Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!



U.S. Senator: All Cops Should Wear Cameras

nbauman Re:I like... (594 comments)

"Ferguson was a town in which most of the population was black...One of the main sources of income for the town was stopping black motorists and giving them traffic tickets"

Statistically speaking, it stands to reason that if a population is majority black the majority of ticketed individuals would be black. Unless you have evidence that blacks were routinely given higher fines for similar offenses committed by white people or that no whites were ever ticketed in Ferguson, your statement is a bit of a reach.

There are many news stories like this:
In Ferguson, Court Fines And Fees Fuel Anger
August 25, 2014 5:56 PM ET

To understand some of the distrust of police that has fueled protests in Ferguson, Mo., consider this: In 2013, the municipal court in Ferguson — a city of 21,135 people — for nonviolent offenses, mostly driving violations.

A new report released the week after 18-year old Michael Brown was shot and killed in Ferguson helps explain why. ArchCity Defenders, a St. Louis-area public defender group, says in its that more than half the courts in St. Louis County engage in the "illegal and harmful practices" of charging high court fines and fees on nonviolent offenses like traffic violations — and then arresting people when they don't pay. The report singles out courts in three communities, including Ferguson.

Thomas Harvey, who started the organization to provide legal services to the poor in the St. Louis region and is the lead author of the report, says residents, especially in Ferguson, have come to see the use of fines and fees as a way for courts to collect money from residents who are often the least able to pay.

"Folks have the impression that this is a form of low-level harassment that isn't about public safety. It's about money," he says.

The ArchCity Defenders report argues that this resentment is justified. Last year, Ferguson collected $2.6 million in court fines and fees. It was the city's second-biggest source of income of the $20 million it collected in revenues.

People who can't pay their fines and fees go on payment plans. But then there are extra fees, sometimes interest — 12 percent on felonies in Washington state — and, if poor people fall behind on payments, they may go to jail. Courts often ignore laws, Supreme Court rulings and protections that outlaw the equivalent of debtors prisons.

Just like around the U.S., these municipal court fines in Ferguson are for low-level offenses, usually traffic violations. Harvey calls these "poverty crimes." Typically, he says, someone gets stopped for a rolling stop at a stop sign, or for a broken tail light. Then police find other problems.

Racial Disparity In Ferguson Traffic Stops

Data from the Missouri state attorney general's office show that black drivers are stopped in Ferguson in disproportionate numbers, even though Ferguson police are more likely to find contraband when they stop white drivers.

Blacks make up 67 percent of the city's population, but are 86 percent of motorists stopped by police. Whites make up 29 percent of the population, but 12.7 percent of vehicle stops.

"However, this data seems at odds with the fact that searches of black individuals result in discovery of contraband only 21.7 percent of the time, while similar searches of whites produce contraband 34 percent of the time," the ArchCity Defenders report notes.

Ebony says she's been arrested before after she didn't pay off all her fines — the last time just two weeks after she had given birth.

"My son was 2 weeks old and I was under doctor's care, and Ferguson still locked me up and left me in jail for a week — over traffic tickets," she says. "Even when my lawyer was calling and saying that I'm under doctor's care, I just had a baby, and they still didn't care."

Police and city officials in Ferguson didn't respond to our requests for an interview.

13 hours ago

Airbnb To Hand Over Data On 124 Hosts To New York Attorney General

nbauman Re:Definition of "bad actor" (145 comments)

First, I have to live in New York City.

No, you don't. I don't care what your career is; there are plenty of other places to do it. For example, "artísts" of the type you describe do extremely well in Las Vegas, which is a MUCH cheaper place to live.

You're suggesting that I live in a state where it is illegal for a mathematician to go into a casino and win a lot of money, by following all the rules of the game, if he's too good at it? No thanks.


U.S. Senator: All Cops Should Wear Cameras

nbauman Re:I like... (594 comments)

Nor would it change the fact that people would still bring (founded and unfounded) lawsuits against the police.

