AuthorTopic: Things That Make Me Say, "Dafuq?"  (Read 35703 times)

Online Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 18549
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
Body of Man Who Went Missing in 1997 Discovered in Pond on Google Maps
« Reply #330 on: September 14, 2019, 05:21:54 PM »
Body of Man Who Went Missing in 1997 Discovered in Pond on Google Maps

Illustration for article titled Body of Man Who Went Missing in 1997 Discovered in Pond on Google Maps

The body of William Moldt, a 40-year-old Florida man who was reported missing in November of 1997, has been found. And it’s all thanks to Google Maps, strangely enough.

Barry Fay, a 50-year-old resident of Wellington, Florida, called the police after a neighbor told him there was a car in the pond behind his house that could be seen from Google Maps. Fay didn’t believe his neighbor at first, but he enlisted a friend with a hobby drone to hover over the pond and see for himself. Sure enough, there was a car in there, and police officers came to pull out the white 1994 Saturn SL with Moldt’s skeleton inside.

“I called the former owner of my house and asked if she knew about this,” Fay told the Sun Sentinel. “She was shocked.”

The skeleton was found at the 3700 block of Moon Bay Circle in Wellington, Florida, part of a housing development called the Grand Isles. The gated community had been under construction at the time of Moldt’s disappearance in 1997, according to the Charley Project, a cold case investigation community.

“Upon arrival deputies confirmed there was a vehicle in the pond,” the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement posted to Facebook. “The vehicle’s exterior was heavily calcified and was obviously in the water for a significant amount of time. Upon removing the vehicle skeleton remains were found inside.”

“On September 10, 2019, the remains were positively identified as William Moldt, who was reported missing on November 8, 1997.”

As the Charley Project notes, the car has been visible on Google Earth since at least 2007 thanks to the company’s satellite mapping software.

Illustration for article titled Body of Man Who Went Missing in 1997 Discovered in Pond on Google Maps

Investigators still have no idea what happened to Moldt, who went missing after visiting a nightclub 22 years ago. Moldt had called his girlfriend around 9:30pm to tell her that he was on his way home but was never heard from again. Some speculate that he may have had too much to drink, but he wasn’t known as a heavy drinker.

Apparently a lot of cars are sitting in America’s lakes, ponds, and canals, especially in Florida. Authorities discovered six cars in the Boca Rio canal one day in 2017 after they lowered the water level in preparation for a hurricane. One of the vehicles, a Toyota RAV4, contained the remains of a 47-year-old woman named Loraine Pino who had disappeared the year before.

"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it."

Online Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 18549
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
The "Brass Check"
« Reply #331 on: September 20, 2019, 08:05:47 AM »
A description of a book hat I'll bet few of us have ever read, let alone heard of. For those of us who virulently distrust corporate media, it's good to know that one of the pillars of the muckraking era exposed out all a century ago and despite being on elf the literary lions of the era, had his book constructively buried and erased from history.

The Brass Check

The Brass Check is a muckraking exposé of American journalism by Upton Sinclair published in 1919. It focuses mainly on newspapers and the Associated Press wire service, along with a few magazines. Other critiques of the press had appeared, but Sinclair reached a wider audience with his personal fame and lively, provocative writing style.[1] Among those critiqued was William Randolph Hearst, who made routine use of yellow journalism in his widespread newspaper and magazine business.

Sinclair called The Brass Check "the most important and most dangerous book I have ever written."[2] The University of Illinois Press released a new edition of the book in 2003, which contains a preface by Robert W. McChesney and Ben Scott. The text is also freely available on the Internet, as Sinclair opted not to copyright the text in an effort to maximize its readership.

For much of Sinclair's career he was known as a "two book author": for writing The Jungle and The Brass Check.[3] Sinclair organized ten printings of The Brass Check in its first decade and sold over 150,000 copies.

The book is one of the "Dead Hand" series: six books Sinclair wrote on American institutions. The series also includes The Profits of Religion, The Goose-step (higher education), The Goslings (elementary and high school education), Mammonart (great literature, art and music) and Money Writes! (literature). The term "Dead Hand" criticizes Adam Smith’s concept that allowing an "invisible hand" of capitalist greed to shape economic relations provides the best result for society as a whole.

A brass check was the token purchased by a customer in a brothel and given to the woman of his choice. Sinclair implies that, in a similar fashion, the owners of the mass media purchase journalists' services in supporting the owners' political and financial interests.

The Brass Check has three sections: documented cases of newspapers' refusal to publicize Socialist causes and Sinclair's investigations of business corruption, cases where he was not personally involved, and proposed remedies. Sinclair incorporates other people's reactions to his cause into his nonfiction works, fostering objectivity.

