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Comments

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Criminals Using Drones To Find Cannabis Farms and Steal Crops

nbauman Re:Just one more reason (213 comments)

Sure. But it would also take money/power from the police, police unions, prison guards unions, etc.

Come on, I refuse to believe that these entities are actively working to put more people in prison for no good reason.

That's bullshit, police unions represents police officers, usually union policies are made by vote.

I refuse to believe that most police officers want to lock up people for no good reason

I believe it. In New York City, we had the stop and frisk laws. Officers got caught on tape telling the cops under their command to fill a quota of arrests -- and to arrest black people. Most of the arrests were pot busts after illegal searches. (Possessing marijuana was a violation, not a crime. The cops forced people to commit a misdemeanor by emptying their pockets and displaying marijuana, which was a crime.) That was the subject of a lawsuit, which was also reported on Slashdot. It all came out in court, and Judge Schendlin wrote it up in her written decision.

The new police commissioner was complaining that cops arrest people towards the end of their shift so that they can get overtime pay. Think about that for a second. They're arresting people so that they can make more money.

As I recall, one of the strongest opponents of liberalizing drug laws in California was the prison guards' union. It was pretty clear that they wanted to keep the prisons full to protect their jobs.

That said, they may very well have insights into why weed is bad. They may have experience traffic accidents, etc.

Oh, yeah. Who has more insight into why weed is bad -- cops? Or doctors, psychiatrists and scientists?

yesterday
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IRS Can Now Seize Your Tax Refund To Pay a Relative's Debt

nbauman Re:Bush Vetoed this, apparently (629 comments)

All the provision does is lift the statute of limitations on collecting an unpaid debt. I really don't see the problem with that. The actual problem seems to be that they're going after the wrong people to get their money -- and that seems to be based on a policy that allows the government to go after children who may have benefited from overpayments.

The problem is that we have statutes of limitations for a reason. (There's also a related principle called laches http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L...

The reason is that it's not fair to bring a legal action against someone after an unreasonable amount of time has passed. The person can't defend himself. He may not remember what happened. Records may have been lost, destroyed or missing. People, including witnesses, who could have given information may be unavailable or dead.

3 days ago
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Is Germany Raising a Generation of Illiterates?

nbauman Re:They've got a lot of catching up to do... (431 comments)

$27,000 is spent every year, per child, in Camden, NJ.

Only three students-- 3-- in the entire city of Camden achieved college-ready scores on the SAT.

These families have lived in the northeast USA for several generations.

Something is wrong, and while we can all agree it's not skin color, it's obviously not Jim Crow laws (that didn't exist in NJ) decades before these kids were born either.

Maybe it's decades of exploitation from single-party rulers in the great majority of our cities.

Most of the northern black population came as immigrants from the South in the 1950s and 1960s. There were welfare departments in Southern states that would give welfare applicants or recipients bus tickets to go north.

There was quite a bit of racial discrimination in the New Jersey school system. At one time towns were splitting up -- the more affluent white parts of town would establish itself as an independent town, leaving the less affluent black parts of the town behind, with a poorer tax base to pay for schools. The reason they're paying $27,000 a year in Camden is that the courts struck down the previous school financing system as segregated.

There was discrimination against black people in housing, which prevented them from living in the better school districts. Southern Burlington County NAACP v. Township of Mount Laurel http://www.casebriefs.com/blog...

The parent who started this thread said that there is a subculture of black people who do worse than whites or Hispanics in educational accomplishment. I said that to the extent there is such a subculture, it's the result of 100 years of slavery and 100 years of Jim Crow (which didn't allow blacks to vote, or go to white schools, in the South up to at least 1968). Do you disagree with that?

4 days ago
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Is Germany Raising a Generation of Illiterates?

nbauman Re:They've got a lot of catching up to do... (431 comments)

The parent said:

To be blunt: black people, and to a lesser extent, first generation Hispanics. The difference is that Hispanics tend to approach the mean for their socioeconomic status by the second generation. Blacks have made progress, but just enough to keep the gap from widening even more.

That's a broad statement. I suspect the reason the parent made it is that he doesn't know anything about black people, and hasn't run into many educated black people in his life.

There are people who have lived in segregated communities all their lives.

