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Ask Slashdot: Any Place For Liberal Arts Degrees In Tech?

nbauman Re:Dual degrees (384 comments)

I majored in physics, but at a very liberal-arts-focused school.

You didn't go to Antioch, by any chance? That's where Nobel laureate Mario Capecci https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... graduated.

yesterday
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Ask Slashdot: Any Place For Liberal Arts Degrees In Tech?

nbauman Re:Dual degrees (384 comments)

I majored in physics, but at a very liberal-arts-focused school. So, I guess I've got both. I think it's served me well in the field: I've built web sites, been in tech support, run my own indie MMO, done a lot of random programming, and I'm currently a server admin.

Believe it or not, the most helpful classes may have been art history. Journalism and philosophy didn't hurt, especially Symbolic Logic, which was a philosophy class.

One of the most useful books I read in college was an art history book, Mechanization Takes Command, by Sigfried Giedion. (Here's a sample http://www.ediblegeography.com... you might be able to find the complete edition online).

He taught me about how technology changed things -- when that technology was first steam and then electricity. I learned about the Bauhaus from that. It's pretty insightful to learn about engineering from a historical perspective, starting with stone axes, the way an art historian looks at it.

I found it in the school library by picking an interesting book off the shelf of architecture and design books.

yesterday
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Navy Guilty of Illegally Broad Online Searches: Child Porn Conviction Overturned

nbauman Re:Like traffic tickets (285 comments)

There was a story, I think on Slashdot, about cops who would go online and pretend to be sexually aggressive 13-year-old girls, luring in social misfits.

A lot of it seemed to be entrapment, that is, they trapped people into committing a crime who would never have committed a crime without the encouragement and manipulation of the cops. The entrapment defense has an unreasonable burden of proof.

That's not the kind of policing I would admire.

If Timmy said that Frank had been doing something heinous, then the cops could get a search warrant to arrest Frank and search his house and computer. They wouldn't need to trap him into exchanging child porn.

2 days ago
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Navy Guilty of Illegally Broad Online Searches: Child Porn Conviction Overturned

nbauman Re:When the cat's absent, the mice rejoice (285 comments)

Unfortunately it's usually impossible to prosecute cops for misconduct. The only thing that has some small deterrence is throwing out the evidence (which the cop shouldn't have gotten in the first place).

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09...
Challenges Seen in Prosecuting Police for Use of Deadly Force
By LIZETTE ALVAREZ
SEPT. 3, 2014
MIAMI — For decades, Florida has had a history of deadly, racially tinged police confrontations, many of them involving unarmed men, which have led to riots, protests and a steady undercurrent of rancor between minorities and the police. But in the past 20 years, not a single officer in Florida has been charged for using deadly force.

2 days ago
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Navy Guilty of Illegally Broad Online Searches: Child Porn Conviction Overturned

nbauman Re:When the cat's absent, the mice rejoice (285 comments)

1) There is not a lot of evidence that most people who share this material are actually involved in harming children in any way.

18 years for trading child pornography?

I'll come out and say it, these laws are wrong. We have a higher incarceration rate than anyplace else in the world, rivaling Russia and China. Do you want to send those rates up even further?

I agree that child sexual exploitation is wrong. I think child pornography should be used as evidence for prosecuting the underlying crime. I can accept a reasonable criminal punishment for distributing child pornography, if that's the only way to send a message that our society strongly condemns child sexual exploitation. It seems that prosecuting people for having child pornography on their computers does more harm than good overall. I'm not convinced that prosecuting people at six degrees of separation from the underlying crime should be a crime itself. And I'm also not convinced that possessing child pornography created outside the U.S. should be a crime within the U.S. (Our bombs blow children to pieces in our many wars, which I think is a greater harm than their being sexually abused.) We don't prosecute web sites like bestgore.com that show beheadings and rapes.

But 18 years for trading child pornography is way out of bounds. That's the sentence we should give to somebody who originally abused the children to create the pornography, not someone at several steps removed who winds up with the images of it.

I think child pornography prosecutions are like traffic tickets. It's a lot easier for a cop to sit on his ass eating donuts in front of a computer monitor than it is to go out and prosecute actual sex crimes. And it would take a large shift in budget from uneducated cowboy cops to social workers, criminologists and social scientists who actually understand child sexual abuse and how to stop it.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/re...
Child abuse rises with income inequality
February 11, 2014
Summary: As the Great Recession deepened and income inequality became more pronounced, county-by-county rates of child maltreatment -- from sexual, physical and emotional abuse to traumatic brain injuries and death -- worsened, according to a nationwide study.

http://www.bmj.com/content/347...
Research: Preventing sexual abusers of children from reoffending: systematic review of medical and psychological interventions
BMJ 2013; 347 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.... (Published 9 August 2013)

http://www.miamiherald.com/201...
Florida spurns $50 million for child-abuse prevention

2 days ago
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The Challenges and Threats of Automated Lip Reading

nbauman Re:How Naive (119 comments)

If we don't get it, the terrorists will get it first.

