Feeling woozy? Time to check the tattoo

[Note:  This item comes from friend Judi Clark.  DLH]

Feeling woozy? Time to check the tattoo 
Researchers aim beyond wearables with project combining art, medicine
By Alvin Powell, Harvard Staff Writer
Sep 28 2017

Harvard and MIT researchers have developed smart tattoo ink capable of monitoring health by changing color to tell an athlete if she is dehydrated or a diabetic if his blood sugar rises.

The work, conducted by two postdoctoral fellows at Harvard Medical School and colleagues led by Katia Vega at MIT’s Media Lab, paired biosensitive inks developed at Harvard with traditional tattoo artistry as a way to overcome some of the limitations of current biomedical monitoring devices.

“We were thinking: New technologies, what is the next generation after wearables?” said Ali Yetisen, who is a Tosteson postdoctoral fellow at HMS and Massachusetts General Hospital. “And so we came up with the idea that we could incorporate biosensors in the skin.”

A drawback of current wearable monitoring devices is that they don’t seamlessly integrate with the body, Yetisen said. Short battery life is a concern and so is the need for wireless connectivity, neither of which is an issue with the simple, color-based interface of biosensitive tattoo ink.

“We wanted to go beyond what is available through wearables today,” Yetisen said.

Nan Jiang, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said the project, “Dermal Abyss,” was conducted as a proof of concept, and that further refinements — stabilizing ink so designs don’t fade or diffuse into surrounding tissue — would be needed for a medical product.

The Dermal Abyss tattoo inks change color according to the chemistry of the body’s interstitial fluid, which can be used as a surrogate for constituents of the blood. Inks developed so far change from green to brown as glucose concentration increases. The team also developed a green ink, viewable under blue light, that grows more intense as sodium concentration rises, an indication of dehydration. Researchers tattooed the inks onto segments of pig skin and noted how they changed color or intensity in response to different biomarkers.

Jiang and Yetisen said that once the bugs are worked out, the applications for biologically-sensitive ink are fairly broad. Inks, Yetisen said, could be incorporated into long-lasting tattoos for chronic conditions or into temporary designs for shorter-duration monitoring. Ink can even be invisible, Yetisen said, readable under only particular kinds of light. That light could come from something as ubiquitous as a smartphone.


British courts may unlock secrets of how Trump campaign profiled US voters

[Note:  This item comes from friend David Rosenthal.  DLH]

British courts may unlock secrets of how Trump campaign profiled US voters
Legal mechanism may help academic expose how Big Data firms like Cambridge Analytica and Facebook get their information
By Carole Cadwalladr
Sep 30 2017

A US professor is trying to reclaim his personal data from the controversial analytics firm that helped Donald Trump to power. In what legal experts say may be a “watershed” case, a US citizen is using British laws to try to discover how he was profiled and potentially targeted by the Trump campaign.

David Carroll, an associate professor at Parsons School of Design in New York, has discovered a transatlantic legal mechanism that he hopes will give him access to information being sought by both the FBI and the Senate intelligence committee. In recent weeks, investigators looking at how people acting on behalf of Russia targetedAmerican voters have focused on Trump’s data operation. But although the FBI obtained a court order against Facebook to make it disclose evidence, the exact way in which US citizens were profiled and targeted remains largely unknown.

But British data protection laws may provide some transparency on the company at the heart of Trump’s data operation – Cambridge Analytica – and how it created profiles of 240 million Americans. In January, Carroll discovered he – and a group of other citizens – had the right under UK law to ask for his personal data back from the company, and when it failed to supply it, he started filing pre-trial actions to sue the company under British law. The lawsuit is the result of a unique situation, according to Ravi Naik of Irvine Thanvi Natas, the British solicitor who is leading the case. It arose because although Cambridge Analytica is largely owned by Trump’s biggest donor, hedge-fund billionaire Robert Mercer, and though its vice-president at the time of the US election was Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, the company was spun out of an older British military and elections contractor, SCL, with which it still shares staff, directors and a London office.