Sinclair criticizes newspapers as ultra-conservative and supporting the political and economic powers that be, or as sensational tabloids practicing yellow journalism, such as newspapers run by William Randolph Hearst. In both cases, their purpose is to promote the business interests of the paper's owners, the owner's bankers, and/or the paper's advertisers. This is accomplished in several ways; among them: The publishers tell the editors what can and cannot be printed. Journalists routinely invent stories. To stimulate circulation, newspapers sensationalize trivial stories and destroy lives and reputations. Errors and slanders are never retracted, or the retraction is buried in the paper months later.

The editors and journalists of the Associated Press (AP) wire service fail to serve the public interest in the same way as employees of the individual papers. Controlled by 41 large newspaper corporations, the AP acts in their interests.[4]

Sinclair quotes a letter from the editor of the weekly San Francisco Star, James H. Barry:

Among the recent events whose media coverage he discusses are the Paint Creek-Cabin Creek strike of 1912 in West Virginia, the Ludlow massacre in Colorado in 1914, Industrial Workers of the World meetings, and the Red Scarewhipped up by the newspapers. As a tireless investigative reporter, Sinclair offered the results of his investigations to the newspapers for publication, but was almost entirely ignored.

The propaganda tactics practiced by U.S. government and corporations during World War I were continued after the war against political dissenters. Sinclair writes, "[T]oday all the energies which were directed against the Kaiser have been turned against the radicals."[5]

Sinclair recognized that a grass-roots response (mass meetings, demonstrations, circulating pamphlets, etc.) was not adequate when the mass media spread misinformation or ignored the truth. His main proposed remedies were:

  • a law that any newspaper which prints a false statement shall be required to give equal prominence to a correction, on penalty of a substantial fine.
  • the AP's monopoly, which he saw as a "public utility", should be challenged by other wire services.
  • a law forbidding any newspaper to fake telegraph or cable dispatches.
  • reporters must unionize so they have the power to fix their wage-scale and their ethical code.
  • an endowed weekly chronicle of news, without advertisements or editorials, cheaply printed and widely available.

The first code of ethics for journalists was created in 1923.[6]

By 1923, the FBI had a report on The Brass Check in its files, and a memorandum in the file noted that the directing manager of the Associated Press "has in his possession a confidential report on the book, The Brass Check."[7]

Sinclair challenged those who charged him with inaccuracy to review his published facts and to sue him for libel if they found he had been wrong. None did. But because Sinclair was denied access to the mainstream media to refute those charges, they assumed the aura of truth and gave the book a reputation for inaccuracy that caused it to be almost forgotten by midcentury.[3]

Press watchdogs at the time of publication and recently find The Brass Check's analysis of the media accurate and valuable. It is "muckraking at its best"[8] and "astonishingly prescient in its critique of the coziness of big media and other corporate interests."[9]

However, on its publication "[m]ost newspapers refused to review the book, and those very few that did were almost always unsympathetic. Many newspapers, like the New York Times, even refused to run paid advertisements for the book."[3] And "those historians who bother to mention The Brass Check dismiss it as ephemeral, explaining that the problems it depicts have been solved."[3]

"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it."

Online Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 18549
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
There used to be 4 billion American chestnut trees, but they all disappeared
« Reply #332 on: October 02, 2019, 04:38:58 AM »
The American chestnut grew quicker and larger than other varieties. (Getty Images)

American chestnut trees once blanketed the east coast, with an estimated 4 billion trees spreading in dense canopies from Maine to Mississippi and Florida. These huge and ancient trees, up to 100 feet tall and 9 feet around, were awe-inspiring, the redwoods of the east coast, but with an extra perk — the nuts were edible. Chestnuts were roasted, ground into flour for cakes and bread, and stewed into puddings. The leaves of the trees were boiled down into medicinal treatments by Native Americans. The trees make appearances throughout American literature, like in Thoreau’s journal, where he considered his guilt over pelting them with rocks to shake the nuts loose while he lived in Walden woods, musing that the “old trees are our parents, and our parents’ parents, perchance.” Chestnut trees offered shade in town squares, were the wood of choice for pioneers’ log cabins, and were a mainstay of American woodcraft. In short, chestnuts were part of everyday American life. Until they weren’t.

Finding a mature American chestnut in the wild is so rare today that discoveries are reported in the national press. The trees are “technically extinct,” according to The American Chestnut Foundation. The blight that killed them off still lives in the wild and they rarely grow big enough to flower and seed, typically remaining saplings until they die. Essentially, the giant trees were reduced to shrubs by the 1950s.

The problem was a fungus imported from Asia that spread easily, attaching to animal fur and bird feathers. Spores were released in rainstorms and tracked to other trees through footsteps. The fungus infected trees through injuries to the bark as small as those created by insects. “It looks like a target filled full of small shot holes,” one Pennsylvania paper reported as the blight spread.

