Cover for No Agenda Show 1059: Barrel Roll
August 12th, 2018 • 2h 53m

1059: Barrel Roll


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.

The Purge
Politicians: Squeeze
Snowden revelations (Mueller office in FB)
Collusion (100K of ads)
The Stone Connection
At the setup of InfroWars
Counter to Stratfor - Same timeframe
Now trying to see how much stress the network can take
iTunes API for directory used by Pocketcasts (NPR) and more
''What Have We Done?'': Silicon Valley Engineers Fear They've Created a Monster
Fri, 10 Aug 2018 09:06
In the heart of San Francisco, the gig economy reigns supreme. Walk intoa grocery store, and a large number of shoppers you see are independentcontractors for grocery-delivery start-up Instacart. Step outside, andcars with black-and-white Uber stickers or flashing Lyft dashboardlights are sitting, hazards on, blocking the bike lane as they wait forpassengers. Cyclists zigzag around the cars, many hauling bags brandedwith various logos'--Caviar, Postmates, Uber Eats'--as they deliver foodto customers around the city. You can stand on a street corner and countthe number of gig-economy workers walking by, as I often do; sometimesit's 2 out of every 10. On some corners, like the one near the WholeFoods on 4th and Harrison, I've counted 8 out of every 10.
The gig-economy ecosystem was supposed to represent the promised land,striking a harmonious egalitarian balance between supply and demand:consumers could off-load the drudgery of commuting or grocery shopping,while workers were set free from the Man. ''Set your own schedule,''touts the Uber-driver Web site; ''Be your own boss,'' tempts Lyft;''Make an impact on people's lives,'' lures Instacart. These companieshave been wildly successful: Uber, perhaps the most notorious, is alsothe most valuable start-up in the U.S., reportedly worth $72 billion.Lyft is valued at $11 billion, and grocery delivery start-up Instacartis valued at just over $4 billion. In recent months, however, a spateof lawsuits has highlighted an alarming by-product of the gigeconomy'--a class of workers who aren't protected by labor laws, oreligible for benefits provided to the rest of the nation'sworkforce'--evident even to those outside the bubble of Silicon Valley.A July report commissioned by the New York City Taxi and LimousineCommission found that 85 percent of New York City's Uber, Lyft, Juno,and Via drivers earn less than $17.22 an hour. When the CaliforniaSupreme Court ruled in May that delivery company Dynamex must treat itsgig workers like full-time employees, Eve Wagner, an attorney whospecializes in employment litigation, predicted to Wired, ''The numberof employment lawsuits is going to explode.''
Of course, the threads of this disillusionment are woven into the verystructure that has made these start-ups so successful. A few weeks intomy tenure at Uber, where I started as a software developer just a yearafter graduating from college, still blindly convinced I could make theworld a better place, a co-worker sat down next to my desk. ''There'ssomething you need to know,'' she said in a low voice, ''and I don'twant you to forget it. When you're writing code, you need to think ofthe drivers. Never forget that these are real people who have nobenefits, who have to live in this city, who depend on us to writeresponsible code. Remember that.'' I didn't understand what she meantuntil several weeks later, when I overheard two other engineers in thecafeteria discussing driver bonuses'--specifically, ways to manipulatebonuses so that drivers could be ''tricked'' into working longer hours.Laughing, they compared the drivers to animals: ''You need to dangle thecarrot right in front of their face.'' Shortly thereafter, a wave ofprice cuts hit drivers in the Bay Area. When I talked to the drivers,they described how Uber kept fares in a perfectly engineered sweet spot:just high enough for them to justify driving, but just low enough thatnot much more than their gas and maintenance expenses were covered.
Illustration by Ben Wiseman.Those of us on the front lines of the gig economy were the first to spotand expose its flaws'--two months after leaving Uber, I wrote a highlypublicized account of my time there, describing the company's toxic workenvironment in detail. Now, as Silicon Valley struggles to come to termswith its corrosive underpinnings, a new vein of disquiet has wormed itsway into the Slack chats and happy-hour outings of low-levelrank-and-file engineers, spurred by a question that seems to drown outeverything else: What have we done? It's a question that I, too, havebeen forced to grapple with as I notice how my job as a softwareengineer has changed the nature of work in general'--and not necessarilyfor the better.
