By Walt Hickey
Have a great weekend!
Fake Doll To Test Doctors
Gaumard Scientific has rolled out a $48,000 robot named Hal designed to help train doctors for the realities of care. He can “shed tears, bleed, and urinate,” as well as go into anaphylactic shock and cardiac arrest, and registers a pulse when hooked into an EKG. It’s unclear if there are any plans to improve the simulation of patient’s experiences with hospitals, such as Hal fruitlessly begging a paymaster to reduce the price of a $50 cough drop, Hal trying to hide tears on the phone with his insurance rep, or Hal swallowing his pride and setting up a GoFundMe to avoid having to sell his pre-owned Camry to pay collections.
The U.S. government bailed out mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac during the housing crisis and placed them under conservatorship. Now, the government is making serious bank off of that “investment.” While Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac withdrew $119.8 billion and $71.6 billion from the Treasury during the dark times, they’ve since paid Uncle Sam $167.3 billion and $112.4 billion in dividends, respectively, meaning the Treasury is $88.3 billion in the black thanks to the bailouts.
Church of England
The number of Britons who consider themselves members of the Church of England is down to 14 percent. Fifteen years ago, that figure was at 31 percent. According to the British Social Attitudes survey — a survey for which I assume 100 percent of the answers are "fine" — a majority of Britons, 52 percent, have no religion. That is up from 41 percent just 15 years ago. Among those 18 to 24, 70 percent reported having no religion.
Prior to its purchase by Amazon, Whole Foods offered annual stock options to employees, 94 percent of which went to non-executive employees. That’s one of the perks rolled back since the purchase and a motivating factor for employees to begin a unionization effort. Whole Foods paid an average of $20.15 per hour and $41,911 on average in 2016, and laid off hundreds of workers in 2015.
In the United States a full 16 percent of American teachers have second jobs in order to make ends meet, because that is how functioning societies are supposed to work.
Gay Rights in India
India's Supreme Court has struck down a 150-year-old British colonial law outlawing consensual gay sex. The law had existed unchanged since the 1860s, and in 2016 there were more than 2,100 cases registered under the law. Of the 48 former British colonies that criminalize homosexuality, 30 do so under laws based on Colonial-era anti-LGBT legislation.
The New York Attorney General has subpoenaed all 8 Roman Catholic dioceses in the state pertaining to any documents related to allegations of abuse, the results of church investigations of abuse claims and payments to victims. New York has one of the strictest laws when it comes to suing past the statues of limitations, but some lawmakers want to relax that law or open a one-year window for such suits.
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