Canadian boy playing at the roadside – buried by snowplow

A Longueuil boy buried by a snowplow while playing outside during a snow day on Monday was asleep throughout much of the three hours he spent awaiting rescue…

Olivier Prescott, 7, was outside the elementary school across the street from his home in Longueuil when a snowplow clearing the schoolyard drove by. The driver didn’t notice the boy playing, and the plow’s blade buried him in a metre of snow.

After the truck went by, I was under the snow,” said the boy. “I was scared.”

Olivier’s mother, Stephanie Prescott, was also outside shovelling snow in the wake of a storm that buried much of Montreal and closed area schools. Stephanie said she didn’t see what happened to her son, but a neighbour told her he thought Olivier had been buried by the plow.

After a hasty search of the area turned up no sign of her son, the mother called police…

Neighbours and police launched a frantic search for the boy, knocking on doors in the area. A neighbour who claimed he knew where Olivier might have been buried began shovelling, and eventually located the trapped boy.

Olivier was pulled from the snowbank three hours after he was buried, and for the first 10 minutes his mother indicated he was “all white, and parts of him were blue.”

The boy was taken to a hospital, where the concerned mother said that it took little time for her son to recover. “After about 20 minutes at the hospital he was fine. He said to me, ‘Mommy, I’m hungry. Can I have some fries and 7-up?’ He’s not allowed to eat fast food, but I said, ‘Sure…’ ”

Olivier said that throughout the ordeal he could hear people looking for him, but was unable to get their attention. The boy also spent much of the time unaware of what was happening.

“I was sleeping,” he said.

Lucky to be found in time, kid.

Who’s in charge of computer security for the state of New Jersey?

An audit of New Jersey state computers to be sold at public auction found that the vast majority of the machines’ hard drives had not been erased.

A report just released…said officials had discovered computers containing child-abuse reports, health records, Social Security numbers, and a state judge’s confidential memoranda and tax returns….

State rules require agencies to erase data from decommissioned computers before sending them to other agencies or to be auctioned to the public. The computers examined in the audit came from courts, the Department of Health and Senior Services, the Office of Administrative Law, and the Department of Children and Families.

Here’s the part I really love –

Employees from an unidentified state agency told auditors that they were reluctant to sweep the hard drives because the necessary equipment was noisy and they feared the magnetic fields it generated

The audit followed the discovery in 2007 that employees at the warehouse where computers were stored before auction were selling parts as scrap and rigging the auctions. Five employees were charged; four have pleaded guilty and were fired.

It is unclear how many computers moved through the warehouse. The comptroller’s office said it could identify 2,357 pieces of equipment, including desktop computers, laptops, and other items, that were distributed to other agencies. But it could not say how much equipment the warehouse had auctioned.

“That’s part of the problem. The record-keeping is very poor to nonexistent,” said Pete McAleer, spokesman for the office.

The other part of the problem is employees who fail to do their job for some of the dumbest reasons possible.

Thanks, Helen

England is healthier than the US

People living in England enjoy better health than Americans, despite less investment in healthcare, research published in the US has revealed.

Across all ages, US residents tend to fare worse in terms of diabetes, high cholesterol and heart disease markers, data on over 100,000 people show…

The reason remains a mystery, says the US team…

Not a mystery if you pay attention to the bullshit cranked out by our bought-and-paid-for politicians.

Despite the greater use of health care technology in the US, Americans receive less preventive health care than their English counterparts…

But despite looking, the researchers did not find any real evidence that differences in obesity, alcohol consumption or physical activity were to blame.

Smoking may be a factor, but Dr Melissa Martinson and colleagues doubt it because even younger Americans who have not yet been exposed to decades of tobacco smoke appear to be in worse health than English counterparts.

And although a larger share of Americans are uninsured or under insured compared to populations in England or other European countries, even groups with good access to health insurance experienced worse health than people in England…

A spokesperson from the Department of Health said: “The NHS offers care free to all at the point of use and based on need.

“Whilst in some areas our outcomes may be favourable compared with those in the US, we are still clear that we have a long way to go before we achieve outcomes comparable with the best performing health systems.

“That is exactly why we are modernising the NHS.”

My mates in the UK complain about the NHS even more than their peers – and my friends – in the GWN complaining about Health Canada.

But, when push comes to shove and you compare what you get for what you pay – we’re screwed to the wall of deceit and deception Made in the USA by Congress, healthcare conglomerates and the holy sepulcher of our insurance giants.

We have succeeded in modernizing little or nothing.