4 days ago
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Is Germany Raising a Generation of Illiterates?

nbauman Re:They've got a lot of catching up to do... (431 comments)

In fact, did either of you know that, after compensating for socioeconomic status, the racial gap disappears?

No, I didn't know that. Citation needed. Peer-reviewed sources, please.

Of course, neither of you know this and God knows it doesn't fit in with either of your world views, so it doesn't register in either of your discourses, both of which are based on emotion and specious arguments. If you want to really acknowledge the issue, it's socioeconomic status - class, in short.

Socioeconomic status and class are part of it, but they don't explain everything. Slashdot had an article last year about the New York City stop-and-frisk lawsuit. If you read the judge's opinion, which summarized the data, you'd see that the police were openly stopping black people. Black (but not white) middle-class people and professionals got swept into it. It didn't matter what their socioeconomic status was. They had black college teachers testify that the cops stopped and frisked them with no legal justification, repeatedly, while they were on their way to school. Black professionals testified that they were standing in front of their homes minding their own business when the cops illegally stopped and frisked them and beat them up.

That was one of the complaints of the civil rights movement -- that even when they made it into the middle class, or professional class, they still couldn't get the jobs that white people got, or move into the same neighborhoods, or get the same education. Civil rights organizations used to send out testers to prove it.

One of my teachers told me that she was riding on a train in Pennsylvania and she heard an announcement that all the black passengers had to move to the back of the train at the next stop. That's what her college education and professional class got her.

I once talked to a black doctor, who had served on expert panels, and he said, "I'm a teaching professor at M.D. Anderson, and I worry when a police car drives behind me."

Liberals (even when they pay lip service to this notion) are too chickenshit to actually do anything about it; Conservatives won't even acknowledge it. Both are useless. Just like arguments on Slashdot.

I know some liberals (and some people who were a bit left of liberal) who went down South in the 1960s during the sit-ins. Some of them were killed, and others were crippled for life. So I don't think they were too chickenshit to do anything about it. When have you ever stood up like that for a principle?

4 days ago
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Is Germany Raising a Generation of Illiterates?

nbauman Re:They've got a lot of catching up to do... (431 comments)

After the Southern schools were required to pay for black education, the math and reading "gap" started to disappear.

There was a narrowing of the achievement gap in the 1960s and 1970s. Then the narrowing stopped. Since then, blacks have done better, but whites have done better too, resulting in the gap staying about the same. You can see a graph of the gap here. It reached a minimum in 1988, and has actually been growing again since then. If the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow was the only cause of the gap, one would expect the gap to continue to narrow, and also to see a smaller gap in northern or western states that never had slavery or Jim Crow. Neither of those things is true. There is an ongoing debate about the causes, but it is doubtful that there is any one simplistic answer.

I don't know. I've seen the same charts and it looked to me as if the black achievement was increasing, especially in the chart headed Long-term Trends" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...

In order to figure out what those data mean, I'd defer to a statistician. I notice that the yearly achievements don't have 95%-confidence error bars, so I can't tell whether they really did reach a minimum in 1988, or which way they're going.

(I must say that I don't think that a Wikipedia article that links to the National Review Online and pop books doesn't meet the highest standards of scholarly quality.)

I don't think you can use those data to exclude the effect of slavery, and I think it's obvious that slavery and Jim Crow had a significant effect on the educational accomplishment of the black population. Slavery must also have had a significant effect on the other factors listed in that article, like the black family structure, the motivation gap, etc. So maybe slavery is the prior cause of all those other factors. I'm sure your ancestors in 1850 were married. Black slaves in 1850 weren't allowed to marry. You can say, as the Wall Street Journal editorial page does, "Oh, that should have corrected itself in 150 years." I don't think so. Patterns like marriage are persistent over many generations. Patterns like occupation are persistent over many generations. I know doctors who come from a family of doctors that they can trace back 4 or 5 generations.

Diane Ravitch https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... understands educational achievement data better than anybody else I know, and she says that the main factor that affects educational achievement is family income. That's more important than race. Let's do an experiment. Let's raise black income to the same level as white income for a couple of generations and see if they're still behind. http://www.threeriversonline.c...

4 days ago
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Is Germany Raising a Generation of Illiterates?

nbauman Re:Can the writings be read? (431 comments)

People who are encouraged as kids to be sloppy about their writing tend to emerge from adolescence sloppy about their thinking too.

