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CIA organised fake vaccination drive to get Osama bin Laden's family DNA | World news | The Guardian
The CIA organised a fake vaccination programme in the town where it believed Osama bin Laden was hiding in an elaborate attempt to obtain DNA from the fugitive al-Qaida leader's family, a Guardian investigation has found.

As part of extensive preparations for the raid that killed Bin Laden in May, CIA agents recruited a senior Pakistani doctor to organise the vaccine drive in Abbottabad, even starting the "project" in a poorer part of town to make it look more authentic, according to Pakistani and US officials and local residents.

The doctor, Shakil Afridi, has since been arrested by the Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) for co-operating with American intelligence agents.

Relations between Washington and Islamabad, already severely strained by the Bin Laden operation, have deteriorated considerably since then. The doctor's arrest has exacerbated these tensions. The US is understood to be concerned for the doctor's safety, and is thought to have intervened on his behalf.

The vaccination plan was conceived after American intelligence officers tracked an al-Qaida courier, known as Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti, to what turned out to be Bin Laden's Abbottabad compound last summer. The agency monitored the compound by satellite and surveillance from a local CIA safe house in Abbottabad, but wanted confirmation that Bin Laden was there before mounting a risky operation inside another country.

DNA from any of the Bin Laden children in the compound could be compared with a sample from his sister, who died in Boston in 2010, to provide evidence that the family was present.

So agents approached Afridi, the health official in charge of Khyber, part of the tribal area that runs along the Afghan border.

The doctor went to Abbottabad in March, saying he had procured funds to give free vaccinations for hepatitis B. Bypassing the management of the Abbottabad health services, he paid generous sums to low-ranking local government health workers, who took part in the operation without knowing about the connection to Bin Laden. Health visitors in the area were among the few people who had gained access to the Bin Laden compound in the past, administering polio drops to some of the children.
immunology  Politics  governance  defect  terror  ++++- 
6 days ago by jonippolito
Opinion | If a Government Can’t Deliver Safe Vaccines for Children, Is It Fit to Rule? - The New York Times
Earlier this month, hundreds of aggrieved parents gathered outside the government office in Jinhu County, in the eastern province of Jiangsu, demanding an explanation for why 145 infants had been administered expired doses of the polio vaccine. It was China’s fifth vaccine scandal in less than seven years, and yet another blow to the country’s drug industry, its national immunization program, its regulatory authorities — and to the very legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party (C.C.P.).

Last summer, one of China’s largest vaccine makers was found to have issued at least 250,000 substandard doses of vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough. (Many more were discovered later.) Soon after, in a survey of 300,000 parents by Xiaodoumiao, an app used to book vaccination appointments, 79 percent of respondents said that before the scandal, they would have given their children a vaccine made in China, but only 36 percent said they would still do so now. Sixty percent of respondents said they were considering having their children inoculated outside mainland China.
health  defect  immunology  Politics  +++--  governance 
9 days ago by jonippolito
First Flu Vaccine Created By AI To Be Trialed In the US - Slashdot
It is a normal vaccine, with an AI designed adjuvant. Adjuvants are essentially just chemicals included with vaccines to make your immune system crankier, so that you get better immunity with less of the antigen needed. They make it cheaper and easier to manufacture and distribute vaccines but otherwise aren't super interesting in the way that, say, a universal flu vaccine would be.
health  defect  immunology  artificialintelligence  ++---  biotech 
9 days ago by jonippolito
Inside the Dev Team Death Spiral - JavaScript Scene - Medium
as long as we were careful it would be OK…

Until one of our coworkers went on an inheritance binge. This thing inherits from that, and another inherits from that and on and on… One day I found myself working on a bug in a leaf component six layers deep in a class hierarchy. Each component ran some initialization code to fire up event listeners and so on. So I stepped through the code one line at a time up the `super` constructor tree, checking every value of every variable, trying to figure out where things had gone off the rails.

After way too much time doing that, I found the problem in the base class, and there was absolutely no way to work around it without changing the base class. But lots of widgets relied on this particular base class. When I fixed the problem, they all broke.

