Texas DMV rejects Confederate flag license plate

Some folks will never learn

The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles rejected a specialty license plate with the Confederate flag Thursday.

The commissioners, all appointed by Republican Gov. Rick Perry, voted unanimously against issuing the plate, the San Antonio Express-News reported. The vote came two weeks after Perry came out against the plate, saying the state doesn’t need “to scrape that wound again.”

The plate would have shown the so-called Confederate battle flag, the flag most commonly associated with the short-lived Confederate States of America. State Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, who sponsored the plate with his agency, said it would honor “the soldiers, not the politicians.”

African-American groups opposed the plate. Gary Bledsoe, head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in the state, said approving the plate would hurt Texas.

“This is the wrong thing to do,” Bledsoe said. “We don’t want others to look at Texas with scorn and ridicule and think that we are a bunch of country bumpkins.”

Cripes. We’re going to lose all our favorite stereotypes of dumb rednecks at this rate.

First Mississippi fails at ordering the government to interfere with women’s reproductive rights — now, this! I wonder if when Rick Perry gets back home from playing at being a national-class buffoon he’ll change things round and restore his original plan to revive the Confederacy.

Just the gift for bioterrorist moms!

Shopping online can be a real time-saver, and you can get some great deals. But skip lollipops that come with the virus that causes chickenpox.

This caution comes after a woman in Nashville, Tenn., advertised lollipops contaminated with the varicella virus on Facebook. The tainted pops were intended for parents who want to expose their children to the disease.

A Nashville TV station spotted the woman’s posts, in which she also offered to ship spit and cotton swabs, all for a mere $50, payable through PayPal. The woman, Wendy Werkit, told WSMV reporter Kimberly Curth that she had shipped lollipops that had been sucked on by her children, “so that other peoples’ kids can get chickenpox.”

State health officials were horrified at the prospect, and pointed out that not only is the varicella vaccine much safer for children than getting the disease itself, but spreading the virus could pose a serious risk to children who can’t be vaccinated because they are undergoing cancer treatment or have other health problems…

Before the vaccine was introduced, parents would sometimes expose their children to others who were sick with the disease, so the children would have a reduced risk of serious infection as adults. The idea has since been adopted by some parents leery of vaccines.

Some parents also think that the natural immunity children gain from having a disease is better than the immunity they get from shots…

These people are a case study in being “naturally” stupid. Yes, that’s stupid not ignorant. If you have at least a 6th grade education, you know better.

Of course, a lot of this centers around the nutball home-schoolers dedicated to one or another religious sect. They work very hard at excluding reason, science and rational thought from their children and their own lives. They equally pose a health threat to members of the larger community who may not know they’re standing in the grocery checkout line next to the village idiot.

Seven Internet bandits indicted in $14 million advert fraud case

Internet bandits devised an international scheme to hijack more than 4 million computers in more than 100 countries, manipulating traffic on Netflix, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and other popular websites to generate at least $14 million in fraudulent advertising revenue.

Six of the seven people named in the indictment unsealed Wednesday are Estonians who are in custody in that country, and prosecutors said extradition was being sought. One Russian remains at large.

About 500,000 computers in the United States were infected with malware, including those used by individuals, educational institutions, nonprofits and government agencies like NASA, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara told a news conference.

Bharara called the case the first of its kind because the suspects set up their own “rogue” servers to secretly reroute Internet traffic to sites where they had a cut of the advertising revenue. “On a massive scale, the defendants gave new meaning to the term ‘false advertising,'” Bharara said.

The problem was first discovered at NASA, where 130 computers were infected. Investigators followed a digital trail to Eastern Europe, where the defendants operated “companies that masqueraded as legitimate participants in the Internet advertising industry,” according to the indictment…

The indictment estimated the defendants “reaped least $14 million in ill-gotten gains” over a five-year period.

It’s easy enough to say “Don’t click unless you are certain of the source” but, the average user – or even a skilled user, presuming that’s who was fooled at NASA – is only going to spend a minimum amount of time before deciding whether or not an innocent-appearing email in their inbox is legit.

Better solutions require better protective software – or a better operating system. Unix-based operating systems like OS X can be relied upon to provide security beyond the capabilities of most hackers, most cyber-crooks. Additional steps and stages can be placed between a user’s computer and the world living out there on the Internet. The problem resolves back to beancounters who say they can’t or won’t spend that extra little bit. Pennywise and pound-foolish loses again.

Take your light therapy and stick it in your ear!

Many readers in the Northern Hemisphere are likely already starting to experience seasonal affective disorder, appropriately enough known as SAD. For those people fortunate enough not to be familiar with it, SAD is a mood disorder that is brought on by the shorter day-length experienced in winter – less sunlight results in gloomier people.

