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Indian Woman Sues Uber In the US Over Alleged New Delhi Taxi Rape

nbauman Re:How (231 comments)

I understand that some Indians are also lawyers

Some Indian lawyers have families.

Therefore, some Indians have lawyers in the family.

yesterday
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Indian Woman Sues Uber In the US Over Alleged New Delhi Taxi Rape

nbauman Re:Uber does as well, or better (231 comments)

It is true that in Nassau County, on Long Island, New York, when Alfonse D'Amato was county commissioner, you had to be a registered Republican and contribute to the Republican party to get a job.

After D'Amato left Long Island to become Senator from New York, he was involved in a lawsuit where both sides subpoenaed documents and filed them in court.

One letter showed up in which D'Amato was discussing with another Republican how much civil servants should be required to contribute to the Republican Party to keep their jobs. They were trying to decide whether it should be 2% or 3%.

Because the statutes of limitations had expired, D'Amato couldn't be prosecuted for that.

A friend of mine who lived on Long Island told me that when his daughter applied for a summer job as a lifeguard on the beach, the person who took the application told her that in order to get the job her parents had to be members of the Republican Party. The person said that if they weren't Republicans, she might as well not waste everybody's time filling out the application, because they would check.

But I don't know if that applies to taxi drivers.

yesterday
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Indian Woman Sues Uber In the US Over Alleged New Delhi Taxi Rape

nbauman Re:Uber does as well, or better (231 comments)

If they refuse to play by the same rules,

Uber is doing background checks on drivers - at least as well as cab companies. Probably better because who can say how many cab drivers make it in via political favors?

That's what they claim but the facts don't support that. If anyone is making it by political favors, it's Uber. In California, Colorado and Illinois, they got themselves exempted from the taxi background checks by hiring lobbying firms and lobbying legislators.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12...
Uber’s System for Screening Drivers Draws Scrutiny
By MIKE ISAAC
DEC. 9, 2014
Uber uses Hirease, a private company that says it has an average turnaround time of “less than 36 hours.”
Both services do drug and alcohol testing, but neither does fingerprint testing. And they rely primarily on publicly available information.
Although state background checks for taxi drivers vary by jurisdiction, lawmakers say they are generally more rigorous than either of these services. They usually include searches of private databases like F.B.I. records, gaining consent from prospective drivers for those searches,
In California, those drivers must undergo checks by the state’s Justice Department, including fingerprint scanning, drug and alcohol testing, and searches of private databases. A check can take as little as three days, but as long as eight weeks.
(Uber defeated bills to require the same checks, including fingerprints, required for taxi and limousine drivers, in California, Colorado, and Illinois.)

http://www.nbclosangeles.com/n...
Risky Ride: Who's Behind the Wheel of Uber Cars?
How safe is Uber? The NBC4 ITeam investigates.
By Joel Grover and Keith Esparros
Friday, May 2, 2014
Beverly Locke did. Working with the NBC4 I-Team, Locke filled out all the necessary documentation needed to become an Uber driver....
On her first day "on the job," she received a request from Paolo, a frequent UberX user, who was looking for a ride from his Hollywood apartment. He is an Uber fan.
"I use cabs a lot," said Paolo. "And, it's almost half the fare in Uber than for a taxi driver."
His phone lit up with a picture of Locke, and a message that said Beverly will pick him up in three minutes.
What he didn't know is that Beverly was an ex-con with a violent past. Her 20-year rap sheet includes burglary, cocaine possession, and making criminal threats with the intent to cause death or bodily injury.
"I pulled a girl out of a car and almost beat her to death," said Locke, who described herself as a reformed criminal with a good job and a desire to make up for her past. "I do not do criminal things anymore."
NBC4 asked Locke to cancel the ride, so the former convict never actually carried a passenger. But the NBC4 I-Team found several examples in which drivers with a criminal past have picked up Uber passengers.
Tadeusz Szczechowicz drove the streets of Chicago for a year, despite five prior arrests and two convictions for burglary and disorderly conduct.
Syed Muzzafar had a prior conviction for reckless driving, but he cleared the Uber background check and was behind the wheel New Year's Eve when he was arrested for hitting and killing a 6-year-old girl in San Francisco.
And, Jigneshkumar Patel was arrested for battery of an UberX passenger, a charge he said is "rubbish." Still, the UberX driver had a 2012 conviction for DUI.
Uber declined to talk to NBC4 directly, but did send emails describing corporate policy on background checks. A message said Uber "leads the industry" with its "best-in-class background checks for drivers."
Uber also said it has a "zero tolerance" policy for drug and alcohol offenses, and said it carefully screens applicants and immediately disqualifies anyone convicted of a crime in the past seven years.
Tanya and Daniel Sackler didn't know anything about the past of their UberX driver. He identified himself only by his first name.
The Sacklers said he stole $2,500 in cash and personal items from them after he picked them up from LAX and dropped them off at their West Hollywood condo. The Sacklers filed a police report, saying the driver arrived at their home and quickly began unloading their baggage.
"He took them all and he put them in a pile," Daniel said.
While the Sacklers were dealing with their luggage, Tanya Sackler said their driver jumped back behind the wheel and quickly drove off with her purse, her husband's briefcase, a wallet with hundreds of dollars in it, and an iPad.
They had the driver's cell number, so they texted him right away, only to be told he was too busy to talk to them at the moment. The Sacklers said when they finally spoke to him, the driver told them he was not responsible for items left in his car.
In an email to the Sacklers, Uber told them, "We do not control the drivers, as they are not our employees." On its website, Uber said drivers are considered independent contractors.

yesterday
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Indian Woman Sues Uber In the US Over Alleged New Delhi Taxi Rape

nbauman Re: Only a matter of time... (231 comments)

The principle of "innocent until proven guilty" means that there should be quite a few dangerous people out there.

And if you refuse to hire people because of supposedly baseless accusations made against them, you can get sued for that too!

Why should it be okay for employers to consider applicants guilty until proven otherwise?

There are different levels of evidence for different purposes.

