Dissidents are using USB drives to smuggle information into authoritarian regimes.
“The struggle for freedom is one that used to be about who has more guns. Now information is a key component in making sure the government doesn’t get away with winning the day with its narrative and pushing what governments tend to do, which is the use of fear to control the population.”
But if you were looking for something truly disruptive at SXSW, look no further than a group of activists using tech to spread information to citizens oppressed by authoritarian regimes.
“The people out there they don’t have satellites, they don’t have internet, they have nothing,” says Abdalaziz Alhamza who escaped Syria and co-founded Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently. “To be stuck with only ISIS propaganda, it will affect them.”
Alhamza and dissidents from Eritrea, Afghanistan and Cuba were brought together by the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) for a panel discussion called “The Real Information Revolution.” Reason caught up with the group at the HRF booth on the convention floor, centered around a large wall of Kim Jong Un faces with USB ports for mouths. Attendees were invited to donate USB drives into the display. The drives will later be smuggled into North Korea after being wiped and filled with films and information from the outside world. Read the rest of this entry »
Justice Scalia was referred to as a “conservative” justice, but his judicial philosophy was about ahdering to the Constitution.
Source: National Review
WASHINGTON (Reuters) David Shepardson reports: Alphabet Inc said Wednesday its self-driving car project will expand testing to Kirkland, Washington later this month, the third city where it is testing autonomous vehicles.
“We’re looking forward to seeing the cars on the road and understanding more about how self-driving cars might someday improve safety and provide traffic relief.”
— Washington Governor Jay Inslee
Google said in a statement that one reason for the new site in the northwest United States is to gain experience in “different driving environments, traffic patterns, and road conditions.”
Kirkland has significant seasonal rain that allows for wet weather testing, along with hills that will allow testing of sensors at different angles and elevations.
‘Yet another example of such activists faking racist incidents.’
Richard Lewis reports: On Nov 17 Kean University students engaged in a rally to raise awareness for racial issues. The rally was entirely peaceful and was without incident until the group was informed of some threatening messages aimed at them via Twitter.
These messages included threats to shoot black students and a bomb scare. With an air of panic rising, things had the potential to turn hostile, and the police were notified. The twist? Their resulting investigation found that it was one of the activists who reportedly issued the threats.
24-year old Kayla-Simone McKelvey allegedly left the protest to use a work station in the campus library to create the Twitter account that issued the threats. Following that she returned to the group and notified the group about them. McKelvey will now face one charge of creating a public alarm with the case scheduled to start in two weeks.
In light of the revelation, Kean University issued the following public statement:
As a diverse academic community, we wholeheartedly respect and support activism, however, no cause or issue gives anyone the right to threaten the safety of others. We hope this information will begin to bring a sense of relief and security to the campus community.
This is yet another example of such activists faking racist incidents in a bid to generate sympathy and further their agenda. Read the rest of this entry »
They’re jealous, he says, they side with rulers, and they don’t understand how markets work.
Nick Gillespie & Todd Krainin “Intellectuals have always disdained commerce” says Whole Foods Market co-founder John Mackey. They “have always sided…with the aristocrats to maintain a society where the businesspeople were kind of kept down.”
More than any other outlet, Whole Foods has reconfigured what and how America eats and the chain’s commitment to high-quality meats, produce, cheeses, and wines is legendary. Since opening his first store in Austin, Texas in 1980, Mackey now oversees operations around the globe and continues to set the pace for what’s expected in organic and sustainably raised and harvested food.
Check out the book “Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business” at Amazon.com]
Because of Whole Foods’ trendy customer base and because Mackey is himself a vegan and champions collaboration between management and workers, it’s easy to mistake Mackey for a progressive left-winger. Indeed, an early version of Jonah Goldberg‘s best-selling 2008 book Liberal Fascism even bore the subtitle “The Totalitarian Temptation from Mussolini to Hillary Clinton and The Totalitarian Temptation from Hegel to Whole Foods.”
[See more at Reason.com]
Yet nothing could be further from the truth—and more distorting of the radical vision of capitalism at the heart of Mackey’s thought. A high-profile critic of the minimum wage, Obamacare, and the regulatory state, Mackey believes that free markets are the best way not only to raise living standards but also to explore new ways of building community and creating meaning for individuals and society.