The first chestnut tree may have been infected as early as the 1890s, with blight first reported in 1904 when it was spotted on a tree in New York’s Botanical Garden. Panic over the blight was widespread by the 1910s. State commissions were formed. Farmers were implored to chop down trees with any signs of blight. “Woodman, burn that tree; spare not a single bough,” begged The Citizen, a paper from Honesdale, Pennsylvania, the heart of the chestnut tree’s range. Even the Boy Scouts pitched in to try and save the chestnuts, scouring forests for blighted trees as part of a multi-state effort to create an infection-free zone.

The combined powers of the public, scientists, and the governments weren’t enough to save the chestnuts. The loss was stunning, both financially and emotionally. “Efforts to stop the spread of this bark disease have been given up,” The Bismarck Daily Tribune resignedly reported in 1920. The paper estimated that the value of the trees was $400,000,000 as recently as a decade before.

A dying chestnut tree photographed in 1916 in North Spencer, New York. (Cornell University)

The end of the trees marked the end of a “conspicuous and beautiful feature of the landscape in this country,” and the Daily Tribunepredicted with incredulity that “schoolboys of the future who read the poem of the village blacksmith will ask, What is a chestnut tree?” (the allusion was to the first line of a Longfellow poem). The traumatic loss of the chestnut tree finally spurred federal laws to protect native plants from diseases they can’t resist.

Though the trees are long gone from the forest canopies of the east coast, efforts to find a cure for the blight continue. In fact, they haven’t stopped since the trees started dying. Some scientists are crossing American chestnuts with Chinese chestnut trees, which are resistant to the blight, and then backcrossing the hybrids with pure American trees. Others are infecting trees with other viruses to kill the blight. Still more are taking a cutting edge approach and sequencing the DNA of the American chestnut and the fungus that causes blight, in part to guarantee that any trees reintroduced into the wild are truly blight resistant.

The century-long drive to save the chestnut tree isn’t just about nostalgia or a funny manifestation of American exceptionalism. The American chestnut is distinct from other varieties for both its size and how quickly it grows, which is why it was historically such a valued source of wood. And given the starring role the nuts played in American cuisine until the trees died, they tasted pretty good too.

"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it."

Online Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 18549
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
Former NASA scientist says they found life on Mars in the 1970s
« Reply #333 on: October 16, 2019, 08:16:01 AM »
Former NASA scientist says they found life on Mars in the 1970s

(CNN)We may have already discovered the essence of life on Mars 40 years ago, according to a former NASA scientist.

Gilbert V. Levin, who was principal investigator on a NASA experiment that sent Viking landers to Mars in 1976, published an article in the Scientific American journal last Thursday, arguing the experiment's positive results were proof of life on the red planet.

The experiment, called Labeled Release (LR), was designed to test Martian soil for organic matter. "It seemed we had answered that ultimate question," Levin wrote in the article.

In the experiment, the Viking probes placed nutrients in Mars soil samples -- if life were present, it would consume the food and leave gaseous traces of its metabolism, which radioactive monitors would then detect.

To make sure it was a biological reaction, the test was repeated after cooking the soil, which would prove lethal to known life. If there was a measurable reaction in the first and not the second sample, that would suggest biological forces at work -- and that's exactly what happened, according to Levin.

However, other experiments failed to find any organic material and NASA couldn't duplicate the results in their laboratory -- so they dismissed the positive result as false positives, some unknown chemical reaction rather than proof of extraterrestrial life.

"NASA concluded that the LR had found a substance mimicking life, but not life," said Levin in his article. "Inexplicably, over the 43 years since Viking, none of NASA's subsequent Mars landers has carried a life detection instrument to follow up on these exciting results."

But now, decades later, there are more and more promising signs. NASA's Curiosity rover found organic matter on Mars in 2018, and just last week it found sediments that suggest there were once ancient salty lakes on the surface of Mars.

"What is the evidence against the possibility of life on Mars?" Levin wrote. "The astonishing fact is that there is none."

Levin, a maverick researcher who has often run afoul of the NASA bureaucracy, has insisted for decades that "it is more likely than not that we detected life." Now, he and LR co-experimenter Patricia Ann Straat are calling for further investigation.

"NASA has already announced that its 2020 Mars lander will not contain a life-detection test," Levin wrote in the Scientific American article. "In keeping with well-established scientific protocol, I believe an effort should be made to put life detection experiments on the next Mars mission possible."

He proposed that the LR experiment be repeated on Mars, with certain amendments, and then have its data studied by a panel of experts.

"Such an objective jury might conclude, as I did, that the Viking LR did find life," he wrote.

NASA's Mars 2020 rover is set to launch next summer and land in February 2021. It carries an instrument that will help it search for past signs of life on Mars -- the Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals instrument, dubbed SHERLOC.

The rover will look for past habitable environments, find biosignatures in rock and will test those samples back on Earth.

