The New York Times reports that the NSA has been drawing social connections between and among Americans using the vast amount of metadata it collects. But they say they've only been using it when there's a "foreign intelligence justification," pinky swear, though of course they decided to expand this effort without any oversight in late 2010. We have two choices: trust our government, or be Americans.
Several Republican members of Congress suddenly aren't sure if furloughed government employees will get back pay resulting from the shutdown. Here's a clue: if you caused government workers to work without pay, you pay them for the work they did -- and if you caused government workers not to work because you couldn't fund the government, you pay them for the work they could have done. Really, they're writing new campaign ads for the other side every day. (Not that we'll ever see them -- after all, Democrats would have to run them, and they won't, because civility.)
Speaking of the shutdown, dig this wack quotation from Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN): "We're not going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this. And I don't know what that even is." But why should anyone care what Republicans "get" out of this whole mess? And why should we care whether any of them feel "disrespected"? The only respect they should worry about is the respect they earn from their constituents. Really, it ain't that damn deep.
Because so many Congressfolk (including both my Senators!) have such a hard-on for abolishing the medical device tax in the Affordable Care Act, Citizens for Tax Justice explains why the tax isn't such a bad idea. Long story short: most of the medical device industry's complaints are irrelevant -- really, what's going to drive down demand for medical devices, besides large numbers of people suddenly preferring pain and misery? -- and, like, yo, it's a measly 2.3% tax, which won't even get levied on American medical devices exported overseas. They already got the weak medical device law they wanted from Congress last year; how much is enough for them?
Finally, University of Florida and University of California-San Francisco researchers have found that blood from folks with HIV can show an immune response if confronted with a protein from FIV, or feline immunodeficiency virus. Worst case scenario: we'll learn more about how to vaccinate against HIV by seeing what it has in common with FIV, or come up with a better vaccine for FIV. Cats suffer just as much as we do, after all, though they do their damndest never to let on.