Can you cite this from a peer-reviewed publication, please? If this is really such a problem, surely you can back it up with scholarship.

No, he was encouraged during his adolescence to be sloppy about his thinking.

4 days ago
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Is Germany Raising a Generation of Illiterates?

nbauman Re:They've got a lot of catching up to do... (431 comments)

Can you name some of these subcultures?

To be blunt: black people, and to a lesser extent, first generation Hispanics. The difference is that Hispanics tend to approach the mean for their socioeconomic status by the second generation. Blacks have made progress, but just enough to keep the gap from widening even more.

Did you ever meet a black person with a college degree?

I did. When I went to elementary school and high school, lots of my teachers were black. One of my best teachers was the biology teacher who taught me how to grow bacteria and fruit flies. I think of her every day. My work today involves a lot of molecular biology and genetics.

One of my college housemates was a black guy who graduated in chemical engineering. Did you ever study chemical engineering? Could you pass physical chem? (BTW I met a lot of black chemical engineers. It's one of those disciplines where you can get ahead just by being smart and working hard.)

Did you ever meet a black lawyer? I have. Did you ever meet a black doctor? I have. They were at the top of their field. They didn't get there by affirmative action.

The reason black people did so badly in the U.S. is 100 years of slavery followed by 100 years of Jim Crow under which black people couldn't vote or go to school in the former Confederate states. Did you ever meet anybody who later got killed for trying to organize black people to vote in the South? I did. Black people couldn't exercise their right to vote until the Voting Rights Act of 1964, and even then the racists used all kinds of tricks to stop them from voting. They're still doing it today.

After the Southern schools were required to pay for black education, the math and reading "gap" started to disappear. You can see the data at the NAEP web site.

4 days ago
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Study: Exposure To Morning Sunlight Helps Managing Weight

nbauman Re:correlation does not prove causation (137 comments)

They try to correct for those factors but they can never be sure.

Maybe the biggest epidemiological study is the Nurses' Health Study, which has several thousand participants and has been going on for more than one generation. They've been recording a huge number of personal activities and medical developments. Then they run it through computers to find associations. Then they try to correct for all the factors. Then they do a randomized controlled study to find out if the association was spurious or if it really was causation. They get it right about half the time, which is worthwhile. But you just can't eliminate every possible confounding factor.

about two weeks ago
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Study: Exposure To Morning Sunlight Helps Managing Weight

nbauman Re:correlation does not prove causation (137 comments)

True, it's appropriate to start with a correlational study before you go on to a randomized, controlled trial.

This would have been a good study -- if they didn't come to an unjustified conclusion.

Exposure to moderate levels of light at biologically appropriate times can influence weight, independent of sleep timing and duration.

We don't know that from this study, because they couldn't control for all the other factors that might have influenced weight.

about two weeks ago
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Study: Exposure To Morning Sunlight Helps Managing Weight

nbauman Re:correlation does not prove causation (137 comments)

If they really wanted to find out whether sunlight affected weight, they would have done a randomized, controlled trial.

They would have randomly assigned half the people to getting exposed to sunlight early, and the other half to getting exposed to sunlight late.

Instead, they let the subjects go their merry way and simply measured their exposure to sunlight during the day.

These kind of studies give spurious results. For example, suppose the ones who are exposed to sunlight in the morning are getting up early to start their day jogging.

about two weeks ago
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In the Unverified Digital World, Are Journalists and Bloggers Equal?

nbauman Re:30 years of journalism experience in 30 seconds (156 comments)

No, I'm not saying that I try to make each side look equally valid.

I'm saying that I try to let each side make their best case, and let my readers decide.

I'm writing for people who are intelligent enough to know how to evaluate both sides of an argument and come to their own conclusions.

Sometimes it's obvious that one side is lying. Sometimes it's too close to call.

For example, when I was writing about needle exchange programs for IV drug users, I had a stack of well-designed studies published in major medical journals saying that needle exchange programs saved lives, and I could call up experts who would make very persuasive arguments for them.

Then I'd call up some right-wing politician's office and say, "What's your evidence? How do you respond to this article in the Journal of the American Public Health Association?" Let them talk. Sometimes they just make fools of themselves. (Governor Pataki said, "We don't have enough evidence yet. We're studying it." Studying it forever.) Sometimes they really did seem to be well-intentioned people who believed things that were wrong. Sometimes they had actually changed their position.

