of extracting genetic material from the skull for DNA analysis.

Ultimately, the lineage name and placement that the Harbin skull represents are small details, says Strigner. “Species names, for me, are labels that enable us to group things together, but they’re not absolute. They’re humanly created categories, and nature does not always play along with our neat concepts.”

In a way, Bailey agrees. “Whether it’s a distinct species or not really depends on how you view species.” She points out that, in much of biology, a species is defined by reproductive isolation—yet we know modern humans interbred with earlier lineages. And, whatever you call it, the lineage the Harbin cranium represents did not “evolve” into the Homo sapiens presently living in Asia, says Bailey. This finding doesn’t change that our ancestors are African.

Even with limited interbreeding between past lineages, all present-day people have much more in common with each other, genetically and physically, than with any extinct group. All visible differences between humans living across the world today are a much more recent development than the divergence of these archaic human lineages, says Bailey. “We are a lot more like each other than we aren’t.”

Author: Lauren Leffer
Read more here >>> Science – Popular Science

Dick Strawbridge shares major Escape to the Chateau milestone as he settles fan ‘debate’

“We’ve got a number of things in the attic, we’ve got…”

Cutting her off, Dick pointed out: “There’s a room in the attic that Angela hasn’t been into yet.”

“I really haven’t, it’s quite high up,” Angel explained. “I didn’t know for a long time that it was actually there.

“We’ve got a number of rooms in our outbuildings as well and I’m romantic, there’s a part of me that doesn’t really want to explore it all because in my mind there’s a bit of mystery that I haven’t discovered yet,” Angel added.

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Celebrity News Feed

Football’s coming home? England’s Euro 2020 hopes rated as Germany tie set up – Big Debate

Euro 2020 briefing: England face Germany in last 16 clash

England will face Germany in the last 16 of Euro 2020 next week – and the Three Lions now know their path to glory if they are to win a first trophy since 1966. In our latest Big Debate, the Express Sport team assess the Three Lions’ prospects of international glory this summer as Gareth Southgate and co. look to get long-awaited revenge for Euro 1996.

Englands Euro 2020 hopes rated as Germany tie set up
Football’s coming home? England’s Euro 2020 chances rated before Germany tie – Big Debate (Image: GETTY)

Simon Head

If we’re judging England’s chances solely on their performances so far at Euro 2020, it’s hard to say that it will be ‘Coming Home’ for the Three Lions this summer. But, as we all know, tournament football isn’t about how you start, it’s about how you finish.

England started slowly in Italia 90 – indeed, there were calls to ‘bring them home’ after the Republic of Ireland game – and Euro 96 started with an off-key 1-1 draw with Switzerland. Even our victorious 1966 World Cup side started slowly.

But we’re at the business end of the tournament now, where it’s time for the continent’s big guns to lay their cards on the table and see who has the best hand. And, on paper, England have plenty to be confident about.

Gareth Southgate’s squad is packed with young, vibrant attacking talent, and possesses one of Europe’s top finishers. But he’s not let his players off the leash yet. Now we’re in the knockout stages, it’s time he should.

In all of our group performances there’s been an element of a safety-first mentality. Full-backs known for bombing on have been turning back and playing square, while our overall build-up play has been pretty slow. That can’t continue against Germany on Tuesday night.

With the games being played in the late afternoon and evening from now on, the temperatures should be more favourable to playing at a higher tempo, and when England play at pace, they can be contenders.

It’s “win or go home” time, and Southgate needs to unleash his stars against Germany on Tuesday. After the group stages, few will be hugely enthused about our chances. But, if we wake up on Wednesday morning with England still in the tournament, the country will start to believe.

Sam Smith

Gareth Southgate knows that positive pragmatism is key to a successful tournament campaign. England will not be the most exciting team at Euro 2020 but that will be a necessary sacrifice if they advance to the latter stages.

The Three Lions head coach was part of four tournament squads as a player. As a manager, he guided the U21s to Toulon success in 2017 and is now into his second tournament with the senior side. How he navigated England to a World Cup semi-final in 2018, despite a generous draw, was evidence of his knockout competition experience.

When judging England’s campaign so far, it should be considered that no team has been entirely convincing. Southgate’s side have largely played well – Scotland aside – and much of the criticism has been unfair. Matches are tense and often low-scoring.

