So many people have had their DNA sequenced that they’ve put other people’s privacy in jeopardy

A new study argues that more than half of Americans could be identified by name if all you had to start with was a sample of their DNA and a few basic facts, such as the region where they live and about how old they might be.

More than 1 million Americans have already published their genetic information, and dozens more do so every day.

…One of them is the rise of direct-to-consumer genetic testing. Companies such as Ancestry.com and 23andMe can sequence anyone’s DNA for about $100.

…The other essential element is the proliferation of publicly searchable genealogy databases like GEDmatch. Anyone can upload a full genome to these sites and powerful computers will crunch through it, looking for stretches of matching DNA sequences that can be used to build out a family tree.

…After a long day of painstaking work, they researchers were able to correctly name the owner of the DNA sample.

The authors said the same process would work for about 60% of Americans of European descent, who are the people most likely to use genealogical websites, Erlich said. Though the odds of success would be lower for people from other backgrounds, it would still be expected to work for more than half of all Americans, they said.

…If you can find a person’s third cousin in a genealogical database, then you should be able to identify the person with a reasonable amount of sleuthing, Erlich said.

So many people have had their DNA sequenced that they’ve put other people’s privacy in jeopardy – Los Angeles Times

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$180bn investment in plastic factories feeds global packaging binge

The global plastic binge which is already causing widespread damage to oceans, habitats and food chains, is set to increase dramatically over the next 10 years after multibillion dollar investments in a new generation of plastics plants in the US.

…The new facilities – being built by corporations like Exxon Mobile Chemical and Shell Chemical – will help fuel a 40% rise in plastic production in the next decade

…“Around 99% of the feedstock for plastics is fossil fuels, so we are looking at the same companies, like Exxon and Shell, that have helped create the climate crisis. There is a deep and pervasive relationship between oil and gas companies and plastics.”

…The huge investment in plastic production has been driven by the shale gas boom in the US. This has resulted in one of the raw materials used to produce plastic resin – natural gas liquids – dropping dramatically in price.

…“There has been a revolution in the US with the shale gas technologies, with the fracking, the horizontal drilling. The cost of our raw material base has gone down by roughly two thirds.”

…“In the US, fossil fuel and petrochemical companies are investing hundreds of billions of dollars to expand plastic production capacity… All this buildout, if allowed to proceed, will flood the global market with even more disposable, unmanageable plastic for decades to come.”

…A million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute with most ending up in landfill or the sea. 

$180bn investment in plastic factories feeds global packaging binge | Environment | The Guardian

Again, straws aren’t really the problem, folks.

Haloperidol And Other Antipsychotics No Better Than Placebo For ICU Delirium, Study Finds

Powerful drugs that have been used for decades to treat delirium are ineffective for that purpose, according to a study published online Monday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Antipsychotic medications, such as haloperidol (brand name, Haldol), are widely used in intensive care units, emergency rooms, hospital wards and nursing homes.

“In some surveys up to 70 percent of patients [in the ICU] get these antipsychotics.”

…But the drugs can have serious side effects.

…”There’s not a shred of evidence in this entire investigation that this aggressive approach to treating delirium with antipsychotics, which is commonplace and usual care, did anything for the patients,” he concludes.

…Both she and Ely advocate for a more holistic approach to treating delirium — getting patients off drugs and off breathing machines as soon as possible and getting them up and about as soon as they’re able.

Haloperidol And Other Antipsychotics No Better Than Placebo For ICU Delirium, Study Finds : Shots – Health News : NPR

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Everyone saw the French Quarter attack. Few saw the mental health care failures behind it.

A review of Paul’s UMC medical records by NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune raised significant questions. Four hours after he was admitted, a doctor wrote that Paul was “having auditory hallucinations” and that he was “a potential threat to himself and other people as well as gravely disabled.” 

This assessment gave the hospital a legal right to involuntarily commit Paul for up to three days for observation and treatment, with the possibility of holding him an additional 12 days following a re-examination by the coroner. And yet doctors still chose to discharge him, just one day later.

Behavioral health experts said this is not uncommon, that people in need of psychiatric treatment are released on a regular basis, a result of the state’s gutting of its mental health care funding and infrastructure.

…Paul is one of hundreds of homeless kids who cycle through Covenant House and other outreach programs every year, Foots said, many suffering from the same mental health disorders as him, some more severe. If the level of care doesn’t improve, and if hospitals continue to turn away people in need because they lack the necessary beds and funding, she fears what happened to Paul and the men he injured could become more commonplace.

“I work with these kids every day and I know they are all very troubled,” Foots said. “I see their mental illness, but they rarely get the help they need. Just like Dejuan. Those damn voices in his head got ahold of him and he just lost it.” 

…He paced frantically while hitting himself and repeating, over and over again, that he needed his medicine. 

Then, as if someone pulled a string, he slumped to the floor near the kitchen. 

Foots knelt down, her face inches from Paul’s, and locked eyes with him. She said he needed to focus, that he was in control of his mind, no one else. Ignore the people in your head, she instructed him. Staff members told Foots to keep her distance. She refused. 

…“The police told me when they got him, ‘At least he’s going to emergency. They’re going to give him some medicine. He’s going to be better and everything is going to be good,’” Foots said. “And that’s what I told Dejuan, but that’s not what happened.”

…Paul was given 10 mg of Zyprexa, an antipsychotic typically prescribed to people with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. A toxicology screen came back positive for marijuana. Paul confessed that he smoked marijuana every day since he was 15 and that over the past several weeks he had rarely slept more than four hours a night. 

…According to his medical records, Paul told the doctors at UMC he had “racing thoughts about everything and feels stuck in his own head.” If he could get some Vyvanse, a drug prescribed to people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, he said he would feel “much better and everything would be OK.”

…In this case, however, despite receiving confirmation of Paul’s diagnosis and prior care, UMC doctors refused to give him his medication, his medical records show. There was no explanation provided in the records. 

…Warden Perry Stagg, who was seated nearby, interjected to ask Paul if he had been given his medication at the prison. When Paul said no, that the nurse said they can’t prescribe it, Stagg said they would try to figure out potential substitutes “to get him back where he needs to be.”

Since former Gov. Bobby Jindal gutted the mental health care system, taking care of people like Paul has become part of the prison’s job, Stagg said. 

“Unfortunately, the Department of Corrections has become the de facto mental health hospital for the state,” he said. “We need to get these mental health services back available on the street and try to catch some of these guys before they commit a crime.”

…“I’m an old, conservative Republican, a lock‘em up and throw away the key kind of guy. Until I came to the Department of Corrections and realized that, hey, that’s not always the answer. There are reasons for some of this stuff and some of this stuff can be corrected.”

Everyone saw the French Quarter attack. Few saw the mental health care failures behind it. | NOLA.com

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