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Gig-economy ''platforms,'' as they're called, take their inspirationfrom software engineering, where the goal is to create modular, scalablesoftware applications. To do this, engineers build small pieces of codethat run concurrently, dividing a task into ever smaller pieces toconquer it more efficiently. Start-ups function in a similar way; tasksthat used to make up a single job are broken down into the smallestpossible code pieces, then partitioned so those pieces can beaccomplished in parallel. It's been a successful approach for start-upsfor the same reason it's a successful approach to writing code: it isperfectly, beautifully efficient. Across so-called platforms, there areno individuals'--no bosses delegating tasks. Instead, various algorithmsrun on the platform, matching consumers with workers, riders with thenearest driver, and hungry customers with delivery people, telling themwhere to go, what to do, and how to do it. Constant needs and theirquick solutions all hummingly, perpetually aligned.
The risk, we agreed, is that the gig economy will become the onlyeconomy.
By now it's clear that these companies represent more than a trend.Though it's difficult to accurately determine the size of the gigeconomy'--estimates range from 0.7 to 34 percent of the nationalworkforce'--the number grows with each new start-up that figures out howto break down another basic task. There's a relatively low riskassociated with launching gig-economy companies, start-ups that canengage in ''a kind of contract arbitrage'' because they ''aren't bearingthe corporate or societal cost, even as they reap fractional orfull-time value from workers,'' explains Seattle-based tech journalistGlenn Fleishman. Thanks to this buffer, they're almost guaranteed tomultiply. As the gig economy grows, so too does the danger thatengineers, in attempting to build the most efficient systems, will chopand dice jobs into pieces so dehumanized that our legal system will nolonger recognize them. And along with this comes an even more sinisterpossibility: jobs that would and should be recognizable'--especiallysupervisory and management positions'--will disappear altogether. If asoftware engineer can write a set of programs that breaks a job intosmaller increments, and can follow it up with an algorithm that fills inas the supervisor, then the position itself can be programmed toredundancy.
A few months ago, a lunchtime conversation with several friends turnedto the subject of the gig economy. We began to enumerate the potentialcauses of worker isplacement'--things like artificial intelligence androbots, which are fast becoming a reality, expanding the purview ofcompanies such as Google and Amazon. ''The displacement is happeningright under our noses,'' said a woman sitting next to me, another formerengineer. ''Not in the future'--it's happening now.''
''What can we do about it?'' someone asked. Another woman replied thatthe only way forward was for gig-economy workers to unionize, and thetable broke out into serious debate. Yet even as we roundly condemnedthe tech world's treatment of a vulnerable new class of worker, we knewthe stakes were much higher: high enough to alter the future of workitself, to the detriment of all but a select few. ''Most people,'' Isaid, interrupting the hubbub, ''don't even see the problem unlessthey're on the inside.'' Everyone nodded. The risk, we agreed, is thatthe gig economy will become the only economy, swallowing up entiregroups of employees who hold full-time jobs, and that it will,eventually, displace us all. The bigger risk, however, is that the onlypeople who understand the looming threat are the ones enabling it.
In the heart of San Francisco, the gig economy reigns supreme. Walk intoa grocery store, and a large number of shoppers you see are independentcontractors for grocery-delivery start-up Instacart. Step outside, andcars with black-and-white Uber stickers or flashing Lyft dashboardlights are sitting, hazards on, blocking the bike lane as they wait forpassengers. Cyclists zigzag around the cars, many hauling bags brandedwith various logos'--Caviar, Postmates, Uber Eats'--as they deliver foodto customers around the city. You can stand on a street corner and countthe number of gig-economy workers walking by, as I often do; sometimesit's 2 out of every 10. On some corners, like the one near the WholeFoods on 4th and Harrison, I've counted 8 out of every 10.
Illustration by Ben Wiseman.You have reached your {{max}} free articles this month.
Suspect behind massive California wildfire was steeped in conspiracies '' ThinkProgress
Sun, 12 Aug 2018 13:50
The suspect behind one of the recent California wildfires surrounded himself with conspiracy theories. CREDIT: IRLAN KHAN / CREDIT
Southern California's Holy Fire, sparked on Monday, has already scorched more than 18,000 acres as of Friday morning and forced over 20,000 residents to flee.
Now, authorities have identified the man suspected of igniting the massive blaze.
On Wednesday, local officials arrested 51-year-old Forrest Gordon Clark, charging him with two counts of felony arson, as well as another felony charge of threatening to terrorize.
After the charges were announced, the Washington Post reported that Clark had texted a local firefighter before the fire that the area was ''going to burn just like we planned.'' (It was unclear who else Clark may have been referring to). Clark is currently being held on $1 million bond.
