There's one part of Obamacare that doesn't get mentioned a lot, but that could end up being a big deal. It sets up experiments in hospitals all over the country to try to figure out how to save money without lowering the quality of care.
On today's show, we visit a hospital in Akron, Ohio that's engaged in one of these experiments. We sit in on a tense conversation where doctors argue about why it's so hard to start surgery on time. And we hear what happens when you change the way hospitals and doctors get paid.
For more, see our stories 3 Ways Obamacare Is Changing The Way A Hospital Cares For Patients and Hospital Puts Docs On The Spot To Lower Costs.
For more than a year, the Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA have been engaged in a tug of war over the release of the so-called torture report.
Chairman Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, says the $40 million, 6,000-page report demonstrates that CIA treatment of detainees was all but useless in terms of gathering actionable intelligence.
For its part, the CIA says the classified committee report contains significant errors and that no one at the agency was interviewed by Senate investigators.
A CIA spokesman points out that in any event, President Obama outlawed waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics in 2009.
That status quo is pretty much where things stand.
Until this week, at least, when Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall insisted the White House throw its weight behind releasing the material.
"I strongly believe that the only way to correct the inaccurate information in the public record on this program is through the sunlight of declassification," Udall said.
The central issue is whether tactics such as long-term sleep deprivation and simulated drowning of detainees helped get information to prevent terrorist attacks — and whether the long-awaited Senate Intelligence study can provide a definitive answer to that question.
New Mexico Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich said he's tired of the issue being politicized.
"Madame Chairman, I am convinced now more than ever that we need to declassify the full report so that those with a political agenda can no longer manipulate public opinion," Heinrich said.
But veterans of the intelligence community say everyone in this story has some kind of political agenda.
There are backstage fights over errors in the Senate report and private disagreements about whether the committee and the CIA have a deal to release the material.
This week, Udall dropped a new detail. He said the CIA conducted its own review of interrogation and detention, a secret study that he says would dovetail with the committee findings.
"And if this is true, it raises fundamental questions about why a review the CIA conducted internally years ago, and never provided to the committee, is so different from the CIA's formal written response to the committee's study," he said. "I think you can see the disconnect there."
The CIA says it's aware of the committee's request for that information and will respond appropriately.
Earlier this year, during his confirmation hearing, CIA director nominee John Brennan promised to take a close look at the interrogation study and its possible release.
Brennan said the agency would learn from its mistakes after Sept. 11 and not repeat them.
"There clearly were a number of things, many things, that I read in that report that were very concerning and disturbing to me and ones that I would want to look into immediately if I were to be confirmed as CIA director," Brennan said. "[Things that] talked about mismanagement of the program, misrepresentations of the information, providing inaccurate information."
The Senate confirmed Brennan, but then nothing else happened.
A CIA spokesman said the agency is working with the Intelligence Committee to correct the report and eventually to make part of it public.
But that could take time, since the politically divided Senate panel needs to vote on the report. And on top of that, the CIA has to agree to declassify what's secret.
In the past five years, the Federal Reserve has created roughly $3 trillion out of thin air.
The Fed uses the money it creates out of thin air to buy bonds. The idea is to drive down interest rates, which encourages people and businesses to borrow and spend money. It's called quantitative easing.
The big news today is that the Fed will soon start creating slightly less money out of thin air every month. Starting in Januray, the central bank will go from creating $85 billion every month to creating $75 billion a month.
In the context of the roughly $3 trillion the Fed has already created, this change is vanishingly small.
In fact, the taper is so small relative to the Fed's balance sheet that you wouldn't even be able to see it on the graph above. So here's a zoomed-in version (where they Y axis doesn't go to zero).
Michael Steinberg, a top portfolio manager at SAC Capital Advisors, has been found guilty of insider trading — the latest conviction stemming from a years-long federal investigation into the hedge fund's activities.
Steinberg was found guilty on five counts of conspiracy and securities fraud.
