Republican database on nearly 200 million US citizens exposed online

❝ Sensitive personal details relating to almost 200 million US citizens have been accidentally exposed by a marketing firm contracted by the Republican National Committee.

❝ The 1.1 terabytes of data includes birthdates, home addresses, telephone numbers and political views of nearly 62% of the entire US population.

The data was available on a publicly accessible Amazon cloud server…Anyone could access the data as long as they had a link to it.

❝ The huge cache of data was discovered last week by Chris Vickery, a cyber-risk analyst with security firm UpGuard. The information seems to have been collected from a wide range of sources – from posts on controversial banned threads on the social network Reddit, to committees that raised funds for the Republican Party.

The information was stored in spreadsheets uploaded to a server owned by Deep Root Analytics. It had last been updated in January when President Donald Trump was inaugurated and had been online for an unknown period of time.

❝ Apart from personal details, the data also contained citizens’ suspected religious affiliations, ethnicities and political biases, such as where they stood on controversial topics like gun control, the right to abortion and stem cell research.

The file names and directories indicated that the data was meant to be used by influential Republican political organisations. The idea was to try to create a profile on as many voters as possible using all available data, so some of the fields in the spreadsheets were left left empty if an answer could not be found…

❝ There are fears that leaked data can easily be used for nefarious purposes, from identity fraud to harassment of people under protection orders, or to intimidate people who hold an opposing political view.


None of these fears are new. None were unknown. The political party which burned through acres of dollar$ advertising their hypocritical concern over one candidate’s use of email – set up a database including a range of personal information on virtually every registered voter in the United States.

TV Talking Heads will no doubt give us the whole schoolboy lecture on the dangers of them furriners accessing this database to some evil end. I’d like to hear from someone who stands up for Americans’ privacy in the face of the ruling political party buying up every scrap of information our corrupt informatics gurus, from Facebook to Google, already collect and sell for profit.

Um, eating potatoes won’t actually kill you

❝ There are plenty of reasons not to eat potatoes, and only one reason to eat them: they’re freaking delicious. That’s the only reason you need. No one is eating fries because they think they’re healthy. But the next time you eat some delicious, oil-crisped taters and someone blurts out “hey, you know fries double your risk of mortality, right?” because they read a clicky headline, you can rest easy knowing that they are wrong. And superiority is the ultimate reward, right?

❝ You could pretty much sum up the whole problem with the recent study on taters in one sentence: correlation doesn’t imply causation. Let’s all say it together. Correlation doesn’t imply causation…At the end of the day, people who eat fries three-plus times a week are almost certainly going to have other habits that make them more likely to die.

❝ For starters, it’s likely that people who choose to eat that many taters are exercising less than the people who care enough about healthy dining to avoid that starchy temptation. And they probably consume more sugar generally as well. Or maybe they take in less fiber. You can’t eliminate the confounding effect of these other habits — that’s the real problem with nutritional studies like this. It appeared in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition recently and it’s showing up all over the web.

❝ Nearly every article based on the study claims that fries doubled the mortality risk of the subjects, and media outlets aren’t technically wrong about the results. But first things first: it wasn’t potato intake generally, it was only fried potato consumption that the authors linked to higher death rates. Non-fried potato consumption didn’t lead to any increased mortality risk. Here’s a nice quote from the actual study that summarizes their findings: “After adjustment for 14 potential baseline confounders, and taking those with the lowest consumption of potatoes as the reference group, participants with the highest consumption of potatoes did not show an increased risk of overall mortality.”…

❝ Listen: fried potatoes aren’t good for you…Fries are full of starch and fat, and you should probably limit your consumption of both of those things — especially the starch. Starch is a simple sugar, and those cause your blood sugar and insulin levels to rise and prompt your body to store fat…But in moderation — and in combination with a healthy diet and exercise — you’ll be just fine. Enjoy your fries.

Couldn’t agree more. I love good fries, Belgian preferred; though I’ve had great Brit food truck fare. Rare enough to find myself in one of the few local bistros where they reign that I probably have them like once every five years. But, then, even-handed moderation in what I consume covers all the do’s and don’t’s of my nutrition.

Six members of Trump’s advisory council on HIV/AIDS have resigned

❝ The Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS is a body responsible for providing recommendations and information to the president, as well as overseeing the nation’s strategy for combatting the illness. On Friday, six members of the council resigned, writing in an op-ed published in Newsweek that they can no longer be effective under a “president who simply does not care.”

❝ The letter was written by Scott Schoettes, who was joined by five other members: Lucy Bradley-Springer, Gina Brown, Ulysses Burley III, Michelle Ogle, and Grissel Granados. In the letter, he explains President Donald Trump’s administration hasn’t taken steps to formulate a strategy for combatting the illness, “and — most concerning — pushes legislation that will harm people living with HIV and halt or reverse important gains made in the fight against this disease…”

❝ Schoettes noted that while the commission met with Secretary Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders during the primaries, it didn’t have the opportunity to meet with then-candidate Trump. He also indicated that the website for the Office of National AIDS policy was one of many taken down when Trump took office (it has yet to be replaced), while the president also has yet to name a head to the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, which was formed in 2010 as part of President Barack Obama’s While House Domestic Policy Council.

❝ The letter particularly singled out the administration’s efforts to scale back the Affordable Care Act, saying that the law has resulted in “gains in the percentage of people with HIV who know their status, the percentage engaged in care, [and] the percentage receiving successful treatment.” The proposals to replace the ACA with the American Health Care Act “would be particularly devastating for people living with HIV.”

Why waste time attempting to work with a know-nothing politician who only dedicates his time and effort to doing nothing or, worse, reversing what good has been accomplished by others?