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The $1,200 DIY Gunsmithing Machine

nbauman Re:the solution: (436 comments)

In times past, yes. Nowadays however gun-rights activists indeed are heavily recruiting minorities to try and appeal to them. The NRA brought on Colion Noir (a black gun owner/vlogger) as a spokesperson, and they were very quick to jump to Shaneen Allen's defense when she (a black woman) was arrested in New Jersey for accidentally violating one of their draconian gun laws.

Simply put - trying to paint the NRA or gun rights activists as racist is a trick that simply doesn't work anymore. 40-50 years ago it was true, but back then half the country was racist. The whole country - including the gun rights movement - has come a long way.

No. Even today, gun laws are enforced disproportionately against blacks.

Best evidence of that is New York's stop and frisk laws. That was basically an experimental suppression of the 4th Amendment. They arrested people mostly for drugs and secondarily for guns. There was lots of court testimony to show that the stops were disproportionately used against blacks.

The overall result was to take guns away from blacks. A lot of black people said they didn't carry guns because they were afraid of stop and frisk. White people didn't have to worry.

4 hours ago
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Obama Administration Argues For Backdoors In Personal Electronics

nbauman Re:Let me be the first to say (400 comments)

you are a tool of the political machine...a "useful idiot" in Marx's terms.

Where in the works of Marx did he say "useful idiot"?

5 hours ago
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The $1,200 DIY Gunsmithing Machine

nbauman Re:the solution: (436 comments)

Whatever. Here's an idea, either respect the Constitution and its underlying values, or focus on repealing the Second Amendment using the process provided for doing so.

Legislative end runs around the founders' clearly expressed intents are not acceptable. Why not? Because they'll come for your favorite amendment next.

You don't know what the founder's expressed intention was. What's clear to you isn't clear to a lot of other people. In practice, the Supreme Court decides. Whoever gets a majority in the Supreme Court wins.

I can guarantee you that the Supreme Court will never decide that the Second Amendment allows you to carry a gun into their courtroom.

5 hours ago
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The $1,200 DIY Gunsmithing Machine

nbauman Re:the solution: (436 comments)

As are those, who try to limit the Second Amendment

Everyone who isn't an American often finds themselves wondering at your fascination with weapons.

Well, think about it. Watch some Sam Peckinpah and Rambo movies, and ask yourself, "What kind of country would produce this?"

5 hours ago
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The $1,200 DIY Gunsmithing Machine

nbauman Re: the solution: (436 comments)

Perhaps you should familiarize yourself with the benefits of having a populace that is armed enough to challenge a repressive government.

We should all be fortunate enough to live in freedom-loving Afghanistan.

5 hours ago
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The $1,200 DIY Gunsmithing Machine

nbauman Re:the solution: (436 comments)

The Constitution allowed slavery, for instance, and no vote for women.

It did no such thing, it simply reserved such matters to the States, per the 10th Amendment. The 14th and 19th Amendments changed that of course.

The way I read English, when the Constitution doesn't prohibit slavery, and leaves it to the states, it allows slavery.

Incidentally, the established process of amending the Constitution (Article V) is available for gun control proponents to take advantage of if they think they can actually win a debate on the merits of the issue. All you need to do is convince 2/3rd's of Congress and 3/4ths of the State Legislatures to sign off on a repeal or amendment of the 2nd Amendment. Best of luck with that. :)

Unfortunately, a small, aggressive, well-funded minority can always subvert the democratic process.

5 hours ago
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The $1,200 DIY Gunsmithing Machine

nbauman Re:the solution: (436 comments)

Yes I love how in the 1860s in the US an armed citizenry overthrew a corrupt goverment that allowed the enslavement of its citizens - oh wait, that didn't happen, the armed citizens were there to suppress slave revolts on the south, which was the original purpose of the second amendment - not to overthrow a tyrannical goverment, it was to preserve a tryranical government which allowed slavery - i.e. to allow (white) people to carry guns to suppress local slave revolts - duh, you can't really keep slaves without guns to keep them in line. The freedom loving patriots in the south never rose up to free the black slaves - that took a fucking government army.

The fastest way to get gun control is to have black people carry guns.

In California, as soon as the Black Panther Party started to carry guns, the California legislature passed gun control laws, which Ronald Reagan signed. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...

6 hours ago
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The $1,200 DIY Gunsmithing Machine

nbauman Re: the solution: (436 comments)

It is about race.

Do you know where the old gun control laws in this country came from? In 1966, the Black Panthers started carrying guns in public. In 1967, the California legislature passed a law against carrying guns in public, which was signed by Governor Ronald Reagan. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...