Please don't give me that bullshit about "lawsuits against the police." The Republican Supreme Court with its legislation from the bench has made it impossible to sue the police.
How the Supreme Court Protects Bad Cops
AUG. 26, 2014
(Summary: Even if a federal investigation shows that Darren Wilson acted improperly in killing MIchael Brown, the Supreme Court has made it difficult, and often impossible, to hold officers and governments accountable for civil rights violation. In Plumhoff v. Rickard, the court found that it was not "excessive force" to fire 15 shots into a car, killing the driver and passenger, after a chase that reached speeds of >100mph. Alito ruled that the driver's conduct posed a "grave public safety risk," and that the police were justified in shooting the car to stop it, and that it “stands to reason that, if police officers are justified in firing at a suspect in order to end a severe threat to public safety, the officers need not stop shooting until the threat has ended.” This is true of any high-speed chase. In Connick v. Thompson (2011), John Thompson spent 14 years on death row because the New Orleans assistant district attorney didn't tell the defense that a crime lab said the perpetrator had a blood type that didn't match Thompson. Thompson sued the City of New Orleans, and was awarded $14 million. But the Court reversed 5-4, with Thomas writing that New Orleans couldn't be held liable because the plaintiff didn't prove that its own policies violated the Constitution. The Court also said that law enforcement officials "absolute immunity" to civil suits, even when they commit perjury or misconduct.)


U.S. Senator: All Cops Should Wear Cameras

nbauman Re:I like... (594 comments)

The shooting in Ferguson was used as an excuse to riot.

Look at the story, every 'witness' says he was shot in the back running away ... until the autopsy shows that NONE of the wounds were in his back. From the start every witness account was bullshit.

No. "Every" witness didn't say that. Lawyers who regularly investigate situations like this say that when you have a lot of witnesses, you get different accounts. When every witness gives the same story, they assume that the witnesses got together and made up a story together -- which cops often do.

Ferguson was a town in which most of the population was black, the cops were white, the district attorney was white, and most of the politicians were white. One of the main sources of income for the town was stopping black motorists and giving them traffic tickets.

There were many incidents of brutality by white cops against black people, and this was only the last straw. Most of the demonstrators were peaceful.

And oh yeah. The residents made a memorial for Michael Brown, his mother laid flowers on the spot that he was killed -- and one of the cops brought a police dog to urinate on it.
Michael Brown's Mom Laid Flowers Where He Was Shot—and Police Crushed Them

As darkness fell on Canfield Drive on August 9, a makeshift memorial sprang up in the middle of the street where Michael Brown's body had been sprawled in plain view for more than four hours. Flowers and candles were scattered over the bloodstains on the pavement. Someone had affixed a stuffed animal to a streetlight pole a few yards away. Neighborhood residents and others were gathering, many of them upset and angry.

Soon, police vehicles reappeared, including from the St. Louis County Police Department, which had taken control of the investigation. Several officers emerged with dogs. What happened next, according to several sources, was emblematic of what has inflamed the city of Ferguson, Missouri, ever since the unarmed 18-year-old was gunned down: An officer on the street let the dog he was controlling urinate on the memorial site.

Suppose some cop brought his police dog to piss on your mother's grave. Would you get mad?

The reason they have race riots, all over this country, is that people go through the whole process of polite complaints and peaceful demonstrations, and get nowhere. They're routinely getting killed and the cops routinely get away with it. And then the cops stop them in the street and humiliate them, like they did here when they knew they were the center of attention with cameras around. What do you suppose they're doing when there aren't any reporters around?

They riot because they found out that riots are the only thing that works. When they burn down the town, the white establishment finally pays attention.

I doubt that you would pay attention otherwise.


Airbnb To Hand Over Data On 124 Hosts To New York Attorney General

nbauman Re:Definition of "bad actor" (145 comments)

You are making assumptions that seem obvious to you, but don't seem obvious to me, and in fact I disagree with them. And many people in New York City disagree with them.

First, I have to live in New York City.

In my (rent-subsidized) building, I live with artists, writers, musicians, theater people. Most of us are moderately successful, and we could never have careers like this outside of New York City. There is something called the "chance meeting at Zabar's effect." For example, I just heard about a professional society meeting yesterday, went there, and exchanged business cards.

Somebody in my family offered me a cheap condo in Florida, but I couldn't make connections like that in Florida.

People in the New York City economic development department told me that they realize that the creative industries are an important part of the City's economy, and they want to do what they can to provide its needs -- and that includes housing for the people who work in it.