Of course it's always possible that I could find out that I was wrong.

If you want to know more about the process, look up John Stuart Mill's On Liberty on the Internet.

(Oh yeah, the other rule is, "Always ask, 'What's your evidence?'")

about three weeks ago
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In the Unverified Digital World, Are Journalists and Bloggers Equal?

nbauman Re:The problematic word is verified (156 comments)

I write about medicine. I read the journals and go to the conferences.

I was passing by New York City Hall (during the Giuliani Administration) and I saw a demonstration by AIDS activists, something that I had been covering. I always like to talk to the real people involved, so I tried to get over to the demonstration.

Giuliani put a locked gate around City Hall. I had to stop by a guard post. I told the guard what I was doing, and he told me I needed press identification. I told him that I should be able to go to the demonstration simply as a member of the general public. But he was an asshole on a power trip and insisted that I needed a press ID. Finally I saw somebody else walk through without press ID, so I just walked through myself.

I later called up City Hall to complain about the guard, and went through a long series of written complaints to supervisors who were perpetually on vacation or had been moved to a different job. Finally the City Hall guards let some politician's friend with a gun into City Hall without screening, and he shot and killed a City Council member. It was no longer a good time to press on with a complaint like that.

I also called the City Hall press office and asked them what the requirements were for a press card. They were actually reasonable as written. The original purpose of a press card is to let you cross police lines during a fire or other emergency, or big events or demonstrations, and they gave press cards to reporters who regularly covered them for news media. Counter-cultural publications like the Village Voice and WBAI-FM got press cards. Less formally, they let the cops know when the reporters were watching so they didn't beat up demonstrators with cameras around. With time, press passes turned into a prestige item that publishers and other freeloaders used to try to get out of speeding tickets, get free admission to the circus, cage free meals at restaurants, etc. You had to fill out a form and apply, documenting that you actually do cover events where a press card is useful. I thought that it might actually make a good story, for the National Writers Union newsletter or someplace, "How to get a police press card."

I decided that I don't need your fucking press card. I can find out enough just by exercising the rights I have as an ordinary citizen, and exercising my willingness to go to jail if that's what it takes, to get my readers the information that they want and have a right to know.

One of the things that always amused me was the outrage of the press (like the New York Times) when the cops beat up their reporters during a demonstration (at the Chicago 1968 Democratic Convention, for example). Why weren't you doing your job of reporting the truth when we were getting beaten up by the cops, in front of your own eyes?

So blogger, shmogger. You don't need a press pass to write journalism. All you need are your rights under the Constitution and the willingness to get beaten up and go to jail.

about three weeks ago
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In the Unverified Digital World, Are Journalists and Bloggers Equal?

nbauman 30 years of journalism experience in 30 seconds (156 comments)

As someone who made a modest living for 30 years as a "journalist" (or whatever you want to call me), I can summarize the most important thing I learned in 30 seconds:

Every time you attack someone, always call him to get his side.

(Variation 1: Every time you write something that you strongly believe, always call somebody on the other side to find out why they disagree with you.)

That's it. If you follow that rule, you'll always get a decent story.

about three weeks ago
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Don't Help Your Kids With Their Homework

nbauman Re:Um, right. (278 comments)

Interestingly I was never taught to do addition/subtraction like that but have always done it that way.

Me too.

about a month ago
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Research Suggests Pulling All-Nighters Can Cause Permanent Damage

nbauman Re:sounds implausible to me (144 comments)

I suspect a lot of people will dismiss it entirely because it was done on mice, and humans are not big mice.

about a month ago
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Research Suggests Pulling All-Nighters Can Cause Permanent Damage

nbauman Re:sounds implausible to me (144 comments)

And mouse evolution, since this study was done in mice.

When they replicate this study in humans I'll pay attention.