Nations take a while to get up to speed, particularly after such a gruelling club season, and the group stages should effectively be considered as glorified warm-up friendlies for the real thing.

The players ignoring exterior excitement over the history between England and Germany will be important. They seemed distracted and even hindered by the furore of the Scotland fixture.

A famous win over the Germans, which is a possibility given that they don’t look as strong as previous tournaments, sets up a clear path to the final. Southgate’s knowhow will be crucial.

Football's coming home? England's Euro 2020 chances rated before Germany tie - Big Debate

Football’s coming home? England’s Euro 2020 chances rated before Germany tie – Big Debate (Image: GETTY)

Ryan Taylor

It’s not been pretty but you can’t hide away from the fact England are yet to concede at Euro 2020.

Goals win you games but clean sheets win your tournaments.

Germany are not to be feared but Gareth Southgate’s team selection will prove key. Does he match their 3-4-2-1 or stick with the 4-2-3-1?

That ultimately could be where the game is won or lost. Jack Grealish must start but I don’t envisage that happening. Bukayo Saka could well keep his place though.

If Southgate sets England up to win the game as opposed to not lose, the Three Lions have more than enough to get the job done and a big result here really could give them huge momentum on the favourable side of the draw.

Let’s just go for it.

Gareth Southgate hails ‘decisive’ England keeper Jordan Pickford
Jose Mourinho tears into England over glaring Euro 2020 problem
England’s Jack Grealish sets himself Gascoigne and Rooney target

Adam Goodwin

Unspectacular, at best. England’s three group games weren’t pretty but get used to it, folks.

Gareth Southgate clearly believes that being defensively solid gives us the best chance of winning Euro 2020, relying on the individual brilliance of the likes of Jack Grealish, Phil Foden, Mason Mount, or Harry Kane to nick games.

During Euro 2016, Portugal manager Fernando Santos said: “I prefer to play ugly and be here, rather than play pretty football and be at home.” I can’t argue with that.

That’s what we’ll try and do against Germany. I feel as though a defence containing Mats Hummels can be exploited, and our backline should have enough to stop the likes of Serge Gnabry, Thomas Muller, and – the so-far brilliant – Kai Havertz causing too much trouble.

Beyond that? If we beat Germany, I think we’ll have enough to reach the semi-finals, if not the final. And, with those games (hopefully) being at Wembley, it’d be tough to back against us.

England fans go wild as they celebrate Raheem Sterling goal

Alex Turk

England’s Euro 2020 so far has been received far less positively than it should have done. Yes, more goals would’ve added entertainment, but going into the knockout stages unbeaten with no goals conceded is a great start to the campaign.

Germany in the last-16, then. Probably the first real test Gareth Southgate’s side will have faced in both Euro 2020 qualifying and the group stage. A win against Joachim Low’s men would boost confidence and belief that football could actually ‘come home’ this summer.

This isn’t the German side of old, but there are still threats present throughout the team, threats made very clear in their recent rout over Portugal. The main battle will go down on the flanks, with Joshua Kimmich and Robin Gosens Germany’s main creators.

I think England will have enough to get past their old foes this year, though. Should they do that, it will most likely be Sweden and the Netherlands en route to the final. Sweden have been tough customers so far and were worthy of their place as Group E winners, but they must be considered favourable opposition.

The Netherlands are no joke, either, which England learned in the 2019 Nations League semi-finals. However, having 60,000 fans present at Wembley would help roar the Three Lions to victory and go one step away from European Championship glory.

The final would, naturally, provide England’s toughest test. In my likely popular opinion, it will be Italy or France awaiting at that stage. England would go in as the underdogs, but anything can happen in a cup final and the outcome is just too tough to call right now.

Simply put, Harry Kane and co. defeat the Germans on Tuesday and I think we’ll be seeing them make up the final on July 11. If they can eventually bring football home remains to be seen… for now.

Football's coming home? England's Euro 2020 chances rated before Germany tie - Big Debate

Football’s coming home? England’s Euro 2020 chances rated before Germany tie – Big Debate (Image: GETTY)

Charlie Malam

Germany. Then Sweden or Ukraine. Then Netherlands, Czech Republic, Wales or Denmark. That’s about as favourable a run to the Euro 2020 final as England might have hoped for, given it means they cannot face France, Italy, Portugal or Belgium until the July 11 showpiece.