4 days ago
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Researcher Fired At NSF After Government Questions Her Role As 1980s Activist

nbauman Re:Wrong Title (499 comments)

Are you drunk?

Right-wing wacko. Ignore. Put name on bozo list.

5 days ago
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Researcher Fired At NSF After Government Questions Her Role As 1980s Activist

nbauman Re:Wrong Title (499 comments)

Looks well researched and has citations.

I picked one thing at random (Obama's support of Cesar Chavez) and looked it up and it checks out.

Why are you insinuating that it's unreliable, without explicitly calling it so?

This is a good example of the kind of guilt by association that the OPM engaged in.

The Keywiki.org web says that Obama supported the creation of a holiday celebrating Cesar Chavez. A Communist group also supported the creation of a holiday celebrating Cesar Chavez.

So what?

The Hunt brothers support cancer research. I support cancer research. Does that mean the Hunt brothers support me? Or that I support the Hunt brothers? No.

I will assume that keywiki's facts are correct. The problem is the logic. He put together some quotes from an anonymous, undated pamphlet from the New Movement in Solidarity With Puerto Rican Independence, none of which quite advocate illegal violence. Since he wants to prove that they're a violent group, he interprets the quotes to mean that they advocate the violent overthrow of the government. A more objective scholar might not be convinced.

Back in the days of HUAC and Joe McCarthy, the anti-Communists used to use sources and logic like that to associate people with Communism. That's why we call it McCarthyism.

5 days ago
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Cuba Calculates Cost of 54yr US Embargo At $1.1 Trillion

nbauman Re:Free Alan Gross (530 comments)

Gross was a saboteur, trying to overthrow the Cuban government. His wife finally admitted as much, as I wrote above.

He was getting money under the Helms-Burton Act. The purpose of the Helms-Burton act was to overthrow the Cuban government. They were paying him to try the unworkable idea of setting up an alternate Internet, to help the Cuban Jews overthrow the Castro government. The Cuban Jews actually got along very well with Raul Castro.

The Cubans want to exchange Gross for 3 Cuban intelligence agents who are in prison right now. They came to the U.S. as undercover agents to monitor the Miami Cubans who were committing acts of terrorism against Cuba, such as blowing up a Cuban plane, and bombing tourist spots.

The U.S. has refused the exchange. The anti-Cuban hard-liners would rather leave Gross in prison than improve relations.

about a week ago
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Cuba Calculates Cost of 54yr US Embargo At $1.1 Trillion

nbauman Re:$1.1 Trillion over 54 years... (530 comments)

whenever a US President tries to reduce tensions, they do something to ratchet them back up. For example, Obama was inaugurated in Jan of '09, announces easing the embargo by allowing families in the US to visit and send money more easily in April, and by December some poor schmuck (Alan Gross) is rotting in a Cuban jail for bringing computer equipment in for Jewish groups.

why would we trade with a country that is holding one of our guys in prison for the crime of helping people access the internet?

It would cost them literally nothing to let this guy go, but they insist on keeping him in prison

The article on Gross in Wikipedia is pretty good http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A... and the linked article in The Forward is pretty good too. Gross worked for Development Alternatives, a contractor for the USAID and other government agencies, possibly including the CIA, which was involved in some development projects in places like Afghanistan and Iraq where they were an arm of the U.S. military. The Venezuelan government accused them of giving support to the rebels trying to overthrow the Chavez government. Gross' projects in Cuba were funded under the Helms-Burton bill, the purpose of which was to overthrow the Cuban government, by methods including telecommunications, as Gross was doing. If a foreigner tried to do the same thing in the U.S., we would (and have) sentence them to long jail terms too. They convicted Gross of something like treason. At first he denied it, but later when his wife became dissatisfied with the U.S. government's efforts to get him out, she basically admitted it.

(According to The Forward, the Jewish community in Cuba was on good terms with Raul Castro, and Gross would have put the Jewish community at risk if they cooperated with him. They may have turned him in. They're patriotic Cubans.)

