Doing time in a Federal Prison? No more real mail…

Over the past two years, dozens of facilities across the Federal Bureau of Prisons, or BOP, which oversees approximately 156,000 people and 122 facilities, have adopted policies of photocopying mail and withholding the originals from their recipients. Prison officials say the change is an effort to stop drugs that are entering facilities by being sprayed on mail, which officials claim is affecting staff, though there is scant evidence of this phenomenon.

USP Canaan is one of 33 federal facilities in 18 states using prison staff to scan mail in-house, according to an informal survey of incarcerated people’s loved ones conducted by The Intercept. And the Pennsylvania prison was one of two BOP facilities that participated in a recent pilot program to outsource the scanning of mail to a private company. BOP union heads told The Intercept that they are pushing for the bureau to enroll all of its facilities in the private service, known as MailGuard, whose creators boast that it can “gain huge secret intelligence into the public sender of postal mail…”

Postal mail was the last means of communication that was not heavily monitored by the BOP. The bureau’s transition to mail scanning, coupled with its refusal to release details of the program’s operations to the public, presents novel privacy concerns for incarcerated people and the people who send them mail.

Here’s a link specifically addressing the question here in New Mexico. It has lots more depth, broader understanding of the questions raised by what – at best – is just another bureaucratic move to save money. It made me think differently about the questions raised. I’d suggest reading it, as well.

mRNA vaccines may be key to solving a list of health problems

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many people have now heard of – and have received – an mRNA vaccine…It’s such a game changer that it raises some very big, exciting questions: could mRNA vaccines provide a cure for cancers, HIV, tropical diseases, and even give us superhuman immunity?

Messenger ribonucleic acid, or mRNA for short, is a single-stranded molecule that carries genetic code from DNA to a cell’s protein-making machinery. Without mRNA, your genetic code wouldn’t be used, proteins wouldn’t be made, and your body wouldn’t work. If DNA is the bank card, then mRNA is the card reader…

If treatments for cancer, HIV and tropical disease are coming along with mRNA 2.0, then what could be even further down the line with 3.0?…

There’s…potential for more general commercial health and wellbeing applications. For example, Dragony Fu suggests that lactose intolerance – that affects hundred of millions of people of Asian origin, including himself, and indeed an estimated 68% of the global population – could one day be targeted: “I’m missing the protein that allows me to break down lactose. In the future, you could develop some way of delivering the message, the mRNA, that that will make the protein that breaks down lactose… it’s not life threatening, but I could imagine that being a billion-dollar industry.”

This is one of those new directions in science that makes me wish I was decades younger. I’ll probably be around long enough to witness several more life-enhancing uses for mRNA techniques. I’d love to have a career that could take me directly into the research and development of this new means of healing.