Monthly Archives: April 2012
By Kristen Mark
“The story of sex in committed modern couples often tells of a dwindling desire and includes a long list of sexual alibis, which claim to explain the inescapable death of eros.”
It is this idea, that sexual desire dwindles when in a committed relationship, that Perel successfully tackles in her book. Popular perception suggests that committed relationships mark the end of sex. Yet research shows that when asked, many people indicate sexual desire as a key feature ofromantic love.
The work of myself and others in the field suggests to me that sexual desire ebbs and flows throughout life and relationships.
Research by Murray and Milhausen (2012) recently tackled the length of relationship and desire connection, and found that length of relationship (in couples who were together for an average of 2 years) impacted sexual desire for women, but not men.
In research by Klusmann (2002), men’s sexual desire tended to remain high while women’s sexual desire is found to decrease as early as one year into the relationship.
In research I’ve conducted, I found that length of relationship (in couples who were together for an average of 4 years) didn’t impact sexual desire for women or men, and women and men were equally likely to be the member of the couple with lower sexual desire relative to their partner. And in interviews with women in a relationship for a minimum of 5 years, myself and colleagues have found that there are a number of factors that impact the ebb and flow of sexual desire.
Perhaps another reason the idea exists around sexual desire diminishing with length of relationship is the strong sexual desire in passionate love that is replaced by increased intimacy in companionate love (said to occur around two and a half years).
All of this also makes me wonder, is it the relationship length that is decreasing the desire? Or simply the other milestones (kids, moving in,career moves) that happen to correspond to relationship length? And how do we keep the desire in our relationships over the long haul?
Bringing it back to Mating in Captivity, where open and loving relationships are accompanied with dull sex lives, when we love someone, we feel responsible and secure. Responsibility and security clash with desire. So as the length of our relationship increases, we become closer to the individual, we have a greater sense of security, and we lose that animalistic sense of “throw down” that was such a large part of early sexual scripts in the relationship. As Perel puts it, “fire needs air, and many couples don’t leave enough air.”
Creating that space, or “air”, is perhaps one of the things that can be done in relationships when the desire is at a low ebb. But also just realizing that the ebbs of desire will be accompanied by upward flows is one way to ensure expectations for sex don’t get in the way of pleasure from sex, especially in the context of long-term relationships.
Construction Scam Hit Major Projects
By James Campbell
Construction giant Lend Lease has admitted to systematically cheating clients out of millions of dollars in an overbilling scheme, including fraudulent fees for work on Grand Central Terminal, Citi Field and the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn.
“We believe that it’s definitely, as you put it, a New York thing,” said U.S. District Attorney Loretta Lynch, after a deferred-prosecution deal with the company was unsealed Tuesday.
As part of the largest construction settlement in New York history, the Australian company’s American division, Lend Lease (U.S.) Construction, formerly Bovis Lend Lease, agreed to pay a fine of $40.5 million, as well as up to $16 million in restitution to its victims.
James Abadie, 55 years old, the former head of the company’s New York office, also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and was released on bail. He faces up to 20 years in prison.
Lend Lease also admitted to making false claims under programs for minority- and women-controlled businesses in order to win contracts.
The overbilling scheme saw Lend Lease pay foremen one or two hours extra each day for work that was never done, passing on the expenses to clients without their knowledge, according to court documents. The company also padded its billings by paying foremen for sick days, holidays and vacation time in violation of its labor agreements.
Ms. Lynch said the overpayments benefited a group of 40 to 60 foremen, all of whom are members of Local 79, a building-trades union. The investigation analyzed thousands of time sheets over a 10-year period dating back to 1999, when Bovis was purchased by Lend Lease.
The company engaged in the overbilling on “every project over years,” Ms. Lynch said, defrauding clients of $19 million.
There was one exception: The National September 11 Memorial and Museum, on which Lend Lease is the project manager, was not affected by the fraud.
Lend Lease said in a statement the company had fully and extensively cooperated with the investigations since 2009.
