Tagged: death

Who can sort out your online world after you shuffle off this mortal coil?

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Facebook…has finally decided how to handle the photos and friend requests of its deceased users. In Facebook’s settings, people can now appoint a friend or family member to be in charge of their legacy. The person gets to make one last public post, download all their loved one’s Facebook photos, and respond to friend requests.

The decision was applauded by estate planners—especially because it gets around the issue of needing a password to get into people’s accounts. Yet it doesn’t solve all the problems around online information after death.

For example, what happens if a user dies, and family members want to see private messages to get clues about whether it was a suicide? Using their password to get into the account, which is banned by Facebook’s terms of service, would violate federal privacy laws, says James Lamm, a principal at a Minnesota firm in charge of estate planning. Appointing a legacy account handler on Facebook also isn’t legally binding and doesn’t transfer any of the intellectual property on videos or poetry the person may have posted, he said.

For attorneys such as Lamm…the infrastructure of the digital world has created countless barriers for clients seeking to access bank accounts, find answers surrounding a death, or simply collect all the memories they can about the person they lost. Passwords, terms of service, encryption, and cloud storage all complicate the search for information required after a death.

Inconsistency – therefore uncertaincy – remains through the breadth of online providers. The article goes on to note a few and makes suggestions. My own unqualified advice is to sort out reponsibility, administrative rights, by assigning someone the rights to your intellectual property just as you would with real property.

It’s a new world; so, a new set of questions has to be answered. As usual in our society, the questions become pointed when dealing with something of value.

Smoking is bigger cause of mortality than previously accepted

Deaths due to smoking increased by 17% with the inclusion of multiple diseases that do not have established relationships with cigarette smoking, data from five large cohort studies showed.

The analysis of almost 1 million adults showed that smoking increased the risk of dying of one of the diseases by 30% (breast cancer) to 500% (intestinal ischemia) as compared with nonsmokers. Researchers found that 17% of excess deaths attributable to smoking resulted from the additional smoking-associated diseases…

The newly associated diseases included cancers, infections, pulmonary diseases, and cardiovascular diseases…”These associations should be investigated further and, when appropriate, taken into account when the mortality burden of smoking is investigated,” Brian Carter’s group concluded.

What’s unique about this study is the data,” the American Lung Association’s Norman Edelman told MedPage Today. “They have large populations and very large numbers, which provide the statistical power to identify small, but statistically significant effects that couldn’t be seen in smaller studies. Most of these [diseases] have been suspected, and now we know that there are many other things related to smoking other than the dozen or so that have already been proven.”

“When you run the numbers and add up all the deaths attributable to smoking, you come up with an astonishing increase,” he added.

RTFA for methodology, analysis and a caution or two.

Boy, am I glad I quit smoking 57 years ago. :)

Do you care about the level of violence in your kid’s cartoons?

Principal cartoon characters are more than twice as likely to be killed off as their counterparts in films for adults released in the same year, reveals research from the University of Ottawa and University College London, published in the Christmas issue of The British Medical Journal.

The findings prompt the authors to describe children’s cartoons as “rife with death and destruction,” with content akin to the “rampant horrors” of popular films for adults given restrictive age ratings.

“Rather than being innocuous and gentler alternatives to typical horror or drama films, children’s animated films are, in fact, hotbeds or murder and mayhem” say the study leaders Dr Ian Colman and Dr James Kirkbride…

On-screen death and violence can be particularly traumatic for young children, and the impact can be intense and long lasting. Because of this many parents will not let their children see the “endemic gore and carnage” typical of films aimed at adult audiences, say the Canadian and UK researchers.

In a bid to assess the amount of violence young children might be exposed to, they analysed the length of time it takes for key characters to die in the 45 top-grossing children’s cartoons, released between 1937 (Snow White) and 2013 (Frozen), and rated either as suitable for a general audience (G) or with parental guidance suggested (PG).

They also looked at whether the first on-screen death was a murder or involved a main character’s parent.

The study found that two thirds of the cartoons depicted the death of an important character compared with half of the adult films.

