Daily Archives: June 29, 2017

Having a smartphone within arm’s reach reduces brainpower 

The researchers, from the University of Texas at Austin, say that smartphones act as a ‘brain drain’ because part of our brain is always thinking about our device.

Source: Having a smartphone within arm’s reach reduces brainpower | Daily Mail Online

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Obama holdover: Trump style ‘quicker, more decisive’

Veterans Affairs Secretary David J. Shulkin is a rare bird in the Trump administration, having been a top Obama pick when he was the department’s undersecretary for health through the 2016 election.So, we asked him how things have changed under Trump, and he said it is all for the good.”I have found that mandate from him, to get this organization fixed and the support and freedom to go out and challenge old assumptions, as exactly what the VA needs right now,” Shulkin said.”I think the organization feels more empowered to fix problems than they have in the past, and my hope is that we will be able to set the path so that the organization is earning back that trust that it needs,” he added.Shulkin, who has won kudos for his management acumen, said that the president is using a businessman’s sense to fix government.

Source: Obama holdover: Trump style ‘quicker, more decisive’

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Facial Recognition Software Brings Personalized Ads To The Supermarket

Facial recognition software is getting to the point where there are some very interesting things that can be done with it in everyday life. That includes really bad ideas like enabling the police to run record checks on everyone who passes in front of their body-worn cameras. But it also means that businesses can start applying the technology in novel ways. Here’s what is happening on a trial basis in some German supermarkets and post offices, as reported by Deutsche Welle:There’s a camera and a screen set up by the check-out. A visual sensor scans the faces of waiting customers who have looked directly at the camera and detects whether they’re male or female and how old they are.Marketing company Echion is running the cameras and screens. The brands that advertise with them have clearly delineated target groups. If the visual sensor detects that enough people who fall into a company’s target demographic are looking at the screen, an ad by this company will start playing.Being shown ads that are likely to be more relevant to you is probably no bad thing. But once cameras are in place, it would be natural for shops to start using them for other more complex tasks, like spotting known shoplifters:

Source: Facial Recognition Software Brings Personalized Ads To The Supermarket | Techdirt

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CIA waterboarding was illegal human experimentation

For years now, the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” program after 9/11 has been under fire for being torture. The Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) says that it should also be framed as illegal and unethical human experimentation.According to PHR report released this week, recently declassified documents confirm that the CIA conducted experimental research to test an unsupported hypothesis that torture could break the resistance of detainees and aid interrogation. This research was conducted to support the operation of the “enhanced interrogation” program and to provide legal cover for the use of torture to the Bush administration.“The CIA torture program was based on the unproven theory that torture could produce compliance and ultimately assist with intelligence collection,” says Sarah Dougherty, the lead author of the report. “Although it was junk science, it was peddled by two psychologists who saw an opportunity to make a profit by setting in motion a crude program of experimentation to study the effects of torture on detainees. Even if this research had been benign, it’s still illegal to perform research without informed consent.”“Because their torture tactics were wholly unproven – even the CIA previously said torture was counterproductive – [James] Mitchell, [Bruce] Jessen, and nameless others used observations during torture to formulate clinical procedures to modify subsequent torture techniques and guide similar monitoring for future torture sessions,” said PHR’s director of programs, Homer Venters. “Instead of living by the ethical tenet of ‘do no harm,’ health professionals applied their professional skills and engaged in research to aid torture. This was human experimentation on nonconsenting prisoners who were being tortured, a crime within a crime.”The PHR also claims that health professionals were under pressure from the CIA to generate data to justify torture practices. They were also used to determine the threshold of pain and suffering of the torture subjects, calibrating levels as they progressed. That data was then used by CIA legal counsel to provide legal cover, with the CIA’s lawyers advising officers that such evidence could be used to sidestep criminal prosecution for torture.“Health professionals were used to give experimental torture practices a false mantle of safety and legitimacy,” says Dougherty. “There’s evidence that CIA personnel recognized that illegal human experimentation was taking place. The CIA’s own contracts with Mitchell and Jessen even referred to the program as ‘applied research.’ Any researcher or health professional even minimally versed in the basics of ethics and professionalism can tell you that such research without consent is completely outside the realm of the acceptable.”

Source: BioEdge: CIA waterboarding was illegal human experimentation: report

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Line-X – The Coating That Makes Any Object Virtually Indestructible 

Line-X is an ultra-durable line of spray-on coatings that is mainly marketed for use on truck beds, to make them tougher and provide protection against the elements. But this wonder spray can do so much more, including protecting a wall from an explosive blast, preventing an egg from shattering on impact when dropped from a tower, and rendering a Styrofoam cup able to withstand the weight of a full-grown adult. It basically makes just about anything virtually indestructible.Line-X coatings have been around for nearly a decade, but most people have only recently learned about its incredible properties after videos of the spray passing all kinds of crazy tests started showing up on social media. The product also made appearances on the Discovery Channel’s hit show “Mythbusters”, where it passed two of the three extreme tests it was subjected to, and on popular YouTube show “How Ridiculous”, where it was tested on watermelons, eggs and light bulbs, with some incredible results.

Source: Line-X – The Coating That Makes Any Object Virtually Indestructible | Oddity Central – Collecting Oddities

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Ohio Town Proposes ‘Three Strikes’ for Heroin Addicts, With Treatment Denied to Some on Third Strike 

With the country in the grips of an opioid epidemic, cities and towns are quickly blowing through their budgets providing expensive live-saving treatments to overdose victims. One town in Ohio wants to save money by setting up a controversial three-strike policy to discourage addicts from relapsing.Middletown’s proposed policy would give heroin addicts two free chances to get Narcan (Naloxone) to treat their overdose. For each rescue, heroin abusers must then perform community service for the equivalent amount of money used on the medical treatment. On their third strike, the heroin users will not be given medical treatment if they have not completed the community service to pay for previous treatments.The town has already treated 577 heroin overdoses with Narcan so far this year. The previous year, there were 532 overdoses, which cost the town $11,000 on the life-saving drug. In 2017, the town has spent $30,000 on Narcan so far—a number that’s expected to rise.According to WCMH-TV Columbus, the number of overdose-related deaths has been on the rise, with 51 reported  this year. It was 74 for all of last year.

Source: Ohio Town Proposes ‘Three Strikes’ for Heroin Addicts, With Treatment Denied to Some on Third Strike |Heat Street

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Elderly flight passenger throws coins into engine for ‘luck’, delays take-off for hours

A flight from Shanghai to Guangzhou was delayed after an elderly woman passenger was suspected of throwing coins into the plane’s engine to ensure “good luck”, mainland media reported.Southern Airlines Flight 380 was held up at the Shanghai Pudong International Airport after an elderly woman passenger caused a disruption, according to the airlines official WeChat account. An investigation into the incident is under way.Passengers boarding the flight reportedly saw an elderly woman throwing coins at the engine for “blessings” from the middle of the boarding staircase and alerted the crew.

Source: Elderly flight passenger throws coins into engine for ‘luck’, delays take-off for hours | South China Morning Post

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