At the same time, he challenges all sorts of libertarian dogma, including the notion that publicly traded companies should always seek to exclusively maximize shareholder value. Conscious Capitalism, the book he co-authored with Rajendra Sisodia, lays out a detailed case for Mackey’s vision of a post-industrial capitalism that addresses spiritual desire as much as physial need. Read the rest of this entry »
Why Freddy’s Barbecue Couldn’t Really Exist
Johnny Fugitt writes: Between taking bites out of his political opponents, Frank Underwood, in the first two seasons of Netflix’s “House of Cards,” liked to visit a hole-in-the-wall barbecue joint called Freddy’s. Freddy’s BBQ is fictional and the show used a shack in Baltimore for the set.
DC tourists may be disappointed to learn they cannot sample Frank’s favorite ribs, but the most disappointing fact is not that Freddy’s is fictional. The sad truth is that Freddy’s could simply not exist in DC or in most major cities today.
While researching barbecue restaurants for my recently released book, The 100 Best Barbecue Restaurants in America“ I visited 365 barbecue restaurants across 48 states. Many owners shared with me that their businesses are hampered by local environmental, safety, and health regulations
No Tasty Barbecue For You
In Houston, for example, Pizzitola’s Barbecue hangs its hat on being the only remaining Houston barbecue restaurant to cook with a traditional open pit. Pizzitola’s has been smoking barbecue this way for 50 years and was grandfathered into the local safety law banning their traditional method of smoking meat.
“The White Swan came under federal regulations and were required to use electric cookers rather than continuing to smoke as they had for generations.”
As newer barbecue restaurants popped up just outside city limits, Houston lost tax revenue and residents had to leave the city for great barbecue—everyone lost.
“Today, cities require restaurants to invest tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars in safety hoods and equipment.”
It might seem unfair for Pizzitola’s to have such an exemption and, thus, an advantage over their competition, but it’s actually a blessing and a curse. If Pizzitola’s were to make any major changes to the restaurant—like adding a patio or dining-room space—they would lose their grandfathered-in status.
Pizzitola’s cannot adapt to compete with other restaurants because this risks losing the way they have been preparing barbecue for 50 years. Eventually this handicap will catch up to them.
No More Opportunities For the Little Guys
Although local regulations have done the most damage, federal regulations are also to blame. From the 1940s until 2009, The White Swan smoked traditional North Carolina pork over smoldering oak.
“It was a shame to see a historic, small town, family-run barbecue joint forced to serve cooked pork rather than traditional smoked barbecue simply to comply with federal food regulations.”
When they franchised in 2009 (and created a number of new jobs), The White Swan came under federal regulations and were required to use electric cookers rather than continuing to smoke as they had for generations. It was a shame to see a historic, small town, family-run barbecue joint forced to serve cooked pork rather than traditional smoked barbecue simply to comply with federal food regulations. Read the rest of this entry »
BREAKING: Texas House gives final OK to open carry of handguns http://t.co/2uedQXCK31
— Houston Chronicle (@HoustonChron) April 20, 2015
A new documentary about astronaut Gene Cernan is far more than the story of one person’s life
Jeffrey Kluger writes: Real astronauts never say goodbye. At least, not the way you’d think they would before they take off on a mission that could very well kill them. They’re good at the quick wave, the hat tip, the catch-you-on-the-flip-side wink. But the real goodbye—the if I don’t come home here are all the things I always wanted to say to you sort of thing? Not a chance.
“You’re almost too young to know what it means to have your Daddy go to the moon. But one day, you’ll have the feeling of excitement and pride Mommy and Daddy do.”
But Gene Cernan, commander of Apollo 17, tried to split the difference—as a scene in the new documentary The Last Man on the Moon, sweetly captures. Before Cernan headed off for his first trip to the moon, the Apollo 10 orbital mission, which was the final dress rehearsal for the Apollo 11 landing a few months later, he mailed his young daughter Tracy a letter. It was written on the fragile onion skin that was air mail stationery, back in the era when the very idea of air mail carried a whiff of exotic distance.