After taking account of total run-time and years since release, children’s main cartoon characters were 2.5 times as likely to die as their counterparts in films for adults, and almost three times as likely to be murdered.

Yes, I know the automatic excuse of most “moral” censorship is that “we have to protect the children”. I don’t think these researchers are engaged so much in protecting children as trying to understand how we educate children.

I think it probably is useful to teach kids that a violent death isn’t necessarily the solution of choice for life’s problems. Even if one of those problem is Rumpelstiltskin.

Death from malaria has been diminished by half

Global efforts have halved the number of people dying from malaria – a tremendous achievement, the World Health Organization says…It says between 2001 and 2013, 4.3 million deaths were averted, 3.9 million of which were children under the age of five in sub-Saharan Africa.

Each year, more people are being reached with life-saving malaria interventions, the WHO says.

In 2004, 3% of those at risk had access to mosquito nets, but now 50% do.

There has been a scaling up of diagnostic testing, and more people now are able to receive medicines to treat the parasitic infection, which is spread by the bites of infected mosquitoes.

An increasing number of countries are moving towards malaria elimination.

In 2013, two countries – Azerbaijan and Sri Lanka – reported zero indigenous cases for the first time, and 11 others (Argentina, Armenia, Egypt, Georgia, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Oman, Paraguay, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) succeeded in maintaining zero cases.

In Africa, where 90% of all malaria deaths occur, infections have decreased significantly.

Here, the number of people infected has fallen by a quarter – from 173 million in 2000 to 128 million in 2013. This is despite a 43% increase in the African population living in malaria transmission areas.

WHO director general Dr Margaret Chan said: “These tremendous achievements are the result of improved tools, increased political commitment, the burgeoning of regional initiatives, and a major increase in international and domestic financing.”

But she added: “We must not be complacent. Most malaria-endemic countries are still far from achieving universal coverage with life-saving malaria interventions.”

Based on current trends, 64 countries are on track to meet the Millennium Development Goal target of reversing the incidence of malaria by the end of this year.

One portion of my personal efforts to get Americans to think beyond their family, their community, is the larger community that is our world. Just as we are affected by the loss of young people who may have grown up in the poverty and illness afflicting life that we see around us – there is an even larger community outside the comparative wealth of this nation that fights the same negatives to stay alive – times 10 or 100.

As a species we all lose every time we suffer a young death from disease or war. Someone who might have grown up to discover a way to a better, longer life for us all – never had a chance to achieve any contribution to humanity. We’re all moved to a new place of potential achievement by the simple opportunity of life extended to those who would have missed that chance a decade ago, a century ago.

We have to realize the human family really is a global family.

There’s only one source for the plastic in our oceans — us!

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There are at least 268,000 tonnes of plastic floating around in the oceans, according to new research by a global team of scientists.

The world generates 288m tonnes of plastic worldwide each year, just a little more than the annual vegetable crop, yet using current methods only 0.1% of it is found at sea. The new research illustrates as much as anything, how little we know about the fate of plastic waste in the ocean once we have thrown it “away”.

Most obviously, this discarded plastic exists as the unsightly debris we see washed ashore on our beaches.

These large chunks of plastic are bad news for sea creatures which aren’t used to them. Turtles, for instance, consume plastic bags, mistaking them for jellyfish. In Hawaii’s outer islands the Laysan albatross feeds material skimmed from the sea surface to its chicks. Although adults can regurgitate ingested plastic, their chicks cannot. Young albatrosses are often found dead with stomachs full of bottle tops, lighters and other plastic debris, having starved to death.

But these big, visible impacts may just be the tip of the iceberg. Smaller plastic chunks less than 2.5mm across – broken down bits of larger debris – are ubiquitous in zooplankton samples from the eastern Pacific. In some regions of the central Pacific there is now six times as much plankton-sized plastic are there is plankton. Plankton-eating birds, fish and whales have a tough time telling the two apart, often mistaking this plastic – especially tan coloured particles – for krill.

However, even this doesn’t quite tell the whole story. For technical reasons Marcus Eriksen and his team weren’t able to consider the very smallest particles – but these may be the most harmful of all.