“We accept responsibility for what happened in the past and have agreed to continue to make restitution to the affected clients,” said Robert McNamara, CEO Lend Lease Americas region. “We are satisfied that the investigation is now resolved and we are looking forward to continuing our commitment to projects in New York City.”
Mr. Abadie’s attorney and representatives for Local 79 didn’t return phone calls Tuesday.
Private projects identified as victims of the fraud include the Time Warner Center, the American Natural History Museum, and two hospitals, according to law-enforcement officials.
Government projects were also affected, including the U.S. Post Office and Bankruptcy Court in Brooklyn, the New York Mets’ new stadium in Queens, and Grand Central Terminal.
Lend Lease was responsible for the demolition of the former Deutsche Bank building, which was damaged in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Investigators determined that the project was affected by phony billings as well.
Two firefighters died in 2007 after they became trapped in the building during demolition. An investigation found that the fire was started by a smoking worker and a water pipe had been cut.
Jeffrey Melofchik, a site safety manager working for Lend Lease, was acquitted in 2011 of manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment in the case.
In 2008, Lend Lease reached a non-prosecution agreement with former Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau in connection with the Deutsche Bank fire. The company could still face charges if the fraud revealed Tuesday violates a good-behavior clause in the earlier agreement. The present Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus Vance, is a party to Tuesday’s deal with federal prosecutors, but a spokeswoman declined to comment on whether Lend Lease will be accused of breaking the Deutsche Bank agreement.
Lend Lease also admitted on Tuesday to abusing affirmative-action programs designed to aid small construction firms or companies owned by women and minorities.
In those cases, Lend Lease falsely told authorities that work was being done by two firms that met the selection criteria for affirmative-action contracts. The work was instead done by Lend Lease employees who were transferred to the smaller companies’ payrolls.
Both the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York and the New Jersey Schools Development Authority were deceived by the front companies acting in concert with Lend Lease, over projects to build the Bronx Criminal Courthouse and three schools in New Jersey.
As part of its agreement with prosecutors, Lend Lease has removed senior management in charge of its New York operations at the time the frauds were committed.
Ms. Lynch, who noted the investigation is continuing, said the decision to prosecute Mr. Abadie was taken because he was seen as especially culpable.
“He was uniquely positioned to see both the labor side and the management side of the scheme, and to be aware of the fact the hours that were being billed were not only not being worked but were not being disclosed to the clients,” she said. “He also took active steps to make sure the clients were not aware of this.”
Write to James Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Janis Abrahams Spring
Almost everything that has been written about forgiveness tells the hurt partner to forgive. “Forgiveness is good for us,” we’re told. “Good people forgive.”
But in my clinical practice of 35 years (mostly working with couples recovering from infidelity), I’ve found that when someone acts in a hurtful way and isn’t able or willing to make meaningful repairs — for example, a partner cheats, remarries and shows no remorse — the hurt party chokes on the idea of forgiveness. This makes sense to me. Why are we preaching only to the hurt party? Why not turn to offenders and ask them to earn forgiveness?
The professionals also tell us that we need to forgive in order to heal our wounds and get on with our lives. That’s dubious advice, too. Forgiveness that is not earned is what I call “cheap forgiveness.”
Until now, there has been no healthy alternative, nothing that lies between the fluffy, inspirational concept of “pure” forgiveness (asking nothing in return) and the hard, cold-hearted response of not forgiving.
What I’ve developed is a radical, healthy alternative to forgiving that I call “acceptance.”
Acceptance is a healing alternative that asks nothing of the offender. When the offender is not sorry, or is not physically available — when he or she is unable or unwilling to make meaningful repairs — it is not the job of the hurt party to forgive. But it is the job of the hurt party to rise above the violation and heal him or herself.