I had no choice but to fix them all. Hours of frustration that should have been a five minute fix. This problem is so common, it has a well-known name: “The Fragile Base Class Problem.”
code  JavaScript  defect  ++++- 
23 days ago by jonippolito
Microsoft Puts Slack On Internal List of 'Prohibited and Discouraged' Software
"At a company meeting during his tenure as CEO, Steve Ballmer once famously snatched an iPhone from an employee and pretended to stomp on it..."
security  Microsoft  Apple  Dlack  defect  fun  ++--- 
25 days ago by jonippolito
The creator of Godwin’s Law explains why some Nazi comparisons don’t break his famous Internet rule - The Washington Post
Hundreds of white supremacists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members descended on Charlottesville this past weekend. One man, described as a Nazi sympathizer, is accused of plowing into a crowd of counterdemonstrators with his car, killing one woman and wounding several other people. And so a stranger asked Godwin to weigh in: When it comes to the white supremacists in Charlottesville, is it okay to compare what they believe and do to what the Nazis believed and did?

His reply was concise and unambiguous:

"By all means, compare these shitheads to Nazis. Again and again. I'm with you."
Tweet from @sfmnemonic 13 Aug 2017

On Monday, we spoke with Godwin, now a First Amendment lawyer and senior fellow at the R Street Institute in Washington, about what Godwin’s Law means now. Our conversation has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

WP: What prompted you to weigh in yesterday?

MG: I tend not to speak out on every public event. I don’t think that I’m necessarily anyone who adds value to public reactions just by chiming in. But someone had reached out to me on Facebook, a person who was not in my Facebook network but who had basically looked me up and reached out to me, and asked whether it was appropriate to compare the white nationalists in Charlottesville to Nazis.

One of the reasons that people have ever paid attention to Godwin’s Law at all is that I have been very careful to avoid policing how people invoke it, or use it, or apply it, or misapply it, except in fairly rare circumstances. But this was a no-brainer.
defect  Politics  language  +++++  history 
4 weeks ago by jonippolito
Legacy Russell: Status Update
Social media platforms have allowed the gap between IRL (“In Real Life”) and cyber-communities to be bridged in times of deep despair, providing an opportunity for friends and strangers alike to found their own micro-tribes and build out their own individualized rubrics for decoding death and the sentiments that accompany it. “Indeed, many people . . . [take] to Facebook and Twitter because social media sites allow . . . them to reach a much wider community . . . But if Twitter and Facebook have offered fans a community in which to grieve, they have also accelerated the pace of mourning many times over (Ian Lovett, “Posting to Mourn a ‘Friend’”, The New York Times, February 17th, 2012).”

In March, the Mike Kelley Foundation accepted the contents of the memorial that had materialized via the Facebook Event’s call to action upon its dissembling, agreeing to conserve the items for posterity as part of their private collection.

Artist Ryder Ripps’s ongoing project mines data via Facebook using suicide-related keywords to track down relevant status updates, then publishes these on the website for public viewing. Though many of these updates are written in jest, it can be difficult to discern between the humorous and the auguring of what potentially could be the horrific. Thus, this project is, in some respects, an archiving of imagined “last words”, final rites that process and expose the tension between choosing to live and choosing to die. In light of Kelley’s death and the continued discussions surrounding the role of social media platforms in memorializing and remembrance, I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if, in the final moments of such a life-altering, life-ending decision, Kelley had been on Facebook. If he had updated his status to verbalize his desire to end his own life, if there would have been an audience there to dissuade him, would he, in the midst of his own determination, have even given pause and reconsidered “. . . suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”? In her article “Facebook Suicide Watch: Ryder Ripps Strikes Again”, Karen Archey disavows Ryder’s project, concluding, “Ripps does well to remind us that on the Internet, nothing is sacred.” Yet Archey has missed the point: on the Internet, so much is sacred, populated by the spirits that continue to walk the digital halls. It’s just that nothing is secret.
theory  art  newmedia  Facebook  life  defect  +++--  writing 
6 weeks ago by jonippolito
Sorry, Keto Fans, You’re Probably Not in Ketosis - Popular Science - Pocket
“Keto is not easy to maintain, it’s not a palatable diet,” says Andrea Giancoli, a dietician and nutrition consultant in California. Getting 80-90 percent of your calories from fat—which is what’s generally required for keto—is actually difficult. It involves eating a lot of rich, heavy foods with little variety—think fatty meats and gravy on cauliflower. You’re only allowed 10 to 15 grams of carbohydrates per day, and though many dieters stretch that to more like 20 or 30 grams that’s still only about one banana. A single apple could also get you past that limit depending on its size (though the fiber in an apple means that many dieters don't count those carbs towards their daily limit) and a couple slices of bread likely fulfill the requirement as well.