For example -- when the producer of Law & Order needed an actor to play a judge, he could choose from ten people in my building alone.

For example -- the manager of a big photography studio told me that they couldn't work anyplace else but New York City, because this is the only place they could find the diversity of models they need. Sears needs a black family for a catalog shot? What kind -- Haitian, Nigerian or American?

(BTW a lot of public housing was built in New York City during World War II. There were shipyards in Brooklyn, and they needed housing for the shipyard workers. Sometimes the free market doesn't respond in time.)

Second, we (us voters) have a sense of ownership.

This is our City. Why should we leave? We've welcomed other people. Why should trust fund brats0 and hedge fund operators kick us out? How would you feel if somebody who was richer than you decided he wanted your house, and kicked you out under eminent domain? That's how we feel.

The rent control laws in New York City are easier to understand if you think of them as giving a property interest to renters. I worked for a corporation, and I got salary and corporate stock. I give my landlord a check, and it pays for the rent and certain property rights in my apartment. Governments have a right to regulate contracts, and that's the way we did it.

But that's Communism, you say. Well, you're right. The most effective tenants' organizations are unapologetic Communists They knew how to organize tenants, and how to get what they want from landlords and politicians. And it worked. For 100 years, we've had public housing. It was good, affordable housing. It was competitive with private housing. Communism worked.

Even the Wall Street Journal wrote favorable stories about New York City public housing.

Even Republican businessmen saw the need to have affordable housing for their employees. I've even heard Republicans say, "I'm doing well and I want my employees to do well too."

Of course, you can destroy a well-functioning enterprise, government or private, by cutting the budget sufficiently, which is what the Republicans in Congress are doing today. You can also destroy public housing by turning it in to welfare housing.

So when people say, "Let the free market rule, and whatever happens is good (by definition)," that sounds to me like the story of the efficiency engineer who went to hear a symphony orchestra. A voting majority of us in New York City don't want the free market to rule efficiently, since that would make the City unlivable for us (and for the creative businesses that depend on us). To us, that's not efficient. We want the City to provide housing, education, jobs and businesses for us, just the way we've always had it. It's our city. We should be able to do what we want with it. We're a democracy. It's worked.

Don't worry about the real estate developers. Believe me, Donald Trump will get by OK.

2 days ago

Early Bitcoin User Interviewed By Federal Officers

nbauman Re:The Butler case (92 comments)

I was giving an example of someone who hadn't committed a crime, but talked to the FBI without a lawyer present, and as a result was convicted of a crime. He was tricked into confessing a crime, and possibly even tricked into committing a crime.

I read about it in Science, and some of the other publications that were following the case. I know that Peter Agre and several scientific societies investigated it and concluded that Butler hadn't committed a crime. They convinced me.

I also wasn't convinced that he lied -- that he knowingly told the FBI something false. He may have thought at first that they were stolen, or that they were possibly stolen. After talking it over with the FBI, they may have convinced him to change his mind and decide that they weren't stolen, and that he must have destroyed them. That's what it sounded like to me.

There was no underlying crime, and there was no crime at all until the FBI created one. So that's another reason for not talking to the cops without a lawyer: even if you're innocent when you start talking to them, they may trick you into committing a crime in talking to them.

The case was also complicated by a civil litigation that Butler was having with the university at the same time. The university didn't defend him, but instead elevated their civil case into criminal charges, and merged that into the FBI charges.

If there wasn't any recording of the conversations, then we'll never know with certainty what Butler and the FBI said. Lawyers who deal with false convictions, like The Innocence Project, say that all criminal interrogations should be recorded.

At any rate, I was arguing that you should never talk to the cops without a lawyer present (if at all). I think this proves my case.

The parent said, "So what's the problem?" That's the problem.

2 days ago

Early Bitcoin User Interviewed By Federal Officers

nbauman Re:Like buying from a car thief (92 comments)

For those who don't want to click on the link, it describes a situation wherea man was prosecuted for lying to the FBI, after he caused a major alert by pretending some vials of plague bacteria had been stolen that, in fact, he'd accidentally destroyed.

