[VIDEO] Tacoma Police Shooting Homeowner Statement 

Debra Heine writes:

…Kristi Croskey owns the Tacoma, Washington, home where a domestic disturbance call resulted in a deadly police stand-off Wednesday. Tacoma police officer Reginald J. “Jake” Gutierrez was killed after being shot by a 38-year-old man — who was fatally shot by police hours later.

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“I don’t want to hear about Black Lives Matter, because all lives matter” Creskey said. “I do not want to hear about the police officers being inhumane and shooting people unnecessarily or any of those things. I want to say that the Tacoma Police Department handled this matter with such professionalism despite their own being shot. I want to say that this did not have to occur. I want to say that when you make poor choices, and the response is someone being killed, if that may be the situation — I want you to know that the Tacoma Police Department did any and everything that they could to protect and serve.
Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: Facebook Helps Users Block The New York Times, CBS, NBC, ABC, with ‘B.S. Detector’, Fake News Warning Plugin 

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Not only is Facebook not providing little red warnings along with links to potentially specious news—it’s now blocking links to the plugin that did.

Over the past week, some Facebook users reported seeing content warnings next to links from established fake news domains, apparently without realizing a third party was responsible. We reported this phenomenon, later clarifying that B.S. Detector is in fact a third party plugin that both we and a number of Facebook users mistook as a testing feature. Irony!

Now, if you attempt to share a link to B.S. Detector on Facebook, you’ll be met with this message. Apparently, blocking fake news (detectors) is quite simple!

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“I believe they are doing this because of TechCrunch article that came out yesterday, falsely identifying a screenshot of my plugin as a Facebook feature under development,” Daniel Sieradski, design technologist and creator of B.S. Detector, told TechCrunch. “It would seem I’ve caused them some embarrassment by showing them to be full of bull when it comes to their supposed inability to address fake news and they are punishing me for it.”

Jeff Fager (L), chairman CBS News and executive producer '60 Minutes', Scott Pelley, anchor and managing editor CBS Evening News and David Rhodes (R) president CBS News, speak at the CBS Television Network's 2011 Summer Television Critics Association Press Tour in Beverly Hills, California August 3, 2011. REUTERS/Fred Prouser (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT BUSINESS) - RTR2PL1B

For now, the B.S. Detector plugin itself remains functional, as do links to the plugin on Product Hunt and the Chrome app store. Read the rest of this entry »


Facebook User Verifies Truth Of Article By Carefully Checking It Against Own Preconceived Opinions

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“You can’t just accept everything you see online, which is why I always take a closer look at the claims that are made in every article and make sure that each one of them is backed up by my existing assumptions and personal feelings about the world.”

CLARKSVILLE, TN—Explaining that people need to be critical of the news stories that circulate on social media these days, area Facebook user James Wheatley, 44, reportedly took the time to verify the truth of an article he came across Thursday by carefully checking it against the opinions he already holds.

 “There are all kinds of bogus news stories out there, so it’s important to take a step back and hold each article up against my personal convictions to find out for myself whether what I’m reading is true or not. It’s pretty sad, but once I got in the habit of looking at articles this way, I could see just how many awful sites there are on the internet that don’t even adhere to the most basic tenets of my individual worldview, so now I just disregard them completely.”

“You can’t just accept everything you see online, which is why I always take a closer look at the claims that are made in every article and make sure that each one of them is backed up by my existing assumptions and personal feelings about the world,” said Wheatley, who told reporters he had to correct several friends on Facebook earlier this week after an investigation of his beliefs and individual political perspectives proved the articles they had posted to be entirely false. Read the rest of this entry »


Social Media Is Killing Discourse Because It’s Too Much Like TV

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We need more text and fewer videos and memes in the age of Trump.

Hossein Derakshan writes: If I say that social media aided Donald Trump’s election,
you might think of fake news on Facebook. But even if Facebook fixes the algorithms that elevate phony stories, there’s something else going on: social media represents the ultimate ascendance of television over other media.