Convicting someone of a crime in the U.S. requires the highest level of evidence: proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Suing somebody for damages in civil courts requires a lower level of evidence: a preponderance of evidence (more than 50%). That's why people (like O.J. Simpson) who are acquitted of a crime can lose a civil suit against them for damages.

Hiring somebody for a job in the U.S. requires the lowest level of evidence of all: employment at will. An employer can say, "That guy just doesn't seem right. I have a bad feeling about him. I don't want to hire him." And there's nothing the job applicants can do about it. The only exceptions are categories specifically prohibited by law, like race, gender, and age.

An employer would have a right to reject someone for a job where he has to meet the public if he's been arrested for rape. There may be rare exceptions but I can't imagine what they would be.

yesterday
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Uber Capping Prices During Snowmageddon 2015

nbauman Re:If they really wanted to help (154 comments)

They would randomly choose "zones" in NYC, and charge for surge pricing in some, and not charge in others.

Then they could provide data to tell us how the demand for Uber vehicles matched the supply.

My guess: you would see more demand than supply in the areas with no surge pricing. Which is pretty banal. What might be interesting is to see the magnitude of the difference.

The factor that limits the number of cabs on the street is not the willingness of cab drivers to work, it's the number of medallions the City issues. If they wanted more cabs, they could just issue more mediallions.

The main problem with that is that the (public) streets have limited capacity, and more cabs would cause more traffic jams, with the end result that nobody could get through the (public) streets. I know that every day at 6pm 9th Avenue is jammed with bumper-to-bumper traffic, and I can walk faster than a cab.

4 days ago
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Uber Capping Prices During Snowmageddon 2015

nbauman Re:Bad economics leads to bad policy (154 comments)

This move by the AG office shows a complete lack of understanding of basic economics.

Have you ever considered the AG office understands exactly what they're doing, and prefer the negative consequences?

Or have you considered that the AG office understands basic economics and realizes that these claims of shortages unless we have surge pricing are bullshit?

4 days ago
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Uber Capping Prices During Snowmageddon 2015

nbauman Re:Bad economics leads to bad policy (154 comments)

There's no such thing as "price gouging".

If you don't like the price, don't buy the thing.

I love the pharmaceutical companies that sell their cancer drugs for $100,000 a year, and say, "This is value pricing. This is what your life is worth."

Even when the original research for the drug was done by academic researchers with federal government grants. Even when they sell the same drug for half the price to national health care systems in Canada, England, and other places where the government is a tough negotiator.

4 days ago
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Uber Capping Prices During Snowmageddon 2015

nbauman Re:Bad economics leads to bad policy (154 comments)

Nobody wants to be out running a car service in a blizzard.

I've gotten cabs in blizzards in New York City just like any other days. There are lots of cab drivers willing to drive in any weather for $25-30 an hour.

My friends from Michigan tell me that a major storm in New York City is like their daily commute to work in Ann Arbor in winter.

4 days ago
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Uber Capping Prices During Snowmageddon 2015

nbauman Re:Driving ban (154 comments)

Most of the affected area seems to have one.

How does this work? I mean it makes sense that you could drive in an emergency (getting someone to hospital, etc). Could a Taxi service offer an "emergency only" service?

From what I heard on the radio, it sounds as if the cops will enforce the ban with discretion. If you're driving to the hospital in an emergency, they'll let you go. If you're a cop or a doctor getting to his job, they'll let you go. Otherwise, there's a fine of about $1,000.

4 days ago
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Uber Capping Prices During Snowmageddon 2015

nbauman Re:So what will this accomplish? (154 comments)

Or conversely, you should not be able to pay out the nose for it, and the driver will realize the risks and hazards of driving in the weather event, and will refrain from doing so, because the potential reward isn't worth it.

The risks and hazards of driving in bad weather are part of the job, and no big deal. If the risks were too great the police would close the roads. There are plenty of cab drivers who are willing to drive in the snow for $25 or $30 an hour. They have plenty of drivers driving snow plows.

And if there are hazards to driving in bad weather, who would you rather drive you -- a cab driver who's been driving in all kinds of weather for 60 hours a week, for 20 years, or some kid who's doing it a couple of hours a month in his free time?

4 days ago
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Uber Capping Prices During Snowmageddon 2015

nbauman Re:So what will this accomplish? (154 comments)

The purpose of the elastic pricing was to make sure that there was always a nice supply of drivers. Cap the prices, and you won't have as many drivers available to drive you around in the snow. Econ 101, right?

Econ 101 has a lot of simple models that seem plausible. Then you have to go out in the world and see if the world actually works as you predicted. Or whether there's something you left out of your simple model.

Drivers want higher rates, but they also want higher volume. If you're one of the few cabs on the road, you'll spend more time carrying fares and less time cruising for passengers. So if they know there's a shortage of cabs, they'll get into their cabs and go out and make money. That's also Econ 101.

It's not that big a deal to drive in the snow, if you're prepared for it. If you're a cab driver (or any competent driver) you should be able to do it with no problems. There are lots of people who are willing to drive for $25 an hour or so, which is about what Uber and yellow cab drivers make. You don't have to bid them up to $75 an hour.

4 days ago
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Anonymous Asks Activists To Fight Pedophiles In 'Operation Deatheaters'

nbauman Re:Charged /= Guilty (408 comments)

Given people are so fucking stupid they will attack paediatricians thinking they are paedophiles

That really is true, btw.
http://www.theguardian.com/uk/...
Doctor driven out of home by vigilantes

about a week ago
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Anonymous Asks Activists To Fight Pedophiles In 'Operation Deatheaters'

nbauman Re:Think of the children! (408 comments)

RTFA, they are collecting official case information, not internet rumors. Don't worry about your nonexistent wife or girlfriend.

Oh, that's reassuring. They're collecting official unverified accusations, from reliable sources like anonymous reporting lines.

about a week ago
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Anonymous Asks Activists To Fight Pedophiles In 'Operation Deatheaters'

nbauman Re:Think of the children! (408 comments)

These assholes at Anonymous are so stupid that they identify people with the same name as the criminals. In other words, they're just as stupid as Homeland Security.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/sp...
Spike Lee retweets incorrect address of George Zimmerman, violates Twitter rules
By Chenda Ngak CBS News December 13, 2012, 4:03 PM

about a week ago
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Anonymous Asks Activists To Fight Pedophiles In 'Operation Deatheaters'

nbauman Re:Think of the children! (408 comments)

http://www.theguardian.com/uk/...