Humans are not big mice.

about a month ago
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Russian Army Spetsnaz Units Arrested Operating In Ukraine

nbauman Re:We need a US base in the Ukraine (623 comments)

We don't have a moral obligation to get into a situation that most of us don't understand, and make things worse by escalating the conflict.

about 1 month ago
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Eric Schmidt On Why College Is Still Worth It

nbauman Here's how to fix "expensive" (281 comments)

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08...
Germany Backtracks on Tuition
By CHRISTOPHER F. SCHUETZE
Published: August 25, 2013

(German colleges are now free again, like the Scandinavian countries. Under the German constitution, the 16 state governments control finance and education. A 2005 federal court decision allowed them to charge tuition. 8 states, in former West Germany, did, but it was unpopular and they reversed their policy. Lower Saxony charged €1,000 ($1,300)/year. An economist estimated that tuition caused 20,000 potential students (6.8% of all students) to forgo enrollment in 2007. Denmark, Norway and Sweden have free tuition, although Germany, with 2.5 million students, is the largest. Britain raised its tuition caps to £9,000 ($14,000). In France, most public universities charge a few hundred euros per year, though the grandes écoles are more expensive.)

about a month ago
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Eric Schmidt On Why College Is Still Worth It

nbauman Re:watch out when looking at longitudinal stats (281 comments)

Also, one can't look at the lifetime earnings of people in their 40s or 50s to do this analysis. the question facing the high school graduate today is a looking forward one, not "what was the effect of choosing college or not in 1970-1980". In 1970 the job market was very different today. Manufacturing and similar jobs which did not require a degree were still a large part of the market.

That's true. I read a classic analysis of inequality in the U.S. (sorry I can't remember the citation), which concluded that for people from the lower classes, a college degree with any major was a guarantee of a professional job. This was based on data of people who were working when the study was done, which was probably in the 1960s. So it was true in the 1950s.

Another problem is that correlation is not causation. The one factor that most strongly correlates with your income is your father's income. In general, rich kids go to college. Rich kids don't become rich because they went to college. They become rich because their fathers were rich.

about a month ago

Submissions

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Commercial sex and the Internet

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about a month 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 2 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 2 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 3 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 6 months 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 6 months ago

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

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about 7 months ago

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

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about 8 months 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 9 months 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 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 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 a year and a half 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 a year and a half 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  |  about a year and a half 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  |  about 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  |  about 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
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If only tech solved things like it used to

nbauman nbauman writes  |  more than 2 years ago

nbauman (624611) writes "Over history, technology has increased living standards. But that link may have broken down, according to If only tech solved things like it used to. Lane Kenworthy, U. Arizona, refers to this as “the great decoupling” — the separation of economic growth from increases in wages and quality of life. During the post-WWII boom, economic growth correlated with median family income, since 1973, they have diverged. If that correlation had continued, median fmaily income would have been $90,000 by 2007. Economic growth no longer leads to broadly-shared income growth. Technology is part of the problem. David Autor of MIT found that “Computers are doing tasks that used to require a non-trivial amount of skill," from factory work to accounting. This has benefitted high-skill managerial workers, whose spending creates jobs in low-skilled, low-wage service occupations. But jobs with middle-class pay, like GM or the typing pool, are vanishing. Education doesn't solve the problem, since college-educated workers are being displaced too. The situation is worse in the U.S. than in developed countries like France or Denmark which have a social safety net. In other words, the future is like this David Horsey cartoon http://blog.seattlepi.com/davidhorsey/2010/08/12/welcome-to-the-future/"
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Were Assange sex charges revenge for two-timing?

nbauman nbauman writes  |  more than 3 years ago

nbauman (624611) writes "Rixstep claims that Anna Ardin, who had consentual sex with Julian Assange, filed charges against Assange for revenge because she found out he was having sex with another woman. Rixstep gives Ardin's deleted tweets as evidence.

Assange was living in Ardin's apartment, where they were having sex, from 11 to 19-20 August. During that time Ardin tweeted about Assange, including a tweet on 15 August about how cool and smart he was.

Around 18-19 August Ardin got a call from another woman who wanted to speak to Assange. Ardin realized the other woman was also having sex with Assange. They talked about it, decided Assange didn't have serious long-term intentions with them, and filed police complaints.

One of the complaints was about molestation on 14 August, but the tweet shows the relationship was going well on 15 August. Ardin deleted the tweets, but Rixstep posted them again.

Ardin also posted posts about how she believes that revenge is justified, and how she took revenge against her former fiance."

Link to Original Source

Journals

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Canadian health care better, cheaper than US

nbauman nbauman writes  |  more than 6 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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