I’ve been warning about this since November 2014, when I was freed from six years of incarceration in Tehran, a punishment I received for my online activism in Iran. Before I went to prison, I blogged frequently on what I now call the open Web: it was
decentralized, text-centered, and abundant with 51kxbo1vo8l-_sl250_hyperlinks to source material and rich background. It nurtured varying opinions. It was related to the world of books.

[Order Neil Postman’s book “Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business” from Amazon.com]

Then for six years I got disconnected; when I left prison and came back online, I was confronted by a brave new world. Facebook and Twitter had replaced blogging and had made the Internet like TV: centralized and image-centered, with content embedded in pictures, without links.

[Read the full story here, at technologyreview.com]

Like TV it now increasingly entertains us, and even more so than television it amplifies our existing beliefs and habits. It makes us feel more than think, and it comforts more than challenges. The result is a deeply fragmented society, driven by emotions, and radicalized by lack of contact and challenge from outside. This is why Oxford Dictionaries designated “post-truth” as the word of 2016: an adjective “relating to circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than emotional appeals.”

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Neil Postman provided some clues about this in his illuminating 1985 book, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show BusinessThe media scholar at New York University saw then how television transformed public discourse into an exchange of volatile emotions that are usually mistaken by pollsters as opinion. One of the scariest outcomes of this transition, Postman wrote, is that television essentially turns all news into disinformation. “Disinformation does not mean false information. It means misleading information—misplaced, irrelevant, fragmented or superficial information—information that creates the illusion of knowing something but which in fact leads one away from knowing … The problem is not that television presents us with entertaining subject matter but that all subject matter is presented as entertaining.” (Emphasis added.) And, Postman argued, when news is constructed as a form of entertainment, it inevitably loses its function for a healthy democracy. “I am saying something far more serious than that we are being deprived of authentic information. I am saying we are losing our sense of what it means to be well informed. Ignorance is always correctable. But what shall we do if we take ignorance to be knowledge?” Read the rest of this entry »


Can You Find the Hidden Word to Explain Venezuela’s Escape Economic Collapse?

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 The New York Times Can’t.

WILLEMSTAD, Curaçao — Nicholas Case reports: The dark outlines of land had just come into view when the smuggler forced everyone into the sea.

Roymar Bello screamed. She was one of 17 passengers who had climbed onto the overloaded fishing boat with aging motors in July, hoping to escape Venezuela’s economic disaster for a new life on the Caribbean island of Curaçao.

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Can you guess what word NYT’s Nicholas Casey failed to use even one time in his report on Venezuela’s economic crisis?

Stephen Green

Afraid of the authorities, the smuggler refused to land. Ms. Bello said he gruffly ordered her and the others into the water, pointing toward the distant shore. In the panic, she was tossed overboard, tumbling into the predawn blackness.

But Ms. Bello could not swim.

As she began to sink under the waves, a fellow migrant grabbed her by the hair and towed her toward the island. They washed up on a rocky cliff battered by waves. Bruised and bleeding, they climbed, praying for a lifeline: jobs, money, something to eat.

“It was worth the risk,” said Ms. Bello, 30, adding that Venezuelans like her, “are going after one thing — food.”

Maria Piñero at an empty grocery store in La Vela, Venezuela. “I’m nervous,” she said. “I’m leaving with nothing. But I have to do this. Otherwise, we will just die here hungry.” Meridith Kohut for The New York Times

Venezuela was once one of Latin America’s richest countries, flush with oil wealth that attracted immigrants from places as varied as Europe and the Middle East.

[Read the full story here, at he New York Times]

But after President Hugo Chávez vowed to break the country’s economic elite and redistribute wealth to the poor, the rich and middle class fled to more welcoming countries in droves, creating what demographers describe as Venezuela’s first diaspora.

Now a second diaspora is underway — much less wealthy and not nearly as welcome.

Well over 150,000 Venezuelans have fled the country in the last year alone, the highest in more than a decade, according to scholars studying the exodus.

Hundreds of Venezuelans lined up at a grocery store in La Vela in September to see if food would be delivered.Meridith Kohut for The New York Times

“It’s hard to see a solution to this problem because hunger is involved. Venezuela doesn’t have enough food for its people, so some are coming here.”