Don’t be fooled, though, it will still take an enormous amount of effort to make that final.

Gareth Southgate and co. must continue to do what they did well defensively in the group stages in the knockout rounds but they need to be sharper in the final third, too, if they are to advance to the last match. Against the top nations is when England’s cutting edge will be called into question and they must be more clinical.

It’s a finely balanced game against Germany, although Joachim Low’s side have arguably shown greater weaknesses this summer. They look susceptible defensively having leaked two to both Portugal and Hungary and if England can start strong and with a high tempo, backed by a vociferous 40,000-strong Wembley crowd, it’s no question they have the talent to put Die Mannschaft to the sword.

Yet it’s also so easy to see it being a tight and tense affair which goes all the way to extra time or even penalties, and there’s another narrative lying in wait which sees Kai Havertz or Timo Werner – ribbed throughout the recent Premier League season when they had some struggles at Chelsea – step up to kill England’s dreams.

Still, if they can get beyond the reigning world champions, England are big favourites in the quarter-finals, and again probably the favourites in the semis even if they face Netherlands. Get to that final four and regardless of the manner of the performances, the country can dare to dream.

It might be a profitable few weeks for David Baddiel, Frank Skinner and The Lightning Seeds.

Football's coming home? England's Euro 2020 chances rated before Germany tie - Big Debate

Football’s coming home? England’s Euro 2020 chances rated before Germany tie – Big Debate (Image: GETTY)

Matthew Dunn

In the mayhem of Wednesday night’s Group F action, it was hard to tell if France, Germany, Portugal and Hungary were trying to avoid England or play us.

As it is Germany inevitably filled the berth – the match-up that Gareth Southgate’s managerial career has been building up to ever since he swapped fluffing penalties for managing the national team.

Football's coming home? England's Euro 2020 chances rated before Germany tie - Big Debate

Football’s coming home? England’s Euro 2020 chances rated before Germany tie – Big Debate (Image: GETTY)

Charlie Gordon

England have generally underwhelmed at Euro 2020 so far, but they managed to see out nervy results against Croatia and Czech Republic who are no pushovers.

With plenty more to come from the likes of Harry Kane, Phil Foden and Jack Grealish, the Three Lions have plenty of potential, it’s simply a case of whether it can be unlocked in time.

We should be going into the tie with Germany as narrow underdogs as, despite scraping through their tricky group, the performances from Joachim Low’s side have generally been impressive.

If, and it’s a big if, England manage to surpass Germany at Wembley, the way the draw has shaped up dictates that Gareth Southgate’s side have a great chance of going all the way to the final.

Only then will I join in with chants of ‘It’s coming home!’.

Joachim Loew says England’s style will suit Germany

Felix Keith

It’s been an odd group stage for England, who have managed to both underwhelm and make confident, steady progress simultaneously.

Despite possessing an array of attacking talents, there hasn’t been much to get excited about – and yet Gareth Southgate’s side have topped the group without conceding.

I was one of those up in arms after the Scotland stalemate, but now – with the benefit of the last-16 draw in front of me – I am feeling much more positive.

England have kept five straight clean sheets over the last three weeks. They have conceded just once in their last 11 games. The style of play may not be exciting, but it is undeniably efficient and effective.

Germany are no longer a ruthless mechanical winning machine. There is little fluency in their possession or clarity in game plan. Their progression against Hungary stemmed from a late goal crafted through pure desperation.

Mats Hummels is a rusting oil tanker waiting to be sunk by England’s third-man runs from midfield, pace and direct passing. Once Germany are out of the way the friendlier side of the draw is there to be enjoyed.

This post originally appeared on Daily Express

Novak Djokovic takes GOAT debate to new level with French Open title vs Stefanos Tsitsipas

Tsitsipas raced to a two-set lead with the world No 1 struggling to cope with his opponent on every aspect.

The Greek tennis star looked in the form of his life with many spectators starting to believe they were witnessing the shift to the new generation.

Jim Courier said it best with Tsitsipas two sets up though when he warned against counting Djokovic out.

Under any normal circumstances, a comeback at 2-0 in a Grand Slam final would be unnheard of.

Ofcourse, Djokovic is anything but a normal tennis player.