Naik says: “It’s this fascinating situation because when it became apparent that Cambridge Analytica had processed Americans’ data in Britain, it suddenly opened up this window of opportunity. In the US, Americans have almost no rights over their data whatsoever, but the data protection framework is set up in such a way that it doesn’t matter where people are: it matters where the data is processed.

“I’m a human rights practitioner and in the past most of my cases were national security issues, but increasingly it’s about data protection and the way people are affected by the misuse of their data. I see this as an issue affecting fundamental rights and it’s taking citizen activism to uncover what’s going on, to request data. I really hear echoes of the civil rights movement in people becoming more aware, more resistant and willing to fight.”

As an academic, Carroll had studied advertising, data and design, but he was still shocked when Cambridge Analytica eventually sent him a “profile” that it had created about him though not the data it was created from. “It was very strange and unsettling because they had given me ‘scores’ for different issues but I had no idea what they’d based this on.” The company scored him 3/10 on “Gun Rights Importance”, 7/10 on “National Security Importance” and “unlikely” to vote Republican.

“I was perplexed by it. I started thinking, ‘Have I had conversations about gun rights on Facebook? Where are they getting this from? And what are they doing with it?’” He reported the firm to the UK Information Commissioner’s Office, which is investigating the use of data in political campaigning; he has also launched a CrowdJustice campaign and is appealing to the public to help him take the case as far as he can through the British courts.


Editorial: Google’s Threat to Democracy Hits AlterNet Hard

Editorial: Google’s Threat to Democracy Hits AlterNet Hard
We all need to stand up and push back against Google’s monopoly on steroids.
By Don Hazen /  AlterNet
Sep 28 2017

The story we are sharing with you is very disconcerting for independent media and America’s future, and frankly unprecedented in AlterNet’s history.

It may be hard to imagine anything scarier than Donald Trump’s presidency. But this problem is actually bigger than Trump, and it is a situation that certainly helps him. This story affects you too, in ways you may not fully be aware of—in fact, it affects our whole media system and the future of democracy.

The New Media Monopoly Is Hurting Progressive and Independent News

The story is about monopoly on steroids. It is about the extreme and unconstrained power of Google and Facebook, and how they are affecting what you read, hear and see. It is about how these two companies are undermining progressive news sources, including AlterNet.

In June, Google announced major changes in its algorithm designed to combat fake news. Ben Gomes, the company’s vice president for engineering, stated in April that Google’s update of its search engine would block access to “offensive” sites, while working to surface more “authoritative content.”

This seemed like a good idea. Fighting fake news, which Trump often uses to advance his interests and rally his supporters, is an important goal that AlterNet shares.

But little did we know that Google had decided, perhaps with bad advice or wrong-headed thinking, that media like AlterNet—dedicated to fighting white supremacy, misogyny, racism, Donald Trump, and fake news—would be clobbered by Google in its clumsy attempt to address hate speech and fake news.

The Numbers Are Striking

We have had consistent search traffic averaging 2.7 million unique visitors a month, over the past two and a half years. (Search traffic makes up 30-40 percent of AlterNet’s overall traffic.) But since the June Google announcement, AlterNet’s search traffic has plummeted by 40 percent—a loss of an average of 1.2 million people every month who are no longer reading AlterNet stories.

AlterNet is not alone. Dozens of progressive and radical websites have reported marked declines in their traffic. But AlterNet ranks at the top in terms of audience loss because we have a deep archive from 20 years of producing thousands of news articles. And we get substantial traffic overall—typically among the top five indy sites.

So the reality we face is that two companies, Google and Facebook—which are not media companies, do not have editors or fact-checkers, and do no investigative reporting—are deciding what people should read, based on a failure to understand how media and journalism function. 