The Cuban government wants to release Gross in exchange for the Cuban Five, now down to three. They were five Cuban intelligence agents who went to Miami as refugees and infiltrated the anti-Castro groups. They had good reason to infiltrate those groups, because the Miami Cubans were committing terrorist acts in Cuba. The most notorious was Luis Posada, who engineered the bombing of a Cuban airliner, which killed all aboard. Posada was living in the U.S., which refused to prosecute him, even though he bragged about it publicly. Other terrorist acts included setting off bombs (with a few fatalities) at tourist spots, in order to discourage tourism and hard currency.

So that's the situation. The Cubans want to exchange Gross for the Cuban three, and the U.S. wants them to free Gross without anything in return. I'd like the Cubans to release Gross for humanitarian reasons (even though he's guilty of trying to overthrow the Cuban government, which is what Helms-Burton money is for). I'd also like the U.S. to free the Cuban three (even though they're guilty of traveling to the U.S. disguised as refugees, to monitor the Miami groups to stop terrorism). It's not reasonable to expect one without the other.

I would hardly agree that the U.S. was trying to reduce tensions, if they were sending people like Gross to set up a communications network to help the Jewish community overthrow the Cuban government. Don't forget, Helms-Burton only disburses money for projects to overthrow the Cuban government. If Gross was getting Helms-Burton money, then he was trying to overthrow the Cuban government.

It seems that the ones who are holding up the deal are people like Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and the other anti-Cuban hard-liners. It seems that they don't want a trade, because it would improve relations with Cuba. They only want to overthrow the Cuban government. They'd rather let Gross stay in jail than improve relations. I suggest you address your concerns about Gross to them. I suspect, though, that you'll have to wait until they're dead before we establish normal relations with Cuba again.

about a week ago
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Researcher Fired At NSF After Government Questions Her Role As 1980s Activist

nbauman Re:Good we don't need no stinkin commies (499 comments)

Then it turns out, she was a member of the New Movement In Solidarity with Puerto Rican Independence, who specifically stated as goals and objectives support for paramilitary organizations and groups active in the US, in their plans to attack military and government installations as a way of combating the imperialism of the US government.

Yes, that's what you learned from a web site that claims Barak Obama is affiliated with the Communist Party. http://keywiki.org/Barack_Obam...

I bet those lunatics at the OPM do their security reviews the same way, by clicking on the first Google hit.

about a week ago
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Researcher Fired At NSF After Government Questions Her Role As 1980s Activist

nbauman Re:Wrong Title (499 comments)

You just fabricated an interview. Nobody knows for sure what the agent said and what she answered, because he destroyed the notes after he wrote his report.

And he didn't make an audio recording, which would have cleared up all the disagreements. Why don't they record interviews? Because this way they can "remember" anything they want.

about a week ago
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Researcher Fired At NSF After Government Questions Her Role As 1980s Activist

nbauman Re:Wrong Title (499 comments)

She admits to having corresponded to a known terrorist. That may not be the letter of the law in regards to having been an member, but don't you think that she should have mentioned that particular fact, knowing that she was applying for government position that actually required more than a cursory background check?

No. If she's going on an interview for a background check, she has an obligation to answer any question they ask her, to the best of her ability.

She doesn't have an obligation to provide all information that any right-winger could possibly want to know about her background. This is not a Chinese self-criticism session or a Scientology audit.

They're saying, "You didn't answer the questions that we didn't ask."

An accountant once told me how to act at an IRS audit: Answer all their questions, but don't volunteer information.

"more than a cursory background check"? For what? She was working at the NIH on an education project to draw more women into computing. She's not working on nuclear weapons.

about a week ago
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Researcher Fired At NSF After Government Questions Her Role As 1980s Activist

nbauman Re:Wrong Title (499 comments)

Well I read the pages you linked to, and I think jrumney has it exactly right.

about a week ago
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Researcher Fired At NSF After Government Questions Her Role As 1980s Activist

nbauman Re:Wrong Title (499 comments)

If you look at the other documents that you find on the Internet about the Women's Committee Against Genocide, you'll see that many of them are involved in filmmaking.

This flyer is for a film series. The film series is jointly sponsored by the Moncada Library. So we don't know whether this is written by the Women's Committee or the Moncada Library.

The problem here is guilt by association. There's nothing to actually show that they or Barr were advocating violence. I bet the OPM is doing similar Google searches and drawing similar unsupported associations. At least you know your limits.

