Why are these countries obese? Let’s start with walking

❝ A recent study found that more than 2 billion adults and children globally are overweight or obese and suffer health problems because of that — but this is nothing new.

There are, however, pockets of the global population who remain somewhat unaware of this public health crisis, despite the growth of waistlines all around them, and this lack of awareness is just one of the underlying problems, according to Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard…

Different countries have different issues,” Hu said. “You need to mobilize (their) whole society to tackle the problem. … it’s not just a medical problem.”

❝ The Pacific Islands, Middle East and Americas lead the way in terms of regions with the greatest obesity rates. In 2014, more than 48% of the population of the Cook Islands was classified as obese. Qatar led the way in the Middle East with 34%, followed closely by the United States at 33%, according to the World Health Organization…

❝ When assigning blame, two factors are common: diet and physical activity, namely poor diets and a lack of physical activity. But a number of smaller factors combine to fill these two large umbrellas, and those need to be understood to truly tackle the problem, Hu believes.

RTFA. Pretty halpful analysis, methods of anlysis that can be appreciated by pretty much anyone.

I’m not making recommendations. I can only speak to what works for me – and it’s exactly what I’ve known all my life. Good nutrition reducing sugars, easily accessible exercise – and for me, tracking meal-by-meal, day-by-day. The health app built into the operating system of Apple iPhones works fine for me. I combine it with a daily calorie tracker that has a ginormous database.

Taking a look, right now, year over year, I’ve averaged 3.1 miles per day walking, 9146 steps per day. That’s every day – averaging in high summer temperatures or the occasional blizzard mid-winter. Not too many of either at our altitude in northern New Mexico. Being an ancient creaky old Leftie is no copout.

I’m happy about weighing what I weighed in 1956 – and aiming for less.

Bite From This Tick Makes You Allergic To Red Meat


Wikimedia Commons

❝ The Lone Star tick is distinct for the star-shaped marking on its back. That, and for the fact that, if it bites you, you might not be able to truly enjoy a hamburger ever again.

This carnivore’s nightmare is caused by a sugar molecule known as Alpha-Gal…When someone is bitten by a Lone Star tick, the body’s immune system has to rewire itself in order to combat this newly introduced molecule…

❝ In other words, your body has to create Alpha-Gal antibodies to fight the molecule. Unfortunately, this same molecule is also highly prevalent in red meat.

Many victims don’t realize what’s happened until the next time they eat meat — since the antibodies are most highly activated after the molecule has traveled through their gastrointestinal tract.

“Hours later, patients wake up with hives, shortness of breath, vomiting, and diarrhea,” Stone said. “Some patients have had to be given life support because their blood pressure is so low that they’re in…danger of dying.”

❝ For a lot of people, it takes a few reactions before they realize meat is triggering the outbreaks. After all, they’ve eaten meat their entire lives and been totally fine.

Cases of these kinds of tick bites are on the rise, spreading from the southeastern U.S. all the way up through New York and Minnesota.

As of now, there’s no cure or vaccine.

Ticks are worth avoiding as a general rule, anyway. Lots of bad stuff can get passed along into your circulatory system. And, no, I don’t think it’s a GMO plot by PETA.

How to Spot Fake News

❝ Fake news is nothing new. But bogus stories can reach more people more quickly via social media than what good old-fashioned viral emails could accomplish in years past.

Concern about the phenomenon led Facebook and Google to announce that they’ll crack down on fake news sites, restricting their ability to garner ad revenue. Perhaps that could dissipate the amount of malarkey online, though news consumers themselves are the best defense against the spread of misinformation.

❝ Not all of the misinformation being passed along online is complete fiction, though some of it is. Snopes.com has been exposing false viral claims since the mid 1990s, whether that’s fabricated messages, distortions containing bits of truth and everything in between. Founder David Mikkelson warned in a Nov. 17 article not to lump everything into the “fake news” category. “The fictions and fabrications that comprise fake news are but a subset of the larger bad news phenomenon, which also encompasses many forms of shoddy, unresearched, error-filled, and deliberately misleading reporting that do a disservice to everyone,” he wrote…

My advice, the advice of the folks at factcheck.org –

Consult the experts. We know you’re busy, and some of this debunking takes time. But we get paid to do this kind of work. Between FactCheck.org, Snopes.com, the Washington Post Fact Checker and PolitiFact.com, it’s likely at least one has already fact-checked the latest viral claim to pop up in your news feed…

❝ On our Viral Spiral page, we list some of the claims we get asked about the most; all of our Ask FactChecks can be found here. And if you encounter a new claim you’d like us to investigate, email us at editor@factcheck.org.