I'm kind of wondering if that's the example the parent poster actually planned to use, or if he cut and pasted the wrong link. I'd have thought Bulter would have been aware of the consequences of pretending someone had stolen such a thing, that it would result in a major investigation, with a lot of resources wasted.

This is a good example of how someone can take a statement, as the cops do, and misinterpret it. This story was covered in Science, Nature, and most of the science magazines, by people who actually understood how bacteriology labs worked. Peter Agre, the Nobel laureate, investigated the case, decided Butler was railroaded and innocent, and spent his Nobel prize on Butler's defense. A lot of scientists and professional associations supported Butler because they worked in labs and they thought that Butler was doing what they did -- following the best procedures -- and the FBI was misinterpreting it and calling it a crime.

The problem was that Butler couldn't account for 30 vials of plague in his inventory, which is something that happens in laboratories. Even Robert Gallow mixed up his AIDS virus samples. Labs don't have infinite money to track inventory and documents. Even the FBI loses documents. Plague bacteria wasn't all that dangerous. Butler was one of the world's leading experts on plague, and he knew how dangerous it was and how to handle it better than anybody else, including the FBI. The problem was paperwork, back in those pre-computer days. The vials were almost certainly destroyed, but he couldn't document it.

The FBI led him into making a statement that he signed, without realizing the significance of it. He thought he might have made a mistake in his first account, so he reversed himself and agreed to do it their way. He thought he was doing the right thing, and he was trying to be cooperative. (Which is what the lawyers warn you about.) This is the way cops manipulate people into false confessions.

As the NYT story says:

Dr. Butler said that the F.B.I. tricked him into a confession so the agency could close the case.

''I feel I was naive to have trusted them,'' Dr. Butler said in the interview,

He caused a "major alert" because the FBI saw, OMG plague! and some pig saw an opportunity to make a career for himself by prosecuting the first bioterrorism case -- without understanding what it was all about, according to the scientists who actually work on plague and other pathogens. They used stupid terrorism laws which had just been passed by congressmen who didn't understand what it was all about either.

Then they offered him a deal by which he would plead guilty and serve a 6-month sentence. Butler wouldn't take it, because he (and his supporters, who were most of the top infectious disease researchers in the country) didn't believe he was guilty. He went to trial, was convicted, and served 2 years. There have been lots of innocent people who were convicted by prosecutors and juries who didn't understand scientific evidence.

Don't believe me. When the friendly cops come to your door, and pal around with you, and ask you to help them out by answering a few questions, go ahead. Shoot your mouth off. They won't be so friendly any more after they put on the handcuffs and tell you you're under arrest.

2 days ago

Early Bitcoin User Interviewed By Federal Officers

nbauman Re:Like buying from a car thief (92 comments)

If the police catches a car thief, they will likely visit anyone buying a car from him. They can't know that you bought his car that he purchased before he started his thieving career, or the car which he purchased himself with money he made from thieving (which would then be legally yours, unlike a stolen car that you bought off the thief), until they ask you.

That's the purpose of interviewing that man - to figure out if he had anything to do with illegal activities or not. Apparently he didn't. So what's the problem?

The problem is that very often someone who thinks he is (or is) completely innocent will talk to the cops, and as a result the cops decide he's committed a crime, prosecute him, and he goes to jail. Here's an example of the scientist Thomas Butler.

Notice that the cops can lie to you, but if you lie to them, you're committing a crime (and a lot of people went to jail for lying to cops, including the roommates of the Boston bomber).

On Youtube there's a lecture by a law professor about why you should never talk to the cops without a lawyer present, even if you're innocent (and certainly not if you're guilty). He gave many scenarios, based on real cases, about how that has gotten people convicted of crimes, even falsely.

For example, suppose you go to Pigtown, buy a bottle of milk in the grocery store, and go home. Somebody gets shot around that time in Pigtown. The cops ask you whether you were in Pigtown that day. You say yes.

Then the cops show your picture to Mary Misidentification, who honestly but wrongly thinks that she saw you shoot the guy. You go to court. The cops use your admission to prove that you were in Pigtown that day. They use Mary's testimony that she saw you shoot the guy. Put those together and they send you to jail.

