UN warns of danger from overuse of antibiotics

The overuse of antibiotics is impacting rural livelihoods and food security, and requires globally coordinated efforts, says the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

The influx of medicines fosters increasing resistance among the very microbes that cause the infections and disease they were designed to quell, threatening to reverse a century of progress in human and animal health, FAO Deputy Director General Helena Semedo warned…

During her speech, she advocated for stricter drug administration regulations along with monitoring initiatives in countries where the risk of antimicrobial resistance is high.

Considering that seven out of every 10 newly discovered human diseases are of animal origin, she called for the establishment of a national surveillance system for antimicrobial resistance to collect data on bacterial resistance to various medicines, as well as surveillance in the animal health and agriculture sectors.

Broad improvements in hygiene, disease prevention, veterinary oversight and accurate and affordable diagnostics, as well as ensuring quality nutrition to improve the overall health of livestock and fish through safe feed and suitable breeds, are critical in reducing the overuse of antibiotics, she said.

Also makes a helluva lot more sense than fattening the wallets of the medical-industrial complex from fattening meat animals with antibiotics.

Uncle Sugar is ready to eavesdrop on your smart home


James Clapper deciding which lie to tell Congress, this month

If you want evidence that US intelligence agencies aren’t losing surveillance abilities because of the rising use of encryption by tech companies, look no further than…testimony…by the director of national intelligence, James Clapper.

As the Guardian reported, Clapper made clear that the internet of things – the many devices like thermostats, cameras and other appliances that are increasingly connected to the internet – are providing ample opportunity for intelligence agencies to spy on targets, and possibly the masses. And it’s a danger that many consumers who buy these products may be wholly unaware of.

“In the future, intelligence services might use the [internet of things] for identification, surveillance, monitoring, location tracking, and targeting for recruitment, or to gain access to networks or user credentials,” Clapper told a Senate panel as part of his annual “assessment of threats” against the US.

Clapper is actually saying something very similar to a major study done at Harvard’s Berkman Center released last week. It concluded that the FBI’s recent claim that they are “going dark” – losing the ability to spy on suspects because of encryption – is largely overblown, mainly because federal agencies have so many more avenues for spying. This echoes comments by many surveillance experts, who have made clear that, rather than “going dark”, we are actually in the “golden age of surveillance”.

Privacy advocates have known about the potential for government to exploit the internet of things for years. Law enforcement agencies have taken notice too, increasingly serving court orders on companies for data they keep that citizens might not even know they are transmitting. Police have already been asking Google-owned company Dropcam for footage from cameras inside people’s homes meant to keep an eye on their kids. Fitbit data has already been used in court against defendants multiple times…

While Samsung took a bunch of heat, a wide array of devices now act as all-seeing or all-listening devices, including other television models, Xbox Kinect, Amazon Echo and GM’s OnStar program that tracks car owners’ driving patterns. Even a new Barbie has the ability to spy on you – it listens to Barbie owners to respond but also sends what it hears back to the mothership at Mattel.

…Just a few weeks ago, a security researcher found that Google’s Nest thermostats were leaking users’ zipcodes over the internet. There’s even an entire search engine for the internet of things called Shodan that allows users to easily search for unsecured webcams that are broadcasting from inside people’s houses without their knowledge.

While Clapper’s comments are generating new publicity for this privacy worry, the government has known about the potential to exploit these devices for a long time. The then CIA director David Petraeus made clear that intelligence agencies would use theinternet of things to spy on people back in 2012, saying…Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters – all connected to the next-generation internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing.

As Wired put it, Petraeus was expressing excitement the CIA would soon be able to spy on you through your dishwasher.

Same as it ever was. What people need is an affordable DIY device for sweeping your home every now and then — to check on which devices are reporting directly to The Man, which devices are keeping a server somewhere warm with copies of the quiet murmurings between you and your significant other.

Some Parmesan Cheese contains “too much” wood – why you should grate your own!


Some parmesan cheese contains over 8% wood

The cheese police are on the case.

Acting on a tip, agents of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration paid a surprise visit to a cheese factory in rural Pennsylvania on a cold November day in 2012.

They found what they were looking for: evidence that Castle Cheese Inc. was doctoring its 100 percent real parmesan with cut-rate substitutes and such fillers as wood pulp and distributing it to some of the country’s biggest grocery chains.

One might be tempted to think of this as a ripped-from-the-headlines episode of “NYPD Bleu,” except that the FDA wasn’t playing. Some grated Parmesan suppliers have been mislabeling products by filling them with too much cellulose, a common anti-clumping agent made from wood pulp, or using cheaper cheddar, instead of real Romano. Someone had to pay. Castle President Michelle Myrter is scheduled to plead guilty this month to criminal charges. She faces up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine…

How serious is the problem? Bloomberg News had store-bought grated cheese tested for wood-pulp content by an independent laboratory.

Cellulose is a safe additive, and an acceptable level is 2 percent to 4 percent, according to Dean Sommer, a cheese technologist at the Center for Dairy Research in Madison, Wisconsin. Essential Everyday 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese, from Jewel-Osco, was 8.8 percent cellulose, while Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s Great Value 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese registered 7.8 percent, according to test results. Whole Foods 365 brand didn’t list cellulose as an ingredient on the label, but still tested at 0.3 percent. Kraft had 3.8 percent…

RTFA for more of what shouldn’t be a surprise. Americans have been buying crap labeled as cheese for decades. One of the best examples of advertising succeeding where quality hasn’t. You can buy “imitation cheese”, “cheese food”, all sorts of rubbery substitutes advertised everywhere.

Fortunately, I learned to cook from the Italian half of my family and a jar of “grated cheese” has never lived in my refrigerator. There are good American-made varieties of traditional Italian cheeses and an endless [and sometimes affordable] supply of the real deal. If you’re shopping somewhere that cares about authenticity.

Grating you own starts with wanting fresh in the first place, folks. Don’t buy substitutes for reality.