Ethics-challenged judges added to opioid deaths…and more


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❝ For years, they sealed evidence about the risks as the body count mounted. And as a Reuters analysis found, it’s only one of many big product-liability cases in which judges have countenanced a lethal and often unlawful secrecy.

❝ In an unprecedented analysis, Reuters found that over the past 20 years, judges sealed evidence relevant to public health and safety in about half of the 115 biggest defective-product cases consolidated before federal judges in so-called multidistrict litigation, or MDLs. Those cases comprised nearly 250,000 individual death and injury lawsuits, involving dozens of products used by millions of consumers: drugs, cars, medical devices and other products. And the numbers don’t convey the full extent of information locked away because they don’t include thousands of product-liability cases heard in state courts.

Frankly, they need to be indicted and tried in something more than the court of public opinion. However, I doubt there is any appropriate body in American jurisprudence or politics with sufficient courage – or dedication to the common good – to do so.

Family believed son possessed by a demon — so they killed him

❝ A jury has been selected in the trial of a family accused of killing a vulnerable young man, believing he was ‘possessed by a demon’.

❝ Parents Josephine, 55, and Kenneth Ife, 64, and their five sons are accused of the manslaughter of 26-year-old Kennedy Ife.

Kennedy died after suffering a cardiac arrest at the family home in Lancaster Avenue, Barnet, north London, where he was allegedly restrained in 2016.

❝ Judge Anthony Leonard QC told potential jurors…‘The defendants are all members of one family. The parents and children of the person who died was either their son or their brother…‘The issue in this case is that the 26-year-old man who died fell ill and the family did not seek medical help for him because through their religious beliefs they thought he was possessed by a demon.

‘He was restrained and no medical help was given to him.

It would be a laughing matter – if it was a laughing matter.

Check out how people kill themselves – while taking selfies!


Say cheese—and watch out for that jagged cliff behind you!

❝ A group of health researchers in India have tried to tally the death toll from selfie taking, counting 259 deaths worldwide from October 2011 to November 2017. In doing so, they also caught a blurry glimpse of the leading ways in which people perish during dicey photo ops. The top three were drowning, transportation related (mostly being hit by trains), and falling off of things, such as cliff edges…

The resulting grim picture shows a developing public health threat, the researchers argue. Yet, the numbers are likely “just the tip of iceberg,” they add. Selfies are never recorded as an official cause of death, media reports don’t report every death, and the search was limited to English-language news reports…

❝ Still, the researchers were able to catch a reasonable peek into the perilous photo trends…Risk-taking men accounted for 72.5 percent of the fatalities with gender data. Of those with age data, the mean age was about 23 years old. The majority of deaths were of those aged 10 to 29.

Har. Death by misadventure would be the usual cause listed, I imagine.

American Medical Association takes a stand against gun violence


Jim Watson/AFP

❝ With frustration mounting over lawmakers’ inaction on gun control, the American Medical Association on Tuesday pressed for a ban on assault weapons and came out against arming teachers as a way to fight what it calls a public health crisis.

At its annual policymaking meeting, the nation’s largest physicians group bowed to unprecedented demands from doctor-members to take a stronger stand on gun violence — a problem the organizations says is as menacing as a lethal infectious disease.

The action comes against a backdrop of recurrent school shootings, everyday street violence in the nation’s inner cities, and rising U.S. suicide rates.

❝ “We as physicians are the witnesses to the human toll of this disease,” Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency-medicine specialist at Brown University, said at the meeting.

RTFA. Nice to see a leading body of successful, well-educated professionals stand in responsible commitment to fighting a social disaster. Ain’t always the case.

Opioids are killing thousands of veterans and the VA played a role in that

❝ Opioids, mostly illegally obtained counterfeit pills and heroin, now account for 63 percent of all drug deaths in the U.S., with fatalities climbing at an astounding rate of nearly 20 percent a year. In fact, the estimated number of drug deaths in 2016 topped the total number of soldiers killed in the Iraq and Vietnam wars. There’s a grim irony in that statistic, because the Department of Veterans Affairs has played a little-discussed role in fueling the opioid epidemic that is killing civilians and veterans alike. In 2011, veterans were twice as likely to die from accidental opioid overdoses as non-veterans. One reason…is that for over a decade, the VA recklessly overprescribed opiates and psychiatric medications. Since mid-2012, though, it has swung dangerously in the other direction, ordering a drastic cutback of opioids for chronic pain patients, but it is bungling that program and again putting veterans at risk…

❝ Today, the number of patients affected by the VA’s swinging opiate pendulum is staggering: 60 percent of veterans who fought in the Middle East and 50 percent of older veterans have chronic pain. Since 2012, though, there has been a 56 percent drop to a mere 53,000 chronic pain VA patients receiving opioids—leading to swift, mandated cutoffs regardless of patient well-being and with virtually no evidence that it’s a safe approach…

RTFA. The VA stumbles from one side of the wrong-way highway to the other. Crippled by the fake president and tame bureaucrats relying on positions already corrupt and ineffectual – our veterans’ medical treatment is on the way to being as useless as any Republican-designed healthcare system.

Bodies Of Dead Climbers On Everest Serve As Guideposts


Prakash Mathema

❝ Mount Everest holds the impressive title of ‘tallest mountain in the world,’ but many people don’t know about its other, more gruesome title — the world’s largest open-air graveyard

❝ The top portion of the mountain, roughly everything above 26,000 feet, is known as the “death zone.”
There, the oxygen levels are only at a third of what they are at sea level, and the barometric pressure causes weight to feel ten times heavier. The combination of the two makes climbers feel sluggish, disoriented and fatigued and can cause extreme distress on organs. For this reason, climbers don’t usually last more than 48 hours in this area.

The climbers that do are usually left with lingering effects. The ones that aren’t so lucky are left where they fall.

❝ Standard protocol is just to leave the dead where they died, and so these corpses remain, to spend eternity on the mountaintop, serving as a warning to climbers, as well as gruesome mile markers.

Truly interesting article. At least to me. I’ve spent a fair piece of outdoors life with serious climbers in the US, Switzerland and France, Scotland and elsewhere. Known a number of successful athletes at this pursuit. A few who died along the way.

RTFA for questions unique to the life and death of high altitude climbing.