Cover for No Agenda Show 1028: Roscoe!
April 26th, 2018 • 3h 5m

1028: Roscoe!


Every new episode of No Agenda is accompanied by a comprehensive list of shownotes curated by Adam while preparing for the show. Clips played by the hosts during the show can also be found here.

producer theory cui bono
Just a little note about GDPR
I think the bill must be sponsored by Google & FaceBag.
All I get at the moment is companies sending out requests to
"verify" I still want to be on their mail lists - or they will have
to stop mailing me completely. If I do not respond they will no longer be able
to mail me.
So what does that mean: I think 50-60% will not click the
verify button. Loss of mail users = loss of revenue....
So business will have to increase their marketing by many
100's % to claw back the loss.
So the people who really benefit from GDPR (apart from the
users) are the big advertising media. So revenue with Tootle-Google,
FaceBonkers and Bing-Bong will increase.
time to buy Euro advert options..... and maybe some stock's
as well....
Best regards
Sir Kaz
What we know about Alek Minassian, alleged driver in deadly Toronto van attack
Tue, 24 Apr 2018 13:21
Police have identified the suspect in a deadly van attack in Toronto as Alek Minassian, a 25-year-old man from Richmond Hill, Ont., a suburb north of the city.
Ten people were killed and 15 injured on Monday afternoon after a rented white Ryder van jumped a curb and plowed into pedestrians along a stretch of Toronto's busy Yonge Street.
A profile on social networking site LinkedIn identifies Minassian as a student at Seneca College in North York, the northern Toronto neighbourhood where the attack took place.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale told reporters that while the day's events were "horrendous," they do not appear to represent a larger threat to national security.
At a news conference Monday night, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders declined to provide a motive, saying officials were still investigating. But he said the driver's actions "definitely looked deliberate."
Yet one possible explanation has emerged online that suggests Minassian was angry over being rebuffed by women.
Toronto Van Incident (Slideshow by Photo Services)
An apparent Facebook post by a man with the same name and photo as Minassian's LinkedIn profile refers to the "Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger," a 22-year-old responsible for a deadly rampage in Isla Vista, Calif., that left six people dead and a dozen more injured.
In a video posted ahead of that 2014 attack, Rodger raged about a number of women turning down his advances, rendering him an "incel," or involuntarily celibate. Rodger referred to the men who always seemed to win with women as "Chads" and the women who turned men down as "Stacys."
The apparent posting by Minassian says the "incel rebellion has already begun. We will overthrow all the Chads and the Stacys."
CBC News has not been able to independently verify the post as having been written by Minassian.
Cellphone video posted to social media on Monday afternoon shows a man stepping out of a white van, stopped on a sidewalk with its front crumpled, and into the line of fire a police officer who has his weapon drawn. He can be heard yelling "Kill me" and gesturing at the office to shoot him.
(C) Alek Minassian/LinkedIn Alek Minassian, 25, is the suspect in the Toronto van attack that killed 10 people and injured 15 others. Saunders also said Monday night that no gun was found on the driver at the time of the arrest and that Minassian was not previously known to Toronto police.
The internet is enabling a community of men who want to kill women. They need to be stopped | The Verge
Thu, 26 Apr 2018 13:30
In 1989, a man armed with a hunting rifle and a knife entered a Montreal university and systematically killed 14 women, before killing himself. ''I have decided to send the feminists, who have always ruined my life, to their Maker '... I have decided to put an end to those viragos,'' he wrote in his suicide note. One female student shouted during the massacre that she was not a feminist and did not hate men. He murdered her anyway.
Twenty-five years later, a self-proclaimed ''kissless virgin'' named Elliot Rodger, who was active in the online ''incel'' community and felt rejected by women, drove to a sorority house in Santa Barbara and opened fire, leaving behind a YouTube video where he proclaimed, ''I don't know why you girls have never been attracted to me, but I will punish you all for it. It's an injustice, a crime. I'm a perfect guy.''
On April 23rd, a man named Alek Minassian, who posted on Facebook that the ''the Incel Rebellion has already begun!'' and ''All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger,'' drove a van into crowds of pedestrians in Toronto, killing 10 people.
In the stories of angry Men's Rights Activists and incels '-- men who are ''involuntarily celibate,'' and denied their ''right'' to sex '-- the women of the world are in control, teasing and taunting and withholding, even as men maintain incredible majorities in nearly every hall of power. A recent New York Times article illustrated just how ludicrous the imbalance of men to women is in management positions in virtually every industry, where women are outnumbered not just by men, but specifically by men with common names like John.
The world is not enough for many of the angriest, most bitter Johns, particularly the ones who felt that they were promised, on the basis of their gender, more of the world than the majority they have inherited. And as women push back against harassment, rape, and the basic dehumanization that accompanies being female, many of their most insulated and privileged opponents have coalesced into an online network. Loosely termed the manosphere, the movement has transformed the unquestionable cultural dominance of men into an identity based on a delusion of oppression, and even as they whine inconsolably about the identity politics they claim are ruining their lives.
Some of them kill us. Even more of them say they want to. Both in the most pedestrian of ways, through the casual and regular practice of domestic violence, or simply by assaulting or murdering any woman who does not immediately acquiesce to their sexual demands. More recently, the festering online wound of the incel community has begun to express itself in the form of mass murder. Online platforms have long been more concerned with free speech than the literal lives of women, and the vicious, lethal misogyny of incels has flourished in these spaces accordingly. Misogyny is water, and we are all swimming.
In the aftermath of the Rodgers massacre, Erin Gloria Ryan, a writer from Jezebel, did a deep dive into the incel community, which can best be described as harrowing. People posting in incel-identified spaces say many, many things, including demanding the ''rape count'' of other men as a form of competition, and asking for solidarity in their dreams of committing mass murder because they have not gotten off as much as they had hoped.
''Media doesnt aknolwedge [sic] the majroity [sic] of males' [sic] discontentment with current sexual distopia [sic] its all about HATING WOMEN,'' writes one man.
''It sort of boggles my mind.''''It sort of boggles my mind,'' writes Ryan, ''that most women go through life simply hoping to have control over their own bodies, and that these fuckers feel entitled to not only themselves, but to other people. To an audience. To a platform. They exist, therefore we must all pay attention to them, like screaming infants.''
This most recent demonstration of the lethality of male sexual frustration, via Minassian's mass killing, is linked inextricably to the internet, where the most pernicious ideas about male supremacy have flourished thanks to the superseding concern of doing whatever you want over basic human decency. Although Reddit finally, finally banned the r/incels subreddit in November for its open advocation of rape and other violence toward women, internet platforms at large have been fertile ground for men who openly hate women and wish to convene with other men who feel the same way. They have migrated easily and without restriction to other websites and subreddits, including Braincels, where these ideas persist and are deified. Minassian was subsequently declared a ''new saint'' on a prominent incel forum, with one poster saying, ''spread that name, speak of his sacrifice for our cause, worship him for he gave his life for our future.''
It was claimed, at least in The New York Times, that Minassian had ''displayed extreme social awkwardness. But they said that he had seemed harmless.'' What a world, where an openly ''troubled young man who harbored resentments towards women'' could be conceived of as a harmless participant, at best.
It is, again, difficult to be alive in an online world that regularly declares that men's right to vent their frustrations about literally wanting to kill women because they feel rejected, or are not getting laid, is a bedrock principle of liberty. We are complicit in these massacres insofar as we have facilitated them; enabling the mass murder of women under the flag of ''free speech'' is perhaps the most irresponsible and stupid thing that the men at the helm of the internet could do. And yet. (It is worth noting that all of these massacres also claimed male victims. The patriarchy, as is often the case, is happy to destroy men as easily as it does women. It is also worth noting that women, too, experience rejection and sexual frustration, and do not have a movement based around raping and murdering people who have turned them down.)
After Rodger's mass killing, one of the people who had interacted with him online wrote, far too late, ''Could someone tip off the police just in case?''
''Don't,'' replied another man. ''Whatever happens. We didn't do anything so just let it happen if it does.''
But they did do something '-- by doing nothing. By saying nothing. This is the common practice of most major internet platforms and the reality of what it means to be online for women, and it is killing us.
Correction: 28 people were shot in the 1989 Montreal massacre, but only 14 were killed.
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Genetically modified soldiers from DNM
went to listen to the original Arabic speech.
was a figure of speech. What he means is they are the same radical extremists
who are now labeled as moderate rebels. As some groups just changed names to
look more moderate.
named Mohammed
Rusland: 'Douma-doden' naar Nederland | Buitenland |
Wed, 25 Apr 2018 11:01
Updated Gisteren, 20:47
Gisteren, 20:46 in BUITENLAND
DEN HAAG - Rusland is van plan Syrirs naar Nederland te brengen die waren te zien op beelden van de vermeende gifgasaanval in het Syrische Douma. De Russische ambassadeur Alexander Sjoelgin zei in een interview met ITV News dat zijn land de ,,onvergeeflijke leugens'' over het incident aan het licht wil brengen.
Sjoelgin zei dat de zeven Syrirs zichzelf kunnen aanwijzen in de video.
''¸ AFP
De Russische autoriteiten willen volgens Sjoelgin in totaal zeventien mensen uit Douma naar Den Haag brengen. Het gaat onder meer om zeven mensen die ,,eenvoudig te identificeren zijn als stervende personen'' op videobeelden die door lokale hulpverleners zijn gemaakt. Op die beelden zouden slachtoffers van de vermeende aanval te zien zijn. Volgens Rusland zijn de beelden in sc¨ne gezet.
Sjoelgin zei dat de zeven Syrirs zichzelf kunnen aanwijzen in de video. Dat moet gebeuren tijdens een ,,speciale briefing'' bij de Organisatie voor het Verbod op Chemische Wapens (OPCW), die is gevestigd in Den Haag. Groot-Brittanni, de VS en Frankrijk hielden de Syrische regering verantwoordelijk voor de vermeende aanval op Douma. Zij voerden vervolgens een grootschalige raketaanval uit op doelen in het land.
Dagelijks tijdens de lunch het laatste nieuws in je inbox?Ongeldig e-mailadres. Vul nogmaals in aub.
Uitschrijven kan met 1 klik
Lees meer overUpdated Gisteren, 20:47
Gisteren, 20:46 in BUITENLAND
The 'Pipelineistan' conspiracy: The war in Syria has never been about gas | Middle East Eye
Thu, 26 Apr 2018 14:39
Six years into a conflict that has killed at least 400,000 people, there is a widely held belief that the bloodshed in Syria is simply another war over Middle Eastern energy resources.
The bloodshed, so the theory goes, is a proxy battle about two proposed pipelines which would run across the country and on to Turkey and Europe.
While neither pipeline has left the drawing board, or indeed was ever realistic, this has not dampened the theory's popularity as a core reason for the Syria conflict.
A Syrian man tries to refine crude oil in the Al Raqqa countryside in April 2013 (AFP)The first pipeline is allegedly backed by the US and runs from Qatar through Saudi Arabia and Jordan to Syria. The second is a supposedly Russia-backed pipeline that goes from Iran, via Iraq, to Syria.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, it is claimed, rejected the Qatari pipeline in 2009, at the request of Moscow, to ensure that European reliance on Russian gas would not be undermined.
As a result, some commentators claim, the US and its European and Gulf allies, including Qatar, decided to orchestrate a rebellion against Assad to ensure that their pipe dreams became a reality rather than the Iranian option. Russia, in turn, backed Syria to ensure its own energy interests prevailed. Iran is also an ally of the current regime in Damascus.
These claims have been promoted in several quarters: the Qatari-based Al Jazeera first floated the concept of a "Pipelineistan war" in 2012.
Even US establishment journal Foreign Affairs and the Guardian newspaper picked up on the theory, which gained further traction in 2016 in an article by Robert Kennedy Jr, and was flagged by, among others, Jill Stein of the Green Party, a former US presidential candidate.
The idea was floated again after the US bombing of Syria in April. This, it was claimed, was further "proof" of Washington's desire to oust Assad and enable Europe to diversify its gas dependency away from Russia.
While the US has been covertly working with Gulf allies against the Assad regime, controlling Syria's energy resources and pipeline networks was not a primary concern. If so, it would be a very low priority for regime change.
Why? Firstly, the timeline is wrong. Covert action against Syria started under the George W Bush administration, in 2005, well before the alleged Qatari offer to Damascus in 2009.
"We can see US action against the Syrian regime well before the notion of this pipeline came into existence," says Justin Dargin, an energy scholar at Oxford University.
'We can see US action against the Syrian regime well before the notion of this pipeline came into existence'
- Justin Dargin, energy scholar at Oxford University
Secondly, the pipeline hypotheses do not stand up to the realities of how energy is transported through the Middle East and the obstacles faced by pipeline proposals, many of which fail to come to fruition. Even the Arab Gas Pipeline, whose second phase came online in 2005, has been mired in problems.
Robin Yassin-Kassab, author of Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War, says the Pipelineistan theory also ignores how the conflict started and the early months of the revolution.
"Like all conspiracy theories, it thrives on the absence of content and in-depth knowledge of the country," he says.
1. Domestic demandIn 2009, Syria announced a policy that attracted minimal attention beyond its borders at the time. Called the "Four Seas Strategy," it aimed to turn the country into a transit hub for gas between the Gulf, the Black Sea, the Caucus and the Mediterranean by expanding the 6,300 kilometres of gas and oil pipelines that criss-cross the country and by making use of the Euro-Arab Mashreq Gas Pipeline (AGP).
The AGP is not a core feature in the Pipelineistan narrative, but it does indicate the problems faced when it comes down to laying down pipelines in the region.
On the drawing board for nearly 20 years, construction of the AGP started in 2003. It was slated to cost $1.2 billion and run 1,200 km from Egypt to Jordan and Syria, before reaching Turkey. There, it would connect with the planned Nabucco pipeline, which would export gas to Europe.
The aftermath of a pipeline attack in northern Sinai in February 2011 (AFP)One key element of the AGP plan was that Egypt would pump gas to Syria and Jordan. Syria would use the Egyptian gas and then top up the pipeline with gas from its own northern fields before it was sent north.
When war broke out in Syria in 2011, the last leg of the AGP - the stretch from Aleppo to Kilis in Turkey '' was being constructed, never to be completed. But there were problems with the pipeline, which cost $1.5 million per kilometre, even before the conflict erupted.
Jim Deacons is a Scottish energy consultant who worked on the AGP in Syria, including designing the final phase of the project.
"When I left [Damascus in 2010] there wasn't enough gas being fed up through Jordan," he says. "The Egyptians were gas trapped. They didn't have enough gas to export, despite signing contracts left, right and centre, so they couldn't meet their obligations."
Egypt's gas production dropped from 220 million cubic feet (mcf) per day in 2010 to 80 mcf in 2011. The AGP was shut down in 2012 after terrorist attacks on the pipeline in Sinai and Egypt's increasing need for gas for home consumption, and has not resumed operations.
Without enough gas, the AGP became a white elephant. "Effectively, that whole project was about exporting gas from Egypt to Europe," says Deacons, "but in reality there was never going to be enough for it to be reasonably worthwhile."
The same issues that plagued the AGP would also apply to any planned Iranian pipeline to Syria, namely a lack of gas.
"Iran has been attempting to develop its South Pars field [in the Persian Gulf] for a long time," says Dargin, "but there are big obstacles, not least within Iran, where there are competing theories on which development plans should have priority. One idea is for gas to be used domestically as they've quite a lot of issues meeting their own needs."
'The whole point is that while Syria was actively talking about gas from Iran, Tehran was importing gas from Azerbaijan during the winter months'
- Jim Deacons, energy consultant
Indeed, Iran could not meet its own gas needs before an agreement was even signed with Damascus in 2011.
Deacons explains: "The whole point is that while Syria was actively talking about gas from Iran, Tehran was importing gas from Azerbaijan during the winter months.
"That really blows the theory of a gas grab out of the window. That Iran would supply gas to Syria was complete nonsense, and I told the Syrian [energy] minister that [at the time]."
2. The missing jigsaw pieceThe AGP's viability beyond Syria was also dependent on Nabucco, another pipeline proposal intended to diversify Europe's gas imports.
That idea, floated by a consortium of European and Turkish energy companies in 2002, was slated to cost more than $10 billion. The project would pipe 31 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year some 3,000 km from Central Asia, via Turkey, to Baumgarten in Austria. But by 2009 Nabucco had still not started, and projected construction costs ballooned to more than $25 billion.
The Turkstream project was cancelled after Turkey hit a Russian Su-24 fighter jet, pictured above (AA)Eight years later, Nabucco has still not progressed due to the extraordinary cost and the politics at play. Dargin says: "At energy conferences, Nabucco is still brought up. But it's like, 'Where's Waldo?' It is phenomenal."
The Nabucco pipeline would be essential for both of the contending pipelines, which would need to piggyback off it if they want gas to reach Europe. But while Russia was opposed to Nabucco and the idea of a Qatari pipeline, it was not enough of a reason for conflict, says Dargin. "You have a motive, a victim, but not a murder weapon. There is no evidence."
Furthermore, Russia had managed to axe Nabucco in 2007 by announcing its South Stream pipeline project, which was to cut out Turkey altogether by crossing the Black Sea to Bulgaria and onto Europe.
'At energy conferences, Nabucco is still brought up. But it's like, 'Where's Waldo?' It is phenomenal'
- Justin Dargin, energy scholar at Oxford University'
The project was cancelled in 2014 due to political issues with the European Union.
Then Moscow proposed the Turkstream project in 2014, which was again to cut across the Black Sea but then on to the European side of Turkey. It was cancelled after a Russian jet fighter was shot down by Turkey in November 2015.
While both projects are back on the cards, especially Turkstream, neither could transport Iranian or Qatari gas across Turkey.
3. No Qatari offer to Damascus
The pipeline narrative, from 2013 onwards, also makes much mention of Damascus rebuffing an alleged Qatari offer in 2009 to build a pipeline. This part of the story hinges around statements by unnamed diplomats in a 2013 Agence France-Presse article about a meeting between Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia's Bandar bin Sultan.
Qatar's then-Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani (R) and First Lady Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser al-Misned (L) welcome Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his wife Asma at Doha airport in January 2010 (AFP)The report says: "In 2009, Assad refused to sign an agreement with Qatar for an overland pipeline running from the Gulf to Europe via Syria to protect the interests of its Russian ally, which is Europe's top supplier of natural gas."
But Dargin says: "There are no credible sources that show that Qatar even approached Syria in 2009 and was rebuffed in the process. I am not saying it definitely did not occur, rather there is no evidence supporting this claim."
Syrian experts also support Dargin's rebuttal, highlighting the burgeoning economic and political ties between Doha and Damascus.
'An important aspect that we don't talk about is the Syrian government never said the Qataris were fighting for a pipeline'
- Jihad Yazigi, Syria Report
Yassin-Kassab says: "The absurdity is that relations between the Assad regime and the Qataris were excellent until summer 2011. Assad and his wife and the Qatari royal couple were also being portrayed as personal friends."
Although Assad may have repeatedly criticized Qatar since late 2011 onwards for supporting "terrorists," he has never publicly stated that Qatari support for the rebels was over a future pipeline.
Jihad Yazigi, editor of economy website Syria Report, says: "An important aspect that we don't talk about is the Syrian government never said the Qataris were fighting for a pipeline; that is telling in itself, that Assad never mentioned it."
4. The Moscow-Tehran connectionThen there's the other part of the Pipelineistan puzzle '' the Iran-Syria pipeline, also known as the Islamic Pipeline.
Yazigi explains: "The Islamic pipeline has been talked about for years. There were pre-contract memorandums of understanding, but until July 2011, there was no formal signing [between Syria and Iran]. You can't argue this is a serious reason to destroy the whole country."
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (R) and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) in Tehran in November 2015 (AFP)While the project was politically expedient, it ignored economic and energy realities. First, the project was estimated to cost $10 billion, but it was unclear who would foot the bill, particularly as Tehran was '' and still is '' under US and international sanctions, as is Syria, since 2011.
Second, Iran lacks the capabilities to export significant amounts of gas. Sanctions mean it cannot access the advanced US technology that would allow it to exploit gas from the South Pars field that borders Qatar.
That Russia would force Damascus to veto a Qatari pipeline in favour of an Iranian one also ignores another reality '' that Moscow and Tehran are potential energy rivals.
"Competition for gas access in the region is not between Qatar and Iran, but Russia and Iran," says Yazigi.
"The ones with the biggest share of the European market are the Russians, and they want to secure that. They are the ones to fear the Iranians."
'The ones with the biggest share of the European market are the Russians and they want to secure that. They are the ones to fear the Iranians'
- Jihad Yazigi, Syria Report
Despite talk of how pipeline wars would enable Europe to diversify away from Russian gas, Russian gas exports to Europe hit a record high in January 2017.
In December 2016, commodities trader Glencore and the Qatar Investment Authority, the country's sovereign wealth fund, acquired a 19.5 percent stake in Rosneft, Russia's state-owned oil company, for $11 billion.
Result: Qatar has achieved easier access to the European market than any pipeline through Syria ever could offer.
5. Politics makes plan a pipedreamThe Iranian pipeline would have to cross Iraq. Aside from the problems of building infrastructure in a conflict zone, plans to pipe gas just a short distance from Iraq to Syria were not viable even in 2009.
Deacons says that the Iraqis were observers of the AGP project and that he also discussed bringing gas in from Iraq over the Euphrates with the EU ambassador to Iraq.
Ras Laffan Industrial City, pictured here in October 2007, is Qatar's key site for LNG production (AFP/handout)"But it all got bogged down in politics. And the Iraqi infrastructure was so badly maintained and destroyed that they would have had to rebuild, not just fix, it.
"Huge infrastructure investment was needed before even bringing in pipelines."
Likewise, politics would also impact any Qatari plans.
Dargin explains: "Such a pipeline would have had to pass through Saudi territory, which perhaps would have been an even larger obstacle than Syria, as Riyadh has blocked and obstructed numerous proposals for regional pipelines."
Indeed, Saudi obstruction caused planners in the mid-2000s to redraw routes for the Dolphin pipeline, which pipes gas from Qatar to the UAE. All three are members of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
"Saudi Arabia placed numerous hurdles in the undersea passage of the Dolphin pipeline as it would pass through its maritime boundaries," says Dargin. "Saudi opposition was the principle reason we do not see a Qatari pipeline to Bahrain or Kuwait."
Indeed, Saudi opposition to Qatari gas pipelines has been so strong that Doha has switched its strategy from dry gas pipelines to liquefied natural gas (LNG) instead.
As a result, Doha has become the world's largest LNG exporter during the past 15 years. It has invested more than $11bn on an LNG cargo shipping fleet that is independent of fixed pipeline infrastructure and can take LNG anywhere. The fastest-growing gas markets are in Asia, especially Japan, China, South Korea and India.
LNG is also a more competitive option than piping dry gas to Europe, where gas demand is flat and forecasts depressed compared to Asia and within the Middle East itself.
Naser Tamimi, an independent Qatari energy expert, says: "With the existing infrastructure, Qatar doesn't have enough gas to sell to Europe through a pipeline, as most contracts currently are to Asia and long-term, while demand within Qatar is rising."
"A pipeline has to be economically justifiable and secure demand from buyers in the long-term to recover pipeline costs."
"Maintaining the pipeline and paying transit fees to host countries, in the most optimistic scenario, would cost between $7-$9 per British Thermal Unit (BTU) to reach Europe. LNG is cheaper, even with the most expensive scenario, at $5-$5.50 per BTU."
Such factors all coalesce to make both the Qatari and Iranian suggestions nigh impossible.
READ: Why I deserted the Syrian armyAs Tamimi explains: "If Syria and Iraq stabilise, and political relations with Saudi Arabia and Iraq improve ... after all of that, then you could think of a pipeline.
"But at the end of the day it's a pipe dream."
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.
Paul Cochrane is an independent journalist based in Beirut, where he has lived since 2002. He covers the Middle East and Central Asia for specialized publications, business magazines and newspapers. His work has been featured in over 70 publications, including Reuters, Money Laundering Bulletin, Accountancy Futures, Commercial Crime International, Petroleum Review and Jane's. Educated in Britain and the US, he earned a Master's degree in Middle Eastern Studies at the American University of Beirut.
Photo: Smoke is seen rising from the burning leftovers of an oil refinery close to the Syrian Kurdish town of Derik, on 20 October 2013 (AFP)
This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.
Washington Using Currency War to Destabilize Iran | Global Research - Centre for Research on Globalization
Thu, 26 Apr 2018 14:45
The neoconservative hawks around the US President, notably new National Security headJohn Boltonand designated Secretary of State Mike Pompeo,are on record that Iran is in Washington's sights for regime change or at a minimum, economic sanctions and chaos. The rhetoric is not empty. The ground is being laid by US threats to not renew the Iran nuclear agreement in May, a move opposed by the other signatories and a move that would plunge Iran into a deep economic crisis at a time it can ill afford.
In recent weeks its currency has been dropping like a stone, provoking panic buying of dollars on the black markets and aggravating a growing domestic crisis. While Trump threatens in May not to renew the Iran nuclear agreement, opening new official sanctions, evidence suggests there is a dirty game underway from the side of key Washington allies Saudi Arabia and UAE to weaken the Rial.
In December 2017 there was a wave of protests across the country focused on the weak economy and high unemployment. Then, after initially charging foreign meddling (which there was to be sure), arresting thousands, the government was forced to recognize the economic grievances were legitimate and should be addressed. They were the largest protests since the US-incited attempt at a Green Revolution in 2009. With overall inflation at 14% in 2017 despite lifting of Western sanctions, and youth unemployment at 25%, the government of moderate
Hassan Rouhanipledged to address the
economic situation.
Currency war begins
Those protests gradually died down. Now what is taking place, however, is far more dangerous to the stability of Iran. It's a not-so-subtle form of financial warfare from Washington. At this stage it takes the form of currency war, inducing panic among Iranians that leads them to dump Rials in a desperate bid to get dollars as the Rial sinks to its lowest since the 1979 Khomeini Revolution.
The trigger for the latest plunge in the Rial was the announcement by US President Trump that he is ''inclined'' to not certify Iranian adherence to the nuclear treaty on May 12 when the next quarterly decision is due. When Trump last signed off on the nuclear treaty in January he threatened to not approve unless radical improvements were agreed with the Europeans and Iran that would include eliminating Iran's ballistic missile program and its support of Hezbollah, a significant force in the Syrian war.
The Rial began to fall against the US dollar in February. Reports at that time were that banks in the UAE, a close ally of Washington and Saudi Arabia, were deliberately delaying processing Iran oil payments despite the fact that oil production and exports have risen significantly since partial lifting of sanctions. Iran's trade balance is positive. The country exported $50 billion of oil and $40 billion of non-oil exports while it imports $50 billion worth of goods and services last year. Oil production has risen significantly to 3.8 million barrels/ day from 2.6 million bpd in 2012
at the peak of sanctions.
Days before the latest US-UK-France bombing of Syria over false allegations of chemical weapons, the Rial was dropping on the free exchange markets in the country. On April 11, it was worth 60,000 Rials to the dollar. Last September it was one to 36,000. Now Rouhani has acted to end a dual official and private rate, and merged the market rate with the official central bank rate, fixing it at 42,000 in a desperate move to control the free fall. The Rial fell 20% in the two weeks prior
to the exchange controls.
Syria Bombings
It is clear at this point that a prime goal of the entire run-up to the illegal US-UK-French bombing of Syrian targets on April 14, was to prepare a major game change in the relations between Russia, Syria and especially Iran at present. The current aim of both the neoconservatives now running Trump policy and of the Netanyahu Likud government in Israel is to force Iran out of Syria. The day after the bombing, on April 15, US Ambassador to the UN and strident neoconNikki Haleytold Fox news that the US will pull out of Syria when three conditions are met:
In short US troops are at this point planning a long stay in Syria.
Despite the recent bombings, now the stage is set at any moment for US-backed terror groups in Syria to detonate another false flag chemical attack to justify new far more devastating bombings of Syria along the lines of Belgrade in 1999. And what does she mean by ''monitor the Iranians''?
One clear result of the new heavy economic sanctions against Rusal and other Russian companies as well as the fall of the Ruble in recent days, combined with the fraudulent British intelligence Skripal nerve gas caper, and followed by the equally fraudulent White Helmets false flag Ghouta chemical weapons allegations, was to ''soften'' Russian support for the Iranian military presence in Syria. In his speech to the nation announcing the air strikes on Syria April 13, Trump declared,
''I also have a message tonight for the two governments most responsible for supporting, equipping and financing the criminal Assad regime. To Iran and to Russia'...''
He then focused on Russia stating,
''Russia must decide if it will continue down this dark path or if it will join with civilized nations as a force
for stability and peace (sic).''
According to the energy newsletter, Iran's currency situation is being aggravated by deliberate measures from key US allies Saudi Arabia and the UAE to hinder repatriation of dollars from Iranian oil exports. Iranian central bank governorValiollah Seifsaid,
Renewed US Treasury Sanctions?
The orchestration of the US-led bombing of Syria, regardless of what targets were or were not hit, now sets the propaganda stage for a dramatic escalation of new sanctions against Iran, and for a major destabilization, something not possible in 2009.
What is taking shape now from the side of Washington is preparation to unleash a new wave of economic and financial sanctions on Iran, regardless.
USTreasury Secretary Steven Mnuchintold the US Congress on April 12, two days before the Syria attacks, that the possibility existed of re-imposing sanctions on Iran while claiming that the US has not pulled out of the multinational Iran nuclear agreement. Mnuchin told a House hearing that
''If the president decides not to sign that (waiver), it doesn't mean we're necessarily pulling out of the deal. What it means is that the primary and secondary sanctions will go back in place.''
European diplomats have told Reuters off the record that even if Germany, France and UK decide to remain in the agreement, Western companies would withdraw from Iran because of the threat of US sanctions.'' That would mean a devastating economic cordon sanitaire around the country.
Mnuchin added that, ''very strong'' sanctions on Iran were possible.
''If the president doesn't sign the certification, the sanctions snap back into place,'' Mnuchin stated, ''I do think the primary and secondary sanctions would have an important impact on the Iranian economy, and that's something he's thinking about and balancing as he makes his decision.''
In recent years the US Treasury has become a part of the national security council, and speaks of its diabolical new ''smart sanctions'' like those targeting ''the Putin oligarchs'' and their companies.''
Mnuchin told the Congress that his Treasury Department is working on sanctions entirely independent from the nuclear deal, giving the game away that it has nothing to do with Iran's alleged nuclear program, but rather with economically crippling or destabilizing Iran itself. If we look closely at the latest round of US Treasury sanctions on key Russian companies, it is clear that Washington feels so bold it no longer has to justify in any serious way imposing sanctions on a target country. All your crime need be today is to be accused of ''continuing down this dark path'...'' as judged by the good Mr Trump and friends.
In 2012 the Obama Administration Treasury Department pressured the European Union countries which then ordered Belgium-based SWIFT, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, to cut all interbank credit lines for Iranian banks including the central bank, dealing a crippling blow to her ability to earn dollars for Iranian oil and other exports. It was unprecedented, and lasted four years until SWIFT links were reestablished following the 2016 Nuclear Agreement.
When the US Treasury speaks of imminent primary and secondary sanctions ''snapping'' back into place, it is clear that some in Washington plan to pressure the EU again to cut SWIFT lines again. Only this time the ''justification'' could be Iran's presence in Syria, a presence, unlike that of the US or UK or France, done at the request of the lawful Syrian government.
Given the weakened state of the Iran economy, it would not require a military attack, something of great difficulty in any case, in order for Iran's enemies'--Washington, Saudi Arabia and Israel'--to inflict huge damage and disruption to Iran's economy. That in turn would be the likely setting, as was the case in Yugoslavia in 1989 with its US-induced economic crisis, for Washington to relaunch its fake democracy NGOs under National Endowment for Democracy or the Soros Foundations, to try to divide Iranians and spread chaos.
Clear at this point, with Washington and London abandoning any pretense of rules of international law to justify their acts of war, Iran is facing a potentially devastating new round of economic warfare to follow months of softening up through the de facto currency warfare. Things could get really ugly in the Middle East after May 12. That will target Iran, a key link to the Eurasian Belt Road Initiative, the new Economic Silk Road of China and the economic cooperation with Russia. If that succeeds, we can be sure that further targeting of Russia as well as of China is next in line. If those key strategic Eurasian powers fail to strengthen their mutual cooperation on economic, political and military levels, it could be like shooting fish in a barrel for Washington to knock out the rivals to its undisputed sole superpower hegemony. That would not be at all good for world peace prospects.
F. William Engdahlis strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine ''New Eastern Outlook'' where this article was originally published. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Featured image is from NEO.
Seeds of Destruction: Hidden Agenda of Genetic ManipulationAuthor Name: F. William EngdahlISBN Number: 978-0-937147-2-2Year: 2007Pages: 341 pages with complete indexList Price: $25.95
Special Price: $18.00This skilfully researched book focuses on how a small socio-political American elite seeks to establish control over the very basis of human survival: the provision of our daily bread. ''Control the food and you control the people.''
This is no ordinary book about the perils of GMO. Engdahl takes the reader inside the corridors of power, into the backrooms of the science labs, behind closed doors in the corporate boardrooms.
The author cogently reveals a diabolical world of profit-driven political intrigue, government corruption and coercion, where genetic manipulation and the patenting of life forms are used to gain worldwide control over food production. If the book often reads as a crime story, that should come as no surprise. For that is what it is.
The original source of this article is Global Research
Iran Bans Use of Cryptocurrency for Fear of US Sanctions | News | teleSUR English
Mon, 23 Apr 2018 19:42
Iran has banned the use of cryptocurrencies by the country's financial institutions after the government decided to put in place measures to combat money-laundering, the state news agency IRNA said.
RELATED: Venezuela Says Trump Ban on Petro Backfires, Doubles Investors
''Banks and credit institutions and currency exchanges should avoid any sale or purchase of these currencies or taking any action to promote them,'' IRNA reported.
The institutions are prohibited from buying, selling or promoting cryptocurrencies. The Iranian rial's value has been plummeting over fears the United States will reinstate sanctions in May.
''The use of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in all the country's monetary and financial centers was banned,'' the central bank said in a statement. The release further explained that "all cryptocurrencies have the capacity to be turned into a means for money-laundering and financing terrorism and in general can be turned into a means for transferring criminals' money.''
Earlier this year, Telecoms Minister Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi set up a team to create Iran's own cryptocurrency.
"This ruling referred directly to banks, financial institutions and currency exchangers that work with the central bank," Hadi Nemati, from cryptocurrency exchange platform Coinex, told AFP.
The digital currencies are largely viewed as a means to circumvent issues related to international sanctions and other financial difficulties.
"In my opinion, it doesn't include the general public '' it's not a total ban on cryptocurrencies."
Nemati said Coinex stopped all activities on its exchange platform saying "we always want to make sure we comply with the law."
Iran bans banks from trading cryptocurrencies
Mon, 23 Apr 2018 19:41
The ban is an extension of anti-laundering agency's ban passed in December.
