Grannies being recruited for Uber Eats in Japan

❝ Uber Technologies Inc.’s strategy for Japan, where ride-sharing is banned, is as unique as the country itself — think grandma in running shoes delivering ramen noodles.

❝ “The elderly are actually signing up for Eats couriers,” Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told Bloomberg News. “Eats has been a huge success for us in Japan. It is going to be a very effective introduction to the Uber brand.”

❝ While most workers deliver using a bicycle or scooter, seniors in search of exercise are doing it on foot, Khosrowshahi said. “This is one area unique to Japan, and we are looking if we can expand to the rest of the world,” the CEO said.

Way cool. I absolutely can see this as a positive for retirees who want to combine an income with exercise.

“Blowing smoke up your ass” used to be acceptable healthcare

❝ …Where did the idea to use tobacco as a form of medicine come from? Indigenous Americans, who used the plant to treat various ailments, invented what we refer to as the tobacco enema. English Botanist, physician, and astrologer Nicholas Culpeper borrowed from these practices to treat pain in his native England with methods including enemas to treat inflammation as a result of colic or a hernia…

❝ By the late 1700s, the blowing smoke had become a regularly applied medical procedure, mostly used to revive people thought to be nearly deceased, usually drowning victims. The process was so common, in fact, that several major waterways kept the instrument, consisting of a bellows and flexible tube, nearby in case of such emergencies.

❝ Blowing smoke, of course, is no longer in use today. However, the tobacco enema had a good run during the 18th century, and its usage even spread to treat additional ailments such as typhoid, headache, and stomach cramping.

But with the 1811 discovery that tobacco is actually toxic to the cardiac system, however, the popularity of the practice of tobacco smoke enemas dwindled quickly from there.

I hesitated to post this historic tale for fear that contemporary nutballs might try to revive the practice. But, hey, no doubt someone out there in Cloud Cuckooland is already advocating the method. For a fee, of course.

Best medical care in the world


Click to enlarge

Some of the hundreds of people in dire need of medical care wait in a parking lot for 12 hours in below-freezing temperatures for a chance to be seen at a temporary free clinic in rural Tennessee in February. Tickets were handed out first come, first served.

Yup. Best medical care in the world – if you can afford it!

Oh, BTW, the link to the article only works if you have a subscription to the Washington Post.

Anti-Vaxxers defeated in New York

❝ Anti-vaccine advocates received a blow in New York Thursday as state lawmakers banned non-medical exemptions based on religious beliefs — and there may be more blows coming.

❝ Also on Thursday, the American Medical Association adopted a new policy to step up its fight against such non-medical exemptions. The AMA, the country’s largest physicians’ group and one of the largest spenders on lobbying, has always strongly support pediatric vaccination and opposed non-medical exemptions. But under the new policy changes, the association will now “actively advocate” for states to eliminate any laws that allow for non-medical exemptions.

Overdue. I don’t expect this to change folks who trust preachers over scientists; but, we all stand a better change of keeping children safer from preventable disease.

Trump’s flunkies are purging Chinese-Americans from cancer fresearch


Xifeng Wu, MD, PhD, Epidemiologist

The NIH and the FBI are targeting ethnic Chinese scientists, including U.S. citizens, searching for a cancer cure. Here’s the first account of what happened to Xifeng Wu.

❝ In recent decades, cancer research has become increasingly globalized, with scientists around the world pooling data and ideas to jointly study a disease that kills almost 10 million people a year. International collaborations are an intrinsic part of the U.S. National Cancer Institute’s Moonshot program, the government’s $1 billion blitz to double the pace of treatment discoveries by 2022. One of the program’s tag lines: “Cancer knows no borders.”

❝ Except, it turns out, the borders around China. In January, Wu, an award-winning epidemiologist and naturalized American citizen, quietly stepped down as director of the Center for Public Health and Translational Genomics at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center after a three-month investigation into her professional ties in China. Her resignation, and the departures in recent months of three other top Chinese American scientists from Houston-based MD Anderson, stem from a Trump administration drive to counter Chinese influence at U.S. research institutions. The aim is to stanch China’s well-documented and costly theft of U.S. innovation and know-how. The collateral effect, however, is to stymie basic science, the foundational research that underlies new medical treatments. Everything is commodified in the economic cold war with China, including the struggle to find a cure for cancer.

I confronted this crap for over twenty-five years. Nothing as sensational as cancer research; but, still, working for American firms that relied on Asian design improvements and production smarts you get the party line on intellectual “theft” forever. It ain’t theft if you’re willing to sign a contract handing over whatever technology concerned because you’re out to make a buck like every one of your competitors. No one twists your arm or holds your children hostage to sign a contract. “Here’s the terms! Want to do business or not?”

There’s always a quid pro quo in so-called “intellectual property theft” and it always comes down to the almighty dollar.

