Thursday, October 24, 2019

Oklahoma man sentenced to 15 years in prison — for being caught with what turned out to be powdered milk

A  29-year-old homeless Oklahoma man was sentenced to 15 years in prison  recently after finally switching his not guilty plea to guilty following  two months behind bars for cocaine possession. Two days after the  sentence was handed down, the man withdrew his lately plea, after lab  results determined the “cocaine” he was arrested for allegedly  trafficking was actually a bag of powdered milk. The man was flagged  down by police in Oklahoma City on the night of August 12th because the  bicycle he was riding did not have any rear lights. Officers searched  his backpack, and found a coffee can containing a large clear baggy full  of a white powder. He was arrested and charged with felony drug  trafficking. The arresting officer wrote in his affidavit that “the white powder in the baggy later tested positive for cocaine and was a total package weight of 45.91 grams of cocaine.” The  man was detained in the Oklahoma County Jail and pleaded not guilty in  court the following week. After just under two months in the slammer, in  October he changed his plea to guilty and was sentenced to 15 years in  prison. Then,  he asked to withdraw his guilty plea after a lab test  (not a law enforcement field test) came back showing that the substance  in the baggy he was caught with was full of powdered milk, not cocaine.  The judge obliged. The explained to the judge that he had received the  milk from a food pantry, and pleaded guilty in order to get out of the  jail he was in. That day, the case against him was dismissed and he was  released. A Tulsa public defender stated on social media that the  Oklahoma County Jail is “widely considered one of the worst in the country,” and that “any innocent person would consider pleading guilty just to get out.” He also said “despite  growing awareness that (field) tests have a high error rate — some  studies have found that they result in false positives a fifth or even a  third of the time, many police departments continue to rely on them.” (Washington Post)

The opioid crisis in the United States has cost the economy at least $631 billion in just four years

According  to a report released by the Society of Actuaries, it analyzed  non-medical opioid use during this time-frame. Most of the costs were  attributable to health care and premature mortality. Nearly one-third of  the total estimated economic burden, about $205 billion, was ascribed  to health care and the excess spending for those with opioid use  disorder, infants born with neonatal abstinence syndrome or neonatal  opioid withdrawal syndrome, and for relatives of those with diagnosed  opioid use disorder. The neonatal syndrome is caused when a pregnant  mother uses certain drugs such as opioids, which force her baby to go  through withdrawal from the drugs after birth. Premature mortality costs  accounted for the biggest chunk of the estimated economic burden,  totaling $235 billion. This amount was mainly driven by the lost  lifetime earnings of individuals who overdosed and died prematurely from  opioids. While more than 2,000 state and local governments have sued  the drug industry over the crisis, the report finds that governments  bear less than one-third of the financial costs. The rest of it is borne  by individuals and the private sector. (The Epoch Times)

Facial Recognition Software on the Rise in U.S. Schools

The  specter of mass shootings has pushed school administrators across the  country to consider investment in an array of new and emergent security  technologies that have been sold as potential solutions to head off  these tragic incidents. Chief among the new technologies is facial  recognition — a technology that has recently exploded to prominence in  many other sectors of society. Large cities like Chicago and Detroit,  frequently courted by companies, have seen a recent push towards  widespread adoption, while school districts in cities in states as  diverse as Florida, Texas, Missouri, and Colorado, among others, are  also seeing investment. As the technology becomes more ubiquitous, some  schools have embraced it wholeheartedly in the hopes of improved  security, while others are taking a more cautious approach, slowed by  concerns for privacy and accuracy. (GovTech)

The Army’s 1,000-Mile Long Range Cannon Is Coming Together

The  U.S. Army is pushing ahead with plans to field a cannon with an  astounding 1,000-mile+ range. The cannon, along with hypersonic weapons,  will allow the service to attack long range, strategic-level targets  far beyond the reach of existing Army systems. The Army’s program  manager for long range fires said the service expects the gun to have a  range of 1,000 nautical miles—or 1,150 statute miles. The technology  behind the cannon is described as “cutting edge” that’s so  advanced that the service is not sure if the gun would be affordable.  The Army is set to conduct an early test of a key tech component at  Naval Support Facility Dahlgren in Virginia “very soon.” NSF  Dahlgren was the home of the Navy’s electromagnetic railgun program,  before the gun was shipped out to White Sands Missile Range in New  Mexico for additional testing. (Defense News)

