Saturday, March 03, 2012

Investigation reveals Facebook is spying on smartphone users' personal text messages

As early as the late 1970s, there have been privacy concerns in the so-called "information age." And why not? At every stage since the widespread acceptance and use of the computer, and especially the Internet, someone has been trying to invade your privacy.

The latest infringement comes from Facebook, and some other companies, which has resorted to spying on smartphone users' personal text messages, according to a London Times investigation. Users who had downloaded the app for the world's largest social network were subject to the infringement.

For their part, Facebook wasn't alone. According to the London Times, which investigated the privacy violations, photo-sharing site Flickr, dating site Badoo and Yahoo Messenger were also accessing personal texts.

Privacy a 'precious commodity'

The report claimed that some apps even permitted companies to intercept phone calls. Still others, such as YouTube, "are capable of remotely accessing and operating users' smartphone cameras to take photographs or videos at any time," a separate report said.

Smaller firms were also in on the act. They included My Remote Lock (which, ironically, is supposed to be a security app), and the app Tennis Juggling Game. They, too, can supposedly intercept calls.

"Your personal information is a precious commodity, and companies will go to great lengths to get their hands on as much of it as possible," said Emma Draper, of the Privacy International campaign group.

Facebook officials are spinning the spying as little more than investigative field work, saying the world's largest social network is planning on launching its own messaging service soon and, well, needed to observe how one works in the real (virtual?) world.

Oh, and Facebook officials are also hiding behind the old, "You gave us permission when you agreed to download the app" excuse, which 70 percent of downloaders never read, according to a YouGov survey conducted for the Times.

"The Sunday Times has done some creative conspiracy theorizing but the suggestion that we're secretly reading people's texts is ridiculous," Andrew Noyes, a company spokesman, said in a statement following the Times report. "Instead, the permission is clearly disclosed on the app page in the Android marketplace and is in anticipation of new features that enable users to integrate Facebook features with their texts. However, other than some very limited testing, we haven't launched anything so we're not using the permission.

Iain Mackenzie, Facebook's European communication lead, continued to company line, even denying the company was looking to develop its own messaging software.

"Just as an aside...we didn't say we're launching a messenger product," he said.

Violations of your privacy more the rule than exception

Sound familiar? It should. Reports surface fairly regularly now that we're fully engulfed in the Information Age that your privacy rights are being completely trampled.

So regular are Facebook's alleged violations of your privacy that even the Federal Trade Commission has looked into them.

"But Facebook is a big fish. Today, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of smaller fish -- many in the form of apps for smartphones, which are dealing with the same kind of access to your data that Facebook enjoys but with far less scrutiny," writes Joshua Topolsky for The Washington Post.

And that's what seems to be the problem. There are so many regular electronic privacy violations that more must be done to ensure that all the loopholes are closed.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) recommends a few. First, Congress should update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 198' (when there was no commercial World Wide Web and no one carried cell phones). That would include a "robust" plan to protect all personal electronic information; institute appropriate oversight and reporting mechanisms; and require safeguards for location information.

"Privacy law doesn't auto-update," says the ACLU. "The Founding Fathers recognized that citizens in a democracy need privacy for their 'persons, houses, papers, and effects.' That remains as true as ever; today's citizens deserve no less protection just because their papers and effects' might be stored electronically."

Sources for this article include:

http://www.foxnews.com

http://www.myfoxdc.com

http://www.washingtonpost.com

http://www.washingtonpost.com

http://www.aclu.org

Sports drinks are sometimes better than water, but can also cause kidney stones and osteoporosis

Sports drinks are a favorite of athletes and some exercisers to quench their thirst and replenish lost nutrients. These drinks contain calcium, sodium and other minerals called electrolytes. An imbalance of electrolytes may be harmful. Sports drinks can help prevent or decrease some conditions by increasing electrolytes, but drinking them may result in complications like kidney stones, osteoporosis and calcium overdose.

Sweat and loss of electrolytes

Playing sports and working out increases body temperature and results in sweat to cool the body. Sweat contains fluid and electrolytes, such as calcium, sodium, potassium, chloride, magnesium, phosphate, bicarbonate and sulphate. These all leave the body through perspiration. Sweating too much without replenishing lost fluid eventually causes dehydration and possibly heat stroke or circulatory collapse. Drinking water hydrates the body but does not replenish lost electrolytes. Sports drinks contain electrolytes and carbohydrates, which the body burns for energy during exercise. Depending on how much a person sweats, sports drinks may therefore be more beneficial than water.

Muscle cramps and dehydration

Muscle cramps are a possible side effect of dehydration. Drinking sports drinks helps prevent cramping by raising electrolyte levels in the body and staving off dehydration, according to a Medical News Today article published online in July 2005. Consuming a diet that includes carbohydrates and electrolytes can also reduce the amount of fatigue experienced during exercise. People are most at risk for cramping during endurance activities that last over an hour; drinking sports drinks becomes more beneficial during these times.

Electrolyte imbalance

Muscles need calcium, potassium and sodium to contract, according to Level 4 Performance Coach Brian Mackenzie. Muscles contain electric tissue that are activated by electrolyte activity. If the level of calcium, sodium or potassium is too low or too high, called an electrolyte imbalance, muscles become weak or experience severe contractions. Symptoms of an imbalance include seizures, numbness, lethargy, twitching, irregular heartbeat and confusion. Electrolyte imbalances can lead to bone and nervous system disorders.