The Harvey and Irma of Journalism

Britain’s famed journalist Sir Harold Evans described Facebook and Google as “the Harvey and Irma of journalism and democracy”:

“Whatever else they do, the electronic duopoly deprive millions of information and argument as surely as the series of super storms deprive millions of light, power, home and hearth.

“The climate change deniers will go on calling the link between hurricanes and greenhouse gases a ‘hoax’… but no one can deny the devastating effect of Facebook and Google on the viability of news organizations to investigate complexity and resist suppression.”


Wozniak & Copps: Ending net neutrality will end the Internet as we know it

Wozniak & Copps: Ending net neutrality will end the Internet as we know it
The FCC should not let a few giant gatekeepers speed up and slow down their preferred sites and services. It should move us all into the fast lane.
By Steve Wozniak and Michael Copps
Sep 29 2017

Sometimes there’s a nugget of truth to the adage that Washington policymakers are disconnected from the people they purport to represent. This summer’s sustained grassroots defense of network neutrality, including a National Day of Action, is a good example. Millions of Americans have now contacted the Federal Communications Commission and Congress in opposition to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to wipe away the open internet.

It is a stirring example of democracy in action. With the Internet’s future as a platform for innovation and democratic discourse on the line, a coalition of grassroots and diverse groups joined with technology firms to insist that the FCC maintain its 2015 open internet (or “net neutrality”) rules.

One of us is the inventor of the personal computer, and the other a former commissioner at the FCC. We come from different walks of life, but each of us recognizes that the FCC is considering action that could end the internet as we know it — a dynamic platform for entrepreneurship, jobs, education, and free expression. Will consumers and citizens control their online experiences, or will a few gigantic gatekeepers take this dynamic technology down the road of centralized control, toll booths and constantly rising prices for consumers? At stake is the nature of the internet and its capacity to transform our lives even more than it already has.

If Pai’s majority permits fast lanes for the biggest internet service providers (ISPs like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T), companies could speed up or slow down the sites and services they prefer. That’ll be great for their business affiliates and corporate friends, but woe to the startup that wants to build the next great web service — it could find itself in the slow lane, unable to compete with established firms. And pity the local blogger who criticizes her ISP’s crummy service — the broadband gatekeeper would be free to slow or silence her.

Like most issues of telecom arcana, net neutrality can be highly technical. But underneath the jargon is a simple principle: Broadband consumers should have access to lawful content without ISP interference. That means no censorship or fast lanes. 

Fast lanes or “paid prioritization” create anticompetitive incentives for ISPs to favor their own services over those of their competitors. While Pai thinks paid prioritization would somehow benefit consumers, allowing ISPs to make such arrangements would stifle innovation online and make it harder for the next great streaming service or social network to reach the market. This is not an idle worry. In a filing with the FCC, AT&T called popular concern over fast lanes “baseless.”

Yet it’s clear that a fast lane for some is a slow lane for all others. Even more troubling than the threat to consumers is the impact this could have on democracy. Ending net neutrality would take freedom and choice from the less powerful.

This is a core issue for our civil society. Americans of every political persuasion depend on the internet to educate themselves on the issues of the day, speak their minds, and organize for change. Mass mobilizations on all sides of the climate, health care and immigration debates illustrate the point. Yet even as our political discourse reaches unprecedented levels of polarization, some 77% of Americans, including overwhelming majorities of both Republicans and Democrats, support maintaining net neutrality. 


With Cell Service Crippled, Puerto Ricans Look Skyward for a Signal

With Cell Service Crippled, Puerto Ricans Look Skyward for a Signal
By Robin Respaut and Dave Graham
Sep 28 2017

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (Reuters) – On a busy highway bridge over San Juan Bay in Puerto Rico on Wednesday, cars pulled to the side of the road. Their occupants emerged clutching cellphones in search of one of the rarest finds on the island: a working mobile network.

A week after Hurricane Maria came ashore as the most powerful storm to hit Puerto Rico in nearly 90 years, knocking out its electric grid, 90.9 percent of cell phone sites on the island remain out of commission, according to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

For miles, cell phones deliver one frustrating message: “No Service.”