The fastest way to get gun control today would be for the black demonstrators to carry guns every time a black man gets shot by a cop.

6 hours ago
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Joey Hudy: From High School Kid to Celebrity Maker to Intel Intern (Video)

nbauman What did this kid do again? (30 comments)

This White House event was run by people who either don't understand science or don't care about it.

Hypocrisy check:

Now teachers can get fired when their kids don't score high enough in high-stakes testing. That makes it a lot harder for them to spend time on maker-style projects and science fairs.

12 hours ago
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Joey Hudy: From High School Kid to Celebrity Maker to Intel Intern (Video)

nbauman Most kids who build air cannons just get arrested (30 comments)

Not many high school kids get invited to White House science fairs and demonstrate their air cannons to the president.

12 hours ago
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The Great Lightbulb Conspiracy

nbauman Light bulbs are a natural monopoly anyway (595 comments)

I once read a study of the economics of the light bulb industry ("lamps" in the jargon of the trade).

Light bulbs were made by "ribbon machines," which had enormous economies of scale. They were very expensive to built, but once you had a ribbon machine, it could turn out light bulbs at high volume very cheaply. One ribbon machine could handle the needs of the entire U.S. This made it inefficient for competitors to challenge them, so light bulbs were a "natural monopoly." GE had the monopoly in the U.S., although I recall they had a small competitor.

Another reason is that light bulbs were fragile, and didn't travel well. They required a distribution system that could handle them without breaking them. So it would have been hard for one country's light bulb manufacturers to invade another country's market.

The Soviets loved economies of scale, so this came naturally to them. They built one ribbon machine in Hungary, as I recall, and this produced enough light bulbs for the entire Soviet bloc. I remember seeing cheap Hungarian bulbs in discount stores, but they never took off.

I was surprised in that article to read that small manufacturers would produce bulbs in Japan. I wonder what their production facilities looked like. They couldn't compete with the ribbon machine, so they must have been very inefficient.

I've been waiting 30 years to find an audience nerdy enough that they might be interested in this story.

5 days ago
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To Fight $5.2B In Identity Theft, IRS May Need To Change the Way You File Taxes

nbauman Re:Thanks for the fraud, Turbotax (407 comments)

We wouldn't have this problem if we filed our taxes online. Turbotax has prevented that, because they want to charge us for doing what the government could do free, as it does in less corrupt countries.

I have filed my fiance's parents' taxes for free for the past three years, so I don't know what you're on about.

I filed for free too, but that's a link to private services, like Turbotax, which are only free for people with $58,000 or less income (and/or certain other complicated restrictions), and the services are restricted.

Significantly, if you had a problem, for example because the instructions were ambiguous, the IRS help line wasn't allowed to help you, and the third-party providers didn't provide any help.

As I recall, it didn't do my actual calculations. I had to do most of the calculations by hand, with my TI pocket calculator. It was set up to do standard calculations, but wouldn't handle the common exceptions.

I was also annoyed at the inefficiency of it -- I had to go through the calculations, TurboTax had to go through the same calculations, and the IRS had to go through the same calculations again to check my return.

The full discussion of the problems is in the articles I linked to.

about a week ago
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Ask Slashdot: Finding a Job After Completing Computer Science Ph.D?

nbauman Re: Read Slashdot (471 comments)

Tibetan monastery.

about a week ago
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To Fight $5.2B In Identity Theft, IRS May Need To Change the Way You File Taxes

nbauman Thanks for the fraud, Turbotax (407 comments)

We wouldn't have this problem if we filed our taxes online. Turbotax has prevented that, because they want to charge us for doing what the government could do free, as it does in less corrupt countries.

We've discussed this on Slashdot before. It's like keeping marijuana illegal because the prison guards' unions want to keep their jobs.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/mon...
The Sleazy PR Campaign to Prevent the IRS From Making Your Taxes Simpler
By Jordan Weissmann
Slate
April 14 2014 3:41 PM

Theoretically, it should be far easier for Americans with simple finances to file their tax returns. Instead of making tax filers putz around W-2s and tax prep software, the IRS could electronically prepopulate their paperwork with the information it already receives from banks and employers, and tell filers how much they owe. If the final figure looked about right, you’d have the option to file. As Matt Yglesias wrote here last year, the whole process could be a five-minute snap.

