Category Archives: Ethics

Tuition-free education for the world: Shai Reshef at TED2014

Is freedom a right? How about health? What about learning without being saddled with a mountain of debt? This article argues that education should be free and I agree. What do you think?

TED Blog

Shai Reshef. Photo: James Duncan Davidson Shai Reshef. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

Shia Reshef believes higher education is a right, not a privilege. In January 2009, he founded University of the People (UoP), a virtual, tuition-free institution dedicated to opening up higher education to anyone in the world with a high school diploma and a willingness to learn — “regardless of who they are, where they live or what society says about them,” Reshef says at TED2014.

“We open the gates for every qualified student,” he says. “Any student from any part of the world with any Internet connection can study with us. We don’t use audio; we don’t use video; broadband isn’t necessary.” UoP currently serves students from 143 countries, including Syria, the US, South Africa, Jordan and Nigeria.

The way the university works is this, Reshef says: UoP keeps costs down by forgoing a brick-and-mortar institution and traditional textbooks, and by using volunteer staff…

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With Over $100M Raised, P2P Lending Platform CommonBond Expands To 100 Programs To Help Grad Students Reduce Debt

Debt is crushing our ability to be free. Strategies and tactics are desperately needed to help those students already in debt, and to prevent those who are not yet incapacitated by this insidious epidemic in the US and beyond.

TechCrunch

New York City-based CommonBond launched in late 2012 on a mission to bring the the power of person-to-person lending and crowdsourcing to the student debt crisis. With student debt in the U.S. having surpassed $1 trillion, college grads find themselves in an ugly situation today when it comes to subsidizing their education. Borrowing money from Uncle Sam means turning to federal loans and their high, fixed interest rates, while the big players in the private market appear content to maintain the status quo.

Companies like CommonBond have emerged in response to the student loan crisis, leveraging the popularity of peer-to-peer lending platforms like LendingClub and Prosper to give student borrowers a better shake. By connecting borrowers directly to alumni and a larger network looking to give back to graduates from their alma maters and see a steady return to to boot, CommonBond is becoming an increasingly attractive alternative.

The startup

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Omlet Launches Privacy Focused Chat App At SXSW 2014

Open source is the future of online chatting!

TechCrunch

The bright minds at Stanford who created Omlet have a different idea about how communicating — and more importantly, the data that goes along with communication — should be handled these days.

Given the recent purchase of WhatsApp by Facebook, the content and conversations taking place in the digital realm are obviously no laughing mater in the eyes of big internet companies. Omlet’s goal seems to be one of participating just like other social networks and chat services, yet giving users a choice in where the content they create is stored, controlled and monetized.

Created by Stanford Professor Monica Lam, along with several of her PhD students, Omlet decentralizes the location of the content that inevitably becomes part of the conversation and gives users a choice of where they store those images, videos or other content.

“Omlet is the first open chat platform that lets users own and manage…

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Snowden: We Have More To Fear From Government Surveillance Than Google

TechCrunch

Whistleblower Edward Snowden gave a rare public interview today at the technology mega-conference, SXSW. When asked whether we should fear surveillance from government or Google more, Snowden argued that the government is unequivocally a bigger threat. “The government has the ability to deprive you of rights,” he said in a live Interview with the ACLU, streamed through several protection measures (which made some of his answers inaudible).

Google, Facebook, and other Internet companies have aggressively expanded the kinds of data collected on their users, which helps them build better targeted ads and products that predict what users want. “Companies can surveil you to sell you products, to sell your information to other companies, and that can be bad, but you have legal recourse,” he argued. Noting, importantly, that with Internet companies, “it’s typically voluntary contracts.”