He recomposed himself in the third with Tsitsipas beginning to get frustrated at not being able to wrap up the match.

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed

Lawmakers Debate How Much to Pay for On-Call Phone Appointments

It took covid-19 to give millions of Americans the option of telling their doctor about their aches and pains by phone.

But now that more doctors and patients are returning to in-person appointments, policymakers across the country are divided over how much taxpayer money to keep spending on phone appointments. Although they were a lifeline for Medicaid and Medicare patients who don’t have the technology for video visits, critics say they don’t provide the same level of patient care and aren’t worth the same price.

In California, the Democratic-controlled legislature wants the state’s Medicaid program for low-income people — called Medi-Cal — to keep paying for phone calls at the same rate as for video and in-person visits, a policy that began during the pandemic. But Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget plan directs Medi-Cal to reduce the rate.

Medi-Cal paid for a whopping 2.4 million phone appointments from March 1, 2020, to April 30, 2021, according to the state Department of Health Care Services.

“Prior to the pandemic, audio-only visits weren’t a thing,” said Chris Perrone, director of the California Health Care Foundation’s Improving Access team. “No one considered them telehealth.” (California Healthline is an editorially independent publication of the foundation.)

The federal Medicare program — which covers older Americans and people with disabilities — and most state Medicaid programs rarely paid for phone visits before the pandemic. But after doctors shuttered their offices last year and patients stayed home, Medicare and nearly every state Medicaid program began paying for phone visits when it became clear that many patients didn’t have access to video. More private insurers began counting phone calls as telemedicine visits, too.

The use of audio and video appointments — generally known as telehealth — has exploded during the pandemic. In California, there were about 10,500 telehealth visits a week per 100,000 Medi-Cal patients in 2020, compared with about 300 in 2019, according to the state Department of Health Care Services.

Medicare saw a similar explosion. Before the pandemic, about 17,000 enrollees used telemedicine each week. That shot up to 1.1 million weekly during the pandemic, according to a Medicare spokesperson.

While most state Medicaid programs began paying for phone visits during the pandemic, they are weighing how to proceed as it wanes. New Hampshire passed a law in March 2020 requiring Medicaid and private plans to pay for phone visits at the same rate as video and in-person visits. This March, Vermont extended emergency rules to pay for phone visits at the same rate as other types of appointments through 2022, and a state working group recommended keeping them permanently. ConnecticutDelawareNew YorkColorado and other states passed laws that define phone visits as telehealth, and all are continuing to pay for them to varying degrees.

Congress held hearings in April to determine whether Medicare should keep paying for phone visits, which it started doing in March 2020 but is set to stop after the federally declared public health emergency ends. A nonpartisan legislative agency has recommended extending the payments for a year or two after the emergency.

Because audio appointments are new, there’s little evidence on quality. The California Health Benefits Review Program analyzed studies on the effectiveness of telehealth and found that, generally, telephone visits were “at least as effective as in-person” ones. The few studies that directly compare video and audio visits looked at behavioral health care and determined that outcomes were about the same.

Phone visits were important to Taryn Keane, 63, who lost her job as a massage therapist in Venice, California. Keane can’t afford internet service at home and didn’t have a laptop until the Venice Family Clinic gave her an old one and a Wi-Fi hot spot so she could participate in patient forums.

Still, Keane doesn’t like video calls. She has dental problems that make her uncomfortable showing her face on video and a learning disability that makes it hard to focus if there are too many visual distractions. It was easier for her to talk through her mental health issues, and get consultations before and after wrist surgery, over the phone.

“I’m not good on the computer,” Keane said. “It’s just another uncomfortable barrier for me.”

California lawmakers are debating a bill, AB 32, that would require Medi-Cal to keep reimbursing phone, video and in-person visits at the same rate in most settings. The measure, passed by the state Assembly, is now being debated in the Senate and as part of budget negotiations.

An analysis of the bill from the California Health Benefits Review Program found evidence that patients of color and those who are older or rural were more likely to use phone visits than video visits during the pandemic.

“It’s obvious that video [appointments] will not be going to all rural residents and seniors anytime soon,” said state Assembly member Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters), author of the measure. “My No. 1 goal is to have access for all.”

