science, environmental human dna, ethics, privacy
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Your DNA Can Now Be Pulled From Thin Air. Privacy Experts Are Worried. (Maria)

The author writes, “Over the last decade, wildlife researchers have refined techniques for recovering environmental DNA, or eDNA — trace amounts of genetic material that all living things leave behind. A powerful and inexpensive tool for ecologists, eDNA is all over — floating in the air, or lingering in water, snow, honey and even your cup of tea. … But all along, scientists using eDNA were quietly recovering gobs and gobs of human DNA. To them, it’s pollution, a sort of human genomic bycatch muddying their data. But what if someone set out to collect human eDNA on purpose?”

Santos Isn’t the First Member of Congress Indicted. Here’s How Others Ended Up (Reader Steve)

From Roll Call: “Rep. George Santos is not the first sitting member of Congress to be indicted, and he probably won’t be the last.  … Here’s a look at members who were indicted on criminal charges while in office during the past 15 years and what happened to them.”

Under the Radar, Right-Wing Push to Tighten Voting Laws Persists (DonkeyHotey)

The authors write, “Propelled by a new coalition of Trump allies, Republican-led legislatures have continued to pass significant restrictions on access to the ballot, including new limits to voting by mail in Ohio, a ban on ballot drop boxes in Arkansas and the shortening of early voting windows in Wyoming. Behind the efforts is a network of billionaire-backed advocacy groups that has formed a new hub of election advocacy within the Republican Party, rallying state activists, drafting model legislation and setting priorities.”

Kids as Young as 13 Could Have Criminal Records Released in 3 Majority-Black Parishes (Dana)

From “The Louisiana House on Thursday approved a bill to make some juvenile criminal records public, an effort that would apply to three of the state’s most-populous and majority-Black parishes. House Bill 321 would make some court records public for youth as young as 13 in Caddo, Orleans and East Baton Rouge Parishes — an effort to create what supporters call a ‘pilot program’ that they say would later be followed by a statewide system. … The effort has stirred controversy for its focus on the majority-Black areas, with advocates and some lawmakers calling it a blatantly racist effort that would expose Black youth to a level of scrutiny historically reserved for the adult justice system.”

Russia Has a Vodka Addiction. So Does Vladimir Putin — But Not the Same Way. (Roshni)

From Politico: “From the beginning of his presidency, Putin framed himself as a fit, steady and stable leader, in marked contrast to the inebriate bumbling of his predecessor. Yeltsin may have been a drunk and Putin sober; true. But Yeltsin’s drunkenness was his own cross to bear, he never imposed his addiction on his fellow countrymen. By contrast, Putin’s addiction is not to alcohol, but to his own greed, profit and hubris. The means to that end meant keeping Russian society shackled to the vodka bottle.”

In Pristine Alaska, an Oil Giant Prepares to Drill for Decades (Laura)

The authors write, “Scientists say nations must stop new oil and gas projects to avoid climate catastrophe. But after the Biden administration greenlit the $8 billion Willow project, ConocoPhillips is racing ahead.”

AI Machines Aren’t ‘Hallucinating.’ But Their Makers Are (Sean)

The author writes, “Inside the many debates swirling around the rapid rollout of so-called artificial intelligence, there is a relatively obscure skirmish focused on the choice of the word ‘hallucinate.’ This is the term that architects and boosters of generative AI have settled on to characterize responses served up by chatbots that are wholly manufactured, or flat-out wrong. Like, for instance, when you ask a bot for a definition of something that doesn’t exist and it, rather convincingly, gives you one, complete with made-up footnotes.”


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