Kidney stones and osteoporosis

Sports drinks are high in sodium. When the body excretes sodium, it also excretes calcium. This causes high levels of calcium to form in the urine, potentially increasing risk of kidney stones, according to the James Buchanan Brady Urological Institute. The high levels of calcium in urine also leaves little calcium for bones. The body leeches calcium from bones to bind to sodium for excretion. The loss of calcium makes bones weaker and less dense, which increases risk of osteoporosis.

Calcium overdose

Consuming sports beverages, particularly while also taking calcium supplements or a multivitamin high in calcium, may result in hypercalcemia. Hypercalcemia is a condition caused by too much calcium in the body. Overdoing it on supplemental calcium is a known cause, according to the Mayo Clinic. High calcium levels interfere with brain and nerve function, muscle contraction and the release of hormones because of the role calcium plays in these functions. Symptoms of hypercalcemia include nausea, weakness, excessive thirst, muscle aches, joint aches, abdominal pain and constipation.

Editor's Note: It's got 'lectrolytes! BRAWNDO! Hey folks, don't forget about all the toxic crap found in sports drinks, either: Artificial colors, chemical sweeteners, corn syrup from GMO corn. The best "sports drink" is coconut water.



Sources for this article include:


http://www.msnbc.msn.com

http://urology.jhu.edu/kidney/STONESprevention.php

http://www.brianmac.co.uk/drinks.htm

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/153188.php

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/77714.php

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/01/health/01brody.html

http://www.mayoclinic.com

About the author:
Sarka-Jonae Miller is a health writer and novelist. She was certified as a personal fitness trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine and the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America. She also worked as a massage therapist, group exercise instructor and assistant martial arts instructor.
Miller's premiere novel, "Between Boyfriends," was recently published http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006Q6TSCS/ref=cm_cr_mts_prod_img

Toxic rapeseed and other low-grade oils with additives are being passed off as olive oil

As much as 50 percent of the olive oil sold in the U.S. is not actually pure olive oil, as some brands claiming to be "extra-virgin" or "100 percent Italian," for instance, have actually been adulterated with toxic rapeseed oil, more popularly known as canola oil, soybean oil, and other low-grade oils. In his new book Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil, olive oil expert Tom Mueller explains that not all olive oil is the same, and offers advice on how to spot authentic olive oil amidst all the imposters.

During a recent interview with Terry Gross from NPR's Fresh Air, Mueller explains how olive oil adulteration is much more widespread than people think, if they are even aware of it at all. For olive oil to truly be considered "extra-virgin," it has to come from fresh, crushed olives, and not be refined in any way or contain any chemical solvents. It also has to pass certain tests of integrity in order to be considered legitimate, for which many of the brands popularly sold today would fail.

"The legal definition simply says it has to pass certain chemical tests, and in a sensory way it has to taste and smell vaguely of fresh olives, because it's a fruit, and have no faults," said Mueller. "But many of the extra-virgin olive oils on our shelves today in America don't clear [the legal definition]."

Beige olive oil in plastic bottles is most likely adulterated

Real extra-virgin olive oil should have a vibrant, almost peppery flavor, for instance, and not taste bland or watered down. It is also typically stored in dark, glass bottles so that its array of health-promoting antioxidants, its taste, and its forceful green color -- yes, olive oil should be green, not yellowish in color -- are not harmed by light or damaging UV rays from the sun. For this reason, avoiding olive oil in clear, plastic bottles is recommended.

"What [real olive oil] gets you from a health perspective is a cocktail of 200-plus highly beneficial ingredients that explain why olive oil has been the heart of the Mediterranean diet," added Mueller during his interview with NPR. "Bad olives have free radicals and impurities, and then you've lost that wonderful cocktail ... that you get from fresh fruit, from real extra-virgin olive oil."

Most imported extra-virgin olive oil appears questionable in authenticity

The University of California, Davis published a report on olive oil back in 2010 entitled Tests indicate that imported 'extra virgin' olive oil often fails international and USDA standards. In this report, researchers found that 69 percent of imported and ten percent of California-based oils labeled as olive oil did not pass International Olive Council (IOC) and US Department of Agriculture sensory standards for extra virgin olive oil.

Of those brands tested, the following failed to meet extra-virgin olive oil standards:

• Bertolli
• Carapelli
• Filippo Berio
• Mazzola
• Mezzetta
• Newman's Own
• Pompeian
• Rachel Ray
• Safeway
• Star
• Whole Foods

The following brands were found to meet extra-virgin olive oil standards as part of the study:

• Corto Olive
• California Olive Ranch
• Kirkland Organic
• Lucero (Ascolano)
• McEvoy Ranch Organic

You can read the entire UC Davis Study here:
http://olivecenter.ucdavis.edu

Be sure to avoid any olive oil labeled as "light," as these are the lowest quality olive oils available. Also, be sure to choose either California-based olive oils, the vast majority of which are legitimate, or imported olive oils certified by IOC.

Sources for this article include:

http://www.nytimes.com

http://www.npr.org