Governments, on the other hand, “have police powers, they have military powers, they have intelligence…

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Medical Marijuana Not Recommended for Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, or Fibromyalgia Symptoms

Author: Wiley
Published: Mar 09, 2014 (Revised: Mar 09, 2014)
Author Contact Information: Dawn Peters – sciencenewsroom@wiley.com – Ph. 781-388-8408
Abstract: Article explores risks associated with using herbal cannabis for medicinal purposes and advises healthcare providers to discourage rheumatology patients from using this drug as therapy.
“At this time, we cannot recommend herbal cannabis for arthritis pain management given the lack of efficacy data, potential harm from the drug”
Detail: Patients with rheumatic conditions are in need of symptom relief and some are turning to herbal cannabis as a treatment option. However, the effectiveness and safety of medical marijuana to treat symptoms of rheumatic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or fibromyalgia is not supported by medical evidence. A new article published in Arthritis Care & Research, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), explores the risks associated with using herbal cannabis for medicinal purposes and advises healthcare providers to discourage rheumatology patients from using this drug as therapy.
The reason for the medical interest in herbal cannabis is that the human body has an extensive cannabinoid system comprising molecules and receptors that have effects on many functions including pain modulation. Medical cannabis is commonly used to self-treat severe pain associated with arthritis and musculoskeletal pain. In fact, previous research reports that 80% of marijuana users in a U.S. pain clinic are treating myofascial pain with the drug. In population studies in the U.K. and Australia, up to 33% of individuals report using marijuana to treat arthritis pain. As of June 2013, estimates from the office of Information Commissioner of Canada list “severe arthritis” as the reason the 65% of Canadians who are allowed to possess marijuana for medicinal purposes.

“With the public outcry for herbal cannabis therapy, governments around the world are considering its legalization for medicinal use,” explains lead investigator Dr. Mary-Ann Fitzcharles, a researcher and rheumatologist at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) and the Research Institute of the MUHC in Quebec, Canada. “Physicians caring for patients who are self-medicating with marijuana need to understand the health implications of using this drug. Our study aims to provide health care professionals with that medical evidence related to medical marijuana use in patients with rheumatic conditions.”

In the U.S. twenty states, including the District of Columbia (DC), have legalized cannabis for medical purposes. The present study examines the dosing, administration, efficacy and risks of herbal cannabis in pain management for patients with rheumatic conditions. The health issues with recreational marijuana use in this patient population are not covered.

Concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—the substance found in Cannabis sativa that provides pain relief and alters brain function (psychoactive effect)—vary in the plant material by up to 33% and absorption rates are between 2% and 56%, making the dosing of herbal cannabis unreliable. While cannabis may be ingested, most users prefer to inhale the compound for a quicker response. However, smoking a “joint” is not recommended by the medical community due to adverse effects on the respiratory system from hydrocarbons, tar and carbon monoxide.

Furthermore, there is no formal short-term or long-term study of the effectiveness of herbal cannabis in patients with rheumatic diseases. Studies that show good efficacy of cannabinoids for cancer and neuropathic pain may not be extended to rheumatic diseases because of the differing mechanism in the types of pain.

The study authors highlight that use of medical marijuana comes with inherent risks such as compromised cognitive and psychomotor function. Long-term use of cannabis may lead to mental illness, dependence, addiction and memory issues. In fact, a prior U.S. study of 8,000 adults who used cannabis in the previous year found that the odds of depression were 1.4 times higher in cannabis users compared to non-users.

“At this time, we cannot recommend herbal cannabis for arthritis pain management given the lack of efficacy data, potential harm from the drug, and availability of other therapies for managing pain,” concludes Dr. Fitzcharles. “Physicians should discourage rheumatology patients from using medical marijuana as a therapy.”

Full citation: The Dilemma of Medical Marijuana Use by Rheumatology Patients.” Mary-Ann Fitzcharles, Daniel J. Clauw, Peter A. Ste-Marie and Yoram Shir. Arthritis Care and Research; Published Online: March 3, 2014 (DOI: 10.1002/acr.22267).

