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Comic for October 14, 2019

Dilbert - 0 sec ago
Categories: Geek

Judge grants mega-rich Sackler family reprieve from legal costs of opioid crisis

Ars Technica - 1 hour 33 min ago

Enlarge / PURDUE PHARMA, STAMFORD, Conn. - 2019/09/12: Members of P.A.I.N. (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now) and Truth Pharm staged a protest on September 12, 2019, outside Purdue Pharma headquarters in Stamford, over their recent controversial opioid settlement. (credit: Getty | Erik McGregor)

OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma and its billionaire owners, the Sacklers, on Friday got a temporary reprieve from lingering court battles over their alleged role in fueling the opioid crisis. In exchange, they may have to be more forthcoming about what happened to all the OxyContin money.

US bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain temporarily halted state lawsuits against Purdue as well as the Sacklers—though only Purdue has filed for bankruptcy protections. In pausing the states' cases, Judge Drain cited Purdue's mounting legal expenses, which he noted is money that could otherwise go toward addressing the opioid crisis and its victims, according to The New York Times.

Purdue had sought a 180-day injunction on the state's cases, but Judge Drain's pause only lasts until November 6. In that shorter timeframe, he pushed the parties to try to talk out their differences. Those differences primarily hinge on whether the Sacklers are offering enough of their allegedly ill-gotten fortune to address the opioid crisis in thousands of lawsuits on the matter.

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Researchers find just two plague strains wiped out 30%-60% of Europe

Ars Technica - October 14, 2019 - 10:32pm

Enlarge / Remains of human plague victims in a mass grave in Toulouse, France, dating back to the Black Death period. (credit: Archeodunum SAS, Gourvennec Michaël)

The Black Death ravaged medieval Western Europe, wiping out roughly one-third of the population. Now researchers have traced the genetic history of the bacterium believed to be behind the plague in a recent paper published in Nature Communications. They found that one strain seemed to be the ancestor of all the strains that came after it, indicating that the pandemic spread from a single entry point into Europe from the East—specifically, a Russian town called Laishevo.

Technically, we're talking about the second plague pandemic. The first, known as the Justinian Plague, broke out about 541 CE and quickly spread across Asia, North Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. (The Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian I, for whom the pandemic is named, actually survived the disease.) There continued to be outbreaks of the plague over the next 300 years, although the disease gradually became less virulent and died out. Or so it seemed.

In the Middle Ages, the Black Death burst onto the scene, with the first historically documented outbreak occurring in 1346 in the Lower Volga and Black Sea regions. That was just the beginning of the second pandemic. During the 1630s, fresh outbreaks of plague killed half the populations of affected cities. Another bout of the plague significantly culled the population of France during an outbreak between 1647 and 1649, followed by an epidemic in London in the summer of 1665. The latter was so virulent that, by October, one in 10 Londoners had succumbed to the disease—over 60,000 people. Similar numbers perished in an outbreak in Holland in the 1660s. The pandemic had run its course by the early 19th century, but a third plague pandemic hit China and India in the 1890s; there are still occasional outbreaks today.

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Thousands of DOS games have been added to the Internet Archive

Ars Technica - October 14, 2019 - 10:06pm

Enlarge / Just one of the games added to the archive recently. (credit: Sir-Tech)

The Internet Archive has been updated with more than 2,500 DOS games, marking the most significant addition of games to the archive since 2015.

New additions include forgotten classics like Wizardry: Crusaders of the Dark SavantPrincess Maker 2, and Microsoft Adventure, a rebranding of Colossal Caves Adventure. They also include a whole lot of weird, early experiments and dead ends that should be fascinating to explore for historians, technologists, game designers, and players alike.

The blog post announcing the additions includes some disclaimers: not all games will run as speedily as one might like, not all games have manuals available (though some do), and frankly, not all games from these bygone areas are enjoyable by modern standards.

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