But if scientists fail to find evidence of life, that won't end the hope for human exploration. Mars 2020 will also test oxygen production on the planet and monitor Martian weather to evaluate how potential human colonies could fare on Mars.

Scottie Andrew and Richard Stenger contributed reporting.

"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it."

Online Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 18549
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
When Medical Debt Collectors Decide Who Gets Arrested
« Reply #334 on: October 18, 2019, 04:37:56 AM »
When Medical Debt Collectors Decide Who Gets Arrested
Welcome to Coffeyville, Kansas, where the judge has no law degree, debt collectors get a cut of the bail, and Americans are watching their lives — and liberty — disappear in the pursuit of medical debt collection.



By Lizzie Presser
Photography by Edmund D. Fountain
October 16, 2019
ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up for ProPublica’s Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox as soon as they are published.
ON THE LAST TUESDAY of July, Tres Biggs stepped into the courthouse in Coffeyville, Kansas, for medical debt collection day, a monthly ritual in this quiet city of 9,000, just over the Oklahoma border. He was one of 90 people who had been summoned, sued by the local hospital, or doctors, or an ambulance service over unpaid bills. Some wore eye patches and bandages; others limped to their seats by the wood-paneled walls. Biggs, who is 41, had to take a day off from work to be there. He knew from experience that if he didn’t show up, he could be put in jail.

Before the morning’s hearing, he listened as defendants traded stories. One woman recalled how, at four months pregnant, she had reported a money order scam to her local sheriff’s office only to discover that she had a warrant; she was arrested on the spot. A radiologist had sued her over a $230 bill, and she’d missed one hearing too many. Another woman said she watched, a decade ago, as a deputy came to the door for her diabetic aunt and took her to jail in her final years of life. Now here she was, dealing with her own debt, trying to head off the same fate.

Biggs, who is tall and broad-shouldered, with sun-scorched skin and bright hazel eyes, looked up as defendants talked, but he was embarrassed to say much. His court dates had begun after his son developed leukemia, and they’d picked up when his wife started having seizures. He, too, had been arrested because of medical debt. It had happened more than once.

Judge David Casement entered the courtroom, a black robe swaying over his cowboy boots and silversmithed belt buckle. He is a cattle rancher who was appointed a magistrate judge, though he’d never taken a course in law. Judges don’t need a law degree in Kansas, or many other states, to preside over cases like these.
Casement asked the defendants to take an oath and confirmed that the newcomers confessed to their debt. A key purpose of the hearing, though, was for patients to face debt collectors. “They want to talk to you about trying to set up a payment plan, and after you talk with them, you are free to go,” he told the debtors. Then, he left the room.

The first collector of the day was also the most notorious: Michael Hassenplug, a private attorney representing doctors and ambulance services. Every three months, Hassenplug called the same nonpaying defendants to court to list what they earned and what they owned — to testify, quite often, to their poverty. It gave him a sense of his options: to set up a payment plan, to garnish wages or bank accounts, to put a lien on a property. It was called a “debtor’s exam.”

If a debtor missed an exam, the judge typically issued a citation of contempt, a charge for disobeying an order of the court, which in this case was to appear. If the debtor missed a hearing on contempt, Hassenplug would ask the judge for a bench warrant. As long as the defendant had been properly served, the judge’s answer was always yes. In practice, this system has made Hassenplug and other collectors the real arbiters of who gets arrested and who is shown mercy. If debtors can post bail, the judge almost always applies the money to the debt. Hassenplug, like any collector working on commission, gets a cut of the cash he brings in.


Crystal Dyke with her husband and two kids outside their home in Leroy, Kansas. She was arrested when she was pregnant because she missed hearings involving a $230 radiologist bill.

Across the country, thousands of people are jailed each year for failing to appear in court for unpaid bills, in arrangements set up much like this one. The practice spread in the wake of the recession as collectors found judges willing to use their broad powers of contempt to wield the threat of arrest. Judges have issued warrants for people who owe money to landlords and payday lenders, who never paid off furniture, or day care fees, or federal student loans. Some debtors who have been arrested owed as little as $28.
More than half of the debt in collections stems from medical care, which, unlike most other debt, is often taken on without a choice or an understanding of the costs. Since the Affordable Care Act of 2010, prices for medical services have ballooned; insurers have nearly tripled deductibles — the amount a person pays before their coverage kicks in — and raised premiums and copays, as well. As a result, tens of millions of people without adequate coverage are expected to pay larger portions of their rising bills.

The sickest patients are often the most indebted, and they’re not exempt from arrest. In Indiana, a cancer patient was hauled away from home in her pajamas in front of her three children; too weak to climb the stairs to the women’s area of the jail, she spent the night in a men’s mental health unit where an inmate smeared feces on the wall. In Utah, a man who had ignored orders to appear over an unpaid ambulance bill told friends he would rather die than go to jail; the day he was arrested, he snuck poison into the cell and ended his life.

