Venus, Jupiter, moon offer dazzling night show

Posted Feb. 23, 2012, at 6:23 p.m.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Stargazers of the world are getting a treat this weekend.

On Saturday and again Sunday, Venus, Jupiter and Earth’s moon converge for a brilliant night show.

Venus and Jupiter already are lining up in the western sky. In mid-February, the two planets were 20 degrees apart from a viewing perspective. The gap narrows to 10 degrees by month’s end.

A crescent moon joins the show this weekend for a triple combination. The celestial encounter will be visible from around the world at twilight. The moon will appear closer to Venus on Saturday and closer to Jupiter on Sunday.

The moon then retreats from view, but Venus and Jupiter keep drawing closer. The two planets will be just 3 degrees apart by mid-March.

Claim surfaces of Anne Frank baptism by Mormons

SALT LAKE CITY — A new claim has surfaced that the Mormon church has posthumously baptized a Holocaust victim, this time Anne Frank.

The allegations come just a week after The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints apologized when it was brought to light that the parents of Holocaust survivor and Jewish rights advocate Simon Wiesenthal were posthumously baptized by church members at temples in Arizona and Utah in late January.

Mormon researcher Helen Radkey, who revealed the Wiesenthal baptisms, said this week she found Frank’s name in proxy baptism records dated Feb. 18, showing the ritual was performed in the Santo Domingo Temple in the Dominican Republic.

The Mormon church almost immediately issued a statement, though it didn’t mention Frank by name.

$77M anti-fraud technology nets $7,591 in cheating

WASHINGTON — Launched last summer, a $77 million computer system to stop Medicare fraud before it happens had prevented just one suspicious payment by Christmas. That saved taxpayers exactly $7,591.

Hoping for much better results, a disappointed Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., says, “I wondered, did they leave out some zeros?”

Lawmakers had expected the system to finally allow Medicare to stanch a $60-billion-a-year fraud hemorrhage. Now they’re worried that cautious bureaucrats lacking a clear game plan will compromise its performance.

Medicare officials say it’s unfair to grade the new technology on a single statistic.

“Suspending payments is only one way of stopping the money,” says Ted Doolittle, deputy director of Medicare’s anti-fraud program. “There’s lots of ways of stopping the money, and we are using them all. Looking at payment suspensions only — that’s an unsophisticated view that doesn’t give you a full picture of our activities.”

When other benefits of the system are taken into account, such as cases referred to investigators and changes to payment software that result in automatic denial of suspect claims, the potential savings in the first six months of operation easily exceed $20 million, Medicare officials indicated in a Jan. 27 letter to Carper. However, officials now acknowledge they don’t know how much of that money has actually been recovered.

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