While Iran's situation is more volatile than China's, the objective is likely the same: this could reduce the likelihood that anxious traders will buy up cryptocurrency and sell conventional money. While formats like bitcoin have their own problems with volatility, investors might see that as a better bet than the rial's record lows. This theoretically pushes people back toward official money and gives it some stability, however artificial it might be.
Iraq Psyops Veteran Running Covert Attacks on Qatar
Mon, 23 Apr 2018 18:53
By Jessica Purkiss and Abigail Fielding-Smith
A veteran of Pentagon propaganda operations was hired last year to create a film accusing Qatar of links to terrorism, the Bureau can reveal.
Charles Andreae, whose firm Andreae & Associates was contracted to produce the film, used to work for PR firm Bell Pottinger. While there, he helped oversee a $500 million contract with the Pentagon to run top secret influence operations during the Iraq war.
The new Qatar contract underscores growing concerns about foreign influence campaigns in the heart of Washington. While much focus has been on Russia's role in the U.S. elections, Persian Gulf countries have also been spending large sums of money pushing their agenda to President Trump's administration.
In August 2017, Andreae, former CEO of Bell Pottinger USA, was given over $500,000 to produce a six-part documentary connecting Qatar with global terrorism.
The slickly-produced film, entitled ''Qatar: A Dangerous Alliance,'' features conservative pundits talking about Qatar's links with Islamist groups, interspersed with news and archive footage.
Copies of the video were distributed at an event at the Hudson Institute think-tank in October 2017. President Trump's one-time Chief Strategist Steve Bannon was a keynote speaker at the event, as was former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and General David Petraeus, former CIA director.
Though its subject matter is niche and the treatment not especially gripping, the documentary appears to have been viewed more than 700,000 times on YouTube and is also streamable on Amazon.
According to Bell Pottinger co-founder Tim Bell, Andrae ran the Washington end of a Pentagon propaganda program in Iraq while at Bell Pottinger. The contract was first revealed by the Bureau and The Sunday Times in 2016.
''While much focus has been on Russia's role in the U.S. elections, Persian Gulf countries have been spending large sums of money pushing their agenda to President Trump's administration.''
The Iraq program included news reports made to look like they were produced by Arab media channels and fake al Qaeda videos used to track the viewers. The Bell Pottinger ''psyops'' team reported to General Petraeus, who led American forces in Iraq.
Bell Pottinger went ''into administration'' to protect itself from creditors last year after it was implicated in a controversial campaign to stir up racial tension in South Africa.
The Qatar film contract came to light in a newly-filed lobbying declaration with the U.S. Department of Justice. All American companies are required by law to disclose information on their lobbying or PR work with foreign clients.
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The declaration showed that Andreae & Associates (A&A) was hired in August 2017 by Lapis Communications to produce ''six multimedia products focused on an investigation into the role of the state of Qatar and the state's connection to global terrorism.'' Lapis is a Dubai-based strategic communications firm owned by an Afghan-Australian entrepreneur.
The film was commissioned at a time when the Saudi and UAE governments were stepping up an unprecedented international campaign against Qatar.
Last summer, the two countries severed relations with the fellow Gulf state, which they accuse of sponsoring terrorism in the Middle East. The rift represents a major split between resource-rich countries, both sides of which are key U.S. allies.
Shortly after the Lapis contract with Andreae & Associates, the Emirati National Media Council gave a $250,000 contract to a London PR firm. A chunk of this went to SCL Social for an anti-Qatar social media campaign. SCL Social is part of SCL Group which also owns Cambridge Analytica, a firm now mired in controversy over its exploitation of Facebook users' data. Charles Andreae also registered as a lobbyist with the U.S. Senate on Qatar-U.S. relations on behalf of Lapis in January this year.
Neither Charles Andreae nor anyone from Lapis Communications responded to the Bureau's requests for comment on this story.
According to the New York Times, the political advisor to the UAE's de facto ruler also sought to push the Gulf state's agenda in Washington through Trump fundraiser Elliott Broidy. The Times reported that Broidy's company Circinus had received lucrative contracts in the UAE, and that Broidy himself was circulating proposals for an anti Qatar PR campaign in March 2017.
Broidy was a donor to the Hudson event where ''Qatar: A Dangerous Alliance'' was distributed, the Times and McClatchy reported.
It is not clear how successful any of the anti-Qatar operations have been. The first YouTube comment underneath the ''Dangerous Alliance'' video reads: ''this video is American propaganda.'' The second goes further: ''I stand with Qatar''.
Qatar has also spent heavily on lobbying in the U.S., and earlier this month, Trump welcomed its Emir to the White House.
Whichever side prevails, the Gulf spat has been a boost for PR and lobbying firms. A number of Bell Pottinger's former employees remain at the heart of global influence operations.
Like a time warp with no signal issues etc
A browser is all you need to access everything NO APPS
No Whatsapp
It is supposed to be hard! Digital Detox
Google's SMS replacement ready to launch - BBC News
Mon, 23 Apr 2018 11:01
Image caption Chat adds modern features to Android's Messages app Google has started the global roll-out of its new Chat messaging service, which is designed to replace SMS text messages on Android phones.
Chat has features such as group texts, videos, typing indicators and read receipts, which are not available when sending SMS texts.
Chat will be integrated with the default messages app on Android phones.
However, it will be up to mobile operators to enable the service and it does not offer encrypted messages.
The new system has been in development for several years, but is now beginning to appear on Android phones.
Android's messaging messSMS - the short message service - was widely adopted in the 1990s. It lets mobile phones exchange basic 160-character text messages over the mobile network.
Modern messaging apps offer much more advanced features and send messages over the internet rather than using SMS.
However, the default messaging app on Android smartphones - Messages - is still a comparatively basic SMS client.
Google has tried several times to launch its own feature-rich mobile messaging app, but its attempts have failed to win over a large audience.
On Thursday, the company said it was "pausing" development of its latest effort - Allo - which was launched in 2016.
Advanced rivalsGoogle's rivals such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp support advanced features such as typing indicators and high-resolution pictures. Apple's iPhones have the similarly feature-rich iMessage service built-in.
This time, rather than try to launch yet another messaging app, Google has been working to integrate a new messaging standard with its Android operating system.
Mobile operators, phone manufacturers and app-makers will be able to use the new technology to develop messaging apps that are compatible with one another.
Image copyright Google Image caption Chat lets people see when a contact is typing The standard is known as the Universal Profile for Rich Communication Services (RCS) - but it will be given the more consumer-friendly name of Chat when it is rolled out to Android devices.
To develop Chat, Google has worked with more than 50 mobile networks including Vodafone, T-Mobile and Verizon and manufacturers such as Samsung, LG and Huawei.
CompatibilityOnce Chat rolls out worldwide, Android users will be able to take advantage of the advanced features when messaging other Android users.
As with Apple's iMessage system, if the intended recipient does not have a Chat-compatible device, messages will be sent via the old SMS system instead.
Google has stressed that Chat is not a new Google app. Since RCS is a communications standard, it is up to individual mobile networks and phone-makers to switch on the functionality.
Since messages are sent over the internet, they will not use up a customer's SMS text message allowance. However, a mobile operator could in theory charge customers a separate fee to use Chat.
US mobile giant Sprint is already providing Chat functionality, while Rogers in Canada has also switched on the service.
Microsoft is one of the companies that has supported RCS but it has not confirmed whether it will add Chat functionality to Windows 10. Apple has not signed up to the project.
Samsung, which already replaces Android's default messaging app on its devices, will integrate RCS with its own software.
Security experts have warned that Chat does not offer encrypted communication. As with SMS, Chat messages are not scrambled as they travel across the mobile network.
Google's Anil Sabharwal told technology news site The Verge that "RCS continues to be a carrier-owned service", which means that messages can still be legally intercepted.
The company said it expected the functionality to be widely available on Android phones within two years.
This year's hottest cultural trend is flip phones | The Outline
Mon, 23 Apr 2018 11:20
Have you ever wanted to externalize your frustration with how connected modern technology is by pointedly ignoring what our tech overlords want us to buy? Then you'll be delighted to learn that this year's hottest cultural trend is none other than the humble flip phone, an object you can probably find forgotten in a junk drawer at your parents' house (with no charger, of course). Thanks to widespread 1990s nostalgia, and the everpresent dread of knowing how tech companies hold all the data of our lives, the obsolescence of the flip phone has turned into a sort of modern day security blanket. With all of the coverage these old timey gadgets have gotten so far this year, it seems like everyone with even a slight dislike of technology is thinking about it.
On the one side are the folks who embrace the flip phone solely as a means of socio-political resistance. ''The flip phone is the new protest statement,'' declared one article that recently appeared in several newspapers including The Seattle Times. ''I don't need that phone. I have everything I need without it,'' wrote Katie Reid for The Baltimore Sun in a March op-ed about wanting to discourage her daughter from relying on smartphones. In January, writer Kathleen Davis wrote a piece for Fast Company called ''This Is What It's Like To Not Own A Smartphone In 2018.'' ''Being cut off from push notifications when I'm not at my desk hasn't made me feel uninformed, but it's probably helped me keep a shred more of my sanity,'' she wote. Deryn Isaac, writing for Portland alt-weekly Willamette Week that month, shared similar feelings: ''Since I made the switch to a brick phone, I have felt refreshingly less connected.''
For others, it's just the new way to be cool. Daniel Day-Lewis and Kim Kardashian-West were both recently spotted using flip phones (Day-Lewis in low key black, Kardashian-West wielding one shaped like a pink Ferrari) and billionaire Warren Buffett has no desire to ever let his go.
Luckily, it seems phone manufacturers are poised for the new demand for old-timey cell phones. Redesigned retro Nokia phones are on the market, as well as keypad phones with software that offers some smartphone capabilities. Meanwhile, this February Lenovo (owners of the Motorola brand) suggested it could be bringing back Razr phones.
While flip and bar phones are still widely used in many developing countries, their resurgence in the U.S. is all about making a statement. That statement, like most faddish purchases, is I'm better than you. Can a flip phone really offer peace of mind and more genuine connectedness in this crumbling world or not? Who knows? But either way, this is the year to do it. By 2019, it'll just look like a joke.
Visa's Everywhere Initiative: Driving Innovation |
Mon, 23 Apr 2018 17:09
Before Visa's Everywhere Initiative was both an initiative and everywhere, it wasn't even a project.
At best'--its originator and Visa's SVP and global head of innovation and go-to-market, Shiv Singh, told Karen Webster'--back in 2015, it was a mini project, a toe in the water to engage an entirely new audience for Visa: the developer.
Today, that mini project has evolved into, as Singh describes it, ''a driving force in many ways,'' and the lynchpin for how Visa engages with the FinTech community on a global scale.
This morning, Visa will announce the expansion of Visa's Everywhere Initiative, which now offers start-ups on five continents and 40 countries a chance to compete to work with Visa on building the next generation of FinTech solutions for their local markets.
An Ends-Oriented Approach
Visa's Everywhere Initiative is something of a global treasure hunt, according to Singh '' where Visa casts a wide net looking for the best and brightest among a broad range of start-ups in a wide swath of regions to solve the commerce challenges of tomorrow.
Participants pitch to a panel of Visa representatives '' and a few large client representatives '' in what Singh described as a ''Shark Tank''-like format. From early stage to late stage startups, all participants are unified by a common thread: They're willing to take a crack at solving a major issue that Visa '' or its partners '' faces in that region.
''What can happen on the local level per country can vary quite dramatically,'' Singh told Webster '' which is why Visa's Everywhere Initiative doesn't focus broadly on ''everywhere,'' but instead on the unique needs of specific somewheres all over the world.
It explains why, Singh said, the program is growing so quickly: It's rooted in solving real business problems.
And that means, he noted, that start-ups in different regions are given specific business challenges to address as a starting point for channeling their creative juices. In 2018, participating U.S. firms will be challenged to think about using connected devices to facilitate simpler, more seamless and powerful commerce experiences for consumers.
In Europe, on the other hand, the focus is on using mobile devices to transform the experience of inter-city travel, while in Thailand the challenge will be to solve for digital payments experiences in the growing tourism industry.
The Upcoming Season
In spring 2018, Singh noted, the program will kick off the year by opening up in the United States and Russia '' meaning that soon, Visa will begin taking submissions in both regions. Kick off means launching a series of educational initiatives over an eight-week period to draw in as many interesting and interested players as possible, including networking with VCs who might offer recommendations from their own portfolios.
Once submissions have been received and evaluated '' a process that typically takes two to three weeks '' the finalists are chosen, usually 10 to 15. From there, the finalists are invited to their ''Shark Tank'' presentation, and the top three winners are picked by a mixed panel. The fourth winner, in most places, is a People's Choice winner selected by Visa employees.
It's fun, Singh noted, but it also serves a strategic purpose.
''It introduces the start-up to our entire team and gets them invested in their success,'' he told Webster.
From there, the winners work with Visa in a variety of capacities '' they might build a pilot or develop an expansion plan, based on the needs and desires of the specific firms. And that, he noted, is very much dependent on what the firms do.
One previous winner, LISNR, is exploring ways to transfer payments through sound with Visa and its Asia-Pacific partners. Working with that firm, Singh noted, was mostly about working with '' and refining '' its very powerful core technology. These days, they are moving to their first round of pilots.
Qpal, a Dubai-based tech startup, on the other hand, was a closed loop event payment solution looking for a means to scale. That meant working really hard to integrate the wider world of the Visa payment experience '' to widen the scope of the offering they already had in the field.
Singh also pointed out that some of the firms that Visa's Everywhere Initiative has nurtured have gone on to be acquired by clients who were first exposed to them through this program. In all cases, giving players tools to scale or perfect their technology means that potential partners get exposure to these startups in a context that would have been impossible without this platform.
A World of Challenges
As their conversation wound down, Singh told Webster that his wish list for the future of financial technology is long and ambitious. He wants better conversational commerce solutions, innovations around open banking, new means of moving money cross-border and easier, worry-free ways to travel and pay.
The easy stuff.
But, of course, not really '' which is why Visa's Everywhere Initiative is indeed about being everywhere, and asking everyone.
Singh says that what Visa has learned over the last few years is that assuming you know who and where the best ideas will come from '-- is a great way to miss good ideas. It's better to cast a very wide net '-- and review ideas in terms of relevance, above all else.
''We like diversity '' we get better quality of submissions and winners, and it has been baked into the DNA of the program since Day 1.''
Ultrasonic Beacons Are Tracking Your Every Movement | Threatpost | The first stop for security news
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Google removes apps that use ultrasonic frequencies to track users - CBS News
Mon, 23 Apr 2018 16:53
Researchers found Android 234 apps that used ultrasonic tracking without the user's knowledge.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Your phone may be sending out ultrasonic tones right now. Sounds the human ear can't pick up, but which other devices can.
A research team sponsored by the German government discovered more than 230 apps on Google's Android market that secretly tracked users through the use of ultrasonic audio. The so-called ultrasonic tracking beacons can help create intimate profiles of people, tying them to a slew of devices communicating with each other through the beacons.
Here's how it works: Let's say your friend's smart TV uses the beacon, and you watch that TV. When a beacon from your phone meets the one from the TV, advertisers tied to both learn a bit more about you '-- and your friend.
In a paper posted online by the researchers at Braunschweig University of Technology in Germany, the team wrote that they identified 234 Android apps "that are constantly listening for ultrasonic beacons in the background without the user's knowledge."
Four out of 35 stores the team visited in two European cities use the ultrasonic beacons to track shoppers, as well.
The researchers found coding from SilverPush, a San Francisco company that sells cross-device tracking software, on earlier versions of McDonald's and Krispy Kreme apps distributed in the Philippines, but "the functionality has already been removed by the developers," they said in an email to CBS News.
Google confirmed to CBS News that the apps discovered by the researchers have all either been suspended or updated to meet the company's privacy policies. In order for the use of ultrasonic beacons to be permissible on Android devices, app developers have to disclose to users that the apps will be using their cellphone microphones for that purpose.
While the use of ultrasonic beacons is not yet widespread, the paper notes that known instances of its use have grown from just six in April 2015, to the 234 identified by the German researchers.
"Our findings strengthen our concerns that the deployment of ultrasonic tracking increases in the wild and therefore needs serious attention regarding its privacy consequences," the researchers wrote.
Got news tips about digital privacy, social media or online marketing? Email, or for encrypted messaging, (PGP fingerprint: 4b97 34aa d2c0 a35d a498 3cea 6279 22f8 eee8 4e24).
(C) 2017 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Beware of ads that use inaudible sound to link your phone, TV, tablet, and PC | Ars Technica
Mon, 23 Apr 2018 16:47
Policy '-- Privacy advocates warn feds about surreptitious cross-device tracking. Dan Goodin - Nov 13, 2015 6:00 pm UTC
1939, back when ads used to be safe.
Privacy advocates are warning federal authorities of a new threat that uses inaudible, high-frequency sounds to surreptitiously track a person's online behavior across a range of devices, including phones, TVs, tablets, and computers.
The ultrasonic pitches are embedded into TV commercials or are played when a user encounters an ad displayed in a computer browser. While the sound can't be heard by the human ear, nearby tablets and smartphones can detect it. When they do, browser cookies can now pair a single user to multiple devices and keep track of what TV commercials the person sees, how long the person watches the ads, and whether the person acts on the ads by doing a Web search or buying a product.
Cross-device tracking raises important privacy concerns, the Center for Democracy and Technology wrote in recently filed comments to the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC has scheduled a workshop on Monday to discuss the technology. Often, people use as many as five connected devices throughout a given day'--a phone, computer, tablet, wearable health device, and an RFID-enabled access fob. Until now, there hasn't been an easy way to track activity on one and tie it to another.
"As a person goes about her business, her activity on each device generates different data streams about her preferences and behavior that are siloed in these devices and services that mediate them," CDT officials wrote. "Cross-device tracking allows marketers to combine these streams by linking them to the same individual, enhancing the granularity of what they know about that person."
The officials said that companies with names including SilverPush, Drawbridge, and Flurry are working on ways to pair a given user to specific devices. Adobe is also developing cross-device tracking technologies, although there's no mention of it involving inaudible sound. Without a doubt, the most concerning of the companies the CDT mentioned is San Francisco-based SilverPush.
CDT officials wrote:
Cross-device tracking can also be performed through the use of ultrasonic inaudible sound beacons. Compared to probabilistic tracking through browser fingerprinting, the use of audio beacons is a more accurate way to track users across devices. The industry leader of cross-device tracking using audio beacons is SilverPush. When a user encounters a SilverPush advertiser on the web, the advertiser drops a cookie on the computer while also playing an ultrasonic audio through the use of the speakers on the computer or device. The inaudible code is recognized and received on the other smart device by the software development kit installed on it. SilverPush also embeds audio beacon signals into TV commercials which are "picked up silently by an app installed on a [device] (unknown to the user)." The audio beacon enables companies like SilverPush to know which ads the user saw, how long the user watched the ad before changing the channel, which kind of smart devices the individual uses, along with other information that adds to the profile of each user that is linked across devices.
The user is unaware of the audio beacon, but if a smart device has an app on it that uses the SilverPush software development kit, the software on the app will be listening for the audio beacon and once the beacon is detected, devices are immediately recognized as being used by the same individual. SilverPush states that the company is not listening in the background to all of the noises occurring in proximity to the device. The only factor that hinders the receipt of an audio beacon by a device is distance and there is no way for the user to opt-out of this form of cross-device tracking. SilverPush's company policy is to not "divulge the names of the apps the technology is embedded," meaning that users have no knowledge of which apps are using this technology and no way to opt-out of this practice. As of April of 2015, SilverPush's software is used by 67 apps and the company monitors 18 million smartphones.
SilverPush's ultrasonic cross-device tracking was publicly reported as long ago as July 2014. More recently, the company received a new round of publicity when it obtained $1.25 million in venture capital. The CDT letter appears to be the first time the privacy-invading potential of the company's product has been discussed in detail. SilverPush officials didn't respond to e-mail seeking comment for this article.
Cross-device tracking already in useThe CDT letter went on to cite articles reporting that cross-device tracking has been put to use by more than a dozen marketing companies. The technology, which is typically not disclosed and can't be opted out of, makes it possible for marketers to assemble a shockingly detailed snapshot of the person being tracked.
"For example, a company could see that a user searched for sexually transmitted disease (STD) symptoms on her personal computer, looked up directions to a Planned Parenthood on her phone, visits a pharmacy, then returned to her apartment," the letter stated. "While previously the various components of this journey would be scattered among several services, cross-device tracking allows companies to infer that the user received treatment for an STD. The combination of information across devices not only creates serious privacy concerns, but also allows for companies to make incorrect and possibly harmful assumptions about individuals."
Use of ultrasonic sounds to track users has some resemblance to badBIOS, a piece of malware that a security researcher said used inaudible sounds to bridge air-gapped computers. No one has ever proven badBIOS exists, but the use of the high-frequency sounds to track users underscores the viability of the concept.
Now that SilverPush and others are using the technology, it's probably inevitable that it will remain in use in some form. But right now, there are no easy ways for average people to know if they're being tracked by it and to opt out if they object. Federal officials should strongly consider changing that.
Post updated on Nov 16, 2015 at 10:21am PST to add details about Adobe.
Inaudible ultrasound commands can be used to secretly control Siri, Alexa, and Google Now - The Verge
Mon, 23 Apr 2018 16:45
Is your digital assistant taking orders behind your back? Scientists from China's Zheijiang University have proved it's possible, publishing new research that demonstrates how Siri, Alexa, and other voice-activated programs can be controlled using inaudible ultrasound commands. This provides a new method of attack for hackers targeting devices like phones, tablets, and even cars. But don't get too worried '-- the technique has a number of key limitations that means it's unlikely to cause chaos.
Using ultrasound as discreet form of digital communication is actually pretty common. As pointed out in a FastCompany report on the topic, Google's Chromecast and Amazon's Dash Buttons both use inaudible sounds to pair to your phone. And advertisers take advantage of these secret audio freeways too, broadcasting ultrasonic codes in TV commercials that work like cookies in a web browser; tracking a user's activity across devices.
Deploying these high-pitched frequencies to hack voice assistants has also been suggested before, but this new work from Zheijiang provides the most comprehensive test of the concept to date. And really, it's impressive just how susceptible modern technology is.
To carry out their attacks, the researchers first created a program to translate normal voice commands into frequencies too high for humans to hear using harmonics. (In this case, that means frequencies higher than 20 kHz.) Then, they tested whether those commands would be obeyed by 16 voice control systems, including Siri, Google Now, Samsung S Voice, Cortana, Alexa, and a number of in-car interfaces. The researched dubbed their method ''DolphinAttack'' '-- because dolphins, like bats, use high-pitch noises bounced off their surroundings as a form of echolocation.
DolphinAttack was successful across the board, and the researchers were able to issue a number of commands, including ''activating Siri to initiate a FaceTime call on iPhone, activating Google Now to switch the phone to the airplane mode, and even manipulating the navigation system in an Audi automobile.'' They suggest the method could be used for a number of malicious attacks, including instructing a device to visit a website which would download a virus or exploit; or initiating outgoing phone calls to spy on a victim.
In a neat bit of extra-credit work, they even thought through how to compromise a voice command system trained to respond to only one person's voice. (Siri has offered this feature for a while, but it's hardly foolproof.) They theorized that if you could get a potential target to say a particular sentence '-- for example, ''he carries cake to the city'' '-- you could slice up the syllables and rearrange them to form the words ''Hey Siri.'' Then, hey presto, you can issue your nefarious commands to the target device.
DolphinAttack proved to be consistently able to issue commands to a number of devices in different languages. Here are some of the test results for controlling Siri. As with the rest of the research, this method is satisfyingly clever, but a little too impractical to be a widespread danger.
For the commands to work you need to be near to the target device in a quiet location
For a start, for a device to pick up an ultrasonic voice command, the attacker needs to be nearby '-- as in, no more than a few feet away. The attacks also needs to take place in a fairly quiet environment. A DolphinAttack that asks Siri to turn on airplane mode was 100 percent successful in an office; 80 percent successful in a cafe; and just 30 percent successful in the street. The researchers also had to buy a special speaker (albeit a very cheap one) to broadcast the commands, and noted that the attacks sometimes had to be tuned to their target. That's because the frequency responses of microphones differs from manufacturer to manufacturer. For the Nexus 7, for example, they found that the best performance came from commands issued at 24.1 kHz (although the tablet also responded to other frequencies).
In addition to these environmental restraints, it's worth remembering that pretty much all digital assistants systems respond audibly to any voice commands. So the chances of a hacker controlling your phone without you noticing are slim. Plus, to carry out more impactful commands '-- like telling a device to visit a certain website, or sending money to someone '-- you usually have to unlock your device or confirm the instruction. The researchers also noted that it would be pretty easy to implement a fix: you can just tweak the hardware or software to ignore commands outside a certain frequency range.
All these caveats aside, DolphinAttack shows how new ways of interacting with technology invariably introduce new vulnerabilities. The advent of 'conversational computing' is no exception, and manufacturers may want to look into this sort of hack before the inaudible whispering campaign against them starts up in earnest.
Lisnr | The Data-Over-Audio Leader
Mon, 23 Apr 2018 16:33
LISNR® is an advanced, near-ultrasonic, ultra-low power data transmission technology that enables fast, reliable, and secure communication between devices via any speaker and/or microphone.
Acting as a secure local proxy for data transmission, our technology is removing the need for complex, expensive, and power-consuming RF or other audio based technologies.
GitHub - jamrader/XTAudioBeacons: Audio beacons can synchronize and/or relay data to devices through a variety of broadcast media. This data-over-audio method uses sound waves in a similar way to how Bluetooth employs electromagnetic waves.
Mon, 23 Apr 2018 15:54
NOTE: THE GITHUB VERSION OF THIS LIBRARY HAS BEEN DEPRECATED. For inquiries about the latest commercial SDK, please email hello@cueaudio.comThis is a protocol for relaying data through inaudible, ultrasonic sound waves, essentially converting any speaker into an ''Audio-Beacon.'' This communications protocol utilizes sound waves in a similar way to how Bluetooth employs electromagnetic waves, offering an alternative method for transmitting data for both iOS and Android.
Advantages include:No reliance on a data connection, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or cellular service.Ability to imperceptibly transmit data through online videos, television broadcasts, or any other sound-based media.Enhancing the second-screen experience by allowing mobile devices to be informed of not only of what you are watching, but exactly how far along you are in the program. This also allows second-screens to respond to live events, such as touchdowns or breaking news.Enabling proximity-awareness in slow zones and dead spots using existing speaker infrastructure.Ability to synchronize devices to the nearest eighth of a second.XT Audio Beacons have been enjoyed by over 1,000,000 users across three continents. Some of our clients include the following:
Triggering commands on the smartphone through a television broadcast, online video, radio commercial, film and movies. Users can be rewarded for tuning in; products can be linked to during a featured commercial; coupons can be distributed, etc.
Turn $10 household speakers into iBeacons. Any speaker emitting a unique fingerprint at regular intervals can be used to detect proximity and trigger events to achieve the same effect as traditional Bluetooth beacons.
Location-based ''push'' notifications. Users can be segmented by proximity to various speakers.
Smartphones in the same room or across the globe can be synchronized and given precisely timed commands in real-time, or minutes, hours, or even days after the trigger was detected.
SynchronizationVillanova @ Purdue | Iowa @ Purdue | Villanova @ Marquette
Commands without a data connection. Because the software is triggered by sound, it can perform even where there is no data connection, Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth.
Authorization/ticketing '-- triggers can be used to verify check-in at an event, or to unlock content on your app.
Indoor location sensing '-- provide location services more accurate than GPS by making use of the existing speaker infrastructure.
Wherever your imagination takes you.
If the provided demo app is in open on your device, playing the following links from your desktop will trigger various events.
Commercial Interaction (due to audio compression, video version must be downloaded)Error RecognitionAudio Beacon Sample LoopUnlockable ContentPodcastLocation-Based Notification 1Location-Based Notification 2How it worksAny speaker can become an XT Audio Beacon. XT Audio Beacons are powered by ultrasonic fingerprints, each of which is composed of a permutation of inaudible tones lasting between 0.0005 and 0.002 seconds. The duration of the fingerprint is variable and depends on the amount of data relayed '-- typically a complete trigger lasts anywhere from 0.30 to 2.0 seconds. Over the course of a second, thousands of bits of data can be relayed. Our ultrasonic signals are concentrated between 16-22 kHz to minimize conflict with environmental noise and to remain human-inaudible. This means that any audio containing our triggers must be in a format that supports high-pitch frequencies (e.g., WAV) and should not be converted or compressed into a lesser format (e.g., MP3).
Ultrasonic fingerprints can be generated to the point where single-use/throwaway triggers can be utilized for authorization and validation purposes, such as check-ins, private keys, and even payment processing.
To receive WAV files beyond those included in the starter pack, please contact Unique WAV files for check-in and authorization purposes can also generated upon request. Please allow up to 24 hours for a response.Note: before publishing an app containing the XT Ultrasonic Fingerprint framework, please make sure you've read the FAQ and terms & conditions located here.iOS(1) Add #import <XT/XT.h> to your header file and make your UIViewController a subclass of XTUltrasonicsViewController.
(2) Set the XTdelegate of the XTUltrasonicsViewController, typically self.
(3) Implement the method
- (void) didHearTriggerWithTitle:(NSString *)title andAmplitude:(float) magThe amplitude measure can be used as a rough indicator of proximity to the outputting speaker.
(4) To get a list of trigger titles, call the method [self logTriggerTitles] on the XTUltrasonicsViewController subclass.
An unlimited number of triggers and trigger titles can be generated, even to the point of creating ''throwaway'' triggers for authorization and check-in purposes. If more triggers are needed than the default number listed by calling logTriggerTitles, simply contact for customization.(5) (optional) To control the UILabel and UIActivityIndicator at the bottom of the screen, use the methods
- (BOOL) changeListeningLabelText: (NSString *) text- (BOOL) changeListeningLabelTextColor: (UIColor *) color- (BOOL) changeListeningActivityIndicatorColor: (UIColor *) color- (void) displayListeningLabel: (BOOL) display WithFadeTime: (float) tTo stop the label and activity indicator from appearing when the view loads, overwrite the method - (void) microphonePermissionGranted and do not call [super microphonePermissionGranted].
Android(1) Add the xt.aar file to libs in your app directory. See here
(2) Add flatDir { dirs 'libs' } to repositories in your top-level build gradle. See here
(3) Subclass XTUltrasonicsActivity and implement the method public void didHearTriggerWithTitle(String title) andAmplitude:(float) mag. The amplitude measure can be used as a rough indicator of proximity to the outputting speaker.
(4) To get a list of trigger titles, call the method logTriggerTitles() on the XTUltrasonicsActivity subclass.
An unlimited number of triggers and trigger titles can be generated, even to the point of creating ''throwaway'' triggers for authorization and check-in purposes. If more triggers are needed than the default number listed by calling logTriggerTitles(), simply contact for customization.(5) Request microphone permission. This can be handled automatically for you by setting handleRecordPermissionsForMe = true in OnCreate. To handle recording permission yourself, set handleRecordPermissionsForMe = false in OnCreate.
To change the text presented during the microphone permission request process, simply set the following (public static) strings in OnCreate:
kPrePermissionTitle (Title for dialog that precedes permission request).kPrePermissionBody (Body for dialog that precedes permission request).kPermissionBodyRejected (Prompt that leads to app settings if mic permission is denied).kMicPermissionDenyTitle (If mic permission is denied, the subsequent time the app is opened a dialog is displayed with this title).kMicPermissionDenyBody (If mic permission is denied, the subsequent time the app is opened a dialog is displayed with this body).Add to your manifest file:
<uses-permission android:name="android.permission.INTERNET" /><uses-permission android:name="android.permission.RECORD_AUDIO" />(6) (optional) To control the TextView at the bottom of the screen, use the methods
protected boolean changeListeningLabelText(String text)protected boolean changeListeningLabelTextColor(int c)protected void displayListeningLabelWithFadeTime(boolean display, int t)To stop the TextView from appearing when the view loads, overwrite the method public void microphonePermissionGranted() and do not call super.microphonePermissionGranted().
Ultrasonic Cross-Device Tracking tracks IoT devices with Ultrasound Signals
Mon, 23 Apr 2018 15:29
Of late, we have been seeing a growing nexus between the companies that offer ''always-on'' devices that listen for our voice commands, and advertisers or marketers that unknowingly follow us around the web to create personalized user profiles. The symbiotic relationship between the two is beneficial in some ways. The advertisers, for example, manage to get valuable information about our behavioral patterns and the device manufacturers in return get a share from the revenue generated in the process. But all this is done at the cost of your privacy!
Ultrasonic Cross-Device TrackingNow a new technique has been developed where such tracking takes place with the help of ultrasonic sounds and is called '' Ultrasonic Cross-Device Tracking. Using this technique, advertisers embed high-frequency tones that are not audible to human ears in advertisements and web pages. These tones or ultrasound ''Beacons'' as they are referred to, in general, emit their audio sequences with speakers or microphone'--like those used by certain apps on a smartphone, tablet, TV, PC or any device connected to the Internet, which detects the signal and reveal information about the ads you have been watching and time duration for the same.
What is Ultrasonic TrackingThe technique allows advertisers to track the user's visited content across different IoT devices and help them push relevant or precisely, more targeted content. For example, if a user clicks on an advertisement while browsing the web at home/office, the advertisers readily collect this information to display, later on, related advertisements on other devices belonging to the same user, along with other information that adds to the profile of each user that is linked to various devices.
SilverPush, Drawbridge, Adobe, and Flurry are known to be working on ways to pair a given user to specific devices.
Says CDT:
Cross-device tracking can also be performed through the use of ultrasonic inaudible sound beacons. Compared to probabilistic tracking through browser fingerprinting, the use of audio beacons is a more accurate way to track users across devices. The industry leader of cross-device tracking using audio beacons is SilverPush. When a user encounters a SilverPush advertiser on the web, the advertiser drops a cookie on the computer while also playing an ultrasonic audio through the use of the speakers on the computer or device. The inaudible code is recognized and received on the other smart device by the software development kit installed on it.
The Dangers
The use of this ultrasonic spectrum as a communication channel to ''pair'' devices for the aforementioned tracking purposes can have other repercussions too. For instance, in-depth technical analysis of the underlying technology exposes both implementation & design vulnerabilities, and therefore, critical security & privacy shortcomings.
If an attacker manages to get access to this network he can exploit uXDT (Ultrasonic Tracking) frameworks to reveal true IP addresses of users who browse the Internet through anonymity networks (e.g., VPNs or TOR).
FTC had also issued a warning about this:
Silverpush has represented that its audio beacons are not currently embedded into any television programming aimed at U.S. households. However, if your application enabled third parties to monitor television-viewing habits of U.S. consumers and your statements or user interface stated or implied otherwise, this could constitute a violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act.