In jurisdictions with lax laws and willing judges, jail is the logical endpoint of a system that has automated the steps from high bills to debt to court, and that has given collectors power that is often unchecked. I spent several weeks this summer in Coffeyville, reviewing court files, talking to dozens of patients and interviewing those who had sued them. Though the district does not track how many of these cases end in arrest, I found more than 30 warrants issued against medical debt defendants. At least 11 people were jailed in the past year alone.

With hardly any oversight, even by the presiding judge, collection attorneys have turned this courtroom into a government-sanctioned shakedown of the uninsured and underinsured, where the leverage is the debtors’ liberty.

Read the rest here:
https://features.propublica.org/medical-debt/when-medical-debt-collectors-decide-who-gets-arrested-coffeyville-kansas/
"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it."

Online Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 18549
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
What Happens if We Nuke a City? An Explainer
« Reply #335 on: October 21, 2019, 02:20:57 AM »
What Happens if We Nuke a City? An Explainer.


<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/5iPH-br_eJQ" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/5iPH-br_eJQ</a>
"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it."

Online Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 18549
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
What the heck did Tulsi Gabbard just do?
« Reply #336 on: October 25, 2019, 03:50:16 AM »
What the heck did Tulsi Gabbard just do?



Bill Palmer

We’ve given up trying to understand why Democratic Congresswoman and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard says and does any of what she says and does. She routinely spews the talking points of Putin and Assad, but insists she’s not aligned with them. She spews bizarre conspiracy theories about the Democratic Party, and likes to appear on the most deranged of Fox News shows. She recently began attacking the impeachment process against Donald Trump. Now she’s made her most bizarre move yet.

Tulsi Gabbard just announced that she’s quitting Congress. Well, she’s not resigning immediately. But at around midnight on Thursday, she announced on Twitter that she’s not seeking reelection for her House seat in 2020, because she’s now putting all of her focus into her presidential run. Here’s the thing: her presidential run is already effectively over. She’s polling at around two percent. She has literally zero percent chance of being the Democratic nominee. So what’s she up to?

One thing to keep in mind is that Gabbard has burned so many bridges within the Democratic Party, and she’s now so distrusted and despised by so many Democratic voters, she was going to face a Democratic primary challenger in the House – and she was going to have a hard time surviving it. But since her presidential campaign is a complete failure, why not just drop out now, and put her focus into retaining her House seat?

Clearly, Tulsi Gabbard doesn’t think that her presidential campaign is over, even though she’s all but washed out of the Democratic primary race. Is she about to prove Hillary Clinton right, by launching a third party presidential bid aimed at sabotaging the Democratic nominee? Is she making so many Fox News appearances because she’s planning to join the network as a token Democratic commentator? We don’t know. But this all makes zero sense. Something doesn’t add up here. Then again, with Gabbard, nothing ever adds up, period.
"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it."

Online Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 18549
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
Re: Things That Make Me Say, "Dafuq?"
« Reply #337 on: October 28, 2019, 06:53:15 PM »
This indeed makes me say, "Dafuq?!?"

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/NTgAqH9MEeg" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/NTgAqH9MEeg</a>

A stunning view: Sebastian Steudtner, a German pro surfer, rode a wave over 115 feet tall at Nazare, Portugal

The only surfing I do involves a cannel changer, but this is flat-out remarkable.
"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it."

Online Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 18549
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
The blood of poor Americans is now a leading export, bigger than corn or soy
« Reply #338 on: December 10, 2019, 06:24:45 AM »
Good to know the FSoA can still make something that other people in the world want to buy. Besides arms, that is.

The blood of poor Americans is now a leading export, bigger than corn or soy

America is one of the only developed countries in the world that pays people to donate blood, much of it sold abroad (70% of the world's plasma is of US origin), and as commercial blood donations have soared, blood now accounts for 2% of the country's exports -- more than corn or soya.

There's more growth ahead for blood products, expected to "grow radiantly" according to an analyst who was cheering 13% growth between 2016-17.

One study found that the typical blood-seller derives a third of their income from selling blood. Princeton's Kathryn Edin called the commercial blood industry "the lifeblood of the $2 a day poor."

Mintpress's interviews with blood-sellers reveal "a mix of disabled, working poor, homeless, single parents, and college students," who describe a system of arbitrary and predatory payments, which fluxuate wildly from day to day.

Chronic bloodletting produces lethargy and cognitive impairment.

Respondents all agreed that they were indeed being exploited, but in more ways than one. Desperate Americans are allowed to donate twice per week (104 times per year). But losing that much plasma could have serious health consequences, most of which have not been studied Professor Schaefer warns, stressing that more research is necessary. Around 70 percent of donors experience health complications. Donors have a lower protein count in their blood, putting them at greater risk of infections and liver and kidney disorders. Many regulars suffer from near-permanent fatigue and are borderline anemic. All this for an average of $30 per visit. Rachel described the terrible Catch-22 many of the working poor find themselves in:

I got turned away twice – once for being too dehydrated and once for being anemic. Being poor created a shitty paradox where I couldn’t eat, and because I couldn’t eat my iron levels weren’t high enough to allow me to donate. That was a week of a pay cut, money I desperately needed for rent and bills and meds.”

