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  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 28, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , r/The_Donald,   

    Is Reddit’s quarantine of r/The_Donald censorship? 

    Is Reddit's quarantine of r/The_Donald censorship?

    For those of you who may not know, Reddit is a website that calls itself ‘the front page of the internet.’ It’s essentially a repository of message boards that discuss just about every subject imaginable broken down into what they call subreddits. For example, if you were to be a pro-wrestling fan then the subreddit called SquaredCircle is said to be the premier place to discuss sports entertainment with other fans on the internet. However, as with most internet communities, with the good comes the bad.

    Reddit is also home to the largest group of supporters of President Trump. Their subreddit is known as ‘The_Donald’ and is said to be the largest subreddit on the site. This past Wednesday The_Donald was quarantined by Reddit. This means it was effectively suspended by the site. How long it will remain offline is unclear. The reason it was reportedly taken offline was that a number of the group’s members threatened violence against police.

    Some users had apparently encouraged violence against law enforcement, angry that officials in Oregon were trying to bring back GOP state senators who fled the state to avoid voting on a climate-change bill.

    This is not the first time that Reddit has had to quarantine or outright ban some of their more tasteless or controversial subreddits.

    Since President Trump was elected there has been a theory among conservatives that social media outlets have been actively censoring conservative speech and ideas. Is this another instance of conservatives allegedly being silenced? To put it bluntly, no. First off, Reddit is a privately owned company and is free to choose what language it considers objectionable. Secondly, Reddit is not a branch of the government so your First Amendment Rights are not being violated. You are free to go to any other website that may tolerate such kind of speech. Lastly, even under the First Amendment, threats are not a form of protected speech. You may have heard the phrase ‘yelling fire in a crowded theater’. It’s a lot like that.

    So maybe if the r/The_Donald’s members could have better behaved they wouldn’t have had these problems.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Is student loan debt consolidation a scam? 

    Is student loan debt consolidation a scam?

    Student loan debt has been a hot topic in public conscience for a number of years now. It doesn’t only affect the recently graduated but those who have been out of school for years as well. Many college graduates go for most of their lives just trying to pay the interest off from these loans. It’s bad enough that these graduates face mountains of debt due to predatory practices performed by the lenders but now an army of scammers are looking to capitalize on their hardship.

    You may hear these commercials on the radio, see the fliers in the mail, or see the signs along roadways promising student debt relief or consolidation. A number of these so-called services promise to get you a better interest rate or lower your payments. All you have to do is pay a nominal fee to get the ball rolling. But instead of getting a better rate, these con artists just take your fee and disappear leaving you with more debt than when you started.

    The Better Business Bureau recommends that if you’re having trouble paying back your loans that you should contact your lender directly to try to negotiate a lower payment. Also, you should never pay up front for any debt service until they give you results first. Never give a debt consolidation service power of attorney as they can use this to take over your loan and make your payments even greater. While there is no quick and easy solution to alleviating the ever-mounting student loan debt problem, keeping these tips in mind will prevent you from it becoming an even bigger problem for you.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 26, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: alternative medicine, cancer, dementia, , ,   

    Hospitals suing patients over bills and more! 

    Hospitals suing patients over bills and more!

    Today we’re bringing you some healthcare news that could not only affect your wallet but your overall well being too.

    First up is a story from NPR about a number of non-profit hospitals that are taking their patients to court for unpaid bills. In the legal sense, these hospitals do have the right to pursue unpaid medical expenses, however, the majority of people being sued are those who are already struggling to cover expenses as it is. These are the same people who usually only seek medical help if it’s absolutely necessary or life-threatening due to the financial strain of just a routine doctor visit. This practice is said to betray the spirit of many of the early hospitals in our country. Many of those hospitals were opened by churches to provide medical treatment to anyone who needed it regardless of social status. Now, some of these hospitals are just adding to the suffering of many low-income families.