"Prosecutors said he traded on confidential information that was passed to him by an employee, who later admitted to swapping illegal tips with friends at other firms."
The New York Times' DealBook says Steinberg is "the highest-ranking employee of SAC Capital Advisors to become ensnared" in the crackdown.
Last month, we reported that the Stamford, Conn.-based hedge fund owned by Steven A. Cohen pleaded guilty to wire and securities fraud related to insider trading and agreed to pay at least $1.2 billion in fines.
"While an acquittal might have had a chilling effect on the investigation, Mr. Steinberg's conviction instead raised the likelihood that Mr. Cohen, after avoiding criminal charges for years, would face another round of scrutiny.
"Agents with the F.B.I. are continuing to investigate allegations that some employees of SAC used inside to information to make trades in shares and options of Weight Watchers, Intermune and Gymboree, according to a person briefed on the matter.
"The verdict came as something of a surprise, after Mr. Steinberg's legal team poked holes in testimony from the government's star witness, another former trader at SAC. Prosecutors also privately conceded that the case had flaws, as they relied on circumstantial evidence like emails and trading logs rather than the sort of incriminating wiretaps that underpinned past insider trading trials."
Whether you love buying gifts or dread trips to the mall, good luck avoiding some kind of shopping during the holiday season. But I don't need the excuse of a holiday to get me to the stores. I'm obsessed with shopping.
The question is, am I a shopaholic? The technical term is "compulsive buyer," according to psychologist April Benson.
"Simply put," says Dr. Benson, compulsive buying is "when we spend so much time, energy and/or money shopping ... or even thinking about shopping and buying that it is impairing our life in a significant way."
That does apply to me. Being a busy 18-year-old — balancing Advanced Placement history classes with swim team and friends — can make my life feel out of control. Shopping gives me a sense of order. So, yes, I do spend a lot of time thinking about and buying clothes. Turns out, I'm not alone.
"I love shopping," says Joi Morgan. "Anytime I have money to spare, that's what I'll do."
I asked Morgan how often she went shopping.
"Definitely every two weeks. That's my pay schedule."
Brandon McFarland spends a lot of time shopping, too.
"I probably go thrift shopping at least once a week," says McFarland. "It's almost a way to pass the time."
It's also sometimes about acting on impulse. Chantell Williams says she's especially tempted by heels.
"They're really cute, but they hurt so much," she says, "so I'll wear them for a few hours and I can't stand them."
Morgan delights in taking the tags off of new clothes and putting them on for the first time. "I love that feeling," she says.
Me too. But I worry that maybe I'm not just having some fun — that I'm needing a fix.
"High-risk situations are an event like a prom or a Sweet 16," says Benson. "Or people wanting to go to school with all new clothes."
My high-risk situation? The mecca of teen shopping: Forever 21. Chandeliers hang from a gold-painted ceiling, pop music is blasting, and there are racks and racks of dangerously cheap clothes. On a recent visit, inside the dressing room, I played back in my mind the six questions Benson suggests her patients ask themselves before making a purchase.
"Why am I here? How do I feel? Do I need this? What if I wait? How will I pay for it? And where will I put it? And if you can answer those questions, preferably in writing, to your satisfaction," Benson says, "it's probably not a compulsive purchase."
I ended up buying the cute top I tried on. And a lot more. Why couldn't I stop myself? I asked Benson what type of person is at most risk of becoming a compulsive buyer. There are two factors, she says. The first is what she calls "large self-discrepancy."
"There's a big distance between who we are and how we'd like to be, or how we'd like to be seen," says Benson.
The second factor is a "materialistic value orientation."
Benson says that's "somebody for whom the acquisition of material goods is the central life goal."
My worldview is not so narrow that I think material possessions are the only indicators of success. But this whole process has led me to a realization. Like Benson says, "You can never get enough of what you don't really need." So I've got to figure out what it is I do really need. And it's not that adorable pair of wedge sandals, or yet another chiffon top.
This story was produced by Youth Radio.