In the Bitcoin case, you may have done something that you think was legal, but was actually a crime. (Or something that they could interpret as a crime.) If you kept your mouth shut, the FBI wouldn't even know about it. But if you admit to doing it, that's a confession, and it's an easy conviction for them. You won't even get a chance to plea bargain.

Unless a crime was committed against you or somebody you're concerned about, talking to the cops can't do you any good, and it can do you harm. So it's foolish to do it.

It's too bad, but the cops are acting like pigs, so you can't do it.

2 days ago

Early Bitcoin User Interviewed By Federal Officers

nbauman Re:Never talk to US law enforcement (92 comments)

Assuming these were probably FBI or Secret Service agents, my understanding is that the only record allowed of the interview consists of their handwritten notes. You are not allowed to make a recording. This means that, afterwards, they can put any spin on the interview that they want. If you disagree, they can and will throw you in jail for lying to a federal officer.

I thought you were allowed to make a recording. If I decided I wanted to talk to them, I would say, "I'd like to record this conversation so we have an accurate record. Can I do that?" If they say no, I would say, "I'm sorry then, I have nothing to say."

But I don't think I would talk to them.

I'm not even sure it's illegal to secretly record a conversation. There were state laws, like one in Massachusetts, that made it illegal, but they may have been overturned. IANAL, I don't know.

I remember during the Vietnam war, the FBI came to interview an anti-war activist at his home. He secretly taped the conversation, led them on a long, interesting discussion about politics, and then broadcast the tape over Pacifica radio.

The only possible reply to these officers should be "I have nothing to say to you".

That's right. My line would be, "I've been told by many lawyers not to talk to the police without a lawyer present. Give me a card and I'll get back to you, when (and if) I get a lawyer. I prefer that you send me a list of questions in writing."

If I was ever tempted to be a good citizen and cooperate with the FBI, the Thomas Butler case showed me what happens to people who do that even when as far as they know they're innocent.

If the FBI is going to act like dicks, then people aren't going to cooperate with them.

2 days ago

Put A Red Cross PSA In Front Of the ISIS Beheading Video

nbauman Re:I forced myself to watch it (300 comments)

More likely the result of things like this. But even Khalid Mashal said that he opposes Zionism, not Jews.


The IDF refused to let an ambulance bring them to the hospital[..]

Both sides are guilty in that conflict. But going back to the topic of this story, it is interesting to note that the Hamas "execution" of 18 civilians in Gaza didn't receive anything like the same coverage although it happend only a few days after the Foley murder.

I think the Hamas executions got an appropriate amount of coverage. I saw it reported in every newspaper I read, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Haaretz. I searched Google News for "Hamas execution" and got 36,000 hits. Of course, "foley beheading" got 6 million hits, but that was so lurid that even newspapers that don't usually cover the middle east reported it.

While I think capital punishment is usually wrong, I would have a hard time arguing against the Hamas executions if I were a defense lawyer in Gaza. During the Second World War, Jews used to kill informers all the time. The ones who caught informers and didn't kill them wound up in the concentration camps.

I read histories and diaries of WWII, and that's what they did. The most popular Holocaust diary was Art Spiegelman's Maus, and if you read it, you will recall that the Spiegelman family was hiding in an abandoned house when a strange Jew found them. One of the cousins said that they should kill him, because he was an informer, but the rest of them decided not to, and let him go. He informed on them, and the Nazis caught them and sent them to Auschwitz. (The informer wound up in Auschwitz too, and the cousin killed him.)

To this day, Jewish informers are despised in the Jewish community. Even in New York, when orthodox Jewish criminals are caught by the police, they resist informing on their co-conspirators at all costs. During the McCarthy days, Jewish Communists went to jail rather than inform on others.

The Jewish informers in WWII were often in a tough spot, and they were usually informing to stay alive themselves, but the ethics were pretty clear: If you caught an informer, kill him. If you let him go, he would inform on you and you would be dead with your family. The Palestinian informers aren't even that desperate. They're doing it to get travel permits to work in Israel, or to get relatives out of jail, or just for cash.

The Palestinian informers are informing the Israelis so that the Israelis can use air-to-ground missiles to kill Hamas sympathizers, and often their families, and often entire apartment buildings. That's a summary execution without due process too.

