Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018


Dog Daze

"The interface between pets and mental-health care has been a hot-button issue in recent years. The evidence that therapy animals can help treat people with psychiatric issues is patchy, yet emotional-support animals seem to be everywhere, perhaps most noticeably on planes. The Internet was in an uproar not long ago over reports that a traveler attempted to bring an emotional-support peacock onto a flight." But, as it turns out, animals don't only provide help for psychiatric issues, they also often need help. And because you can't really get your animal a therapy animal, help for pets comes in the form of the same psychiatric medications being popped by their owners. (For what it's worth, my dogs have always seemed satisfied getting an occasional contact high...) From WaPo: Does your pooch really need Prozac?


Tweaking Fees

"The speaker events themselves were often a sham, as top prescribers and reps have admitted in court. Frequently, they consisted of a nice dinner with the sales rep and perhaps the doctor's support staff and friends, but no other licensed prescriber in attendance to learn about the drug. One doctor did cocaine in the bathroom of a New York City restaurant at his own event, according to a federal indictment. Some prescribers were paid four figures to 'speak' to an audience of zero." How do you move your company's prescription opioids at a time when the dangers of using them is already widely known? You start with a kickback scheme. After all, "selling drugs is a relationship business." A very interesting investigative report from Evan Hughes in the NYT Mag: The Pain Hustlers.


The Flood Gates

"At some point I will have no choice but to use the powers granted to the Presidency and get involved!" The president continued to rail out against the Justice Department as we learned of new shakeups in his legal team. Ty Cobb is out, and Clinton impeachment lawyer Emmet Flood is reportedly in. Sources said Cobb was uncomfortable with the president's tweets. (Ya think?)

+ WaPo reports that Mueller has raised the prospect that he could subpoena Trump. From Vox: Can Mueller subpoena Trump? Legal experts say yes — but it's tricky.

+ NYT: Why Answering Mueller's Questions Could Be a Minefield for Trump. (I'm not a lawyer, but let me just throw out a layperson's guess: Because he lies constantly?)

+ Meanwhile, here's another example of just how much international intrigue is associated with this mess. From the NYT: Ukraine, Seeking U.S. Missiles, Halted Cooperation With Mueller Investigation. "The decision to halt the investigations by an anticorruption prosecutor was handed down at a delicate moment for Ukraine, as the Trump administration was finalizing plans to sell the country sophisticated anti-tank missiles, called Javelins."


Code Warrior

"Hacking is a crime problem and a war problem. You solve those problems by finding hackers and punishing them. When they feel their profession isn't safe, they'll do it less." That's the opinion of Stewart Baker, former general counsel at the NSA. And lawmakers are increasingly sharing the same view. Is retaliation really the solution to the hacking epidemic? From Nicholas Schmidle in The New Yorker: The Digital Vigilantes Who Hack Back.


Court Tester

From Reuters: "Iowa's Republican-controlled legislature passed the most restrictive abortion ban in the United States on Wednesday, outlawing the procedure after a fetal heartbeat is detected, often at six weeks and before a woman realizes she is pregnant." The ultimate goal of the legislation is a Supreme Court challenge to Roe v Wade.

+ NPR: "Three national reproductive rights groups are suing the Trump administration, arguing that changes to the federal Title X program will put the health of millions of low-income patients at risk by prioritizing practices such as the rhythm method over comprehensive sexual health services."

+ Kenyan Clinic Rejects Trump Abortion Policy, Loses $2 Million In US Aid.


Coral Grief

"In Hawaii, a study conducted last year ... found that the nearly 2,600 average daily visitors left about 412 pounds of sunscreen in the ocean. The damaging effects of sunscreen can occur in concentrations as low as 62 parts per trillion, which is equivalent to one drop of oxybenzone in six Olympic-sized swimming pools." Buzzfeed: Sunscreen chemicals are destroying coral reefs and now Hawaii is banning them.


Friends with Benefits?

"There are 200 million people on Facebook that list themselves as single, so clearly there's something to do here." Facebook responds to your privacy concerns ... by announcing a dating app. The company issued a statement explaining that "what people do within the dating feature will not be shown to their friends." (The fact that they have to call this out is one big reason why their foray into the dating game might not work...)


City of Brotherly Gov

"Two black men arrested for sitting at a Philadelphia Starbucks without ordering anything have reached an agreement with the city, which will pay them $1 each and set up a $200,000 program for young entrepreneurs at their request." Philadelphia Inquirer: Black men arrested at Philadelphia Starbucks reach agreements with city.


Dictator’s Gonna Dictate

"On Tuesday, in contradiction to his previous statements, Dr. Bornstein claimed that he had taken dictation from then-candidate Donald Trump himself in his health assessment. (This was the letter to the American people that bore Bornstein's name and that said that Trump's 'physical strength [was] extraordinary' and that he 'will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.') The Atlantic's James Hamblin on The Problem With Trump Dictating His Own Medical Assessment. If you think Trump's doctor has told some lies, wait until you meet his accountant... (Dr. Bornstein also reported that when checking Trump's prostate, he felt Putin.)


Bottom of the News

"The last five or ten times I've bought their vanilla…it just doesn't taste the same–it's icier and milkier, not creamy and dense like it used to be." Quartz: Obsessive Fans Were Right — Häagen Dazs Did Tweak Their Vanilla Recipe.

+ "XRStudio is a futuristic studio space providing mentorship, collaboration and equipment for 30 women to develop work in machine learning and mixed reality in San Francisco from May to August 2018." A very cool opportunity from my most excellent sponsors at Mozilla. Learn more here...

+ NYT: Retired NBA Coach Don Nelson Talks Playoffs, Poker and, Uh, Weed. (In other words, the same topics as everyone else talks about...)

+ Yale University Votes to Rescind Bill Cosby's Honorary Degree. (Bold move...)

+ AP: Man robs same bank day after release from prison.