As a precautionary measure, you can follow certain countermeasures that have been designed, implemented, and released publicly to overcome this threat. These include:
Using a mobile application that detects ultrasound beacons ''in the air''.Using a browser extension that is capable of functioning as a personal firewall by selectively filtering ultrasonic beacons. We'll cover this part in detail in an upcoming post.Use a VPN. For this, you should have complete control over your network. If your network features this capability, you can put your mobile device on a good VPN that blocks malvertising and tracking domains.Users of Chrome browser can make use of Silverdog Chrome Extension, which we will take a look at tomorrow.You can even try to jam an ultrasonic tracking signal with other ultrasonic sounds, but that will drive the pets in and around your home insane since the ultrasonic sound is audible to them.Although the use of technology has simplified our life much, the larger worrying factor about it remains its potential misuse for personal benefits!
Download and read this PDF guide which talks of Attacks & Countermeasures of Ultrasonic Cross-Device Tracking.
Stay safe, and alert '... always! The Internet is becoming worse by the day!
uBeacSec: Privacy and Security Aspects of the Ultrasound Ecosystem
Mon, 23 Apr 2018 14:13
Gimme some context!Nowadays users often possess a variety of electronic devices for communication and entertainment. In particular, smartphones are playing an increasingly central role in users' lives: Users carry them everywhere they go and often use them to control other devices. This trend provides incentives for the industry to tackle new challenges, such as cross-device authentication, and to develop new monetization schemes. A new technology based on ultrasounds has recently emerged to meet these demands. Ultrasound technology has a number of desirable features: it is easy to deploy, flexible, and inaudible by humans. This technology is already utilized in a number of different real-world applications, such as device pairing, proximity detection, and cross-device tracking.
What's the problem?For the first time, we examine the different facets of ultrasound-based technology. Initially, we discuss how it is already used in the real world, and subsequently examine this emerging technology from the privacy and security perspectives. In particular, we first observe that the lack of OS features results in violations of the principle of least privilege: an app that wants to use this technology currently needs to require full access to the device microphone. We then analyse real-world Android apps and find that tracking techniques based on ultrasounds suffer from a number of vulnerabilities and are susceptible to various attacks. For example, we show that ultrasound cross-device tracking deployments can be abused to perform stealthy deanonymization attacks (e.g., to unmask users who browse the Internet through anonymity networks such as Tor), to inject fake or spoofed audio beacons, and to leak a user's private information.
Where do we go from here?Based on our findings, we introduce several defense mechanisms. We first propose and implement immediately deployable defenses that empower practitioners, researchers, and everyday users to protect their privacy. In particular, we introduce a browser extension and an Android permission that enable the user to selectively suppress frequencies falling within the ultrasonic spectrum. We then argue for the standardization of ultrasound beacons, and we envision a flexible OS-level API that addresses both the effortless deployment of ultrasound-enabled applications, and the prevention of existing privacy and security problems.
That Game on Your Phone May Be Tracking What You're Watching on TV - The New York Times
Mon, 23 Apr 2018 14:08
At first glance, the gaming apps '-- with names like ''Pool 3D,'' ''Beer Pong: Trickshot'' and ''Real Bowling Strike 10 Pin'' '-- seem innocuous. One called ''Honey Quest'' features Jumbo, an animated bear.
Yet these apps, once downloaded onto a smartphone, have the ability to keep tabs on the viewing habits of their users '-- some of whom may be children '-- even when the games aren't being played.
It is yet another example of how companies, using devices that many people feel they can't do without, are documenting how audiences in a rapidly changing entertainment landscape are viewing television and commercials.
The apps use software from Alphonso, a start-up that collects TV-viewing data for advertisers. Using a smartphone's microphone, Alphonso's software can detail what people watch by identifying audio signals in TV ads and shows, sometimes even matching that information with the places people visit and the movies they see. The information can then be used to target ads more precisely and to try to analyze things like which ads prompted a person to go to a car dealership.
More than 250 games that use Alphonso software are available in the Google Play store; some are also available in Apple's app store.
Some of the tracking is taking place through gaming apps that do not otherwise involve a smartphone's microphone, including some apps that are geared toward children. The software can also detect sounds even when a phone is in a pocket if the apps are running in the background.
Alphonso said that its software, which does not record human speech, is clearly explained in app descriptions and privacy policies and that the company cannot gain access to users' microphones and locations unless they agree.
''The consumer is opting in knowingly and can opt out any time,'' Ashish Chordia, Alphonso's chief executive, said, adding that the company's disclosures comply with Federal Trade Commission guidelines. The company also provides opt-out instructions on its website.
Alphonso declined to say how many people it is collecting data from, and Mr. Chordia said that he could not disclose the names of the roughly 1,000 games and the messaging and social apps with Alphonso software because a rival was trying to hurt its relationships with developers. (The New York Times identified many of the apps in question by searching ''Alphonso automated'' and ''Alphonso software'' in the Google Play store.)
Mr. Chordia also said that Alphonso did not approve of its software being used in apps meant for children. But it was, as of earlier this month, integrated in more than a dozen games like ''Teeth Fixed'' and ''Zap Balloons'' from KLAP Edutainment in India, which describes itself as ''primarily focusing on offering educational games for kids and students.''
Alphonso is one of several young companies using new technologies to enter living rooms in search of fresh information to sell to marketers. For all the talk of digital disruption in the ad world, television still attracts almost $70 billion in annual spending in the United States, and advertisers will gladly pay to amplify and analyze the effectiveness of that spending.
An Android screenshot of Teeth Fixed. The gaming app uses software from Alphonso, a start-up that collects TV-viewing data for advertisers.The spread of these technologies, combined with the proliferation of internet-connected TVs and tools that can identify video content through pixels and audio snippets, has resulted in some questionable practices.
Last year, the trade commission issued a warning to a dozen developers who had installed a piece of software known as Silverpush onto apps with the goal of using device microphones to listen for audio signals that humans could not hear to log what they watched on TV. This year, Vizio agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle charges that it was collecting and selling viewing data from millions of internet-connected televisions without the knowledge or consent of the sets' owners.
Companies gathering such data, especially through games, need to make their business practices clear to consumers ''because it's so inherently unexpected and surprising,'' said Justin Brookman, the director of consumer privacy and technology policy at the advocacy group Consumers Union, and a former policy director at the trade commission who worked on the Silverpush case.
''When you see 'permission for microphone access for ads,' it may not be clear to a user that, Oh, this means it's going to be listening to what I do all the time to see if I'm watching 'Monday Night Football,''' Mr. Brookman said. ''They need to go above and beyond and be careful to make sure consumers know what's going on.''
Through its software, Alphonso can follow the ads that people see in friends' homes and elsewhere. The company has also worked with movie studios to figure out theater-viewing habits, Mr. Chordia, Alphonso's chief executive, said. Smartphone apps that are running Alphonso's software, even if they are not actively in use, can detect movies based on film snippets provided by the studios ahead of time.
''A lot of the folks will go and turn off their phone, but a small portion of people don't and put it in their pocket,'' Mr. Chordia said. ''In those cases, we are able to pick up in a small sample who is watching the show or the movie.'' Mr. Chordia said that Alphonso has a deal with the music-listening app Shazam, which has microphone access on many phones. Alphonso is able to provide the snippets it picks up to Shazam, he said, which can use its own content-recognition technology to identify users and then sell that information to Alphonso.
Shazam, which Apple recently agreed to buy, declined to comment about Alphonso.
Founded in 2013, Alphonso initially focused on working with apps to capitalize on ads through so-called second-screen viewing, as people increasingly turned their attention to smartphones and tablets during TV breaks. Now, the company has broadened its focus to gathering troves of viewing data from companies like TiVo and directly from TVs and streaming devices through deals with manufacturers.
The disparate viewing information is tied to IP addresses, which can be matched to characteristics like age, gender, income and more through big data brokers like Experian without using personally identifiable information like names and addresses.
Still, the connection between microphones and ads is a sticky one. Americans are both inviting internet-connected speakers from Amazon and Google into their homes in droves while expressing anxiety that companies are secretly listening to them and then using that information in unsettling ways, like eerily relevant ads. (Facebook has tried, and failed, to quash that theory many times.)
''We have to be really careful as we have more devices capturing more information in living rooms and bedrooms and on the street and in other people's homes that the public is not blindsided and surprised by things,'' said Dave Morgan, the founder and chief executive of Simulmedia, which works with advertisers on targeted TV ads. ''It's not what's legal. It is what's not creepy.''
Alphonso's apps and its relationship with Shazam show that there can be a connection between what our phones may hear and the ads that appear on a website or social media feed in the next few hours.
On the other hand, many people have had issues recognizing audio through apps like Shazam if there is too much background noise, so it's not clear how much information Alphonso's apps can pick up on a daily basis.
'''It's not normally, I don't think, going to be expected that an application is going to be listening for what you're watching,'' Mr. Brookman said. ''But you're not necessarily expecting your TV to be watching what you're doing either.''
Email Sapna Maheshwari at or follow her on Twitter: @sapna.
Niraj Chokshi contributed reporting.
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Is Your Phone Spying On You to Serve Relevant Ads? - ChartLocal
Mon, 23 Apr 2018 14:06
Relevance is key in marketing today. But, is your smartphone spying on you to get the marketing data?
There is a tech rumor that refuses to die. It is the one that says Facebook uses your smartphone microphone to listen to you and those around you, then serves you ads that are relevant to what you were talking about. You've had it happen. You and a friend are talking about the neighbor's cat and within minutes, you see a PetSmart' or Lil Caesars® cat food ad on your phone. Creepy right?
Or maybe you and the spouse were discussing vacation time and the next thing you know, a Carnival® Cruise ship drifts across your iPad or tablet screen. Coincidence? Facebook says, yes.
Last year, in a statement, Facebook claimed explicitly that they do not eavesdrop: ''Facebook does not use your phone's microphone for ads or news feed stories. Some recent articles have suggested that we must be listening to people's conversations in order to show them relevant ads. This is not true. We show ads based on people's interests and other profile information '' not what you're talking out loud about.''
So, why do we see those ads for things we just talked about? Welcome to the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, otherwise known as frequency illusion or recency illusion. It's like buying a car you never saw much on the road, but now you have one, it seems everyone is driving one.
Facebook of course, does use your microphone, with your express permission, for things like recording videos or Facebook Live, but again recently denied ever using it for listening in while you are unaware.
That may not be the case however, with all apps. The New York Times recently reported on apps using Alphonso software (over 250 apps available on Google Play and the App Store) as the software does indeed use your smartphone microphone. Not technically to listen to what you say, but it listens for audio cues from television ads in order to track your viewing behavior.
This information is very valuable in the ''programmatic'' world we live in and can be sold back to advertisers looking to better target their messages to the right audience. You can, and should check your phone settings and microphone permissions regularly to make sure Big Brother is not, in fact, listening. Alphonso Software can even work in your pocket or purse says the New York Times article, so stowing it is not an option.
The FTC is aware of this and other ''listening'' software and takes a pretty dim view of its proliferation. In 2016 they warned app developers using Silverpush's software that they could be in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act. Then in early 2017 they actually fined TV maker Visio' $2.2 million for collecting viewing data from 11 million TV sets without consumer consent. So apparently, the real Big Brother is watching and trying to keep us all safe from snooping apps, creepy invasive software and phones that listen to us '... now why did I just get a Facebook ad for George Orwell's 1984 book on Amazon®? '... I swear '... Somebody is listening to me!
All the Ways Your Smartphone and Its Apps Can Track You
Mon, 23 Apr 2018 14:01
Illustration: Chelsea Beck/GMGThe little pocket supercomputers we all constantly carry around with us aren't just supplying us with useful information, they're also collecting a host of data on us and our habits, all of the time. Here's a guide to what gets collected by your smartphone and the apps running on it, and how you can take back some control.
Sensors, Android, and iOSYour smartphone is packed with sensors, monitoring where you are in the world, how fast you're moving through space, which way up you're holding your phone, and more. All of this data is used by apps to improve the user experience'--so making sure your phone apps switch between landscape and portrait modes, and keeping you on the right route for your commute'--but how much of this data is logged and stored is largely up to the choices of the handset manufacturer.
In recent months OnePlus has been at the center of a privacy kerfuffle over the way it was logging personally identifiable information (like device IDs) and transmitting that data back to OnePlus's home base, ostensibly to improve the device's user experience. OnePlus has since dialed back some of that data collection, and promises to only use the data it gathers internally, but it shows just how much data your smartphone can reveal, and how tricky it can be to know what's being collected and what isn't.
Google's privacy policy, which affects Android among other services, is here: You can see that as soon as you sign into Android with your Google account, your device gets linked to your Google credentials, and Google starts logging data such as the length and type of your phone calls, your phone's location, the device you're using, and more.
You can also find Apple's privacy policy online. While a lot of the data collected is the same, Apple differs from Google by making much of it anonymized or kept on your iPhone (and not sent back to Apple)'--so while your location can be tracked on iOS, for example, Apple itself doesn't know where you are, only your phone does.
Face ID is another good example of how Apple differentiates itself on privacy. The Face ID sensors map and know everything about your face, but that information is then stored privately and securely on your phone'--it isn't transferred back to Apple or iCloud, making it very difficult for anyone to get a copy of your face.
However, some of this data is shared with third-party apps. For example, some app might want to stick an AR filter on your face. Apple requires that any app requesting such face-scanning features must present a privacy policy to the user.
Image: AppleSmartphone appsOn top of the basic information collected by your smartphone and beamed back (or not beamed back) to the company that made your handset, there's all the information collected by the apps you run too'--the data that gets recorded and saved is down to an individual app's privacy policies and the permissions you give it.
If you want to know exactly what an app is allowed to track on your Android phone, open the Settings app then go to Apps & notifications, choose an app, and select Permissions. Over on iOS, launch the Settings app then pick an app to see the permissions it has. Most of these permissions can be revoked with a toggle switch on both Android and iOS.
Image: ScreenshotThat tells you the specifics of the data an app can track on your phone, but to know exactly how that data is being used, you need to dig down into that app's terms and conditions of use and privacy policy, if the app even has one. Google recently said it would be cracking down on apps without user data policies, but you're still largely at the mercy of app developers in terms of how your data gets used.
For example, you can read the Airbnb privacy policy here. Using the app on your phone? Airbnb can track your location, get information about the device you're using, and log the times you use the app. This data is then used for everything from showing you Airbnb venues near your current location, to better targeting listings to you.
Even when you think you know what's being tracked, it's not always clear cut: Developer Felix Krause recently revealed how granting an app permission to see photos on your device also lets that app see where you've been, because all of your pictures have geotags on them by default. Even if you're blocking an app from tracking your location, it can probably still work out where you live and where you go on holiday most often through your stored pictures. Of course, whether the app actually will harvest this data for whatever purpose is again up to the developer.
Just when you think you know what an app is and isn't tracking, you find out that Uber was secretly recording iPhone screen activity, supposedly to improve functionality with the Apple Watch app. If you want to take Uber's word for it, the feature was used to do the job of map rendering on the phone before transferring it to the wearable, but it's another example of just how in the dark end users can be.
Image: ScreenshotsHead to the web in your mobile browser of choice and all the data we've previously talked about being collected online comes into play again here'--your searches, the device you're on, where in the world you are, and so on. There are two layers to the tracking: the data tracked by your browser app, and the data tracked by the sites you visit.
Again, that's down to the apps and the services you're choosing to use. Google Chrome, you might not be surprised to know, logs a ton of data, including your browsing history and thumbnails of the sites you visit, and of course if you sign in with Google too then all of your activity feeds back into your Google profile by default. Safari tracks a lot of the same data as well, though in line with Apple's policies it keeps much of it saved locally on the device, and now includes tracking blocking tools for stopping advertisers from following your browsing behavior across the web.
Taking back controlAs you can probably tell, getting a handle on exactly what data is collected, and then how that data might be used or passed on to third-parties, isn't easy'--these policies are couched in ambiguity to give the manufacturers plenty of leeway. Samsung, for instance, as per its policy, might collect GPS information from your phone, might pass your voice searches on to a third party for speech-to-text conversions, and might share all this data with business partners who might use it to advertise to you.
Image: ScreenshotsThat's a lot of mights and maybes. Ultimately, if you don't like the deal, you don't use the phone. But there are certain settings on your handset you can use to block devices and individual apps from harvesting as much data as they'd perhaps like to.
Location tracking is a big one'--very valuable to both end users and advertisers alike. On (stock) Android you can disable location tracking on the device as a whole by opening Settings, then tapping Security & location and Location, and then turning tracking off. On iOS, open Settings, then go to Privacy and Location services, and disable the feature. From the same menus you can turn off or limit location tracking on an app-by-app basis.
We've already spoken about editing individual app permissions, either through the Apps & permissions menu in Android Settings, or by tapping on an app name in iOS Settings. Most of these permissions are self-explanatory, such as access to your calendars and contacts, but you can also control whether or not apps can pull data from the motion sensors in your phone (for counting steps and so on)'--this is labelled Body sensors in Android and Motion & Fitness in iOS.
As far as Google is concerned, you've got a whole host of options to manage, covering Google's apps on Android, iOS, and everywhere else. If you open up your Google account page on the web, then pick Personal info & privacy, it's possible to change the way data is collected (via Go to Activity Controls) or erase some of the data Google already has on you (via Go to My Activity). For instance, you can see and erase all the voice searches that you've run through Google Assistant on your phone.
Image: ScreenshotIndividual apps may have specific settings and privacy options you can take advantage of, though most won't, and few app developers will be as interested in collecting data about you as Google. Facebook is one exception, and we've written before about how Facebook follows you across your devices and how you can limit this to some extent.
In the end your smartphone use is helping to build up a picture of who you are and the kind of advertising you're interested in for companies like Google, Facebook, and others'--even if an app isn't part of a massive advertising network, it may well sell its data to one. Apple stands apart in this regard, keeping the data it tracks for its own use and largely on a single device, though of course the apps that run on iOS have more freedom to do what they want.
Even if you're reasonably content to put up with some monitoring on Android and iOS, it's important to know what kind of data you're giving up every time you switch your smartphone on. Whether it means you uninstall a few social media tools, or disable location tracking for a few apps, it gives you some semblance of control over your privacy.
This story was produced with support from the Mozilla Foundation as part of its mission to educate individuals about their security and privacy on the internet.
Amazon Echo Dot and Alexa for kids
Thu, 26 Apr 2018 13:54
Todd Haselton | CNBC
The Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition
Amazon is launching a new Echo Dot Kids Edition and a special version of its voice assistant that's aimed at getting 5-to-12-year-olds used to using Alexa earlier in life.
The changes to Alexa are particularly compelling.
Echo Dot Kids EditionThe Echo Dot Kids Edition looks the same as a regular Dot but features a colorful case and comes with a two-year warranty that lets you replace it at no cost if the unit is damaged.
You also get a year of FreeTime Unlimited (which costs $2.99/month otherwise) that lets parents schedule when the Echo can be used and when it can't, and provides access to more than 300 kid-friendly Audible books, TV shows and more. More on that in a bit.
It launches on May 9 for $79.99 '-- that's $30 more than the regular Echo Dot '-- and will be available in red, green and blue. You can preorder one beginning Wednesday.
Alexa for KidsAmazon's smart voice assistant, Alexa, is also being tweaked for children. It's technically called "FreeTime on Alexa," but I'm calling it "Alexa for kids." It's a clear effort by Amazon to get kids using its voice assistant instead of the Google Assistant or Apple's Siri.
It's similar to the Alexa you're used to, but replies differently and delivers child-friendly content.
If you ask a regular Echo how many planets are in the solar system, for example, it will say eight. If you ask the kid-friendly version, it'll name every planet and explain that Pluto is now considered only a dwarf planet.
With FreeTime, mentioned above, your kids can access more than 300 children's books from Audible, listen to family radio stations from iHeart Radio and play trivia games from partners including Disney and National Geographic.
Your children won't be able to use Alexa for Kids to shop with their voice or to place phone calls outside of the house (although it still works as an in-home intercom). Nor will they be able to link with other apps, such as Uber or Spotify.
Also, following criticism that Alexa might be making kids rude, Amazon has added a "positive reinforcement" feature for politeness. If your child says "please" or "thank you," for example, Alexa will thank them for being polite.
There are other features that will cater to children, too, such as an alarm clock with a SpongeBob Squarepants character waking them up. Parents can use the Alexa app on their phone to see all the questions their kids have asked Alexa, or see all of the music and books they've requested and read.
The kid-friendly version of Alexa ships by default on the Echo Dot Kids Edition but can be activated on an Echo, Echo Dot or Echo Plus that's already in your home.
Do kids really need Alexa?Amazon wants this to be a safer way for kids to use Alexa without them accidentally buying goods on their parents' credit cards or accessing content that's not suitable for children. I get that, and I think there's room for this sort of product if a parent wants their kids to play with it instead of a regular Echo.
On the other hand, it seems a bit strange to me to cater a smart voice assistant to kids so young, especially as society becomes more concerned '-- or at least aware of '-- privacy.
I asked Amazon if Alexa for kids will allow the company to create a profile of a child, and if that would allow it to collect valuable data about what a child likes and doesn't like long before they're of an age to be a full-fledged Amazon customer.
The company said that it doesn't think kids will like the same things 10 years after using Alexa for kids, so it doesn't plan to gather individual data. Still, questions and requests to Alexa are sent to Amazon in order for the company to answer them.
It's a compelling '-- if not a bit concerning '-- strategy, and one that will get kids used to (or even addicted) to Amazon's Alexa instead of Apple Siri or Google Assistant.
Stop Egypt's Sweeping Ridesharing Surveillance Bill | Electronic Frontier Foundation
Wed, 25 Apr 2018 13:28
The Egyptian government is currently debating a bill which would compel all ride-sharing companies to store any Egyptian user data within Egypt. It would also create a system that would let the authorities have real-time access to their passenger and trip information. If passed, companies such as Uber and its Dubai-based competitor Careem would be forced to grant unfettered direct access to their databases to unspecified security authorities. Such a sweeping surveillance measure is particularly ripe for abuse in a country known for its human rights violations, including an attempts to use surveillance against civil society. The bill is expected to pass a final vote before Egypt's House on May 14th or 15th.
Article 10 of the bill requires companies to relocate their servers containing all Egyptian users' information to within the borders of the Arab Republic of Egypt. Compelled data localization has frequently served as an excuse for enhancing a state's ability to spy on its citizens.
Even more troubling, article 9 of the bill forces these same ride-sharing companies to electronically link their local servers directly to unspecified authorities, from police to intelligence agencies. Direct access to a server would provide the Egyptian government unrestricted, real-time access to data on all riders, drivers, and trips. Under this provision, the companies themselves would have no ability to monitor the government's use of their network data.
Effective computer security is hard, and no system will be free of bugs and errors. As the volume of ride-sharing usage increases, risks to the security and privacy of ridesharing databases increase as well. Careem just admitted on April 23rd that its databases had been breached earlier this year. The bill's demand to grant the Egyptian government unrestricted server access greatly increases the risk of accidental catastrophic data breaches, which would compromise the personal data of millions of innocent individuals. Careem and Uber must focus on strengthening the security of their databases instead of granting external authorities unfettered access to their servers.
Direct access to the databases of any company without adequate legal safeguards undermines the privacy and security of innocent individuals, and is therefore incompatible with international human rights obligations. For any surveillance measure to be legal under international human rights standards, it must be prescribed by law. It must be ''necessary'' to achieve a legitimate aim and ''proportionate'' to the desired aim. These requirements are vital in ensuring that the government does not adopt surveillance measures which threaten the foundations of a democratic society.
The European Court of Human Rights, in Zakharov v. Russia, made clear that direct access to servers is prone to abuse:
''...a system which enables the secret services and the police to intercept directly the communications of each and every citizen without requiring them to show an interception authorisation to the communications service provider, or to anyone else, is particularly prone to abuse.''
Moreover, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has also discussed the importance of having an independent authorization prior to government access to electronic data. In Tele2 Sverige AB v. Post, held:
''it is essential that access of the competent national authorities to retained data should, as a general rule, (...) be subject to a prior review carried out either by a court or by an independent administrative body, and that the decision of that court or body should be made following a reasoned request by those authorities submitted...''.
Unrestricted direct access to the data of innocent individuals using ridesharing apps, by its very nature, eradicates any consideration of proportionality and due process. Egypt must turn back from the dead-end path of unrestricted access, and uphold its international human rights obligations. Sensitive data demands strong legal protections, not an all-access pass. Hailing a rideshare should never include a blanket access for your government to follow you. We hope Egypt's House of Representatives rejects the bill.
Nokia Email App and Nokia Messaging Service Announcement (November - Microsoft Community
Wed, 25 Apr 2018 14:26
Hi Everyone,
During November 2014, we'll be discontinuing the Nokia Messaging Service for email. This service is used by the email app that comes with certain Nokia Symbian, Asha, and Series 40 phones to give you access to your email accounts.
Depending on which Nokia phone you use, your ability to send, receive and read email from the pre-installed email app may be affected.
We've begun sending service notifications to those of you affected by this discontination. You will receive an email or see a message inside the email app that informs you of the discontinuation and the specific date it will occur. We'll also include a link to a website that describes the steps you can take to continue using email on your Nokia phone.
The discontinuation date and actions you may need to take vary from device to device. If you didn't receive our service notification visit and select the section relevant to your Nokia phone.
Lastly, we invite you to use this discussion thread to share any issues with the information we've provided, and to assist one another during this transition.
Thank You,
Microsoft Mobile Team
chat interface for email opensource - Google Search
Wed, 25 Apr 2018 21:22
About 514,000 results
Free, open source alternatives to Slack for team chat | Opensource ... Aug 17, 2017 ... What tools work best for you depends a bit on your situation, but might include anything from mailing lists for email communication, Git or Subversion for version control, a wiki or Etherpad .... Chat is designed for you to download and run on-premise with a client interface for either desktop or mobile access. Zulip Zulip combines the immediacy of real-time chat with an email threading model. With Zulip, you can catch up on important conversations while ignoring irrelevant ones. The Best Open Source and Free Live Chat Software - Capterra Blog Oct 12, 2017 ... We've selected seven free and open source live chat software solutions (presented in alphabetical order) based on the following criteria: ... paste the widget code to your site, send the code to the developer or use Google tag manager to install; Simple, uncluttered user interface; No credit card required to ... Mattermost Private Cloud Messaging Open source, private cloud Slack-alternative, Workplace messaging for web, PCs and phones. MIT-licensed. Hundreds of contributors. 14 languages. Secure, configurable, and scalable from teams to the enterprise. 6 Open Source Messaging Apps More Secure Than Skype Jul 22, 2015 ... Skype has never been the most safe or secure communication protocol, and after Microsoft took over in 2011, concerns over privacy began to pile up. Delta Chat: The messenger Delta Chat. The messenger with the broadest audience in the world. Free, independent, email compatible. Independent. There is no Delta Chat server. The app only uses your email server. Fast. Push messages in seconds. Rapid interface. Powerful. Unlimited chats, images, videos, audio messages and more. Multi-client ... Searches related to chat interface for email open source
How to treat social media addiction - The Washington Post
Thu, 26 Apr 2018 13:28
By Mark Griffiths and Daria Kuss By Mark Griffiths and Daria Kuss April 25 at 1:04 PM
Students partake in a group activity at the National Center for Youth Internet Addiction Treatment, South Korea. (Jun Michael Park/The Washington Post)Mark Griffiths and Daria Kuss are psychologists at Nottingham Trent University in the U.K. They specialize in studying the impact of technology and social media on cognitive and social behavior.
NOTTINGHAM, England '-- Are you addicted to social media? Ask yourself these six simple questions:
Do you spend a lot of time, when you're not online, thinking about social media or planning to use social media? Do you feel urges to use social media more and more over time? Do you use social media to forget about personal problems? Do you often try to reduce your use of social media, without success? Do you become restless or troubled if you are unable to use social media? Do you use social media so much that it has had a negative impact on your job, relationship or studies? If you answered ''yes'' to a few of these questions, it's likely that you are a fairly standard, habitual social media user. Like most of us, you would probably benefit from a ''digital detox,'' a strategy to force you to reduce the amount of time spent on social media. This can be achieved through a few basic steps such as turning off the sound function on your phone, only allowing yourself to check your phone every hour or so, and dedicating periods in the day as self-imposed no-screen time.
However, if you answered ''yes'' to most or all of these questions, then you may have or be developing an actual addiction to using social media. Like any psychological disorder or condition, the only way to confirm this is through a formal diagnosis from a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist.
Back in 2011, we were the first academics to systematically review the scientific literature on excessive social media use. We found that for a small minority of individuals, social media had a significant detrimental effect on many aspects of life including relationships, work and academic achievement. We argued that such signs are indicative of addiction similar to what people experience with alcohol or drugs.
Years later, ''smartphone addiction'' and ''screen addiction'' '-- closely tied to social media addiction '-- have become fairly common concepts. In a 2017 paper, we revisited the latest research on the topic and showed that social media use for a minority of individuals is associated with a number of other psychological problems as well, including anxiety, depression, loneliness and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
While a relatively small number of people are diagnosed as addicted, the negative impact of social media is apparent whether it's deemed clinical addiction or not. Most people's social media use is habitual enough that it spills over into other areas of their lives. It results in behavior that is problematic and dangerous, such as checking social media while driving.
While the majority of our behaviors around social media may be annoying rather than dangerous, they are nonetheless indicative of a societal problem. Steps need to be taken now, while the number of social media addicts is still small. We shouldn't wait to see if it becomes an epidemic.
Steps we should take
Governments and organizations can help minimize and, in some cases, prohibit the use of mobile devices. Some such steps '-- such as banning smartphone use while driving '-- are in place in many countries already. But what about daily practices that impact our mental health, even if they don't place us in the way of direct bodily harm?
Given the loss of productivity in both the workplace and educational settings, employers, schools and colleges need better policies to ensure that people are focused on their required tasks and activities. Many schools ban the use of smartphones in the classroom. Prohibition in other contexts such as workplace settings (where practical) is also justified.
Some restaurants are now providing discounts to customers who refrain from using their smartphones during a meal. More positive reinforcement strategies like these may well be the way forward in trying to decrease time spent checking social media and to increase time spent engaging in real life.
Still, more digital literacy and awareness of the effects of excessive social media use need to be embedded in our work and educational institutions. More controversially, social media operators like Facebook could start using their behavioral data to identify excessive users and provide strategies to limit time spent on their products. This is already being used in the online gambling industry. Why can't we apply it to social networking sites as well?
For the small number of individuals who are genuinely addicted to social media, treatment is warranted but unlikely to be funded by medical insurance or national health services because the disorder hasn't been formally recognized. Consequently, those who need treatment are likely to need the services of specialist treatment centers such as reSTART, a facility outside Seattle that aids young people addicted to the Internet, video games, social media and more.
The goal of treatment for this type of addiction, unlike for many other addictions, should be controlled use rather than abstinence. In the connected world we live in, it is simply not feasible to prohibit someone from accessing all smart devices. The most successful type of treatment for online addictions appears to be traditional cognitive behavioral therapy, although there are relatively few published studies examining its efficacy in relation to social media addiction. We need more research, so that we can develop more and better solutions to what is likely to be a growing problem.
There is no magic bullet. Individuals are ultimately responsible for their own social media use. But policymakers, social media operators, employers, researchers, health care providers and educational establishments all need to play their part in reducing excessive use of social media, the ''opiate for the masses.''
This was produced by The WorldPost , a partnership of the Berggruen Institute and The Washington Post.
SF Poop
San Francisco electric scooters are being vandalized and pooped on - INSIDER
Wed, 25 Apr 2018 19:15
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
San Francisco residents are vandalizing electric scooters and in one case, pooping on them.That's gross.The city has received numerous complaints about the scooters in recent weeks and has already begun impounding scooters parked illegally. Some activist residents of San Francisco are apparently so outraged by the sight of electric scooters on city streets that they've resorted to extreme measures, including literally pooping on them.
Motherboard reported Tuesday that electric scooters around San Francisco have become targets of vandalization. Scooters have been seen with broken wiring, with stickers covering the QR codes that allow riders to unlock them, thrown into trashcans and, yes, even pooped on.
The scatological scooter sabotage comes as three separate startups '-- Bird, LimeBikes, and Spin '-- all recently began placing the two-wheeled vehicles throughout the city. The services all work similarly and bill themselves as environmentally friendly transportation alternatives.
Using a smartphone app, city residents can reserve a nearby scooter, ride around on it for a small fee, and, at the end of the journey, leave the scooter anywhere to be claimed by the next rider. Unlike many bike-sharing programs, the scooters don't need to be attached to a special dock, so riders can just hop off and walk away.
San Francisco officials say they have received numerous complaints about the scooters, claiming the scooters routinely block sidewalks and building entrances, cause people to trip, and make sidewalks less accessible to children and people in wheelchairs. Residents have also reported seeing riders on sidewalks, which is illegal.
In response to increased public pressure and complaints, the San Francisco City Attorney sent the scooter startups cease-and-desist letters last week, calling scooters public nuisances and a public safety hazard and has begun impounding scooters that are seen illegally parked. The city voted last week to require scooters companies to apply for a permit before operating in the city.
More: Scooters San Francisco Powered By Sailthru
Joy Reid
Joy Reid Claims Homophobic Posts From Her Blog Were 'Fabricated' | Mediaite
Tue, 24 Apr 2018 12:27
Mediaite has obtained a series of homophobic posts from Joy Ann Reid's old blog that she denies were actually written by her.
In an exclusive statement to Mediaite, the MSNBC host claims these posts from The Reid Report '-- which include defending homophobia, gay jokes, and the outright mocking of gay people and homosexuality '-- were somehow put in by an ''external party'' that ''manipulated material from my now-defunct blog.''
While Reid apologized in December for writing homophobic content on a blog she ran long before her days as an icon of the #Resistance movement, she claims these new posts opposing gay marriage and cringing ''at the sight of two men kissing'' were part of a ''fabricated'' outside effort to paint her as ''offensive and hateful.''
These anti-gay articles from The Reid Report, a site that pre-dated Reid's former MSNBC show of the same name, were originally shared on Twitter by user Jamie_Maz who found them using the Wayback Machine '-- an Internet archiving service that takes periodic screenshots of popular web pages to preserve them.
While the amateur sleuth provided Mediaite with legitimate links to all of the posts they tweeted screenshots of, neither the actual defunct site nor its archived pages are currently accessible, as their Wayback Machine links mysteriously disappeared in December after Mediaite's initial story on Reid's homophobic comments about Florida Congressman Charlie Crist was published. The Wayback Machine did not respond to an inquiry regarding the removal of Reid's blog.
Reid's statement to Mediaite claims that these allegedly hacked posts do ''not represent the original entries'' on her site:
''In December I learned that an unknown, external party accessed and manipulated material from my now-defunct blog, The Reid Report, to include offensive and hateful references that are fabricated and run counter to my personal beliefs and ideology.
I began working with a cyber-security expert who first identified the unauthorized activity, and we notified federal law enforcement officials of the breach. The manipulated material seems to be part of an effort to taint my character with false information by distorting a blog that ended a decade ago.
Now that the site has been compromised I can state unequivocally that it does not represent the original entries. I hope that whoever corrupted the site recognizes the pain they have caused, not just to me, but to my family and communities that I care deeply about: LGBTQ, immigrants, people of color and other marginalized groups.''