Self-styled vigilantes attacked the home of a hospital paediatrician after apparently confusing her professional title with the word "paedophile", it emerged yesterday.

Dr Yvette Cloete, a specialist registrar in paediatric medicine at the Royal Gwent hospital in Newport, was forced to flee her house after vandals daubed it with graffiti in the middle of the night.

The word "paedo" was written across the front porch and door of the house she shared with her brother in the village of St Brides, south Wales.

Gwent police confirmed that the attack last Friday night was prompted by a confusion over the words "paedophile" and "paediatrician".

about a week ago
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Should Disney Require Its Employees To Be Vaccinated?

nbauman Re:its a tough subject (663 comments)

i keep hearing about this social contract, I never seen it, i never signed it. I had no choice in my being.

That's right. There is no social contract. I'm free to do whatever I want. I can kill you if I want. Now give me all your money or I'll shoot you.

about a week ago
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Should Disney Require Its Employees To Be Vaccinated?

nbauman Re:Yes. (663 comments)

The suit should be against the company making the vaccine because it failed to work as advertised. That's if you are actually desiring to blame the party that failed to uphold its own end of the deal (and not other people for failing to agree with you).

http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vp...
How effective is MMR vaccine?
More than 95% of the people who receive a single dose of MMR will develop immunity to all 3 viruses. A second vaccine dose gives immunity to almost all of those who did not respond to the first dose.

That's what manufacturers advertise, and that's the deal they have to uphold. Something like 1/1,000 people who get two doses will not get immunity. If everybody got two doses of MMR, the viruses wouldn't propagate, and those 1/1,000 people would be safe because of herd immunity. If some stupid, selfish people refuse to get vaccinated, they're putting those 1/1,000 people at risk. Those stupid, selfish people are responsible for the deaths of those 1/1,000 people. They should be forced to choose between getting vaccinated, or being quarantined all their lives like Typhoid Mary. The law on that goes back hundreds of years, to European law.

Most people would be shocked to learn that over 80% of what doctors practice has no scientific basis whatsoever. Evidence-based medicine is a relatively small part of things. It's a classic case of sheeple following authority (oh noes, he said sheeple to describe people who act like herd animals instead of being individuals, that bastard, we hate him now!).

90% of statistics, including yours, are bullshit.

In the UK, doctors work for the government, and NICE reviews the scientific evidence behind every treatment for effectiveness. No effectiveness, no treatment. I've read the NICE studies and they do a pretty good job.

In the US, Medicare, Medicaid and the private insurance companies also review medical treatments for effectiveness, although politics has more influence here. Also doctors who are making money in the free market are more likely to do things just because they can make money out of them. And consumers are mostly stupid. So they give antibiotics to everybody who comes in with a cold.

about a week ago
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US Senate Set To Vote On Whether Climate Change Is a Hoax

nbauman Re:Yep it is a scam (666 comments)

No it's not. Just because DDT doesn't increase the risk of breast cancer that it is somehow safe.

A Lancet review of epidemiological studies concluded that that DDT causes cancers of the liver, and pancreas, that there is mixed evidence that it causes cancers of the testes, and that it probably does not contribute to cancers of the rectum, prostate, endometrium, lung, or stomach.

(Rogan WJ, Chen A (2005). "Health risks and benefits of bis(4-chlorophenyl)-1,1,1-trichloroethane (DDT)". Lancet 366 (9487): 763–73.)

Not true. From the Lancet article:

Cancer

Although extensively studied, there is no convincing evidence that DDT or its metabolite DDE increase human cancer risk. Mainly on the basis of animal data, DDT is classified as a possible carcinogen (class 2B) by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)35 and as a reasonably anticipated human carcinogen by the US National Toxicology Program.36

DDT is linked with a lot of development problems - especially at the levels needed for malaria eradication.

Not quite. According to the article:

subsequent research has shown that exposure to DDT at amounts that would be needed in malaria control might cause preterm birth and early weaning

The significant word is might.

I think it's healthy that we're debating whether or not a chemical, that has both beneficial and harmful effects, should be used - but risk assessment isn't cut and dry.

Yes, more grants for chemists!

about two weeks ago
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Innocent Adults Are Easy To Convince They Committed a Serious Crime

nbauman Re:The average human being (291 comments)

I wish I had the actual news story to show you. The point was, he believed exactly what you do. But it wasn't true.

He thought that he could confess, retract the confession, and they couldn't convict him without some other evidence, because he wasn't really guilty.

He believed false convictions in a murder case just couldn't happen in this country.

However, as the New Yorker article said http://www.newyorker.com/magaz... when a jury has a confession, they always believe it. Even if the suspect retracts it, even he was manipulated into confessing, even if the police lied, and even if there's independent evidence that he's innocent.

about two weeks ago
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Innocent Adults Are Easy To Convince They Committed a Serious Crime

nbauman Re:The average human being (291 comments)

Those kids really screwed the public over with their lies. We wasted over a million dollars and well over two man-years because they decided to lie and take credit for something they didn't do. I was shocked when I was in NYC in 2002 when they were released. There was no talk of charging for their crimes. They kept the police from pursuing the real rapist which allowed him to hurt other women. They are responsible.

The kids weren't responsible for those lies. They told the truth at first. They were coerced, manipulated and told to lie by the cops, who used methods like the Reid Technique which have been proven to produce false confessions. The cops were responsible for those lies, for wasting over a million dollars and for not convicting the real rapist. And that's what the courts decided when they awarded the kids millions in damages.

You might as well prosecute the defendants in the Stalin purge trials for lying.

about two weeks ago

Submissions

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Computers are evil in early education

nbauman nbauman writes  |  2 days ago

nbauman (624611) writes "Middle school students who got computers did worse in school. They wasted their time on games, social media, and entertainment (just like adults), according to Susan Pinker in the New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01... Computers only help when they're used by good, trained teachers. Infants who interact with parents do better in school. Screen time reduces interaction with parents.