While Clark hasn't announced his rationale for allegedly sparking the blaze '-- one of 18 fires that are currently raging across California, including the largest wildfire in the state's history '-- he appears to have a lengthy history of mental illness.
A glimpse through his social media presence also offers a clue into the world of conspiracy in which Clark, who claimed he could read minds, lived.
JJ MacNab, who covers anti-government extremism for Forbes, first identified Clark's Facebook profile. A quick skim reveals just how many conspiracy theories Clark promulgated '-- and why he may have allegedly started the fire in the first place. Indeed, it appears there was no conspiracy theory too ludicrous for Clark to buy into.
For instance, Clark recently started pushing messaging around ''QAnon,'' a bizarre theory that a global Deep State network is trying to bring down President Donald Trump in order to further their nefarious aims. While there's no indication Clark was among the QAnon supporters who have become increasingly prominent at Trump rallies, he nonetheless pushed pro-QAnon videos on his page.
Likewise, Clark appeared to be a fan of Alex Jones and InfoWars, which were recently banned by platforms like Apple and Facebook. Among the most popular theories Clark promoted on social media: notions that tragic events like the 9/11 attacks and the Sandy Hook shooting were ''false flags.''
For good measure, Clark also pushed other Deep State-style conspiracy theories, including Agenda 21 '-- which claims the United Nations will effectively eliminate Americans' sovereign rights '-- and Jade Helm, which posited that a 2015 military exercise would provide cover for the Obama administration to impose martial law.
There's also indication Clark may have leaned on some of these conspiracy theories when looking for justification for allegedly setting the massive fire. Clark, who wrote on Facebook that he ''will see the soon Coming of our LORD in the Clouds of Glory!'', posted late last year that the fires in California were direct evidence that Agenda 21 was afoot. The video claims that the fires show that ''we're seeing Agenda 21 in action,'' adding that ''Agenda 21 is here.''
Clark doesn't seem to have posted on Facebook in nearly a month. However, it doesn't appear that his belief in any and all conspiracy theories waned over the past few months. In his last posting, on July 18, Clark posted another video claiming that drinking a ''special juice'' will make cancer ''die in just 42 hours!'' The secret ingredient? Beets.
What's the matter with Twitter? | Poynter
Fri, 10 Aug 2018 09:16
Over the past couple of years, Twitter has done the bare minimum to fight fake news, avoiding the kind of negative press that has plagued Facebook in the process. And for a while, that strategy worked '-- until now.
This week, pretty much every major technology platform took action against Alex Jones, a notorious conspiracy theorist and host of InfoWars. It came after nearly a month of coverage from media and tech reporters about InfoWars' continued existence on the platforms, in spite of being repeatedly debunked by fact-checkers.
On Sunday, Apple took down the bulk of the site's podcasts from iTunes and the Podcasts app, citing a violation of the company's hate speech policies '-- specifically in the way Jones had talked about immigrants, Muslims and transgender people. (Apple has still not removed the InfoWars app.) Facebook and YouTube, which had offered varying reasons for keeping Jones on their platforms in the past, quickly followed suit, as did Spotify and even MailChimp.
Notably absent from that group is Twitter, where InfoWars and Jones have a combined following of nearly 1.3 million.
In a tweet, CEO Jack Dorsey defended the decision to keep Jones and InfoWars on Twitter, saying that neither had violated the platform's rules and that the onus should be on journalists to fact-check them.
Accounts like Jones' can often sensationalize issues and spread unsubstantiated rumors, so it's critical journalists document, validate, and refute such information directly so people can form their own opinions. This is what serves the public conversation best.
'-- jack (@jack) August 8, 2018
And journalists have taken the tech company to task over it.
Hey @jack did I do this right
'-- Caroline Moss (@socarolinesays) August 8, 2018
this is where you lost me
What is it that you think journalists do? Spend all day combing Twitter to fact check Alex Jones? That's good for Twitter but not for democracy. There's a bigger world out there, @Jack
good night
'-- CeciliaKang (@ceciliakang) August 8, 2018
Attention @jack, Twitter terms of service expressly forbid posters to "in any way use Twitter to send altered, deceptive, or false source-identifying information." Isn't this "false source-indentifying information"?