I'm also uncomfortable with summary executions. But we did it in WWII. I read a diary of a woman who was a refugee during WWII during the Nazi and Soviet occupations. When the Soviets came in and took over the town she was in, they told the women to stay in a convent and warned them not to leave. Two women didn't listen, and left the convent that evening, apparently just to look around and have fun. Two Soviet soldiers caught them and raped them. The next morning, during formation, the Soviet officer told the women to point out the soldiers who had raped them. They did, and he had them shot on the spot.

I heard a historian say that it was striking that the Soviet troops who were commanded by Jewish officers didn't commit rape. Maybe that's the way they did it.

Both sides are guilty of war crimes, yes. But I don't think you can compare the Israeli killing of a 3-year-old and 9-year-old child, which had no military purpose at all, to Hamas killing informers, who are themselves aiding the enemy and responsible for mass killings of Palestinians. Even Jews despise informers. Even Jews despise soldiers who kill 3-year-old children. As I do.

If the Israelis want to fight anti-Semitism, a good way to start would be to stop killing 3-year-old children.

3 days ago

Airbnb To Hand Over Data On 124 Hosts To New York Attorney General

nbauman Re:NYC Resident Here (145 comments)

This is all from one apartment directly above me. If I complain to NYC, it means that they're sued to death and evicted (which I'm sorely tempted to do, but the punishment is very harsh). If I don't, I have to live in a noisier, less enjoyable circumstance.

And yes, I've taken the time to ask the folks upstairs to be more considerate. Their response? "It's our right", even though it's against the law.

AirBnB sucks.

I have dealt with neighbor problems in a Breakfast-at-Tiffany's type New York City apartment building, and those neighbors included several musicians and a dimwit upstairs whose bathtub kept overflowing. I'm not so quiet myself, and I often work late. We usually managed to work everything out.

One guy was an asshole. I tried to talk to him, the landlord tried to talk to him, but he just wanted to do things his way. I felt the way you do about calling in the authorities, but finally I reached the last straw. I called the cops and had him arrested. (He was making harassing, hang-up phone calls to me all night.) Then he left New York City, and I had no reason to prosecute.

It sounds like your neighbor is an asshole. You've tried to reason with him and it didn't work. Drop a dime on him. Complain to the City.

3 days ago

Airbnb To Hand Over Data On 124 Hosts To New York Attorney General

nbauman Re:Just what constitutes a bad actor? (145 comments)

That's just arbitrage taking care of market inefficiencies in the form of government-mandated rent control. If the rent were at market value the profit made from renting it out (less operating expenses) would be nearly a wash.

An efficient market isn't the most important thing in the world.

If we had a free market in housing in New York City, the middle class and certainly the poor couldn't have lived here over the last 60 years.

We have certain values in New York City. We want to live in a town with rich and poor. We want an actor or artist from the midwest or China to be able to come to New York City and find a place to live. We want a teacher who's been living in an apartment for 30 years to be able to stay there at the same rent.

I don't think it would be a wash. I don't think everybody would be better off. We're slowly deregulating, and the result is that, in the new housing, only the rich can afford housing and the poor have nowhere to live. I don't want that.

In the free market, there are winners and losers. Most of the middle class renters in New York City would be losers. Why should we vote for politicians who would make us losers? Why should we turn the world over to the rich?

3 days ago

Airbnb To Hand Over Data On 124 Hosts To New York Attorney General

nbauman Re:Of course they'll downplay it.. (145 comments)

You're saying that if I make arrangements with someone to allow them to stay in a spare room and they give me $30 a night, I need to adhere to all regulations a full fledged hotel would have to.

In New York City, according to my state assemblyman, you're not violating the law if you make arrangements for someone to stay in a spare room for $30 a night. (Although you may be violating your lease.)

You're violating the law if you make arrangements for someone to stay in your apartment by themselves for $30 a night, and leave. You have to be there.

3 days ago

Airbnb To Hand Over Data On 124 Hosts To New York Attorney General

nbauman Re:Definition of "bad actor" (145 comments)

I went to a meeting where I actually heard my local New York State assembly member, Dick Gottfried, and one from the neighboring district, Linda Rosenthal, denounce Airbnb.

They said that they had never seen lobbying like that before. Everywhere you go in the state capital, you find Airbnb lobbyists. They have a massive lobbying effort.

