Blog Rolls

COVID-19 Data Discovery from Clinical Records

“Welcome to COVID-19 Data Discovery from Clinical Records – your resource for questions and answers about COVID-19, funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. We use electronic health record (EHR) data from 12 leading medical centers to answer simple and complex clinical questions related to COVID-19. Because we consult multiple centers, we have a relatively large number of COVID-19 cases to discover patterns while maintaining patient and institutional privacy. In this project, EHR data never leaves the medical centers, only aggregate statistics are exchanged…

Our network is currently composed of 202 hospitals in 12 health systems (11 in the USA and one in Germany), which collectively have electronic health record data from over 45 million patients. Between January 1, 2020 and August 31, 2020, our Consortium had 928,255 patients tested for SARS-CoV-2, 59,074 diagnosed with COVID-19, with 19,022 hospitalized and 2,591 deceased. We have access to data from at least one hospital in every USA state.For this project, no patient-level data are ever transmitted outside of each health system, only data aggregates, and the privacy of individuals and institutions is preserved. We also use a novel, distributed analytics technique to consult data and build multivariate models, in a secure manner Our network started as the patient-centered SCAlable National Network for Effectiveness Research (pSCANNER) and later expanded to the network we have today. We welcome new partnerships to broaden our geographical coverage and the robustness of our answers to COVID-19 questions.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Trump Accuses FDA Of Playing Politics With COVID-19 Vaccine Guidelines

Referring to a report that the FDA plans to tighten requirements for a vaccine, Trump said, "That sounds like a political move."

(Image credit: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images)

Categories: Just News

Audit: University Of California Admitted 64 Students Over More Qualified Applicants

The students admitted were well-connected to staff or donors and took spots from more qualified applicants.

(Image credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Categories: Just News

California Plans to Ban Sales of Gas-Powered Cars by 2035

Wired Top Stories - Wed, 09/23/2020 - 20:01
Governor Gavin Newsom outlines an ambitious plan for the nation's largest state to rely exclusively on electric-powered passenger cars and trucks.
Categories: Just News

Navigate safely with new COVID data in Google Maps

Google Blog: “More than one billion people turn to Google Maps for essential information about how to get from place to place–especially during the pandemic when safety concerns are top of mind. Features like popular times and live busyness, COVID-19 alerts in transit, and COVID checkpoints in driving navigation were all designed to help you stay safe when you’re out and about. This week, we’re introducing the COVID layer in Maps, a tool that shows critical information about COVID-19 cases in an area so you can make more informed decisions about where to go and what to do. How it works – When you open Google Maps, tap on the layers button on the top right hand corner of your screen and click on “COVID-19 info”. You’ll then see a seven-day average of new COVID cases per 100,000 people for the area of the map you’re looking at, and a label that indicates whether the cases are trending up or down. Color coding also helps you easily distinguish the density of new cases in an area. Trending case data is visible at the country level for all 220 countries and territories that Google Maps supports, along with state or province, county, and city-level data where available…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Misinformation more likely to use non-specific authority references: Twitter analysis of two COVID-19 myths

Misinformation more likely to use non-specific authority references: Twitter analysis of two COVID-19 myths – “This research examines the content, timing, and spread of COVID-19 misinformation and subsequent debunking efforts for two COVID-19 myths. COVID-19 misinformation tweets included more non-specific authority references (e.g., “Taiwanese experts”, “a doctor friend”), while debunking tweets included more specific and verifiable authority references (e.g., the CDC, the World Health Organization, Snopes). Findings illustrate a delayed debunking response to COVID-19 misinformation, as it took seven days for debunking tweets to match the quantity of misinformation tweets. The use of non-specific authority references in tweets was associated with decreased tweet engagement, suggesting the importance of citing specific sources when refuting health misinformation.” The Harvard Kennedy School Misinformation Review. September 2020,Volume 1, Special Issue on COVID-19 and Misinformation.

Categories: Law and Legal

The High Privacy Cost of a “Free” Website

The Markup:”…An array of free website-building tools, many offered by ad-tech and ad-funded companies, has led to a dizzying number of trackers loading on users’ browsers, even when they visit sites where privacy would seem paramount, an investigation by The Markup has found. Some load without the website operators’ explicit knowledge—or disclosure to users. Website operators may agree to set cookies—small strings of text that identify you—from one outside company. But they are not always aware that the code setting those cookies can also load dozens of other trackers along with them, like nesting dolls, each collecting user data. To investigate the pervasiveness of online tracking, The Markup spent 18 months building a one-of-a-kind free public tool that can be used to inspect websites for potential privacy violations in real time. Blacklight reveals the trackers loading on any site—including methods created to thwart privacy-protection tools or watch your every scroll and click. We scanned more than 80,000 of the world’s most popular websites with Blacklight and found more than 5,000 were “fingerprinting” users, identifying them even if they block third-party cookies. We also found more than 12,000 websites loaded scripts that watch and record all user interactions on a page—including scrolls and mouse movements. It’s called “session recording” and we found a higher prevalence of it than researchers had documented before…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Wikipedia is getting a new look for the first time in 10 years. Here’s why