It is worth noting, however, that Reid does admit these posts came from her blog '-- rather than alleging they are doctored images posted to Twitter '-- with the caveat that they were added by nefarious hackers after she had the site shut down. It's unclear when the nefarious hackers would have hacked her site and added the controversial content, since it has been defunct for years and still is. More importantly, NBC could or would not specify exactly which posts Reid is claiming were doctored.
In one of these newly found Reid Report articles, the author defends former NBA star Tim Hardaway's aggressively anti-gay comments by saying ''most straight people cringe at the sight of two men kissing'':
''Keeping it real '... most straight men feel exactly the same way, and would have the exact same reaction to the idea of stripping naked in a sweaty locker room in close quarters with a gay teammate. Most straight people cringe at the sight of two men kissing'... Most straight people had a hard time being convinced to watch 'Broke Back Mountain.' (I admit that I couldn't go see the movie either, despite my sister's ringing endorsement, because I didn't want to watch the two male characters having sex.) Does that make me homophobic? Probably.''
The author continued by saying a part of ''straightness'' is viewing ''homosexual sex'' as ''gross,'' but added that ''the nature of political correctness'' means straight people can't say that publicly like Hardaway did.
In a similar post, the author defended Marine General Peter Pace after he condemned ''homosexual acts'' as ''immoral'' by suggesting his views are actually normal.
''Some people use the [word] 'immoral' when they really mean 'distasteful' '-- I think a lot of heterosexuals, especially men, find the idea of homosexual sex to be '... well '... gross, and they lump it in with immorality,'' wrote the author in a post dated to 2007. ''And then there are the concerns that adult gay men tend to be attracted to very young, post-pubescent types, bringing them 'into the lifestyle' in a way that many people consider to be immoral.''
The author continued by using the same argument that conservatives deploy against transgender activists today: ''Ditto with gay rights groups that seek to organize very young, impressionable teens who may have an inclination that they are gay.''
The author also casually wrote about the idea of manipulating genes to ensure that children would ''not be gay.'' The procedure was not explicitly condoned, but was instead presented as an ''interesting moral question.''
A 2006 Reid Report post included a compilation of the top five ''totally not gay celebrities of the year,'' which was a satirical attempt '-- albeit, a lazy one '-- at suggesting everyone on the list was secretly gay. Singer Clay Aiken and CNN pundit Anderson Cooper both made the list, which '-- if the publishing date is correct '-- was posted years before they had come-out publicly.
In another post dated to 2005, the author said Cooper is the ''gayest thing on TV'' and noted that they have it ''on good authority that Cooper is totally gay.'' He didn't come out publicly until 2012.
Other mentions on the list included the stars of Brokeback Mountain, the previously noted film that the author didn't see because ''two male characters having sex'' was ''too out there.''
The author also repeatedly advocated against gay marriage on the site by criticizing liberals deemed too far left on the issue. Cable news host Rachel Maddow, who is openly gay and now works with Reid at MSNBC, was a recurring target in these Reid Report posts.
''[Rick] Warren's views on gays are out of the mainstream. Perhaps Rachel Maddow'... and those at the left-most end of political spectrum wish it were so, but it is not,'' the author wrote in a post arguing against Democrats who were pushing for gay marriage to be part of the party's platform.
The author cited, in different post, a ''terrific'' article from Bob Ostertag '-- described as a ''pretty out there gay man'' '-- in which he said, ''How is that queers became the odd ones out at such a momentous turning point in history? By pushing an agenda of stupid issues like gay marriage.''
These advocacy posts lined-up with the author's own views, as one post states ''I'm not even in favor of gay marriage'' and a second adds ''I'm not a gay marriage proponent.''
Another article voiced disdain toward activists who wanted a Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage, which was the vehicle ultimately used to push the measure into law.
''Why are interest groups on the left and right flogging the justices of the peace over gay marriage?'' The author asked, before suggesting they should instead focus on learning if Supreme Court justices support ''private property'' rights.
Other comments include making gay jokes about dozens of figures in politics, media, and entertainment. The following list includes the names of people the author either accused of being gay '-- satirically or not '-- or made a gay joke about, aside from the previously mentioned Aiken and Cooper:
Supreme Court Justice John Roberts and his son, conservative pundit Michelle Malkin's son, Republican consultant Karl Rove, actor Tom Cruise, singer Rob Thomas, Fox News host Sean Hannity, disgraced ex-lawmaker Mark Foley, late actor Heath Ledger, former vice president Dick Cheney, former president George W. Bush, talk show icon Oprah Winfrey, news personality Gayle King, Senator John McCain, boxer Laila Ali, artist Queen Latifah, former White House counsel Harriet Miers, comedian Eddie Murphy, Congressman Charlie Crist, actor Jake Gyllenhaal, former TV host Keith Olbermann, lawmaker-turned-CNN pundit Rick Santorum, and Mediaite's own Dan Abrams.
The author even lobbed a gay joke at Reid's now-MSNBC colleague Chris Matthews, who was accused of ''loving'' Bush in the same sexual way Saudi Prince Abdullah was accused of loving the former president.
As for the posts reported in December that Mediaite can confirm Reid wrote, the AM Joy host said her gay jokes about former Republican Charlie Crist were intended to highlight the GOP's hypocrisy on the issue, as she suggested Crist himself was gay while opposing gay marriage.
In her December statement, she apologized to Crist, who is not actually gay, and admitted her comments were ''insensitive, tone deaf and dumb.''
''I deeply apologize to Congressman Crist, who was the target of my thoughtlessness,'' Reid said. ''My critique of anti-LGBT positions he once held but has since abandoned was legitimate in my view. My means of critiquing were not.''
She continued by admitting she is ''disappointed'' and apologized ''to those who also are disappointed in me.''
''Life can be humbling. It often is. But I hope that you know where my heart is, and that I will always strive to use my words for good. I know better and I will do better,'' Reid concluded.
Other controversial comments Reid has made on LGBTQ issues include the pundit's 2017 tweetstorm against the supposedly ''volatile & vulnerable'' whistleblower Chelsea Manning '-- a tirade that many deemed transphobic.
[images via screengrab]
Follow the author on Twitter (@calebecarma).
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The Evidence Is Not With Joy Reid - The Atlantic
Thu, 26 Apr 2018 11:52
A strange story about MSNBC host Joy Reid has been unfolding for a week. It began when a Twitter user with about 1,000 followers, @Jamie_Maz, dug up what appeared to be homophobic posts on Reid's defunct blog, the Reid Report. They were similar in nature to posts that Reid apologized for as ''insensitive'' back in December, after @Jamie_Maz brought those to light.
The new round of posts contain a lot of cliche gay jokes about Charlie Crist and others, concerns that ''adult gay men tend to be attracted to very young, post-pubescent types, bringing them 'into the lifestyle,''' and commentary like ''part of the intrinsic nature of 'straightness' is that the idea of homosexual sex is ... well ... gross ... even if you think that gay people are perfectly lovely individuals.''
The triumph of the gay-rights movement has been so complete and fast that it's easy to forget that 10 years ago'--in the same election that swept Barack Obama to the White House'--California voters passed a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Attitudes changed, the moral arc bent, and now, a lot fewer people disparage gay people like this than did in 2006. A liberal talk-show host would and should be embarrassed and ashamed by these posts popping up, but Reid apologized once, and could have done so again.
Instead, Reid released a statement to Mediaite saying that she'd been hacked and was not responsible for the posts. ''In December I learned that an unknown, external party accessed and manipulated material from my now-defunct blog, The Reid Report, to include offensive and hateful references that are fabricated and run counter to my personal beliefs and ideology,'' Reid said.
The posts had been dug up on the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine, which maintains copies of many pages on the web. When Reid said she'd been hacked, many jumped to the conclusion that it was the Wayback Machine that had been hacked. On its blog, the Internet Archive said that Reid's lawyers had contacted them about a possible hack, but that they had no indication that one had occurred.
''This past December, Reid's lawyers contacted us, asking to have archives of the blog ( taken down, stating that 'fraudulent' posts were 'inserted into legitimate content' in our archives of the blog,'' they wrote. ''Her attorneys stated that they didn't know if the alleged insertion happened on the original site or with our archives (the point at which the manipulation is to have occurred, according to Reid, is still unclear to us).''
On review, the Internet Archive ''found nothing to indicate tampering or hacking of the Wayback Machine versions.''
The Wayback Machine has been archiving posts for years and years, and in many instances, it re-crawls URLs. A blog post that went live in 2006 might have been indexed in 2007 and 2009 and 2011 and 2017. This is important because if Reid's blog was hacked to insert new posts with old dates, the copies in the Internet Archive's repository would have recent dates, even if they showed old time stamps on Reid's site.
It's not possible to view the Internet Archive's public stash of Reid blog posts because Reid's team recently inserted code into the site that prevents the Internet Archive from indexing it.
But the Internet Archive's Brewster Kahle confirmed to me that the Wayback Machine crawled Reid's site back in the 2000s'--and that there was nothing suspicious about the way the posts appeared in the archives.
''We saw [the blog posts] in the '00s soon after they were dated on the blog, and [they were] archived in normal course of operations,'' Kahle told me.
Furthermore, the Old Dominion computer scientist Michael Nelson scoured the other public records of Reid's site to see if he could find evidence for the screenshots that @Jamie_Maz posted. Even without precise URLs, which makes it much easier to look up the records, Nelson was able to identify five matches in the various archives from the screenshots.
There is a small caveat, which is that these other copies probably used the Wayback Machine's copies as their original source, even if they have stored them separately.
''Nonetheless,'' Nelson wrote, ''with multiple copies geographically and administratively dispersed throughout the globe, an adversary would have had to hack multiple web archives and alter their contents (cf., or have hacked the original site ( approximately 12 years ago for adulterated pages to have been hosted at all the different web archives.''
As he notes, it is possible that someone did this, but ''extraordinarily unlikely.''
Among the implausible factors is that for Reid's story to be correct, someone would have had to hack her blog back in the '00s, but no one, including Reid herself, noticed the invalid posts.
Why is this all happening now, when Reid is famous and one of the most prominent women of color on news television?
Related Stories Raiders of the Lost Web How Many Websites Are There? A Search for the Zombie Websites of 1995 It seems it really was due to the relentless digging of a single Twitter user, @Jamie_Maz. Reached via direct message, the user explained,''after her apology, I started looking through the posts again and found things that were problematic related to LGBTQ+ issues that were not related to Republican hypocrisy on gay marriage, which her apology cited as part of the explanation for what she wrote about Crist.''
Maz, who often tweets about archival finds and social justice, spent chunks of time in December and January reading through the posts, month by month, and screenshotting examples of what she found.
The Internet rots faster than anyone could have guessed. Almost every word written on the web gets flushed down the memory hole, sinking into obscurity; it's basically impossible to find any reference to the original Reid Report just using Google.
But, as Joy Reid is finding out, all it takes is one person to chisel electronic words into a more permanent form.
Is the Eurozone in a Dead End? | Global Research - Centre for Research on Globalization
Thu, 26 Apr 2018 14:43
It's remarkable that the Euro and the Eurozone currency grouping hasn't fallen apart until now. Greece could have done it in 2010 but it was avoided by extraordinary acts of the Euro governments and European Central Bank. Now those actions are coming back to haunt especially Germany who stands poised to become the ''sugar daddy'' of the debt-bloated southern Euro states such as Italy or Spain. This is one major reason that the anti-Brussels parties that triumphed in recent Italian elections'--5-Star and Lega, suddenly dropped talk about leaving the Euro. They are betting that Macron and Markel and their proposed new EU architecture will pull their debt chestnuts out of the fire at expense of German taxpayers. It's a timebomb ticking ever louder.
Ten years into the greatest financial meltdown in the history of finance, triggered by the USA sub-prime real estate bubble collapse in 2007, the Euro and its 19 member central banks are at a dangerous crossroad. It's clear from her recent address to the German Parliament thatChancellor Merkel intends to lure Germany into what she and Macron intend to become a ''transfer union.'' In plain English that would mean the strong surplus economies of Germany and northern Europe including Holland, would have to ''transfer'' hundreds of billions of Euros to subsidize the deficit countries of Italy, Spain and southern Europe. The ultimate winner would be the shaky French and Southern Eurozone banks. It's not surprising that Merkel, a close ally of former banker Marcon of France, is not being open with her people on what is at stake.
Target 2 Trap
In 2011, in the wake of the manipulated Greek bond crisis that triggered a Eurozone contagion panic in markets, the European Central Bank initiated a highly controversial and poorly understood disguised bailout known as Target 2.Without getting into the complex details of how Target 2 central bank balances function, they in effect allow the central banks of the Eurozone crisis countries, led by Italy and Spain, to issue state bonds which are in effect taken by the strong central banks of the Euro, notably Germany's Bundesbank. Since 2011 and the Greek crisis, Target 2 balances have been growing phenomenally to where today the total is estimated for the Bundesbank alone at '‚¬ 914 billion. This is about one third of German GDP.
In 2011 the highly-respected German economist and then-head of Munich's IFO Institute,Hans-Werner Sinn, called the ECB use of Target 2 ''The ECB's stealth bail out.'' He was the first to warn that the ECB Target 2 system for ''Target balances constitute public credit relations in the same way as credit that is given via official rescue packages.''
In 2011 the sums involved were still a fraction of the present total. Today the sheer size of these little-publicized Target 2 central bank balances in the Eurozone, especially the Bundesbank, put enormous pressure on the more prudent northern EU countries, especially Germany, to finally drop resistance to adoption of George Soros' plan to have the Euro countries issue common Eurobonds. With such Eurobonds, the public debt of euro-zone countries would be pooled and converted into Eurozone ''Eurobonds'' with collective responsibility. De facto that would mean German or other north EU taxpayers would support the debt of stressed countries like Italy or Portugal or Greece. For strong reasons former Finance Minister Wolfgang Sch¤uble fiercely resisted any supranational issuing of bonds as a disguised forced German bailout of the countries such as Italy or Spain.
As Sinn points out about the covert bailout Draghi's ECB has created via the little-understood Target 2 central bank credits, ''And yet the Bundesbank's Target claims (on Italy, Spain, etc) are essentially worthless, because they can never be called due, and are issued at an interest rate determined by the debtors, which hold the majority on the ECB Governing Council. For the time being, they have set the interest rate to zero.'' This is '‚¬914 today, alone for the German Bundesbank.
Merkel, SPD and Eurobonds
Now it becomes clear why Merkel elegantly pushed Sch¤uble aside by naming him CDU Parliamentary leader. His replacement, Social Democrat Olaf Scholz, is rumored to be privately favorable to French President Macron's proposal for a European banking union and a transfer union. In her first speech in March as Chancellor in the new Grand Coalition, Merkel suggested favoring plans to turn the '‚¬500 billion European Stability Mechanism, the eurozone's crisis rescue fund since the crisis in 2013, into a permanent European Monetary Fund, an EU version of Washington's International Monetary Fund.
In a transfer union, the healthier countries of the Euro will support the weaker. This is behind Macron's call for a common Eurozone Finance Minister who would develop a common tax budget for the ECB member countries. Under the Macron Plan, which Merkel and the SPD have endorsed, each euro transferred from a Northern to a Southern European country would reduce the Target claims and liabilities by one euro.
The deeper underlying problem in all these schemes is the fact that the countries of the ECB and Euro have done nothing fundamental to clean up their banking insolvency mess. Instead the ECB under Draghi has been used to create what is today a de facto insoluble problem for the German and other strong central banks of the Euro using Target 2 balances as a stealth bailout. Now the Merkel-Macron axis in the EU is ready to spring the next step'--Eurobonds, a common Eurozone Finance Minister and fiscal policy and a transfer union.
This is the real reason Italy's ''Euroskeptic'' parties suddenly dropped election demands for a referendum on leaving the Euro or the EU. They realized Italy could be a huge benefactor by staying in and backing an EU Transfer Union. Bond market speculators like Soros will have a field day. German and Dutch and other more prudent countries will de facto pay the bill. For Germany where the demographic reduction in working age population is already apparent and will accelerate in coming years, a growing pension obligation makes German debt obligation in the long run unsustainable. To now add a fiscal transfer from Germany to the indebted Southern EU countries spells political and economic Tsunami.
F. William Engdahlis strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine ''New Eastern Outlook'' where this article was originally published. He is also a frequent contributor to Global Research.The original source of this article is Global Research
Toegang tot Europa gaat 7 euro kosten | Binnenland |
Wed, 25 Apr 2018 11:02
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FaceBag Analytica
Facebook-moderator: Nederland is het land van de haat
Mon, 23 Apr 2018 11:49
Nieuws 21 april 2018 Laatste update 10:53 Nederlandse Facebook-gebruikers zijn berucht om de hoeveelheid en intensiteit van de haatberichten die zij het medium op slingeren. Moderators ervaren een gigantische stroom berichten die haat, racisme en het toewensen van ziekten als kanker bevatten. Dat meldt de Volkskrant op basis van gesprekken met een Nederlandse moderator die vorig jaar bij Facebook werkte en gelekte e-mails, interne documenten en ondersteunende verklaringen van een Facebook-collega.
Dagelijks krijgt het Nederlandse team van moderatoren '' bestaande uit 5 tot 8 personen '' zo'n 8.000 meldingen van onder meer discriminerende, racistische en haatdragende berichten voor de kiezen. Een aantal dat in bijvoorbeeld Zuid-Europese landen veel lager is. Rond Sinterklaas, verkiezingen en demonstraties van de PVV, komen daar nog duizenden haatberichten per dag bij, die vanuit Berlijn gemodereerd moeten worden. Oud-moderator Erik vertelt in de Volkskrant:
De haat, dat is wat hem meteen raakt. 'Ik schrok daarvan.' De intense haat, tegen asielzoekers, Marokkaanse Nederlanders, zwarte mensen. Erik: 'En alles in Nederland is kanker. Kankerjongen, kankerneger, kankerhoer.' In Vlaanderen krijgen de 'makakken' de schuld, in Nederland de 'Marokkanen'. Elk gebied heeft zo zijn eigen 'overlast': gewelddadige foto's en video's van bendes in Latijns-Amerika, porno en geweld tegen vrouwen in het Midden-Oosten. De Portugese en Griekse moderatoren hebben het relatief rustig. Die gebruiken minder Facebook en schelden ook minder. Hun moderatoren kunnen nog weleens Netflix aanzetten. Nederlanders niet: Nederland is het land van de haat, zegt Erik.
Frustrerend genoeg mag Erik niet ingrijpen wanneer hij ziet dat mensen als Sylvana Simons met haat worden overladen:
Cc-afbeelding: Surian SoosayErik ziet het ene na het andere bericht over Simons voorbij komen. 'Ga terug naar je apenland ', 'Ik gooi je zwarte kut in de gracht', of 'Sterf, hoer'. Allemaal toegestaan. Sylvana Simons openbaart in augustus vorig jaar zelf een priv(C)bericht dat ze via Facebook ontvangt van ene Egbert. 'STERF!! Achterlijke kankerzwarte! Please donder op en laat ons land met rust! Misselijkmakende zandvreter! Wij blank volk hadden jouw zwarte volk lekker in slavernij moeten houden! Toen waren jullie nog braaf en luisterden jullie!' Het mag van Facebook. Erik kan er niet aan wennen. Alles wat hij als mens verachtelijk vindt, moet-ie als content moderator accepteren. Haat, racisme, schelden.
Simons zal uiteindelijk een 'beschermde status' verkrijgen nadat Facebook kritiek krijgt op het beleid. Erik heeft het echter nog steeds moeilijk met de hoeveelheid bagger waar hij dagelijks mee wordt geconfronteerd '' en waar hij totaal niet voor is opgeleid om mee om te gaan. Hij grijpt '' net als vele collega's '' naar verdovende middelen als alcohol en Valium. Een Deense collega stopt na een aantal maanden en wordt met posttraumatische stressstoornis opgenomen. Uiteindelijk neemt Erik na 8 maanden ontslag. Hij wordt hem te veel om dagelijks door haat te waden voor 8,90 euro per uur. Hij is een jaar later nog steeds in therapie.
Facebook stelt zelf in een reactie aan de Volkskrant heel goed voor het personeel in Berlijn te zorgen en de psychologische bijstand te hebben uitgebreid: ''We ronden binnenkort een psychologische risicoanalyse af om te kijken waar meer steun nodig is.''
Cc-header: Sam Michel
Facebook urged to use face recognition to block scam ads | Technology | The Guardian
Tue, 24 Apr 2018 12:13
Facebook is facing calls to deploy facial recognition technology to block scam adverts featuring celebrities, after consumer campaigner Martin Lewis launched legal proceedings against the social network over fake promotions claiming his endorsement.
Damian Collins, the chair of the parliamentary committee investigating online disinformation, told the Guardian he would ask the social network to consider new ways to block fake promotions when the company's chief technology office appears to answer questions in parliament on Thursday.
''Martin Lewis's case highlights yet another failure on the part of Facebook to protect its users,'' said the Tory MP, who leads the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee. ''The fact that the face of a man who has dedicated himself to aiding consumers to spend their money wisely could be used to defraud those very same people is something that Facebook should be ashamed of,'' he said.
''Facebook is able to develop and roll out technology such as facial recognition to increase revenue,'' he added. ''These tools should be deployed, first and foremost to protect users.''
Lewis, who founded, announced on Sunday that he is suing Facebook for defamation. He said one solution would be for Facebook to deploy the technology it already has in place to recognise the social network's users in photos uploaded by their friends.
''They are the facial recognition experts, they should be able to recognise when they are being paid,'' Lewis told the BBC, saying it is exasperating that he currently has to report each fake advert featuring his face on a case-by-case basis.
''I have put Facebook on notice. I don't do adverts. Full stop. No company pays me to do an advert, I do not appear in adverts.''
Lewis said images of Virgin boss Richard Branson, plus Dragons' Den stars Deborah Meaden and Peter Jones, are also often used to advertise dubious financial scams on Facebook.
Scammers use pictures of celebrities to grab attention, increase the number of clicks on an advert, and imply the public figure has endorsed the product or investment.
Many popular scam adverts have involved promotions for cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. Meaden's website now carries a prominent warning that she has never endorsed any Bitcoin investments, while Jones has made it clear that claims he has backed a cryptocurrency business are ''entirely false'' following a spate of scam adverts.
Facebook implemented a blanket ban on all adverts involving cryptocurrencies in January although some advertisers initially found ways to evade the new rule by changing the spelling of certain words.
A spokesperson for Branson reiterated his previous demand that the ''platforms where the fake stories are spreading need to take responsibility'' and said the Virgin boss believed the responsibility for stopping fake and misleading content being posted ''should not fall solely on the shoulders of those high profile individuals being targeted''.
Facebook did not immediately return a request for comment on whether it would consider using its facial recognition technology to reduce the number of unauthorised scam adverts featuring celebrities.
Lewis also pointed out that several news sites reporting on his legal case, including the Guardian, had also been accompanied by misleading adverts featuring his image.
A Guardian News & Media spokesperson said such adverts featuring Lewis would not appear again in future: ''The adverts in question were blocked this morning. We have asked our tech providers involved to urgently investigate how they passed their relevant quality checks.''
Facebook in 'PR crisis mode' over Cambridge Analytica scandal | UK news | The Guardian
Tue, 24 Apr 2018 13:02
Facebook's claims to be outraged over the Cambridge Analytica scandal were simply hollow words in ''PR crisis mode'', the academic at the centre of the dispute has told parliament.
Aleksandr Kogan, the Cambridge University researcher whose Facebook app, GSR, extracted data of millions of users from the platform, said he thought it was reasonable for the social network to continue to employ his former business partner and co-founder, Joseph Chancellor, because they do not ''actually think'' that his previous work was problematic.
''I think they realise that their platform has been mined left and right by thousands of others and I was just the unlucky person that ended up somehow linked to the Trump campaign, and we are where we are,'' Kogan told Damien Collins, the chair of the culture, media and sports select committee, in a parliamentary hearing. ''I think they realise all this, but PR is PR and they're trying to manage the crisis, and it's convenient to point the finger at a single entity and try to paint the picture this is a rogue agent.''
Kogan and Chancellor set up GSR in 2014, and took data from the social network for use by Cambridge Analytica's parent company, SCL Elections. Chancellor left in 2015 to join Facebook, shortly before Kogan's relationship with SCL ended and GSR was wound up.
Collins asked Kogan about Facebook's response to the scandal, querying why Kogan had been attacked by the company even though his former partner continued to be employed by it. ''When Facebook's response from their deputy general counsel describing your work as 'a scam and a fraud', data harvesting, and they singled you out to say that 'you'd lied to us and violated our platform policies', those remarks must apply to Joseph Chancellor as well,'' Collins asked.
''If you want me to push on the spirit, I would agree,'' Kogan replied. ''I'm personally very glad that they have not moved on Joe, I think it would be petty personally.''
Kogan also argued that his firm did not need ethics approval from Cambridge University, still his primary employer, since ''there's no real mechanism for a company to seek ethics approval for a commercial deal.
''I've never heard of anybody who runs a company trying to get ethics approval for a dataset whose primary function was really a commercial enterprise. Our primary deliverable here, first and foremost was the obligation in regards to SCL. Secondary purposes come later when you try and bring the work in for the university.''
Kogan admitted that, in transferring the data he had harvested from Facebook, he had acted against the specific words of its developer agreement. But, in a bizarre exchange with Labour's Paul Farelly, he argued that he had not broken the policy, because Facebook's document did not amount to a policy.
''For you to break a policy it has to exist and really be their policy,'' Kogan said. ''But the reality is that Facebook's policy is unlikely to be their policy.''
Farelly asked: ''What's in black and white, do you accept that you broke the terms and conditions of Facebook as laid down in black and white?
''I do not,'' Kogan replied. ''I just don't believe that's their policy. If somebody has a document that isn't their policy, you can't break something that isn't really your policy. I would agree my actions were inconsistent with the language of this document, but that's slightly different than what I think you're asking.''
Kogan also accused the former Cambridge Analytica chief executive Alexander Nix of ''total fabrication'' in the latter's evidence to parliament. Nix had claimed that GSR had not supplied Cambridge Analytica with data or information, and that none of the company's data had come from GSR '' claims that Kogan dismissed vehemently.
In written evidence submitted to the committee, Kogan also claimed that Facebook's in-house advertising system was a more effective way of targeting individuals than using the personality data his company had collected.
''I believe the project we did makes little to no sense if the goal is to run targeted ads on Facebook,'' he said. ''The Facebook ads platform provides tools and capability to run targeted ads with little need for our work '' in fact, the platform's tools provide companies a far more effective pathway to target people based on their personalities than using scores from users from our work.''
Cloudflare Just Banned a Social Media Refuge for Thousands of Sex Workers - Motherboard
Sun, 22 Apr 2018 20:13
Update 4/19, 1:30 p.m. EST: Cloudflare's response to Switter's removal can be found here.
SESTA/FOSTA, a bill that president Donald Trump signed into law on April 11 and that was pitched as an anti-sex trafficking measure, continues to wreak havoc on the lives of sex workers across the United States and abroad.
After getting kicked off of platforms like Craigslist and advertising forums or preemptively limiting their digital footprint on social media platforms like Twitter, thousands of sex workers joined an alternative, decentralized social media platform called Switter, where they hoped to safely connect with and vet safe clients.
But on Wednesday, Assembly Four, the organization that developed Switter, announced that its content delivery network provided by Cloudflare removed and blocked Switter. "Given Cloudflare's previous stances of privacy and freedom, as well as fighting alongside the EFF, we had hoped they would take a stand against FOSTA/SESTA," Assembly Four said on its website.
At the time of writing, Switter has nearly 49,000 members and more than 376,500 posts, an explosion of activity since the service was launched in late March.
''Many people [were] looking for a platform which won't boot them off for how they make a living.''
Switter is an instance on Mastodon, a social network similar to Twitter where, instead of having one giant pool of users that is governed by one company, anyone can open their own instance with its own theme and community guidelines. In the gag instance, for example, users can only communicate with the letter E. Switter was created by Australia-based technology organization Assembly Four. According to Buzzfeed, since sex work is decriminalized in Australia, the organization hoped that it would be safe from US laws that are cracking down on sex work.
According to Assembly Four, this is the message Cloudflare's legal department sent explaining why it was terminating service to Switter:
Cloudflare has been made aware that your site is in violation of our published Terms of Service. Pursuant to our published policy, Cloudflare will terminate service to your website. Cloudflare will terminate your service for switter{.}at by disabling our authoritative DNS.
Switter moved to a new content delivery network (CDN), which Assembly Four declined to name for security reasons. The last notable time Cloudflare denied its services to a client was when it canceled protection services for white supremacist website The Daily Stormer. Previously, Cloudflare has publicly supported open internet efforts like net neutrality and democratizing protections against DDoS attacks.
Cloudflare did not immediately respond for comment.
''Switter, for many people, has become their main point of contact for communication between them and other workers as well as them and clients,'' Lola Hunt, co-founder of Switter, told me in an email. Especially after the closure of advertising site Backpage, she said, the instance saw a rise in member sign ups. Before Cloudflare removed it, Switter had more than 47,000 members. ''Many people [were] looking for a platform which won't boot them off for how they make a living.''
"It was always about attacks on sexuality, and those who earn their income with sexual labor"
Following the passage of the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA), platforms where sex workers advertise and operate began tightening their terms of service around explicit content or shut down altogether. Several forums dedicated to sex work advertising, and even some websites only tangentially involved in intimate meetups, like the Craigslist personals section and niche dating sites, proactively closed before FOSTA became law. And long before FOSTA, mainstream platforms like Twitter and Instagram have had a tenuous relationship with sex work: Many say they're unfairly suspended, banned or shadowbanned for posting explicit content, even though they're abiding by site terms.
The seizure and shutdown of advertising site days before Trump signed FOSTA was devastating to many in the trade'--but Switter is a refuge for those in the industry to talk, network, trade advice and find clients. To them, Cloudflare's decision is another brick in a wall being built between their livelihoods and the rest of the world.
''Censoring the internet was never going to help any victims, it only makes them less likely to be seen,'' Liara Roux, a sex worker and independent porn producer, told me in Twitter messages following the Cloudflare news. ''It was always about attacks on sexuality, and those who earn their income with sexual labor... Switter is a site by sex workers, for sex workers'--and actual sex workers aren't under the control of shadowy overlords, they are mostly independent women, trans folks and queer men. And the reality is, there are millions and millions of them worldwide and they far outnumber the few people who believe all sex should be removed from the internet."
Their explanation
Sun, 22 Apr 2018 20:14
Cloudflare and FOSTA/SESTASwitter went offline at around 5 AM, April 18 UTC+10 due to Cloudflare removing and blocking the zone. We received an email from their Legal Department that reads:
Cloudflare has been made aware that your site is in violation of ourpublished Terms of Service. Pursuant to our published policy,Cloudflare will terminate service to your website.
Cloudflare will terminate your service for switter{.}at by disablingour authoritative DNS.
We have asked them to point out which specific clauses we broke in their Terms but have not received a reply.
It's possible this was an overreaction, as the last documented time Cloudflare terminated services was when they terminated the account of a white supremacist website last year.
Given Cloudflare's previous stances of privacy and freedom, as well as fighting alongside the EFF, we had hoped they would take a stand against FOSTA/SESTA. Combined with their Websockets support (which Mastodon heavily relies on for real-time updates), as well as their free plan (CDNs are traditionally quite expensive), we selected Cloudflare to be our CDN.
Switter was down for about 7 hours due to a combination of technical factors, but we are back on another CDN provider. We apologise for the downtime.
We will update this document if we do hear back from Cloudflare.
47 U.S. Code § 230 - Protection for private blocking and screening of offensive material | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute
Thu, 26 Apr 2018 12:18
Protection for private blocking and screening of offensive material
(a) Findings The Congress finds the following: (1) The rapidly developing array of
Internet and other
interactive computer services available to individual Americans represent an extraordinary advance in the availability of educational and informational resources to our citizens.
(2) These services offer users a great degree of control over the information that they receive, as well as the potential for even greater control in the future as technology develops.
(3) The
Internet and other
interactive computer services offer a forum for a true diversity of political discourse, unique opportunities for cultural development, and myriad avenues for intellectual activity.
(5) Increasingly Americans are relying on interactive media for a variety of political, educational, cultural, and entertainment services.
(b) Policy It is the policy of the United States'-- (3) to encourage the development of technologies which maximize user control over what information is received by individuals, families, and schools who use the
Internet and other
interactive computer services;
(4) to remove disincentives for the development and utilization of blocking and filtering technologies that empower parents to restrict their children's access to objectionable or inappropriate online material; and
(5) to ensure vigorous enforcement of Federal criminal laws to deter and punish trafficking in obscenity, stalking, and harassment by means of computer.
(c) Protection for ''Good Samaritan'' blocking and screening of offensive material (2) Civil liability No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of'-- (A) any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be
obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected; or
(B) any action taken to enable or make available to
information content providers or others the technical means to restrict access to material described in paragraph (1).
[1] (d) Obligations of interactive computer serviceA provider of interactive computer service shall, at the time of entering an agreement with a customer for the provision of interactive computer service and in a manner deemed appropriate by the provider, notify such customer that parental control protections (such as computer hardware, software, or filtering services) are commercially available that may assist the customer in limiting access to material that is harmful to minors. Such notice shall identify, or provide the customer with access to information identifying, current providers of such protections.
(e) Effect on other laws (1) No effect on criminal lawNothing in this section shall be construed to impair the enforcement of section 223 or 231 of this title, chapter 71 (relating to obscenity) or 110 (relating to sexual exploitation of children) of title 18, or any other Federal criminal statute.
(2) No effect on intellectual property lawNothing in this section shall be construed to limit or expand any law pertaining to intellectual property.
(3) State lawNothing in this section shall be construed to prevent any State from enforcing any State law that is consistent with this section. No cause of action may be brought and no liability may be imposed under any State or local law that is inconsistent with this section.
(4) No effect on communications privacy lawNothing in this section shall be construed to limit the application of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 or any of the amendments made by such Act, or any similar State law.
(f) Definitions As used in this section: (1) InternetThe term ''Internet'' means the international computer network of both Federal and non-Federal interoperable packet switched data networks.
(2) Interactive computer serviceThe term ''interactive computer service'' means any information service, system, or access software provider that provides or enables computer access by multiple users to a computer server, including specifically a service or system that provides access to the Internet and such systems operated or services offered by libraries or educational institutions.
(3) Information content providerThe term ''information content provider'' means any person or entity that is responsible, in whole or in part, for the creation or development of information provided through the Internet or any other interactive computer service.
(4) Access software provider The term ''access software provider'' means a provider of software (including client or server software), or enabling tools that do any one or more of the following: (A) filter, screen, allow, or disallow content;
(B) pick, choose, analyze, or digest content; or
(C) transmit, receive, display, forward, cache, search, subset, organize, reorganize, or translate content.
(June 19, 1934, ch. 652, title II, §'¯230, as added
Pub. L. 104''104, title V, §'¯509,
Feb. 8, 1996
110 Stat. 137; amended
Pub. L. 105''277, div. C, title XIV, §'¯1404(a),
Oct. 21, 1998
112 Stat. 2681''739.)
[1] '¯So in original. Probably should be ''subparagraph (A).''