About the Journal:

Arthritis Care & Research is an official journal of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), and the Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals (ARHP), a division of the College. Arthritis Care & Research is a peer-reviewed journal that publishes both original research and review articles that promote excellence in the clinical practice of rheumatology. Relevant to the care of individuals with arthritis and related disorders, major topics are evidence-based practice studies, clinical problems, practice guidelines, health care economics, health care policy, educational, social, and public health issues, and future trends in rheumatology practice. The journal is published by Wiley on behalf of the ACR. For more information, please visit the journal home page at http://wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/acr

Related Topics
This information is from the Disabled World Medical Marijuana Section – Other relevant documents include:
Health Canada (Dec 19, 2012). Canada Proposes New Marihuana Regulations for Medical Purposes
http://www.disabled-world.com/medical/pharmaceutical/marijuana/aglukkaq.php
Thomas C. Weiss (Nov 21, 2013). Use of Marijuana for Epilepsy Control
http://www.disabled-world.com/health/neurology/epilepsy/epmar.php
Thomas C. Weiss (Feb 01, 2014). Veterans with PTSD – Medical Marijuana Treatment Options
http://www.disabled-world.com/medical/pharmaceutical/marijuana/vet-marijuana.php
University of South Carolina (Nov 25, 2013). Marijuana has Potential for Autoimmune Disorders Treatment
http://www.disabled-world.com/medical/pharmaceutical/marijuana/mirna-690.php
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103 People Unfriended Her, How Many Would Do the Same to Me

Blog Woman!!! - Life Uncategorized

freshly-pressed-rectangleI came across a Huffington post about a woman who posted pictures of herself on her Facebook wall that caused a collapse in her social circle.  The headline said “When Beth Posted These Images on Facebook, 103 People Unfriended Her”.   

The headline effectively grabbed my attention, but what the story really did was zero in on the heart of one of my own deepest fears.  It cut to a deep vulnerability that even I don’t fully understand, but it’s one that has held me back from engaging as fully in life as I possibly could.  I can’t do that until I can somehow get to a place of true peace about it.

Canvas ScarsThe pictures that Beth Whaanga, the woman in the Huffington piece, posted were semi-nude images of herself featuring her scars from a double mastectomy and a hysterectomy.  They were taken by a photographer leading a project called,

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How do you deal with the dirty secret of mental illness in a memoir?

Live to Write - Write to Live

Mental illness, these days it runs rife in all of our lives, if not most of our families and for some of us, it might even be a way of life. While it may be charming to write about Aunt Dot’s confusing a hat stand for a man, or mom’s forgetting for the second time that day where she left her keys (that would be me) it’s not really fun to document a person’s slide into the deep dark pits of mental illness.

A twisted road  Photo credit: Marc Nozell A twisted road
Photo credit: Marc Nozell

Where days are spent under covers and when thoughts go to slicing through delicate wrist tissue.

Who wants to hear about that, right? Unless, of course, there is a message we can learn from it.

And yet, if, IF, there is a rise above that mental illness, we can often find ourselves with a new hero. Case in point, the…

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Technology Is A License To Forget

Thought provoking. Reminded me about the food industry (ie, meat, in particular). I give no thought to how much an animal suffered so that I could be served veal on a platter.

L.M. Sacasas

“It is at this point [when the power of technology becomes evident] that a pervasive ignorance and refusal to know, irresponsibility, and blind faith characterize society’s orientation toward the technical. Here it happens that men release powerful changes into the world with cavalier disregard for consequences; that they begin to ‘use’ apparatus, technique, and organization with no attention to the ways in which these ‘tools’ unexpectedly rearrange their lives; that they willingly submit the governance of their affairs to the expertise of others. It is here also that they begin to participate without second thought in megatechnical systems far beyond their comprehension or control; that they endlessly proliferate technological forms of life that isolate people from each other and cripple rather than enrich the human potential; that they stand idly by while vast technical systems reverse the reasonable relationship between means and ends. It is here above all that modern…

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