Spend Matters Afternoon Coffee

Something new.
Highmark starts supply chain management firm -- Highmark Inc., the state's largest health insurance company, has started a supply chain management company under the leadership of a former UPMC executive that the insurer says will help hospitals reduce costs. ProtoCo Supply Chain Partners is the latest addition to Highmark's emerging integrated health care delivery system. The new system, to be anchored by the five-hospital West Penn Allegheny Health System, is being established by the health insurer to compete with Western Pennsylvania's dominant hospital system, UPMC. "Containing the cost of health care is critical for our customers," said Bill O'Connor, who is running ProtoCo and reports to John Paul, Highmark's executive in charge of the integrated system.

No kobe in Canada either.
Sorry Canada, No Kobe Beef For You Either -- A couple of weeks ago I wrote extensively about the Kobe beef scam in the U.S., wherein restaurants either erroneously or intentionally label steaks as "Kobe beef," which they are not, and sell them at incredible price premiums to unsuspecting diners. Unfortunately this practice is quite widespread and happens mostly at high end eateries, sometimes run by celebrity chefs. It is also very common in the U.S. to falsely label Kobe burgers, Kobe sliders, and even Kobe hot dogs, despite the fact that none of them contain even an ounce of Kobe beef.

The artful spin of fear tactics...
Fear fans flames for chemical makers -- Heimbach's passionate testimony about the baby's death made the long-term health concerns about flame retardants voiced by doctors, environmentalists and even firefighters sound abstract and petty. But there was a problem with his testimony: It wasn't true. Records show there was no dangerous pillow or candle fire. The baby he described didn't exist. Neither did the 9-week-old patient who Heimbach told California legislators died in a candle fire in 2009. Nor did the 6-week-old patient who he told Alaska lawmakers was fatally burned in her crib in 2010. Heimbach is not just a prominent burn doctor. He is a star witness for the manufacturers of flame retardants. His testimony, the Tribune found, is part of a decades-long campaign of deception that has loaded the furniture and electronics in American homes with pounds of toxic chemicals linked to cancer, neurological deficits, developmental problems and impaired fertility.

Magnetic bacteria may be building future bio-computers -- Magnet-making bacteria may be building biological computers of the future, researchers have said. A team from the UK's University of Leeds and Japan's Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology have used microbes that eat iron. As they ingest the iron, the microbes create tiny magnets inside themselves, similar to those in PC hard drives. The research may lead to the creation of much faster hard drives, the team of scientists say.

- Sheena Moore

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