    The Washington Post brings us a report about the misleading health information that can be found on many social media outlets. The article specifically talks about many of the supposed all-natural remedies that claim to cure cancer. One woman who had posted videos on her ‘cures’ later succumbed to cancer, yet her family left the videos up believing in the power of snake oil over medicine. You’ll find this on just about all social networks with claims that everything from baking soda to essential oils, to small doses of bleach, can cure cancer. They can’t. There is no cure for cancer and it can only go into remission with treatment from medical professionals. There are diets that can help fight cancer but they can’t stop cancer alone. If you want good medical advice, turn to your doctor and not social media.

    Lastly is probably the most worrying story for today. The New York Times tells us about a study that claims the use of several well-known medications could lead to dementia in older patients. The most notable of these medications are diphenhydramine, better known as Benadryl, and the antidepressant Paxil. It needs to be mentioned that the study doesn’t claim that these medications and others like them will definitely lead to dementia, however, if you’re 55 or over and take one of the medications mentioned in the study regularly, you may want to consult with your doctor about potential risks and other treatments.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: collusion, , , , ,   

    Are drug companies colluding to raise prices? 

    Are drug companies colluding to raise prices?

    Previously, we’ve discussed a lawsuit against the country’s generic drug makers by 44 state Attorney’s General. The AGs claim that the pharmaceutical companies in question are colluding to keep the prices of generic drugs at the same inflated rate. Normally, when a patent expires on a brand name drug, it allows other drug manufacturers to make the exact same drug for cheaper. However, the lawsuit states that at least 20 companies are conspiring to keep generic drug prices from being competitive.

    Yesterday, the full details of the federal lawsuit were made public and included a number of codewords that the pharmaceutical companies used in discussions between each other. For example, ‘fluff pricing’ would refer to one of the companies charging a much more exorbitant price for a particular drug to maintain an illusion of competition. Whereas ‘playing nice in the sandbox’ allegedly referred to the companies not making trouble for each other. The lawsuit even alleges that the companies have tried to cover their tracks by instituting a no email policy and that they only communicate by phone.

    Artificially inflated drug prices can also affect the facilities that carry them and the insurance carriers that try to help pay for them. However, in the end, it’s inevitably the patient who has to shoulder the brunt of the cost. If the allegations in the lawsuit are true then the people in true need of these medications become nothing more than hostages paying an ever-increasing ransom to crooked companies.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 24, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , smishing, , Wells Fargo   

    Text message scams are on the rise! 

    Text message scams are on the rise!

    We’ve talked about email and phone call scams before but we’re pretty sure we’ve never discussed scams that specifically target you through text messages. Well, we’re going to correct that today.

    The Better Business Bureau recently reported on an employment scam that uses text messaging to try to swindle their victims out of their money or personal information. If you’re currently looking for a new job you could potentially be at risk for this scam. If you post your resume online you could be contacted by text from someone claiming to be a reputable company looking to hire you. They’ll then either ask you to pay for supplies or try to get your banking information for direct deposit. If they say you’re hired without even having you come in for an interview, it’s more than likely a scam.

    In Knoxville, Tennessee, a woman suffering from a cancer recurrence was recently scammed for hundreds of dollars in what’s referred to as ‘smishing’. That’s short for SMS phishing. She received a text message from one of her phone contacts telling about a grant she qualifies for that would provide $50,000 for her cancer treatment. The hook was that she would have to pay $500 first. After she mailed a $500 money order out of state she received another text asking for more money. This time the scammers were asking for $5,000. Luckily, her bank made her aware that this was a scam before she lost the $5,000. Text messages can be spoofed to make it look like they’re from someone you know. If a friend or associate texts you about a too good to be true offer, call them to make sure they sent the text.

    And lastly, the Utah Division of Consumer Protection is warning about a similar smishing scam that involves the Wells Fargo Bank. The text message says that there is an urgent discrepancy in your bank account that requires your immediate attention. You’ll then be instructed to click on a link or call a phone number to correct the discrepancy. You’ll then be asked for your ATM card number, PIN, expiration date, 3-digit security code, Social Security number, billing zip code, and your last known checking account balance. If you ever receive one of these text messages from any bank do not call the number or click on the link in the text. Instead, call your bank’s verified customer service number which you can usually find on their website.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 21, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: e-scooters, electric vehicles, , , Regulus, , Tesla Model 3,   

    Teslas hacked and more electric vehicle news! 

