Thursday, August 03, 2017

Ideas, Actions, and Inspiration for a Better Tomorrow - August 3 Edition

Elections, Security

“In the last few months, we have learned extraordinary details about a Russian assault on our election infrastructure. While there is no evidence that this assault altered the vote count, that fact should be cold comfort as we look to protect ourselves against future attacks.

One doesn’t have to be an expert on cybersecurity or election technology to understand how dangerous this is. Based on my experience, as a former Director of Central Intelligence, and in service to this country under both Democratic and Republican Presidents, I am confident the Russians will be back, and that they will take what they have learned last year to attempt to inflict even more damage in future elections. In particular, their history of interfering in other nations’ politics, their antipathy to the United States and Western democracies generally, and their proven ability to multiply the impact of their actions through cyberattacks should put us on the highest alert, and spur us to take all necessary actions to protect ourselves from further attack.

Of course, Moscow is not the only adversary that we have to worry about. North Korea has been implicated in the ransomware attack that locked up the computers of government agencies and businesses worldwide this May, while Al Qaeda and ISIS have a history of executing cyberattacks on foreign government websites. They too might be emboldened by Russia’s actions against us last year.

This report offers important guidance on how to protect ourselves. In particular, it looks at the two most critical parts of America’s election infrastructure: voting machines, which could be hacked to cast doubt on the integrity of vote tallies, or change them; and voter registration databases, which could be manipulated to block voters and cause disorder when citizens attempt to vote.”

Medical Research, Science

“One of its most exciting, taboo, and controversial applications is tweaking the genes of eggs, sperm, or early embryos to alter a human life. This could one day mean the ability to create smarter or more athletic humans (yes, “designer babies”), but also the chance to knock out disease-causing genetic mutations that parents pass on to their children. We’re talking about eliminating mutations linked to diseases like breast and ovarian cancers or cystic fibrosis.

On Wednesday, a team of scientists reported that they have made major progress toward proving the latter is possible.

In a paper published in the prestigious journal Nature, a team led by Shoukhrat Mitalipovof Oregon Health and Science University described how it used CRISPR/Cas9 to correct a genetic mutation that’s linked to a heart disorder called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in human embryos. And they did it without the errors that have plagued previous attempts to edit human embryos with CRISPR.

To be clear, the new work from OHSU was an experiment — the point was to test a concept, and the embryos used were never implanted into a woman’s uterus.

But the researchers were ultimately able to show that CRISPR/Cas9 can do what they hoped it would do. It cut the mutant gene sequence, prompted the embryos to repair the DNA with healthy copies of the gene, and eliminated the disease-causing mutation altogether from many of the embryos.”

Personal Finance

“At my last job as a recruiter, I would often interview people who lost their jobs from one week to the next.

It was during this time that I realized I had to always make sure I had money coming from different places, so I freelanced on the side of my day job and worked on a blog in the hopes of making some money from it someday.

While I didn't know it at the time, I'd figured out something most millionaires already know: you always need to have multiple sources of income.

As it turns out, having your money coming from multiple sources isn't just a survival technique, it's also a way to build wealth.”


“Visit any airport and you'll no doubt see people sleeping: on chairs, floors, and in small spaces you may never have thought of. And while trying to curl up under fluorescent lights to the tune of luggage being rolled along doesn't exactly sound conducive to a restful night's sleep, sleeping in an airport doesn't have to be all bad.

Sleep expert Dr. Rebecca Robbins of the NYU School of Medicine’s Center for Health Behavior Change tells Condé Nast Traveler that things like packing an eye mask and a set of earplugs and turning your phone to airplane mode to block incoming calls (yes, even though you’re not yet in the air) can help get you in the sleep zone and maximize your airport shut-eye experience. And if you can’t nod off, Robbins says, try meditating.

“Meditation can assist with the stress that ensues from travel," she says. "Download an application on your smartphone or computer to learn meditation and relaxation strategies. Or, simply close your eyes, and start to clench muscle groups as you breathe in, and exhale as you release. Move from your toes, to your calves/quads, and up to your shoulders.”

Here's what else you can do to ensure a safe and blissful shut-eye.”

Racial Equity

“Because color-blindness is so entrenched as a value in our society, it’s tempting when you are a policymaker or a philanthropic leader to say you are doing what you are doing – supporting this policy or that one –  to help “all kids.” After all, what kid doesn’t deserve a shot? But what I’ve learned is that if we do not look at the ways in which our systems like schools, justice, and democracy have discriminated against people of color and handicapped their shots at success, we aren’t going to make these systems work better for anyone. Black students graduate high school at a rate 13 percent lower than white students. Thirty-two percent of homeless youth are black, more than double the proportion of black youth in the population. This is not a coincidence.

Failing to address race head-on is counterproductive to making meaningful progress to correct these startling inequities. While it may be easier to avoid discussing race, it’s impossible to improve the systems that create these disparate outcomes if we don’t first recognize how they disproportionately impact people of color.”

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