Doctors at safety-net clinics that serve Medi-Cal enrollees and uninsured people report that phone visits have been instrumental in keeping patients healthy during the pandemic. They have proved effective with patients with behavioral health issues like substance use disorders, and those with chronic diseases like diabetes, which require monthly check-ins.

Dr. Grace Floutsis, CEO of White Memorial Community Health Center in Los Angeles, used video and phone appointments for the first time during the pandemic. Like all federally qualified health centers, White Memorial generally wasn’t allowed to use telehealth until then.

“What surprised us the most was how many more people had access to care because that was provided,” Floutsis said. “I’m not sure that changes that much after the pandemic.”

Patients have stopped skipping appointments, she said. The no-show rate for pediatrics (now in person) is higher than for adult primary care (still virtual). The no-show rate for behavioral health, once high, has dwindled to nearly zero.

California’s Department of Health Care Services argues that phone appointments aren’t as good as in-person or even video visits and wants to pay for some phone visits at 65% of in-person or video rates, beginning July 1 or when the federal public health emergency ends.

“There are inherent limitations on the types of services and quality provided,” department spokesperson Tony Cava wrote in an email. “They are not typically viewed as equivalent to in-person visits, do not require the same level of resources to manage, and special equipment or broadband internet connections aren’t required.”

Despite multiple requests, the department did not provide data on how much it paid for phone appointments during the pandemic.

Under the department’s proposal, it would no longer pay for phone appointments at community health centers because the health centers receive a flat rate for every visit by a Medicaid patient. The department left the door open to work with health centers and the federal government to pay some amount for audio visits in the future.

The average community clinic appointment in California is reimbursed at $ 215, but some can be several hundred dollars.

“While I think it’s a really valuable service, I don’t think it’s a really valuable service at that cost,” said Assembly member Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa), who chairs the Assembly Health Committee.

His committee discussed cost in April when it considered AB 32, the bill to keep rates for phone visits equal to the rates for other visits, and amended it to stop reimbursing audio visits at community clinics altogether after five years.

West County Health Centers in Sonoma County is already losing money on phone appointments for Medicare patients, and will take an even bigger hit if Medi-Cal cuts rates, said CEO Jason Cunningham.

But ending phone appointments completely isn’t an option, he said. Phone calls allow patients to conference in family members, eliminate travel time for patients in remote parts of the county, and enabled clinics to keep operating when their buildings were closed for wildfires last summer, he said.

“How can I ask someone to drive an hour to see me, wait in the waiting room for 20 minutes and drive an hour back home when their neighbor with a laptop can see me virtually?” he asked.

This post originally appeared on Medscape Medical News Headlines

After a Fiery N.Y.C. Mayoral Debate, Who’s Ahead? Who Knows.

Not long into New York City’s second Democratic mayoral debate last night, the candidates were asked how they would handle reopening after more than a year of coronavirus lockdown.

Some of the relatively centrist hopefuls, like Andrew Yang and Eric Adams, said they would prioritize confronting crime, which has risen in New York over the course of the pandemic. The more progressive candidates, including Maya Wiley and Scott Stringer, argued for less emphasis on policing and a greater focus on affordable housing and youth employment.

But beyond specific policy differences, there was a more immediate question for the candidates to confront: how to make up for lost time on the campaign trail, now that the city is finally moving toward a full reopening.

The prevailing strategy was to attack, often in personal terms. But with the candidates locked in combat, none seemed to fully break away from the pack.

“A lot of the substance was repetitious: Everybody was saying we have to help small businesses, everybody was saying that we have to get the guns off the street,” Michael Krasner, a professor of political science at Queens College and co-director of the Taft Institute for Government, said in an interview.

“I didn’t feel like anybody had such a compelling idea or policy proposal that it would make a big impression on undecided voters,” he added. “That made it harder for people to see distinctions.”

The June 22 primary is less than three weeks away, and early voting starts in just nine days, but the race remains suspended in midair. In a Fontas/Core Decision Analytics poll released last week, no candidate was the first-choice pick of even one in five likely voters. More than that — 26 percent — said they were entirely undecided. (And even that came only after respondents were pushed to name a choice: On first blush, 50 percent of likely voters said they hadn’t settled on a top candidate.)