We’re talking here about tiny lumps of 0.5mm across or considerably less, usually invisible to the naked eye, which often originate in cosmetics or drugs containing nanoparticles or microbeads. Such nanoparticles matter as they are similar size to the smallest forms of plankton (pico and nano plankton) which are the most abundant plankton group and biggest contributors in terms of biomass and contribution to primary production…

Plastic pollution of the marine environment is the Cinderella of global issues, garnering less attention than its ugly sisters climate change, acidification, fisheries, invasive species or food waste but it has links to them all and merits greater attention by the scientific community.

I’ve mentioned many times how – growing up in a southern New England factory town – my family relied on subsistence fishing to get by. That meant we ate fish at least 5 days a week, whatever was running at the time. My poor mom was an inventive workingclass cook; but, there’s a limit to how many ways you can make bluefish appetizing.

If we continue to destroy the greatest natural source of food for our species – and many others – we’re in deep trouble. So deep we may not recover to live long enough to witness all the other disasters those who profit the most from our industrial revolution continue to visit upon the planet.

RTFA. Read the research. Get on board.

BP ruled “grossly negligent” in Gulf oil spill

BP Plc was “grossly negligent” for its role in the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico four years ago, a U.S. district judge said on Thursday in a ruling that could add billions of dollars in fines to the more than $42 billion in charges taken so far for the worst offshore disaster in U.S. history…

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans held a trial without a jury last year to determine who was responsible for the April 20, 2010 environmental disaster. Barbier ruled that BP was mostly at fault and that two other companies in the case, Transocean Ltd and Halliburton, were not as much to blame.

“The Court concludes that the discharge of oil ‘was the result of gross negligence or willful misconduct’ by BP, the ruling said.

BP said it would appeal the ruling…blah, blah, blah…

BP has already been forced to shrink by selling assets to pay for the cleanup. Those sales erased about a fifth of its earning power…

Barbier has yet to assign damages from the spill under the federal Clean Water Act. A gross negligence verdict carries a potential fine of $4,300 per barrel fine.

BP says some 3.26 million barrels leaked from the well and the U.S government says 4.9 million barrels spilled. The statutory limit on a simple “negligence” is $1,100 per barrel…

Even after the Clean Water Act fines are set, BP may face other bills from a lengthy Natural Resources Damage Assessment, which could require BP to carry out or fund environmental restoration work in the Gulf, and other claims.

They deserve to pay every penny of fine, every dollar of public compensation, every billion of responsibility owed the environment of the Gulf of Mexico.

Director charged over crew death while producing Greg Allman biopic


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The director of a biopic about singer Gregg Allman, and two of the film’s producers, are facing involuntary manslaughter charges.

It follows a fatal train crash on the film’s set in south east Georgia in February, which led to the death of camera assistant Sarah Jones.

A grand jury charged Randall Miller, producer Jody Savin and executive producer Jay Sedrish…

Jones, 27, was hit by a train on the first day of filming Midnight Rider.

Seven other crew members were injured in the incident, which saw the camera assistant fatally struck after the crew placed a bed on the railway tracks in Doctortown while filming a dream sequence.

It is understood the crew were expecting two local trains to pass through, but a third had arrived unexpectedly. A warning whistle was blown, but they had less than a minute to remove the bed from the track.

Miller, Savin and Sedrish are each charged with involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespass, according to a statement from local district attorney Jackie Johnson…

It remains unclear whether the crew had permission to be on the tracks. Local police investigators say they did have permission to be on property nearby.

The manslaughter charges against the film team could bring a possible sentence of 10 years in prison under Georgia law…

Filming on Midnight Rider was suspended in the aftermath of the train tragedy, and actor William Hurt – who was due to play Allman – pulled out of the production.

I haven’t any personal insight into the case. Though I spent an important though small portion of my life with folks deeply committed to the craft of acting all I can say is there wasn’t any uniform opinion of producers or directors, film or stage. Most discussion resolved to questions of political courage or cowardice – for that was in the darkest days of the blacklist throughout this so-called land of freedom.

Thanks, Mike