In the early 2000s, economists tracked the academic progress of nearly one million disadvantaged middle-school students against the dates they were given networked computers. They assessed math and reading skills for 5 years.

“Students who gain access to a home computer between the 5th and 8th grades tend to witness a persistent decline in reading and math scores,” they wrote. The Internet was also linked to lower grades in younger children.

Weaker students (boys, African-Americans) were affected more than others. When their computers arrived, their reading scores fell off a cliff.

Technology has a role in education — but only when it’s perfectly suited to the task, and only when it's deployed as a tool by a terrific, highly trained teacher."

Link to Original Source
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What gets little girls interested in science?

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about 2 months ago

nbauman (624611) writes "Programmer David Auerbach is dismayed that, at a critical developmental age, his 4-year-old daughter wants to be a princess, not a scientist or engineer, he writes in Slate. The larger society keeps forcing sexist stereotypes on her, in every book and toy store. (Et tu, Lego?) How do you non-coercively inspire girls that age to go down the STEM path? What actually works?

If you are a little girl, or once were a little girl, or were the parent of a little girl, what worked for you?"

Link to Original Source
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Hey kids! Banned books!

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about 2 months ago

nbauman (624611) writes "The Gilbert, AZ school board has voted to tear out a page from Campbell's Biology (a standard highly-recommended textbook that many doctors and scientists fondly remember), because it discusses contraception without also discussing adoption. Julie Smith, a member of the Gilbert Public Schools governing board, said that she was a Catholic and "we do not contracept." Smith convinced the board that Campbell's violates Arizona law to teach "preference, encouragement and support to childbirth and adoption" over abortion. The Arizona Education Department decided that the pages didn't violate Arizona law, but nevermind. Rachel Maddow generously risked hassles for copyright violation and posted the missing pages as a service to Arizona honors biology students. http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-ma..."
Link to Original Source
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Danes make $20 an hour, Americans $9 for same jobs

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about 3 months ago

nbauman (624611) writes "Fast food workers in Denmark make at least $20 an hour, with time and a half for evenings and Sunday. In the U.S., they average $8.90 an hour for the same jobs, and get public assistance. A Big Mac costs $5.60 in Denmark, $4.80 in the U.S. Restaurants are less profitable for the owners in Denmark, but profitable enough for the chains to set up shop there. Workers get a bigger share of the profits. Why is that?
“We Danes accept that a burger is expensive, but we also know that working conditions and wages are decent when we eat that burger,” said Soren Kaj Andersen, an economics professor.
Danish fast food workers also have a strong union, 3F, which works cooperatively with the employer associations. McDonald's arrived and refused to join, but after a year of protests, caved in.
The New York Times compares Hampus Elofsson, 24, who works for Burger King in Copenhagen, Denmark, with Anthony Moore, shift manager at Burger King, Tampa, FL. Elofsson has enough for a night out with his friends and a savings account (plus government health care). Moore makes $9 an hour for a 35-hour week, gets $164 a month in food stamps, is behind on his bills, can't buy clothes for his kids, and can't afford Burger King's health plan.
A pair of stories in the New Yorker reports on the (hopeless for now) movement to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 or at least $10 an hour, and debunks the arguments that minimum wage workers are teenagers getting their first job for gas money. It quotes some candid remarks by an adviser to Charles Koch, secretly recorded at a fundraising filet mignon dinner. http://www.newyorker.com/news/...
http://www.newyorker.com/magaz..."

Link to Original Source
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Why do Danes make $20 an hour and Americans $9 an hour for the same job?

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about 3 months ago

nbauman (624611) writes "Fast food workers in Denmark make at least $20 an hour, with time and a half for evenings and Sunday. In the U.S., they average $8.90 an hour for the same jobs, and get public assistance. A Big Mac costs $5.60 in Denmark, $4.80 in the U.S. Restaurants are less profitable for the owners in Denmark, but profitable enough for the chains to set up shop there. Workers get a bigger share of the profits. Why is that?
“We Danes accept that a burger is expensive, but we also know that working conditions and wages are decent when we eat that burger,” said Soren Kaj Andersen, an economics professor.
Danish fast food workers also have a strong union, 3F, which works cooperatively with the employer associations. McDonald's arrived and refused to join, but after a year of protests, caved in.
The New York Times compares Hampus Elofsson, 24, who works for Burger King in Copenhagen, Denmark, with Anthony Moore, shift manager at Burger King, Tampa, FL. Elofsson has enough for a night out with his friends and a savings account (plus government health care). Moore makes $9 an hour for a 35-hour week, gets $164 a month in food stamps, is behind on his bills, can't buy clothes for his kids, and can't afford Burger King's health plan.
A pair of stories in the New Yorker reports on the (hopeless for now) movement to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 or at least $10 an hour, and debunks the arguments that minimum wage workers are teenagers getting their first job for gas money. It quotes some candid remarks by an adviser to Charles Koch, secretly recorded at a fundraising filet mignon dinner. http://www.newyorker.com/news/...
http://www.newyorker.com/magaz..."

Link to Original Source
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Why did Presbyterian Hospital send Ebola victim home?

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about 4 months ago

nbauman (624611) writes "From the how-can-they-be-so-stupid department

One basic question a doctor asks is, "Have you been in a foreign country recently?" and the CDC issued guidelines on Ebola, so why did Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital send Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan home with antibiotics?

The Dallas Observer http://blogs.dallasobserver.co... asks whether it was a mistake or systemic problem. Presbyterian, an upscale hospital for people with good insurance, has a financial dilemma with low-income people without insurance. "Who eats the cost?" (Texas Governor Rick Perry rejected Obamacare and Medicaid money, and closed public clinics.)

Medicare/Medicaid regulations require hospitals to treat everyone in an emergency, but there are no records of that. Medicare/Medicaid does have public records of readmission to the emergency room, which is a proxy for inadequate treatment. Presbyterian is one of the worst in the area.

So maybe, under economic pressure of uninsured patients, Presbyterian ER doctors got in a habit of sending patients home with antibiotics and hoping they won't come back.