The relatively large field, peopled by a mix of longtime public officials and relative newcomers, is complicated further by a ranked-choice voting system, new this year, which makes it difficult to determine who really has the upper hand. And the pandemic has put a damper on traditional campaigning: Only in recent weeks have candidate sightings on the streets of New York become commonplace, as the race hits the homestretch.

Though long considered the front-runner, Yang has recently been buffeted by attacks from other candidates and by lingering questions about his qualifications, while two fellow centrists — Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, and Kathryn Garcia, the former city sanitation commissioner — have risen in recent polls.

Onstage last night, Adams painted Yang as out of touch with the city. “You started discovering violence when you were running for mayor,” he said. “You started discovering the homeless crisis when you were running for mayor.”

Yang shot back, accusing Adams of shady fund-raising practices. “We all know that you’ve been investigated for corruption everywhere you’ve gone,” Yang said. (No charges have been brought against Adams, though some of his political dealings have drawn public scrutiny.)

Scott Stringer, the city comptroller, was even more pointed — dinging Yang and Adams in the same breath. “You’re both right: You both shouldn’t be mayor,” he said. On the topic of public schools, Stringer accused Yang and Adams of “taking millions of dollars from Republican billionaires who want to privatize the school system.”

On a night of fierce attacks, Stringer put in a strong showing, Krasner said. But he arguably had the most to prove of any candidate, after his campaign — which had begun strongly, thanks to his relatively high name recognition and endorsements from major progressive groups and labor unions — nearly tanked when a former campaign worker accused him of sexual misconduct.

Krasner said that the ranked-choice system could help Stringer — particularly among voters who are hesitant to put a scandal-plagued candidate at the top of their ticket. “A lot of people are going to see him as an appealing No. 2,” Krasner said. “He comes across as a competent progressive.”

Wiley has emerged as the only candidate on the progressive wing not enmeshed in scandal, after the campaign of Dianne Morales, a former nonprofit executive, was hit with allegations of blocking her former campaign staff members from unionizing, leading to a number of departures last month.

Morales tried last night to clear a path for herself in the left lane, and went further than Wiley or Stringer on calls to reallocate police funding. She reiterated her pledge to redirect $ 3 billion from the Police Department’s budget toward crime prevention and community investment. Wiley and Stringer have each set a target of trimming $ 1 billion from the police budget.

The more centrist candidates took a different approach. Yang stated unequivocally, “The defunding of police is not the right approach for New York City.”

And Adams, a former police officer, emphasized the need to confront crime with effective policing. “We must be safe, and then on that platform we can build our economy the right way,” he said, even as he sought to turn back opponents’ attacks on his past support for stop-and-frisk tactics.

Garcia has risen into the double digits in recent polls, thanks in part to editorial endorsements from The Times and The New York Daily News that have focused on what had been a relatively low-profile campaign. Last night she framed herself as a savvy technocrat, calling herself “the only candidate up here who can deliver on every promise she makes.”

But she was the rare candidate onstage who rarely went on the attack, and she struggled to explain, when challenged by her opponents, why she had left the de Blasio administration in the middle of the pandemic.

“She certainly seemed confident,” Krasner said, but he added, “I didn’t think she gained any ground.”

Also onstage were Ray McGuire, a former Citigroup executive, and Shaun Donovan, who served as secretary of housing and urban development under President Barack Obama. Each positioned himself as an agent of change.

In his opening remarks, Donovan promised “a change from the political status quo of the last eight years,” saying he “would lead New York in a new and better direction.”

McGuire offered a poetic variation on the same theme, pointing out that most of his opponents had spent years in public office. “This is a bad movie, playing out at City Hall, with the same characters,” he said. “We simply cannot afford a disastrous sequel. Make the change, hope for the change.”

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Author: Giovanni Russonello
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News

Tesco sparks fiery debate over self-checkout system- ‘Boycott them!’

Tesco’s self-checkout tills now add up how much you have saved as you scan through your products, instead of calculating it all at the end of the transaction. One shopper shared her excitement on the Extreme Couponing and Bargains Facebook group. She said that she saved £31.50 on her shop and paid just £13.50.
Posting on the group, she said: “Anybody else loving the new self-serve tills at Tesco that adds up your savings as you go?”

While the post was shared to praise the new system, it quickly sparked a shopper debate between more than a thousand people about using self-checkouts.One shopper said: “I find self-service the best, I can go at my own pace and don’t have to speak to the miserable people they normally put on the checkouts.

