Issue 54: Facebook is trying to prevent suicide

Facebook wants to predict suicide and then alert the police

MZ of FB

Facebook has been in the news pretty much all of 2018 for several bad reasons. They have constantly breached ethical boundaries by taking advantage of our private data, undermined the democratic process through the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and caused a genocide of the Rohingya people. Well in yet another potentially scary twist, FB recently announced that it wants to predict if people are suicidal and preemptively alert the police to check up on them using AI. This sounds like a great idea, however, FB has not been transparent about the how the algorithm works and whether it is also planning to sell that data gained. A recent article in the Washington Post outlines the need for the social networking juggernaut to have its new digital health tech regulated. If not FB might just F up again and catch another L. 

Japan's birthrate hasn't been this low since 1899

Image from

If you follow the news from other countries closely you'll know that the social situation between men and women in Japan is ughhhh a little complicated. Well those memes speak to what you could call a greater truth. Recently Japan declared that the country's birthrate dropped to a historic low. The last time it was this low was back in 1899, more than a whole freaking century before Tinder. Japan's population is currently 127 million, but if things continue this way the population will decline to 100 million by 2049. A majority of young people between 18 and 34 are not in a relationship so therefore they are likely not boning. 

Airplane Returns to Drop Off Forgotten Human Heart
Human heart on a commercial airplane? The logo was there all along.

Ever wonder how donated human hearts get delivered from one site to another? Yea, not mixed in next to your luggage that you paid extra to check-in. Mostly are transported via small jets through air ambulance services. Well, this time, a commercial Southwest airline plane from Seattle to Dallas supposedly forgot to unload the human heart from its cargo and had to turn around. It took three hours in air and another five hours to depart for Dallas again. It's not clear why it was not sent on a jet, or why the company that shipped it didn't have a medical student or an intern resident guard it with their life. Was the heart even viable anymore?

Drones deliver vaccines to Country no American has ever heard of

Where is VANUATA?

A little heard of (by 99% of Americans) nation called Vanuata recently started using drones to deliver vaccines to families on remote parts of the island. Vanuata is composed of about 80 Pacific Islands and is west of Fiji (that one you've heard of). A lot of parties are involved in the new vaccine drone delivery program including: UNICEF. the Australian Government, and the nonprofit Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, as well as the Vanuata Ministry of Health. This is not the first time that drones have been used to deliver medical supplies. Bay area startup Zipline started delivering blood products in Rwanda in 2016. Zipline also has a contract to deliver vaccines in Rwanda. More countries seem to be adopting drone delivery to reach some of the ~20 million children in the world who did not receive vaccines.

FDA approves a slick AF smartwatch + BP monitor

The HeartGuide Wristwatch

The FDA just approved the first smartwatch with a built in blood pressure monitor. Huge news since 40 million Americans have uncontrolled BP. The device was made by Omron Healthcare and will sell for only $499 a piece. The watch which looks pretty freaking slick tbh will retail starting January 9th. The company gave itself a shoutout saying that since the news release they have been overwhelmed with requests from consumers. They all said don't try and copy us we got more than 80 patents on this device.

Stirring Sh*t up in the Hudson 
Image from Politico
Oh, crap. Researchers just found that bacteria from fecal matter in sewage has been building up in the Hudson River sediments this whole time. Normally, pollution levels are evaluated by testing the sparkling waters towards the surface, not the grisly muck hiding at the bottom layers (which can have up to 10 times more fecal matter as the surface). And this study found that when people stir up the sediment by kayaking, wading, or swimming, all that nasty stuff comes out to play and potentially expose people to health risks. Human contact with polluted waters have caused millions of respiratory infections, gastrointestinal diseases, and many other kinds of health issues. Even beach sands sometimes have high levels of such bacteria. It’s possible that fecal bacteria is able to build up because some municipalities stop chlorinating their sewage in the winter, assuming that no one’s gonna be swimming there anyway. But you know what they say about assumptions! Andrew Juhl, coauthor of the study, put it best by saying “Putting sewage into the sediments is like putting it into the refrigerator—it lasts a lot longer.” The river bottom turns into a breeding ground for pathogens and they can replicate for months and months until they’re able to strike in the summer. Looks like it’s time to take this sh*t seriously!
Texas Judge Rules ACA Unconstitutional

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An update on the already confusing tug-o-war between Trump administration vs. Affordable Care Act, or what is left of Obamacare. A district federal judge ruled ACA unconstitutional. Before we start throwing darts at each other's party, the facts are that Judge Reed O'Connor thinks the ACA is not fair because there was a recent change federal tax law.  The logic goes, because there is no tax penalty on not signing up for mandatory healthcare insurance, the whole thing is no longer constitutional. Democrats are of course appealing the ruling. This is not news; it went up to the Supreme court twice already in 2012 and 2015 and the ACA was deemed constitutional both times. Oh, by the way, the healthcare insurance market closes tomorrow, to add to the confusion.  Should the government be allowed to tax people of health insurance? We'll see what happens with this dogged fight.