— Mayor Altemir Campos

And as Mr. Chávez’s Socialist-inspired revolution collapses into economic ruin, as food and medicine slip further out of reach, the new migrants include the same impoverished people that Venezuela’s policies were supposed to help.

“We have seen a great acceleration,” said Tomás Páez, a professor who studies immigration at the Central University of Venezuela. He says that as many as 200,000 Venezuelans have left in the last 18 months, driven by how much harder it is to get food, work and medicine — not to mention the crime that such scarcities have fueled.

“Parents will say: I would rather say goodbye to my son in the airport than in the cemetery,” he said.

Two would-be migrants waiting for the boat that will take them from Venezuela. Meridith Kohut for The New York Times

Desperate Venezuelans are streaming across the Amazon Basin by the tens of thousands to reach Brazil. They are concocting elaborate scams to sneak through airports in Caribbean nations that once accepted them freely. When Venezuela opened its border with Colombia for just two days in July, 120,000 people poured across, simply to buy food, officials said. An untold number stayed.

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But perhaps most startling are the Venezuelans now fleeing by sea, an image so symbolic of the perilous journeys to escape Cuba or Haiti — but not oil-rich Venezuela.

“It has all totally changed,” said Iván de la Vega, a sociologist at Simón Bolívar University in Caracas. About 60 percent more Venezuelans fled the country this year than during the year before, he added.
Read the rest of this entry »


David Marcus: What Happened When A Brooklyn Store Played ‘Sweet Home Alabama’

Upscale progressives have gotten used to tuning out the voice of the Trump voter. But there’s an America out there that they can no longer ignore.

 writes: Three days after the election, my wife and I were shopping at the . For those unfamiliar with it, Fairway is a less corporate, more co-op version of Whole Foods, offering pretty produce and exotic cheeses that don’t come cheap. The mood in the store was glum. As in most of Brooklyn, people stared ahead, moving slowly, still in shock from the political earthquake of Tuesday night.

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After getting our Brazilian Arabica ground for drip (I know, I should really use a French Press), Libby and I walked towards the organic maple syrup. That’s when it started. I suppose there had been music playing in the store, but I hadn’t noticed until a familiar guitar lick pierced the air and a soft voice said, “Turn it up.”

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Source: blog.fairwaymarket.com

“A woman in her fifties, wearing a Love Trump Hates button, turned to her Brooklyn-bearded husband and said loudly, ‘This is unbelievable!’ She found the nearest store clerk, a young woman in a green apron who was staring up at the ceiling, looking for the invisible speakers blaring this message from the other America. ‘This is so inappropriate,’ the woman said. ‘Can we turn this off?'”

Libby and I both stopped and looked at each other. “Seriously?” said my wife, a very disappointed Clinton supporter. She started gripping her soft Tomme Crayeuse a little too hard. By the time Ronnie Van Zant’s drawl started in with “Big wheels keep on turnin’,” everyone in the store was standing in shock.

[Read the full story here, at thefederalist.com]

Brows were furrowed, people mumbled to each other. The song seemed to get louder as one of those New York moments happened, when everyone was thinking the exact the same thing.

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“Cafés turned into phone banks, where you could buy a croissant and make a few calls to flyover country. Buttons, banners, and bumper stickers were everywhere…As the election grew near, confidence was overflowing.”

A woman in her fifties, wearing a Love Trump Hates button, turned to her Brooklyn-bearded husband and said loudly, “This is unbelievable!” She found the nearest store clerk, a young woman in a green apron who was staring up at the ceiling, looking for the invisible speakers blaring this message from the other America. “This is so inappropriate,” the woman said. “Can we turn this off?”

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The City of Homes, Cafés, and Clinton

Brooklyn was the epicenter of the Clinton campaign. Throughout the summer and fall in Brooklyn Heights, you could see young staffers near the campaign headquarters: expensive coffee in hand, eyes bright, ready to tackle the future. Read the rest of this entry »


Speaking of ‘Fake News’…

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The Mechanics of Mechanophilia: Why Men Find Siri Sexy

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We all have relationships with tech. The question is: how far do you go?

