TWiT Network Ridiculous Whining

Ian and Leo on TWiT, and others on other shows this week, were whining because US newspaper companies don’t want to spend a bunch of money so that they can continue to give free stuff to Europeans without fear of legal financial penalties.

Leo has even admitted it cost his tiny company 40 hours of labor some if it lawyer time. Obviously Leo feels his company will at least break even on the expense so of course he should make the effort. I am confident the newspapers calculated that it will result in only a net loss so it would violate their fiduciary responsibility to waste money complying with GDPR.

Update: just watched Mac Break Weekly and Alex brought up how GDPR is a no profit, only losses, situation for businesses who don’t have EU customers. I should have expected this bit of sanity since Alex is a very smart business person (as well as one of the most amazing media production experts around).

Massachusetts GOP Wants More Regulations

Idiot GOP members Richard Ross of Wrentham, and Steven Levy of Marlborough, in the Massachusetts House and Senate want to increase regulations to prevent imaginary problems. They’ve filed a dozen bills to require photo IDs for voting but there has never been any voter fraud significant enough to affect the outcome of an election in Massachusetts.

Fortunately our Governor is rational and will veto any of this absolutely silly legislation if it comes to his desk.

Of course most likely what these stupid Republicans want is to disenfranchise minority and elderly voters so they can more easily remove social safety nets.

Ed at Dispatches from the Culture Wars has a good post about this on the national level.

Support Libel Reform in the UK

The libel laws in the UK are heavily weighted in the favor of scam artists, frauds and other evildoers. These laws allow them to very easily silence the critics who are trying to save peoples money, health and even their lives. This really needs to change, so please head on over to The Libel Reform Campaign website and sign the petition. It costs you nothing to sign and people from outside the UK are most welcome.

In a recent email and post Simon Singh outlined some of the reasons why everyone who believes in free speech, human rights, liberty and honesty should make haste and sign the petition.

(a) English libel laws have been condemned by the UN Human Rights Committee.

(b) These laws gag scientists, bloggers and journalists who want to discuss matters of genuine public interest (and public health!).

(c) Our laws give rise to libel tourism, whereby the rich and the powerful (Saudi billionaires, Russian oligarchs and overseas corporations) come to London to sue writers because English libel laws are so hostile to responsible journalism. (In fact, it is exactly because English libel laws have this global impact that we welcome signatories to the petition from around the world.)

(d) Vested interests can use their resources to bully and intimidate those who seek to question them. The cost of a libel trial in England is 100 times more expensive than the European average and typically runs to over 1 million.

(e) Three separate ongoing libel cases involve myself and two medical researchers raising concerns about three medical treatments. We face losing 1 million each. In future, why would anyone else raise similar concerns? If these health matters are not reported, then the public is put at risk.

I urge everyone to please go sign the petition and stand up for free speech.

Happy MLK Jr. Day

Today we celebrate the life and work of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. Take some time to check out the posts written by bloggers I regularly read:

I also recommend reading more of his words at the The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute website or this old post of mine from a couple years ago.

Mandatory Flu Shots in Massachusetts, Well Not Exactly

Phil Plait from Bad Astronomy had a post the other day about the idea of mandatory flu vaccinations in Massachusetts. Since I live in MA I was puzzled that I hadn’t heard about this before so I read the linked article. The first thing I noticed was that this wasn’t about normal policies, it’s about amendments to the laws regarding actions during a state of emergency. I went to comment about it and saw that a bunch of people had already set the record straight in the comments.

Basically if there is a pandemic flu outbreak and lots of MA citizens are getting sick and dying then the Governor could declare a state of emergency and the laws go in to effect. At that point citizens will have to either get the flu shot or stay home so that they can’t infect and potentially kill others. The laws have been around since the 1950’s and what the legislature is doing is updating them for modern circumstances.

Then I saw a comment from Joshua saying he had posted about this at Boston Skeptics.com, it’s a great read that I highly recommend for those concerned about this topic. An important point from Joshua’s post is that in addition to the updating it clarifies the policies and in the process actually lessens the possibility of abuse of these powers versus the existing statutes.

Searching around for more information I stumbled upon this post at Examiner.com with this scary information.

Also in the bill is a line about “involuntary transportation” to a healthcare facility.

Checking the bloggers source link took me to an article at WorldNetDaily with a similar scary part.

In addition, citizens may be subject to “involuntary transportation.”

Knowing how often WingNutDaily misleads by quote mining and since both items used scare quotes I took a look to see what the bill really says. Here’s the section that talks about involuntary transportation in the proposed amendment (emphasis mine):

SECTION 12.  Section 94A of said chapter 111, as so appearing, is hereby amended by striking out subsection (d) and inserting in place thereof the following subsection:-

(d) Law enforcement authorities, upon order of the commissioner or his agent or at the request of a local public health authority pursuant to such order, shall assist emergency medical technicians or other appropriate medical personnel in the involuntary transportation of such person to the tuberculosis treatment center. No law enforcement authority or medical personnel shall be held criminally or civilly liable as a result of an act or omission carried out in good faith in reliance on said order.

That seemed odd, why would you take flu carriers to a tuberculosis treatment center. The answer is easy, it has absolutely nothing to do with flu pandemics. Section 94A of chapter 111 is about what to do with citizens with active tuberculosis who are unwilling to accept proper medical treatment and are a serious danger to the public health. Here’s the original section 94A subsection d:

(d) The commissioner or his agent may call on the police department of the city or town whose board of health certified such person, or the police department of the place where such person is present, to provide the transportation to the tuberculosis treatment center.

The way the old law is worded the police could be required to transport everyone even those who are willing to comply and there was no requirement for medical personnel used in the transportation. The revised version makes it clear that the police will only be involved when the person refuses to comply and it requires EMTs be involved. While the original version would have been appropriate back in the 50’s and 60’s when every town didn’t have EMTs with ambulances, in the 21st century the new version is safer and removes an unneeded burden on the police. The only other thing it changes is it gives explicit protection to EMTs and police from criminal and civil penalties from performing the action. This also seems very reasonable to me as cops and EMTs should not be hauled into court for following orders from legal authorities. If the citizen infected with active tuberculosis wants to sue someone it should be the state/local health authorities not the guys and gals following their orders.

As is so often the case the wing nuts at WorldNetDaily have quote mined the information to give thoroughly misleading information to their readers. The wing nut at Examiner probably didn’t do any original quote mining instead he just blindly parrots what WingNutDaily says to misinform his readers as well. Of course I’m being too polite to the wing nuts what they are doing is intentionally lying to motivate their readers who they know will never check anything they say for accuracy.

State Senator Richard Moore has more on this topic in a post at WBUR’s web site.

Martin Luther King Day

Today we honor one of the greatest men of the 20th century, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I feel the best way to celebrate this day is to read some of his writings and listen to some of his speeches. Visit The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute to read some papers or see my previous post with selected quotes from the King papers, MLK Jr., Science, Darwin & Intelligent Design. GrrlScientist has posted two excellent MLK videos in honor of this holiday.

Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted): The Reason for this Holiday

Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted): I Have A Dream