Wikimedia Foundation: “Wikipedia has remained a critical and widely-used resource for knowledge across the world for the past two decades.  Over this time, the site has expanded significantly to contain unparalleled amounts of reliable and thorough information, including 53 million articles across over 300 languages. While Wikipedia’s content has grown rapidly, our interface has not kept pace.  We’re proud that our website is more direct, simple, and advertisement-free than the rest of the internet.  Yet, the design of desktop Wikipedia and other Wikimedia Foundation projects have not seen any substantive changes for the past 10 years, leaving certain elements of the site’s navigation feeling clunky and overwhelming to readers and editors whose main purpose is to create, learn, and curate content.

The desktop design is particularly important to new users who have come to the internet for the first time over the last decade.  To these users, much of the wide range of functionality on the site can feel overwhelming and difficult to understand.  In order to welcome them to our projects and entice them to come back, we need to provide not only excellent content and an experience that is engaging and easy to use, but also an experience that is on-par with their perceptions of a modern, trustworthy, and welcoming site. At the same time, we wish to keep the core of our identity and evolve in a way such that the final product indisputably looks and feels like a Wikimedia project. We want to create an experience that feels similar to our long-time users, yet straightforward and intuitive for new folks.

It is with these goals in mind that the Wikimedia Foundation began a multi-year project to improve Wikipedia’s desktop. Since May 2019, we have been working to strengthen the Wikipedia desktop interface — focusing on bringing our content to the forefront, and making the site easier to navigate. Our goal is to create a more welcoming experience for all who come to our projects, regardless of background or level of experience with Wikimedia sites…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Climate Disruption Is Now Locked In. The Next Moves Will Be Crucial

The New York Times – scientists have warned about for years. But there is a second part to their admonition: Decades of growing crisis are already locked into the global ecosystem and cannot be reversed. This means the kinds of cascading disasters occurring today — drought in the West fueling historic wildfires that send smoke all the way to the East Coast, or parades of tropical storms lining up across the Atlantic to march destructively toward North America — are no longer features of some dystopian future. They are the here and now, worsening for the next generation and perhaps longer, depending on humanity’s willingness to take action. “I’ve been labeled an alarmist,” said Peter Kalmus, a climate scientist in Los Angeles, where he and millions of others have inhaled dangerously high levels of smoke for weeks. “And I think it’s a lot harder for people to say that I’m being alarmist now.” Last month, before the skies over San Francisco turned a surreal orange, Death Valley reached 130 degrees Fahrenheit, the highest temperature ever measured on the planet. Dozens of people have perished from the heat in Phoenix, which in July suffered its hottest month on record, only to surpass that milestone in August. Conversations about climate change have broken into everyday life, to the top of the headlines and to center stage in the presidential campaign. The questions are profound and urgent. Can this be reversed? What can be done to minimize the looming dangers for the decades ahead? Will the destruction of recent weeks become a moment of reckoning, or just a blip in the news cycle? The Times spoke with two dozen climate experts, including scientists, economists, sociologists and policymakers, and their answers were by turns alarming, cynical and hopeful…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Unplug the Internet Kill Switch Act of 2020

News release: “Yesterday, Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) and Thomas Massie (KY-04) introduced H.R.8336, the Unplug the Internet Kill Switch Prevention Act, which would prevent the President from using emergency powers to cut off America’s access to the internet and undermine Americans’ Constitutional protections. The bipartisan, bicameral bill was introduced in the Senate by Sens. Rand Paul (KY), Ron Wyden (OR), and Gary Peters (MI). “The oath that I took as a Soldier and as a Member of Congress was to support and defend our Constitution. The freedoms enshrined in our Constitution cannot be taken for granted. Our legislation would fix a WWII-era law that gives the president nearly unchallenged authority to restrict access to the internet, conduct email surveillance, control computer systems and cell phones. No President should have the power to ignore our freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and violate our civil liberties and privacy by declaring a national emergency,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.  “When governments around the world turn off internet access, they do significant harm to their national economies and their citizen’s civil rights,” said Rep. Thomas Massie. “This bipartisan bill will ensure that no future American president can unilaterally trip an ‘internet kill switch.’ Americans do not have to accept the premise that one person can deprive them of their 1st Amendment rights by flipping a switch.”..