We won't know until or unless a health agency does a good investigation. Paul Levy, former hospital CEO turned industry gadfly, called for a full root cause analysis. http://runningahospital.blogsp..."
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Back to faxes: Doctors can't exchange digital medical records

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about 3 months ago

nbauman (624611) writes "Doctors with one medical records system can't exchange information with systems made by other vendors, including those at their own hospitals, according to the New York Times. An ophthalmologist spent half a million dollars on a system and still keeps sending faxes. If doctors can't exchange records, they'll face a 1% Medicare penalty. The largest vendor is Epic Systems, Madison, WI, which holds almost half the medical records in the U.S. A RAND report described Epic as a “closed” platform that made it “challenging and costly” for hospitals to interconnect. UC Davis has a staff of 22 to keep everything communicating. Epic charges a fee to send data to some non-Epic systems. Congress held hearings. Epic hired a lobbyist. Epic's founder, billionaire computer science major Judith Faulkner, said that Epic was one of the first to establish code and standards for secure interchange, which included user authentication provisions and a legally binding contract. She said the federal government, which gave $24 billion incentive payments to doctors for computerization, should have done that. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology said that it was a "top priority" and they just wrote a 10-year vision statement and agenda for it."
Link to Original Source
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Top 50 science stars of Twitter: Not wasting time after all

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about 4 months ago

nbauman (624611) writes "Genomicist Neil Hall proposed a “Kardashian Index” (K-index), which divides a scientist’s Twitter followers by his or her citations. Scientists with a high score should “get off Twitter” and write more papers, wrote Hall.

Science magazine calculated the K-index of the 50 most followed scientists on Twitter. Actually, many of the high tweeters also had high citation counts too. The converse wasn't true: Many high-ranking scientists think Twitter is a waste of time. But others were converted.

The 3 scientists with the highest K-index are:

1. Neil deGrasse Tyson, @neiltyson
2. Brian Cox, @ProfBrianCox
3. Richard Dawkins, @RichardDawkins


The top 50 list is here. http://news.sciencemag.org/sci..."

Link to Original Source
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Coffee genome sequenced

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about 5 months ago

nbauman (624611) writes "According to ScienceNow, "The coffee genome has finally been sequenced, and it’s revealing some insights into how one of the world’s favorite drinks got its buzz. Compared with other plant genomes such as grape’s, the coffee genome has expanded the family of genes that include those that code for enzymes involved in caffeine production, researchers report online today in Science. There are 23 new genes found only in coffee, the group finds. These genes are different from the caffeine-related genes in chocolate, indicating that the ability to produce caffeine evolved at least twice. This isn’t just the first published coffee genome; it’s also the first in its 11,000 or so species family, which includes milkweeds, periwinkles, and the species that supplies quinine. Although the genomes of many groups have undergone duplications thought to make possible their diversification into different shapes and sizes, the researchers found no such expansion in the coffee group. Instead they suggest that the duplication of individual genes, including the caffeine ones, spurred innovations.""
Link to Original Source
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Peter Piot's tale of Africa's first encounter with Ebola (free)

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about 6 months ago

nbauman (624611) writes "Microbe Hunters, 1974. The Ebola epidemic, free in Science magazine.

A virologist's tale of Africa's first encounter with Ebola
By Peter Piot

Piot would become one of the world’s most respected epidemiologists because of his work on the viruses that cause AIDS and Ebola—he is a former under secretary-general of the United Nations, former president of the International AIDS Society, and now director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. In part one of this edited excerpt from his memoir, Piot describes how he and colleagues, with what now seem crude and risky methods, became co-discoverers of the deadly virus now on the rampage again.
http://news.sciencemag.org/afr...

By this point for him to keep us working on those samples was sheer folly; he knew we were not equipped to do the work in safety. In 1974 there were only three labs outside the Soviet Union that could handle hemorrhagic viruses: Fort Detrick, a military lab in Maryland that did high-security bioterrorism work on anthrax and other highly lethal diseases; the Army High Security Laboratory in Porton Down, in England; and the so-called hot lab at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in Atlanta.

Doing that kind of work wasn’t Pattyn’s job. He was a micro-manager but he wasn’t a technician, and in fact he could be rather clumsy. But impulsively he reached for one of the precious tubes, to check it out himself under the scope, and as he did so it slipped from his hand and crashed on the floor.

In this second excerpt, he and colleagues go into Zaire’s hot zone and, with the help of nuns who had survived, make a tragic discovery about how the virus had spread among pregnant women.
http://news.sciencemag.org/afr...

Pattyn insisted I take a suit and tie, as I would “represent the Belgian government” and meet with Zairean government officials.

Free! Special collection of Ebola articles in Science.
http://www.sciencemag.org/site..."
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Commercial sex and the Internet

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about a year ago

nbauman (624611) writes "A big academic study by the Urban Institute on the commercial sex economy described how the Internet changed prostitution since 2000. This makes it easier for sex workers to get business and for cops to track it. "Getting rid of Craigslist.com was actually a disservice to law enforcement because they were cooperating," said one cop.

The study, Estimating the Size and Structure of the Underground Commercial Sex Economy in Eight Major US Cities, focused on Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, Miami, Seattle, San Diego, and Washington, DC. There, the underground commercial sex economy (UCSE), as they call it, was worth $40-$300 million in 2007. They give prices in major cities for major services, and list the popular web sites. They interviewed pimps, traffickers, sex workers, child pornographers, and law enforcement. Pimps and traffickers interviewed for the study took home between $5,000 and $32,833 a week. Pimps claimed that the media portrayals were inaccurate, and exaggerated violence. They thought the term "pimp" was derogatory. Female sex workers, whose income varied greatly, often had family members or friends who exposed them to the sex trade at a young age, normalizing it.

Child pornography is escalating, and is mostly traded for free. Users often claim it's a victimless crime. The unsophisticated get caught. Some claimed that they were convicted because of images that were actually downloaded on their computer by family and friends.