How would you feel if you walked in on your flatmate pouring his iPhone a glass of Cristal and remarking on her exceptional ‘wallpaper’? Open mouthed and curious, right? Well, welcome to the future. For some technophiles at least.

Apart from neo-Luddites, we all have relationships with tech. The question is: how far do you go?

A survey from 2012 revealed the extreme level of attachment many of us feel towards our gadgets. It found that three-quarters of the 2,500 people polled said losing a personal device would give them more anxiety than losing a wedding ring. Another from 2016 discloses that nearly 40pc of millennials say they interact more with their smartphones than their co-workers, parents, children or friends.

Of course, such interactions could be simply checking the time – and if you started calling your friends to do that they’d think you’d gone batty – but what these stats betray is the shaping of an emotional bond between man and machine that seems to be growing year on year.

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“People use things in a sexual way all the time. You could name any object, from a radiator to a tin can, and there’s someone out there that gets sexually aroused by it.”

–Professor Mark Griffiths

Sci-fi programmes like Humans, depicting the trouble caused when overly lifelike AI get mixed in with the rest of society, may be fictional, yet our relationship with tech still gets closer and closer. Quite alarmingly close.

Virtual assistants (VA for short), also known as personal assistant A.I.s, are digital secretaries that can schedule meetings, order meals, play audio and visual files, and assess online accounts. Not to be confused with ‘virtual assistants’ that work remotely and are actual people, current VAs on the market include Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, and, of course, Apple’s Siri.

“Most new technology seems to turn to porn eventually. Webcams, virtual reality, Internet etc. I see no reason why A.I won’t be included in this. It’ll certainly be cheaper to run phone sex lines with an army of bots instead of having to pay women to answer the phones.”

— Steve Worswick, an expert in the field of digital A.I

Last month, in an interview with The Times, Illy Eckstein, chief executive of Robin Labs, creators of a virtual assistant and satnav known as ‘Robin’, said that 5pc of interactions in their database are classified as “clearly sexually explicit”.

Trawling the Internet for evidence of the above I discovered a Reddit forum titled: ‘I masturbate to Siri and I feel disgusting’. The poster says he’s a 20 year old male, who started talking to Siri sexually as a joke before realising that “it really turned me on.”

The phenomenon clearly has farther reaches than one sole forum post. VA creators and chatbot companies predict such interactions and put algorithmic safeguards in place to deter feelings of emotional and sexual attachment from costumers.

[Read the full story here, at telegraph.uk]

Earlier this year one of the key writers for Microsoft’s Cortana, Deborah Harrison, revealed at the Virtual Assistant Summit in San Francisco that “a good chunk of the volume of early-on inquiries” regarded Cortana’s ‘sex life’ adding, “That’s not the kind of interaction we want to encourage.”

Steve Worswick is an expert in the field of digital A.I. He’s also the leading developer of Mitsuku, a family-friendly online chatbot.

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“Mechanophilia: love or sexual attraction to computers, cars, robots or androids, washing machines, lawnmowers and other mechanized gardening equipment, sexual relations between living organisms and machines.”

He told Telegraph Men that he used to have a banning system (five strikes and you’re out) for anyone who attempted to have sexually explicit conversations with Mitsuku. However, he received so many emails from people who wanted to treat the bot sexually, that he removed the strike system and instead programmed Mitsuku to either ignore sexual requests, say something to steer the conversation to other topics, or simply insult the user.

Worswick believes men are using Mitsuku in this way and seeing bots as “sex objects” simply because they cannot fight back, have no legal rights, and are not going to judge them or contact the authorities or their wives or girlfriends.