In my book, “How Can I Forgive You?, The Courage to Forgive, The Freedom Not To“, I spell out 10 steps hurt parties can take to tie up their wounds and heal themselves — without forgiving an unrepentant offender. These steps include:
- Honoring the full sweep of their emotions
- Giving up their need for revenge but continuing to seek a just resolution
- Stemming their obsessive focus on the injury and reengaging with life
- Protecting themselves from further abuse
- Framing the offender’s behavior in terms of the offender’s own personal struggles, which may have begun before the hurt party came on the scene
- Looking honestly at their own contribution to the injury
- Challenging their false assumptions about what happened
- Looking at the offender apart from his offense, weighing the good against the bad
- Carefully deciding what kind of relationship they want with the offender
- Forgiving themselves for ways they’ve blamed and shamed themselves with regard to the injury
What I call “genuine forgiveness” is reserved for those offenders who have the courage and character to make meaningful amends. Genuine forgiveness is an intimate dance, a hard-won transaction which asks as much of the offender as it does of the hurt party.
To earn forgiveness, offenders must perform bold, humble and heartfelt acts of repair, such as bearing witness to the pain they caused, delivering a meaningful apology, rebuilding trust, and addressing those vulnerabilities that led them to mistreat the hurt party, so that they never violate that person again.
In exchange, hurt parties must work to release their obsessive preoccupation with the injury, accept a fair share of responsibility for what went wrong and create opportunities for the offender to make good. Acceptance is intrapersonal; genuine forgiveness is interpersonal.
For there to be genuine forgiveness, the hurt party needs to complete the 10 steps of acceptance listed above, not alone, but with the helping hand of the offender. Here’s a case in point.
Ten years after their divorce, Sara and John were thrown together at their daughter Megan’s college graduation, 3,000 miles from home. Sara and John had remarried, but their partners couldn’t join them for the four-day ceremony. The nuclear family — Sara, John, Megan and Megan’s sister — was together for the first time since the divorce. John had had an affair with a woman he then married, and what followed was a bitter divorce and child custody battle.
As the couple was walking across campus, John turned to Sara and said in what she felt was a heartfelt way, “I’m sorry for all the trouble I caused you.”
Sara was touched. He had never apologized, never taken any responsibility for the chaos he had created in her life or the depression she struggled with for five years after he left home.
She didn’t want to make waves — it was a time of celebration for their daughter — but she also knew she wouldn’t have many chances to talk with John, so she “located her pain” and said what still stuck in her gut.
“I appreciate your apology,” she began, “but there’s something specific that sits between us that’s been gnawing at me, and I’m wondering if you’d like to hear it?”
“Okay, shoot.” John said.
“It seems to me that during our divorce and afterwards, you deliberately told the girls horrible lies about me,” Sara said. “It seems you went out of your way to alienate them from me. Did you? And, if so, please tell me, why?”
John hesitated, then said, “It’s true. I did do that. You know, I don’t tend to dig deep into myself. But if I had to be honest, I’d say, after my affair, I was afraid the girls would love you more than me. I want you to know, though, they never fell for my manipulation. They love you too much. I’m really sorry.” When the couple met up with their daughters, he apologized again to his wife and to his children.
This is the work of genuine forgiveness. It asks the offender to pay attention to the feelings of the person he or she hurt, take responsibility for the damage caused, offer a meaningful apology and perform concrete acts of repair. It’s not a gift from the heart or mind of the hurt party alone.
Genuine forgiveness is a lot like love. We can love or forgive someone alone, someone who doesn’t deserve our love or forgiveness (we’ve all been in those relationships.) But doesn’t it feel more satisfying, more genuine, more all-embracing, when the person we love or forgive treats us with acts of consideration and tender regard? Even if it’s with an unfaithful or divorcing partner.
Raphael Davis (Credit: CBS Los Angeles)
The problem is, the fireman’s “spare time” happened to be while he left the firehouse on worker’s compensation, declaring he was unfit to do his job.
According to CBS Los Angeles, Raphael Davis was arrested Tuesday at his home on suspicion of filing false workers’ compensation insurance claims. He is being held on $30,000 bail. Investigators say that while he filed false claims from 2008-2011, Davis was participating in mixed martial arts fights as “The Noodle.”
How in the world did “The Noodle” expect to get away with this one? MMA videos are routinely posted online after bouts. It didn’t take long for KCAL to locate a YouTube video of Davis training in 2010 and competing in 2008:
According to the MMA website sherdog.com, the 6-foot-3, 203-pound Davis posted an impressive 12-2 MMA record. His dominant performance probably only served to bring more attention to the malingering firefighter.