What we’re witnessing now is the inevitable resurgence of McCarthyism in all its racist stink. It’s always been part of populism American-style.

Georgia politicians shut down abortion rights. Netflix will answer by shutting down production.


Click to enlargeJoeff Davis

❝ Netflix has become the first major Hollywood company to take a stand against Georgia’s recent passage of a strict abortion law, with chief content officer Ted Sarandos saying Tuesday that the streaming giant would “rethink our entire investment in Georgia” if legislation known as the “heartbeat bill” became state law…

“We have many women working on productions in Georgia, whose rights, along with millions of others, will be severely restricted by this law,” Sarandos said in a statement. “It’s why we will work with the ACLU and others to fight it in court. Given the legislation has not yet been implemented, we’ll continue to film there — while also supporting partners and artists who choose not to. Should it ever come into effect, we’d rethink our entire investment in Georgia…”

❝ The bill’s passage earlier this month comes as Georgia has become a vital production hub for the film and TV industries. The region known “Y’allywood” is responsible for more than 92,100 jobs and nearly $4.6 billion in total wages in the state, according to the MPAA. State officials said that for the fiscal year ending June 30 film and TV production generated $2.7 billion in direct spending.

Boycotts are a time-honored tool against racism in the Confederacy and across the United States. The tactic is overdue IMHO against bible-thumping bigots who would impede women’s rights. They deserve the same opportunity to feel the hurt where they care the most. In their wallets.

50,000 reports of malfunctioning heart device hidden by the FDA


Congressional Quarterly

❝ The Food and Drug Administration allowed the maker of a faulty implantable heart device to secretly log 50,000 malfunction incidents, according to a series of investigations by Kaiser Health News.

The device—the Sprint Fidelis, made by Medtronic—consists of a pair of wires and a defibrillator to jolt the heart into a regular rhythm. But doctors found that it was giving patients random, harmful zaps and sometimes failed during actual cardiac emergencies.

❝ Medtronic recalled the device in 2007 but only after it was implanted in around 268,000 patients. Many of those patients have since faced the ghastly choice of learning to live with the faulty device or undergoing an invasive, risky—sometimes deadly—surgery to remove it. According to the KHN investigation, they’ve been making that choice without information from the 50,000 incident reports.

The FDA accumulated over a million reports they “exempted” from reporting requirements which would have aided patients and doctors…and opened the manufacturers of faulty gear to lawsuits. What’s the likelihood of our 2-party government doing something as radical as that, eh?

Generic Drugmakers are the biggest corporate cartel in history

❝ Twenty of the biggest generic prescription drug makers are accused of committing a multi-billion-dollar fraud in the U.S. Forty-three states and Puerto Rico filed a complaint Friday alleging the companies coordinated to inflate prices and reduce competition on more than 100 generic prescription drugs.

❝ “It’s what we believe to be the biggest corporate cartel in history and probably the biggest antitrust price-fixing case in this country, certainly right now and maybe in our nation’s history,” Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said Monday on “CBS This Morning.”…

❝ “What’s really troubling is it’s clear that they’re just going to break the law as long as they can afford to do so. You know, these are extraordinarily powerful forces that got away with price increases as high as 1,000%, 2,000%. Last night on ’60 Minutes,’ they reported that a drug that I take, doxycycline, saw a price increase of 8,000%. And they’ve gotten away with it for such a long time and that’s why it took more than 40 states coming together and taking them on, on behalf of the people of this country.”

Overdue!

Pharma pimps say: Everyone/No one is raising insulin prices

❝ A casual observer of April’s House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing might think insulin prices just go up by themselves.

After all, the key industry executives filed opening statements to the congressional panel outlining patient-assistance programs, coupons and discounts — a range of price reductions that might make one think this life-or-death diabetes medication is easily affordable to the patients who need it….

❝ In fact, the price of insulin nearly doubled from 2012 to 2016 alone, triggering national headlines about the resulting hardships — sometimes deadly — suffered by people with the Type I-version of the condition who are left to ration insulin because it is too expensive for them to use as prescribed.

❝ The three drug manufacturers that make insulin — Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi — joined three pharmacy benefit managers — CVS Caremark, Express Scripts and OptumRx — to testify before the Oversight and Investigations panel at its second hearing probing the corporate maneuvers behind the skyrocketing costs.

They disagreed a lot. All that counted was whose lies were the most believable. For years, no one has owned more members of Congress than Big Pharma. Giving a minimum of $15,000 a year to anyone elected to Congress. House or Senate. Big enough player? You get more. A lot more.

“In 2009, PhRMA spent about $25 million lobbying the government, Bloomberg said.

The trade association spent $6 million in the fourth quarter of 2018 and $10 million in the third, as it lobbied the Trump administration and federal government over a myriad of policies…”

“CNN said the pharmaceutical and healthcare sector spent $194 million lobbying the government in 2018. That amount does not include the lobbying efforts of PhRMA…”