Muslims attend the Ramadan tarawih prayer at Istiqlal mosque in Jakarta, Indonesia
❝ An explosive exposé shows that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden repeatedly tried to raise concerns about illegal mass surveillance, but was ignored.
Hundreds of internal NSA documents declassified and released by journalists prove that claims made by senior officials in the Obama administration and prominent politicians like Hillary Clinton, who accused Snowden of failing to use available whisteblower protections, are false…
❝ U.S. government officials have previously claimed that Snowden did not raise concerns about illegal mass surveillance before leaking classified documents to reporters. The NSA originally insisted that Snowden had simply sent a single email raising concern of potential overreach.
Internal documents, on the other hand, VICE News writes, reveal “that not only was the truth about the ‘single email’ more complex and nuanced than the NSA disclosed to the public, but that Snowden had a face-to-face interaction with one of the people involved in responding to that email.”
The exposé also reveals that the NSA admitted to altering emails related to its discussions about Snowden…
❝ In her response, Clinton echoed a debunked story that claimed that Russia and China got access to Snowden’s classified documents. The shoddy report originated in a right-wing British newspaper that referred to Snowden as a pilfering “fugitive” and cited no evidence, only unverifiable claims by anonymous British officials.
To date, there is no evidence Snowden’s leaks jeopardized U.S. security in any tangible way. The Obama administration has frequently claimed this, but thoroughly redacted its official reports on how this is supposedly true to such a point that no one can actually read its justification…
❝ In his testimony to the European Parliament in March 2014, VICE noted, Snowden was asked whether he “exhausted all avenues before taking the decision to go public.”
“Yes,” he replied. “I had reported these clearly problematic programs to more than 10 distinct officials, none of whom took any action to address them\.”
“As an employee of a private company rather than a direct employee of the U.S. government,” continued Snowden, who had been an NSA contractor with the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, “I was not protected by U.S. whistleblower laws, and I would not have been protected from retaliation and legal sanction for revealing classified information about law breaking in accordance with the recommended process.”
❝ The hundreds of pages of internal documents from the U.S. government that are now available, VICE News emphasizes, show that Snowden “had repeatedly attempted to raise his concerns inside the NSA about its surveillance of U.S. citizens — and the agency had done nothing.”
My cynicism about government led by either of the two old parties continues unabated. Defense of constitutional freedoms is not a standard honored by either party. There may be differences in corruption. Most of the time that feels like inquiries about being “a little bit pregnant” from an anti-abortion fanatic.
The only part I find confounding is that – in practice – Democrats really have nothing to lose by standing up and supporting whistleblowers, freedom fighters in a long American tradition. Their backwards practices in foreign policy are generally forgiven by a perpetually ignorant electorate. And the average voter still thinks the Dem Establishment is out there standing up for the little guy. They really should try living up to a reputation leftover from the days of FDR and the New Deal.
❝ Online media outlet BuzzFeed has pulled out of an advertising deal reported to be worth $1.3 million with the Republican National Committee over objections to the party’s presumptive nominee Donald Trump.
In an e-mail to employees on Monday, BuzzFeed founder and CEO Jonah Peretti wrote: “We don’t run cigarette ads because they are hazardous to our health, and we won’t accept Trump ads for the exact same reason.”
“The Trump campaign is directly opposed to the freedoms of our employees in the United States and around the world and in some cases, such as his proposed ban on international travel for Muslims, would make it impossible for our employees to do their jobs,” Peretti wrote in the note, which was posted to BuzzFeed.com.
BuzzFeed feels no further comment is necessary.
❝ The RNC provides national leadership for the Republican Party.
Trump will provide leadership to all this nation’s leftover idjits, bigots and racists with no understanding of constitutional freedoms, modern economics or high school civics.
BTW, for any Recovering Republicans who seek conservative guidance, I suggest this website – as a start.
Thanks, Barry Ritholtz
❝ Scientists managed to eliminate HIV-1 DNA from T cell genomes in human lab cultures. It will take time for advanced use in humans, but it is a remarkable accomplishment.
Using the much-touted CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing method, scientists have demonstrated how they can edit HIV out of human immune cell DNA, and in doing so, can prevent the reinfection of unedited cells too.
❝ If you haven’t heard of the CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing technique before…It allows scientists to narrow in on a specific gene, and cut-and-paste parts of the DNA to change its function.
Earlier this year, scientists started using CRISPR/Cas9 to successfully treat a genetic disease – Duchenne muscular dystrophy – in living mammals for the first time, and now it’s showing real potential as a possible treatment for HIV in the future.
❝ The technique works by guiding ‘scissor-like’ proteins to targeted sections of DNA within a cell, and then prompting them to alter or ‘edit’ them in some way. CRISPR refers to a specific repeating sequence of DNA extracted from a prokaryote – a single-celled organism such as bacteria – which pairs up with an RNA-guided enzyme called Cas9.
So basically, if you want to edit the DNA of a virus within a human cell, you need a bacterium to go in, encounter the virus, and produce a strand of RNA that’s identical to the sequence of the virtual DNA.
This ‘guide RNA’ will then latch onto the Cas9 enzyme, and together they’ll search for the matching virus. Once they locate it, the Cas9 gets to cutting and destroying it.
❝ Using this technique, researchers from Temple University managed to eliminate HIV-1 DNA from T cell genomes in human lab cultures, and when these cells were later exposed to the virus, they were protected from reinfection…
❝ While gene-editing techniques have been trialled before when it comes to HIV, this is the first time that scientists have figure out how to prevent further infections, which is crucial to the success of a treatment that offers better protection than our current antiretroviral drugs.
Bravo! As usual, technology and science are themselves immune from Good and Bad. Those uses are defined by the humans who use advances to their own ends. That’s where ethics are required. Full credit to Kamel Khalili and fellow researchers at Temple University who brought their talents to bear on one of the scourges of the 20th Century and more.