I told them that we were discussing it on Slashdot and I asked them to elaborate on exactly why Airbnb was wrong.

First, they explained, you could always rent out a room in your home -- but you had to stay there. What you can't do is rent your apartment and leave. That's the housing law. (But most leases say that you have to get permission from your landlord to sublet.)

The big problem is that landlords are deciding to let apartments go vacant rather than rent them to traditional long-term tenants with leases. Instead, they're renting out apartments through Airbnb, and making much more money, as de facto hotels. We have many regulations for hotels, most of them put in for good reason, and they're ignoring the regulations.

Tenants don't like Airbnb because they reduce the rental housing stock. Landlords won't rent to tenants if they can make more from Airbnb. Furthermore, tenants don't like the heavy traffic of anonymous strangers coming in to their building. (Airbnb rentals are popular among prostitutes, or more properly, commercial sex workers.)

In effect, if you visit New York City for a week, Airbnb is cheaper. However, if you want to live in New York City, Airbnb would make it harder for you to find permanent housing.

One of our biggest problems in New York City is that housing is too expensive.

In New York City, most of us believe that poor and working-class people should be able to live here, because it offers them a way up. That's our values. In Houston or Atlanta you have other values. That's your privilege.

We've worked out ways to do it, including rent control, public housing, and housing subsidies. It's not the perfect solution, but it works. Airbnb would disrupt this system. Retired people were paying $500 a month for a subsidized apartment and subletting it for $200 a night. Taxpayers don't want their subsidies to go for that.

You may believe that the free market is a panacea that solves all problems. You may believe that we have a moral obligation to have a free market. In New York, we believe that everybody is entitled to his opinion. However, lots of people who don't understand how things work here come to New York and try to sell us on some new scheme. People like that don't usually get far in New York. I hear they have problems elsewhere too.

3 days ago

13-Year-Old Finds Fungus Deadly To AIDS Patients Growing On Trees

nbauman Re:The Tools of Science (134 comments)

As great as that sounds, it's actually not the case here. The article states that the girl's father is an infectious disease researcher at UCLA and she was sending the samples to a lab at Duke to be DNA-sequenced. It seems like most of what she did was collect samples of the fungus for her father - an interesting summer project, but not exactly hard science.

That's pretty common. Your dad helps you with your science project.

There's nothing wrong with that. It's actually a good thing. If you own a restaurant, you'd let your kid work there over the summer. If you're a medical researcher, you'd give your kid a little useful project to do over the summer.

3 days ago

13-Year-Old Finds Fungus Deadly To AIDS Patients Growing On Trees

nbauman Re: Nature is fighting against gays... (134 comments)

Probably somebody cut themselves while butchering infected bush meat. Although, such accidents must have happened numerous times throughout history. Why is HIV only around now?

Because the people who got it were only traveling around the world on airplanes now.

Also because it spread through gay anal sex and IV drugs.

3 days ago

Put A Red Cross PSA In Front Of the ISIS Beheading Video

nbauman Re:I forced myself to watch it (300 comments)

I know that someone was beheaded. It is clear that this is an horrible and cruel act, that nobody and nobody's family should experience. What information does it add to watch the video? You can convey the relevant information in text.

That depends on how important it is to you to find out the truth.

If you're just the average surfer taking ten minutes off his job to catch up on the news, then no, you don't have to know.

But if you have some important reason for getting to the bottom of it, then you would want to know all the information first-hand.

For example, I read an article in the National Law Journal about how defense lawyers should deal with video and audio recorded evidence.

The first step, the guy said, was to play the recordings and see what they really say. The cops make transcripts, but when you read the transcripts, they say what the cops want to hear, not what the recording actually says. The transcript says, "I'll pick up a pound of cocaine and meet you at your mom's house" when the recording says, "I'll pick up a pound of cannoli and meet you at your mom's house."

If you have a real need to know what's going on, you'd want to see the video to get their side. Why are they killing him? Do they have a legitimate grievance?

Don't forget, the U.S. has been responsible for killings that were just as brutal, such as the killing of Diliwar, the Afghan taxi driver who was the subject of the move, Taxi to the Dark Side. Our military suspended him by his hands for days, and stopped by occasionally to practice karate kicks on him, until he died. One guard said that they liked to kick him to hear him say, "Allah!" By comparison, beheading is more humane, because it's faster and less painful. Americans are in no position to be self-righteous.