Harvesting the Blood of America's Poor: The Latest Stage of Capitalism [Alan Macleod/Mint Press News]

(via JWZ)

(Image: Nyki m, CC BY)

"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it."

Online Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 18549
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
The Further Adventures of 'Florida Man'
« Reply #339 on: December 13, 2019, 04:46:56 AM »
Florida man died from meth overdose before he was eaten by alligator
A "methamphetamine intoxication" killed Michael Ford before the reptile tore his body apart.



Authorities are conducting an investigation into the death of a man whose body was found in a canal in Fort Meade, Fla.


Dec. 12, 2019, 4:54 PM EST
A Florida man, found eaten by an alligator this summer, died from a meth overdose before his body was ripped apart by the reptile, according to a medical examiner's findings.

Michael Ford, 45, was found face down in a canal in Fort Meade on June 27 and Polk County Sheriff's investigators theorized he might have drowned before an alligator began eating the man's remains.

A hand and a foot belonging to Ford was found in the beast's stomach.

"It is my opinion that Michael Glenn Ford II died as a result of a methamphetamine intoxication," District Medical Examiner Stephen Nelson wrote in an autopsy report obtained by NBC News on Thursday. "The manner of death is accident."

The report took note of the "traumatic" amputations Ford's body had suffered at his left forearm and right foot. Nelson found that those injuries were likely postmortem.

"The decedent's injuries and amputations lack sufficient associated blood to suggest they were made while alive," according to Nelson's report.

Ford was nude when he was discovered, but his clothes were not found at his nearby car or at the scene, officials said.

Friends and family of Ford told investigators they hadn't seen him since June 23, authorities said.
"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it."

Online Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 18549
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
Chinese gangs spreading African swine fever to make big bucks on infected hogs
« Reply #340 on: December 19, 2019, 03:13:22 AM »
Chinese gangs are spreading African swine fever to make big bucks on infected hogs
A report by state media says some offenders are leaving infected feed in sties and are even using drones to spread contamination.
Pork prices have spiked as a result of the disease, and gangs can profit by getting around controls to smuggle meat across provincial boundaries.



Chinese criminals have been exploiting the country's African swine fever crisis by intentionally spreading the disease to force farmers to sell their pigs for a low price before smuggling the meat and selling it on as healthy stock, state media has reported.

Sometimes the gangs spread rumours about the virus, which is fatal to pigs, but in more extreme cases they are using drones to drop infected items into farms, according to an investigation by the magazine China Comment, which is affiliated to state news agency Xinhua.

The disease has reduced the country's pig herds by over 40% due to mass culls designed to stop it spreading further. The resulting shortages have seen pork prices more than double, providing opportunities for the criminals to exploit.

The magazine's report said that the gangs tried to spread panic among farmers to force them to sell their livestock at a discount rate.

Sometimes they spread rumours about the disease spreading in the locality and may even leave dead pigs on the side of a road to make farmers believe the infection is spreading. In some extreme cases, the gangs even placed infected feed inside local pigsties, the report said.

"One of our branches once spotted drones air dropping unknown objects into our piggery, and later inspection found [the] virus in those things," a farmer manager told the reporters.

Once they have bought the pigs, the gangs then smuggle the animals or their meat to other areas where prices are higher, despite a ban on transporting pork or livestock between provinces to control the spread of the disease.

The profit margin can be as much as 1,000 yuan (US$143) per pig, so dealers have been stockpiling funds for bulk purchases.

"However many pigs you have, we are taking them all," the story quoted a dealer as saying.

In the southwestern province of Yunnan alone, the authorities have already intercepted 10,000 live pigs, some infected with the virus, that were destined for other provinces.

The report said police believed that one gang had smuggled 4,000 pigs from the province in one day. It said that smugglers had been bribing inspectors and faking quarantine certificates to smuggle the animals across provincial borders.

In one such case in Lichuan, a city in the central province of Hubei, the disease spread through the area after a vet forged certificates for infected animals.

The smugglers are trying to profit from a spike in prices that has seen the cost of meat rise from about 20 yuan per kilogram to a high of 52.30 yuan last month.

Between now and the Lunar New Year holiday in late January, when demand is expected to peak, prices could rise to between 65 and 75 yuan per kilo, according to Nomura.

Read the original article on South China Morning Post. Copyright 2019. Follow South China Morning Post on Twitter.
"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it."

