Weekend Edition: Inform Your Opinion 11-09-19 & 11-10-19

A very important update on the public health crisis EVALI.

CDC has made a breakthrough in finding the possible cause of the deadly vaping illness affecting the entire country. Vitamin E Acetate was detected in all 29 lung tissue samples from the patients that the health officials have tested.

While Vitamin E Acetate is normally safe when applied to the skin or swallowed, inhaling the compound is not safe. Vitamin E Acetate when inhaled turns into a honey like substance that coats the lungs from the inside, specifically the alveoli inside the lungs get covered. The lungs have no way of getting rid of the coating. Thus impairing lung function possibly for life.

Alveoli are tiny balloon shaped structures and are the smallest passageway in the respiratory system. The alveoli are only one cell thick, allowing the relatively easy passage of oxygen and carbon dioxide (CO2) between the alveoli and blood vessels called capillaries. With enough of them being covered you lose ability to supply the body with enough oxygen. There is no way to get more oxygen in other then your lungs. So in serious cases its death or an emergency lung transplant.

As of Tuesday, the CDC has confirmed 2,051 probable cases, 163 of those were new cases diagnosed just last week. The patients affected are from 49 states, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands. The number of fatalities rose to 39. Health officials are calling the disease EVALI, short for e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury.

The CDC is recommending that consumers stop vaping, particularly THC and especially anything bought off the street. There have been thousands of fake THC cartridges that are packaged to look like the name brand cartridges that were made using Vitamin E Acetate. The CDC said that it is important that the compound not be added to any vaping products until the relationship of vitamin E acetate and lung health is better characterized.

CNBC report by Berkley Lovelace Jr.

CDC link on the outbreak with updates.

Inform Your Opinion 10-30-19

Today lets take a look at a state that has been in the news all week – California.

On Sunday, 27th of October, Katie Hill a democratic congress woman from the 25th District of California announced her resignation over allegations of inappropriate sexual relations with a congressional staffer. The Wednesday before her resignation an investigation by the House Ethics Committee was opened into the allegations given that if true, the relationship would be in violation of House rules. Hill has denied the allegations in a letter to her supporters, but did admit to an inappropriate relationship with a campaign staffer. While inappropriate it would not be a violation of the House rules. Sense then however, nude photos of her have been leaked online which in the end lead to her resignation which many say she did not have to do.

USA Today article by Alia E. Dastagir.

Multiple wildfires have been scorching California. In southern California the conditions are extremely dangerous because of strong winds. On Wednesday morning northwest of Los Angeles the Easy Fire had burned more then 1,600 acres and was burning near the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Thankfully the library was protected from the blaze. Meanwhile east of Los Angeles the Hill Fire broke out and burned through 628 acres on Wednesday.

In Northern California, a massive Kincade Fire has grown to more then 76,000 acres, and firefighters are fighting to contain it. Thankfully the winds have subsided a firefighters are reporting that they have the wildfire contained to about 45%. Thousands are still under evacuation orders and many more are without power as the electric company preemptively shut off power out of fear of starting new wildfires.

CBS News report with updates.

Uber, Lyft and DoorDash have kicked off a $90 million fight against a ballot measure in California that guarantees gig economy workers a 120% minimum wage. The ballot measure called Assembly Bill 5 which was signed into law on September 15th by California Governor Gavin Newsom enshrines the ABC test that determines whether someone is a contractor or employee.

The Verge in depth report by Andrew J. Hawkins.

Inform Your Opinion 10-25-19

A fantastic analysis of 40 million Uber rides reveals how much/who/when people tip.

Q: Do men or women tip more often?
A: Men tip on 17% of trips, while women tip on 14.3% of trips.

Q: What % of riders never tip?
A: Some 60% of ride-share customers never tip, while only 1% always tip.

Q: Does your age and gender get you more or less tips?
A: Women drivers are tipped up to 12% more than male drivers. But it evens out for drivers aged 65 and over and they end up getting tipped at the same rate.

For a more in depth look, see Market Watch article by Quentin Fottrell

Finally Uber is coming out with its own version of a light like the Lyft AMP. Hopefully this time it will be for every Uber driver across the nation and not just a select market. The Beacon 2.0 is designed to help you find the correct car in busy pickup location by customizing the color it lights up. It will also give riders helpful reminders like to wear a seat belt, not to slam the door as they exit the vehicle.

The Verge article by Andrew J. Hawkins

There was a major settlement this week over the liability of who is responsible for the U.S. opioid crisis in Ohio courts that amounted to $260 million for two counties Cuyahoga and Summit. The last minute settlement averted what would have been the first trial in a landmark federal case which involves thousands of plaintiffs and defendants from every link in the chain of opioid drug production. The fight has just begun, but it is nice to see that there is some justice for those who became addicted; and its finally time to pay by those that profited from this crisis and hid the truth of how addictive these prescription drugs really were.

NPR article by Colin Dwyer