But the real problem isn’t going over your carb limit—it’s the protein. A therapeutic keto diet limits your protein intake “If you’re eating a lot of protein, you’re breaking that down into carbs,” Giancoli explains. Your body is in desperation mode on keto, she says, and without a reasonable supply of carbohydrates coming from grains and fruits, you’ll start breaking down the amino acids in proteins to make glucose. Glucose, though it sounds like a scary sugar, is your body’s primary source of fuel. Too much isn’t good for you, but you need some just to allow your cells to function normally.

The point of keto is to force your body to deplete its glucose (and the stored form, glycogen) so it will have to use body fat as a fuel source. It’s capable of making ketone bodies from your fat, which can replace glucose as an energy-storing molecule if necessary. To do that, you have to break apart fat molecules thus ‘burning’ the fat off. But here’s the thing: your body really really doesn’t want to run out of glucose. No glucose means starvation as far as it’s concerned—even if you're not feeling hungry, your body is still missing one of its key macronutrients. And when you’re (nutritionally) starving, your body will start to break down protein just to get those sweet, sweet carbs. Of course, you have a source of protein in your body already: your own muscles.
health  body  food  defect  ++--- 
7 weeks ago by jonippolito
Governing board at University of Mississippi debates professor's tweets
James M. Thomas, the sociologist, was ultimately granted tenure -- with dissent, the board said in an announcement. The public notice didn’t refer to Thomas by name but made clear it was him in citing “recent concerns regarding certain statements by the professor on social media.”

In October, during the national debate over U.S. Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation, Thomas caught flak from Mississippi’s then president, Jeffrey Vitter, for tweeting, “Don’t just interrupt a senator’s meal, y’all.” At the time, several GOP figures -- including Texas senator Ted Cruz and White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders -- had been disrupted by public critics at restaurants, prompting discussions about whether that's acceptable.

James M. ThomasPut “your whole damn fingers in their salads,” Thomas said. “Take their apps and distribute them to the other diners. Bring boxes, and take their food home with you on the way out. They don’t deserve your civility.”

Vitter soon appeared to criticize Thomas on his own Facebook page, writing that an unnamed professor’s social media post “did not reflect the values articulated by the university, such as respect for the dignity of each individual and civility and fairness.”

While “I passionately support free speech,” Vitter said, “I condemn statements that encourage acts of aggression.”
Politics  defect  socialmedia  ++--- 
7 weeks ago by jonippolito
Google's Chrome Becomes Web 'Gatekeeper' and Rivals Complain
Chromium is open source, so anyone can suggest changes to it, but the majority of programmers who approve contributions are Google employees, and any major disagreements get settled by a small circle of senior Google employees.
browser  sharing  defect  Google  +++-- 
7 weeks ago by jonippolito
4 Laws of Muscle - Outside - Pocket
If You Exercise First, You’re More of What You Just Ate

to max out the protein synthesis signal from a given meal. That’s about 20 grams of protein if you weigh 175 pounds. So it makes sense to hit that target three or four or even five times a day....the best way to augment protein’s muscle-signaling capacity is simple: Exercise before you eat, and your muscles become more sensitive to protein’s signals. “You can’t study food without exercise, and you can’t study exercise without food,” van Loon says. “There’s a synergy between them.”

If You’re Inactive, You’re Less of What You Just Ate

Unfortunately, there are also factors that make your muscles less sensitive to protein signaling. Getting older is one of them, which is why older adults seem to need a larger dose of 0.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, rather than 0.25, to max out their rates of protein synthesis....

According to the “catabolic crisis” model of aging, we don’t lose our muscle mass at a steady and predictable rate. Instead, much of the loss takes place during short periods of time—a week in bed after a fall or a knee replacement, say—during which we lose massive amounts of muscle that we never fully get back.

Van Loon advocates some simple fixes—like never, ever feed someone in a hospital bed unless it’s absolutely necessary. Make them get up, and ideally make them shuffle down the hallway to get food. Same for watching TV. Even this tiny amount of muscle contraction, he says, will enhance muscle synthesis when the patient eats. Similarly, since you don’t eat as much when you’re in bed, the proportion of protein in the meal should be higher to ensure sufficient muscle synthesis signals....