The search for the elusive sliver of places now capable of providing a signal has become a frantic treasure hunt. Across this U.S. territory, motorists desperate to communicate are herding on the sides of highways, bridges and exit ramps, hoping that their cell phones will come back to life.

Stephanie Trigo, 28, was among those leaning against the concrete barrier of the Highway 17 bridge on Wednesday.

“At least now we’re getting service in some places. At night, when we’re home, we have no means of communication,” she said.

Suddenly, Trigo’s phone rang. “I have a call!” she cried and answered it.

At another location outside San Juan, people approached a cell tower with handsets extended, hoping to see bars appear on their phones. Such scenes attract other motorists to stop to see if they might get lucky.

“Everywhere that I see people parked, I figure they have a signal,” said Jose Alduende, 74, from the Highway 17 bridge.

The outage in Puerto Rico is far worse than those of two other hurricanes that came ashore in Texas and Florida in the past month. Cell service in those two states was almost completely restored in storm-affected areas a week after hurricanes Harvey and Irma made landfall.

In the few San Juan hotels with working cell service and Wifi, adults have broken down in tears upon making their first communication with the outside world.

The Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino has become a particular oasis in the telecom desert. On Wednesday, Puerto Ricans and tourists crammed the hotel’s lobby, clustered around power outlets bristling with adapters and extension cables, making calls or tapping away at phones and computers to stay connected.


“We have lost all telecoms,” Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello told cable news channel CNN on Wednesday.

Puerto Ricans are heavily dependent on cell phones, a prominent source of internet access on the island, which has a cell phone penetration rate of nearly 100 percent, government data showed.

There are five main mobile service providers in the territory’s vibrant market: AT&T, T-Mobile, Claro, Sprint and Open Mobile.


Puerto Rico’s Catastrophe Puts Trump’s Ineptitude on Full Display

Puerto Rico’s Catastrophe Puts Trump’s Ineptitude on Full Display
So far, Trump’s response to the Puerto Rico disaster is to tell us he’s doing an “amazing” job. Despite that ocean!
By Heather Digby Parton
Sep 28 2017

On Tuesday, Politico reported that Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida made a trip to Puerto Rico to assess the damage from Hurricane Maria:

Saying he needs to “raise the alarm” about Puerto Rico’s dire straits, Sen. Marco Rubio told the White House on Tuesday that the federal government needs to take over recovery efforts on the island quickly to prevent a Hurricane “Katrina-style” disaster in the U.S. territory.

“This has the potential of being a serious humanitarian crisis in a U.S. territory impacting United States citizens,” Rubio told POLITICO on Tuesday before delivering a similar message in a face-to-face meeting with Vice President Mike Pence. “There’s going to have to be a lot more hands-on federal engagement for us to be able to successfully carry out the mission.”

The White House announced that President Trump would be going to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands next Tuesday. In the meantime, no other American officials are allowed to go.

Rubio was not the only one to evoke the government’s disastrous response to Katrina back in 2005. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said this:

The response has been anemic. Back when we had Katrina I said at a news conference that God would not be pleased with our response. And God would certainly not be pleased with this response.

Last Sunday Hillary Clinton tweeted this:

The administration belatedly announced two days later that they were sending the Comfort, a hospital ship. It leaves four days from now and will take another five days to get there.

Over the weekend, Puerto Rico’s governor, Ricardo Rosselló, gave numerous interviews saying he hoped the government would send more than the bare minimum of help, even as he thanked FEMA and the military. On Monday the mayor of San Juan, the island territory’s capital, tearfully begged for more assistance, saying that a humanitarian crisis was unfolding before our eyes.

