Sunday, March 26, 2017

Blasphemy as a repugnant transaction in Pakistan

The Guardian has the latest:
Pakistan asks Facebook and Twitter to help identify blasphemers
Companies approached in effort to locate Pakistanis at home or abroad so they can be prosecuted or potentially extradited

"Under the country’s strict blasphemy laws, anyone found to have insulted Islam or the prophet Muhammad can be sentenced to death.
The interior minister, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, said an official in Pakistan’s Washington embassy had approached the two social media companies in an effort to identify Pakistanis, either within the country or abroad, who recently shared material deemed offensive to Islam.
He said Pakistani authorities had identified 11 people for questioning over alleged blasphemy and would seek the extradition of anyone living abroad.
Facebook said it reviews all government requests carefully, “with the goal of protecting the privacy and rights of our users”."

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Kidney donation in Tennessee

Here's a story from the Tennessee Tribune, about Dr. Clarence Foster, an African-American transplant surgeon, who is trying to raise awareness among minority patients.

Minorities Wait for Kidney Transplants

"In 2016, 226 African American Tennesseans received a kidney transplant compared to 222 white and ten Hispanics, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The numbers are almost identical for 2015.

But, the list for Tennessee residents who need kidney transplant is far longer. Last year, 1, 283 African Americans, 1,166 Whites, 63 Hispanics and 29 Asians, 9 Native American and 29 Multi-Racial people waited for kidney transplants.

Jill Grandas confirmed that the numbers of African Americans waiting for a kidney are almost equal to white patients.

“Among patients in Tennessee waiting for a kidney, about 50 percent are African Americans and they are transplanted at almost the same rate – 48 percent of the patients who received a kidney were African American.”

However, in Tennessee, the number of African American kidney donors is far less than the need. Last year, 211 kidneys were donated by white donors, 43 by black donors, 11 by Hispanic donors and 2 Asian donors and these were from deceased donors.  Among living donors (usually a close family member) there were 55 white donors, 7 black, one Hispanic and one Asian.

“Among, 2,107,231 on the ‘Donate Life Tennessee Organ and Tissue Donor Registry,’ 9.2 percent are African Americans,” said Grandas.

“Our rate of donation from African Americans is much less than from other races. We would assume that if more African Americans would donate, more African American patients would receive an organ from an African American donor.”

“African Americans can safely be a living donor.  We need to overcome the mistrust between the community and the medical profession,” said Dr. Foster."

Friday, March 24, 2017

Bob Wilson and Game Theory: two very short videos

In connection with Bob Wilson's 2017 CME Group-MSRI prize, here's a short (2 minute)video in which Roger Myerson, Phil Reny, Bob Wilson, David Eisenbud, and I respond to the question "What is game theory?"  (Phil also remarks on what role it has played in his long happy marriage...)



And there's another short video (which I couldn't embed), talking about Bob Wilson, at this link to the CME prize page (scroll down til you see the game theory video, it's right next to it):
Robert Wilson Awarded the 2016 CME Group-MSRI Prize in Innovative Quantitative Applications

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Match Day and the medical match as an economic game by Moblab

Not only is the medical Match important for doctors, now there's an in-class game from Moblab which econ instructors can use to introduce matching. Here's a post about it:

A Personal Note on Match Day and our KR Matching Game.
17 Mar 2017/ by Doug Norton 

Germany en route to annul historical convictions of gay men

Deutsche Welle has the story:
Germany set to annul historical convictions of gay men

"German men convicted on the basis of a 19th century law criminalizing homosexuality now have a chance at getting late justice in the wake of an expert study commissioned by the Anti-Discrimination Agency.
Their supposed crime was the same during the Nazi era as it was in the federal republic founded in 1949: They loved other men and had homosexual sex.
Those who were caught engaging in homosexual acts or who were denounced as homosexuals were spared no mercy by the state. The law containing the infamous Paragraph 175 outlawing sexual relations between men dates back to the 19th century, but it was applied especially zealously under Nazi rule. The law remained intact even after 1945. Homosexuality was decriminalized in 1969, but Paragraph 175 was not abolished until 1994.
By that time, more than 50,000 men had been convicted for being gay, something that "violated the very core of their human dignity," said Christine Lüders, the head of the government's Anti-Discrimination Authority, in Berlin on Wednesday. At her side was Martin Burgi of the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. The legal expert has compiled a study on the rehabilitation of homosexuals convicted under the law. He's confident it can be done, saying there's no legal barrier to rehabilitating the men.
...
"For laypeople, it's hard to understand why men convicted under Paragraph 175 by the Nazis have been rehabilitated since 2002, while verdicts handed down in the post-war era are still being upheld. The logic is as appalling as it is banal: The Nazi dictatorship was declared an unjust state; the Federal Republic of Germany, on the other hand, is based on democratic principles. That means the men who had the misfortune to be found guilty of homosexuality in the post-war era still have criminal records.
But Burgi says that "collective rehabilitation" of those affected by the law can be achieved with the help of social and democratic principles."