Read the rest of this entry »


Network Security Company CEO Forced to Resign After ‘Joking’ About Killing Trump 

U.S. President Barack Obama walks to greet well-wishers, with Secret Service agents at his side, upon his arrival in Tampa, Florida

Trump-Hating Cuckoo Bananas Matt Harrigan of PacketSled Loses His Mind, Makes Public Death Threats, Declares on Facebook, ‘Bring it, Secret Service’

[redditor chipotlemcnuggies]

 reports: Matt Harrigan, the CEO of San Diego-based network security startup PacketSled, resigned yesterday after a flurry of comments he made on Facebook went viral over the weekend, prompting the company to place him on administrative leave and to report his comments to the Secret Service. Harrigan’s comments weren’t the usual sort of executive meltdown—they amounted to a declaration that Harrigan was going to assassinate President-elect Donald Trump.

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In a Facebook thread about last week’s presidential election, Matt Harrigan wrote, “I’m going to kill the President Elect.”

“Bring it secret service,” he wrote.

While those may have been rage posts stemming from the election last week, Harrigan went on to describe how he was going to buy a sniper rifle and hunt down Trump when he moved into the White House. “Getting a sniper rifle and perching myself where it counts,” he wrote in one of a series of comments on a thread about the election. “Find a bedroom in the whitehouse [sic] that suits you motherfucker. I’ll find you.”

[Read the full story here, at Ars Technica]

The comments went viral in screenshots, being posted first on Reddit’s The_Donald subreddit. On Sunday, Harrigan apologized on his company’s blog for the comments, saying that his rant “was intended to be a joke, in the context of a larger conversation, and only privately shared as such.” Read the rest of this entry »


Two-Thirds of the World’s Internet Users Live Under Government Censorship

Web freedom declined across the globe for the sixth consecutive year, according to a new report.

Amar Toor reports: Two-thirds of the world’s internet users live under regimes of government censorship, according to a report released today. The report from Freedom House, a pro-democracy think tank, finds that internet freedom across the globe declined for a sixth consecutive year in 2016, as governments cracked down on social media services and messaging apps.

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“Although the blocking of these tools affects everyone, it has an especially harmful impact on human rights defenders, journalists, and marginalized communities who often depend on these apps to bypass government surveillance.”

— Sanja Kelly, director and co-author of the Freedom on the Net 2016 report

The findings are based on an analysis of web freedom in 65 countries, covering 88 percent of the world’s online population. Freedom House ranked China as the worst abuser of internet freedom for the second consecutive year, followed by Syria and Iran. (The report does not include North Korea.) Online freedom in the US increased slightly over the year due to the USA Freedom Act, which limits the bulk collection of metadata carried out by the National Security Agency (NSA) and other intelligence agencies.

“Telegram faced restrictions in four countries including China, where the government blocked the encrypted messaging service due to its rising popularity among human rights lawyers.”

This year saw a notable crackdown on secure messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Telegram. WhatsApp was blocked or restricted in 12 countries over the course of the year — more than any other messaging app — including in Bahrain, Bangladesh, and Ethiopia, where authorities blocked it in response to civilian protests. Telegram faced restrictions in four countries including China, where the government blocked the encrypted messaging service due to its rising popularity among human rights lawyers.
Read the rest of this entry »


A Warning Unheeded: Democratic Strategist Doug Sosnik in 2013, ‘Party In Decline’

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Doug Sosnik says the Democrats will be “at considerable risk” when the president leaves office.

One of the Democrats’ most veteran strategists warns that the party is “in decline” and “at considerable risk” when President Barack Obama is no longer on the scene.

“Since Obama was elected President, the Democrats have lost nine governorships, 56 members of the House and two Senate seats,” Doug Sosnik, the political director in Bill Clinton’s White House, writes in a new memo.

While Republican branding problems get the lion’s share of attention, the Democratic Party’s favorability rating has declined by 15 points since Obama took power. A Pew Research Center survey this January showed that the Democratic Party was viewed favorably by 47 percent of Americans, down from 62 percent in Jan. 2009.

These memos are read closely by an influential community of insiders in the political and business worlds. In this one, Sosnik outlines several challenges facing his own party:

• Obama’s personal popularity does not easily translate for other candidates. The president is not building the Democratic Party’s institutional apparatus in a way that it will thrive when he’s gone.

• The losses in the 2010 midterms gave Republicans control of the redistricting process, which will be in effect until after the 2020 census. This gives the GOP a structural advantage in keeping the House.