The report's policy recommendations are to increase prosecution for commercial sex. "Consistently enforce the laws for offenders to diminish low-risk perception." Web sits that host ads should be prosecuted. Newspapers and web sites that post ads should be required to also post the phone numbers of trafficking hotlines. Investigators need more training."

Link to Original Source
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Immigration Fraud in Chinatown: Industry of Lies

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about a year ago

nbauman (624611) writes "Can't get a U.S. immigration visa? Find a lawyer who will fabricate an asylum claim for you based on phony stories about persecution. Choose among Christianity, Falun Gong, political persecution or forced abortion.

Immigration law firms in New York City were coaching Chinese immigrants to lie about their experiences in China in order to get asylum, according to federal indictments reported in the New York Times. Applicants claimed they were forced to get abortions or sterilization, or that they were persecuted as Christians or as members of the Chinese Democracy Party or Falun Gong. A legal assistant who pled guilty testified that he would use the Falun Gong story for uneducated immigrants because it was easiest to remember. For young immigrants with at least a high school education, he would tell them to claim Christianity. Another defendant charged applicants for lessons on the basics of Christianity and how to lie, according to prosecutors. Her lawyer said she was a devout Christian whose “goal was to help these individuals find God through the teachings of Christianity.” In Flushing, Queens, churches give receipts for attendance to help them bolster their claims. A lawyer made up a narrative for a client about how she got pregnant out of wedlock, heard a knock on the door, was hauled off to a clinic by government officials, and forced to endure an abortion. Other legal assistants forged documents. Many sources said that these false applications were an open secret.

Federal investigators find immigration fraud among Russians, Afghans, Mexicans, Guineans and others, but right now, the overwhelming number are Chinese and the largest number are applying to the New York City office.

Fees start at $1,000 and can pass $10,000. Many of the applicants are restaurant and construction workers, nannies and manicurists. One indicted lawyer said that he was motivated by moral principles more than money. "We are doing work like the last stop on the Underground Railroad." Otherwise they would be sent back to China."

Link to Original Source
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Krugman: Say no to Comcast acquisition of Time Warner

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about a year ago

nbauman (624611) writes "In his column, "Barons of Broadband" http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02... (easily circumventable paywall) New York Times columnist Paul Krugman says:

Comcast perfectly fits the old notion of monopolists as robber barons, so-called by analogy with medieval warlords who perched in their castles overlooking the Rhine, extracting tolls from all who passed. The Time Warner deal would in effect let Comcast strengthen its fortifications, which has to be a bad idea.

Comcast’s chief executive says not to worry: “It will not reduce competition in any relevant market because our companies do not overlap or compete with each other. In fact, we do not operate in any of the same ZIP codes.” This is, however, transparently disingenuous. The big concern about making Comcast even bigger isn’t reduced competition for customers in local markets — for one thing, there’s hardly any effective competition at that level anyway. It is that Comcast would have even more power than it already does to dictate terms to the providers of content for its digital pipes — and that its ability to drive tough deals upstream would make it even harder for potential downstream rivals to challenge its local monopolies."

Link to Original Source
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US medical research down, asia up, sequester hits NIH

nbauman nbauman writes  |  1 year,22 days

nbauman (624611) writes "Once, the U.S. paid for 70-80% of the world's medical research. Now it's down to 45%. Asia is up to 24%, according to an analysis in the New England Journal of Medicine. Europe is steady at 29%.

U.S. spending on biomedical research fell from $131 billion in 2007 to $119 billion in 2012. This decline was driven almost entirely by reduced investment by industry, not the public sector. But sequestration of NIH funding will exacerbate this reduction.

The Budget Control Act of 2011 cut the NIH budget for FY 2013 by $1.7 billion, to $29.2 billion — a 5.5% reduction. Federal funding for biomedical research has been declining since 2003.

Meanwhile, Japan increased spending by $9 billion and China increased by $6.4 billion. China has the highest annual growth rate of biomedical research in the world, at 32.8% per year.

One reason for this decline may be that research is cheaper in Asia, with lower-cost labor and greater government subsidies. Conversely, FDA approval has become more expensive in the U.S.

The data suggests that industry may simply be reallocating R&D funding to Asia-Oceana. The authors say, "the lack of a coordinated national biomedical R&D strategy is disappointing.""

Link to Original Source
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Federal judge says prosecutors blackmail defendants into guilty pleas

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about a year ago

nbauman (624611) writes "Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, New York, gave Lulzim Kupa a day to plead guilty and accept 8 years in prison for cocaine dealing; otherwise he would get an automatic life sentence. Judge John Gleeson wrote that the Justice Department was abusing their power to bully defendants into giving up their constitutional right to a trial. "The fact that they are business as usual doesn't alter the fact that these sentences should instill shame in all of us," he wrote, saying that it would force innocent people to plead guilty. These hardball tactics are "sledgehammers against the ever-dwindling few who have the temerity to ask for the trial the Constitution guarantees." The prosecutor said that the tactic was approved by the Supreme Court, and "Since when is it extortion for a federal prosecutor to follow Supreme Court law?""
Link to Original Source
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What's Lost When a Meeting Goes Virtual

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about a year ago

nbauman (624611) writes "This summer, NASA's Lunar Science Forum became the largest scientific gathering to embrace the new world of cyber meetings. The experience drew mixed reviews, according to a report in Science magazine. Mihály Horányi, who has been a regular, sat down at his computer at 1:45 p.m. on the first day of the conference and began talking into a webcam perched above the screen. "Last year it was a performance. This year it meant staring at myself, being annoyed that I kept leaning in and out of the picture, and thinking, 'Boy, am I getting old.'" He and other participants say the virtual conference was a pale imitation of the real thing. At previous forums, "You see your friends, you ask about their kids, and then the discussion flows into the science." He participated much less this year, 2 hours a day. In addition to the physical challenge of sitting at one's computer for hours on end, participants say that their day jobs competed for their attention. 150 to 200 people "attended" at any one time. Even without distractions, the quality of the interaction was much lower than in person. "I received a handful of short comments [from my talk] and had maybe one e-mail exchange," Horányi recalls. One scientist who didn't present this year—and who listened to only one talk after the fact—said that he much prefers an in-person meeting because "you get a much better sense of how the audience is reacting to what you're saying, especially any negative feedback.""
Link to Original Source
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What works in education: Scientific evidence gets ignored