Theoretically. But for years now, Intuit, the maker of TurboTax, has fought tooth and nail to prevent automatic tax filing from becoming a reality, lobbying against bipartisan legislation to introduce it with the help of a powerful tech industry trade group and conservative anti-taxers like Grover Norquist. Intuit and its competitors in online tax prep don’t want the government cutting its market share. The tax-crusaders want to ensure that paying the government remains as much of a painful, resentment-generating slog as ever. And thus a potent alliance has been born.

http://www.propublica.org/arti...
How the Maker of TurboTax Fought Free, Simple Tax Filing
by Liz Day
ProPublica, March 26, 2013, 5 a.m.

So why hasn't it become a reality?

Well, for one thing, it doesn't help that it's been opposed for years by the company behind the most popular consumer tax software — Intuit, maker of TurboTax. Conservative tax activist Grover Norquist and an influential computer industry group also have fought return-free filing.

Intuit has spent about $11.5 million on federal lobbying in the past five years — more than Apple or Amazon. Although the lobbying spans a range of issues, Intuit's disclosures pointedly note that the company "opposes IRS government tax preparation."

The disclosures show that Intuit as recently as 2011 lobbied on two bills, both of which died, that would have allowed many taxpayers to file pre-filled returns for free. The company also lobbied on bills in 2007 and 2011 that would have barred the Treasury Department, which includes the IRS, from initiating return-free filing.

Intuit argues that allowing the IRS to act as a tax preparer could result in taxpayers paying more money. It is also a member of the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), which sponsors a "STOP IRS TAKEOVER" campaign and a website calling return-free filing a "massive expansion of the U.S. government through a big government program."

about a week ago
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Bioethicist At National Institutes of Health: "Why I Hope To Die At 75"

nbauman Re:I agree, 100% (478 comments)

He's most certainly a liberal in the sense that he says that you should have the freedom to choose. That's a bad thing?

When the Democratic party leadership decided against single payer, Ezekiel Emanuel was one of the lead hit men making the case against it (including a lot of falsehoods and misinformation), along with his brother Rahm, who provided the political muscle.

Thanks to the Emanuels, you have to buy Obamacare from your insurance company.

Here's what that means: If you have a chronic disease, like inflammatory bowel disease, you will have to pay $8,500 a year in total health care costs. In Canada, the comparable costs through taxes would be about $4,000 a year. And also, people tell me that they can't keep their doctors. One student with IBD was seeing a gastroenterologist at a major academic medical center. The plans under Obamacare would have forced her to see a neighborhood gastroenterologist who's willing to take Medicaid. That's a pretty important difference when you're taking biological modifier drugs like rituximab that kill people when they're given by a doctor who's not familiar with them.

about two weeks ago
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Bioethicist At National Institutes of Health: "Why I Hope To Die At 75"

nbauman Re:A public service announcement from George Orwel (478 comments)

Ezekiel (like his brother, the mayor of Chicago) is from a family with a history of liberal political activism. In a very direct way he was raised with liberal, and arguably progressive leanings. His formative years (the dying of his wool) developed the philosophies he now holds as a mature adult.

In Israel, his father a member of the Irgun, a terrorist organization responsible for the bombing of the King David Hotel and the Deir Yassin massacre. I don't think Ezekiel disagrees significantly with AIPAC.

His mother supported the civil rights movement, but I don't know of any other way in which I would consider him liberal.

I would call Ezekiel and Rahm neoliberals. I don't consider them liberals, and they certainly aren't progressives.

Most significantly, they both opposed single payer health care, and instead gave the health care industry over to the insurance industry. That basically followed the Heritage Foundation recommendations, although once Obama adopted it, the Heritage Foundation disowned it.

Rahm also supported the Iraq war (which is not surprising, since Israel supported it).

about two weeks ago
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Bioethicist At National Institutes of Health: "Why I Hope To Die At 75"

nbauman Re:The WHO (478 comments)

Yeah, if he's stuck in a state of decline, he can still contribute.

During his career as an ethicist, Ezekiel Emanuel did more harm than good, in my opinion.

He and his brother Rahm may have done more to sabotage single payer health care than any other American in modern history.

Totally moral and ethical fail from this so-called "bioethicist."

I have dealt professionally with a lot of medical ethicists. It took me a while to figure out that they're not telling people how to be ethical, they're telling people how to get away with being unethical.

For example, a drug company will run an unethical drug study. They'll hire ethicists for their ethics panel, who will review the study and give it their rubber-stamp of approval. Then when the drug company gets caught, they can say, "But our ethics panel approved it!"

The other thing I noticed was that the doctors who take the biggest payoffs from the drug companies wind up on their institution's ethics panel.

about two weeks ago
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Bioethicist At National Institutes of Health: "Why I Hope To Die At 75"

nbauman Re:The WHO (478 comments)

Einstein had an abdominal aortic aneurysm. The first time, they treated him by wrapping cellophane around his aorta. The second time, he said he didn't want to go through that again.