• Millennials, born 1981 to 1994, and Generation X’ers, born 1965 to 1980, are voting Democratic, but a plurality identify themselves as independents — which makes them less reliable.

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[Read the whole memo. View the accompanying PowerPoint slides.]

With the likelihood of gridlock and near-record-low confidence in public institutions, Sosnik expects 2014 to bring the fourth change election in the past eight years. Read the rest of this entry »


Forget the FBI Cache; the Podesta Emails Show How America is Run

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WikiLeaks’ dump of messages to and from Clinton’s campaign chief offer an unprecedented view into the workings of the elite, and how it looks after itself.

Thomas Frank writes: The emails currently are part of some unknown digital collection amassed by the troublesome Anthony Weiner, but if your purpose is to understand the clique of people who dominate Washington today, the emails that really matter are the ones being from the hacked account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta. They are last week’s scandal in a year running over with scandals, but in truth their significance goes far beyond mere scandal: they are a window into the soul of the Democratic party and into the dreams and thoughts of the class to whom the party answers.

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton adjusts her make-up before speaking at the Iowa Democratic Party's Hall of Fame dinner in Cedar Rapids

“When you search ‘Vineyard’ on the WikiLeaks dump that you realize these people truly inhabit a different world from the rest of us. By ‘vineyard’, of course, they mean Martha’s Vineyard, the ritzy vacation resort island off the coast of Massachusetts where presidents Clinton and Obama spent most of their summer vacations. The Vineyard is a place for the very, very rich to unwind, yes, but as we learn from these emails, it is also a place of high idealism; a land of enlightened liberal commitment far beyond anything ordinary citizens can ever achieve.”

The class to which I refer is not rising in angry protest; they are by and large pretty satisfied, pretty contented. Nobody takes road trips to exotic West Virginia to see what the members of this class looks like or how they live; on the contrary, they are the ones for whom such stories are written. This bunch doesn’t have to make do with a comb-over TV mountebank for a leader; for this class, the choices are always pretty good, and this year they happen to be excellent.

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“Everything blurs into everything else in this world. The state department, the banks, Silicon Valley, the nonprofits, the “Global CEO Advisory Firm” that appears to have solicited donations for the Clinton Foundation. Executives here go from foundation to government to thinktank to startup. There are honors. Venture capital. Foundation grants. Endowed chairs. Advanced degrees. For them the door revolves. The friends all succeed. They break every boundary.”

They are the comfortable and well-educated mainstay of our modern Democratic party. They are also the grandees of our national media; the architects of our software; the designers of our streets; the high officials of our banking system; the authors of just about every plan to fix social security or fine-tune the Middle East with precision droning. They are, they think, not a class at all but rather the enlightened ones, the people who must be answered to but who need never explain themselves.

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Let us turn the magnifying glass on them for a change, by sorting through the hacked personal emails of John Podesta, who has been a Washington power broker for decades. I admit that I feel uncomfortable digging through this hoard; stealing someone’s email is a crime, after all, and it is outrageous that people’s personal information has been exposed, since WikiLeaks doesn’t seem to have redacted the emails in any way.

[Read the full story here, at The Guardian]

There is also the issue of authenticity to contend with: we don’t know absolutely and for sure that these emails were not tampered with by whoever stole them from John Podesta. The supposed authors of the messages are refusing to confirm or deny their authenticity, and though they seem to be real, there is a small possibility they aren’t.

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“The dramatis personae of the liberal class are all present in this amazing body of work: financial innovators. High-achieving colleagues attempting to get jobs for their high-achieving children. Foundation executives doing fine and noble things. Prizes, of course, and high academic achievement.”

With all that taken into consideration, I think the WikiLeaks releases furnish us with an opportunity to observe the upper reaches of the American status hierarchy in all its righteousness and majesty.

The dramatis personae of the liberal class are all present in this amazing body of work: financial innovators. High-achieving colleagues attempting to get jobs for their high-achieving children. Foundation executives doing fine and noble things. Prizes, of course, and high academic achievement. Read the rest of this entry »


Mark Zuckerberg’s Long March to China

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The Chinese government likes to control social media and what people do with it—but Facebook looks willing to launch in China anyway.