*************

Here's the Associated Press story from ABC: German Cabinet OKs plan to annul homosexuality convictions

"Germany's Cabinet on Wednesday approved a bill that would annul the convictions of thousands of gay men under a law criminalizing homosexuality that was applied zealously in post-World War II West Germany.

The decision also clears the way for compensation for those still alive who were convicted under the so-called Paragraph 175 outlawing sexual relations between men.

The legislation was introduced in the 19th century, toughened under Nazi rule and retained in that form by West Germany, which convicted some 50,000 men between 1949 and 1969.

Homosexuality was decriminalized in 1969 but the legislation wasn't taken off the books entirely until 1994.

The bill approved Wednesday by Chancellor Angela Merkel's Cabinet of conservatives and center-left Social Democrats still requires parliamentary approval. "
********

This echoes recent events in England: see my earlier post on that

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Unmarried sex is a crime in Abu Dhabi

The Telegraph has the story:
Expat couple arrested in Abu Dhabi for sex outside of marriage

"An expatriate couple have been detained in Abu Dhabi for almost six weeks after being arrested for having sex outside of marriage.

South African Emlyn Culverwell, 29, took his 27-year-old Ukrainian fiancée, Iryna Nohai, to a medical centre in the UAE city after she developed stomach cramps.

The doctor said she was pregnant and informed authorities after they could not provide marriage certificates. They were first brought to Yas Police Station, before being moved to Al Wathba Prison."   

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Matching shipping containers to shippers

A matching problem that John Vande Vate is thinking about has to do with the large number of shipping containers that travel empty to their next destination after being unloaded. "Street turns" would match them to shipments near their previous destination.

Here's his report on the considerable upside to improved matching:
e‐Street‐Turns:TheEasyStreettoGreen

Monday, March 20, 2017

Congestion in SF public school choice

One thing that computerized school choice is supposed to do is reduce congestion that sometimes stops school districts from matching students to schools in a timely way. San Francisco has a computerized system, but they are nevertheless running into congestion this year. SFGate has the story:
High anxiety as SF public school assignments run late, By Nanette Asimov

"A school district glitch has parents biting their nails in San Francisco this week.
Thousands of dollars are on the line for families that are prepared to lay out hefty deposits for private schools by this week’s deadlines — but hope they won’t have to if they can get into a public school of their choice.
The trouble is, the San Francisco Unified School District may not be able to tell them about their public school options, from elementary through high school, before private-school down payments are due Wednesday through Friday. The district missed its March 17 deadline for sending out school-assignment letters because of “unforeseen staffing emergencies,” said spokeswoman Gentle Blythe.
“We have people who haven’t slept in days” trying to make sure that 83,000 school options for 14,000 students are all correct, Blythe said, adding that she can’t reveal more about the problem because of employee confidentiality.
...
"The deadline for private high school deposits is Wednesday at noon for parents applying for financial aid and Friday at noon for those paying full price. Private elementary and middle schools have a Thursday deadline. And although most private schools coordinated their deposit due dates with the public school district this year, the district’s glitch has thrown the careful planning into disarray."
****************

Update: SF school-assignment letters to be mailed out Monday night  By Nanette Asimov Updated 4:19 pm, Monday, March 20, 2017

"The San Francisco district sends out public-school assignments by U.S. mail because “the letters provide the documentation families need to register at school sites and serves to further verify their address,” spokeswoman Gentle Blythe said.
However, parents facing an imminent private-school deadline who haven’t gotten a letter by Tuesday can email enrollinschool@sfusd.edu.
“We will do what we can to help you after March 21,” says a notice on the district’s website."