What we’re reading: the Roberts Court and the U.S. Chamber; paying for veterans’ brain injuries; cellphone abuse in a county agency

December 23, 2010 by Andrew Clevenger

This may well be the final installment for 2010, as your loyal contributors to Sustained Outrage take a quick break for the holidays. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of our readers — please come back and visit us in 2011.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is weighing in on most business cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, with a remarkable success rate, the New York Times reported. During the last term, the Roberts Court sided with the party supported by the Chamber in 13 out of 16 cases, including the notorious Citizens United decision. Overall, the Roberts Court has been notably receptive to business concerns, issuing pro-business decisions 61 percent of the time, as opposed to 51 percent under Chief Justice Rehnquist, 47 percent under Chief Justice Burger and 29 percent under Chief Justice Warren.

The Pentagon’s health plan for troops and most veterans does not pay for cognitive rehabilitation therapy, even though many medical experts believe the lengthy, expensive treatment may produce the best results for patients with traumatic brain injuries, according to a joint investigation by NPR, Stars and Stripes and Propublica.org. Head wounds resulting in diminished functioning are a common injury in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, wreak concussive havoc on soldiers at close range. In a follow-up piece, the investigation noted that some of the best treatment options are paid for by a philanthropist, not the Pentagon.

More than 1/4 of the 5,000 cellphones owned by Los Angeles County’s child welfare department were used by non-employees, resulting in $330,000 in charges last year, the Los Angeles Times reported. One employee racked up bills of more than $2,000 by making international calls that were personal, according to an audit of the department’s phone usage. The audit also found that agency had more than 500 broadband cards to access the Internet from portable computers, but 220 unused cards were unused and still incurred $90,000 in service fees, the article noted.

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