China’s Micius Satellite tests quantum entanglement record > Preps for Hack-Proof Internet


Alfred Pasieka/Getty Images

❝ In a landmark study, a team of Chinese scientists using an experimental satellite has tested quantum entanglement over unprecedented distances, beaming entangled pairs of photons to three ground stations across China — each separated by more than 1,200 kilometers. The test verifies a mysterious and long-held tenet of quantum theory, and firmly establishes China as the front-runner in a burgeoning “quantum space race” to create a secure, quantum-based global communications network — that is, a potentially unhackable “quantum internet” that would be of immense geopolitical importance…

❝ The concept of quantum communications is considered the gold standard for security, in part because any compromising surveillance leaves its imprint on the transmission. Conventional encrypted messages require secret keys to decrypt, but those keys are vulnerable to eavesdropping as they are sent out into the ether. In quantum communications, however, these keys can be encoded in various quantum states of entangled photons — such as their polarization — and these states will be unavoidably altered if a message is intercepted by eavesdroppers.

❝ Ground-based quantum communications typically send entangled photon pairs via fiber-optic cables or open air. But collisions with ordinary atoms along the way disrupt the photons’ delicate quantum states, limiting transmission distances to a few hundred kilometers. Sophisticated devices called “quantum repeaters” — equipped with “quantum memory” modules — could in principle be daisy-chained together to receive, store and retransmit the quantum keys across longer distances, but this task is so complex and difficult that such systems remain largely theoretical.

Poisonally, I don’t doubt the NSA and other federal alphabet spooks are trying both methods and more. They have an endless supply of taxpayer dollar$.

Georgia voter records sitting on a state website – available to anyone


County employees checking crappy out-of-date touchscreen voting machines

❝ A security researcher disclosed a gaping security hole at the outfit that manages Georgia’s election technology, days before the state holds a closely watched congressional runoff vote on June 20.

The security failure left the state’s 6.7 million voter records and other sensitive files exposed to hackers, and may have been left unpatched for seven months. The revealed files might have allowed attackers to plant malware and possibly rig votes or wreak chaos with voter rolls during elections…

❝ Logan Lamb, a 29-year-old Atlanta-based private security researcher…made the discovery last August. He…felt the election center had not been serious enough about security and came forward with his findings, this week.

❝ Lamb discovered the security hole — a misconfigured server — one day as he did a search of the Kennesaw State election-systems website. There, he found a directory open to the internet that contained not just the state voter database, but PDF files with instructions and passwords used by poll workers to sign into a central server used on Election Day. Lamb said he downloaded 15 gigabytes of data, which he later destroyed…

The directory of files “was already indexed by Google,” Lamb said in an interview — meaning that anyone could have found it with the right search.

❝ “I don’t know if the vote could have been rigged, but compromising that server would have served as a great pivot point and malware could have been planted easily,” he added.

❝ Lamb said he notified the center’s director, Merle King, who assured him the hole would be patched and who asked to keep his discovery to himself.

RTFA for the details. Usually, we can categorize information like this as either stupid or ignorant. Maybe we should add incompetent.

Dogs and wolves share a key sense of fair play

❝ The sense of fair play is an important human trait, but new research suggests that it’s a key behaviour for dogs and wolves as well.

In tests, if one animal was given a more substantial reward when performing a task, the other one downed tools completely.

❝ It had been felt that this aversion to unfairness was something that dogs had learned from humans.

But the tests with wolves suggest that this predates domestication of dogs.

❝ Scientists have long recognised that what they term a “sensitivity to inequity”, or a sense of fairness, played an important role in the evolution of co-operation between humans. Basically, if others treated you badly, you quickly learned to stop working with them.

Researchers believe that the behaviour is also found widely in non-human primates.

❝ Experiments in 2008 demonstrated that dogs also had this sensitivity. This new study shows that it’s also deeply ingrained in wolves.

The fact that the behaviour was found in both wolves and dogs helps to overturn the idea that dogs learned this concept because they were domesticated.

I’m not being political for the sake of ideology; but, I have to wonder what this says about our own species. Certainly here in the United States and in other nations where the phenomenon of populism is once again on the rise.

A pair of distinctive dialectical features of populism are fear and hatred of those who are somehow different from what “natives” consider normal. My only personal experience with this cultural hangup was working in the Deep South in the late 1960’s. I survived in the workplace by turning it into a joke. Literally placing a sign at the entrance to my department that said – DANGER…North American Wild Yankee…Do Not Feed. Pretty much everyone got the joke and usually tried to understand our social and political differences.

Still, the Confederacy hasn’t changed much. Political struggle has taken much power away from racists. Democracy has made inroads. But, the populist myths of fear and hatred persist and have taken significant control in today’s Republican Party. Shoving most traditional conservatives to the side in a quest for brute power.

