We can’t just leave drug addicts to die, even after previous overdoses

CW39 NewsFix recently featured a story from Ohio about a quite controversial way to deal with the opioid addiction crisis currently affecting that state. From the article:

Middletown City Council member Dan Picard is proposing to give drug users two chances. Paramedics would respond to an overdose twice, and each time the addict would receive a summons and be required to do community service after being treated.

But if they don’t show up in court, don’t complete the service and then overdose a third time? That’s it. No one will come to help them.

Now, the first part is bad enough. Drug addiction needs to be treated as a medical problem, not a legal problem. This is exactly what is wrong with using criminal laws to combat the drug problem. They are simply the wrong tool for the job.

But the idea of paramedics being told, by law, to refuse to save someone’s life is outrageous. And I mean that literally: the idea should be enough to trigger outrage in the community in question, and beyond. It’s enough to outrage me all the way over here in Houston, Texas. It’s unconscionable, unscrupulous, illogical, and reckless. All in the name of saving the city a few bucks, which makes it that much more infuriating to me.

And it turns out I’m not the only one to feel this way:

Truth Pharm, a national advocacy group focusing on substance addiction and drug policy, wrote an open letter to Picard on the organization’s website criticizing his approach.

“To suggest that you withhold emergency medical response to overdose patients is manslaughter at best and premeditated murder at worse,” the letter read.

I’m with Truth Pharm on this. As of the last time I checked, state law takes precedence over city and other local laws. I would find it hard to imagine a state with any degree of law and order where it does not.

There are logical, humane, and compassionate ways to solve the problem of repeated drug overdoses. This definitely isn’t one of them. I wish Ohioans the best in getting through this, but please remember those suffering from drug addiction are people too.

Microsoft and News Corp: strange bedfellows at their worst

FT.com reports on a very troubling development. Microsoft and News Corporation are forming an alliance against Google (if you believe them) or against all of us (if you don't). In essence, News Corporation will "de-index" its content from Google in exchange for payment from Microsoft.

At best, this deal is dubious. At worst, it's anti-competitive and forces the users of search engines into a chess game as unwilling pawns. My argument here is not in favor of Google any more than it is in favor of choice of the users and against underhanded tactics on the part of Microsoft.

I can't see the US Department of Justice just letting this go unchecked. I'll just say there's never been a better time to boycott Microsoft than now.

To be fair about it, we do need more choices than Google or Bing. Cuil showed some promise at first (once their bot became better behaved). Several others have come and gone before the age of Google (I still miss many of the searches AltaVista let you do that Google simply does not have functionality for).

In a way, I had hoped Bing would become a serious alternative to Google, just to keep Google honest. I should have known better than to think honesty and anything related to Microsoft belonged in the same thought pattern. Shame on you, Microsoft.

Sock(-puppet)ing it to Apple’s iPhone App Store

Sometimes Apple is not to blame for everything, though I would like to think there is a way they can put a sock in this problem.

Gagan Biyani writing for MobileCrunch reports on the latest problem to hit Apple’s iPhone App Store: completely fake reviews planted there by PR firms.

Reverb Communications is a PR firm retained by some of the companies which sell iPhone applications in the App Store. The firm touts “first party” and “personal” relationships with Apple. Those claims, of course, are spun so much, most of us mere mortals that don’t work in PR risk nausea from the resulting dizziness embodied therein. Because what Reverb actually means is that they have a bunch of fake identities that can log into the App Store and post fake reviews. Yeah, that’s not exactly what comes to mind when I hear of “first party” and “personal” relationships.

How did we finally find out that Reverb lacks scruples and decency? Through an anonymous developer referred to in the article as only “Developer Y” (assumably because “Publisher X” had just been used in the preceding paragraph). From a document sent from Reverb to Developer Y (quoted in the original article):

Reverb employs a small team of interns who are focused on managing online message boards, writing influential game reviews, and keeping a gauge on the online communities. Reverb uses the interns as a sounding board to understand the new mediums where consumers are learning about products, hearing about hot new games and listen to the thoughts of our targeted audience. Reverb will use these interns on Developer Y products to post game reviews (written by Reverb staff members) ensuring the majority of the reviews will have the key messaging and talking points developed by the Reverb PR/marketing team.

But it gets even better. Reverb actually works with Apple, having done at least one TV commercial for them. Further, at least one of Reverb’s referrals actually came from an Apple employee.

Reverb’s official statement when confronted with this? Hang on tight, because the Tilt-a-Whirl is starting up again. Doug Kennedy wrote back to MobileCrunch in essence fingering a “disgruntled former employee who is violating his confidentiality agreement.”

I’m pretty sure confidentiality agreements don’t cover illegal activity, and what Reverb is doing here at least borders on fraud. At the very least it’s patently devoid of any scruples, honesty, and ethics. And PR firms and the people that work for them wonder why they are sometimes viewed as less trustworthy.

Shame on Reverb. If you work in PR, please don’t do what they did. The world, and the reputation of your profession, will be much better off.