“Punk, we have lots of camping and horseback riding to do when I get back. I want you to look at the moon, because when you are reading this, Daddy is almost there.”
Cernan was a young man when he wrote the letter in 1969, and is a much older man, at 81, when he returns to it in the film. “You’re almost too young to know what it means to have your Daddy go to the moon,” he reads aloud, “But one day, you’ll have the feeling of excitement and pride Mommy and Daddy do. Punk, we have lots of camping and horseback riding to do when I get back. I want you to look at the moon, because when you are reading this, Daddy is almost there.” If the Navy pilot who once landed jets on carrier decks and twice went to the moon mists up as he reads, if his voice quavers a bit, well what of it?
As the title of the movie makes clear, Cernan was the last of the dozen men who set foot on the moon, and the 24 overall who journeyed there. No human being has traveled further into space than low-Earth orbit since Cernan climbed up the ladder of his lunar module in December of 1972, closed the hatch and headed for home. That makes it a very good time for a movie that can serve as equal parts biography, reminiscence and, yes, cultural reprimand for a nation that did a great thing once and has spent a whole lot of time since trying to summon the resolve, the discipline and the political maturity to do something similar again.
“That story, as Cernan and Craig came to agree, would be about the lunar program as a whole and the up-from-the-farm narrative of so many of the men who flew in it, as well as the random currents of fortune that saw some those men make it from terrestrial soil to lunar soil, while others perished in the violent machines that were necessary for them to make those journeys.”
The Last Man on the Moon, which premiered at Austin’s South by Southwest festival in March and was later shown at the Toronto Film Festival, had a long provenance, beginning eight years ago when director Mark Craig, who had read Cernan’s book, requested an interview. Cernan agreed and six months later Craig got back in touch and said he wanted to make a movie based on his memoir.
“My first answer was, ‘Who would be interested in a movie about me?’” Cernan tells TIME. The answer he got impressed him: “This movie is not going to be about you.” It was, instead, going to be about the larger story. Read the rest of this entry »
Kurt Wagner writes: Twitter is officially pulling back the curtain on Periscope, a livestreaming video app that’s been in beta since the company acquired it back in January, reportedly for $100 million.
Periscope streams live audio and video from a user’s smartphone that other people can watch and comment on within the app — the link to the livestream can be shared on Twitter as a way to spread the word and boost the audience.
The free app, which is only available on iOS for now, provides immediate competition to Meerkat, a similar livestreaming app that took off at the South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, Texas, earlier his month.
Meerkat, which launched just two weeks before the conference, relies heavily on Twitter’s platform. It uses Twitter login and had used its social graph to help users find people to follow before Twitter cut it off.
Given the relationship between the two products, speculation that Twitter might buy Meerkat made sense, but it bought competitor Periscope instead. Things haven’t been all bad for Meerkat, though. The app has more than 400,000 users, according to CEO Ben Rubin, and it just raised $12 million in a deal that values it at $52 million.
The two apps work in a similar way, but Twitter-owned Periscope is actually more independent from Twitter than Meerkat. Unlike Meerkat, where any Likes and comments are reflected on your Twitter profile, all the engagement on Periscope is kept within the app. Read the rest of this entry »
Closing the Victim Loophole
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Texas Senate has given preliminary approval to allowing concealed handguns in college classrooms, a day after passing a measure allowing open carry of guns most everywhere else in America’s second most-populous state….(read more)
Well, this is sneaky — and for some, a little heartbreaking.
Tinder users at the SXSW festival on Saturday were encountering an attractive 25-year-old woman named Ava on the dating app. A friend of ours made a match with her, and soon they were have a conversation over text message. clear something was amiss…
There was one photo and one video, both promoting Ex Machina, a sci-fi film that just happened to be premiering Saturday night here in Austin. The link in her bio went to the film’s website. And it turns out the woman in the photos is Swedish actress Alicia Vikander, who plays an artificial intelligence in the movie…(read more)
TYLER, Texas (AP) – A Dallas-area photographer who did senior portraits for some graduates in East Texas must serve 20 years in prison for producing child pornography.