    Teslas hacked and more electric vehicle news!

    If you’re in the market for a Tesla Model 3 and want to take advantage of its Enhanced Autopilot feature, you may want to think again. A team of cybersecurity researchers known as Regulus claims that they have been able to hack into a Tesla Model 3 and essentially take remote control of the car while on autopilot. Regulus performed this experiment in a closed location and were successfully able to cause the car to malfunction with parts that can be bought off the shelf. While it’s doubtful that these attacks will become widespread immediately, it does show that autonomous vehicles may not be ready for primetime just yet as many of its proponents claim.

    The State of New York is getting ready to pass legislation that would make electric scooters and bicycles available for rent in their state. However, it will be up to the individual municipalities to determine where the scooters can be ridden and left out for rent. What remains to be seen is how they will be embraced by residents of the Empire State. In many communities such as Seattle and Austin, Texas, many residents have found them to be a public nuisance have taken to throwing the scooters in lakes and rivers. While New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is supporting the new legislation, it will be interesting to see if scooters in the Five Boroughs end up in the Hudson River.

    Lastly, if you own an electric or hybrid vehicle and live in the state of Utah, you may be paying more out of pocket. While only 2% of vehicles in Utah are electric or a hybrid, the state is looking to make up for the loss in revenue when it comes to the highway tax that the state makes off of gasoline sales. Under a voluntary program starting in January, the state would want to charge electric and hybrid drivers 1.5 cents for every mile driven. While a tax like this seems inevitable with many drivers moving on to electric vehicles it will be interesting to see how states enforce such a tax once electric vehicles become more commonplace.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 20, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Firefox, Google Calendar, Nest Cameras, ,   

    Tech Security news to protect your privacy! 

    Tech Security news to protect your privacy!

    Today we have a handful of stories that could potentially affect your privacy and we start off with Google Calendar. You may not realize that you even use Google Calendar but if you use Gmail to make any kind of appointments, the odds are you’ll receive a reminder from your Google Calendar. Now, reports are being circulated the Google Calendars are being used for phishing attacks. Reports say that you’ll receive a Google Calendar notification that says things like that you’ve received a cash reward or asking you to take a survey. Attached will be a link the phishers will want you to click on to try to glean your personal or financial information. Mental Floss has some tips on how to block these annoying invitations in Calendar, but as always you should never click on strange links from correspondents that you don’t know.

    If you’ve recently purchased a used Nest cam for your home you may want to know that in some instances the previous owners could still access the cameras. While that does sound scary it does not apply to all previously owned Nest cameras. The cameras must have previously been connected to a Wink branded home hub then the previous owners could still access the cameras through the Wink app. If you own a Nest camera and you feel it could be potentially compromised you may want to consider purchasing a new set of cameras as so far there has yet to be a fix for the issue. According to The Wirecutter, even a factory reset won’t help.

    Lastly, if you use the Firefox web browser you’ll want to perform an update as soon as possible. Mozilla, the company behind Firefox, recently issued a statement asking users to update their browsers after an exploit was found that could compromise user security. Mozilla didn’t go into detail about what the exploit was except to say that there have been documented accounts of attacks against the exploit. It’s relatively easy to perform an update on Firefox. All you need to is click on the open menu icon on the upper right of the browser. Scroll down the menu to the help option, click on help, then click on About Firefox. Then a prompt should come up asking you to update Firefox. Click on the update button and Firefox will update and your browser will be more secure.

    Hopefully, these tips will keep your privacy and security a little more private and secure.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 19, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Tufts Medical Center   

    Robocalls could be a health hazard! 

    Robocalls could be a health hazard!

    Yesterday, we talked about how robocalls have become such a nuisance in our day to day lives and what the government is doing to try to stop them. Normally, we wouldn’t be talking about them again so soon as we like to give our readers some variety. However, news recently came out about how robocalls could potentially put lives in danger. As we previously stated, many people have taken to ignoring most phone calls if they don’t recognize the number. But what if you weren’t able to ignore any incoming calls? That’s exactly what happened to one prominent hospital last year.