Another wrote: “Not a fan of self service, I like to have a staff member serve me as they are all polite, and pleasant.

“No thanks to the machine that makes you feel stupid because something always goes wrong then someone has to sort you out. Ok for the younger generation, but not for me thank you.”

Another critic said: “Using self-service tills a great way to put people out of work. Please boycott them.”

Additional reporting by Rachel Pugh.

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Life and Style Feed
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Richard Cordray is at the Center of the Debate Over Student Loan Debt

Mr. Cordray made student loan oversight one of the bureau’s priorities, and in early 2017 — two days before Mr. Trump took office — the agency sued Navient, one of the Education Department’s largest student loan servicers, for errors and omissions that Mr. Cordray said improperly added billions of dollars to borrowers’ tabs.

The lawsuit is ongoing, and six state attorneys general have filed similar cases. A spokesman for Navient, Paul Hartwick, described the allegations as “unfounded” and said the company assisted students by helping them navigate the complex student loan program.

Mr. Cordray has described the country’s soaring student loan debt — which eclipses all consumer debt other than mortgages — and the often slipshod way it is managed as a problem ripe for government intervention. “The domino effects of student debt burdens and loan servicing problems are holding back the upcoming generation and hampering the economy,” Mr. Cordray wrote in his 2020 book, “Watchdog.”

The Education Department is the primary lender for Americans who borrow to pay for higher education. It directly owns loans made to nearly 43 million people, totaling $ 1.4 trillion.

In one of the government’s most sweeping relief measures of the coronavirus pandemic, the department decided in March 2020 to allow borrowers to stop making payments on their federal student loans, temporarily setting the interest rate to zero percent. That pause is scheduled to continue through September.

Because of that freeze, fewer than 1 percent of borrowers with federal loans are currently making payments on them. Restarting loan collections will be one of the biggest challenges facing the Education Department this year.

But Mr. Cordray will inherit a plethora of other problems, including extensive errors and obstacles in the department’s Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which is intended to forgive the debts of teachers, military members, nonprofit workers and others in public-service careers.

The department is also grappling with claims from hundreds of thousands of borrowers seeking relief through a program intended to eliminate the debts of people who were defrauded by schools that broke consumer protection laws.

Susan C. Beachy contributed research.

Author: Anemona Hartocollis and Stacy Cowley
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News

Tottenham next manager: Who should Daniel Levy hire to replace Jose Mourinho? Big Debate

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed

The post-Jose Mourinho Tottenham era started off positively on Wednesday night as interim head coach Ryan Mason oversaw a 2-1 league win over Southampton to inject some extra confidence into the players for Sunday’s Carabao Cup final against Manchester City. Mason, just 29 years old, spoke of his pride of standing in the Spurs dugout and may hope between now and May 23 to prove he can be an option for the position full time. In our latest Big Debate, the Express Sport team sit down to look at who they think chairman Daniel Levy should be eyeing as his next permanent appointment at the end of the season, with Julian Nagelsmann and Brendan Rodgers among the many candidates in the frame.

Ryan Taylor

It’s easy to see why Spurs want Julian Nagelsmann but that seems unrealistic given that he’s Bayern Munich’s top target to replace Hansi Flick.

Outside of that, I think Nuno Espirito Santo would be the perfect fit. There’s a sense he’s taken Wolves as far as he can and ultimately, his journey at Molineux warrants reward.

Nuno has a clear identity and idea, has a track record developing players, a winning mentality and has formed special relationships with the Wolves fans and his squad. He ticks pretty much every box.

Not only that but his relationship with super-agent Jorge Mendes is also an added bonus. It’s the kind of network that would really benefit Tottenham, particularly at this moment in time where there could be wholesale changes at the club.

Brendan Rodgers is of course also a strong option but I don’t think he’s a realistic candidate. He has total control at Leicester and they are a club on the up.

Charlie Malam

The way things soured for Jose Mourinho at Tottenham should be a surprise to… well, no-one. The mood towards the end was low in the dressing room and on the training ground, just as it was in the final days at Real Madrid, Chelsea and Manchester United. It looked likely for some time that he was going to be axed.