Filmmakers who run film series don't necessarily agree with the politics of the films they show. I ran a film series once and I showed Birth of a Nation, Triumph of the Will, and Potemkin. So would you conclude that I'm a KKK member, a Nazi, and a Communist? If I were applying for a job at the National Institutes of Health, and they asked me whether I had ever belonged to an organization that advocated overthrowing the government by violence, am I supposed to say, "No, but I showed Potemkin in my college film series"?

about a week ago
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Researcher Fired At NSF After Government Questions Her Role As 1980s Activist

nbauman Re:Wrong Title (499 comments)

It appears to me that the two groups that she was in were sub-groups (not just "affiliates") of the May 19 Communist Organization (M19CO). Thus she was part of the May 19 Communist Organization (M19CO).

http://actuporalhistory.org/beta/interviews/images/banzhaf.pdf

Well, I don't see anything in that interview about the New Movement in Solidarity with Puerto Rican Independence at all, and I don't see anything that indicates that the Women’s Committee Against Genocide was a "sub-group" of M19CO. The only one who claims that they're sub-groups is the OPM.

How is Barr supposed to know that the OPM believes that the two movements that she was once involved in were sub-groups of a third group?

Nobody on this list can even find a source on the Internet to support that claim.

about a week ago
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Researcher Fired At NSF After Government Questions Her Role As 1980s Activist

nbauman Re:Wrong fucking argument (499 comments)

And those of us who read the article also might doubt the objectivity and judgment of the special agent who thinks beating up liberal college professors is funny (and destroyed his notes):

In her 11 August response, Barr questioned whether the special agent who conducted the investigation “can be an impartial evaluator of academic scientists, or anyone with liberal political beliefs.” As evidence, she points to a posting on a blog maintained by the agent, a veteran who served in Iraq, and his family. The item is a copy of a popular Internet meme about an incident that supposedly took place in an introductory college biology course.

According to the story, a “typical liberal college professor and avowed atheist” declares his intent to prove that there is no God by giving the creator 15 minutes to strike him from the podium. A few minutes before the deadline, a Marine “just released from active duty and newly registered” walks up to the professor and knocks him out with one punch. When the professor recovers and asks for an explanation, the Marine replies, “God was busy. He sent me.”

about a week ago

Submissions

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Coffee genome sequenced

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about two weeks 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 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 6 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 8 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,14 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."
Link to Original Source
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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.”"

Link to Original Source
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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?"
Link to Original Source
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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."

Link to Original Source
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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."

Link to Original Source
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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."

Link to Original Source
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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/"

Link to Original Source
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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."
Link to Original Source
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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."

Link to Original Source
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Shrinks spring stealth copyright for cognitive imp

nbauman nbauman writes  |  more than 2 years ago

nbauman (624611) writes "What year is it? What day? What city are we in? Subract 7 from 100. Those are standard questions from the 30-question Mini-Mental State Examination to screen for cognitive impairment.

The Mini-Mental was published in 1975 and widely distributed freely in textbooks, pocket guides, and web sites, and memorized by medical students. Then in 2000 the authors asserted their copyright and started demanding a license of $1.23 per test. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mini%E2%80%93mental_state_examination#cite_note-powsner-13 Test kits go for $150 or so, depending on the kit. Some psychologists compare this to stealth patenting — make a test freely available, wait for it to get widely adopted, start charging for it. Psychologists already have copies, but if they use them without a license, they could pay huge damages.

So in March 2011 a Harvard professor developed a new, open access screening tool, the Sweet 16, similar to the Mini-Mental and designed to replace it. Too similar. The authors of the Mini-Mental demanded that the Sweet 16 be removed from the Internet, and it was.

The authors of a New England Journal of Medicine article http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1110652 recommend that screening tools be distributed under copyleft licenses."

Link to Original Source
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1903: Marconi hacked

nbauman nbauman writes  |  more than 2 years ago

nbauman (624611) writes "In June 1903, Gugliemo Marconi and his partner Ambrose Flemming were about to give the first demonstration of long-range wireless communication at the Royal Institution in London, which, Marconi said, could be sent in complete confidentiality with no fear of the messages being hijacked. Suddenly, the silence was broken by a huge mysterious wireless pulse strong enough to take over the carbon-arc projector and make it sputter messages in morse code. First, it repeated the word "Rats" over and over again (abusive at that time). Then it tapped out, "There was a young fellow of Italy, who diddled the public quite prettily." Further rude epithets followed. It was Nevil Maskelyne, a stage musician and inventor who was annoyed because Marconi's patents prevented him from using wireless. It was the first hacking, to demonstrate an insecure system."
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  |  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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