'-- (((JonathanWeisman))) (@jonathanweisman) August 8, 2018
Others pointed out that Twitter's policies are very similar to those of other platforms, notably its rule against ''abuse and hateful conduct,'' and it seemed like the company wasn't applying them uniformly. Even Twitter's own former head of global policy communications dissented with Dorsey's reasoning, saying in a tweet that keeping Jones and InfoWars on the platform doesn't make sense.
.@jack, please don't blame the current state of play on communications. These decisions aren't easy, but they aren't comms calls and it's unhelpful to denigrate your colleagues whose credibility will help explain them 1/4
'-- Emily Horne (@emilyjhorne) August 8, 2018
The fracas over Jones illustrates a lot, including how good reporting and peer pressure can actually force the platforms to act. And while the reasons that Facebook, Apple and others banned Jones and InfoWars have to do with hate speech, Twitter's inaction also confirms what fact-checkers have long thought about the company's approach to fighting misinformation.
''They're not doing anything, and I'm frustrated that they don't enforce their own policies,'' said Angie Holan, editor of (Poynter-owned) PolitiFact. ''And their attitude seems to be that they're just doing nothing compared to what Facebook and Google are doing to combat fabricated news and hoaxes.''
Twitter has taken small steps to combat misinformation on its platform. In February, the tech company cracked down on bots by banning the publication of similar posts by different accounts. In May and June, Twitter removed more than 70 million accounts, slowing its user growth, The Washington Post reported.
But Holan said those actions should almost be a given for any tech platform, especially one where misinformation regularly goes viral after breaking news.
''It just seems like the minimum standard to keep phony accounts off social media platforms that are supposed to be about dialogue between real individuals,'' she said. ''I think they've been trying to keep their heads down in the hopes that they won't be noticed.''
And compared to Facebook, Google and YouTube, Twitter really hasn't really done much to address the ongoing challenge of misinformation '-- in spite of pledges to fix the "health" of conversation.
Facebook partners with more than 25 fact-checking projects around the world to debunk and flag fake stories and images on the platform, which decreases its future reach by up to 80 percent. (Disclosure: Being a signatory of the IFCN's code of principles is a necessary condition for participation in the project.) Google surfaces and highlights fact checks high up in search results by using the ClaimReview markup, and even YouTube recently announced that it will surface ''authoritative'' sources high up in search results during breaking news.
RELATED ARTICLE: In Rome, Facebook announces new strategies to combat misinformation
While there's ample reason to doubt that Facebook and Google's efforts are working, Twitter doesn't even have any comparable programs, aside from aiding a collaborative fact-checking project during the recent Mexican elections. And it's not like the company isn't aware of efforts at other companies '-- fact-checkers have repeatedly asked Twitter for similar partnerships.
''(Agªncia) Lupa has its Twitter account as the most active social media and has reached (out to) Twitter many times for partnership,'' said Cristina Tardguila, director of the Brazilian fact-checking project, in a WhatsApp message. ''Unfortunately, we haven't managed to establish a partnership. We (have worked) with Google and Facebook for over a year, but not with Twitter.''
''I really think Twitter should try to partner with IFCN verified members to make Twitter a better place to get information from. We have tried many times.''
Twitter was also invited to the Global Fact-Checking Summit (hosted by the International Fact-Checking Network) in June, but the company did not attend. Both Facebook and Google were represented at the conference.
When Poynter asked Twitter in May about the potential for a partnership with fact-checking projects like the one that Facebook has, a spokesperson told Poynter that the company wasn't considering it because Twitter's approach to misinformation is different. When asked again this week, a spokesperson just sent a June 2017 blog post from Colin Crowell, vice president of public policy, government and philanthropy.
"Twitter's open and real-time nature is a powerful antidote to the spreading of all types of false information," he wrote in the post. "This is important because we cannot distinguish whether every single tweet from every person is truthful or not. We, as a company, should not be the arbiter of truth."
Tardguila said Twitter has invited Brazilian fact-checkers to a meeting on Friday, at which she hopes they'll initiative some kind of partnership with fact-checkers ahead of this fall's election. But even without partnering with fact-checkers, Adam Sharp, former head of news, government and elections at Twitter, told Poynter that fact checks are more likely to get organic reach on Twitter than Facebook anyway.
''If I go into search results, when I look at the top-engaged tweets on that story '-- while the algorithm might still have the first tweet be the hoax '-- usually the contrasting views are going to be part of that first batch of tweets surfaced by the algorithm,'' said Sharp, who's the interim CEO of The Grammys. ''That's not always the case, but that's certainly more so than on Facebook.''