Russian hackers are hiding in Britney Spears’s Instagram account

❝ In order to hack foreign governments, military officials, and embassies, Russian hackers are now using Britney Spears in their operations by posting cryptic comments on her Instagram photos.

Hackers at Turla, a group believed to be linked to Moscow, are using Instagram comments on Britney Spears’s photos to control their hacking operation, said researchers at Slovakian security firm ESET…

❝ The comment doesn’t make sense and doesn’t seem threatening to the untrained eye. But, according to ESET, it’s key to the hackers’ success.

❝ After compromising computers, hackers need a way to send them instructions and get data back. They often set up a command and control server to do this. Security professionals defending against cyberattacks usually try to find the central server and shut it down in hopes of crippling the entire network.

The comment on Britney Spears’s photo is a clever strategy for announcing the location of a new command and control server after the previous one gets shut down. When decoded, it’s actually the central server’s internet address

❝ So why are the Russian hackers now targeting an American pop star’s Instagram account?

The answer is simple: Web traffic from users around the world is constantly flowing through Instagram. It would be incredibly easy to hide malicious comments and links on photos posted by celebrities…

❝ The discovery raises questions about what else is hiding in the comment sections of celebrities’ social media pages and how Russian hackers are getting creative to avoid tracking.

And, of course, no country’s cyberspooks have exclusive use of creepy hacks, political or otherwise. The same stunts are liable to be foisted on popular websites by the NSA or CIA – or Trump’s favorite 400-lb teenager in his Long Island bedroom.

Hackers Came — The French Were Ready For Them

Everyone saw the hackers coming…The National Security Agency in Washington picked up the signs. So did Emmanuel Macron’s bare-bones technology team. And mindful of what happened in the American presidential campaign, the team created dozens of false email accounts, complete with phony documents, to confuse the attackers.

❝ The Russians, for their part, were rushed and a bit sloppy, leaving a trail of evidence that was not enough to prove for certain they were working for the government of President Vladimir V. Putin but which strongly suggested they were part of his broader “information warfare” campaign…

But that outcome was hardly assured on Friday night, when what was described as a “massive” hacking attack suddenly put Mr. Macron’s electoral chances in jeopardy. To French and American officials, however, it was hardly a surprise.

❝ …The staff at Mr. Macron’s makeshift headquarters in the 15th Arrondissement at the edge of Paris didn’t need the N.S.A. to tell them they were being targeted: In December, after the former investment banker and finance minister had emerged as easily the most anti-Russian, pro-NATO and pro-European Union candidate in the presidential race, they began receiving phishing emails.

Even before then, the Macron campaign had begun looking for ways to make life a little harder for the Russians, showing a level of skill and ingenuity that was missing in Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and at the Democratic National Committee, which had minimal security protections and for months ignored F.B.I. warnings that its computer system had been penetrated.

❝ “We went on a counteroffensive,” digital director, Mounir Mahjoubi said. “We couldn’t guarantee 100 percent protection” from the attacks, “so we asked: what can we do?” Mr. Mahjoubi opted for a classic “cyber-blurring” strategy, well known to banks and corporations, creating false email accounts and filled them with phony documents the way a bank teller keeps fake bills in the cash drawer in case of a robbery…

Mr. Mahjoubi refused to reveal the nature of the false documents that were created, or to say whether, in the Friday document dump that was the result of the hacking campaign, there were false documents created by the Macron campaign.

But he did note that in the mishmash that constituted the Friday dump, there were some authentic documents, some phony documents of the hackers’ own manufacture, some stolen documents from various companies, and some false emails created by the campaign.

❝ “It’s clear they were rushed,” Mr. Hultquist said. “If this was APT28,” he said, using the name for a Russian group believed to be linked to the GRU, a military intelligence agency, “they have been caught in the act, and it has backfired for them.”

Russian hackers were dealing with not only a better educated populace; but, a more sophisticated audience than American voters. LePen and her populist campaign had to walk away from the most backwards aspects of campaigns her father would have run twenty or thirty years ago. She could not substitute anti-Semitism for Trump’s anti-Mexican slurs – as her father would have.

Trump’s dalliance in misogynist assaults might have cynical appeal to fools in France – as they do in the United States. But, Trump’s contempt for physically-handicapped wouldn’t play – for example – in a nation where until recently public transport still reserved front seats for victims of war.

The French shrugged off Big Lies because they knew from experience what the population in general was gifted by populist liars – and their supporters, domestic or foreign.

Even Trump’s paid geeks are political incompetents


Click to zero in on the core bigotry

When Trump and his assistant dolts realized they were being too public about their bigotry – things like the Constitution were getting in the way – they tried to tidy up their shitpile of ideology online. They deleted the content from this press release about their so-called travel ban. And never noticed the bigotry was just as clear in the url.

Thanks, Jessica Stone