References in TextThe Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, referred to in subsec. (e)(4), is Pub. L. 99''508, Oct. 21, 1986 , 100 Stat. 1848, as amended. For complete classification of this Act to the Code, see Short Title of 1986 Amendment note set out under section 2510 of Title 18, Crimes and Criminal Procedure, and Tables.
CodificationSection 509 of Pub. L. 104''104, which directed amendment of title II of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 201 et seq.) by adding section 230 at end, was executed by adding the section at end of part I of title II of the Act to reflect the probable intent of Congress and amendments by sections 101(a), (b), and 151(a) of Pub. L. 104''104 designating §§'¯201 to 229 as part I and adding parts II (§'¯251 et seq.) and III (§'¯271 et seq.) to title II of the Act.
Amendments1998'--Subsec. (d). Pub. L. 105''277, §'¯1404(a)(3), added subsec. (d). Former subsec. (d) redesignated (e).
Subsec. (d)(1). Pub. L. 105''277, §'¯1404(a)(1), inserted ''or 231'' after ''section 223''.
Subsecs. (e), (f). Pub. L. 105''277, §'¯1404(a)(2), redesignated subsecs. (d) and (e) as (e) and (f), respectively.
LII has no control over and does not endorse any external Internet site that contains links to or references LII.
Monika Bickert - Speaker -
Thu, 26 Apr 2018 12:09
Biography Monika Bickert is Facebook's head of policy management. Her global team writes and interprets policies governing what content people can share on Facebook and how advertisers and developers can interact with the site. Bickert joined Facebook in 2012 as lead security counsel, advising the company on matters including child safety and data security. She previously served as assistant US attorney for the Department of Justice for eleven years, prosecuting federal crimes ranging from public corruption to gang-related violence. Bickert also spent several years serving as resident legal advisor at the US embassy in Bangkok, Thailand.
1 Program
Finland's basic income trial falls flat - BBC News
Tue, 24 Apr 2018 12:23
Image copyright Getty Images The Finnish government has decided not to expand a limited trial in paying people a basic income, which has drawn much international interest.
Currently 2,000 unemployed Finns are receiving a flat monthly payment of '‚¬560 (£490; $685) as basic income.
"The eagerness of the government is evaporating. They rejected extra funding [for it]," said Olli Kangas, one of the experiment's designers.
Some see basic income as a way to get unemployed people into temporary jobs.
The argument is that, if paid universally, basic income would provide a guaranteed safety net. That would help to address insecurities associated with the "gig" economy, where workers do not have staff contracts.
Supporters say basic income would boost mobility in the labour market as people would still have an income between jobs.
Finland's two-year pilot scheme started in January 2017, making it the first European country to test an unconditional basic income. The 2,000 participants - all unemployed - were chosen randomly.
But it will not be extended after this year, as the government is now examining other schemes for reforming the Finnish social security system.
"I'm a little disappointed that the government decided not to expand it," said Prof Kangas, a researcher at the Social Insurance Institution (Kela), a Finnish government agency.
Speaking to the BBC from Turku, he said the government had turned down Kela's request for '‚¬40-70m extra to fund basic income for a group of employed Finns, instead of limiting the experiment to 2,000 unemployed people.
Read more on this topic:Another Kela researcher, Miska Simanainen, said "reforming the social security system is on the political agenda, but the politicians are also discussing many other models of social security, rather than just basic income".
Image caption Olli Kangas wanted the two-year trial to be expanded to people in work When Finland launched the experiment its unemployment rate was 9.2% - higher than among its Nordic neighbours.
That, and the complexity of the Finnish social benefits system, fuelled the calls for ambitious social security reforms, including the basic income pilot.
The pilot's full results will not be released until late 2019.
OECD finds drawbacksIn February this year the influential OECD think tank said a universal credit system, like that being introduced in the UK, would work better than a basic income in Finland. Universal credit replaces several benefit payments with a single monthly sum.
The study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said income tax would have to increase by nearly 30% to fund a basic income. It also argued that basic income would increase income inequality and raise Finland's poverty rate from 11.4% to 14.1%.
In contrast, the OECD said, universal credit would cut the poverty rate to 9.7%, as well as reduce complexity in the benefits system.
Another reform option being considered by Finnish politicians is a negative income tax, Prof Kangas said.
Under that scheme, people whose income fell below a certain threshold would be exempt from income tax and would actually receive payments from the tax office.
The challenge is to find a cost-effective system that incentivises people to work, but that does not add to income inequality, Tuulia Hakola-Uusitalo of the Finnish Finance Ministry told the BBC.
What do others say about basic income? Some powerful billionaire entrepreneurs are keen on the idea of universal basic income, recognising that job insecurity is inescapable in an age of increasing automation.
Among them are Tesla and Space X CEO Elon Musk, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Virgin Group boss Richard Branson.
US venture capitalist Sam Altman, who runs start-up funder Y Combinator, is organising a basic income experiment.
Y Combinator will select 3,000 individuals in two US states and randomly assign 1,000 of them to receive $1,000 per month for three to five years. Their use of the unconditional payments will be closely monitored, and their spending compared with those who do not get the basic income.
In 2016, Swiss voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to introduce a guaranteed basic income for all.
Supporters of the proposal had suggested a monthly income of 2,500 Swiss francs (£1,834; $2,558) for adults and also 625 Swiss francs for each child.
How Kanye West became an alt-right darling - The Washington Post
Wed, 25 Apr 2018 14:21
Kanye West. (Jewel Samad/AFP via Getty Images)
Kanye West was having a great weekend, until he wasn't. One moment, the rapper-producer-entrepreneur was dispensing pearls of pseudo-philosophy on Twitter to the retweets of adoring observers. The next, many of those same admirers had turned to denouncing him instead. Oh, and he had become an alt-right darling. Whatever West is going through at the moment, the response to his Twitter spree reveals more about the people who have fled from him '-- and those who've flocked to him, too.
West's fortunes reversed when he expressed his admiration on Saturday for red-pill YouTuber Candace Owens, an African American Donald Trump supporter known for, among other things, referring to Black Lives Matter protesters as ''whiny toddlers, pretending to be oppressed for attention.'' The following day, he tweeted nine videos from Scott Adams, who gained his fame first for creating the cartoon ''Dilbert'' and second for proclaiming that rape is a ''natural instinct'' of men and society a ''virtual prison for men's natural desires.''
[Kanye West fell for the worst black Republican sales pitch there is. Here's why.]
It's easy to cast West as just another lost man seduced by the far right's promise to provide a sense of purpose. All that pseudo-philosophy does suggest a preoccupation with the sort of existential problems figures such as psychologist Jordan Peterson, who has become a surprise lifestyle guru, claim they can solve. It's also possible to connect West's eccentric behavior on Twitter '-- this isn't the first time his forays into politics have discomfited some fans '-- to the mental-health struggles that led to his 2017 hospitalization.
Or it could just be that West is cloistered in a world of wealth, away from the realities of racism that motivated incidents like his declaration on live television after Hurricane Katrina that ''George Bush doesn't care about black people.'' He may be too preoccupied with his image of himself as a truth-teller to recognize that the unconventional communication style he finds so attractive in Trump is just a way to cover up lies.
In any case, ascertaining why West thinks what he thinks is probably as fruitless as finding meaning in the bromides he's been offering up the past few days: ''all you have to be is yourself'' (108,000 retweets, 237,000 likes), ''the beauty is in the imperfection(s)'' (54,000 retweets, 139,000 likes), ''everything you do in life stems from either fear or love'' (105,000 retweets, 245,000 likes). It might be more useful to examine what the reaction to West's provocative tweets reveals about the left and right alike.
Progressives, West's more typical fan base, greeted his return to Twitter with breathless engagement. (Apparently, they'd forgotten about West's onstage announcement last summer that he'd have voted for Trump had he voted at all, and his post-election visit to Trump Tower.) But the moment West expressed his approval of Owens, liberals recoiled. Eager to signal their lefty credentials, they withdrew their support the moment West went against the party line.
Then there's the right, alt and otherwise. Most conservatives had less interest in West's work, and they certainly didn't like it when he condemned Bush. But now, a lineup of luminaries on the right has assembled to defend West against the liberal hordes. Where Alex Jones once called West ''a microcosm of America's degeneration,'' he now praises his ''bold moves against the thought police.'' Where Bill O'Reilly once described West as a ''disease,'' the former Fox host on Sunday decried the ''attack'' against him by ''American Stalinists.''
These reactions typify the left and right's relationship to celebrities. Progressives can easily pivot away from any public figure who makes him or herself toxic, like West and country artist Shania Twain. After all, plenty of other popular personalities do align with their politics. It's not as if progressives are wanting for representatives among the culturally influential.
The roster of pro-Trump celebrities in 2016, on the other hand, would hardly sell out a festival. When Roseanne Barr is your headliner, you have a serious PR problem. It's no wonder the prospect of signing a star as big as Kanye West led so many former foes to forget they'd spent years disdaining him. In short, the right is desperate for an avatar, and West seems like a good get '' especially given his popularity among black audiences.
In the end, the weekend's West affair was a very public display of people using other people. West has hyped up his announced album even further with the publicity he gained from courting controversy. Liberals have shown off their willingness to enforce ideological purity, no matter who the offender is. And the far right has demonstrated, once again, that they're willing to flip-flop at the slightest sign that they might be able to land a mainstream celebrity recruit. ''Don't trade your authenticity for approval,'' West tweeted last week, to the tune of 170,000 retweets and 344,000 likes. Too late.
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"Black People Don't Have To Be Democrats": Obama-Linked Rapper Backs Kanye As MSM Melts Down Over MAGA | Zero Hedge
Thu, 26 Apr 2018 10:26
Kanye West pal and fellow Chicago-based musician "Chance the Rapper" fired off a tweet in support of his controversial friend, who is once again taking flack from the left over his love of Donald Trump - and most recently, black conservative Candace Owens.
"Black people don't have to be democrats," tweeted the 25-year-old Chance in defense of Kanye.
Black people don't have to be democrats.
'-- Chance The Rapper (@chancetherapper) April 25, 2018
Donald Trump Jr. agreed with Chance - as did others who declared that people who belong to traditionally liberal demographics can also think differently.
The same goes for all the intersectional groups of the left that say you HAVE to be a democrat. That isn't true. Be free, think for yourself.
'-- Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) April 26, 2018Gay people don't have to be democrats, either.
'-- Chad Felix Greene (@chadfelixg) April 25, 2018Jewish people don't have to be democrats.
'-- Josh Caplan (@joshdcaplan) April 25, 2018Women don't have to be democrats, either.
'-- Alana Mastrangelo (@ARmastrangelo) April 26, 2018Kanye then retweeted Trump supporter Scott Presler who echoed Chance's sentiments:
Interestingly, political strategist and pundit Ali Alexander (@ali) implored Chance to support Kanye 20 minutes before his tweet:
Wow @ali really called that one.
'-- ALX 🇺🇸 '' (@TheALX) April 26, 2018Born Chancelor Jonathan Bennett, Chance the Rapper's father was an aide to then-Senator Barack Obama, before landing a job in the Department of Labor during Obama's first term. Chance met with Obama when he was "13 or 14," where he discussed his ambitions with the future president - who reportedly replied "word."
Chance has been an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump - while endorsing Hillary Clinton one month before the 2016 US election. That said, he may have become disillusioned at the skyrocketing murder rate in his hometown.
West, who also hails from Chicago, noted in a Wednesday tweet that "Obama was in office for eight years and nothing in Chicago changed."
Obama was in office for eight years and nothing in Chicago changed.
'-- KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) April 25, 2018Trump, meanwhile, has been talking about the Chicago murder rates for years - and then sent the ATF in to do something about it.
Kanye thrust himself back into the spotlight on Saturday after taking nearly a year off of Twitter - tweeting his support for black pro-Trump conservative, Candace Owens - director of Urban Engagement for Turning Point USA, who feels that black Americans are "slaves on the Democratic Party plantation."
I love the way Candace Owens thinks
'-- KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) April 21, 2018West caused Twitter to further implode on Wednesday when he tweeted a picture of an autographed red "Make America Great Again" hat, which Trump responded to with "MAGA!"
my MAGA hat is signed ðŸ--¥ðŸ--¥ðŸ--¥ðŸ--¥ðŸ--¥ðŸ--¥ðŸ--¥ðŸ--¥ðŸ--¥ðŸ--¥ðŸ--¥ðŸ--¥ðŸ--¥ðŸ--¥ðŸ--¥ðŸ--¥ðŸ--¥ðŸ--¥ðŸ--¥ðŸ--¥ðŸ--¥ðŸ--¥ðŸ--¥ðŸ--¥ðŸ--¥ðŸ--¥ðŸ--¥ðŸ--¥ðŸ--¥ðŸ--¥
'-- KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) April 25, 2018MAGA!
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 25, 2018Kanye addressed the uproar over his conservative leanings as well on Wednesday - tweeting "You don't have to agree with trump but the mob can't make me not love him. We are both dragon energy. He is my brother. I love everyone. I don't agree with everything anyone does. That's what makes us individuals. And we have the right to independent thought."
To which Trump replied "Thank you Kanye, very cool!"
Thank you Kanye, very cool!
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 25, 2018 "A dragon is not a slave."
'-- Alana Mastrangelo (@ARmastrangelo) April 26, 2018This is what @realDonaldTrump & @kanyewest coming together looks like ðŸ...ðŸ‰
'-- KANYE WEST 🇺🇸 (@KanyeWoke) April 25, 2018MSM assassins everywhere
What makes Kanye so dangerous to the left is that he's breaking through the "all or nothing" conditioning of identity politics, and with West tweeting pro-Trump sentiments to his 27.9 million followers, the MSM is trying their best to smear him. After flat out lying earlier Wednesday about drama in the West household, People Magazine was at it again later in the day - stirring up controversy over Kanye tweeting pictures from "Inside $20M House" despite his wife Kim Kardashian's wishes.
Ummm babe. We had a rule to not show our home on social media! Soooo can we now allow KUWTK filming in the home? ðŸ¤--🂠
'-- Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) April 25, 2018The Daily Mail - similar to People, said that Kim was scolding Kanye - to which Kardashian tweeted "Oh RELAX I'm joking! Seriously you can't have a personality on social media these days or your called bizarre or disturbing"
Oh RELAX I'm joking! Seriously you can't have a personality on social media these days or your called bizarre or disturbing
'-- Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) April 25, 2018Page Six also published an anti-Kanye hit piece, suggesting that people are fearing for "Kanye's [mental] health" after suddenly firing his manager, Scooter Braun.
Kanye West canceled 21 tour dates in 2016 after suffering a ''nervous breakdown,'' but there are new fears for his health after he abruptly fired manager Scooter Braun and a ''friend'' claimed West had been addicted to opioids. -Page Six
Kardashian later tweeted "To the media trying to demonize my husband let me just say this... your commentary on Kanye being erratic & his tweets being disturbing is actually scary."
To the media trying to demonize my husband let me just say this... your commentary on Kanye being erratic & his tweets being disturbing is actually scary. -Kim Kardashian
To the media trying to demonize my husband let me just say this... your commentary on Kanye being erratic & his tweets being disturbing is actually scary. So quick to label him as having mental health issues for just being himself when he has always been expressive is not fair
'-- Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) April 25, 2018"WOW wrong again!!!!!" tweeted Kris Jenner, "Their house is $60 MIL"
WOW wrong again!!!!! Their house is $60 MIL
'-- Kris Jenner (@KrisJenner) April 25, 2018Donald Trump Jr. also threw his hat in the ring, tweeting #ImWIthHer, and then "2 years ago who would have thought Kanye and Kim would be public enemy number one of Hollywood/Media for saying it's ok to think differently"
Love this!!! 2 years ago who would have thought Kanye and Kim would be public enemy number one of Hollywood/Media for saying it's ok to think differently and to express yourself as you see fit.
'-- Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) April 25, 2018And while the left has their collective Kanye meltdown, others over social media have been having a blast:
Flashback: rapper 6ix9ine is also a Trump supporter. Industry shills are freaking out.
'-- The_Real_Fly (@The_Real_Fly) April 25, 2018think freely.don't be a sheep.
'-- thebradfordfile' (@thebradfordfile) April 26, 2018What we have here folks is a glitch in the #Matrix...the DNC is calling Agent Smith to take care of the thought virus known as #KanyeWest
'-- Ed '¯¸ (@DowdEdward) April 26, 2018Oh, my! Defection from the left hits new heights as Kanye Westcalls Trump his brother with "dragon energy" and wears #MAGA hat. Perplexed and bewildered liberals anger @KimKardashian saying West must be having breakdown. The left is having the breakdown and it is delicious fun.
'-- Michael N¶them (@mikandynothem) April 25, 2018How long before the Democrats accuse @KanyeWest of being a Russian agent? ðŸ‚#MAGA 🇺🇸
'-- Harlan Z. Hill (@Harlan) April 25, 2018Kanye West is causing a liberal SHITSTORM on Twitter for backing our President & I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!I hope that what we are witnessing is the beginning of a cultural tipping point that reawakens the consciousness of the brain-dead masses.
Good for you, Kanye!#MAGA
'-- Educating Liberals (@Education4Libs) April 25, 2018Flashback: that time MSNBC accidentally interviewed black Trump supporters in North Carolina during the 2016 election - who let the network know "There's a perception out there that he [Trump] has no black supporters. Wrong. He does."
Celebs Attack Kanye West over Pro-Trump Tweets: 'Complete Freaking Lunatic'
Thu, 26 Apr 2018 11:53
A horde of Hollywood celebrities took to Twitter this week to slam Kanye West after the fashion designer and Grammy-winning rapper expressed love and support for President Donald Trump.Comedian and former View co-host Rosie O'Donnell scolded West's attempt to encourage people to challenge conventional thinking, warning him that President Trump is ''a fucking moron kanye'' and demanding he ''wake from the illusion.''
hes a fucking moron kanye '' wake from the illusion
'-- ROSIE (@Rosie) April 25, 2018
Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn called West a ''complete freaking lunatic'' responding to a tweet in which President Trump celebrated West for tweeting his ''signed'' Make America Great Again hat.
It's nice to see black people and white people coming together to be complete freaking lunatics.
'-- James Gunn (@JamesGunn) April 25, 2018
Elsewhere, singer John Legend, a longtime collaborator with West, appeared to address Kanye West's recent remarks about breaking mental prisons and President Trump.
''I love that great, brilliant artists have the power to imagine a better future. But artists can't be blind to the truth,'' Legend wrote in a series of tweets. ''The defining trait of Trump's campaign and political profile was his embrace of white supremacy. He made it clear every time he spoke. Some serious cognitive dissonance to ignore that for the other x% you might find appealing. I guess I agree with >1% of anyone's thoughts though.''
I love that great, brilliant artists have the power to imagine a better future. But artists can't be blind to the truth.
'-- John Legend (@johnlegend) April 25, 2018
The defining trait of Trump's campaign and political profile was his embrace of white supremacy. He made it clear every time he spoke. Some serious cognitive dissonance to ignore that for the other x% you might find appealing. I guess I agree with >1% of anyone's thoughts though
'-- John Legend (@johnlegend) April 25, 2018
Rapper Snoop Dogg was more pointed in his attacks against West, captioning an Instagram post of the Chicago rapper wearing a MAGA hat, saying, ''That mighty white of you Kanye.''
Kanye West has spent a week using his Twitter encouraged his nearly 30 million followers to challenge conventional thinking, reject groupthink. He sent social media into a frenzy when he praised black conservative activist Candace Owens and nearly broke the Internet on Wednesday sharing a photo of himself wearing one of the president's ''Make America Great Again'' hats.
President Trump thanked West for his supportive comments and the rapper's wife defended him against attacks on his character and mental state.
The Yeezy designer's public show of support for independent thought and Trump has spurred some '-- like fellow Chicago crooner Chance the Rapper to shun conventional political thinking '-- to support or slam his beliefs.
Some celebrities responded to West's support of Trump and free thinking with a mix of mockery and disdain. See their reactions below.
So, they're streaming music in The Sunken Place?? That's got Be where the audience @kanyewest is courting is gonna buy that new release!#shallwesavehim#hedon'twannabesaved
'-- Samuel L. Jackson (@SamuelLJackson) April 26, 2018
*Gets inspired*Starts writing 'Get Out 2'
'-- Jordan Peele (@JordanPeele) April 25, 2018
Sign him onto your legal team. Think out the box. Y'all got this. #MAGA
'-- Jeffrey Wright (@jfreewright) April 25, 2018
If you think Donald Trump is a good alternative to anything, you're out of your phucking tree.
'-- Jeffrey Wright (@jfreewright) April 26, 2018
Wondering if Laura Ingraham will be telling him to shut up and rap on her show tonight.
'-- Michael Ian Black (@michaelianblack) April 25, 2018
This was the worst twitter day in twitter history.
'-- Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) April 26, 2018
Did you see now Chance The has jumped in?
'-- Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) April 26, 2018
Meek Mill was released from prison & Kanye continues to spiral out of control. Wendy has the latest details in Hot Topics. Keep Watching:
'-- Wendy Williams (@WendyWilliams) April 25, 2018
Rich people supporting Trump isn't free thinking. It's just rich people being rich people, fucking the poor.
'-- Joseph Kahn (@JosephKahn) April 25, 2018
It's great to be a free thinker but that alone ain't the point. If you're freely thinking your way into dumb conclusions then color me not impressed.
'-- Tour(C) (@Toure) April 25, 2018
Follow Jerome Hudson on Twitter @jeromeehudson
Laat Mozart toch met rust Lotte de Beer en Anousha Nzume | ThePostOnline
Thu, 26 Apr 2018 14:50
Operaregisseur Lotte de Beer trof 'afschuwelijke teksten' aan in Mozarts opera Die Zauberfl¶te. 'Een vrouw kletst veel maar zegt weinig', of: 'jouw ziel is net zo zwart als je huid'. Het slot van de opera is De Beer al helemaal een doorn in het oog, want de vrouwen storten samen met het enige zwarte personage in de hel. Kortom, eeuwenlang kritiekloos racisme en seksisme wordt nu kordaat een halt toegeroepen; de cultuurpolitie says no.
Alsof je Hans en Grietje herschrijftEen aantal deugdames, waaronder uiteraard Anousha Nzume, herschrijven het meesterwerk, tot een policor versie waarin Monostatos, het zwarte personage, centraal staat. Dus alsof je Hans en Grietje herschrijft en de boze heks als genderneutrale heldin laat triomferen of de zeven dwergen uit Sneeuwwitje als rechts-radicaaltjes neerzet. Dat zal ze leren, dat onverschillige, impliciet seksistische en racistische publiek in Stopera of Concertgebouw.
Lees ook '' Anousha Nzume gaat Die Zauberfl¶te van Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart herschrijven De Beer zegt: 'zes maanden geleden werd ik moeder en ineens merk ik een verschil. Ik ben niet meer de sexy jonge regisseur, de Jeanne d'Arc die op een voetstuk wordt geplaatst. Er wordt denigrerend met me omgegaan. Als moeder zou je geen goede kunstenaar kunnen zijn. De voeten van mannelijke regisseurs worden gekust, maar een artistiek leider begint de repetitie zonder mij omdat ik nog aan het kolven ben. Nu herken ik pas echt welke machtsstructuren heersen in de operawereld. Ik wil dat radicaal anders doen'.
Essentile Verlichtingswaarde onderuit geschoffeldDe vraag is waarom Mozart het moet ontgelden dat mevrouw de Beer niet meer op een voetstuk wordt geplaatst omdat ze moeder is geworden. Persoonlijke krenking is (C)(C)n van de meest potente drijfveren om de wereld aan te pakken, maar het herschrijven van onze cultuurgeschiedenis blijft voor mij een principile no go area, kolven of niet kolven.
Mozart was een van de briljantste componisten ooit. Hij werd geboren in 1756 en overleed slechts 35 jaar later, talloze meesterwerken achterlatend. Zijn opera Die Zauberfl¶te componeerde hij ten tijde van de Verlichting, iets wat terug te vinden is in de symboliek van het licht. Hoe cynisch dat juist een essentile verlichtingswaarde zoals de vrijheid van meningsuiting door deze zogenaamde vrijheidsstrijders onderuit wordt geschoffeld!
Als exponent van zijn tijd schreef Mozart onverbloemd over man-vrouw verhoudingen en over rassen. Daar mag je wat van vinden, maar het is onderdeel van de kunstgeschiedenis die ons mede heeft gevormd tot wie we nu zijn.
Toen ik aan het conservatorium studeerde, leerde ik dat partituren en originele manuscripten 'heilig' zijn. Tornen aan de noten of aan de tekst was dan ook strikt verboden en respect voor iemands compositie werd ons nadrukkelijk bijgebracht. Het herschrijven van Die Zauberfl¶te veroorzaakt bij mij afschuw en ontzetting omdat het verdergaat dan een beetje controversieel willen zijn en proberen op te vallen in een tijd waarin cultuur een commercieel product is geworden dat je koste wat het kost aan de man moet brengen. Het corrigeren van ons culturele erfgoed zet een bijl in de wortels van onze identiteit. Neem de Mattheus-of Johannespassie van Bach, met een onmiskenbare antisemitische inhoud: de Joden als Christusmoordenaars. Niet meer naar luisteren? Of als dreinende kleuters afdwingen dat er uitsluitend 'la la la' wordt gezongen op deze geniale muziek?
Genderneutrale man-vrouw verhoudingen in de tijd van Mozart?Ik probeer me wel eens de omgekeerde wereld voor te stellen: onze genderneutrale man-vrouw verhoudingen katapulteren naar de tijd van Mozart. Gepensioneerde babyboomers die met gelijkvormige masculiene kapsels en uniseks afritsbroeken door de straten van Wenen lopen eind 18e eeuw. Dat zal me een opstootje gegeven hebben. Het respecteren van geschiedenis en bijbehorende tijdgeest noem ik beschaving. Alles willen aanpassen en veranderen als het jou terugkijkend niet bevalt is een vorm van primitieve geldingsdrang en leidt meestal tot chaos en onthoofde beelden.
Mozart heeft met zijn teksten nooit tegen de schenen willen schoppen van so called feministen. Hij schreef zijn opera nou eenmaal in de tijd waarin hij leefde. Misschien zag Mozart het wel scherp: er zijn nou eenmaal vrouwen die veel kletsen maar weinig zeggen.
The Case for Central Bank Electronic Money and the Non-case for Central Bank Cryptocurrencies | St. Louis Fed
Tue, 24 Apr 2018 04:06
Originally posted 2018-02-28
Abstract: We characterize various currencies according to their control structure, focusing on cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and government-issued fiat money. We then argue that there is a large unmet demand for a liquid asset that allows households and firms to save outside of the private financial sector. Central banks could offer such an asset by simply allowing households and firms to open accounts with them. Finally, we conclude that a central bank will not issue cryptocurrencies in the sense of a truly decentralized and permissionless asset that allows users to remain anonymous.
1 Control Structure of Currencies
In Berentsen and Sch¤r (2017), we argue that Bitcoin links several technological components together in such a way that the units of value are issued under competition and have both a virtual representation and a decentralized transaction process. In this way, the Bitcoin system has created money that is substantially different from any other money'--such as commodity money, cash, or electronic money.
To understand why Bitcoin is unique, it is useful to characterize money according to its control structure as shown in Figure 1.1 There are three dimensions. The first dimension is representation. Money can be represented in virtual form or physical form. The second dimension is transaction handling. Money can be transacted in centralized or decentralized payment systems. Finally, the third dimension is money creation. Some monies are created by a monopoly, while others are issued under competition.
Cash is represented by a physical object, usually a coin or bill, meaning that its value is inseparable from the object. The holder of a cash unit is automatically the owner of the corresponding value. As a result, the ownership rights to the cash units, circulating freely in the economy, are always clearly defined without anyone having to keep records. This feature allows for a decentralized payment system where cash can change hands between two agents without the involvement of a third party. In most countries, the central bank or the treasury is the monopoly issuer of cash.
Commodity money, such as gold, is also represented by a physical object; and, again, the current holder of a unit is by default assigned ownership of the value unit and so no recordkeeping is needed to use it as a payment instrument.2 Gold differs from cash by its competitive creation process because anyone can enter the business of extracting gold and thereby create new gold units.
Commercial bank deposits are virtual money. Virtual money has no physical representation. It exists only as a record in an accounting system. When a payment is made, the accounts are adjusted by deducting the payment amount from the buyer and crediting it to the seller. In most countries, households and firms use commercial bank deposits to make electronic payments. There are many ways to initiate payments; the most common are credit cards, debit cards, checks, and online banking. Commercial banks compete for deposits; that is why we consider the creation of money in the form of commercial bank deposits as competitive (see Figure 1).3 The banks are responsible for keeping records so any transaction between a buyer and a seller requires a commercial bank or several commercial banks to update the respective accounts. For that reason, commercial bank deposits are transacted in a centralized payment system.
Central bank electronic money is also virtual money. In most countries, public access to electronic central bank money is restricted. In Switzerland, for example, it can be held only by a few financial intermediaries. As of now, there are roughly 200 intermediaries that have accounts at the Swiss National Bank and they use the funds in these accounts for settlement purposes and to fulfill reserve requirements.4 A proposal that we label "central bank electronic money for all" would allow all households and firms to open accounts at central banks, which then would allow them to make electronic payments with central bank money instead of commercial bank deposits. (We will come back to this proposal in the next section.) As shown in Figure 1, central bank electronic money is issued monopolistically and transactions are conducted in a centralized payment system.
Bitcoin is the first virtual money for which ownership rights to the various monetary units are managed in a decentralized network. There is no central authority, no boss, and no management. And yet it still works. The Bitcoin blockchain is the decentralized accounting system, and the so-called miners are the bookkeepers. This article won't provide a detailed explanation of this mechanism; see Berentsen and Sch¤r (2018) for that. However, we would like to emphasize that decentralized management of ownership of digital assets is a fundamental innovation. It has the potential to disrupt the current payment infrastructure and the financial system. In general, it could affect all businesses and government agencies that are involved in recordkeeping.
The special feature of cryptocurrencies is that they combine the transactional advantages of virtual money with the systemic independence of decentralized transaction processing. Furthermore, as with gold, the creation of new Bitcoin units is competitive. Anyone can engage in the creation of new Bitcoin units by downloading the respective software and contributing to the system. In practice, however, a few large miners dominate the mining process. The reason is that competition has become fierce and only large mining farms with highly specialized hardware and access to cheap electricity can still make a profit from mining (Berentsen and Sch¤r, 2018).
2 The Case for Central Bank Electronic Money
Each form of money has its benefits and drawbacks. This is why many forms of money coexist. The benefits of cash are that the user can remain anonymous and there is a permissionless access to the cash payment system. In particular, users do not need to open bank accounts to use cash. Furthermore, the decentralized nature of cash transactions makes the cash payment system very robust. It is not possible to destroy it by attacking the payment infrastructure, and people do not need to fulfill any prerequisites to participate. In contrast, centralized payment systems are vulnerable: If the centralized payment processor is attacked, the entire system can come to a halt.5
Cash has another important benefit. With cash there is no credit relationship. Any debt is immediately settled. Therefore, there is no counterparty risk, transactions are final, and people can engage in trade even if they do not trust each other.6 In contrast, today's electronic money (sight deposits issued by commercial banks) involves counterparty risk. Commercial bank deposits are a ledger-based virtualization of claims to physical monetary units (cash). This simply means that bank deposits are a liability of the issuer and bank customers holding bank deposits are offering a credit to their respective bank. Cash has the disadvantage that the buyer and the seller have to be physically present at the same location, which makes its use impracticable for online commerce. The benefit of virtual money such as commercial bank deposits is exactly that it allows for payments among agents that are physically separated. As such, virtual money enables new business opportunities.
Cash is also the only liquid asset for saving outside of the private financial system. By liquid we mean an asset that can be directly exchanged for goods and services. Gold, for example, is also a means for saving outside of the private financial system. However, according to our definition, it is not liquid because it cannot be exchanged directly for goods and services (in most cases).7
We believe there is great demand for a virtual asset issued by a trusted party that can be used to save outside of the private financial system. To underpin this claim, we track Swiss francs in circulation (in the form of cash) as a fraction of GDP from 1980 until 2017 (shown in Figure 2). We can distinguish three phases. The first phase is from 1980 until 1995, when financial innovations replaced the use of cash as a medium of exchange or store of value. The Swiss population increasingly started to use debit and credit cards for payments. The second phase is from 1995 until 2008, when card payments and online banking further expanded but, as suggested by Figure 2, the use of cash did not decline further.
From 2008 until 2017, we see a rapid increase of cash in circulation. We strongly believe that one reason for this increase is the financial crisis of 2007-08 and the subsequent euro crisis. As discussed in Berentsen and Sch¤r (2016), the financial meltdown of 2007-08 and the euro crisis triggered massive interventions by central banks and sharply increased debt-to-GDP ratios in many countries. These events diminished the trust in the financial system, in central banks' ability to function as lender of last resort, and in governments' ability to prevent another financial crisis without having to resort to drastic measures such as confiscatory taxes or forced conversions (as represented by the Greek euro exit discussion).8
After 2008, the demand for cash increased rapidly since it was the only means of holding Swiss francs without facing counterparty risk. Cash was used as an insurance against the insolvency of financial institutions. For example, during the financial crisis, UBS, the largest bank in Switzerland, had to be rescued by the government and the Swiss National Bank.
We believe that there is a strong case for central bank money in electronic form, and it would be easy to implement. Central banks would only need to allow households and firms to open accounts with them, which would allow them to make payments with central bank electronic money instead of commercial bank deposits. As explained earlier, the main benefit is that central bank electronic money satisfies the population's need for virtual money without facing counterparty risk.9 But there are additional benefits.
Cash has many advantages, but its end might be near
There are political and technological reasons why the use of cash may be diminishing. Cash is being condemned by many politicians and economists. According to Berentsen and Sch¤r (2016), the argument of these cash critics essentially is based on three claims: First, the use of cash is inefficient and significantly more expensive than electronic payments. Second, cash promotes crime and facilitates money laundering and tax evasion.10 Third, cash hinders monetary policy by limiting the central bank's ability to use negative nominal interest rates as a policy option.
Technological reasons also apply: In the near future, a close cash substitute will be developed that will rapidly drive out cash as a means of payment. A contender is Bitcoin or some other cryptocurrency. While cryptocurrencies still have many drawbacks, such as high payment fees, scaling issues, and poor adoption, these issues could rapidly disappear with the emergence of large-scale off-chain payment networks (e.g., Bitcoin's lightning network) and other scaling solutions.
If the use of cash is restricted for political reasons or vanishes because of technological innovations, the somewhat strange situation arises that households and firms have no access to legal tender. Today, in most countries, the population can pay only with legal tender through the use of cash. If cash disappears, the population is forced to make all payments with private money. By offering transaction accounts, central banks enable the general public to hold legal tender in electronic form. A large part of the population will consider it a close substitute for cash, and this will make it easier to say goodbye to cash.
