eric holder

The Detroit branch of the NAACP held its annual “Fight for Freedom fund” dinner last night.

There was celebration of the branch’s centennial anniversary this year. But there was also grave concern over continuing civil rights struggles.

The dinner is traditionally one of the Detroit NAACP’s largest—and most lucrative—events.

This year, it drew thousands of people, including much of Michigan’s political and business elite.

A federal task force looking into the effects of violence on children held its final meeting in Detroit Tuesday.

It was the last of four task force meetings held as part of US Attorney General Eric Holder’s Defending Childhood Initiative.

The task force heard from experts who said exposure to violence during childhood has lifelong consequences. And many of those children end up in the criminal justice system themselves.

Robert Listenbee, Chief of the Juvenile Unit of the Defender Association of Philadelphia. He says there are proven ways to help kids who end up in the system.

“We know that, in the juvenile justice system, diversion programs that take low-level offenders that are at low risk of re-offending out of the system early rather than mixing them with high-risk offenders…we know that those things work," Listenbee said. "But we’re not using them very well.”

Listenbee says violence is a “virus” that should be treated like a public health problem.

But many experts and members of the public testified about how pervasive violence has become the social norm in many communities—both rural and urban. And it’s leaving a generation of traumatized children in its wake.

That was the case for Lawnya Sherrod. She used to be a gang member in Detroit. Now she helps kids who want to transition out of that life.

“This is what I see every day, all day," said Sherrod. "I step out, I hear gunshots. It’s common. Hearing gunshots is like hearing the school bell ring.”

The task force will outline their findings and suggestions to combat the problem in a report later this year.

Two top Obama administration officials want people to know that cracking down on Medicare fraud is a “Cabinet-level priority.”

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius talked about those efforts at a Wayne State University summit Tuesday. The two have been holding “Health Care Fraud Prevention Summits” across the country.

Sebelius says government agencies and law enforcement are now using new tools to root out that fraud.

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U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will talk about health care fraud prevention at a regional summit at Wayne State University in Detroit this morning.

Law enforcement officials, consumer experts and health care providers are also expected to participate in the discussions, the Associated Press reports.

This is the fifth in a series of summits announced last June by President Obama. The AP reports:

Waste and fraud cost the federal Medicare program and Medicaid, its state counterpart, an estimated $54 billion in 2009. Holder said at a December summit in Boston that the Obama administration's crackdown on health care fraud has recovered $4 billion in Massachusetts alone over two years.