Online Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 18549
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
Enacting Newspeak Under Trump
« Reply #341 on: December 20, 2019, 04:07:15 AM »
CDC gets list of forbidden words: Fetus, transgender, diversity
Juliet Eilperin

The Trump administration is prohibiting officials at the nation's top public health agency from using a list of seven words or phrases — including "fetus" and "transgender" — in official documents being prepared for next year's budget.


Policy analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta were told of the list of forbidden words at a meeting Thursday with senior CDC officials who oversee the budget, according to an analyst who took part in the 90-minute briefing. The forbidden words are "vulnerable," "entitlement," "diversity," "transgender," "fetus," "evidence-based" and "science-based."

In some instances, the analysts were given alternative phrases. Instead of "science-based" or ­"evidence-based," the suggested phrase is "CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes," the person said. In other cases, no replacement words were immediately offered.

The Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the CDC, "will continue to use the best scientific evidence available to improve the health of all Americans," HHS spokesman Matt Lloyd told The Washington Post. "HHS also strongly encourages the use of outcome and evidence data in program evaluations and budget decisions."

The question of how to address such issues as sexual orientation, gender identity and abortion rights — all of which received significant visibility under the Obama administration — has surfaced repeatedly in federal agencies since President Trump took office. Several key departments — including HHS, as well as Justice, Education, and Housing and Urban Development — have changed some federal policies and how they collect government information about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.

In March, for example, HHS dropped questions about sexual orientation and gender identity in two surveys of elderly people.

President Trump's nominee to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, testified before the Senate Health Committee on Nov. 29. (Photo: Carolyn Kaster/Reuters)

HHS has also removed information about LGBT Americans from its website. The department's Administration for Children and Families, for example, archived a page that outlined federal services that are available for LGBT people and their families, including how they can adopt and receive help if they are the victims of sex trafficking.

At the CDC, the meeting about the banned words was led by Alison Kelly, a career civil servant who is a senior leader in the agency's Office of Financial Resources, according to the CDC analyst, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak publicly. Kelly did not say why the words are being banned, according to the analyst, and told the group that she was merely relaying the information.

Other CDC officials confirmed the existence of a list of forbidden words. It's likely that other parts of HHS are operating under the same guidelines regarding the use of these words, the analyst said.

At the CDC, several offices have responsibility for work that uses some of these words. The National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention is working on ways to prevent HIV among transgender people and reduce health disparities. The CDC's work on birth defects caused by the Zika virus includes research on the developing fetus.

The ban is related to the budget and supporting materials that are to be given to the CDC's partners and to Congress, the analyst said. The president's budget for 2019 is expected to be released in early February. The budget blueprint is generally shaped to reflect an administration's priorities.

Federal agencies are sending in their budget proposals to the Office of Management and Budget, which has authority about what is included.

Neither an OMB spokesman nor a CDC spokeswoman responded to requests for comment Friday.

The longtime CDC analyst, whose job includes writing descriptions of the CDC's work for the administration's annual spending blueprint, could not recall a previous time when words were banned from budget documents because they were considered controversial.

The reaction of people in the meeting was "incredulous," the analyst said. "It was very much, 'Are you serious? Are you kidding?' "

"In my experience, we've never had any pushback from an ideological standpoint," the analyst said.

News of the ban on certain words hasn't yet spread to the broader group of scientists at the CDC, but it's likely to provoke a backlash, the analyst said. "Our subject matter experts will not lay down quietly — this hasn't trickled down to them yet."

The CDC has a budget of about $7 billion and more than 12,000 employees working across the nation and around the globe on everything from food and water safety, to heart disease and cancer, to infectious disease outbreak prevention. Much of the CDC's work has strong bipartisan support.

Kelly told the analysts that "certain words" in the CDC's budget drafts were being sent back to the agency for correction. Three words that had been flagged in these drafts were "vulnerable," "entitlement" and "diversity." Kelly told the group the ban on the other words had been conveyed verbally.

Correction: This article originally misidentified CDC's Office of Financial Resources as the Office of Financial Services.
"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it."

Online Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 18549
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
Your Every Move Is Being Tracked. Seriously.
« Reply #342 on: December 23, 2019, 03:30:04 AM »
Just in case you had any doubt. Which you likely don't.

Your Every Move Is Being Tracked. Seriously.

You know how apps are constantly asking you if they can track your location? This may seem perfectly ordinary for, say Google Maps, which has a genuine interest in improving their mapping software by finding out how people use it. But why do magazines need to know your location? Or Spotify? Or Facebook?

They don’t, really. But gigantic databases of people’s movements are valuable commodities in the era of information supremacy, and all that location data eventually ends up in the hands of companies who can sell it to the highest bidder. The New York Times recently got hold of one such database, which holds 50 billion pings of 12 million people, and they were pretty shocked by just how easily they could use it to follow anyone they put their minds to.