Meanwhile, in between obsessing about NFL players protesting police brutality and insulting John McCain for refusing to vote for the latest Obamacare repeal bill, the president grudgingly tweeted about Puerto Rico, apparently suggesting that the island’s debt problems had to be “dealt with” as a condition of disaster aid. On Monday he held a press conference with the Spanish president in which he claimed that Puerto Rican officials were telling “anyone who will listen” what a great job Donald Trump was doing:

[A] massive effort is underway, and we have been really treated very, very nicely by the governor and by everybody else. They know how hard we’re working and what a good job we’re doing. As Gov. Rosselló just told me this morning, the entire federal workforce is doing great work in Puerto Rico, and I appreciated his saying it. And he’s saying it to anybody that will listen.

When asked for follow-up, Trump helpfully explained that Puerto Rico is “an island sitting in the middle of an ocean,” which for some reason made it “tough” to get supplies there. But the main thrust of his comments was what a great job he was doing:

The governor of Puerto Rico is so thankful for the great job that we’re doing. . . . The governor said we are doing a great job. . . . We have had tremendous reviews from government officials . . . and this morning, the governor made incredible statements about how well we’re doing. . . . So everybody has said it’s amazing the job that we’ve done in Puerto Rico, we’re very proud of it. . . . I think we’ve done a really good job . . . and we are going to do far more than anybody else would ever be able to do and it’s being recognized as such.


Elon Musk says his next spaceship could not only take to you the moon and Mars, but from N.Y. to London in 29 minutes

Elon Musk says his next spaceship could not only take to you the moon and Mars, but from N.Y. to London in 29 minutes
By Christian Davenport
Sep 29 2017

For years, Elon Musk has been focused on building a colony on Mars. It’s why he founded SpaceX in 2002, and it’s been the driving force behind it ever since.

But during a speech in Adelaide, Australia, Friday morning, Musk said he has dramatically expanded his already-outsize ambitions. In addition to helping create a city on the Red Planet, he said the next rocket he intends to build would also be capable of helping create a base camp on the moon — and flying people across the globe.

“It’s 2017, we should have a lunar base by now,” he said during a 40-minute speech at the International Astronautical Congress. “What the hell has been going on?”

In a surprise twist, he also said the massive rocket and spaceship, which would have more pressurized passenger space than an Airbus A380 airplane, could also fly passengers anywhere on Earth in less than an hour. Traveling at a maximum speed of more than 18,000 mph, a trip from New York to Shanghai, for example, would take 39 minutes, he said. New York to London could be done in 29 minutes.

“If we’re building this thing to go to the moon and Mars, why not go other places as well?” he said.

The speech was billed as an update to one he gave a year ago, in which he provided details for how SpaceX would make humanity a “multi-planet species.”

At the speech a year ago, Musk unveiled a behemoth of a rocket that was so ambitious and mind-bogglingly large that critics said it was detached from reality. Now, he and his team at SpaceX have done some editing, and Musk presented a revised plan early Friday to build a massive, but more reasonably sized, rocket that he calls the BFR, or Big [expletive] Rocket.

“I think we’ve figured out how to pay for it, this is very important,” he said.

The new fully reusable system includes a booster stage and a spaceship capable of carrying 100 people or so. It would be capable of flying astronauts and cargo on an array of missions, from across the globe, to the International Space Station in low Earth orbit and to the moon and Mars in deep space. It’d also be capable of launching satellites, he said, while effectively replacing all of the rockets and spacecraft SpaceX currently uses or is developing, making them redundant.

That would allow the company to put all of its resources into development of the BFR, he said.

Earlier this year, Musk announced that SpaceX would fly two private citizens in a trip around the moon by late next year. And he hinted at the moon base during a conference in July.

“If you want to get the public really fired up, I think we’ve got to have a base on the moon. That’d be pretty cool. And then going beyond there and getting people to Mars,” he said. “That’s the continuance of the dream of Apollo that I think people are really looking for.”

But Friday morning he made it clear that Mars is still the ultimate goal. During his talk, a chart showed that SpaceX planned to fly two cargo missions to Mars by 2022, a very ambitious timeline.