One of the most common treatments involves regular exposure to bright artificial lights, that appear to psychologically serve the same purpose as sunlight. Now, one might assume that such light therapy would require that people see the light. According to the Finnish designers of the Valkee device, however, light also does the trick if you shine it up your ears.

The invention is based around the assertion that not only are our visual systems photosensitive, but so are our brains themselves. More specifically, there are apparently 18 sites in our brains, where OPN3 photoreceptor proteins are located. These regions will supposedly react favorably to exposure to light, even when that light is filtered through tissue and bone.

The Valkee itself looks a lot like a personal music player, complete with earbuds. Instead of emitting music, however, these buds contain fiber optic lights. By turning the device on and sticking the glowing fibers in your ears for about ten minutes a day, it is claimed that your brain will receive enough light to send the SAD packing.

Does it sound like quackery? A great deal of people would certainly say so. Not among those people, however, would be a group of scientists from Finland’s University of Oulu. In two clinical trials, they had people with severe SAD use the device daily, for 8 to 12 minutes a day. Afterward, when those people completed a BDI-21 questionnaire (a standard for assessing depression), it was found that 92 percent of the subjects in the first trial had completely recovered.

I wonder if it works on hemorrhoids?

Appeal made to fugitive Catholic priest to turn himself in

A fugitive priest wanted in connection with child sex abuse allegations has been urged to turn himself in by one of the country’s top lawyers, who said his absence caused difficulties to a damning review of decades of paedophile activity at a top Catholic school.

Laurence Soper, the former abbot of Ealing Abbey – which has been the subject of an inquiry from Lord Carlile QC and an internal Vatican investigation following disclosures of alleged and proven abuse at neighbouring St Benedict’s – skipped bail last month and is thought to be living in an Italian monastery.

Carlile, who published his findings on Wednesday, said: “I would encourage Laurence Soper to surrender himself to the police…”What I hope is that everybody who has, and has had, contact with Laurence Soper should inveigh upon him very strongly to surrender himself to the British authorities.”

He added that an international arrest warrant was being issued.

Soper appeared in Carlile’s report as one of five clergy tried or wanted for questioning in relation to paedophile activity involving pupils…

The report said…”Primary fault lies with the abusers, in the abject failure of personal responsibility, in breach of their sacred vows … and in breach of all professional standards and of the criminal law.

“Secondary fault can be shared by the monastic community, in its lengthy and culpable failure to deal with what at times must have been evident behaviour placing children at risk; and what at all times was a failure to recognise the sinful temptations that might attract some with monastic vocations…”

There were no representatives from Ealing Abbey at the press conference.

I’m not quite certain how a public plea in the UK – to turn himself into the coppers – is going to convince a fugitive reputed to be hiding in a monastery in Italy to come home and do so. If he even hears about it.

And if he does, it seems likely the communication is coming from someone in the Catholic Church who already knows exactly where he is and should be telling the coppers where – so they might arrest him.

Those gloves your doctor is wearing – are there to protect HIM

A new study of hand hygiene in hospitals found that wearing latex gloves makes health care workers less likely to clean their hands before and after treating patients. The finding is concerning, researchers say, because germs can travel through latex gloves, and because they’re often worn when doctors work with bodily fluids and the sickest, most infectious patients. Taking off latex gloves can also cause a “back spray” effect, in which fluids and germs are snapped back onto the wearer’s hands.

As a result, doctors and nurses who don’t wash up after using latex gloves can spread infections through contaminated hands, said Dr. Sheldon Stone, lead author of the study…

“If you’re a patient, you assume that if someone is wearing gloves they’re being careful and protecting you from infection,” he said. “But in fact, their hands could be very dirty…”

The researchers found that the overall hand-washing rate — regardless of whether gloves were worn — was just 47.7 percent, similar to compliance rates for hand hygiene in American hospitals, which average about 40 percent. But when gloves were used, the latest study found, hand washing in the 15 hospitals that were part of the research went down even further, to about 41 percent…

The study found that health care workers wore gloves in roughly a quarter of all contacts with patients, and in 60 percent of those cases did not clean their hands either before or after treating the patient…

It was unclear why doctors, nurses and other hospital workers were less likely to wash or disinfect their hands before and after donning gloves. But Dr. Stone and his colleagues speculated that they might be influenced by a widespread misconception that gloves are impermeable to pathogens. While gloves do lower the rate of hand contamination, germs can still get through. Dr. Stone said he and his colleagues wanted to dispel the myth and get across to hospital workers the idea of “The Dirty Hand in the Latex Glove.”

“We want health care workers to avoid it,” he said. “It’s gross. And it’s not just a British phenomenon. I’m sure if you went all over you would find it.”