Breathalyzer test for lung cancer to be trialed at UK pharmacies


With lung cancer survival rates greatly improved by early detection, we’ve seen a number of efforts to develop a better way to detect the disease in its early stages. So-called lung cancer breathalyzers are one technology being developed by a number of research teams, including one from the University of Huddersfield in the UK, which plans to trial a breathalyzer device in pharmacies.

The project to develop the device, which is taking place over three years, involves researching a lung cancer “biomarker signature” that is detectable in breath. Previous studies have already shown that carbon-based sensors embedded with gold nanoparticles and even dogs can detect chemicals in the breath indicating the presence of the disease in the lungs…

The project has secured £105,000 in funding from the SG Court Pharmacy Group that operates a chain of pharmacies in the South East of England. It is in these pharmacies that initial trials of the technology will be carried out. The University of Huddersfield has provided matching funding for the project…

“There are 12,000 community pharmacies in Britain and there is a big move for them to get involved in primary diagnostics, because people visit their pharmacies not just when they are ill but when they are well,” says Dr Airley. “A pharmacy is a lot less scary than a doctor’s surgery.”

Bravo. Everything from mobile apps to pre-clinical testing at your local pharmacy provides an expanding range of opportunities for better health. Access is as important in early detection of illness as a well-studied physician. The latter ain’t doing you much good if you can’t get in to see anyone. And the odds get better when society at large has that early access.

Indiscriminate nature of NSA’s spying is collapsing

Gringo ears

National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden wrote in a lengthy “open letter to the people of Brazil” that he’s been inspired by the global debate ignited by his release of thousands of National Security Agency documents, and that the NSA’s culture of indiscriminate global espionage “is collapsing…”

In the letter, released widely online, Snowden commended the Brazilian government for its strong stand against U.S. spying.

He said he’d be willing to help the South American nation investigate NSA spying on its soil, but could not fully participate in doing so without being granted political asylum, because the U.S. “government will continue to interfere with my ability to speak.”

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Federal judge rules against NSA phone surveillance program

A federal judge in Washington ruled on Monday that the bulk collection of Americans’ telephone records by the National Security Agency is likely to violate the US constitution, in the most significant legal setback for the agency since the publication of the first surveillance disclosures by the whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Judge Richard Leon declared that the mass collection of metadata probably violates the fourth amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, and was “almost Orwellian” in its scope. In a judgment replete with literary swipes against the NSA, he said James Madison, the architect of the US constitution, would be “aghast” at the scope of the agency’s collection of Americans’ communications data.

The ruling, by the US district court for the District of Columbia, is a blow to the Obama administration, and sets up a legal battle that will drag on for months, almost certainly destined to end up in the supreme court. It was welcomed by campaigners pressing to rein in the NSA, and by Snowden, who issued a rare public statement saying it had vindicated his disclosures. It is also likely to influence other legal challenges to the NSA, currently working their way through federal courts.

The case was brought by Larry Klayman, a conservative lawyer, and Charles Strange, father of a cryptologist killed in Afghanistan when his helicopter was shot down in 2011. His son worked for the NSA and carried out support work for Navy Seal Team Six, the elite force that killed Osama bin Laden.

In Monday’s ruling, the judge concluded that the pair’s constitutional challenge was likely to be successful. In what was the only comfort to the NSA in a stinging judgment, Leon put the ruling on hold, pending an appeal by the government.

Leon expressed doubt about the central rationale for the program cited by the NSA: that it is necessary for preventing terrorist attacks. “The government does not cite a single case in which analysis of the NSA’s bulk metadata collection actually stopped an imminent terrorist attack,” he wrote.

“Given the limited record before me at this point in the litigation – most notably, the utter lack of evidence that a terrorist attack has ever been prevented because searching the NSA database was faster than other investigative tactics – I have serious doubts about the efficacy of the metadata collection program as a means of conducting time-sensitive investigations in cases involving imminent threats of terrorism.”

Bravo. A judge with the courage to defend our Constitution – in the face of a President, Congress and most of our elected officials more than willing to defame the document that defines our history of freedom.

Scholars endorse academic boycott of Israel


An American organization of professors on Monday announced a boycott of Israeli academic institutions to protest Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, signaling that a movement to isolate and pressure Israel that is gaining ground in Europe has begun to make strides in the United States.

Members of the American Studies Association voted by a ratio of more than two to one to endorse the boycott in online balloting that concluded Sunday night…

Its vote is a milestone for a Palestinian movement known as B.D.S., for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions, which for the past decade had found little traction in the United States. The American Studies Association is the second American academic group to back the boycott, movement organizers say, following the Association for Asian American Studies, which did so in April.

The vote reminds me – as it should – of the divestment movement against Apartheid South Afria. There is more of a congruency than a parallel. The racism and bigotry of Israel’s official practices against the folks who’ve been in place for centuries stinks on ice.

Add in the role of cats paw in the region Israel has played for decades on behalf of Western governments, oil companies and other criminal barons of mineral wealth – and divestment and boycotts make an admirable first line of peaceful economic protest.