    On April 30th of 2018, Tufts Medical Center in Boston received an onslaught of robocalls to their facility. The hospital received thousands of robocalls that tied up their phone lines for hours. The calls were in Mandarin Chinese threatening deportation if the person receiving the call did not divulge their personal information. This is a common scam perpetrated on new residents of our country and Tufts happens to be in Boston’s Chinatown. As you’ve probably guessed, facilities like Tufts can’t exactly take their phones off the hook or let them go unanswered. To do so would be putting their patients’ lives in jeopardy. Now imagine a busy hospital where not only do the staff have to treat patients but also have to deal with constantly ringing phones that are nothing but scam calls.

    While there has yet to be any evidence that these robocalls to hospitals have impacted anyone’s treatment negatively, they definitely have the potential to cause enough chaos to do so. If a large hospital was responding to a major disaster and came under attack from one of these robocall outbreaks it could seriously hamper their efforts to treat gravely injured patients.

    Unfortunately, most of these robocalls come from overseas where it would be hard to track and prosecute the perpetrators. Hopefully, the government and the phone carriers can come up with a plan to put an end to robocalls once and for all before they become dangerous.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 18, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , SHAKEN/STIR   

    Are robocalls about to become defunct? 

    Are robocalls about to become defunct?

    In the past, we’ve been somewhat critical of the Federal Communications Commission for the way the FCC has handled net neutrality in the United States. However, it seems that the FCC has taken steps to put a stop to one of today’s greatest nuisances, robocalls. These are the calls that often appear to be a local call making you think that it might be someone you know. Except when you answer the call it’s either some sales pitch or phone scam. It’s gotten to the point where many people won’t even answer their phone if they don’t recognize the number.

    Earlier this month, the FCC passed a provision that would require the major wireless providers to implement a new technology designed to stop robocalls. The carriers have until 2020 to implement the technology known as SHAKEN/STIR. You can read more about SHAKEN/STIR at this link. In essence, SHAKEN/STIR is said to be able to determine if the number calling you is coming from the phone number that shows up on your phone’s screen.

    In the meantime, there’s plenty you can do to block robocalls before SHAKEN/STIR is implemented. Many carriers have services or apps that can go a long way in blocking robocalls. Some of these services also let you report any potential robocall numbers to your carrier. Many of the services are free but some require an additional monthly fee. Speaking of fee, it’s not known yet the cost that the implementation of SHAKEN/STIR will cost the carriers and how much of that will be passed on to the consumer. While the potential end of robocalls sounds great it could result in an even heftier phone bill.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 17, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Insulin prices are killing patients! 

    Insulin prices are killing patients!

    We think that it goes without saying that Diabetes is no joke. The metabolic disorder can affect anyone regardless of age, social status, or background. This requires the majority of diabetes patients to be on an insulin regimen for the rest of their lives. When insulin was first discovered the people who first discovered it refused to commercialize the drug claiming that it seemed unethical to profit from such a critical and life-saving drug. However, it seems like today’s pharmaceutical manufacturers have no such qualms about prioritizing profits over treatment.

    Over the past decade or so, prices of insulin have skyrocketed even though there have been no major advancements in the manufacturing process. While there are three companies that make insulin in the US, their prices aren’t what you could consider competitive as they’re all equally expensive pricing insulin out of the reach of many who need the drug to live. This has led many patients to try to ration their insulin supply which isn’t recommended. This can and has led to some patients dying from lack of insulin. This has forced many people seeking treatment to buy their insulin in Canada where not only can you buy insulin over the counter but you can buy it at a tenth of the US price.

    However, this is not a viable option for most diabetes patients. Some can hardly afford to leave their own city let alone travel to Canada. This has led to people forming ‘grey markets’ where they can buy or trade for supplies to help treat their diabetes. In what is supposed to be one of the most medically advanced countries in the world, people are dying because they can’t afford a drug that they need just to survive. Something can be done about this, however, those who control the supply refuse to do anything.

     
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