Showing posts from September 18, 2016

Private Health Insurance Coverage In Canada Needs A Review

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[So-called universal coverage only covers 70% of health care costs. For the other 30% people pay out of pocket, or go untreated. The Canadian government should be looking at what happens to these latter people. "Canada is one of few countries in the world with a universal health system that doesn't include prescription drug coverage as a medically-necessary benefit." *RON*]

John HaveRobert L. Brown, Huffington Post, 16 September2016

Last week, the media carried a story about a nine-year-old boy in New Brunswick who was denied private health coverage because of his weight (at 5 foot 2 inches and 135 pounds). His family were shocked -- as were many reading the story -- that a child could be denied private health coverage in Canada. In fact, it's not only possible -- and entirely legal -- it may be a sign of things to come.

The boy's father had been laid off work in January and, as a result, the Doiron family lost their extende…

This employee ID badge monitors and listens to you at work — except in the bathroom

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["It’s exactly like a Fitbit for your career." Brother. Big Brother, that is. *RON*]

By Thomas Heath, Washington Post, 7 September 2016 Do you hog office conversations? Or not talk enough? Does your voice squeal?

Do you sit very still at your desk all day? Or do you fidget under stress? Where do you go in the office? How much time do you spend there? To whom do you talk?

An employee badge can now measure all this and more, all with the goal of giving employers better information to evaluate performance. Think of it as biometrics meets the boss.

A Boston company has taken technology developed at MIT and turned it into special badges that hang around your neck on a lanyard. Each has two microphones doing real-time voice analysis, and each comes with sensors that follow where you are in the office, with motion detectors to record how much you move. The beacons tracking your movements are omitted from bathroom locations, to give you some priva…

DNA Dragnet: In Some Cities, Police Go From Stop-and-Frisk to Stop-and-Spit

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[Police in Florida and other states are building up private DNA databases, in part by collecting voluntary samples from people not charged with — or even suspected of — any particular crime. And note how expeditiously Florida processes these DNA samples versus rape kits: Backlog of untested rape kits in Florida far worse than earlier estimates. *RON*]
by Lauren Kirchner, ProPublica, 12 September 2016

The five teenage boys were sitting in a parked car in a gated community in Melbourne, Florida, when a police officer pulled up behind them.

Money for Nothing

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[At excellent piece in the Jacobin. How the world’s richest companies "leveraged the widespread suffering caused by the Great Recession, the longest and deepest economic crisis since the 1930s, to bleed the funds of state governments" in exchange for crappy jobs and empty promises. When asked about the VW emissions scandal, "Governor Haslam said, 'We’re married to them. We want this plant to be a success.' Hamilton County mayor Jim Coppinger, meanwhile, told reporters, 'We need for the plant to be successful. It’s important to our economy.'" *RON*]

by Chris Brooks, Jacobin, 16 September 2016
Our new issue, “Rank and File,” is out now. To celebrate its release, new subscriptions are discounted.

In 2008, the governments of the city of Chattanooga, Hamilton County, the state of Tennessee, and the United States all collaborated to provide Volkswagen (VW) with a $577 million subsidy package, the largest taxpayer ha…

Marijuana legalization is facing a major challenge from the alcohol industry

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[The already-legal pushers don't like competition and circle the wagons. See also: Confirming Big Pharma Fears, Study Suggests Medical Marijuana Laws Decrease Opioid Use.  *RON*]
Ben Gilbert, Business Insider, 16 September 2016

Big players in the alcohol business are pushing back on a major marijuana legalization initiative.

Massachusetts is one of five states with a ballot initiative this year that could legalize recreational use of marijuana, and the alcohol industry is leading the charge to stop the initiative. In Massachusetts, a political action committee that represents 16 of the state's beer distributors isamong the top three donors to an anti-legalization group, The Intercept's Lee Fang discovered.

Boston Beer Company (the folks behind Sam Adams) are also worried about the potential for Massachusetts cannabis legalization, Fang pointed out. "Certain states are considering or have passed laws and regulations that allow t…

The House Science Committee's Anti-Science Rampage

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["By attempting to intimidate government scientists and environmental organizations that are simply trying to communicate their results, Smith and his committee are demonstrating that the healthy functioning of our democracy is less important to them than the advancement of their ideological agenda." *RON*]

By Lawrence M. Krauss, New Yorker, 14 September 2016

If you know the answers you want in advance, you can always find them by cherry-picking your data. That’s what climate-change deniers have tried to do in recent years in arguing that there’s been a “pause” in the global-warming trend over the past two decades—suggesting, thereby, that global warming is just a temporary anomaly unrelated to human industrial activity. Last year, scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration put the “climate change hiatus” myth to bed. They published a paper in Science that showed, using new and more definitive data, that the clai…