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Why Would Ecuador Appeal to Edward Snowden?

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On Sunday it was reported that Edward Snowden, the whistleblower and former National Security Agency contractor, would seek asylum in Ecuador. (This morning things were a little more cloudy.) Since coming forward last month with documents related to massive dragnet surveillance of American citizens by the U.S. government, Snowden has put on his best Carmen Sandiego impression. Clearly U.S. officials don’t have a copy of the World Almanac available, because so far Snowden has been successful.

On its face, Ecuador doesn’t seem like the best choice for Snowden to relocate, as they have an extradition treaty with the United States. But so far the international community has enjoyed playing Alderaan to America’s Galactic Empire. (President Obama is probably regretting his foolish decision to pass on building a Death Star.) Hong Kong answered the president’s demand for Snowden by booking him (i.e. Snowden) on a one-way flight to Moscow. Everyone knows Hoth is the coolest planet (ha!) in the galaxy, so of course Russia wasn’t going to miss playing the part.

And it turns out that Ecuador is the perfect Yavin IV. In 1872, when the U.S. government signed that extradition treaty [pdf], we were still serious about the Fourth Amendment. So our ambassadors didn’t think much about the clause that reads: “The stipulations of this treaty shall not be applicable to crimes or offenses of a political character.” Today, it’s hard to think of anything more politicized than our sprawling secrecy apparatus.

The Wikileaks Connection

If he does make it to Ecuador, Snowden will be in good company. (Technically.) Since the WikiLeaks release of 350,000 U.S. diplomatic cables and war logs, Julian Assange, the sunlight organization’s founder, has been holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has diplomatic asylum. (Indeed, it was WikiLeaks that facilitated Snowden’s passage from Moscow to Ecuador.) President Rafael Correa of Ecuador is a big fan of Assange. "Your WikiLeaks has made us stronger!" he told the activist last year.

"I love and admire the American people a great deal," said Correa. "The last thing I'd be is anti-American, but I will always call a spade a spade."

And let’s face it: The U.S. intelligence community is spadier than ever. So unless Delta Force is sent in to snatch Snowden (which would be an act of war) or all this Ecuador business was a big misdirection, the NSA whistleblower could look forward to long, sunny days of snorkeling in the Galápagos Islands.

What’s the Difference Between Prison and Jail?

Many people use the terms jail and prison interchangeably, and while both terms refer to areas where people are held, there's a substantial difference between the two methods of incarceration. Where a person who is accused of a crime is held, and for how long, is a factor in determining the difference between the two—and whether a person is held in a jail or a prison is largely determined by the severity of the crime they have committed.

A jail (or, for our British friends, a gaol) refers to a small, temporary holding facility—run by local governments and supervised by county sheriff departments—that is designed to detain recently arrested people who have committed a minor offense or misdemeanor. A person can also be held in jail for an extended period of time if the sentence for their offense is less than a year. There are currently 3163 local jail facilities in the United States.

A jail is different from the similarly temporary “lockup”—sort of like “pre-jail”—which is located in local police departments and holds offenders unable to post bail, people arrested for public drunkenness who are kept until they are sober, or, most importantly, offenders waiting to be processed into the jail system.

A prison, on the other hand, is usually a large state- or federal-run facility meant to house people convicted of a serious crime or felony, and whose sentences for those crimes surpass 365 days. A prison could also be called a “penitentiary,” among other names.

To be put in a state prison, a person must be convicted of breaking a state law. To be put in a federal prison, a person must be convicted of breaking federal law. Basic amenities in a prison are more extensive than in a jail because, obviously, an inmate is likely to spend more than a year of his or her life confined inside a prison. As of 2012, there were 4575 operating prisons in the U.S.—the most in the world. The country with the second highest number of operating prisons is Russia, which has just 1029 facilities.

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What Do Morticians Do With the Blood They Take Out of Dead Bodies?

Zoe-Anne Barcellos:

The blood goes down the sink drain, into the sewer system.

I am not a mortician, but I work for a medical examiner/coroner. During an autopsy, most blood is drained from the decedent. This is not on purpose, but a result of gravity. Later a mortician may or may not embalm, depending on the wishes of the family.

Autopsies are done on a table that has a drain at one end; this drain is placed over a sink—a regular sink, with a garbage disposal in it. The blood and bodily fluids just drain down the table, into the sink, and down the drain. This goes into the sewer, like every other sink and toilet, and (usually) goes to a water treatment plant.

You may be thinking that this is biohazardous waste and needs to be treated differently. [If] we can’t put oil, or chemicals (like formalin) down the drains due to regulations, why is blood not treated similarly? I would assume because it is effectively handled by the water treatment plants. If it wasn’t, I am sure the regulations would be changed.

Now any items that are soiled with blood—those cannot be thrown away in the regular trash. Most clothing worn by the decedent is either retained for evidence or released with the decedent to the funeral home—even if they were bloody.

But any gauze, medical tubing, papers, etc. that have blood or bodily fluids on them must be thrown away into a biohazardous trash. These are lined with bright red trash liners, and these are placed in a specially marked box and taped closed. These boxes are stacked up in the garage until they are picked up by a specialty garbage company. I am not sure, but I am pretty sure they are incinerated.

Additionally anything sharp or pointy—like needles, scalpels, etc.—must go into a rigid “sharps” container. When they are 2/3 full we just toss these into one of the biotrash containers.

The biotrash is treated differently, as, if it went to a landfill, then the blood (and therefore the bloodborne pathogens like Hepatitis and HIV) could be exposed to people or animals. Rain could wash it into untreated water systems.

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.


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