Prosecutors filed four counts of insurance fraud against Davis, who filed for workers’ compensation insurance between Dec. 2, 2008 and May 20, 2011, according to Head Deputy John Morris with the district attorney’s healthcare fraud division. Authorities did not say what type of illness or injury Davis claimed on his workers comp insurance.
If Davis is convicted as charged, he faces up to five years in county jail.
Originally published Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 8:00 PM
The IRS doesn’t send you an email out of the blue asking for information. And if you get such an email, you should forward it to email@example.com.
By Eileen Ambrose, The Baltimore Sun
Each year, the Internal Revenue Service puts out a list of the top 12 tax scams to avoid — as victim or perpetrator. This year’s list:
• Identity theft: The IRS says it has a comprehensive strategy targeting ID theft. It also has increased internal reviews “to spot false tax returns before tax refunds are issued and is working to help victims of identity theft refund schemes.”
• Phishing: With this tactic, a thief sends an email or sets up a fake website with the hope of luring consumers to give up some of their personal information. The IRS doesn’t send you an email out of the blue asking for information. And if you get such an email, you should forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Return-preparer fraud: Shady preparers have taken clients’ refunds, overcharged customers and promised fat refunds to gain new clients. If you don’t deserve a fat refund, though, you can end up getting burned.
• Hiding income offshore.
• “Free money” from the IRS and tax scams involving Social Security: The IRS says this scam has been cropping up in community churches. The scammers convince the elderly and those with low income that they are entitled to money from the IRS and Social Security. The con artists collect a fee, but the filer’s claims are rejected.
• False/inflated income and expenses.
• False Form 1099 refund claims: This involves creating a false federal income-tax form to claim tax breaks.
• Frivolous arguments: One of them is that the 16th Amendment, which permits tax collections, wasn’t ever ratified, so you don’t have to pay taxes. Not true, as some jailed celebrities have found out.
• Falsely claiming zero wages.
• Abuse of charitable organizations and deductions.
• Disguised corporate ownership: Some people hide the true ownership of a business so they can avoid taxes.
• Misuse of trusts: You can’t always use a trust to shelter assets from taxes.
By Melanie Tubbs Published: Apr 8, 2012 at 6:45 PM PDT
TRI-CITIES, Wash. — Getting hurt on the job in Washington doesn’t mean you have to stay here. It’s common for people getting worker’s compensation after an accident to have to move locations, so they can find work doing something else, but it goes far beyond Idaho and Oregon.
KEPR found out that Washington’s L&I has a growing department just for claims and pensions being sent outside of the country.
Labor and Industries spokesman, Hector Castro explains, “If they injured worker leaves the state, we still have the obligation to insure they have the medical care they need to become whole again.”
Right now, Washington’s Labor and Industries is paying benefits to over 100 injured workers outside of the United States. Just in 2011, about $40,000 dollars of workers comp money was sent to Canada. Almost $300,000 was sent south of the border.
In an economy like this, business owners struggle with increasing L&I rates.. Without reaping the benefits. Country Gentleman owner, Steve Simmons explains, “It’s frustrating to see that money go out of the country.”
Employers and employees alike who pay into this pool of money, insuring they’ll get help in their time of need. “Thats what the systems in place for,” says Castro.
Simmons replies, “An injured worker needs to be taken care of and taken care of properly.”
What they are just concerned about is check ups after the claims are set. Simmons says, “L&I cant stay on top of the legitimacy of claims that are out of the country.Are they trying to get off pension? Are they finding ways to get back to work?”
It turns out there is some benefits to injured workers moving abroad. The healthcare in other countries is significantly cheaper, meaning L&I is forking out less money and there’s more compensation left for workers here in Washington.
Castro says, “For instance in Mexico, even if we paid 100% of medical care its less expensive than in the United States.”
Despite this, L&I doesn’t want to continue paying so much out of the country because of the time, money and difficulty in management. He continues, “We do what we can to encourage people to stay in Washington.”
Keeping track of your tax dollars… until the jump the border. L&I awarded over a billion dollars last year nationwide.