"Central bank electronic money for all" increases the stability of the financial system
We believe this because we conjecture that "central bank electronic money for all" would have a disciplining effect on commercial banks.11 To attract deposits, they would need to alter their business model or to increase interest rate payments on deposits to compensate users for the additional risk they assume. The disciplining effect on commercial banks will be reinforced by the fact that, in the event of a loss of confidence, customers' money can be quickly transferred to central bank electronic money accounts. In order to avoid this, the banks must make their business models more secure by, for example, taking fewer risks or by holding more reserves and capital, or they must offer higher interest rates. This simplicity of moving funds to central bank accounts has the potential to create additional volatility. For example, there could be rapid shifts of large quantities of money from commercial bank deposits to central bank accounts that have no real causes (bank panics that are unrelated to fundamentals). In this case, the central bank is called upon to provide commercial banks with the necessary temporary liquidity by offering standing facilities where commercial banks can obtain central bank money against collateral in a fast and uncomplicated way.
"Central bank electronic money for all" simplifies monetary policy and makes it more transparent
The central bank could simply use the interest rate paid on these accounts as its main policy tool. If markets are not segregated, meaning that everyone has access to electronic central bank money, the interest rate on these accounts would be the lowest interest rate in the economy. The reason is that central bank electronic money will be the most-liquid asset in the economy and holders of such money face no counterparty risk since a central bank cannot become illiquid. Many central banks are currently discussing the possibility of normalizing interest rates. Because of the massive amount of liquidity created in response to the financial crisis, standard instruments such as open market intervention are ineffective and all instruments that are currently discussed have the characteristic that the central bank pays, in some form, interest on reserves (see Berentsen, Kraenzlin, and M¼ller, 2018). There is a political economy issue with these payments since, as of today, they are paid only to the few financial intermediaries that have access to central bank electronic money. The general public might not consider such large payments equitable or beneficial, and there is a high risk that it will trigger political controversies that have the potential to affect central bank independence (see Berentsen and Waller, 2014). Central bank electronic money is an elegant way of avoiding possible political upheavals with regard to these interest payments, by allowing the whole population to have access to these interest payments and not just a small group of commercial banks.
"Central bank electronic money for all" requires low administrative effort
Overall, we believe that implementing "central bank electronic money for all" is straightforward since these accounts can be used only for making payments. No credit can be obtained, and so almost no monitoring is needed. (Of course, some standard regulations would still apply.) All transactions would need to be initiated electronically. Furthermore, many central banks already have a payment infrastructure in operation. For example, the Swiss National Bank already maintains one for its employees. Central bank electronic money for all would imply scaling the existing infrastructure to allow for additional account holders. However, it is not necessary that a central bank provides the infrastructure itself. Legislation could mandate that commercial banks open at least one central bank money account for each of their customers. This would allow customers to use their existing online banking access to initiate transactions from their central bank money account. These accounts would have to be maintained by commercial banks outside their balance sheets. As a result, they do not count as part of a bank's assets in the event it goes bankrupt.
This idea is related to but differs in important ways from the Chicago Plan.12 One key element of the Chicago Plan was to eliminate the fractional reserve system by imposing 100 percent reserves on commercial bank deposits. "Central bank money for all" does not eliminate the fractional reserve system. It only amends it by requiring that all agents have access to central bank electronic money. Commercial banks can continue to offer bank deposits, and no one is forced to use central bank electronic money.
There are many open questions that need to be carefully discussed before this proposal can be implemented. In the case of Switzerland, for example, a decision would have to be made about who may hold an account at the Swiss National Bank. Is it only the Swiss population or can people living abroad have such an account? As a first step, it would make sense to narrowly define the group of users to first gain experience running the system. Furthermore, it would be wise initially to add a cap to limit the amount of money that can be held in these accounts. The benefit of such a cap is that it would allow the Swiss National Bank to gain experience, in particular, with the instruments that need to be in place to refinance the private banking system in case of large-scale bank runs.
3 The Non-case for Central Bank Cryptocurrencies
As shown in Figure 1, the distinguishing characteristic of cryptocurrencies is the decentralized nature of transaction handling, which enables users to remain anonymous and allows for permissionless access. In this section, we argue that it makes little sense for central banks to issue cryptocurrencies even though it would be straightforward from a technological point of view to do so.
In theory, a central bank could easily introduce a central bank cryptocurrency. There exist standards such as Ethereum's ERC20 or ERC223 token standards that can be used to create new fungible tokens that are compatible with the Ethereum blockchain's infrastructure. Alternatively, one could attach additional value components to fractions of existing cryptoassets, such as Bitcoin. The additional value'--in this case, fiat currency'--would then be part of a specific fraction of a Bitcoin (or more precisely an unspent transaction output) and could be represented and traded on the Bitcoin blockchain. This is usually referred to as "colored coins." Finally, a central bank can develop a brand new blockchain. All approaches are fairly straightforward to implement and would allow for the issuance of a central bank cryptocurrency on a public blockchain.
To ensure parity between a crypto fiat unit and central bank reserves, the central bank must be willing to buy and sell any number of these tokens at par. The valuation will depend on the central bank's credibility; but, if a central bank is determined to issue a central bank cryptocurrency, it would have the means to do so. In fact, the convertibility mechanism can be compared with different denominations of cash, where central banks make a similar claim.13
However, the key characteristics of cryptocurrencies are a red flag for central banks. That is, no reputable central bank would have an incentive to issue an anonymous virtual currency. The reputational risk would simply be too high. Think of a hypothetical "Fedcoin" used by a drug cartel to launder money or a terrorist organization to acquire weapons. Moreover, commercial banks would rightfully start asking why they have to follow KYC ("know your customer") and AML ("anti-money laundering") regulations, while the central bank is undermining any effects of this regulation by issuing an anonymous cryptocurrency with permissionless access. Moreover, cryptocurrency is still a very young technology and there are large operational risks. Overall, we believe that the call for a "Fedcoin" or any other central bank cryptocurrency is somewhat na¯ve.
Once we remove the decentralized nature of a cryptocurrency, not much is left of it. As shown in Figure 1, virtual money that is centralized and issued monopolistically by a central bank is electronic central bank money. It is worthwhile to mention that electronic central bank money could have been offered a long time ago. The technology for issuing virtual money in a centralized way existed long before the invention of the blockchain. But calling such a centralized form of virtual money a cryptocurrency is misleading.
4 Conclusion
The distinguishing characteristic of cryptocurrencies is the decentralized nature of transaction handling, which enables users to remain anonymous and allows for permissionless access. These key characteristics are a red flag for central banks, and we predict that no reputable central bank would issue a decentralized virtual currency where users can remain anonymous. The reputational risk would simply be too high. Rather, central banks could issue central bank electronic money. This money would be tightly controlled by them, and users would be subject to standard KYC ("know your customer") and AML ("anti-money laundering") procedures.
Some central banks supposedly are evaluating the issuance of a central bank cryptocurrency. However, a closer look at these projects reveals that these are not cryptocurrencies according to our definition in Figure 1. The projects usually are highly centralized.
In general, we don't think that a central bank should be in the business to satisfy the demand for anonymous payments. We believe that such a demand can and will be perfectly satisfied by the private sector, in particular through cryptocurrencies. History and current political reality show that, on the one hand, governments can be bad actors and, on the other hand, some citizens can be bad actors. The former justifies an anonymous currency to protect citizens from bad governments, while the later calls for transparency of all payments. The reality is in between, and for that reason we welcome anonymous cryptocurrencies but also disagree with the view that the government should provide one.
1 We focus on Bitcoin, but many other cryptocurrencies share similar characteristics. However, more than 1,500 cryptocurrencies have come into existence in the past few years and some do not feature all the characteristics that we find essential to be qualified as a cryptocurrency (see Figure 1).
2 We abstract from the case where an agent holds a unit of gold and is not the legal owner, such as a bank that keeps gold for its customers in a vault.
3 In some countries, competition for commercial bank deposits is restricted by financial regulations. For these countries, commercial bank deposit creation lies somewhere between monopoly and competition (see Figure 1).
4 For that reason, electronic money issued by the Swiss National Bank is called reserves.
5 A centralized payment infrastructure has many more disadvantages: Plenty of user data are collected, users can be locked out of the system, and their funds can be confiscated, which is all too often the case in countries with dubious legal systems. Furthermore, centralization may lead to a systemic dependence and rent-seeking behavior. Additionally, vendors are in constant fear of chargebacks.
6 Like cash, Bitcoin is not a liability and, therefore, holding Bitcoin involves no counterparty risk.
7 In the finance literature, there are many competing definitions for the term "liquid asset." We use the one developed in the literature labeled "new monetarist economics" (e.g., Williamson and Wright, 2010) and "search theoretic approach to monetary economics" (e.g., Nosal and Rocheteau, 2011; Kiyotaki and Wright, 1993).
8 As discussed in Berentsen and Sch¤r (2016), cash is an insurance against bad outcomes by enabling its holder to remain "liquid" when disaster hits. Financial crises (e.g., the Lehman collapse), confiscatory taxes (e.g., Cyprus and Argentina), or (anticipated) forced conversion (e.g., Grexit, Argentina) are just a few examples of recent events in which holding cash was advantageous. The rapid increase in cash in circulation in Switzerland after the financial crisis cannot be explained only by low interest rates, since Switzerland already had a spell of zero interest rates shortly after the year 2000 when no such increase occurred.
9 A holder of electronic central bank money faces no counterparty risk because a central bank can always print its own liabilities. In contrast, commercial demand deposits are a promise to pay out cash (central bank money) on demand and that promise might not be fulfilled. However, central bank money is not immune to financial disaster. Historically, hyperinflation has impoverished many households that have held a large part of their wealth in the form of cental bank currency (see Berentsen and Schar, 2016).
10 There are many politicians and economists (e.g., Rogoff, 2016) who want to abolish cash because they believe that it is mainly used for criminal activities, money laundering, and tax evasion. If this argument is true, then the Swiss population became less criminal during the 1980s, and then its desire for crime stabilized during the 1990s, and finally, from 2007 on, the Swiss franc was used to conduct more money laundering and tax evasion (see Figure 2). It should be clear by now that we are not convinced by this argument.
11 Note that we believe that central bank electronic money for all will increase the stability of the financial system. In fact, there is a need for research that quantifies the effects of this mechanism on the stability of the financial system.
12 The Chicago Plan was developed during the Great Depression by many leading U.S. economists. It advocated a major monetary reform including 100 percent reserve balances to back commercial bank deposits (see Benes and Kumhof, 2012). A system with 100 percent reserve requirements is essentially identical to a system where commercial banks are forced to hold all deposits in accounts that are separated from their own balance sheet.
13 The most straightforward way to fix the exchange rate would be to offer two standing facilities. For example, assume the Swiss National Bank decides to issue a Swiss franc crypto token on the Ethereum blockchain. To keep the value of this crypto token at par, it would offer a buying facility and a selling facility. At the buying facility, it would promise to buy unlimited amounts of Swiss franc crypto tokens at, say, 0.999 Swiss francs. At the selling facility, it would offer to sell Swiss franc crypto tokens at, say, 1.001 Swiss francs. If these facilities are credible, the value of the Swiss franc token will remain between 0.999 and 1.001 Swiss francs forever. In fact, these facilities will never be used if markets are not segregated, as shown in Berentsen, Kraenzlin, and M¼ller (2018) for the Swiss money market.
Benes, Jaromir and Kumhof, Michael. "The Chicago Plan Revisited," IMF Working Paper WP/12/202, International Monetary Fund, 2012.
Berentsen, Aleksander; Kraenzlin, S(C)bastien and M¼ller, Benjamin. "Exit Strategies and Monetary Policy." ECON'--Working Paper No. 241, Department of Economics, University of Zurich, revised February 2018.
Berentsen, Aleksander and Sch¤r, Fabian. "A Short Introduction to the World of Cryptocurrencies." Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Review, First Quarter 2018, pp. 1-16;
Berentsen, Aleksander and Sch¤r, Fabian. Bitcoin, Blockchain und Kryptoassets: Eine umfassende Einf¼hrung. BoD, Norderstedt, 2017.
Berentsen, Aleksander and Sch¤r, Fabian. "The Fallacy of a Cashless Society," in Beer C., Gnan E., and U.W. Birchler (Hg.), Cash on Trial, SUERF Conference Proceedings 2016/1, Larcier, S. 14-19, 2016.
Berentsen, Aleksander and Waller, Christopher. "Floor Systems for Implementing Monetary Policy: Some Unpleasant Fiscal Arithmetic." Review of Economic Dynamics, 2014, 17(3), pp. 523-42.
Kiyotaki, Nobuhiro and Wright, Randall. "A Search-Theoretic Approach to Monetary Economics." American Economic Review, 1993, 83(1), pp. 63-77.
Nakamoto, Satoshi. "Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System." 2008;
Nosal, Ed and Rocheteau, Guillaume. Money, Payments, and Liquidity. MIT Press, 2011.
Rogoff, Kenneth S. The Curse of Cash. Princeton University Press, 2016.
Williamson, Stephen D. and Wright, Randal. "New Monetarist Economics: Models," Staff Report 443, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, 2010.
Aleksander Berentsen is a professor of economic theory at the University of Basel and a research fellow at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Fabian Sch¤r is managing director of the Center for Innovative Finance at the Faculty of Business and Economics, University of Basel.
(C) 2018, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect official positions of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis or the Federal Reserve System.
Aleksander Berentsen and Fabian Schar, "The Case for Central Bank Electronic Money and the Non-case for Central Bank Cryptocurrencies," Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Review, Second Quarter 2018, pp. 97-106.
'We Welcome Anonymous Cryptocurrencies' : U.S. Fed Studies Bitcoin in New Research
Tue, 24 Apr 2018 04:06
Join our community of 10 000 traders on for just $39 per month.The Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis, one of 12 regional Reserve Banks that make up the United States' central bank, has conducted a study asking some of the biggest questions in cryptocurrency today '' and they may have found some real answers.
Their researchers investigated the control structure of various currencies and looked into whether central banks will adopt cryptocurrencies as a form of payment.
Commodity, Cash, or Digital?In an effort to assign Bitcoin one of the above monetary categories, the researchers concluded that Bitcoin actually defied traditional categorization '' it's none of the above, as shown in the chart below.
There are a number of dimensions used by the bank to categorize money.
The first is representation: Is the currency represented physically or virtually?
The second is transaction handling: Are transactions handled in centralized or decentralized payments?
The third is money creation: Is the production of the currency competitive or monopolized?
These dimensions make it easy to distinguish between commodities like gold, physical currencies like fiat cash, and so on. However, Bitcoin proved elusive when analyzed in the traditional manner.
The researchers pointed out that gold has decentralized transaction handling, a competitive creation process wherein anyone can mine it, and a finite supply '' all traits which are shared by Bitcoin. However, it also has an inherent value as a commodity, unlike fiat currency which represents the value of a commodity (like gold, silver, etc). Gold is not a low-liquidity form of money, but it doesn't require extensive bookkeeping or proof of ownership.
Much like fiat cash, simply being in possession of the gold at the time of transaction is enough to prove ownership. Cash is totally decentralized in this sense, with no oversight or bookkeeping required for it to be spent in most cases. The creation, however, is centralized and monopolized. Electronic cash is also monopolized with an infinite supply.
Commercial bank deposits and central bank electronic money are considered virtual money because they don't have any physical representation '' they exist as records only. On the other hand, physical forms of money like gold and cash often don't even need a record in order to function in the market.
Which category fits Bitcoin?The answer, of course, is none of them. Bitcoin takes on traits of all three categories and brings some brand new characteristics as well, making it a unique currency.
Bitcoin is the first virtual money for which ownership rights to the various monetary units are managed in a decentralized network. There is no central authority, no boss, and no management. And yet it still works.
The Bitcoin blockchain is the decentralized accounting system, and the so-called miners are the bookkeepers ['...] decentralized management of ownership of digital assets is a fundamental innovation. It has the potential to disrupt the current payment infrastructure and the financial system. In general, it could affect all businesses and government agencies that are involved in recordkeeping.
The researchers went on to point out the recognisable traits that Bitcoin does have, before moving on to whether bank-issued virtual money even has a purpose at all.
The special feature of cryptocurrencies is that they combine the transactional advantages of virtual money with the systemic independence of decentralized transaction processing. Furthermore, as with gold, the creation of new Bitcoin units is competitive. Anyone can engage in the creation of new Bitcoin units by downloading the respective software and contributing to the system.
In practice, however, a few large miners dominate the mining process. The reason is that competition has become fierce and only large mining farms with highly specialized hardware and access to cheap electricity can still make a profit from mining.
The Case for Central Bank Electronic MoneyThe researchers made one of their most important points here, and one that is often overlooked by the die-hard supporters of fiat over Bitcoin, or the reverse.
''Each form of money has its benefits and drawbacks. This is why many forms of money coexist.''
Cash is permissionless and anonymous, with no account and no record needed. There's no one point of attack (like a payment processing server) that can disrupt the cash system of payment, making it a robust and decentralized system in terms of payment. There's also no credit relationship or risk involved with cash '' transactions are final and done in person, allowing people to trade even if they don't trust each other. Of course, it's not viable for long-distance trading such as online purchases, which is a drawback rectified by virtual money which allows for new business opportunities in new, faraway markets.
The researchers point out that cash is the only liquid asset usable for saving outside of the private financial system, and then put forward an interesting theory.
We believe there is great demand for a virtual asset issued by a trusted party that can be used to save outside of the private financial system.
To demonstrate this they tracked Swiss francs in circulation (in the form of cash) as a fraction of GDP from 1980 until 2017 (shown in Figure 2), and found three phases. Phase 1 lasted from 180-95 and marks the time when financial innovations replaced the use of cash as a medium of exchange or store of value. The Swiss population increasingly started to use debit and credit cards for payments.
The second phase is from 1995 until 2008 when card payments and online banking further expanded but, as suggested by Figure 2, the use of cash did not decline further.The third phase lasted from 2008 until 2017 during an era of increased cash circulation, which the researchers believe is due to the global financial crisis from 2007 onwards.
''We believe that there is a strong case for central bank money in electronic form ['...] central bank electronic money satisfies the population's need for virtual money without facing counterparty risk.''
They didn't speak so highly of cash, stating that cash is inefficient, expensive, facilitates crime, and limits the bank's ability to use negative nominal interest rates.
The bank believes cryptocurrencies are a viable alternative to cash and will be able to outperform cash when issues like scalability, high fees, and adoption are solved, citing the Lightning Network as one of the potential solutions to these problems.
The bank proposes the issuing of central bank electronic money for all as another solution, saying that this practice would help discipline commercial banks and force them to incentivize users to participate with higher interest rates to compensate for higher volatility. The St Louis researchers believe that this would simplify monetary policy by promoting the widespread use of central bank accounts with the interest rate as the main policy tool.
Because the market would be desegregated, the interest rates would be low, and because a central bank cannot become illiquid there is no counterparty risk, unlike with commercial banks. Because no credit is available for central bank electronic money, virtually no monitoring is required at all, making it very low maintenance.
In fact, the central bank wouldn't even have to scale the infrastructure to provide everyone with central bank electronic funds and accounts '' legislation could obligate commercial banks to integrate central bank accounts and store customer funds externally with the central bank, making the funds off limits in the event of the commercial bank going bankrupt, protecting customer funds.
''Naive'' to Expect Central Bank Cryptocurrencies''it makes little sense for central banks to issue cryptocurrencies even though it would be straightforward from a technological point of view to do so''.
The researchers state that no reputable central bank has a high enough incentive to issue branded cryptocurrencies in case that currency were to become linked to a crime of some sort, unfairly associating the bank with the crime and damaging the bank's business.
''Once we remove the decentralized nature of a cryptocurrency, not much is left of it. As shown in Figure 1, virtual money that is centralized and issued monopolistically by a central bank is electronic central bank money.''
The bank feels that it is naive to expect a central bank to issue a cryptocurrency given the logistical problems and unnecessary risks involved. Because of the option of complete anonymity, the bank would risk facilitating money laundering and other crimes which commercial banks are obligated by law to take measures against. The researchers acknowledge the benefits of allowing anonymous transactions in situations where a government is oppressing citizens, but feel that it is not appropriate for any government authority to actively facilitate anonymous transactions due to their obligation to collect tax and prevent money laundering.
''On the one hand, governments can be bad actors and, on the other hand, some citizens can be bad actors. The former justifies an anonymous currency to protect citizens from bad governments, while the later calls for transparency of all payments. The reality is in between, and for that reason we welcome anonymous cryptocurrencies but also disagree with the view that the government should provide one.''
Featured image from Flickr/.
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Nasdaq CEO Says Company 'Open' To Becoming Crypto Trading Platform When Market Matures
Wed, 25 Apr 2018 19:03
The CEO of Nasdaq said that the stock market could become a platform for trading cryptocurrencies in the future, if the market becomes more regulated, CNBC's Squawk Box reports Wednesday, April 25.
Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman said during an interview that ''certainly Nasdaq would considering become a crypto exchange over time.'' Friedman believes that cryptocurrencies ''will continue to persist,'' the only caveat being the amount of time it will take for the crypto sphere to mature. Once that kind of institutional regulations set in, according to Friedman, Nasdaq can say:
'''It's time, people are ready for a more regulated market, for something that provides a fair experience for investors."
Nasdaq has already entered the crypto sphere, as earlier today the stock exchange and the Gemini crypto exchange owned by tech investors the Winklevoss twins announced a partnership. Gemini will be able to use the Nasdaq's SMARTS Market Surveillance Technology to alert the exchange to suspicious trade behavior, potentially preventing market manipulation.
Friedman also told NBC that she considers Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) to be securities, a point much debated in the crypto world:
"ICOs need to be regulated. The SEC is right that those are securities and need to be regulated as such.''
The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) launched a cryptocurrency probe earlier this year. The SEC and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) had also held a cryptocurrency hearing that concluded that while ICOs needed stricter regulations, cryptocurrencies needed smart policies to promote innovation.
Vaccinations for all who are here?
What happened to DACA??
Why the Supreme Court will probably uphold Trump's travel ban.
Tue, 24 Apr 2018 11:42
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"}function d(e){var r=e.params;if("video"===e.mediaType){var t=[];return[,]:Array.isArray(e.sizes)&&e.sizes.length>0&&Array.isArray(e.sizes[0])&&e.sizes[0].length>1&&(t=e.sizes[0]),t}return c(Array.isArray(r.sizes)?r.sizes:u(e.sizes))}function u(e){return f.parseSizesInput(e).reduce((function(e,r){var t=parseInt(m[r],10);return t&&e.push(t),e}),[])}function c(e){var r=[15,2,9];return e.sort((function(e,t){var i=r.indexOf(e),n=r.indexOf(t);return i>-1||n>-1?-1===i?1:-1===n?-1:i-n:e-t}))}Object.defineProperty(r,"__esModule",{value:!0}),r.spec=void 0;var p=(function(){function e(e,r){var t=[],i=!0,n=!1,o=void 0;try{for(var a,s=e[Symbol.iterator]();!(i=(,!r||t.length!==r);i=!0);}catch(e){n=!0,o=e}finally{try{!i&&s.return&&s.return()}finally{if(n)throw o}}return t}return function(r,t){if(Array.isArray(r))return r;if(Symbol.iterator in Object(r))return e(r,t);throw new TypeError("Invalid attempt to destructure non-iterable instance")}})(),l="function"==typeof Symbol&&"symbol"==typeof Symbol.iterator?function(e){return typeof e}:function(e){return e&&"function"==typeof Symbol&&e.constructor===Symbol&&e!==Symbol.prototype?"symbol":typeof e};r.masSizeOrdering=c,r.resetUserSync=function(){h=!1};var f=(function(e){if(e&&e.__esModule)return e;var r={};if(null!=e)for(var t in e),t)&&(r[t]=e[t]);return r.default=e,r})(t(0)),v=t(1),y=t(2),m={1:"468x60",2:"728x90",5:"120x90",8:"120x600",9:"160x600",10:"300x600",13:"200x200",14:"250x250",15:"300x250",16:"336x280",19:"300x100",31:"980x120",32:"250x360",33:"180x500",35:"980x150",37:"468x400",38:"930x180",43:"320x50",44:"300x50",48:"300x300",54:"300x1050",55:"970x90",57:"970x250",58:"1000x90",59:"320x80",60:"320x150",61:"1000x1000",65:"640x480",67:"320x480",68:"1800x1000",72:"320x320",73:"320x160",78:"980x240",79:"980x300",80:"980x400",83:"480x300",94:"970x310",96:"970x210",101:"480x320",102:"768x1024",103:"480x280",108:"320x240",113:"1000x300",117:"320x100",125:"800x250",126:"200x600",144:"980x600",195:"600x300",199:"640x200",213:"1030x590",214:"980x360"};f._each(m,(function(e,r){return m[e]=r}));var x=r.spec={code:"rubicon",aliases:["rubiconLite"],supportedMediaTypes:["banner","video"],isBidRequestValid:function(e){if("object"!==l(e.params))return!1;var r=e.params;return!!/^\d+$/.test(r.accountId)&&(!(d(e).length.01?n.floor:.01,element_id:e.adUnitCode,name:e.adUnitCode,,width:s[0],height:s[1],};return n.inventory&&"object"===l(n.inventory)&&(c.inventory=n.inventory),n.keywords&&Array.isArray(n.keywords)&&(c.keywords=n.keywords),n.visitor&&"object"===l(n.visitor)&&(c.visitor=n.visitor),u.slots.push(c),{method:"POST",url:"//",data:u,bidRequest:e}}var p=e.params,v=p.accountId,m=p.siteId,x=p.zoneId,h=p.position,_=p.floor,b=p.keywords,g=p.visitor,w=p.inventory,j=p.userId;_=(_=parseFloat(_))>.01?_:.01,h=h||"btf";var I=d(e),z=["account_id",v,"site_id",m,"zone_id",x,"size_id",I[0],"alt_size_ids",I.slice(1).join(",")||void 0,"p_pos",h,"rp_floor",_,"rp_secure",i()?"1":"0","tk_flint","pbjs_lite_v1.5.0-pre","x_source.tid",e.transactionId,"p_screen_res",o(),"kw",b,"tk_user_key",j];return null!==g&&"object"===(void 0===g?"undefined":l(g))&&f._each(g,(function(e,r){return z.push("tg_v."+r,e)})),null!==w&&"object"===(void 0===w?"undefined":l(w))&&f._each(w,(function(e,r){return z.push("tg_i."+r,e)})),z.push("rand",Math.random(),"rf",t),z=z.concat(a()),z=z.reduce((function(e,r,t){return t%2==0&&void 0!==z[t+1]?e+r+"="+encodeURIComponent(z[t+1])+"&":e}),"").slice(0,-1),{method:"GET",url:"//",data:z,bidRequest:e}}))},interpretResponse:function(e,r){var t=r.bidRequest,i=(e=e.body).ads;return"object"!==(void 0===e?"undefined":l(e))||"ok"!==e.status?[]:("object"===(void 0===t?"undefined":l(t))&&"video"===t.mediaType&&"object"===(void 0===i?"undefined":l(i))&&(i=i[t.adUnitCode]),!Array.isArray(i)||i.length'}Object.defineProperty(r,"__esModule",{value:!0}),r.spec=void 0;var u=Object.assign||function(e){for(var r=1;r -1; } /** * Checks if ad slot is in view and window is focused */ function adIsInView(slotElement) { const windowHasFocus = $window.document.hasFocus(); if (!windowHasFocus) { return false; } else { return $visibility.isElementInViewport(slotElement); } } /* * Create ad object */ this.createAd = function(el) { var type = el.getAttribute("data-type"), pageType = el.getAttribute("data-page-type"), prebid = el.getAttribute("data-prebid"), dataDfpSizes = el.getAttribute("data-sizes"), dataPrebidSizes = el.getAttribute("data-prebid-sizes"), rubiconZoneId = el.getAttribute("data-zone-id"), appnexusPlacementId = el.getAttribute("data-placement-id"), trustxId = el.getAttribute("data-trustx-id"), criteoZoneId = el.getAttribute("data-criteo-id"), sizes; if (!adIndex[type]) { adIndex[type] = 1; } = type + "-" + adIndex[type]; adIndex[type]++; var ad = { id:, type: type, pageType: pageType, prebid: prebid, dfpSizes: getSizeArray(dataDfpSizes), prebidSizes: getSizeArray(dataPrebidSizes), rubiconZoneId: rubiconZoneId, appnexusPlacementId: appnexusPlacementId, trustxId: trustxId, criteoZoneId: criteoZoneId }; return ad; }; /** * Returns sizes as an array * @param {string} sizes * @returns {array} */ function getSizeArray(sizes) { var sizesArray = []; if (sizes && sizes.length) { sizes = sizes.split(",");, function(size) { size = size.split("x"); w = parseInt(size[0]); h = parseInt(size[1]); sizesArray.push([w, h]); }); } return sizesArray; } /** * Returns ad node * @returns {string} */ function getAdNode() { let adNodeElement = document.querySelector("div[data-adnode]"), adNode = ""; if (adNodeElement) { adNode = adNodeElement.getAttribute("data-adnode"); } return adNode; } /** * Returns DFP ad unit * @returns {string} */ function getAdUnit() { const networkCode = "91898098", platform = "", adNode = getAdNode(); return networkCode + "/" + platform + "/" + adNode; } /** * Whether or not to run prebid for this slot * Returns true if prebid is enabled for this slot * and prebid isn't requesting bids for other slot at this time. * @returns {boolean} */ function runPrebid(ad_data) { return ad_data.prebid === "true" && !pbjs.adserverRequestSent; } }]);"use strict";/** * Generates a unique id on the _client_. * * @example $cid(); */DS.service("$cid", function() { var counter = Math.floor(Math.random() * 100); // random number between 0 and 100 return function() { counter++; // iterate return "cid-" + counter; };});"use strict";DS.service("dom", [ "$document", function($document) { /** * This function can be minimized smaller than document.querySelector * @param {Element} [el] * @param {string} selector * @returns {Element} * @example find('ul') //finds globally * @example find(el, '.list') //finds within */ this.find = function(el, selector) { if (!selector) { selector = el; el = $document; } return el.querySelector(selector); }; /** * This function can be minimized smaller than document.querySelector * @param {Element} [el] * @param {string} selector * @returns {NodeList} * @example findAll('ul') //finds globally * @example findAll(el, '.list') //finds within */ this.findAll = function(el, selector) { if (!selector) { selector = el; el = $document; } return el.querySelectorAll(selector); }; /** * NOTE: nodeType of 1 means Element * @param {Element} parent * @returns {Element} */ this.getFirstChildElement = function(parent) { var cursor = parent.firstChild; while (cursor && cursor.nodeType !== 1) { cursor = cursor.nextSibling; } return cursor; }; this.prependChild = function(parent, child) { if (parent.firstChild) { parent.insertBefore(child, parent.firstChild); } else { parent.appendChild(child); } }; /** * Inserts el into the dom after the referencedEl. * @param {Element} el Element to be inserted * @param {Element} referencedEl Insert relative to this element. */ this.insertAfter = function(el, referencedEl) { referencedEl.parentNode.insertBefore(el, referencedEl.nextSibling); }; /** * Fast way to clear all children * @see * @param {Element} el */ this.clearChildren = function(el) { while (el.firstChild) { el.removeChild(el.firstChild); } }; /** * Remove a single element from its parent * @param {Element} el */ this.removeElement = function(el) { el.parentNode.removeChild(el); }; this.preventDefault = function(e) { if (e && e.preventDefault) { e.preventDefault(); } }; this.replaceElement = function(el, replacementEl) { var parent = el.parentNode; if (parent) { parent.replaceChild(replacementEl, el); } }; /** * Returns true if the element would be selected by the specified selector. * Essentially a polyfill, but necessary for `closest`. * @param {Node} node preferably an Element for better performance, but it will accept any Node. * @param {string} selector * @returns {boolean} */ this.matches = function(node, selector) { var parent, matches, i; if (node.matches) { return node.matches(selector); } else { parent = node.parentElement || $document; matches = parent.querySelectorAll(selector); i = 0; while (matches[i] && matches[i] !== node) { i++; } return !!matches[i]; } }; /** * Get closest element that matches selector starting with the element itself and traversing up through parents. * @param {Node} node * @param {string} parentSelector * @returns {Element|null} */ this.closest = function(node, parentSelector) { var cursor = node; while (cursor && !this.matches(cursor, parentSelector)) { cursor = cursor.parentElement || cursor.parentNode; } return cursor ? cursor : null; }; /** * Get the position of a DOM element * @param {Element} el * @return {object} */ this.getPos = function(el) { var rect = el.getBoundingClientRect(), scrollY = window.pageYOffset || document.documentElement.scrollTop || document.body.scrollTop; return { top: + scrollY, bottom: + rect.height + scrollY, height: rect.height }; }; }]);"use strict";DS.service("headerBidding", function() { var adData, gptSlot; this.prebid = function(data, slot) { adData = data; gptSlot = slot; this.requestBidsFromExchanges(); }; // Request bids from the exchanges this.requestBidsFromExchanges = function() { this.getBidsFromPrebidExchanges(); this.getBidsFromAmazon(); }; // get bids from all prebid partners this.getBidsFromPrebidExchanges = function() { var prebidAdUnit = this.createPrebidAdUnit(), bidsBackCallBack = this.addBidsToDfpRequest; pbjs.que.push(function() { pbjs.addAdUnits([prebidAdUnit]); pbjs.adserverRequestSent = true; pbjs.requestBids({ adUnitCodes: [], bidsBackHandler: bidsBackCallBack }); }); }; // get bids from amazon this.getBidsFromAmazon = function() { var apsAdUnit = this.createApsAdUnit(), prebidTimeout = pbjs.getConfig("bidderTimeout"), timeout = prebidTimeout ? prebidTimeout : 800; if (apstag) { apstag.fetchBids( { slots: [apsAdUnit], timeout: timeout }, function(bids) { googletag.cmd.push(function() { apstag.setDisplayBids(); }); } ); } }; // Callback function called after all bid requests completed or timeouted this.addBidsToDfpRequest = function() { googletag.cmd.push(function() { pbjs.que.push(function() { pbjs.setTargetingForGPTAsync([]); // add winning bid to the ad slot googletag.pubads().refresh([gptSlot], { changeCorrelator: false }); // send request to the dfp pbjs.adserverRequestSent = false; }); }); }; // Returns prebid ad unit this.createPrebidAdUnit = function() { return { code:, sizes: adData.prebidSizes, bids: [ this.appnexus(adData), this.rubicon(adData), this.trustx(adData), this.sonobi(gptSlot), this.criteo() ] }; }; // Returns ad unit for amazon publisher service this.createApsAdUnit = function() { return { slotID:, slotName: gptSlot.getAdUnitPath(), sizes: adData.prebidSizes }; }; // Returns data for appnexus bid request this.appnexus = function() { return { bidder: "appnexusAst", params: { placementId: adData.appnexusPlacementId } }; }; // Returns data for rubicon bid request this.rubicon = function() { return { bidder: "rubicon", params: { accountId: "13590", siteId: "60302", zoneId: adData.rubiconZoneId } }; }; // Returns data for trustx bid request this.trustx = function() { return { bidder: "trustx", params: { uid: adData.trustxId } }; }; // Returns data for sonobi bid request this.sonobi = function() { return { bidder: "sonobi", params: { ad_unit: gptSlot.getAdUnitPath() } }; }; this.criteo = function() { return { bidder: "criteo", params: { zoneId: adData.criteoZoneId } }; };});/* jshint strict: true, browser: true *//* global window *//* global document */"use strict";const instance = window.Layzr({ threshold: 100});instance.on("src:before", function(element) { // add a load event listener element.addEventListener("load", function(event) { element.parentElement.classList.add("loaded"); });});document.addEventListener("DOMContentLoaded", function(event) { instance .update() .check() .handlers(true);});"use strict";DS.service("teadsBackfill", [ "$window", function($window) { // this function unhides outstream backfill slot // so it can request an ad from the DFP // it's called from teads tag when teads has no ad to show $window.teadsNoFill = function(slotId) { var isDesktop = window.innerWidth > 969, backfillId; if (slotId === "#outstream-video-1") { backfillId = isDesktop ? "outstream-backfill-1" : "outstream-backfill-tablet-1"; } if (slotId === "#outstream-video-2") { backfillId = isDesktop ? "outstream-backfill-2" : "outstream-backfill-tablet-2"; } if (slotId === "#mobile-outstream-video-1") { backfillId = "outstream-backfill-mobile-1"; } if (slotId === "#mobile-outstream-video-2") { backfillId = "outstream-backfill-mobile-2"; } if (backfillId) { var el = document.getElementById(backfillId); = "block"; } }; }]);/* globals window: false, document: false, URL: false, location: false, history: false, DS: false *//* eslint no-console: ["error", { allow: ["warn", "error"] }] */DS.service("via", function() { "use strict"; // remove `via` from url, to be used after amplitude logs it to prevent users from sharing such urls function removeFromLocation() { const url = new URL(location.href); url.searchParams.delete("via"); history.replaceState(null, "", url.toString()); } // and add `via` param to any outbound links function addViaToUrl(href, via) { if (!href || href.substr(0, 1) === "#") { return href; // don't add to jumps on the current page, e.g. "Skip to main content" } const url = new URL(href); const apexDomain = new URL(location.href).hostname .split(".") .slice(-2) .join("."); if (url.hostname.indexOf(apexDomain) === -1) { return href; // don't add it to external links } url.searchParams.set("via", via); return url.toString(); } // keys correspond to "page_types" in editable_components.yml const PREFIXES = { article: "article", homepage: "homepage", "vertical front": "section", "rubric front": "rubric" }; let pageType; function setPageType(amplitudePageType) { pageType = PREFIXES[amplitudePageType]; } const DELIMITER = "_"; function concatVia(node, via) { const tag = node.dataset && node.dataset.via; if (tag) { via = (via.length ? tag + DELIMITER : tag) + via; } return via; } function addToClickedLinks() { document.documentElement.addEventListener("click", function(e) { let a; let via = ""; // detect link nodes and collect via directives to append to the href let node =; while (node !== e.currentTarget) { if (node.tagName === "A") { a = node; } via = concatVia(node, via); node = node.parentNode; } if (a && via) { if (pageType) { via = pageType + DELIMITER + via; } a.href = addViaToUrl(a.href, via); } }); } function addToSubmittedForms() { document.documentElement.addEventListener("submit", function(e) { const form =; // collect via directives let via = ""; let node =; while (node !== e.currentTarget) { via = concatVia(node, via); node = node.parentNode; } if (via) { if (pageType) { via = pageType + DELIMITER + via; } // dynamically create a hidden input for the form url var input = document.createElement("input"); input.type = "hidden"; = "via"; input.value = via; form.appendChild(input); } }); } // start listening only once, when first injected addToClickedLinks(); addToSubmittedForms(); return { setPageType: setPageType, removeFromLocation: removeFromLocation };});"use strict";DS.service("$visibility", [ "$document", "$window", "_", "Eventify", function($document, $window, _, Eventify) { var list = [], Visible, VisibleEvent; /** * @param {number} a * @param {number} b * @returns {*} * @see */ function min(a, b) { return a b ? a : b; } /** * Fast loop through watched elements */ function onScroll() { list.forEach(updateVisibility); } /** * updates seen property * @param {Visble} item * @param {{}} evt * @fires Visible#shown * @fires Visible#hidden */ function updateSeen(item, evt) { var px = evt.visiblePx, percent = evt.visiblePercent; // if some pixels are visible and we're greater/equal to threshold if (px && percent >= item.shownThreshold && !item.seen) { item.seen = true; setTimeout(function() { item.trigger("shown", new VisibleEvent("shown", evt)); }, 15); // if no pixels or percent is less than threshold } else if ((!px || percent = 0 && rect.left >= 0 && rect.bottom 1) { result += getLinearSpacialHash( remainder, Math.floor(stepSize / base), optimalK - 1, base ); } return result; } /** * @param {ClientRect} rect * @param {number} innerHeight * @returns {number} */ function getVerticallyVisiblePixels(rect, innerHeight) { return ( min(innerHeight, max(rect.bottom, 0)) - min(max(, 0), innerHeight) ); } /** * Get offset of element relative to entire page * * @param {Element} el * @returns {{left: number, top: number}} * @see */ function getPageOffset(el) { var offsetLeft = el.offsetLeft, offsetTop = el.offsetTop; while ((el = el.offsetParent)) { offsetLeft += el.offsetLeft; offsetTop += el.offsetTop; } return { left: offsetLeft, top: offsetTop }; } /** * Execute function when any of the selectors become visible * * Safely stops watching all selectors after first 'shown' event. * * @param {string} selector * @param {function} fn * @returns {[Visible]} Array of elements that we're watching for visibility */ function watchForAny(selector, fn) { var el, visibleList; selector = selector.split(","); visibleList = _.filter(, function(selector) { el = $document.querySelector(selector); return ( el && new Visible(el).on("shown", function() { // stop watching for visibility _.invokeMap(visibleList, "destroy"); // let them proceed fn(); }) ); }) ); return visibleList; } /** * Create a new Visible class to observe when elements enter and leave the viewport * * Call destroy function to stop listening (this is until we have better support for watching for Node Removal) * @param {Element} el * @param {{shownThreshold: number, hiddenThreshold: number}} [options] * @class * @example this.visible = new $visibility.Visible(el); 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Federal judge orders Trump administration to accept new DACA applicants
Wed, 25 Apr 2018 11:21
A federal judge rejected the administration's decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program as "virtually unexplained," giving the Department of Homeland Security 90 days to define its legal objections. After the 90 day period, the administration may have to start accepting new DACA applications.