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about a year ago

nbauman (624611) writes "According to Gina Kolata in the New York Times, The Institute of Education Sciences in the Department of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, has supported 175 randomized controlled studies, like the studies used in medicine, to find out what works and doesn't work, which are reported in the What Works Clearinghouse. http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/ Surprisingly, the choice of instructional materials — textbooks, curriculum guides, homework, quizzes — can affect achievement as much as teachers; poor materials have as much effect as a bad teacher, and good materials can offset a bad teacher’s deficiencies. One popular math textbook was superior to 3 competitors. http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/projects/evaluation/math_curricula.asp A popular computer-assisted math program had no benefit. http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pubs/20094041/pdf/20094041.pdf Most educators, including principals and superintendents, don't know the data exists. 42% of school districts had never heard of the clearinghouse. Up to 90% of programs that seemed promising in small studies had no effect or made achievement scores worse. For example a program to increase 7th-grade math teachers' understanding of math increased their understanding but had no effect on student achievement. Upward Bound had no effect."
Link to Original Source
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Medical costs bankrupt patients; it's the computer's fault

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about a year and a half ago

nbauman (624611) writes "Don't get cancer until 2015. The Obama health reform is supposed to limit out-of-pocket costs to $12,700. But the Obama Administration has delayed its implementation until 2015. The insurance companies told them that their computers weren't able to add up all their customers' out-of-pocket costs, to see whether they had reached the limit. For some common diseases, such as cancer or heart failure, treatment can cost over $100,000, and patients will be responsible for the balance.

Tell me, Slashdot, how difficult would it be to rewrite an insurance billing system to aggregate a policyholder's out-of-pocket costs?

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/13/us/a-limit-on-consumer-costs-is-delayed-in-health-care-law.html
A Limit on Consumer Costs Is Delayed in Health Care Law
By ROBERT PEAR
August 12, 2013

A senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said: “We knew this was an important issue. We had to balance the interests of consumers with the concerns of health plan sponsors and carriers, which told us that their computer systems were not set up to aggregate all of a person’s out-of-pocket costs. They asked for more time to comply.”"

Link to Original Source
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Slate retracts doctor-bashing essay

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about a year and a half ago

nbauman (624611) writes "Who needs journalists? Who needs fact-checkers? Let's just go on the Internet and give people the truth directly, right?

A Slate article gave incredible examples of abusive doctors, but Slate took it down because of the author's credibility — she had faked a suicide.

Slate published an essay from its partner Quora in which an obese woman named Sonnet Fitzgerald gave a long list of abusive comments that doctors and medical staff had made to her, including "When I was pregnant, one OB called me disgusting and told me to have an abortion."

Slate deleted the piece because it "did not meet our editorial standards," but didn't say why. http://www.slate.com/blogs/quora/2013/07/25/obesity_are_doctors_biased_against_their_overweight_patients.html

According to the blog http://sonnetfakedsuicide.blogspot.com/, in 2010 Fitzgerald posted a fake announcement by her husband of her own suicide. Several readers of the Slate blog challenged her credibility.

brandchannel reprinted the original essay, with more stories of abusive doctors, here http://www.brandchannel.com/home/post/2013/07/26/Slates-Quora-Partnership-072613.aspx

Old-style newspapers that followed the traditional rules of journalism wouldn't have printed a story making charges against unnamed doctors (or anyone else) that couldn't be verified. The old New Yorker would have asked for the names of the doctors, called them up and found out what they had to say. But on the Internet, the blogger can write anything she wants, and the reader doesn't know whether it's true."
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Advice columnist: Stop nagging husband about gaming

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about 2 years ago

nbauman (624611) writes "Q. Husband's Gaming: My husband and I married a few years ago after just months of knowing each other. I have never once doubted our decision to marry, and on the whole, we are exceptionally happy. He is my perfect partner and an ideal father for our daughter—but, of course, there's a but. During our very brief courtship, there is one habit he intentionally hid from me—online gaming. Apparently, he didn't want me to think him nerdy. When he first disclosed this after the honeymoon, I thought it was funny and cute. A couple years later, I'm bitter—we have routine marital disagreements, but this is the only issue we ever fight about. He spends several hours a week (10-20) playing these online games! Every time we fight about it, he'll cut back or promise to stop ... but within a week or two, it's back to at least a couple of hours every day. This is a man who has quit smoking and quit his pseudo-addiction to energy drinks, but can't (or won't) quit online gaming. I can't imagine life without him, but this is making me miserable. I'm not willing to leave him over it; how can I get him to stop or change my own attitude to accept it?"
Link to Original Source

Journals

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Canadian health care better, cheaper than US

nbauman nbauman writes  |  more than 7 years ago Canadian health care is as good as or better than U.S. health care, at half the cost.

Gordon Guyatt et al. published "A systematic review of studies comparing health outcomes in Canada and the United States," in volume 1, issue 1 of Open Medicine, a new Canadian journal with an editorial board composed of some of the world's top medical experts, and a staff that just got fired from or quit Canada's formerly top medical journal. http://www.openmedicine.ca/article/view/8/1 The review's conclusion is:

"Available studies suggest that health outcomes may be superior in patients cared for in Canada versus the United States, but differences are not consistent."

The article also says that, in 2003, Americans spent an estimated US$5,635 per capita on health care, while Canadians spent US$3,003.

The journal Open Medicine is another story. John Hoey, editor of CMAJ, the journal of the Canadian Medical Association, was fired last year by the CMA, and most of the staff resigned. http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/354/19/1982 http://www.cmaj.ca/cgi/content/full/174/1/9 http://www.cmaj.ca/cgi/content/full/173/12/1435 Hoey sent reporters to buy morning-after pills in pharmacies around Canada. They found out that pharmacists illegally asked for personal information, which was entered in their computers. The Canadian Pharmacists Association complained to the CMA, and the CMA censored the story and fired Hoey. The CMAJ staff quit and founded this new journal, Open Medicine, and they have loaded the first issue with the best studies they could get. Open Medicine does not accept pharmaceutical ads.