3 days ago

Put A Red Cross PSA In Front Of the ISIS Beheading Video

nbauman Re:I forced myself to watch it (300 comments)

Could it be the HUGE uptick in the amount of anti-semitism is the result of the immigration of a HUGE number Islamic radicals?

More likely the result of things like this. But even Khalid Mashal said that he opposes Zionism, not Jews.

773. At about 12.50 p.m., Khalid Abd Rabbo, his wife Kawthar, their three daughters, Souad (aged 9), Samar (aged 5) and Amal (aged 3), and his mother, Hajja Souad Abd Rabbo, stepped out of the house, all of them carrying white flags. Less than 10 metres from the door was a tank, turned towards their house. Two soldiers were sitting on top of it having a snack (one was eating chips, the other chocolate, according to one of the witnesses). The family stood still, waiting for orders from the soldiers as to what they should do, but none was given. Without warning, a third soldier emerged from inside the tank and started shooting at the three girls and then also at their grandmother. Several bullets hit Souad in the chest, Amal in the stomach and Samar in the back. Hajja Souad was hit in the lower back and in the left arm.

The IDF refused to let an ambulance bring them to the hospital, so they walked. Amal and Souad died. Samar had a spinal injury and was left paraplegic for life. The Israeli government never investigated this event or prosecuted the soldier responsible.

The official Israel response to this, to anticipate your response, is that it's all lies. B'Tselem, Amnesty International, the New York Times, BBC, the Goldstone report -- all lies.


3 days ago

Put A Red Cross PSA In Front Of the ISIS Beheading Video

nbauman Re:There is no public benefit (300 comments)

Are you one of those people who want to sanitize war and make look all glorious and stuff? You know what's fucked up? People complaining about publishing nasty videos and pictures and not the people who actually produce the content.

Robert Fisk showed a photo of the war in Afghanistan.

The BBC showed a photo of a man was holding a girl of about 3 or 4, who looks like she was sleeping.

Then Fisk showed the uncropped photo. The girl's leg was blown off, and she was obviously dead.

(I can no longer find the photos online, so I can't link to it.)

Opponents of the war would say that, "If you can't stand seeing the consequences of war, don't elect politicians who vote for them."

I don't know if showing pictures will get people to stop electing them, but the anti-war people have a right to make that argument and show those pictures.

BTW Hillary Clinton voted to give GWB the power to invade Iraq. She has some bullshit excuses.

3 days ago



Peter Piot's tale of Africa's first encounter with Ebola (free)

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about two weeks 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.

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.

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."

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 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

Immigration Fraud in Chinatown: Industry of Lies

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about 6 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

Krugman: Say no to Comcast acquisition of Time Warner

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about 6 months ago

nbauman (624611) writes "In his column, "Barons of Broadband" (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

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

Federal judge says prosecutors blackmail defendants into guilty pleas

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about 10 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

What's Lost When a Meeting Goes Virtual

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about 10 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

What works in education: Scientific evidence gets ignored

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about a year ago

nbauman (624611) writes "According to Gina Kolata in the New York Times, The Institute of Education Sciences in the Department of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, has supported 175 randomized controlled studies, like the studies used in medicine, to find out what works and doesn't work, which are reported in the What Works Clearinghouse. 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. A popular computer-assisted math program had no benefit. 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

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

nbauman nbauman writes  |  1 year,15 days

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?
A Limit on Consumer Costs Is Delayed in Health Care Law
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

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.

According to the blog, 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

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."

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

"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 and get lots of reports on them."

Link to Original Source

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

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

Play Jurassic Park with virtual DNA sequencer

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about 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

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! 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"

Link to Original Source

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

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

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. 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 recommend that screening tools be distributed under copyleft licenses."

Link to Original Source

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

If only tech solved things like it used to

nbauman nbauman writes  |  about 3 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"
Link to Original Source



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. 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. 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.


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 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
U.S. privacy protection is even weaker than Europe's
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?"

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.


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 blasted drug patents in an editorial in the British Medical Journal "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".

Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>