Eat three protein-rich meals a day, get plenty of exercise, and—I’m not going to warn you again!—sit up straight and chew your damn food. With your mouth closed.
food  health  defect  success  body  ++++-  study 
10 weeks ago by jonippolito
How long do vaccines last? The surprising answers may help protect people longer | Science | AAAS
More than 150 years ago, a natural experiment on a rocky, volcanic archipelago between Scandinavia and Iceland proved that an infection can trigger lifelong immunologic memory. Measles raced through residents of the Faroe Islands in 1781. The disease did not reappear on the isolated island group for 65 years, when a visitor brought it back. A thorough study found that no one alive during the first outbreak became ill again. Their elderly immune systems remembered and fought off the virus....

"For a lot of the things we have vaccines against, antibodies are probably the protective mechanism," says Mark Slifka, an immunologist who specializes in vaccine studies at the Oregon National Primate Research Center in Beaverton. "For the hard ones to vaccinate against—TB [tuberculosis], malaria, HIV—antibodies play some role, but you need T cells."

Vaccine designers debate the best way to trigger those responses. Some designers hold fast to the idea that a live but weakened pathogen—or genes from it stitched into a harmless virus that acts as a Trojan horse—induces the longest-lasting, most robust responses. Just such a weakened virus is the basis of the measles vaccine, for example, which protects for life. But Pulendran calls this notion simpleminded. He and others argue that a killed pathogen or a genetically engineered variant of it can work equally well.

For the flu, both killed (also known as inactivated) and live virus vaccines exist—and neither offers sturdy protection. Even when they closely match the circulating strains of influenza viruses, both types protect only about 60% of vaccinated people. And those modest immune responses rapidly wane.

In a 2018 review of 11 recent studies on the durability of influenza vaccines, researchers concluded that effectiveness can vanish as soon as 90 days after vaccination
health  immunology  defect  drug  ++++-  study 
12 weeks ago by jonippolito
‘Guccifer 2.0’ Is Likely a Russian Government Attempt to Cover Up Its Own Hack - Motherboard
there's also a trail of evidence pointing in Russia's direction. (Both CrowdStrike and the DNC, moreover, are still pointing their fingers at Russia.)

The first, most easy to spot one, is the use of ")))" instead of a standard smile emoticon in the Guccifer 2.0 blog post. Using a single or multiple ")" instead the usual ":)" is very common for Russians, given the awkward way one needs to type the colon in a Russian keyboard.

That's not all though. The leaked documents contain metadata indicating they've been opened and processes on multiple virtual machines, as the independent cybersecurity researcher known as Pwn All The Things pointed out on Twitter on Wednesday. Some of these machines had different configurations, including one with the Cyrillic language setting and the username of "Iron Felix," referencing Felix Dzerzhinsky, the first head of the Soviet intelligence services.

The computer or virtual machine where the leakers processed the documents sent to Gawker used the Russian language setting. The same document posted on the Guccifer 2.0 blog post, however, did not.

Moreover, as someone on Twitter found, the software used during the analysis process was a cracked version of Office 2007, which, according to the Twitter user who found this, happens to be popular in Russia.

Could all these breadcrumbs have been left on purpose? Of course, but then the explanation would be that someone has done an awful lot of work to leave evidence pointing to Russia in a blog post where he or she was claiming to have nothing to do with Russia.
metadata  defect  Politics  hacking  digitalcuration  +++++ 
12 weeks ago by jonippolito
Ali Alkhatib: Anthropological/Artificial Intelligence & the HAI
The voices, opinions, and needs of disempowered stakeholders are being ignored today in favor of stakeholders with power, money, and influence - as they have been historically; our failure to listen promises to doom initiatives like the HAI.

James opens with a story of an office that senses you slouching, registers that you’re fatigued, intuits that your mood has shifted, and alters the ambiance accordingly to keep you alert throughout the day. This, James promises, is “a glimpse of the true potential of AI”. Fair enough, I suppose. I believe that he believes in a future of work wherein his environment conforms to his desires, and makes his life better.

But here’s another glimpse: someday you may have to work in an office where the lights are carefully programmed and tested by your employer to hack your body’s natural production of melatonin through the use of blue light, eking out every drop of energy you have while you’re on the clock, leaving you physically and emotionally drained when you leave work. Your eye movements may someday come under the scrutiny of algorithms unknown to you that classifies you on dimensions such as “narcissism” and “psychopathy”, determining your career and indeed your life prospects. Systems with access to photos of your face may someday classify you on the basis of its hunches about your sexuality. Your social networks can - and it turns out do - aim to manipulate your emotional state with neither your knowledge nor consent.
anthropology  artificialintelligence  defect  economics  ++++-  society 
april 2019 by jonippolito

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