If you think of how the aorta goes down the torso next to the spine, and how they had to push everything else out of the way to get to it, you can imagine what major surgery it was. Even today, they destroy a lot of nerves in the process. People can be left impotent, incontinent, unable to walk, etc. And you've got a huge wound across your abdomen. That's when you start wondering whether it's worth it to continue.

about two weeks ago
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Bioethicist At National Institutes of Health: "Why I Hope To Die At 75"

nbauman Re:The WHO (478 comments)

My biggest problem is that 75 is such an arbitrary number.

That's the most obvious flaw in his argument. Some people are pretty healthy at 75. Others start deteriorating in their 60s.

I know people who led a fairly active life up to their 90s and died recently, relatively quickly and without much suffering. They had a pretty good life for the last 20 years, and they told me a lot of good stories. One woman wound up in a wheelchair, with an attendant, but she wasn't asking anybody to put her out of her misery.

In fact, most elderly people don't want to die. Emanuel's father didn't. This essay ignores reality.

about two weeks ago
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Bioethicist At National Institutes of Health: "Why I Hope To Die At 75"

nbauman Re:The WHO (478 comments)

I heard that in a medical ethics class.

People are 25, and they say that if they couldn't run 10 miles every day, they wouldn't want to live.

They finally get to 50 and they feel differently.

about two weeks ago

Submissions

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Back to faxes: Doctors can't exchange digital medical records

nbauman nbauman writes  |  9 hours 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 two weeks 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 a month 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 a month and a half 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 7 months 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 7 months 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 7 months 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  |  about 9 months ago

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  |  1 year,28 days

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."
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Medical costs bankrupt patients; it's the computer's fault

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about a year 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.”"

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Slate retracts doctor-bashing essay

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about a year 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 a year and a half 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?"
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"This is your second and final notice" robocallers revealed: Brenda Helfenstine

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about a year and a half ago

nbauman (624611) writes "A New York Times consumer columnist tracked down the people who run a "This is your second and final notice" robocall operation.

The calls came from Account Management Assistance, which promises to negotiate lower credit card rates with banks. One woman paid them $1,000, and all they did was give her a limited-time zero-percent credit card that she could have gotten herself.

AMA has a post office box in Orlando, Florida. The Better Business Bureau has a page for Your Financial Ladder, which does business as Account Management Assistance, and as Economic Progress. According to a Florida incorporation filing, Economic Progress is operated by Brenda Helfenstine, with her husband Tony.

The Arkansas attorney general has sued Your Financial Ladder for violating the Telemarketing Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services investigated Your Financial Ladder, but the investigator went to 1760 Sundance Drive, St. Cloud, which turned out to be a residence, and gave up.

The Times notes that you can type their phone number (855-462-3833) into http://800notes.com/ and get lots of reports on them."

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The brilliant jerk must die

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about 2 years ago

nbauman (624611) writes "When he spoke, everyone became quiet and listened — not out of excitement for what he was going to say but out of respect. Yes, the doctors had respect for the Brilliant Jerk.

Here’s why: He was always the first to cover for doctors who were on call. He was always the first to volunteer to work on holidays. He had the most articles published by the American Medical Association. He was the first to get new training and share it with others one-on-one. And by the way, he was the highest revenue producer of all the doctors in the group. In fact, he was producing twice the revenue of some of the doctors. He had been the third doctor to join the group and without his revenue, the start-up could not have been successful.

But here’s the problem: While he had performed brilliantly for the start-up, he was not performing brilliantly for a company that was trying to grow."

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Asshole President ignored detailed warnings about 9/11

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about 2 years ago

nbauman (624611) writes "George W. Bush's Aug. 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Brief, unclassified by the 9/11 Commission, had the headline, “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” But other Briefs which weren't released show the CIA warning the White House of the planned attack in even greater detail all during the summer of 2001, according to former New York Times reporter Kurt Eichenwald. Bush ignored the warnings, even after federal authorities caught two of the hijackers.

On May 1, the CIA told the White House that “a group presently in the United States” was planning a terrorist operation. On June 22, they reported Qaeda strikes could be “imminent.” On June 29, they reported that Bin Laden aides warned of a coming attack in an interview with a Middle Eastern journalist. On June 29, they reported that Bin Laden operatives expected the attacks to have “dramatic consequences,” including major casualties. On July 1, they said the operation had been delayed, but “will occur soon.” On Aug. 4. Mohamed al-Kahtani was stopped at an airport in Orlando, FL, by a suspicious customs agent and sent back. Two weeks later, Zacarias Moussaoui, was arrested on immigration charges in Minnesota after arousing suspicions at a flight school.