Deficient water checks achieving little at Canada oil sands

A government-sponsored scientific committee studying water monitoring in Canada’s oil sands has backed assertions that multibillion-dollar energy developments are polluting waterways and it urges more stringent oversight.

The report by the independent scientists, appointed by Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach, said an incendiary study by water ecologists last year appeared to be right in its contention that toxic substances downstream from the developments do not occur naturally.

An industry-funded body had long said heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic aromatic compounds, or PACs, found in the Athabasca River watershed north of Fort McMurray, in northern Alberta, occurred naturally as bitumen leached into the river…

The northern Alberta oil sands are the largest source of oil outside the Middle East and are the target of billions of dollars worth of development plans. However, the environmental impact, including greenhouse gas emissions, forest destruction and water pollution, are under heavy criticism by green groups…

In December, the federal panel reported “there was no evidence of science leadership to ensure that monitoring and research activities are planned and performed in a coordinated way”…

Alberta Environment Minister Rob Renner said the report will be used by the province’s own newly appointed panel as it works to design a better monitoring system.

And as usual the “better monitoring system” won’t mean a damn if the system is thwarted by political malingering controlled by the corporations wallowing in the trough of their profits.

Same as it ever was.

No Child Left Behind – creates failure for U.S. public schools

Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Wednesday his department estimates that four out of five schools in the United States will not make their “No Child Left Behind” benchmarks by the law’s target year of 2014 — and when the test scores are counted for the current school year, numbers could show that U.S. schools are already at that failure rate.

He blamed that failure rate on the law itself, not on schools.

“This law has created dozens of ways for schools to fail and very few ways to help them succeed. We should get out of the business of labeling schools as failures and create a new law that is fair and flexible, and focused on the schools and students most at risk,” Duncan told the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

Duncan pointed out that federal law requires states and districts to “implement the same set of interventions in every school that is not meeting AYP [adequate yearly progress], regardless of the individual needs and circumstances of those schools…”

“By mandating and prescribing one-size-fits-all solutions, No Child Left Behind took away the ability of local and state educators to tailor solutions to the unique needs of their students,” Duncan said calling the concept “fundamentally flawed.”

Republicans on the committee questioned any increase in the budget in the current economic climate.

The few Republicans who think there should be public education, that is.

RTFA. You know most of this. Bush’s plan enforced a classroom ethic that teachers should train kids to be test-takers. That applied only to tests designed to be a single national standard.

Unfunded mandates, of course. No beancounter is ever going to propose paying for their demands.

Montana man awarded $311,000 damages from bill collectors

An appellate court has affirmed a $311,000 federal jury award to a Laurel man who sued a North Dakota law firm over its debt collection practices.

The case of Timothy McCollough v. Johnson, Rodenburg & Lauinger was argued in Billings in July before a special panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor along with Judges Sidney R. Thomas of Billings and William A. Fletcher of San Francisco heard the case.

Thomas issued the 30-page opinion, in which the court upheld all of the rulings made by the presiding judge, U.S. Magistrate Judge Carolyn Ostby, and the jury’s verdict.

In April 2009, a jury awarded McCollough $311,000 in damages, finding that JRL had violated the Montana Unfair Trade Practices Act and that its prosecution of McCollough was malicious and an abuse of process. The damages included $250,000 for emotional distress, a statutory maximum of $1,000 for violating the law, and $60,000 in punitive damages, which was the maximum under Montana law.

… McCollough’s attorney, John Heenan noted…”I’m very proud of Tim for hanging in there for as long as he has.”

McCollough said he hoped the case showed debt collectors that “people are going to know they don’t have to take the garbage. They can fight back…”

McCollough had old credit card debts from the 1990s and worked with companies to pay the debts, despite a head injury that left him disabled and on Social Security, which is exempt from collections.

One of the old debts was sold to a collection company, CACV of Colorado, which sued him in Yellowstone County in 2005. Representing himself in the state case, McCollough said the statue of limitations had expired, he had no money and he had been harassed by the credit card company. The case was dismissed.

Two years later, JRL, which has offices in Fargo and Bismarck, sued McCollough for $9,800, which included $6,000 in attorney fees and interest. McCollough fought back a second time, got the case dismissed and then sued JRL for violating debt collection laws.

Good for you, dude. Standing up to creepy usury-hustlers who ignore laws should wrangle a lot more help from state and local governments than folks usually get.

Governments don’t mind helping out bankrupt corporations. It’s just citizens who generally get screwed.