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Civic Ventures

While on the campaign trail, President-elect Donald Trump made it clear what he plans to do to regulations.

"I would say 70% of regulations can go," he was quoted as saying at a town hall meeting. According to his website, his vision for regulations is to ask all department heads to submit a list of "every wasteful and unnecessary regulation which kills jobs" — and then to eliminate them.

The site indicates an exception for regulations regarding "public safety." But the tricky thing is, the public, businesses, and the government don't always agree which regulations are necessary for public safety.


Image via iStock.

History shows us that many necessary regulations that we take for granted today were initially opposed by corporations that said they'd hurt jobs and destroy the industry. Fortunately, in these cases, regulation won the day.

Here are three prominent times that public safety regulations won out and we all benefitted — and not at the expense of business either.

1. Food and drug labelling laws

Image via iStock.

At the turn of the 20th century, the food and drug industries were virtually uncontrolled.

Chemical preservatives weren’t tested for safety; toxic colors were frequently used; milk cows weren't tested for tuberculosis; and opium, morphine, heroin, and cocaine were often ingredients in popular medicines — and there were no labels to warn consumers of their presence.

According to the FDA, Dr. Harvey W. Wiley, chief of the Division of Chemistry, was one of the first to crusade for safety laws in regards to food and medicine.

He started volunteer "hygiene table studies" where young men would eat food containing chemical preservatives (these trials became popularly known as "poison squads") to demonstrate that the ingredients were harmful. He wanted to show the public that these preservatives should only be used when necessary and that none should be used without informing the consumer on the label.

But it wasn't an easy task.

A "poison squad.” Image via the U.S. Food and Drug Administration/Flickr.

Whiskey distillers and patent medicine firms (the largest advertisers in the country) vehemently opposed a federal food and drug law.

They said it would put them out of business, and they argued that the government had no business policing what people ate, drank, or used as medicine.

A political cartoon pays homage to Wiley, who led the fight to institute a federal law to prohibit adulterated and misbranded food and drugs. Image via the U.S. Food and Drug Administration/Flickr.

In large part because of this and other opposition, the incremental progress toward food labeling took over a century. Many laws were passed and regulations approved that gave consumers information about what they were putting into their bodies, but each was met with resistance. Concessions had to be made when passing them so that revisions, amendments, and new versions were later needed to protect consumers.

Food labelling as we know it today wasn’t required until 1990. By then, public opinion had shifted, and it was recognized that these laws and regulations were helping public safety.

2. Mandatory seat belts

Image via iStock.

In 1970,  Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and Regulations proposed that all vehicles include an automatic restraint system.

The auto industry, led by Ford, GM, and Chrysler, balked, saying that things like seat belts and airbags would hurt the manufacturing industry by increasing costs.

In one leaked 1971 private meeting between Ford senior executives and President Richard Nixon that was caught on tape, Ford Motor Co. chairman Henry Ford IIcomplained that "the price of a Pinto ... [would go] up something like 50% in the next three years with the inflation part of it, but that's not the big part of it. It's the safety requirements, the emission requirements."

The vehement opposition to the legislation led to over a decade of delays — until public pressure began to mount.

"When I was an administrator, I did a lot of crash testing of cars, and it showed how the occupant is thrown around in the interior of the car when the crash occurs. And people began to understand because they could see it — visually — how violent auto crashes are," says Joan Claybrook, the former head of the National Highway Safety Administration under President Jimmy Carter and former head of Public Citizen.

"So when the auto companies wouldn’t put provisions in the car or opposed them, the public began to understand that they were not helping the public by doing that. It was essentially allowing people to be killed," she adds.

Image via iStock.

It wasn't until 1984 that states began requiring seat belt use (starting with New York). By 1989, most states had seat belt laws in place.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seat belts have saved an estimated 275,000 lives over the last 40 years.

"What regulation does is that it assures that every new car that’s manufactured meets certain minimum standards," says Claybrook, “If you don’t have regulation, the higher-income wealthier people in the country will demand that their more luxury cars have safety provisions and the rest of the public, in their less expensive cards, often don’t get them — or don’t get them for years.”

3. Banning smoking on airlines

Image via iStock.

It took almost 30 years for smoking to be banned on all commercial airlines and flights — despite health risks to both crew and passengers.

Tobacco companies actively fought any and all regulations against their products well into the 1990s, even though warning labels were first mandated back in 1965 — a year after the surgeon general's report on the health risks had come out — and the dangers of smoking were becoming well-established.

Airlines also worried that their customers wouldn't fly if they couldn’t smoke on long flights and that losing all their smoking customers could hurt business. The airlines thought it would be impossible to ban smoking completely, even if flight attendants and nonsmokers were advocating for it.

"Suitcases, uniforms, hair — all stunk from cigarette smoke," Tracy Shear, a flight attendant with U.S. Airways, shared with The New York Times. "And it’s astounding that we didn’t have more cabin fires."

Image via iStock.

In 1990, despite bitter resistance by the tobacco industry and after years of pressure from the Association of Flight Attendants, smoking was banned on all but a few domestic flights that were over six hours.

It took another 10 years for a federal law to be passed outlawing smoking on all flights by U.S. airlines — and interestingly, the move to make all flights smoke-free was celebrated by employees, customers, and even the airlines themselves. Customers didn't stop flying because they couldn't smoke — in fact, everyone was thankful for the clean air in the cabin.

Today, the battle over regulations is far from over.

Lobbyists and businesses still campaign every day for deregulation, saying that meddling from Uncle Sam will hurt them. Some of the loudest opposition comes from oil and energy companies fighting regulations to mitigate pollution and environmental damage — despite the frequent environmental disasters that occur and the looming threat of climate change.

Image via iStock.

Like tax cuts for the wealthy, we are told that deregulation is what's best for business and our economy because that is how innovation happens. When profits are good, they say, the benefits will "trickle down" to the rest of us. But time and time again, we have seen the opposite. Regulation doesn't kill businesses — it just makes them safer.

So as a new president takes office, it’s important to remember that regulation "equalizes the safety protections for everybody," as Claybrook explains. These laws are necessary to protect people’s lives. Perhaps one day we will think that environmental regulations are just as common sense as we now find seat belts.

Joy

Nurse turns inappropriate things men say in the delivery room into ‘inspirational’ art

"Can you move to the birthing ball so I can sleep in the bed?"

Holly the delivery nurse.

After working six years as a labor and delivery nurse Holly, 30, has heard a lot of inappropriate remarks made by men while their partners are in labor. “Sometimes the moms think it’s funny—and if they think it’s funny, then I’ll laugh with them,” Holly told TODAY Parents. “But if they get upset, I’ll try to be the buffer. I’ll change the subject.”

Some of the comments are so wrong that she did something creative with them by turning them into “inspirational” quotes and setting them to “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton on TikTok.

“Some partners are hard to live up to!” she jokingly captioned the video.

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

The mesmerizing lost art of darning knit fabric.

For most of human history, people had to make their own clothing by hand, and sewing skills were subsequently passed down from generation to generation. Because clothing was so time-consuming and labor-intensive to make, people also had to know how to repair clothing items that got torn or damaged in some way.

The invention of sewing and knitting machines changed the way we acquire clothing, and the skills people used to possess have largely gone by the wayside. If we get a hole in a sock nowadays, we toss it and replace it. Most of us have no idea how to darn a sock or fix a hole in any knit fabric. It's far easier for us to replace than to repair.

But there are still some among us who do have the skills to repair clothing in a way that makes it look like the rip, tear or hole never happened, and to watch them do it is mesmerizing.

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Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
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