The NSA wants to monitor your pacemaker — bet that makes you feel safe and secure!

The NSA is interested in collecting information from pacemakers and other biomedical devices for national security purposes, according to The Intercept. Richard Ledgett, the agency’s deputy director, reportedly said at a conference…that, “We’re looking at it sort of theoretically from a research point of view right now.”

That suggests this isn’t something the NSA is actively doing; and if it did have the ability, Ledgett indicates that it wouldn’t exactly be a core source of information. “Maybe a niche kind of thing … a tool in the toolbox,” he said, according to The Intercept.

Still, it’s both wild and disconcerting to think that something as critical as a pacemaker could be monitored by a hacker. The NSA doesn’t plan to stop at that, either. Perhaps less surprising is Ledgett’s broader suggestion that the NSA is interested in using information from any internet-connected device.

National Intelligence director James Clapper indicated as much back in February, as The Intercept points out. The Guardian reports Clapper saying, “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.” Though he’s stating it here as a hypothetical, it’s not hard to imagine that the NSA views the addition of connectivity to more and more devices — be it a fridge or a pacemaker — as valuable.

The Intercept is becoming more and more a valuable source for anyone concerned with questions of individual liberty and privacy in a connected world.

Our government and the alphabetized creeps on the snoop payroll – really hate it.

Now, your landlord can hire a specialist firm to check out your online profile – before you can move in

A new startup is selling details of the online activity log of your life, taking the screening of potential new housing tenants to a new level. Not dissimilar to China’s Sesame Credit — which incorporates online and offline data to generate people’s credit scores — a British company is selling dossiers on people’s social media profiles to everyone, from your landlord to potential employers.

…As if the world of private renting were not already beset by often insurmountable hurdles, the British startup is now profiting from the misery and helping your potential landlord suss out prospective tenants by mining personal data.

Tenant Assured, the first product of U.K. startup, Source Assured, boasts “insightful referencing like never before.” For a bulk subscription fee, a landlord can use the service to profile would-be tenants. After the landlord’s request is sent, the prospective renter must grant the service full access to their Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram profiles.

From there, the process scrapes the individual’s site activity. It scans entire conversation threads and public posts to record information on the the renter’s personality. Eventually, a report is produced detailing, among other things, the individual’s “financial stress level.” Although the landlord doesn’t directly view the social media posts, the report includes information on “activity times” and whether the prospective tenant mentions words like “no money,” “being poor,” “staying in,” “terrorist,” “fraud,” and “justice.”…

Source Assured co-founder Steve Thornhill’s attempt to reassure people is as creepy as his product. “If you’re living a normal life then, frankly, you have nothing to worry about,” he said.

Of course, stalking and spying on people is considered “normal” by Thornhill.

Thanks, NikiV

Know-Nothing Congress roadblocks US policy on mitochondrial therapy

Scientists believe they can now remove disease-causing mitochondrial DNA from human embryos, providing new cures for previously untreatable conditions, but the policy signals coming from Washington DC are in stark contradiction, according to a new Viewpoint essay published in JAMA.

On Feb. 3, 2016, the Health and Medicine Division of the National Academies issued a report on mitochondrial replacement therapy commissioned by the Food and Drug Administration. The division recommended that under certain conditions, MRT clinical trials should be allowed to proceed. But just six weeks before, President Obama signed an appropriations bill that included a bit of language essentially forbidding those trials…

❝ “One big step forward was taken by the IOM report when it concluded that it is “ethically permissible” to embark on first-in-human clinical trials of MRT subject to rigorous safety and efficacy imperatives,” wrote Dr. Eli Adashi…and I. Glenn Cohen…“However, two steps back were taken with the enactment of a policy rider which precludes the FDA from further consideration of MRT…”

Meanwhile in the United Kingdom, the government has approved MRT clinical trials and some might begin this year. But despite the National Academies recommending a similar advance to the FDA, legislation has left U.S. policy at a standstill, wrote Adashi and Cohen.

Whether or not the eventual births of disease-free children in the UK will change congressional hearts and minds remains to be seen,” they wrote. “Failing such, progress in the prevention of mitochondrial DNA diseases will remain the domain of a biomedical enterprise an ocean away.”

The same ignoranus mindset George W Bush brought to US government is alive and well in a Congress governed by shortsighted and foolish conservatives, embraced by Republicans, Tea Party Trumpkins and Blue Dog Democrats. American voters may never learn to vote in their own economic and social interest; but, you’d think they’d eventually figure out that passing laws that help your children to die really ain’t too bright.

National Rifle Association — Follow the money because that’s all they really care about

The National Rifle Association goes to great lengths (and spends a huge sum of money) to defend the right to bear arms. It is opposed to virtually every form of gun regulation, including restrictions on owning assault weapons, retention of databases of gun purchases, background checks on purchasers at gun shows and changes in the registration of firearms.

The NRA’s influence is felt not only through campaign contributions, but through millions of dollars in off-the-books spending on issue ads. Lobbying expenditures for the National Rifle Association regularly exceed $1.5 million, as the organization’s lobbyists frequently try to exert their influence over government agencies including members of Congress, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Agriculture, and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

Profile for 2014 Election Cycle

CONTRIBUTIONS
$974,152
ranks 239 of 12,337

LOBBYING
$3,360,000 (2014)
$3,410,000 (2013)
ranks 149 of 2,871 in 2014

OUTSIDE SPENDING
$27,024,618
ranks 10 of 138

RTFA for lots of links to details of the how and where these pricks get their money and spend their money.

Thanks, Papa Tom