Federal judge orders government to continue DACA and accept new applicants, in toughest blow yet to Trump's efforts to end program View details · 2. Judge John Bates is highly respected by other judges. In 2013, Chief Justice John Roberts literally put Bates in charge of running the entire federal judiciary, a job that he held for a year and a half. So any opinion from him is likely to carry weight.
View conversation · U.S. District Judge John D. Bates has ruled that the Trump administration must continue the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
#DACA Program and accept new applicants or provide a solid reason to discontinue the program within 90 days. (1/2)
View details · There are already two nationwide injunctions requiring DHS to process DACA renewal applications. That's already up on appeal. Bates' order would go farther by requiring DHS to process new applications again. But DHS will have this 90-day period to try to stop that from happening.
View conversation · Judge John Bates, who just struck down Trump's cancellation of DACA as a lawless and unjustified action, was appointed to the federal bench by President George W. Bush. You don't have to be remotely liberal to reach that conclusion.'... View details · A GWBush-appointed judge has joined 2 Clinton appointees in ruling against Trump's wind-down of DACA. Says administration's explanation is not plausible. He also raises possibility of reopening enrollment window'... View details · ''Arbitrary and capricious'' can be used to define more than just this Administration's policy towards DACA - but the courts come through again. A great defeat, but this is why we need a lasting legislative solution !!'... View details ·
FBI clears Michael Flynn in probe linking him to Russia
Wed, 25 Apr 2018 11:30
The FBI has reviewed intercepted phone calls between national security adviser Michael Flynn and the Russian ambassador to the US and has found no evidence of wrongdoing, it was revealed Monday.
The calls were made in late December and picked up as part of routine electronic surveillance of Russian officials. They did not reveal any illicit ties between Flynn and Russia, according to the Washington Post.
The review of the calls was part of a wider probe into Russia's interference in the presidential election and hacking of the Democratic National Committee.
Report: Center for American Progress Struggled to Address Sexual-Harassment Claims - The Daily Beast
Thu, 26 Apr 2018 01:31
The Center for American Progress, a bastion of Democratic policy that has often written about sexual harassment in the workplace, struggled to properly prevent and respond to sexual-harassment allegations within its offices, according to documents obtained by BuzzFeed News. The organization's employee union drafted a memo for CAP President Neera Tanden, outlining concerns that included the group's insufficient ''employment action'' against those accused of sexual assault, its failure to establish a ''safe space,'' and failure to inform employees how to properly report sexual harassment. A junior staffer, who was sent lewd text messages by another staffer, felt that she faced ''retaliation'' after she reported the incident to HR, according to the report. She then quit, writing in her exit memo that she ''surely expected better out of an organization that housed a national campaign on sexual assault.'' CAP claims only some portions of the memo were mentioned by the union in a meeting with Tanden, and says the organization appropriately investigated the allegations against the employee. The same day the complaint against him was made, CAP ''told him not to return to the office, and not to retaliate against, or even contact, the complainant. He was escorted from the building that afternoon and never returned,'' the organization said in a statement.
Professor Ted
TSB crisis: Customers still struggling despite CEO claiming online banking is 'up and running' - live updates | Business | The Guardian
Wed, 25 Apr 2018 11:19
7.05am EDT 07:05
Another dissatisfied customer:
6.53am EDT 06:53
Clean Sheet, a charity that helps former offenders to find work, can't log into its TSB account to pay staff -- another sign that the IT meltdown isn't fully fixed yet.
5.53am EDT 05:53
TSB customers worry about holidays, mortgages, and foodGuardian readers have been in touch about how they've been affected by the TSB IT failures.Angela from Kent is concerned about her upcoming holiday:
''We are going away on Saturday and can't transfer money from our savings to buy holiday clothes and travel money. We didn't bother trying to contact TSB as their phone call waiting time is over an hour!''
Mark, 54 from Birmingham was on hold for three hours after seeing his account was showing in US dollars:
''My account is showing £40k in arrears against my mortgage and the whole account shows in dollars. I can live with all of that but yesterday my son couldn't eat as I couldn't transfer funds to his Parent Pay account.
Everybody can have issues but the true measure is how you rectify them. TSB's contingency has been very poorly thought out and will undoubtedly cost them long-term loyal customers.''
Jos is on a low income, with no credit cards or savings accounts and unable to use her debit card:
''I have £3.14 in my pocket, my wife is disabled and we can't shop for food. I've been able to see my account details twice on the app since Sunday - both times the balance was wrong with credits and debits to the account missing.
I have been particularly infuriated by TSB's claims of ''intermittent'' problems which is entirely untrue.''
You can get in touch with your experiences, here.
5.49am EDT 05:49
Will TSB's problems prevent staff being paid?TSB's IT chaos is threatening to prevent some small businesses from paying their staff.
Scottish domestic cleaning service Good Fairy Clean couldn't access its account this morning, which is very problematic as it has wages to pay.
This accountancy firm also suffered problems:
5.04am EDT 05:04
Here's Press Association's take:
TSB is continuing to limit access to its mobile banking app and online service after days of delays that saw customers unable to use their accounts.
Chief executive Paul Pester announced on Twitter on Wednesday morning that the services had been restored and thanked customers, many of whom had been left furious by the outage, for their ''patience and bearing with us''.
However a spokeswoman said the bank was limiting the number of customers to ensure those able to access the app received a normal service.
She recommended customers continue to try to open the app, but to close it down and restart if they encounter problems.
Those continuing to experience issues should contact TSB's telephone banking service, she said.
4.11am EDT 04:11
If you've been affected by TSB's online banking failure and would like to share your experiences, anonymously if you prefer, then please do so via the form here. Your responses will only be seen by the Guardian and we'll feature some of your responses in our reporting.
4.08am EDT 04:08
More reports of vanishing mortgages:
Updatedat 4.13am EDT
3.53am EDT 03:53
Five hours after CEO Paul Pester claimed things were 'up and running', the complaints are still rolling in:
3.44am EDT 03:44
Chris Hodgson, director of education technology provider @discoverelearn, has managed to get into his TSB account....only to hit problems making a payment:
3.23am EDT 03:23
TSB's services may be 'up' at last, but - at least for some users - they are shuffling rather than running.
That's because TSB are restricting the number of customers who can get online at once, in an attempt to avoid being overwhelmed by demand.
So, many customers are still being blocked from internet banking, and told to 'keep trying'....
Photograph: TSB 3.01am EDT 03:01
At least two TSB customers have found that their mortgages have vanished this morning.
2.55am EDT 02:55
TSB users: We still can't access our accountsScores of TSB users are reporting problems getting into their accounts this morning, suggesting things aren't as 'up and running' as the company claims.
Translater Adam Ramsey was thwarted when he tried to get online:
Actor Annabel Taylor has similar problems:
And they're not alone either...
2.32am EDT 02:32
TSB crisis: CEO claims service is 'up and running' TSB chief executive Paul Pester Photograph: Nick Ansell/PAGood morning.
After days of disruption, is the UK bank TSB finally getting to grips with its IT chaos?
Staff at the bank have been working through the night, after its botched technology migration left around 2 million customers unable to access their money online since Friday.
TSB had reassured customers that services should have restored yesterday afternoon, once it had tackled the blunders that meant things weren't working properly when the migration officially ended on Sunday night.
Instead, it took until 3.40 this morning until CEO Paul Pester could declare that services were ''up and running'', and thank customers for their ''patience and bearing with us''.
Mission accomplished? Perhaps not. Some TSB users are already reporting that they can't get into their accounts, as the bank struggles to cope with the pent-up demand.
TSB really needs to address these concerns quickly. The Daily Mail has given the bank a rollicking this morning, and there are already suggestions that Pester should lose his bonus over the fiasco.
Also coming up todayEuropean stock markets are expected to drop, following a bloody day on Wall Street yesterday.
In the City, Lloyds Banking Group is reporting results '' and Whitbread is announcing the spin-off of its Costa Coffee chain.
Updatedat 3.12am EDT
Ministry of Truthiness
The BBC finally admits that MI5 secretly vetted its employees, an open secret for generations / Boing Boing
Thu, 26 Apr 2018 14:45
My wife -- whose father is a TV director who'd worked for the BBC -- learned as a little girl that the British spy agency MI5 secretly vetted people who applied for work at the BBC and denoted possible subversives by putting a doodle of a Christmas tree on their personnel files; people who were thus blacklisted were discriminated against within the Beeb.
This practice -- which continued into the 1990s -- has been an open secret for generations, but the BBC has always officially denied it.
Now, the BBC has allowed Paul Reynolds, one of its reporters, to look at its "vetting files" and publish his findings. He found that long after MI5 lost interest in spying on BBC workers, the BBC was still enthusiastic about the practice, with senior managers fighting against scaling back the practice. The BBC also lied to the press, the public, and Parliament about the process. Potential hires were blackballed for belonging to "radical" organisations, but could also be denied employment just for being associated with members of the Communist Party -- for example, for belonging to organisations whose members included CP members.
If MI5 found something against a candidate, it made one of three "assessments" in a kind of league table:
* Category "A" stated: "The Security Service advises that the candidate should not be employed in a post offering direct opportunity to influence broadcast material for a subversive purpose."
* Category "B" was less restrictive. The Security Service "advised" against employment "unless it is decided that other considerations are overriding".
* Category "C" stated that the information against a candidate should not "necessarily debar" them but the BBC "may prefer to make other arrangements" if the post offered "exceptional opportunity" for subversive activity.
The BBC procedure was in principle never to employ someone in Category "A", though a few did get through the net. This contradicted its public position that the BBC controlled all appointments. In theory it did. In practice it gave that choice to MI5 in Category "A" cases.
The vetting files: How the BBC kept out 'subversives' [BBC]
(via Super Punch)
Ancient bad ass had knife for a handSo, there's this skeleton that archaeologists discovered in Italy during the mid-1990s. They reckon the man, who became the skeleton, was alive somewhere between the sixth and eighth century. Those were hard times. Life was short and seldom sweet. In the case of our man the skeleton, somewhere along the line, he lost his hand. ['...]
READ THE RESTModel of Ancient Rome fills roomMussolini commissioned this enormous scale model of Ancient Rome and it took 4 years to build. Surely, much of this is guesswork? [via] At the Museum of Roman Culture resides a 1:250 recreation of imperial Rome, known as the Plastico di Roma Imperiale, which transports viewers not just through space but time as well. ''To ['...]
READ THE RESTForced prison labor put downward pressure on wages at American companies, worsening inequalityIn Economic Consequences of the U.S. Convict Labor System, UCLA economist Michael Poyker uses data on prisons and their surrounding areas from 1850 to 1950 to examine the role that free/extremely low-waged forced convict labor had on wages.
READ THE RESTScore 2TB of cloud storage from one of the best under-the-radar providersOur computers are home to a myriad of files and documents, many of which contain sensitive information. While storing this data on your computer is convenient, it's not exactly safe, and with news headlines highlighting data leaks and ransomware attacks on what seems like a daily basis, moving them to a safer location is a ['...]
READ THE RESTThis versatile telescope lets you observe both Earth and skyTotal versatility isn't something you'd typically find in a telescope. While magnification tech has come a long way, most telescopes are designed to either gaze upon the stars or view the landscapes beneath them. The Omegon Maksutov Telescope MightyMak 60 lets you do both, and thanks to its compact design, you can easily incorporate some sightseeing into ['...]
READ THE RESTMake your mark on the web with this complete WordPress trainingThe web is an invaluable tool for connecting small businesses with their target audiences. However, when it comes to building a website and marketing online, the learning curve can be steep if you're doing it on your own. The WordPress Essentials Lifetime Bundle can help you out by getting you up to speed with the platform ['...]
25 for 45
Johanna Clients don't understand why Trump hasn't been impeached and in jail
War on Weed
Trump to lift legal threat to states that permit marijuana use | Article [AMP] | Reuters
Sun, 22 Apr 2018 20:07
Fri Apr 13, 2018 / 8:25 PM EDT
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump will lift his administration's plans for a possible crackdown on states that have legalized marijuana after talks with a Colorado senator, the White House said on Friday, an action that undercuts U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Senator Cory Gardner, Trump's fellow Republican whose state has some of the most permissive marijuana laws in the country, had blocked Senate confirmation of Justice Department nominations to force the change.
Sessions on Jan. 4 rescinded a policy begun under Democratic former President Barack Obama that had eased enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states that legalized it. In doing so, Sessions, who has taken a hard line against marijuana, gave federal prosecutors wide latitude to pursue criminal charges.
Gardner said on Friday he received a commitment from Trump that the rescission "will not impact Colorado's legal marijuana industry." Gardner said Trump assured him he would support legislation "to fix this states' rights issue once and for all."
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders confirmed the president's action.
"We're always consulting Congress about issues, including states' rights, of which the president is a firm believer. And the statement that the senator put out earlier today is accurate," Sanders added.
While more than half of the U.S. states have approved marijuana for medical or recreational use, it is still illegal under federal law.
The president has frequently criticized Sessions, particularly over his decision to recuse himself from oversight of the federal investigation into potential collusion between Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and Russia.
Gardner said he had earlier allowed some Justice Department nominations to proceed after having "positive discussions" with the department, and will now allow the remaining blocked nominations to move forward.
Democratic U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, another state with permissive marijuana laws, expressed skepticism, saying, "Trump changes his mind constantly."
"We should hope for the best, but not take anything for granted," Blumenauer, a founder of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, said in a statement.
During the 2016 campaign, Trump broke with his party and supported giving states the right to set their own policies on marijuana. He then appeared to change his position last year by saying he has a constitutional responsibility to faithfully execute federal laws.
Bob Ferguson, the Democratic attorney general of Washington state, which permits marijuana use, said Gardner's announcement made him "cautiously optimistic" but until there is a formal agreement or law on the issue he stands ready to defend "Washington's well-regulated marijuana industry."
(Reporting by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Will Dunham)
NYSE glitch forces Amazon and Alphabet traders elsewhere
Wed, 25 Apr 2018 19:05
By John McCrank and Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The New York Stock Exchange said on Wednesday that trading was suspended on its exchange in five stocks, including Amazon and Alphabet, for the rest of the day due to a technical glitch involving trade reporting.
The exchange, which is owned by Intercontinental Exchange Inc (ICE.N), said the suspension was due to a "price scale code" issue and any open orders in those securities would be canceled.
The securities can still be traded on other exchanges, including those run by Nasdaq Inc (NDAQ.O), where the affected stocks are listed, Cboe Global Markets (CBOE.O) and IEX Group.
Aside from (AMZN.O) and both Alphabet share classes (GOOGL.O)(GOOG.O), affected symbols included Booking Holdings (BKNG.O) and Zion Oil and Gas Equity Warrants (ZNWAA.O).
A spokeswoman for the NYSE, Kristen Kaus, said the issue affected a small subset of clients whose trading reports in the affected symbols were being returned in an unexpected format, so the exchange suspended trading in the five securities to minimize customer impact.
There are 13 U.S. stock exchanges, around 40 private trading venues known as dark pools and dozens of single-dealer platforms. The NYSE trading suspension highlights the complexity of the fragmented market, but also its resiliency, given that stocks can trade elsewhere when one exchange has a problem.
The NYSE is one of last U.S. exchanges to have a physical trading floor, and prior to April 9, only securities that were listed on the exchange could be traded there. But following a recent technology upgrade, the NYSE said it would begin trading securities listed on other exchanges as well.
The trading suspension was not likely related to the technology upgrade, Kaus said.
In March, the NYSE and two of its affiliate exchanges were fined $14 million by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, partly in response to a nearly four-hour trading halt in July 2015 that was the result of a flawed software roll out.
(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak and John McCrank; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)
Executive Mode
NBC's Failing Bet on Megyn Kelly - WSJ
Thu, 26 Apr 2018 11:54
Megyn Kelly was supposed to bring star power to NBC News and a bigger, broader audience of morning viewers to its ''Today'' show franchise.
Instead, the three-year, $69 million bet to woo Ms. Kelly from her conservative prime-time perch at Fox News is backfiring.
Since taking over the 9 a.m. hour of the lucrative morning show in September and rebranding it ''Megyn Kelly Today,'' Ms. Kelly has struggled to make the shift to daytime broadcast television, with its delicate balance of soft features and hard news. Her ratings declines and higher production costs have been a drag on a critical franchise for NBC.
''I need to introduce myself to people who don't know me or know some bastardized version of me that they've gotten from a website or a TV show,'' Ms. Kelly said in an interview. ''There are definitely some who only know me through some caricature they learned about on 'The Daily Show.' ''
Some of NBC's affiliate TV stations are unhappy with the drop in viewers, and staffers on other NBC News shows have been grumbling about Ms. Kelly's lofty budget. Hollywood publicists started steering their A-list talent away from the program when a feud erupted with Jane Fonda after Ms. Kelly asked the actress on-air about her plastic surgery.
In addition, Ms. Kelly's Sunday night newsmagazine, which premiered to disappointing ratings last summer, has been reduced to occasional prime-time specials.
NBC News Chairman Andrew Lack's big bet on Ms. Kelly was a throwback to the golden age of broadcast news when networks routinely awarded so-called star anchors huge contracts, believing the face delivering the news was as important as the news itself.
Today, the landscape of network and cable television is so big that there isn't one person who necessarily draws the kind of audience to justify that cost, said Marcy McGinnis, a 30-year veteran of CBS News who is now a consultant.
The turmoil during Ms. Kelly's first year at NBC, and the high-profile exits of NBC's Matt Lauer and CBS's Charlie Rose due to sexual-harassment allegations, have shaken up morning TV news, underscoring the big risks of high-stakes wagers on celebrity news personalities.
With the audiences for morning and evening news shows on a slow decline for decades, the focus of most network news managers is on profit margins and reducing the high salaries of the former era.
When Diane Sawyer stepped down from anchoring ABC's ''World News Tonight'' in 2014, relative unknown David Muir was given the job and ratings actually went up. After Katie Couric gave up anchoring ''CBS Evening News,'' she was replaced by the less-known Scott Pelley, who has subsequently been replaced by the even lesser-known Jeff Glor without a hit to ratings. Those anchors commanded significantly lower salaries than Ms. Sawyer and Ms. Couric.
''Andrew Lack made the mistake with Megyn Kelly [from the beginning] with the decision to hire her to an anachronistic celebrity contract in the mistaken belief that star quality could turn into ratings gold,'' said Andrew Tyndall, a television news analyst and consultant.
Mr. Lack, who persuaded Ms. Kelly to join NBC, defended Ms. Kelly's morning and prime-time roles at the network. ''Megyn has continued to prove that she's a tremendously skilled, hard-hitting journalist, who adds valuable insight and analysis to all she touches,'' he said in a statement.
Since joining ''Today,'' Ms. Kelly is averaging 2.4 million viewers an episode, 18% below what the hour was pulling in last season, according to data from Nielsen. The ratings have declined sharply for the past two months, dipping to a low of 1.9 million, after getting a lift from the network's coverage of the Winter Olympics in February.
Among adults aged 25 to 54, the key demographic that the show targets, ratings are down 28% since last season.
Ms. Kelly's ratings are also hurting the 10 a.m. hour of ''Today'' with Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford, according to Nielsen data. That hour of the show, which focuses on lighthearted lifestyle and celebrity news, is down 6% in viewers and 19% among adults 25-54.
The performance of ''Megyn Kelly Today'' has allowed its chief rival, Walt Disney Co.'s syndicated chat show ''Live with Kelly & Ryan,'' to more than double its lead over NBC in that hour to 747,000 viewers.
''I'm sure they were hoping it was going to do better than this,'' said Stacey Schulman, an executive vice president of television consulting firm Katz Media Group. ''She is a polarizing personality.''
The ''Today'' franchise is key to NBC News and its parent NBCUniversal, a unit of Comcast Corp. ''Today'' generates more than $500 million in revenue and profits of more than $100 million annually, people close to the show said. It is the most successful and important program on the network and is the main profit center for NBC News.
''Megyn Kelly Today'' is vastly more expensive for NBC than its predecessor, which was more clearly an extension of the ''Today'' show with shared resources. The combined salaries of previous hosts Al Roker and Tamron Hall were less than half of Ms. Kelly's $23 million-a-year payday, according to several people familiar with the matter. Ms. Kelly declined to comment on her salary.
The show also carries a much higher budget, including staff who work as Ms. Kelly's stylist and publicist. Plus, NBC News spent nearly $10 million redesigning a studio for the show that it also has to rent.
Ms. Kelly's show is not the only headache facing ''Today.'' In November, longtime ''Today'' anchor Mr. Lauer was fired after he was accused of sexual harassment. (Mr. Lauer apologized but contested some accounts of his behavior.) Initially, the new morning team of Savannah Guthrie and Ms. Kotb drew strong numbers, but more recently rival ''Good Morning America'' on ABC has passed ''Today'' in viewers.
Ms. Kelly said it is too soon to make final judgments on her hour of ''Today.''
''Our show is a baby. We're six months old,'' she said. ''Morning TV is obviously new to me and I'm figuring it out as we go'...I think any show needs about a year to just find its footing.''
It's not unusual for new programs to stumble out of the gate, and given the myriad choices viewers have on broadcast, cable and streaming services, getting attention is increasingly difficult. Even so-called appointment programming such as sports and news are no longer immune to audience fragmentation and are feeling pressure to take big swings to bring in viewers.
Ms. Kelly has yet to find a tone that makes sense for viewers, and she has said she wants to be less reliant on politics. At times, in her evening program, she is a tough newscaster interviewing Russian President Vladimir Putin about election tampering. In her morning show, she can be found doing a Dr. Phil-esque segment asking ''throuples'''--three people in a relationship'--about whether they all fit in a king-size bed.
Ms. Kelly said the move to mornings is akin to ''growing a new muscle'' and that while she loved the ''throuples'' episode, ''I wouldn't say it was the future of 'MK Today.' ''
Ms. Kelly developed a reputation as a hard-nosed interviewer during her more than 12 years at Fox News and was part of the network's ''murderers' row'' of prime-time conservative hosts who dominated cable ratings for years.
Known for her prosecutorial approach to interviews'--Ms. Kelly is a lawyer'--she often echoed the sentiments of other conservative Fox News commentators when it came to the ''war on Christmas,'' the Black Lives Matter movement and gay rights. ''Cupcake nation alert'' became her catchphrase for the left or those seen as politically correct.
She won some fans outside of the channel's conservative base when she challenged then-presidential candidate Donald Trump over his statements about women during a live debate. But she has struggled to parlay that attention into a compelling TV personality who resonates with daytime viewers, bouncing between segments on cooking, domestic abuse and concussions.
Her audience at Fox News was older and more conservative, while ''Today'' caters primarily to a younger female audience.
Mr. Lack has said he knew that putting her on the morning program would be a big test. ''Yes, there is risk and it's unnerving and a little scary,'' he said in an interview last year before she started on ''Today.''
Her difficulty securing an audience is a sore spot for some local TV stations that carry NBC programming, a group that has historically held sway with broadcasters' programming decisions. At WAVE-TV, the affiliate station in Louisville, Ky., the audience for ''Megyn Kelly Today'' is more than 40% smaller than what the previous incarnation of that hour was averaging a year ago. ''We're certainly not happy with the Nielsen numbers,'' said Ken Selvaggi, vice president and general manager of WAVE-TV.
People familiar with the ''Today'' economics question how a show with new costs of more than $30 million a year can remain profitable. Others close to the show said it makes less than its predecessor.
An NBC News spokeswoman said Ms. Kelly's show is profitable.
Ms. Kelly started off on NBC with a Sunday newsmagazine designed to take on CBS's iconic ''60 Minutes.'' The first episode in June featuring an interview with Mr. Putin attracted only six million viewers, about half the average audience of ''60 Minutes.''
A few weeks later, a controversial interview with Alex Jones, founder of Infowars, a site that frequently promotes conspiracy theories, turned into a public relations disaster for Ms. Kelly and NBC News, largely because of Mr. Jones's claims that the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting was a hoax. Only 3.5 million viewers tuned in, fewer than what CBS and ABC averaged that night with reruns of ''60 Minutes'' and ''America's Funniest Home Videos,'' respectively.
Ms. Kelly said it was ''important journalism'' to question Mr. Jones because ''ignoring this guy hasn't worked.''
''Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly'' was pulled before it finished its scheduled run of episodes. NBC recently said Ms. Kelly will host occasional prime-time specials as her schedule permits.
''I don't think I fully appreciated how much work the morning show was going to be and how many hours it was going to require of me,'' Ms. Kelly said, adding that doing occasional specials was a ''good compromise.''
Ms. Kelly said NBC News executives have shown no signs of wavering in their commitment to her nor challenged her direction for the show. ''They've given us a long leash,'' Ms. Kelly said. ''They know that I'm finding my footing and it's going to take time.''
Ms. Kelly received praise from critics and a lift in the ratings when she leaned into the #MeToo movement, featuring women on her show who had made accusations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, journalist Mark Halperin and others. Ms. Kelly has also mentioned her own experiences at Fox News, where she alleged harassment by Roger Ailes, the late CEO of the network, who denied the charge.
Fox News parent company 21st Century Fox and News Corp , owner of The Wall Street Journal, share common ownership.
Last month her show received an Emmy nomination for best informative talk show, along with Steve Harvey, Dr. Oz, Larry King and ''The Chew.''
''I'm proud of the journalistic work we've been accomplishing,'' Ms. Kelly said. ''The ratings are important, there's no question, but it's not the only metric.''
Her coverage of sexual-harassment scandals has also resulted in some awkward moments, emphasizing the delicate balance that morning show anchors need'--part best friend to chat with over coffee, part insightful guide to the news of the day. The dynamics of a live audience further complicate the ability to make quick shifts in tone between segments.
On the Nov. 8 episode, Ms. Kelly opened her show by saying to her studio audience, ''I can't wait to bring the cast of 'Sesame Street' out here, but first, is Harvey Weinstein going to get arrested?''
After Mr. Lauer was fired, Ms. Kelly had a former ''Today'' staffer on her show to talk about the staffer's consensual affair with Mr. Lauer. Many ''Today'' veterans were upset, seeing it as a cheap shot at Mr. Lauer and a ratings stunt.
''I understand that,'' Ms. Kelly said. ''They loved him. They'd been working with him for decades, and it is hard when you care about the person who is at the center of these stories'--trust me, I know.''
Other ungainly moments have taken place with celebrities, most prominently with Jane Fonda. Ms. Fonda took offense at Ms. Kelly asking about her plastic surgery during an interview about a new movie with her and Robert Redford. Ms. Fonda made jokes and mocked Ms. Kelly several times after that, including on a different ''Today'' segment, prompting Ms. Kelly to launch a Fox News-style attack on Ms. Fonda.
''This is a woman who is synonymous with outrage. Look at her treatment of our military during the Vietnam War. Many of our veterans still call her 'Hanoi Jane' thanks to her radio broadcasts, which attempted to shame American troops,'' Ms. Kelly said on her show in January.
The ''Hanoi Jane'' rant, as it became known, was seen as an extreme overreaction inside ''Today.''
Ms. Kelly makes no apologies for firing back at Ms. Fonda. ''I'm all for turning the other cheek but sometimes one has to stand up for one's self,'' she said. A spokeswoman for Ms. Fonda declined to comment.
Now, when Ms. Kelly does have entertainers on, they are usually from fellow NBCUniversal-owned properties such as Bravo's ''Real Housewives'' franchise or they are C-list celebrities such as Whitney Thore from TLC's reality show ''My Big Fat Fabulous Life.''
Ms. Kelly said she never wanted a ''celebrity-driven show.''
''The content of my show is driven by me and my team of producers and not by anyone else,'' she said.
Write to Joe Flint at
Podcast License
Licence to blog: Will 'Swahili WikiLeaks' have to close? - BBC News
Thu, 26 Apr 2018 14:06
Image copyright AFP Image caption Official figures say there are 23 million internet users in Tanzania out of a population of 55 million Bloggers in Tanzania will have to pay $920 (£660) for the privilege of posting content online, according to new regulations.
The government says it wants to protect the East African nation from "lies" being spread online though critics see it as a way of muzzling freedom of expression.
What are the rules? All online publishers including bloggers, vloggers and podcasters have up to 5 May to register and are required to pay $480 for a three-year licence, plus an annual fee of $440.
Radio and TV stations must also apply for licences to share their content online.
To get a permit, applicants must fulfil a list of requirements, like submitting staff CVs and reveal their future plans.
They will also have to keep a record of visitors to their site.
The regulations say the aim is to clamp down on "hate speech" and indecent material with the same standard being applied to online users.
They broadly define a blog as "a website containing a writer's, or group of writer's own, experiences, observations, opinions including current news... images, video clips and links to other websites".
Any breach is punishable by a fine of not less than $2,000 or imprisonment for not less than 12 months, or both.
How have bloggers reacted?Tanzania's Bloggers Network is worried about the impact the new regulations will have on its 150 members.
The group's chairman, Joachim Mushi, says that they are still consulting with the communication authority to try and get them to clarify some of the clauses.