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Medical privacy: You have none. Psych notes are public

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about 8 years ago

Your most private thoughts that you share with your psychotherapist have been scanned and merged with your general medical records, where they are now available to anybody who sues your insurance company over a fender-bender auto accident, if your hospital is like Stanford Hospital & Clinics (and most are). That's what Patricia Galvin found out when she sued her therapist, clinical psychologist Rachel Manber, for disclosing her therapy notes, even though Manber assured Galvin that their notes would be confidential. When therapy notes are merged with general records, they lose their special protection under HIPAA, and anyone with a subpoena can get them. This story about Galvin from the Wall Street Journal is now available from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06362/749444-114.stm free to cheapskates without subscription. Another good reason for medical privacy: Some companies fire diabetics for ostensible safety reasons, even though there's no evidence that they're unsafe, according to the New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/26/health/26workplace.html
U.S. privacy protection is even weaker than Europe's http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/01/27/0743217
A lawyer told me how to protect your medical confidentiality: use a false name, pay cash, don't trust computers.

WSJ, 26 Dec 2006, Medical dilemma: spread of records stirs patient fears of privacy erosion; Ms. Galvin's insurer studies psychotherapist's notes; a dispute over the rules; complaint tally hits 23,896, Theo Francis.

(My notes, for people who are too lazy to even click on the link:)

In 1996, after her fiance died suddenly, Patricia Galvin left New York for San Francisco and was hired by Heller Ehrman LLP.

In 2000, Galvin began psychotherapy sessions at Stanford Hospital & Clinics with clinical psychologist Rachel Manber, who discussed her problems at work, her fiance's death, and her relationships with family, friends and co-workers. Manber assured Galvin that her notes would be confidential.

"I would never have engaged in psychotherapy with her if she did not promise me these notes were under lock and key."

In 2001, Galvin was rear-ended at a red light and suffered 4 herniated disks, which worsened.

In 2003, she applied for long-term disability. Her employer's carrier, UnumProvident Corp., said it would deny her claim unless she signed a release.

Manber assured Galvin her therapy notes would not be turned over. 3 months later, Unum denied her claim, because of psychotherapy notes about "working on a case" and a job interview in New York, which, Unum said, showed she was able to work. Galvin says they misinterpreted the notes.

In 2004, Galvin sued Manber, Stanford and Unum for malpractice and invasion of privacy, under California law. Galvin said "my most private thoughts, my personal tragedies, secrets about other people" were exposed.

In 2005, Galvin learned that Stanford had scanned Manber's notes into its system, making them part of her basic medical record. Stanford sent this file to Unum and the other driver.

Stanford said that "psychotherapy notes that are kept together with the patient's other medical records are not defined as 'psychotherapy notes' under HIPAA." It would be "impracticable" to keep them separate.

The health-care industry is scanning documents into electronic record systems. HIPAA gives psychotherapy notes special protection, but not when mixed in with general medical records.

Peter Swire, law professor, Ohio State U., explains why they wrote the rule giving confidentiality only to separate psychotherapy notes.

Stanford refused to separate her psychotherapy notes from other medical records. "Any time anybody asks for my medical records, my psychotherapy notes are going to be turned over."

In 2006, DHHS rejected Galvan's HIPAA complaint. From Apr-Nov 2003, DHHS had 23,896 privacy complaints, but hasn't taken any action. HIPAA exceptions allow release in connection with "payment" or "health-care operations."

Galvan, 51, is representing herself, because she couldn't find a California attorney with privacy experience.

Deborah Peel, Austin TX, psychiatrist and head of Patient Privacy Rights, says, "How many women want somebody to know whether they are on birth control?"

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB116709136139859229.html

NYT, 26 Dec 2006, Costs of a crisis: Diabetics confront a tangle of workplace laws, N.R. Kleinfield.

Some companies fire diabetics for ostensible safety reasons, even though there's no evidence that they're unsafe. Courts nationwide have split on whether diabetes is a disability under the test that a "major life activity" is "substantially limited".

John Steigauf, 47, was a truck mechanic for United Parcel Service, but UPS put him on leave because of his diabetes. UPS claimed his blood sugar might plummet while he tested a truck, causing an accident, and he couldn't get an interstate commercial driver's license with insulin-dependent diabetes. Some insulin-dependent diabetics are prone to dizziness, fainting or muddled judgment. His disability payment is $431, half his pay. EEOC ruled that he was subject to discrimination.

In 2002, ConAgra Foods withdrew a job offer to Rudy Rodriguez at a Texas baked bean plant because of his type 2 diabetes, when a doctor decided he couldn't work safely; an appeals court found for Rodriguez.

A mortgage loan officer in Oregon was forbidden to eat at her desk, and eventually fired.

A Sears lingere saleswoman in Illinois with nerve damage quit when Sears wouldn't let her cut through a stockroom; Sears paid her $150,000.

A worker at a Wisconsin candy company was fired after asking where he could dispose of his insulin needles.

Many diabetics conceal their illness on the job, says Brian T. McMahon, Virginia Commonwealth U.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/26/health/26workplace.html

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Nobel Laureate Attacks Medical Intellectual Property

nbauman nbauman writes  |  more than 8 years ago

Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, who was fired by the World Bank http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_E._Stiglitz blasted drug patents in an editorial in the British Medical Journal http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/333/7582/1279 "Scrooge and intellectual property rights". Knowledge is like a candle; when one candle lights another it does not diminish its light. In medicine, patents cost lives. The US patent for turmeric didn't stimulate research, and restricted access by the Indian poor who actually discovered it hundreds of years ago. The World Trade Organization imposed US style intellectual property rights around the world. "These rights were intended to reduce access to generic medicines and they succeeded." Billions of people, who live on $2-3 a day, could no longer afford the drugs they needed. Generic AIDS drugs cost $130 a year, patented drugs $10,000. Drug companies spend more on advertising and marketing than on research. A few scientists beat the human genome project and patented breast cancer genes; so now the cost of testing women for breast cancer is "enormous".

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