Todd B. Fleming of McKinney was sentenced Tuesday in Tyler.
The 54-year-old Fleming last October pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of children. Investigators say Fleming from 1999 to 2007 coerced juveniles to engage in sexually explicit conduct for producing child porn. Read the rest of this entry »
(Reuters) – Condé Nast on Monday won a federal judge’s preliminary approval to pay $5.85 million to settle a class-action lawsuit by thousands of former interns who claimed the magazine publisher underpaid them.
Former interns who worked at Condé Nast from June 2007 to the present are expected to receive payments from $700 to $1,900.
In granting preliminary approval, U.S. Magistrate Judge Henry Pitman in Manhattan said the payout appeared reasonable, citing an estimate by the interns’ lawyers that it exceeded 60 percent of estimated unpaid wages.
“Given defendant’s size and stature in the publishing world, I assume it could withstand greater judgment,” Pitman wrote. “This fact, by itself, however, does not render the proposed settlement unfair.”
The law firm Outten & Golden, which represents the interns, plans to seek legal fees of $650,000, or 11.1 percent of the settlement fund. Read the rest of this entry »
Boom Time in Texas: Population Has Grown More than Twice the Rate of the Nation’s Over the Past DecadePosted: May 2, 2014
Now, the state’s largest cities are seeing crowded highways, strained water supplies and other pressures that have come with the growth. And Texas politicians—protective of the small-government, low-tax policies many of them believe are at the root of the state’s success—are grappling with how to pay the price of prosperity.
“No state can tax and spend its way to prosperity, but with the right policies you can grow your way there…we can make principled investments in our future without raising taxes.”
Aided by the promise of plentiful employment and a low cost of living, Texas added 1.3 million people from 2010 to 2013, more than any other state, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The Lone Star State’s population has pushed past 26 million and is projected to reach 40 million by 2050.
“We all want to go around and beat our chest that Texas is the best place to do business, but we need to pay for the infrastructure needs that go with growth.”
— Republican state Sen. Kevin Eltife of Tyler
Half of the 10 American cities with the largest population increases in the 12 months ended July 1, 2012, were in Texas, according to the Census Bureau. Houston, the nation’s fourth-biggest city with about 2.2 million people, added 34,625 residents, second only to New York. Austin added 25,395 and now has some 843,000 residents, more than San Francisco.
The state’s outsize growth is a matter of pride for Republican Gov. Rick Perry, who has touted the “Texas Miracle” as proof that its lower taxes and lighter regulations are effective job creators. Texans paid 7.5% of their income in state and local taxes in 2011, compared with 11.4% in California and 9.2% in Florida, according to the most recent data from the Tax Foundation, a research organization. Read the rest of this entry »
‘The president likes to think of himself as an empiricist, a nonideological believer in what works…’Posted: January 30, 2014
Obamanomics: Missing the Obvious
AVIK ROY: On Inequality, Obama Fails His Own Test.
During President Barack Obama’s 2014 State of the Union address on Tuesday night, one section stood out. “After four years of economic growth,” said the president, “corporate profits and stock prices have rarely been higher, and those at the top have never done better. But average wages have barely budged. Inequality has deepened. Upward mobility has stalled.” But Obama left unstated the most important point of all: Under his watch and thanks to his policies, those at the bottom of the ladder face fewer and fewer opportunities to get ahead. Worse still, most of the policies he proposed during his address would make social and economic mobility even harder.
“Texas ranked 10th nationwide in a measure of states with the lowest costs of living. That is because the state has a predictable and relatively light regulatory regime that drives down the cost of doing business, and thereby the cost of consumer goods and services.”
I just returned from a three-day trip to Austin, Texas. Spend a few days in Austin and you feel as though you are in a different America from the one described by the president.
In the next two years, downtown Austin’s hotel capacity will increase by 57 percent. In the last 20 years, Austin’s population has increased by an astounding 71 percent. The state of Texas hosts four of the 11 largest cities in the country: Houston (4), Dallas-Fort Worth (5), San Antonio (8) and Austin (11). The biggest problem in Austin is not the economy or unemployment — it is the traffic.