Emily Parker writes: For U.S. Internet businesses, China is the land of moral defeat. Many people hoped that Western technology companies would loosen China’s control over information. Instead, those companies have willingly participated in efforts to censor citizens’ speech. Yahoo gave Chinese authorities information about democracy activists, landing them in jail. Microsoft shut down the blog of prominent media-freedom activist Michael Anti. Google censored search results that were politically sensitive in China. In 2006, those three companies came before Congress and were accused by a subcommittee chairman of “sickening collaboration” with the Chinese government. Google shut down its mainland Chinese search engine in 2010, publicly complaining about censorship and cybersecurity.

“The number of Chinese Internet users has surged to some 700 million, and they represent a valuable untapped resource for American companies with saturated, highly competitive home markets. But the Communist Party’s attempts to control information have also grown more intense.”

Facebook has been blocked in China since 2009, and its Instagram photo-sharing service was blocked in 2014. I once thought that it would be disastrous or impossible for the social network to try a Chinese adventure of its own, and some China experts still believe that to be true. But a Facebook launch in China now looks probable.

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Facebook’s founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has signaled to Beijing that he’s willing to do what it takes to get into the country. People who know the company well think it will happen. “It’s not an if, it’s a when,” says Tim Sparapani, who was Facebook’s first director of public policy and is now principal at SPQR Strategies, a consulting firm. Facebook declined to comment for this article, but Zuckerberg said last year: “You can’t have a mission to want to connect everyone in the world and leave out the biggest country.”

[Read the full story here, at MIT – technologyreview.com]

A decade after Google’s hopeful but ill-fated entry into China, U.S. Internet companies may see the Chinese market as even more tantalizing—yet impenetrable. The number of Chinese Internet users has surged to some 700 million, and they represent a valuable untapped resource for American companies with saturated, highly competitive home markets. But the Communist Party’s attempts to control information have also grown more intense. In addition to the “Great Firewall” that blocks access to foreign websites, legions of human censors, many employed at Internet companies, police domestic blogs and social networks. And a U.S. company would now have to compete with China’s own Internet giants. WeChat, a messaging app from the behemoth Tencent, has hundreds of millions of users.

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Zuckerberg clearly thinks China is worth the trouble, even if that means leaving some “Western values” at the door. Earlier this year, he traveled to Beijing and had a high-profile meeting with China’s propaganda chief, Liu Yunshan. Chinese state media reported that Facebook’s founder praised China’s Internet progress and pledged to work with the government to create a better cyberspace. Liu highlighted the notion of Internet governance “with Chinese characteristics.” The translation was clear: a Chinese version of Facebook would definitely be censored. This year’s trip was something of a sequel. In 2014, he hosted Lu Wei, minister of the Cyberspace Administration of China, at Facebook’s offices. President Xi Jinping’s book The Governance of China just happened to be on ­Zuckerberg’s desk.

[Read the full text here, at MIT – technologyreview.com]

This courtship hasn’t been without some awkward moments. When ­Zuckerberg posted a photo of himself cheerfully jogging through the polluted haze of Tiananmen Squarethis year, he was mocked on Chinese social media. But overall he has made the right moves, says Cheng Li, director of the John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institution. “Chinese leaders pay a lot of attention to personal relationships,” he says. “They think Mark ­Zuckerberg is a friend of China. He’s successful. He’s very China-friendly. He has a Chinese wife. He speaks Chinese. So what else do you want?”

At your service

Facebook will still have to overcome Beijing’s suspicions that American Internet companies could destabilize the Communist Party’s rule. Media outlets that described the Arab Spring as the “Facebook Revolution” didn’t do the company any favors. And documents leaked by the former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden fueled Chinese suspicions that American technology companies had “back doors” for U.S. government surveillance. Read the rest of this entry »


[CHART] How the Media Rigged the Election for Hillary Clinton

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Allapundit, via Twitter

More…

Source: New York Times


Cumbria, England: A Guy Wearing a Batman Suit Chases Some Guys Wearing Clown Suits

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A “killer clown” craze is sweeping Britain, with police warning people against dressing as clowns in order to intimidate or harm people.