The White House ignored these warnings because the neocons, who were pushing for war with Iraq, said that it was a disinformation campaign by Bin Laden to distract attention from Saddam Hussein."

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Play Jurassic Park with virtual DNA sequencer

nbauman nbauman writes  |  more than 2 years ago

nbauman (624611) writes "Aipotu is free biology software that lets students manipulate and study the DNA of virtual organisms. They get an uncharacterized virtual plant, with different-colored flowers. They cross the plants to find the color alleles, learn the biochemical mechanism behind color formation, engineer a new color, and study the evolution of color. Windows, OS X, and Linux. from http://aipotu.umb.edu./

Each organism contains two DNA sequences, one from each parent. Students analyze DNA sequences to determine the phenotype, and scan for specific promoter and transcription terminator sequences. Pre-mRNA is scanned for splicing control sequences, spliced, and processed; open reading frames are translated. Structure of the protein is determined by an energy-minimization algorithm that uses ionic bonds, hydrogen bonds, and the hydrophobic effect to fold the protein on a two-dimensional hexagonal lattice. Software determines the function of the protein. Proteins with a specific shape can be colored, with particular amino acids in a critical region determining color.

One more thing. Case It! http://www.caseitproject.org/ lets you input DNA or protein sequences to generate Southern, Western, and dot blots, PCR, SNP microarrays, and ELISA.

These are 2 winners of the Inquiry-Based Instruction prize. More winners at http://www.sciencemag.org/site/special/ibi/"

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WW2 vet sends pirate DVDs to troops in Iraq, Afghanistan

nbauman nbauman writes  |  more than 2 years ago

nbauman (624611) writes "WW2 veteran "Big Hy," 92, pirated 300,00 DVD movies and sent them to soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, where they were widely distributed and deeply appreciated. Soldiers would gather around personal computers for movie nights, with mortars blasting in the background. "It's reconnecting to everything you miss," said one. He received American flags, appreciative letters, and snapshots of soldiers holding up their DVDs. He spent about $30,000 of his own money. Hy Strachman retired from his family's window and shade business in Manhattan in the 1990s. After his wife Harriet died in 2003, he spent sleepless nights on the Internet, and saw that soldiers were consistently asking for movie DVDs. He bought bootlegged disks for $5 in Penn Station, and then found a dealer at his local barbershop. He bought a $400 duplicater that made 7 copies at once, and mailed them 84 at a time, to Army Chaplains. The MPAA said they weren't aware of his operation. The studios send reel-to-reel films to the troops."
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Chinese screwed up low-bid crane repair, 2 American workers died

nbauman nbauman writes  |  more than 2 years ago

nbauman (624611) writes "The curse of the lowest bidder

Not every Chinese manufacturer is Foxconn. James F. Lomma, owner of the company that used the crane that collapsed in New York City in 2008 and killed 2 workers, told his crane mechanic, Tibor Varganyi, to find someone who could build a turntable for the crane faster and cheaper than 2 American companies. On the Internet, he found RTR Bearing Company Ltd., China. which claimed a 10-year track record, 109 employees, 2 factories, an independent QC center and export trading company. Actually, the company was only 6 months old. Varganyi exchanged emails with RTR's owner, Joyce (Jun) Wang (then 26). Actually, Wang testified, RTR had 7 workers, including herself, no engineer, no factory, and did no manufacturing. RTR was actually the export agent for 2 factories. 90 emails between Varganyi and Wang, struggling in English, were subpoenaed from Google and filed as evidence in a criminal case. Wang said they weren't qualified to do the weld, but Vargany sent her instructions from the manufacturer, so they welded it anyway. Two bearings arrived. The first was put on the crane. The second had a defective weld, but Lomma didn't check the weld on the first one. The first bearing broke at the weld, the operator's cab and boom fell over, and 2 workers were killed. Varganyi pleaded guilty to criminal negligent homicide. Paul Midler, author of “Poorly Made in China: An Insider’s Account of the Tactics Behind China’s Production Game.” said that Chinese sellers make false claims, and American importers don't do due dilligence because the prices are so low. Alvaro Ortega, co-owner of a bearing company, said he bought a bearing from RTR but his QC rejected it, and when he toured the plant, their equipment was outdated and QC nonexistent."

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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  |  more than 7 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 7 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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