With former academy graduate Mason tasked with restoring some positivity between now and the end of the season, Julian Nagelsmann might just be the perfect man to come in and help restore Spurs as top-four, and then title, challengers again – though the timeline of how quick that happens will depend on what happens with Harry Kane’s future.

Nagelsmann’s only 33 but has a wealth of experience having taken Hoffenheim to finishes of fourth, third and ninth before joining RB Leipzig in the summer of 2019. He led Leipzig to the Champions League semi-finals last term, though lost in the last 16 this year to Liverpool, and has made the Red Bull-owned club the closest Bundesliga challengers to Bayern Munich in the current campaign after coming third in his debut season.

Whereas Mourinho represents the old era, the fresh-faced and innovative German is the new age. Nagelsmann is renowned across the continent for his tactical expertise, scrupulous attention to detail and also his man management. His high-pressing approach is much more akin to Mauricio Pochettino’s ideas than the dull defence-first thinking of Mourinho.

While the door may be open for a tempting summer move to Bayern with Hansi Flick wanting out, Spurs still have plenty they can offer to Nagelsmann – who has precedent for turning down the biggest jobs before having rejected Real Madrid in 2018 to “develop” in his career and take a “logical” next step.

Spurs may not be on a level with Leipzig right now given they likely won’t have Champions League football next year, Nagelsmann could view the north Londoners as the sensible next stepping stone in his journey, given the test of managing in the Premier League and the test of rebuilding the Spurs side.

Spurs showed even under Mourinho that the ingredients are there for an exciting and progressive team, and Nagelsmann would be the ideal man to oversee that development. And appointing such an exciting attack-minded young coach could even more vitally help get Kane – considering an exit this summer in pursuit of major silverware – back on board.

Simon Head

As one of the “Breakaway Six” that attempted to start a European Super League, Tottenham could really do with a bit of positive PR, and the appointment of the right manager would be just the ticket for Daniel Levy and co. at the top of the club.

Archie Griggs

Julian Nagelsmann should be Tottenham’s first-choice candidate but it remains to be seen whether RB Leipzig would entertain the idea of letting him go.

He is under contract until the summer of 2023 and has previously underlined his commitment to seeing out the entirety of his deal with the Bundesliga hopefuls.

If Daniel Levy is prepared to part ways with a significant amount of money, the 33-year-old, who has proven himself as one of Europe’s best young managers, could be the man to lead Spurs to the next level.

However, in the event that Leipzig refuse to budge, the north London club could do worse than to appoint temporary boss Ryan Mason on a permanent basis.

Although it is still very early days, the players appear to be enthusiastic about the former midfielder’s willingness to implement an attacking-minded philosophy, and if he can save the club’s season by winning Sunday’s Carabao Cup final there is a chance that Levy could decide to offer him a chance to make a name for himself with the full-time job.

Matthew Dunn 

News that Tottenham have already made contact with Maurizio Sarri about the vacant manager’s job is no surprise.

He has a lot of what they though Jose Mourinho would bring them and has some qualities which will make him more palatable both in the boardroom and in the stands of the giant White Hart Lane arena.

For a start, Sarri-ball is more forward-thinking than Mourinho’s unpopular park-the-bus approach.

His honours list is not as impressive, but he has won things – the Europa League and Serie A.

And he will be much, much cheaper than the Special One.

Julian Nagelsmann is another name on the list, as is Brendan Rodgers. Levy needs an exciting and big enough name to persuade Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min to be patient at the club for just one year more.

All of which means that for Ryan Mason, it is all too much too early, however well he does.

Who are the options for Spurs?

Tottenham have been linked with a whole host of names since axing Mourinho, with the bookmakers’ current favourite Maurizio Sarri, the former Chelsea, Juventus and Napoli head coach.

The actual chances of the Italian rocking up at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to take over are unclear as it stands.

Nagelsmann is a popular candidate, though that depends on how much it would take to prise him from RB Leipzig – Bayern Munich are also a threat given they admire the German.

Brendan Rodgers of Leicester is widely admired at Spurs but the ex-Liverpool head coach is fully committed to his project with the Foxes.

Ajax’s Erik ten Hag and Brighton’s Graham Potter are other options who fit the profile Spurs want, per Football.London.

Massimiliano Allegri, the out-of-work ex-Juve boss, is another potential contender though he is not quite the same mould of the aforementioned quartet.