But wait. Isn’t all this data anonymized? It’s not like each ping includes your name and Social Security number. Think again:

In most cases, ascertaining a home location and an office location was enough to identify a person. Consider your daily commute: Would any other smartphone travel directly between your house and your office every day?…Yet companies continue to claim that the data are anonymous. In marketing materials and at trade conferences, anonymity is a major selling point — key to allaying concerns over such invasive monitoring.

To evaluate the companies’ claims, we turned most of our attention to identifying people in positions of power. With the help of publicly available information, like home addresses, we easily identified and then tracked scores of notables. We followed military officials with security clearances as they drove home at night. We tracked law enforcement officers as they took their kids to school. We watched high-powered lawyers (and their guests) as they traveled from private jets to vacation properties. We did not name any of the people we identified without their permission.

This is the location data of a single New York City resident over the course of a few days.

New York Times

Large gatherings can produce treasure troves:

The inauguration weekend yielded a trove of personal stories and experiences: elite attendees at presidential ceremonies, religious observers at church services, supporters assembling across the National Mall — all surveilled and recorded permanently in rigorous detail….Protesters were tracked just as rigorously….We spotted a senior official at the Department of Defense walking through the Women’s March, beginning on the National Mall and moving past the Smithsonian National Museum of American History that afternoon. His wife was also on the mall that day, something we discovered after tracking him to his home in Virginia. Her phone was also beaming out location data, along with the phones of several neighbors.

The official’s data trail also led to a high school, homes of friends, a visit to Joint Base Andrews, workdays spent in the Pentagon and a ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall with President Barack Obama in 2017 (nearly a dozen more phones were tracked there, too). Inauguration Day weekend was marked by other protests — and riots. Hundreds of protesters, some in black hoods and masks, gathered north of the National Mall that Friday, eventually setting fire to a limousine near Franklin Square. The data documented those rioters, too. Filtering the data to that precise time and location led us to the doorsteps of some who were there. Police were present as well, many with faces obscured by riot gear. The data led us to the homes of at least two police officers who had been at the scene.

And of course, this is just child’s play. The reporters aren’t experts in this stuff, and they had access to just one smallish database. In real life, information can be compared across databases to effectively de-anonymize the data. They know who you are, where you’ve been, what you buy, and what countries you visit on overseas trips. If the government did something like this, we’d all be outraged. But for some reason, when private companies do it we just shrug. But it can be used for more than just getting us to buy more stuff:

In one case, we observed a change in the regular movements of a Microsoft engineer. He made a visit one Tuesday afternoon to the main Seattle campus of a Microsoft competitor, Amazon. The following month, he started a new job at Amazon. It took minutes to identify him as Ben Broili, a manager now for Amazon Prime Air, a drone delivery service. “I can’t say I’m surprised,” Mr. Broili told us in early December. “But knowing that you all can get ahold of it and comb through and place me to see where I work and live — that’s weird.” That we could so easily discern that Mr. Broili was out on a job interview raises some obvious questions, like: Could the internal location surveillance of executives and employees become standard corporate practice?

Read the whole thing for more. And then consider just how many ways this data could be sold to people with goals a lot shadier than figuring out which tables you browsed at the Apple store. In the meantime, when an app asks if it can track your location, just say no. I always do.

"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it."

Offline K-Dog

  • Global Moderator
  • Sous Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 3835
    • View Profile
    • K-Dog
Re: The "Brass Check"
« Reply #343 on: December 23, 2019, 12:51:34 PM »
A description of a book that I'll bet few of us have ever read, let alone heard of. For those of us who virulently distrust corporate media, it's good to know that one of the pillars of the muckraking era exposed it all a century ago and despite being one of the literary lions of the era, had his book constructively buried and erased from history.

The Brass Check
.
.
.


Nice, I have the download.  The more things change the more things ...
« Last Edit: December 23, 2019, 12:55:55 PM by K-Dog »
Under ideal conditions of temperature and pressure the organism will grow without limit.

Online Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 18549
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
Re: The "Brass Check"
« Reply #344 on: December 24, 2019, 04:24:39 AM »
A description of a book that I'll bet few of us have ever read, let alone heard of. For those of us who virulently distrust corporate media, it's good to know that one of the pillars of the muckraking era exposed it all a century ago and despite being one of the literary lions of the era, had his book constructively buried and erased from history.

The Brass Check
.
.
.


Nice, I have the download.  The more things change the more things ...

No kidding.

Looks like you've been plundering the archives. There has been more good stuff posted here by all comers over the years, but it is constructively buried, unless one wants to wander as a child in an enchanted forest.
"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it."

 

Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
3 Replies
2402 Views
Last post May 14, 2013, 05:59:34 PM
by Snowleopard
3 Replies
2287 Views
Last post November 12, 2015, 01:49:04 PM
by K-Dog
0 Replies
1005 Views
Last post July 14, 2017, 06:48:21 PM
by Palloy2