This week, researchers reported that a popular medical algorithm used to predict which patients will benefit from extra medical care dramatically underestimates the health needs of the sickest black patients. Meanwhile, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerburg announced initiatives to protect against foreign election interference, and Rose McGowan sued Harvey Weinstein and his lawyers for efforts to discredit her and prevent her from going public with her rape allegations.
A widely-used medical algorithm amplifies long-standing racial disparities in medicine by favoring white patients over sicker black patients. The algorithm uses a seemingly race-blind metric to determine to which patients it should allocate its resources: how much patients would cost the health-care system in the future. Nevertheless, in the health systems researchers studied, correcting this bias would more than double the number of black patients flagged as at risk. Professor Senhill Mullainaithan, who oversaw the work believes that “it is truly inconceivable . . . that anyone else’s algorithm doesn’t suffer from this.” (Washington Post)
Barack Obama delivered a eulogy for Representative Elijah Cummings, a celebrated civil rights leader, at his funeral on Friday. “Elijah Cummings was a man of noble and good heart.” The former President remarked. “His parents and his faith planted the seeds of hope, and love, and compassion, and righteousness in that good soil of his.” House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and former President, Bill Clinton, also offered remarks at the funeral. (Huffington Post)
Civil rights journalist Kathryn Johnson passed away at age 93. Johnson was an award-winning Associated Press reporter. On the day Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, Johnson was the only journalist allowed inside his home. (The Hill)
Facebook discloses the existence of Iran and Russia’s efforts to influence the 2020 election. Mark Zuckerburg, the company’s chief executive, also announced several initiatives to protect against foreign election interference. Among these is a ban on political ads designed to suppress voter turn-out. (The Guardian).
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights finds that the Trump Administration’s immigration policies violate the civil rights of migrants. The commission was created by the Civil Rights Act of 1957 and serves as a bipartisan fact-finding agency aimed at informing national civil rights policy. Their report notes that Trump Administration immigration policies “appear to violate constitutional due process rights and basic standards of medical and mental health care.” (US News)
Actress Rose McGowan sues Harvey Weinstein and his lawyers for illegal measures to discredit her and prevent her from going public with her rape. McGowan, one of Weinstein’s first public accusers, alleges 11 complaints including civil racketeering, wiretapping, fraud, invasion of privacy, computer crimes, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent hiring. She seeks compensatory and punitive damages. (USA Today)
The Electronic Frontier Foundation asks San Diego law enforcement officials to stop using facial recognition technology. The organization’s letter asks the government agency to “begin the process immediately to suspend this fatally flawed program that threatens the civil liberties of people in California.” The technology is used to allow some officers to take pictures of individuals and compare them to the agency’s database of mugshots. (San Diego Tribune).
The Supreme Court’s gerrymandering rulings could lead to stricter abortion laws. long-standing provision in the Michigan state constitution allows the state’s citizens to work with the state legislature to pass bills that are exempt from the governor’s veto or a popular vote. This will put the power to pass stricter abortion laws back in the hands of Republican lawmakers, who critics say are not representative of the state’s mostly Democratic electorate. (Washington Post).
No action on Indiana Abortion Case. Indiana law requires pregnant women to have an ultrasound at least 18 hours prior to obtaining an abortion. This week, the Supreme Court considered for sixth time whether this law violates the constitution, but did not make a ruling. (SCOTUSblog).