Couple files federal lawsuit against Taco Bell over $2.18 bill dispute

A  New Jersey couple who says they were charged $2.18 too much after  ordering two fast-food meals last year has filed a federal lawsuit,  according to reports. The couple claimed they went to a Taco Bell in May  2018 to order food after they saw a TV commercial advertising meals  that included a chalupa supreme, a five-layer burrito, a crunchy taco, a  cinnamon twist and a drink. The couple order two of the boxes, which  were advertised for $5 each. However, according to the lawsuit, the  couple was charged $12.99 for the meals, which included 81 cents in  sales tax. When they asked why was $1.09 added to each meal, they were  told that “legal fine print” in the commercial stated that  prices could vary depending on location, according to reports citing the  lawsuit. However, they claim that “legal fine print” was shown  on the screen for only a few seconds of the 30-second commercial, and  that the font of the disclaimer was one-sixteenth of the size of the $5  deal advertised. According to their attorney, that violates New Jersey’s  Consumer Fraud Statute. Disclaimers, according to the state statute,  must be shown “in a type size and style that is clear and conspicuous relative to the other type sizes and styles used in the advertisement”. Taco Bell officials issued a statement in response to the lawsuit saying “Taco  Bell and its franchisees are proud to provide millions of guests with  delicious, affordable food every day. Our advertisements are truthful  and accurate, and we will defend this case vigorously.” (Bridgewater Currier News)

New Senate Bill Would Legalize Recreational Pot in PA

Two  state senators have introduced a bill that some are calling a model for  recreational marijuana legalization. Senate Bill 350, introduced  recently by Sen. Sharif Street, D-Philadelphia, and Sen. Daylin Leach,  D-Montgomery, is being hailed as one of the most far-reaching  legalization bills introduced in any state. It would allow people to  grow up to ten plants for personal use, get home deliveries from  dispensaries, and help communities most affected by decades of  prohibition reap the economic benefits of legalization. It is believed  that it would generate $450 to $500 million in tax revenue in its first  year. The first 5% of that is going to pay for administrative fees and  regulation enforcement, training programs while the remaining 95% would  go to public education. Opponents of legalization see marijuana as a “gateway drug”  that leads to use of other, more dangerous drugs while others says  there is no evidence to support that claim. Last month, Governor Tom  Wolf said he now supports legalizing recreational marijuana.The  legislation outlines rules for home growers, micro-growers and  commercial marijuana growers. (Public News Service)

A mother who warned officials her son was taking a gun to school now faces felony charges

An  Indiana mother who alerted authorities that her teenage son was headed  to a middle school with a gun last year before he opened fire and then  died by suicide was arrested last week for neglect of a dependent and  other charges, according to police. She called police in December to  report that her teenage son was headed to Dennis Intermediate School in  Richmond with a gun, according to police. Officers from multiple  agencies were immediately dispatched to the school, where they found the  teen shooting out a glass door before entering the building. Police  chased after him, and when they surrounded him in a stairwell, “he made the unfortunate decision to take his own life,”  according to State Police. No one else was injured during the incident.  She had told police that her son suffered from depression prior to the  tragedy, but that she had removed him from an inpatient treatment  program because of the cost, according to court documents. Records say  he had expressed a desire to go to the school and kill students that had  bullied him, and he heard voices that told him to kill others, then  himself. The court documents said the mother failed to prevent her son  from gaining access to firearms despite knowing of his mental state. The  43-year-old mother was charged with five counts of felony neglect of a  dependent, one count of felony dangerous control of a child and one  misdemeanor count of criminal recklessness, according to a statement  from Indiana State Police. She turned herself in and was booked at the  Wayne County Jail. (NBC News)

 

A British broadcaster says its new menopause policy will help free up a “taboo” subject and close what has been called the “gender pain gap”

A  British broadcaster is prioritizing women’s health by rolling out a  raft of measures to aid those dealing with a subject that is rarely  discussed freely and openly in the workplace: menopause. Channel 4, a  national television station in Britain, announced that it would offer  its female employees flexible working arrangements, tailored work spaces  and even paid leave if they experienced menopause symptoms. Common  symptoms include hot flashes, heavy periods, low mood, increased  anxiety, difficulty sleeping, joint pain, and problems with memory and  concentration often referred to as “brain fog.” They can  persist for years and are both physical and psychological, and about 80  percent of women will experience them in some form, according to the  British National Health Service. Menopause is a natural part of aging  that is caused by a drop in the production of estrogen, typically occurs  between the ages of 45 and 55. The broadcaster says that its menopause  initiative is the first known among British media companies. While some  workplaces have introduced lactation rooms for breastfeeding mothers and  free period products in bathrooms, they have been slow to accommodate  or recognize the battles that older women face during menopause. (New York Times)

Thursday Creeps In With:

  • Food Day
  • National Bologna Day
  • Recycle Your Mercury Thermostat Day
  • United Nations Day
  • World Development Information Day
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