Now, the craze has taken a change for the strange in Cumbria, where a man is dressing as Batman and vowing to chase down the creepy clowns.

A photograph has been shared on Facebook of “Batman” seemingly chasing off a “killer clown”.

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BBC Cumbria reported local company Cumbria Superheroes is behind the effort to rid the streets of clowns.

They have reassured that the costumed man is not a vigilante, but just trying to reassure local children who are scared of the “killer clowns”.

A Warner Bros exec has teased the plot for Batman v Superman (Picture: Warner Bros/Reuters)

BBC Cumbria also shared a screenshot of an image, apparently from a local child, who was reassured after hearing “Batman” caught the clown. Read the rest of this entry »


OH YES THEY DID: YouTube Blacklists PragerU Educational Videos

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Nearly two dozen videos put into ‘restricted mode.’

Jennifer Kabbany reports: YouTube has placed 21 PragerU videos on “restricted mode,” a category meant for inappropriate and objectionable adult and sexual content.

“We’ve worked quietly behind the scenes for months to resolve this, but YouTube’s censorship continues, leaving us with no option but to go public.”

PragerU stands for Prager University. Its four- to five-minute videos promote Judeo-Christian values and principles and are ideal for young people as they distill complex issues into concise bullet points with stimulating graphics.

“There is no excuse for Google and YouTube censoring and restricting any PragerU videos, which are produced with the sole intent of educating people of all ages about America’s founding values.”

[Read the full story here, at The College Fix]

“We’ve worked quietly behind the scenes for months to resolve this, but YouTube’s censorship continues, leaving us with no option but to go public,” PragerU announced Tuesday on its Facebook page.

[PragerU has also launched a petition on the matter]

YouTube is owned by Google, and PragerU states on its website that “in response to an official complaint we filed, Google specialists defended their restriction of our videos, and said, ‘We don’t censor anyone,’ although they do ‘take into consideration what the intent of the video is….(read more)

Here’s a list of the 21 videos PragerU has requested YouTube remove immediately from restricted mode, some of which are directly related to higher education topics:

Are The Police Racist?
Why Don’t Feminists Fight for Muslim Women?
Why Did America Fight the Korean War?
Who’s More Pro-Choice: Europe or America?
What ISIS Wants
Why Are There Still Palestinian Refugees?
Are 1 in 5 Women Raped at College?
Islamic Terror: What Muslim Americans Can Do
Did Bush Lie About Iraq? Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Trump & Clinton Were Very Convincing…on How Lousy the Other One Is

In last night’s debate, was there a positive case for Hillary being fit for the White House? Are there liberal-huhTrump policies that are gonna turn this mother around? Of course not. What were you even thinking.

Let’s pretend for a moment that the biggest headlines out of Sunday night’s presidential debate had nothing to do with sexual assault allegations, or non-handshakes, or threats to jail political oponents—but instead were about policy.

In that bizarre alternative universe, what could we actually learn? Last night we learned that the two exhausted political parties have nothing much left to offer except critiques about how lousy the other one is.Hosted by Matt Welch; camera and editing by Jim Epstein.


Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Calls Company ‘People’s News Network’

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Liana B. Baker reports: Twitter Inc Chief Executive Jack Dorsey defined one of the company’s missions as being the “people’s news network,” according to an internal memo seen on Monday.

The 10-year-old social networking service has long struggled to define its core purpose and is under the spotlight as it explores selling itself in a process that has attracted potential buyers such as Salesforce.com.

Twitter has made a recent push into news and sports on mobile devices and this foray could pique the interest of a media company as an acquirer, analysts have said.

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“Twitter is what’s happening, and what everyone is talking about… News and talk. We’re the people’s news network.”

The memo does not address the sales process. Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bloomberg, which first published the memo Monday, reported that it was sent to employees last week. Read the rest of this entry »