Categories: Law and Legal

AARP Polls: Coronavirus, Social Security Cuts Top 50+ Voter Concerns

“Even though 90 percent of older Americans believe that the country has become too divided, new AARP battleground state polls show that the support of voters age 65-plus is very much up for grabs because their concern for the coronavirus and health care overall transcends partisanship. AARP released the full results Tuesday of two sets of public opinion surveys designed to gauge what issues are driving the votes of those age 50-plus and what their main concerns are, as well as who they support for president and U.S. Senate. Voters were asked where they stand on a range of concerns — from cuts to Social Security, to the coronavirus, to the debate over racial justice and law-and-order priorities. By overwhelming margins, older voters in 11 states (Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Montana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin) with competitive races for president and U.S. Senate say they are more likely to vote for candidates who promise to protect Social Security benefits and strengthen Medicare. Four years ago, President Donald Trump carried voters 65-plus by 13 points. The AARP polls show that among voters in that age group the race between Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden remains close, as do a number of U.S. Senate contests…” [h/t Pete Weiss]

Categories: Law and Legal

California Governor Signs Order Banning Sales Of New Gasoline Cars By 2035

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order Wednesday that amounts to the most aggressive clean-car policy in the U.S. and would end the sale of new gas vehicles in the state in 15 years.

(Image credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Categories: Just News

Democrats Criticize Upcoming Debate For Not Including Climate Change

Three dozen senators have signed a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates asking for the topic to be examined in every debate. The first 2020 presidential debate is Tuesday.

(Image credit: Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Green New Deal )

Categories: Just News

Massive genetic study shows coronavirus mutating and potentially evolving amid rapid U.S. spread

Washington Post – “The largest U.S. genetic study of the virus, conducted in Houston, shows one viral strain outdistancing all of its competitors, and many potentially important mutations. Scientists in Houston on Wednesday released a study of more than 5,000 genetic sequences of the coronavirus, which reveals the virus’s continual accumulation of mutations, one of which may have made it more contagious. That mutation is associated with a higher viral load among patients upon initial diagnosis, the researchers found. The new report, however, did not find that these mutations have made the virus deadlier or changed clinical outcomes. All viruses accumulate genetic mutations, and most are insignificant, scientists say. The new study, which has not been peer-reviewed, was posted Wednesday on the preprint server MedRxiv. It appears to be the largest single aggregation of genetic sequences of the virus in the United States thus far. A larger batch of sequences was published earlier this month by scientists in the United Kingdom, and, like the Houston study, concluded that a mutation that changes the structure of the “spike protein” on the surface of the virus may be driving the outsized spread of that particular strain…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Older People, Got A Pandemic Problem? A Club To Help You Figure It Out — Yourself

Vietnam's Intergenerational Self Help Clubs encourage older people in the neighborhood to find solutions to their own challenges, whether it's feeling lonely or needing a little extra cash.

(Image credit: Nguyễn Văn Hốt)

Categories: Just News

CryptoHarlem’s Founder Warns Against ‘Digital Stop and Frisk'

Wired Top Stories - Wed, 09/23/2020 - 16:28
On Day 2 of WIRED’s virtual conference, hacker Matt Mitchell cautions that law enforcement routinely trawls social media to surveil protestors.
Categories: Just News

Arlan Hamilton and Katie Rae Say Tech Can Do Well—and Do Good

Wired Top Stories - Wed, 09/23/2020 - 16:15
At the WIRED25 event, the two investors say traditional venture capital misses opportunities because it is a monoculture.
Categories: Just News

Maria Ressa Says Disinformation Is More Insidious Than We Think

Wired Top Stories - Wed, 09/23/2020 - 16:04
At our virtual conference, the journalist and CEO of Rappler explained how the goal isn't just to spread lies but to blur our sense of true and false.
Categories: Just News

CEO Sarah Friar Describes How Nextdoor Is Curbing Racism

Wired Top Stories - Wed, 09/23/2020 - 15:41
The neighborhood-focused social network leans on local human moderators as well as AI, she explained at WIRED's virtual W25 conference.
Categories: Just News

'No One Can Live Off $240 A Week': Many Americans Struggle To Pay Rent, Bills

One in six households reported missing or delaying paying bills just so they could buy food, an NPR poll says. And many are having trouble paying the rent, especially African Americans and Latinos.

(Image credit: Max Herman/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Categories: Just News

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