Image copyright Krant Mwantepele Image caption Blogger Krant Mwantepele says he will have to fire some of his writers Mr Mushi says that the blogging network, which was formed in 2015, requires its members to adhere to a code of practice which he says is heavily borrowed from the one that governs the media.
One of the country's top bloggers, Krant Mwantepele, says that the new rules "affect everyone who publishes online even people who use social media sites like Instagram, Facebook or Twitter".
He says that if there's no change in it he will have to lay off some of his staff.
His site, Mwanaharakati Mzalendo, was launched in 2010, employs three contributors, three staff writers and covers politics and social issues.
It attracts an average of 50,000 unique views every day.
More about Tanzania
The blog has won three Tanzanian awards for its political and news reporting and turned Mr Mwantepele into a sought-after trainer on how to make money using online platforms.
"I'm also a social media influencer, I work with different brands but since we heard about these new regulations, everyone has been unsure about what to do, so we are still waiting."
He told the BBC that if the law was not rescinded or watered down, it would render many young people jobless.
"There are many university graduates who have taken up blogging because there are no jobs, these regulations will affect them. I see a situation where Tanzanians will have to rely on foreign blogs for news about what's happening in our country."
He says that he will pay the requisite fee to obtain a licence but that he will stop covering politics and will be cutting staff.
Is 'Swahili WikiLeaks' threatened?A clause in the regulation which might end up taking down Tanzania's most popular and influential website, Jamii Forums, requires publishers to store their contributors' details for 12 months.
Image caption Diamond Platnumz has already had to withdraw an Instagram post because of the new rules Mike Mushi, the platform's co-founder says: "This goes against how we operate. We allow our users to post anonymously so we will have to review whether we can continue operating."
He says the popular messaging platform attracted 3.7 million users just last month.
"We receive almost 20,000 posts in a day on various topics, that's a lot to deal with," he says in response to a requirement in the new regulations that publishers pre-moderate their users' comments before publishing.
Mr Mushi and his co-founder, whose site has been dubbed the "Swahili WikiLeaks", are currently dealing with three cases in court in relation to charges of obstruction of investigation after they refused to hand over details of their users to Tanzanian authorities under an existing law.
Media lecturer Edgar Ngelela from the University of Dar es Salaam says clarity is needed.
"We have different type of bloggers, some post hard news, others use it to post personal diaries.
"Some also share the same posts on platforms like WhatsApp. So the regulations are unclear on who it affects or maybe it affects everyone."
Is fake news a problem?President John Magufuli, nicknamed "The Bulldozer", says he aims "to weed out" what he refers to as a "disease".
"People think that what they see online is true. I don't know where this disease has come from but this is because we don't control these online platforms."
The government also says that it wants to protect the nation's "culture".
Mr Magufuli's has had a no-nonsense approach to running affairs since coming to power in 2015, but critics have also accused him of trying to silence dissenting voices.
The regulations are an addition to existing media laws which have led to several newspapers to be suspended or banned, the BBC's Sammy Awami in Dar es Salaam reports.
Last week authorities arrested the country's top musician - Diamond Platnumz - after he posted a video clip of himself playfully kissing a woman on Instagram, which authorities said was indecent.
Information Minister Harrison Mwakyembe said the government was also monitoring other artists who had been engaging in "decadent behaviour", and warned they would be brought to justice irrespective of their popularity.
These online regulations follow the arrests of several people charged with "abusing" the president for criticising him on Facebook and WhatsApp.
VIDEO - Cathy O'Brien: Ex-Illuminati Mind Control Victim - YouTube
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VIDEO - Google Sundar Pichai on GDPR
Thu, 26 Apr 2018 14:35
Simon Dawson | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Google CEO, Sundar Pichai
CEO Sundar Pichai tried to quell investor fears over how Google's advertising business will be affected by Europe's upcoming privacy legislation during the company's Q1 earnings call.
The gist of his comments: Google is hyper-prepared and it will have little effect on its cash-cow search advertising business.
The General Data Protection Regulation, which is known as GDPR and is meant to give consumers more control of their data, will go into effect on May 25. Any company that breaches the new rules will be fined up to 4 percent of its annual global revenue.
"GDPR is a fairly new public topic, but for us it's not new," Pichai said. "We started working on GDPR compliance over 18 months ago and have been very, very engaged on it."
When RBC analyst Mark Mahaney asked him whether he thought the new rules would impact advertisers' targeting abilities, Pichai emphasized the fact that it still makes most of its money from search advertising, where the effect of personalization is minimal.
"First of all, it's important to understand that most of our ad business is search, where we rely on very limited information '-- essentially what is in the keywords '-- to show a relevant ad or product," Pichai said.
Google's properties revenue, which includes revenue from search as well as its other owned-sites like YouTube and Maps, makes up around 82.6 percent of its total advertising revenues.
But Pichai's answer skips over the effect that GDPR will have on the other 20 percent of its advertising revenue, which comes from its Network Members' properties.
Google Network Members' properties revenue largely comes from third-party sites that use its AdMob, AdSense or DoubleClick ad products to put ads on their websites. If a large number of European internet users opted out the ad targeting used in those tools, it could make them less useful for advertisers.
Overall, Pichai stressed that Google is "committed to meeting requirements" and doesn't expect GDPR to cause a material negative change.
"Overall, we think we will be able to [comply with GDPR] with a positive impact for users and publishers and advertisers, and so our business," Pichai said.
VIDEO - Toronto Van Attack Suspect's Facebook Post References Misogynistic Online Group | Here & Now
Thu, 26 Apr 2018 13:31
April 25, 2018 Updated Apr 25, 2018 2:05 PM
The suspect in the Toronto van attack that killed 10 people, primarily women, posted a message on his Facebook page that appears linked to a misogynistic online group of men who identify as "incel," or involuntarily celibate. Its members hate women because they believe they are denying them sex.
Alek Minassian, 25, is not the first alleged mass killer from this community.
The Facebook post also praises Elliot Rodger, who killed six people near the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 2014 and said it was because women denied him sex. Chris Harper-Mercer, who killed nine people in 2015 at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, also described himself as an incel.
Here & Now's Robin Young learns more with Sam Louie (@DrSamLouie), a psychotherapist in Seattle who's been writing about the group.
Interview Highlights
On the incel community gathering in online forums
"It's growing, and part of the reason is because of the way the culture has shifted, where folks are teased mercilessly ... for '-- I'll just say it bluntly '-- for being virgins. Some of them may be socially awkward, all the way through the autistic spectrum, and then they also don't fit the hypermasculine description of what they think would be attractive '-- all these different facets that just fuel their sense of shame."
On how the incel community formed
"This community started in 1993 by, coincidentally, a woman who was from Toronto. She wanted to make this very inclusive, all men and women were welcome, it wasn't about violence, but it was more or less helping people to connect with other men and women who struggled with her ... and what happened was, a lot of young men had nowhere to [vent] their sexual, emotional, social frustrations, so they found these online communities and forums."
"Some of them may be socially awkward, all the way through the autistic spectrum, and then they also don't fit the hypermasculine description of what they think would be attractive '-- all these different facets that just fuel their sense of shame."
Sam LouieOn some of the lingo incel forums use, like "black pill" versus "red pill"
"The 'black pill' is probably a very small percentage. That's the pill that they metaphorically take, which means, 'I will now espouse violence, hatred and misogyny,' whereas others might go the red pill. So the red pill is similar to the whole 'Matrix' analogy '-- 'If I take the red pill, this is the reality and the reality is I need to learn other skills to pick up women' '-- so they might use manipulation tactics, not necessarily violence, but they need to come up with other strategies."
On treating a client who identifies as incel
"He said, you know, '10,15 years ago when I was in college, I had so much hatred. I had so much rage. I can sympathize with this Minassian killer because I could sympathize with the internal rage and struggles.' But he was able to learn other coping skills. He went through various therapies and other support groups to get him out of that state. But you know, don't get me wrong: he and others that I see, they still really struggle with self-hatred and inability to really feel comfortable with romance."
On possible ways to help those who are struggling with these feelings
"What I really support is group therapy, and I actually know other therapists in the area that actually get men who are very introverted who might fit this psychological profile together in one room, five to six of them, and one of my therapist friends says it is hard. They have such struggles sharing even amongst themselves. But that's part of the healing, is how do you get known? What does it feel like to be able to express your thoughts and feelings and still be validated? And I'm not talking about feelings of misogyny, but just general feelings of ostracism '-- feeling alienated, feeling not good enough. Core beliefs that a lot of us struggle [with]."
This segment aired on April 25, 2018.
VIDEO - Here's How Facebook Decides What You Can And Can't Post
Thu, 26 Apr 2018 12:09
SUBSCRIBE TO THE FEDERALIST RADIO HOUR HERE. On this episode of The Federalist Radio Hour, Ben Domenech interviews Monika Bickert, VP of Global Product Management at Facebook, about the social network's publishing of their ''Internal Enforcement Guidelines.''
They discuss the ways Facebook regulates or removes content and how users often see social media companies as faceless silicon valley overlords.
''We have to be very careful when we designate somebody a hate figure or some organization a hate org or a terror org,'' Bickert said. ''We draw a real distinction between criticizing ideas or institutions or countries or religions, versus attacking people.''
Listen to the full interview here:
VIDEO - Massachusetts preschool bans term 'best friend'
Thu, 26 Apr 2018 12:01
Massachusetts preschool bans term 'best friend'
Massachusetts preschool bans term 'best friend'
A 4-year-old girl at a Massachusetts preschool was told by her teacher she can't call a classmate her "best friend," because the term, according to the school, "can lead other children to feel excluded." Her mother described why she feels the policy is "ridiculous" in the video above.
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VIDEO - Iranian President Makes Clear There Will Be NO Renegotiating Of Nuclear Deal! - YouTube
Thu, 26 Apr 2018 11:44
VIDEO - Maxine Waters claims '70 percent of women' want Trump impeached - YouTube
Thu, 26 Apr 2018 11:41
VIDEO - Macron: 'Iran Shall Never Possess Any Nuclear Weapons' - YouTube
Thu, 26 Apr 2018 11:30
VIDEO - MAXINE MELTDOWN: Trump 'just get out!' - The American MirrorThe American Mirror
Thu, 26 Apr 2018 10:00
Mad Maxine is having a temper tantrum because the facts are prevailing.
The Time 100 honoree (why?) told the magazine during its ceremony that she wants Trump to ''just get out'' of office.
''If you had to give some advice to President Trump, what advice would you give him?'' a Time reporter asked Waters on the red carpet.
''Please resign so that I won't have to keep up this fight of your having to be impeached, because I don't think you deserve to be there.
''Just get out!'' she declared.
The president has previously dismissed Waters as ''low I.Q.''
While Waters can't seem to talk about impeachment enough, other Democrats are warning the party to drop the subject.
Axios reports:
At an Axios event in Chicago yesterday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel told me midterm Democratic candidates are unwise to rely on the allure of impeaching President Trump as an issue in November's races.
His advice: ''I lived through the Clinton White House. This is a serious legal and constitutional, not political, issue. '... I couldn't be angrier at Donald Trump. '... That said, you don't just flippantly say: We're for [impeachment].''
* ''When we get to it, we collectively as a country will know it '-- as we did with, like, Richard Nixon.''
* ''[Y]ou don't just treat '... the policy standard of impeachment '... as a political tool. It's a constitutional standard and, when that standard has been met, we'll know about it. '... This is a case where the best politics is good policy.''
The site quotes liberal New York Times columnist Charles Blow, who predicts, ''It is quite possible that trying to impeach and remove Trump could have the opposite effect than the one desired: It could boost rather than diminish his popularity and an acquittal by the Senate would leave an even more popular president in office.''
VIDEO - Maxine Waters: 70 Percent Of Women Want To Impeach Trump - YouTube
Wed, 25 Apr 2018 19:08
VIDEO - (1) Opinion | Facebook, Trump's lawyer, Syria, Russia and Ryan are under pressure - YouTube
Wed, 25 Apr 2018 14:22
VIDEO - Nancy Pelosi on Twitter: "I truly have a difficult time wrapping my mind around people who pray on Sunday, only to prey on others during the rest of the week. #PelosiAtGU'..."
Wed, 25 Apr 2018 13:49
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VIDEO - How Web Browsers Have Changed 25 Years After The Introduction Of Mosaic : NPR
Wed, 25 Apr 2018 13:29
How Web Browsers Have Changed 25 Years After The Introduction Of Mosaic This week marks the 25th anniversary of the first real web browser, Mosaic, the tool that opened up the Internet to widespread use.
How Web Browsers Have Changed 25 Years After The Introduction Of Mosaic Download Embed <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
This week marks the 25th anniversary of the first real web browser, Mosaic, the tool that opened up the Internet to widespread use.
VIDEO - CBS News on Twitter: "By 2020, China plans to give all its 1.4. billion citizens a personal score, based on how they behave. Some with low scores are already being punished if they want to travel. Nearly 11 million Chinese can no longer fly and 4
Wed, 25 Apr 2018 11:23
Log in Sign up CBS News @ CBSNews By 2020, China plans to give all its 1.4. billion citizens a personal score, based on how they behave. Some with low scores are already being punished if they want to travel. Nearly 11 million Chinese can no longer fly and 4 million are barred from trains 4:44 AM - 24 Apr 2018 Twitter by: CBS News @CBSNews Michael DeMartino @ TheSicilianJew
24h Replying to
@CBSNews As a New Yorker, I love this. As a human, I hate this.
View conversation · Michael @ Mjh090973
24h Replying to
@CBSNews Black Mirror anyone? Wow, scary...
View conversation · SlowLaneLodge @ AslowAl
24h Replying to
@CBSNews Someone ask Bernie Sanders if he endorses this.
View conversation · Matt V. Parker 🇺🇸 @ MVPenergy
24h Replying to
@TheSicilianJew @CBSNews Breaking News - humans found in New York!
View conversation · PacificBerry #AutismAwarenessMonth @ PacificBerry
24h Replying to
@CBSNews Err... what the ......??? View conversation · Lance Sanders @ Lancebowski
23h Replying to
@Mjh090973 @CBSNews @charltonbrooker '­ '­ and you can forget about fresh veggies for the week...
@charltonbrooker , they're ripping you off, my dude... ðŸ¶
View conversation · Mike hayes @ MantisHayes
23h Replying to
@AslowAl @CBSNews Do you think before you speak?
View conversation · Mike hayes @ MantisHayes
23h Replying to
@CBSNews Can't wait to watch conservatives rally around this idea. Trump will be tweeting its praises any minute.
View conversation · Jan @ JanJanWard
23h Replying to
@CBSNews CBS please don't give Trump and his corrupt regime any ideas. Thanks.
View conversation · J.P. Wing @ ThatJPWing
23h Replying to
@CBSNews Black Mirror episode?
View conversation · J.P. Wing @ ThatJPWing
23h Replying to
@CBSNews Admittedly, I have three thoughts on this. 1. This is crazy. 2. Did they grab this from the Black Mirror episode? 3. The tech behind this could be pretty cool.
View conversation · Jack Shafer @ jackshafer
23h Replying to
@CBSNews @DamonLinker @fmanjoo If this scheme comes to America,
@fmanjoo is doomed.
View conversation · Deitrich Finch @ Dietrich_Finch
23h Replying to
@CBSNews In other words a progressive paradise!
View conversation · i'm your kakistocracy @ davilch
23h Replying to
@CBSNews @StephenGutowski Hi Progressives, We know what you're thinking now.
View conversation · i'm your kakistocracy @ davilch
23h Replying to
@MantisHayes @CBSNews Progressives are ALL about using the no-fly list to deny Americans their constitutional rights but Mike here has lost the plot.
View conversation · Michael Dolan @ mikedolanindc
23h Replying to
@jackshafer @CBSNews and
2 others The very definition of the legendary permanent record.
View conversation · 🐏 Radical 'š›¸ Goats 🐏 @ RadicalGoats
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VIDEO - Reasonably Miserable - This Week in Tech (MP3)
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VIDEO - CBC News reporter explaining what an Incel, Chad, and Stacy mean - YouTube
Wed, 25 Apr 2018 04:46
VIDEO - Facebag ads downtown Chicago! - YouTube
Wed, 25 Apr 2018 04:44
VIDEO - Billionaire Khosla Is Asking the Supreme Court to Keep People Off His Beach - Bloomberg
Tue, 24 Apr 2018 12:48
Vinod Khosla is used to playing long odds on some of the startups he backs. Now, the billionaire venture capitalist is using a similar approach for another project: a legal battle over public access to his beach south of San Francisco.
Khosla, 63, believes he has the right to cut off the lone road to the waterfront at Martins Beach, a property he paid $32.5 million for a decade ago. State law says the public owns all coastline on the ocean side of the mean high tide line. Khosla says he shouldn't have to open up his private land without compensation to allow passage to the cove, which is buttressed by cliffs and impossible to reach otherwise except by water.
By the time he shut the gate in late 2009, surfers had been hitting the waves at Martins Beach for decades. When he cut off their access, a stream of lawsuits followed.
Martins Beach near Half Moon Bay, California.
Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
Taking a strong and unpopular position is vintage Khosla. His views on public beach access transcend the familiar world of venture capital and have made him the subject of widespread criticism. In coming months, he'll learn if the U.S. Supreme Court plans to take on the case.
Khosla's petition earlier this year to the highest court in the land raises the question as to why, in an era of enormous perceived arrogance by technology companies, Khosla is giving the public yet another reason to rage about industry leaders.
''It's a matter of principle, not whether the timing is right,'' Khosla says about the case in an interview. ''This is about unfairness, and I don't tolerate unfairness.'' In a country based on rule of law, squelching the rights of property owners is just wrong, he adds.
''I've never seen anyone who needs a PR person more than Vinod right now,'' says James Markarian, who once advised portfolio companies at Khosla Ventures and thinks highly of Khosla. ''You need world class, the Johnny Cochran of PR.'' Khosla says that at the advice of a top aide he recently met with a prospective public relations professional but decided against hiring her.
Public relations factor little into his motivation in general, even when the situation concerns a powerful financier seemingly trampling on the enjoyment of regular folk. Instead, Khosla's decision to take the fight to the Supreme Court reflects a man obsessed with winning and what he sees as fair play.
'I Push Them To The Edge'Khosla's determination dates from at least his earliest days in Silicon Valley. Originally from Delhi, Khosla came to the U.S. for a master's degree in biomedical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. He then applied to Stanford University's Graduate School of Business, which rejected him.
Bent on getting in, Khosla lobbied school officials, first sweet-talking his way onto the waitlist, and then making a series of calls to the head of admissions saying he would take the spot of whichever admitted student didn't show up. He won entry two days before classes began.
Vinod Khosla
Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
Khosla has been in Silicon Valley ever since, working at a design-automation company, Daisy Systems, and then co-founding Sun Microsystems, the computer services company behind the programming language Java. Sun's 1986 initial public offering cemented his fortune, building on a payout from the Daisy IPO earlier.
When he started his eponymous venture firm in 2004, Khosla was winding down a nearly two-decade run at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, known for early investments in Inc. and Google. Along with his successes there, such as backing Juniper Networks, he built a reputation as a venture capitalist with a very particular style.
Some entrepreneurs complain that Khosla enjoys driving hard deals compared with other venture capitalists over valuations of their companies. Khosla disagrees strongly, saying he just doesn't like bargaining and equating it with playing games. ''I decide what's fair,'' he says. ''They can do it or not. I don't go back and forth six times.'' But he can be disarmed. One entrepreneur, aware of Khosla's tough reputation, came in with red boxing gloves to signal his willingness to fight and suggested a number; Khosla accepted it. He says that was because the proposed valuation was reasonable.
Khosla also tosses out suggestions that don't always match the portfolio company's status, for example, suggesting an aggressive entry into a market the company isn't yet big enough to tackle, or an expensive overhaul of a website. He says setting big goals encourages the companies to stay ambitious, adding that those who disagree with his advice are under no obligation to take it or even keep meeting with him. ''I push them to the edge of what they're comfortable with,'' he says. ''I get them to think as big as they can. I view that as my job, not just to be popular with them by saying nice things.''
A voracious reader, Khosla often will push a sometimes relevant, sometimes not, theory he has just boned up on in a new business book, entrepreneurs say, or will cite an old favorite such as ''The Black Swan,'' a 2007 bestseller on preparing for improbable events.
Many Silicon Valleyites see themselves as operating outside the herd; Khosla actually shuns it. He hasn't become a member of popular organizations such as the Menlo Circus Club or the Battery. He won't join the National Venture Capital Association, the industry's main trade group. He doesn't play golf. He turns down invitations to dinners with other venture capitalists.
No trespassing signage is displayed on a gate leading to Martins Beach on July 16, 2014.
Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
''I'd rather spend the time with entrepreneurs,'' he says. That leads to a perception of aloofness that some enjoy taunting; a few years ago, a parody twitter account sprang up for @VinodColeslaw. ''Guys, relax,'' the last tweet says. ''It's MY beach.''
When not in Silicon Valley, Khosla spends time at one of his vacation homes, including in Deer Valley, Utah, and in Big Sur, California. He hasn't visited Martins Beach in several months. To get around, he travels on a Gulfstream V.
Conversations with people who have worked with Khosla as investors and entrepreneurs reveal a man who relishes engaging in heated debates on strategy. During those debates, he doesn't mince words. ''He doesn't suffer fools," says someone who has sat through many such meetings. ''He'll look you in the eye and say 'That's completely stupid,' not because he's trying to make you feel bad, but because he has no filter,'' says the person, who requested anonymity because he wants to preserve a cordial business relationship with Khosla.
Khosla prefers to describe his style as ''brutal honesty.'' Still, he acknowledges sometimes going too far. ''If I had to do it over again,'' he says now, ''I'd couch my honesty, I'd say it nicer, but say the same thing.''
Partners in Khosla's firm and entrepreneurs who stand up to him and can rebut his points raise their standing in Khosla's eyes. Those who can't are left shaken and angry. He practiced the philosophy long before the current vogue for ''radical candor,'' mocked recently on the HBO show ''Silicon Valley.''
He's also known for defending portfolio companies publicly in situations where other backers tend to go quiet. After Bloomberg reported that Khosla portfolio company Hampton Creek, a vegan mayonnaise maker, was inflating sales figures by purchasing jars of its own product, Khosla went on Bloomberg TV and said entrepreneurs ''push the edges.'' He called allegations over revenue projections by another investor ''not credible.'' The following year, Khosla's board representative and all other outside directors resigned from the Hampton Creek board.
His defenders counter that the loudest complainers are the worst performers. Truly talented entrepreneurs will know which pieces of advice to take, and when. Good analysis relies on debate. And fostering a sometimes adversarial relationship between two executives can tease out the best performance from each, they say.
With Khosla, ''it's the same pro and the same con,'' says Jagdeep Singh, founder of battery company Quantumscape, the third he has started where Khosla holds a board seat. ''He really doesn't care about what anybody thinks. He's doing what he thinks is right, and he'll stick by it.''
The confrontations are juxtaposed with moments of tenderness, especially when it comes to his family. Khosla's assistant, Ruthie Dionisio, recalls having to enter a 2010 meeting at Khosla Ventures between Khosla and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, then an adviser to the firm. Khosla had asked her to remind him when the hour was up so he could arrive on time for what he considered a more important appointment: helping his son with college applications.
He's a generous donor to many charities and has signed onto the Giving Pledge, an initiative created by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett to encourage people to give away at least half their net worth to philanthropy.
One person who has worked with him compared Khosla to a ''Tiger Parent,'' the type of highly demanding adult who ultimately has a child's best interests at heart.
Relishing Intellectual DebateKhosla's approach to California law parallels his treatment of a portfolio company: He relishes the intellectual debate on property issues and the exercise of forcing precision on California law almost as much as the prospect of winning his case.
In his writings on venture capital, Khosla says many potentially transformative investments have a 90 percent chance of failure. To some degree, that's how his efforts over the beach appear: The odds of the Supreme Court taking a case and then ruling in the petitioner's favor are low, but if it does, the payoff is enormous'--in this case, potentially the ability to keep a long and exceptionally beautiful beach to oneself.
On Thursday, the court asked the group Khosla's battling, the Surfriders Foundation, to respond to Khosla's petition by June 13. While this is no guarantee the justices will take up the case, the request signals at least initial interest in Khosla's arguments.
Khosla believes that if the state wants public access to the beach, it needs to compensate him for an easement'--the road cutting across his property that beachgoers would use. Not doing so amounts to a violation of the U.S. Constitution's takings clause and due process clause, he says. And because lower courts have held that he can't paint over a billboard that previous owners had used to advertise the beach, he argues, they have violated his First Amendment rights.
For their part, the Surfriders, who originally filed their case in 2013, are taking a more technical approach. They argue that Khosla is violating California's Coastal Act by not seeking appropriate permits before halting access to the beach. A lower court ruled that keeping the beach open requires a public-access easement over Khosla's property, but it didn't require compensation because the easement wouldn't necessarily be permanent.
Khosla's lawyers point out that lower courts have differed on the issue of whether a taking of property must be permanent to require compensation and are asking the Supreme Court to resolve the split. For now, the gate to the beach is generally open.
Meanwhile, Khosla won a separate suit filed in 2012 by a group called Friends of Martins Beach. They argued that the prior owners of the beach had created a right of public access by running a business including a paid parking lot, restrooms and a store. In January this year, a state judge agreed with Khosla that the prior owners had not established that right because access wasn't continuous and required a fee. Friends of Martins Beach is appealing.
A third case in federal court, brought in 2016 by Khosla and alleging harassment and constitutional violations, is on hold while the state cases proceed. Khosla says state and local bodies are applying laws unfairly, for example, requiring him to obtain permits for planting trees at Martins Beach, but not his neighbors.
''We have stringent rules protecting public views of the coast, and Mr. Khosla is not the only property owner who has been required to remove trees,'' says Steve Monowitz, community development director at the San Mateo County Planning and Building Department. ''I disagree with the assertion that our regulations are not being fairly applied.''
Despite the legal maneuvering popping up regularly in local news, the beach case doesn't seem to have affected Khosla Ventures. For every entrepreneur who decides not to do business with the firm, many more are eager to tap the expertise of Khosla and his partners, who count some big successes in the portfolio. Square, an investment brought to the firm by former partner Gideon Yu, is one. Cloud-storage company Nutanix, valued at $2 billion at its 2016 IPO, is another. The firm also backs Impossible Foods, maker of a popular meat-alternative burger, and View, which makes windows that automatically darken and lighten, among other investments. Earlier this year, Khosla Ventures filed to raise a $1 billion fund, Khosla VI, plus a $400 million seed-investing fund.
The controversy swirling around Khosla isn't discussed openly at his firm. A rare exception came in 2014 during a meeting of portfolio companies at a boutique hotel on the San Francisco Bay. At one point, according to a person who attended, Khosla Ventures partner Samir Kaul joked to nervous laughter that one lucky entrepreneur would win a grand prize: a weekend at Martins Beach. No beach invitations materialized.
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VIDEO - Kanye West addressed an opioid addiction, according to radio host
Tue, 24 Apr 2018 04:21
Kanye West addressed an opioid addiction, according to radio host New York's Hot 97 radio host Ebro Darden says he had a recent phone conversation with Kanye West in which the rapper said he "loves" Donald Trump, and said people weren't there for him when he was addicted to opioids and in the hospital.
idk whats messier Ebro exposing Kanye for being addicted to opioids or the fact that he exposed Kanye was mad that Ebro said "Beyonce Jay Z won't let the kids have playdates and we know " and thats why he even got on the phone mad
View details · so Kanye has finally admitted to opioid abuse...well that's part of the whole truth sha
View details · damn didn't know Kanye suffered an opioid addiction until now... stay strong my brother
View details · Like Trump, Kanye's respect for people directly reflects how much respect they pay to him. "If you can see I'm a genius, then you're brilliant." Narcissism recognize narcissism. View photo · Biggest take away from Ebro in the Morning today ... Kanye West is still an avid Donald Trump can process that however you like but if you're waiting for him to say ''my bad'' about his trump statements '-- don't hold your breath
View details · I really wanna know how
@oldmanebro and Kanye conversation went. For sure I don't think he supports far right views, but I don't know a better person to talk to Ye... I know he tryna keep dialogue open, but I wonder if he understands his platform?
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VIDEO - LISNR: The Internet of Sound - YouTube
Mon, 23 Apr 2018 16:43
VIDEO - - Talking Behind Your Back
Mon, 23 Apr 2018 14:32
On the Privacy & Security of the Ultrasound Tracking Ecosystem Vasilios Mavroudis andFederico Maggi
In the last two years, the marketing industry started to show a fast increasing interest in technologies for user cross-device tracking, proximity tracking, and their derivative monetization schemes. To meet these demands, a new ultrasound-based technology has recently emerged and is already utilized in a number of different real-world applications. Ultrasound tracking comes with a number of desirable features (e.g., easy to deploy, inaudible to humans), but alarmingly until now no comprehensive security analysis of the technology has been conducted. In this talk, we will publish the results of our security analysis of the ultrasound tracking ecosystem, and demonstrate the practical security and privacy risks that arise with its adoption. Subsequently, we will introduce some immediately deployable defense mechanisms for practitioners, researchers, and everyday users. Finally, we will initiate the discussion for the standardization of ultrasound beacons, and outline our proposed OS-level API that enables both secure and effortless deployment for ultrasound-enabled applications.
RelatedDownloadThese files contain multiple languages.This Talk was translated into multiple languages. The files availablefor download contain all languages as separate audio-tracks. Mostdesktop video players allow you to choose between them.
Please look for "audio tracks" in your desktop video player.
VIDEO - Milo Yiannopoulos shouted out of NYC bar by crowd chanting 'Nazi scum get out' | TheHill
Mon, 23 Apr 2018 13:47
By Jacqueline Thomsen - 04/23/18 08:50 AM EDT Conservative writer and provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos was forced to leave a bar in New York City Saturday after a crowd chanted ''Nazi scum get out.''
Videos show the crowd repeatedly chanting the phrase while the former Breitbart News editor is seen standing in the corner of the bar. He left the bar soon afterward.
The videos identify the chanting group as members of the Democratic Socialists of America.
Yiannopoulos later described the incident with a lengthy post on Instagram.
''I was just shoved and screamed at by a big group in a pub in Manhattan and forced out of the place,'' he wrote. ''They were screaming at the top of their lungs about 'Nazis' and 'KKK.'''
He claimed that he would have stayed at the bar but that the situation was ''about to escalate into something ugly.''
''It's now impossible for me to safely go out for lunch in most major cities in America because I supported Trump at the last election and don't like feminism,'' he wrote.
VIDEO - #PizzaGate steganography software? - YouTube
Mon, 23 Apr 2018 11:42
VIDEO - 60 Minutes on Twitter: "Arnav Kapur, a student in MIT's Media Lab, has developed a system to surf the internet with his mind. He silently Googled our questions and heard the answers through vibrations transmitted through his skull and into his i
Mon, 23 Apr 2018 11:21
Log in Sign up 60 Minutes @ 60Minutes Arnav Kapur, a student in MIT's Media Lab, has developed a system to surf the internet with his mind. He silently Googled our questions and heard the answers through vibrations transmitted through his skull and into his inner ear. 4:25 PM - 22 Apr 2018 Twitter by: 60 Minutes @60Minutes Eric Grant @ ericgrant
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@60Minutes @medialab This is amazing.
View conversation · Bey Back! @ KimShoeCrzy
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@60Minutes @search4swag We all gonna die from robots. Didn't Terminator teach us NOTHING?!
View conversation · Nick Walker @ nw3
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@60Minutes What the hell?
View conversation · Crystal Clear Mobile Restoration @ snbforever
11h Replying to
@60Minutes ''We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ships. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile.'' ðŸ
View conversation · Peter Ruttgaizer @ PeteRuttgaizer
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@60Minutes This is flipping scary. Lol!!!!
View conversation · Chris Regan @ ReganWV
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@60Minutes @jnack Lol. Wait'll his wife asks what she ordered on their first date.
View conversation · Chris C @ edfantasticx
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@60Minutes @ericgrant View conversation · John Nack @ jnack
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@ReganWV @60Minutes Heh. My mom still remembers hers with my dad: ''She soaked ya for the lobster?!'' (Poor thing, she had no idea that lobster was expensive, as she'd never had it before.)
View conversation · Space Shuttle Almanac @ ShuttleAlmanac
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@60Minutes @SmileSimplify seems like a con
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@60Minutes "That's the idea." In addition to his tech, this guy is inventing Desi swag.
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@60Minutes Sign me up.
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@60Minutes I welcome our robot overlords.
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@60Minutes @joerogan Yoooooo
@joerogan, it's here.
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@60Minutes No thank you. God help us.
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@60Minutes @emotiv A new competitor for
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VIDEO - Verslaafd aan het algoritme - VPRO Tegenlicht - VPRO
Mon, 23 Apr 2018 11:13
Ook in de rechtspraak zijn algoritmes in opkomst. Zo moest een Amerikaanse gevangene langer vast zitten dan vergelijkbare gevangenen omdat het algoritme, dat een risicoscore vaststelt, hem een onverklaarbaar hoge uitkomst gaf. En anders dan de beslissingen die een rechter maakt, blijkt het zo goed als onmogelijk om de beoordeling van een algoritme aan te vechten. Onlangs bleek het Britse bedrijf Cambridge Analytica aan de hand van grote hoeveelheden Facebookdata modellen te hebben ontwikkeld, waarmee het stemgedrag van kiezers kon worden be¯nvloed. Deze psychographics laten zien dat algoritmes niet alleen individuele levens kunnen sturen maar ook de democratie.
Onder wiskundigen en programmeurs begint het besef te ontstaan dat de algoritmes die onder al deze geautomatiseerde beslissingssystemen liggen, niet neutraal zijn en mogelijk fouten bevatten. Want de slimme code mag dan weliswaar sneller kunnen beslissen dan mensen, de uitkomsten zijn niet alleen soms gebrekkig, maar soms ronduit gevaarlijk. Moeten we ons wel blind laten leiden door de beslissingen van het algoritme?
Regie: Martijn Kieft
VIDEO - Devin Nunes Gets Us Right Up To Date. - YouTube
Sun, 22 Apr 2018 20:08
VIDEO - Nunes on looking into the origin of the Russia investigation | Fox News Video
Sun, 22 Apr 2018 20:04
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VIDEO - Kids Meet A Transgender Soldier (Bonus Interview) | Kids Meet | Hiho Kids - YouTube
Sun, 22 Apr 2018 20:03
VIDEO - Watch 60 Minutes Season 50 Episode 32: Untangling the Facebook data scandal, Inside MIT's; Future Factory', For better orworse: Living with Alzheimer's - Full show on CBS All Access
Thu, 26 Apr 2018 13:10
Untangling the Facebook data scandal, Inside MIT's 'Future Factory', For better or worse: Living with Alzheimer's
Air Date: 04/22/18
Lesley Stahl reports on Aleksandr Kogan, the link between Facebook and CambridgeAnalytica; then, Scott Pelley goes inside MIT's 'Future Factory'; and, for better or worse, livingwith Alzheimer's

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