A Long Beach-based health plan seeking new contracts to serve 54,000 Southern California low-income seniors has set aside $125 million to resolve claims by state and federal authorities that it overbilled Medi-Cal and Medicare.
In applications submitted in February to California’s Medi-Cal agency, the SCAN Health Plan detailed the course of civil and criminal investigations by the California attorney general’s office, saying they could lead to “substantial financial payments.” Federal authorities from the Health and Human Services and Justice departments also are investigating, the reports say.
Investigators are examining whether SCAN drew funds from both health care programs to care for the same pool of patients and intentionally hid the matter from overseers. At worst, the cases could conclude with the company banned from serving Medi-Cal or Medicare patients, the document says.
SCAN submitted applications to serve 36,000 seniors in Los Angeles County, 8,000 in San Diego County and 5,000 each in San Bernardino and Riverside counties. Medi-Cal is reviewing multiple bids from firms willing to work in each of those counties to coordinate care for patients, mostly seniors with low incomes, who receive both Medi-Cal and Medicare coverage.
Currently, the SCAN Health Plan, founded in 1977, runs a Medicare Advantage plan serving 130,000 people in California and Arizona. The firm says its members report very high satisfaction rates, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently awarded it 4 out of a possible 5 stars for its work in California.
California Watch reported in August that SCAN was under investigation after state Controller John Chiang audited the plan and said it “fleeced the state” out of a possible $339 million. In a financial evaluation [PDF], Medi-Cal confirmed that the health plan drew profit margins of 80 percent or more, in contrast to rates of 4 to 5 percent earned by similar plans.
The Medi-Cal Fraud Control Unit described the case in an annual report to federal funders, saying it involves “double billing.”
“It is alleged that SCAN intentionally withheld relevant cost report information from the government to hide the enormous profits SCAN was making,” the April 2011 report says.
The case “has the potential for obtaining one of the largest” financial recoveries as a result of a false-claims lawsuit by the attorney general’s Medi-Cal Fraud Control Unit, the report says. The attorney general’s office declined to comment further.
In a statement, SCAN spokesman Alan Maltun said: “Substantial progress has been made in working through these issues with the State and Federal governments, and we believe we will be able to resolve their concerns in a manner that is fair to all parties.”
SCAN disclosed to Medi-Cal authorities in February that it received a subpoena for documents in March 2010 from the Department of Health and Human Services inspector general’s office, which reports to the U.S. Department of Justice.
The company learned that the state attorney general’s Medi-Cal fraud team also was conducting civil and criminal investigations of payments to the company from 2001 to 2009.
The disclosure says SCAN learned that federal authorities also are examining whether it earned excess payments by submitting improper ratings that describe how sick members are. Medicare Advantage plans, like SCAN, are paid a per-patient rate that is based on the plan’s severity-of-illness ratings.
SCAN said that when its board of directors learned of the allegations, it appointed a special committee to lead an internal investigation. The report says the group “has not received any evidence suggesting intentional misconduct” by anyone at the company.
The company says it offered to pay $125 million to resolve claims, but government authorities said a counteroffer would be forthcoming. SCAN concluded that it “cannot predict whether or when a settlement will occur or whether criminal or civil court proceedings might be initiated.”
In applying to serve additional seniors, SCAN said its mission is to find “innovative ways to enhance our members’ ability to manage their health and control where and how they live.”
The managed care company says 98 percent of its “nursing facility level of care” seniors in California are able to live at home, rather than in institutions. It said its members’ rate of readmissions into hospitals is 24 percent lower than expected.
SCAN said that in 2011, 97 percent of its “dual eligible” – or Medi-Cal and Medicare-qualified – members were satisfied with the company.
The state Department of Health Care Services is reviewing applications from firms bidding to provide managed care services to seniors who tend to have many chronic conditions and receive care from a variety of providers.
The state is seeking to improve care and save money by giving care providers incentives to focus on healthy living and proactive management of chronic conditions. The move is meant to part ways with a system in which health providers are paid a premium for giving emergency care and performing invasive procedures.