It's true that, generally, posts tend to get less engagement on Twitter than Facebook. And fact-checking projects like Aos Fatos in Brazil have already developed tools that automatically post debunks in replies to users who publish fake news links.
Still, fact-checkers say that Twitter's inaction makes it look like the company is giving license to would-be hoaxers and imposters.
''I'm concerned that, by the amount of fake news on Twitter, it just seems to be allowing them to run with it '-- and impersonation seems to happen with regularity,'' Holan said.
Aside from its lack of collaboration with fact-checkers, that's another area that Twitter has been notoriously bad at policing. After a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February, Miami Herald reporter Alex Harris was targeted by several imposter tweets that made it look like she was asking eyewitnesses for images of dead bodies.
''I decided to report it to Twitter and Twitter responded saying it wasn't targeted harassment or violate any rules,'' she told Poynter at the time. ''That was kind of not great. I felt extremely overwhelmed.''
RELATED ARTICLE: Imposter tweets made it even harder for a reporter to cover Florida school shooting
That wasn't the first time Twitter had a non-response to a report of impersonation. In a CJR piece published in late July, University of Georgia professor Tim Samples laid out a situation in which an imposter Twitter account used his real name and headshot. The account, which pretended to be a conservative essayist, racked up more than 50,000 followers '-- and Twitter didn't do anything about it.
''I contacted Twitter immediately, by filing an impersonation claim,'' Samples wrote. ''Four days later, having supplied a photo ID and information verifying my identity, I received an automated response: 'We were unable to take action on the account given that we could not determine a clear violation of the Twitter rules.'''
According to Twitter's rules, a user ''may not impersonate individuals, groups, or organizations in a manner that is intended to or does mislead, confuse, or deceive others.'' When asked about what happened to Harris in May, Twitter told Poynter that the company didn't have a specific policy against fabricated tweets '-- just against fabricated accounts.
To Holan, that lack of clear policy-making about misinformation is the source of Twitter's problem.
''I think they could do something like Facebook, where they would downgrade accounts. I think it could suspend accounts for purveying fake news,'' she said. ''They should know the potential solutions better than me. I just refuse to believe that there are no solutions '-- there are plenty of solutions.''
Editor's note: This article has been updated with a response from Twitter.
Facebook Banned Infowars. Now What? - The New York Times
Fri, 10 Aug 2018 13:42
The Shift
The Infowars situation was volatile enough that Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook chief executive, got personally engaged. Credit Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press Late on Sunday, after returning to his hotel room on a trip away from home, Mark Zuckerberg made a decision he had hoped to avoid.
For weeks, the Facebook chief executive and his colleagues had debated what to do about Infowars, the notorious far-right news site, and Alex Jones, Infowars' choleric founder, who became famous for his spittle-flecked rants and far-fetched conspiracies, including the idea that the Sandy Hook massacre was an elaborate hoax promoted by gun-control supporters.
Mr. Jones is just one Facebook user out of 2.2 billion, but he had become symbolic of tech platforms' inconsistency and reluctance to engage in a misinformation war.
The pressure on Facebook to do something about him had intensified after executives gave a series of vague and confusing answers to lawmakers and reporters about the company's policies. Misinformation was allowed to stay on the platform, they said, but hate speech wasn't. So users dug up and reported old Infowars posts, asking for their removal on the grounds that they glorified violence and contained dehumanizing language against Muslims, immigrants, and transgender people.
These posts clearly violated Facebook's hate speech rules. And in a normal situation, a low-level content moderator might have reviewed them, found that they qualified, and taken them down.
But Mr. Jones was no typical internet crank. He has millions of followers, a popular video show, and the ear of President Trump '-- who once told the provocateur that his reputation was ''amazing.'' Banning such a prominent activist would lead to political blowback, no matter how justified the action was.
The situation was volatile enough that Mr. Zuckerberg got personally engaged, according to two people involved in Facebook's handling of the accounts. He discussed Infowars at length with other executives, and mused privately about whether Mr. Jones '-- who once called Mr. Zuckerberg a ''genetic-engineered psychopath'' in a video '-- was purposefully trying to get kicked off the platform to gain attention, they said.
Mr. Zuckerberg, an engineer by training and temperament, has always preferred narrow process decisions to broad, subjective judgments. His evaluation of Infowars took the form of a series of technical policy questions. They included whether the mass-reporting of Infowars posts constituted coordinated ''brigading,'' a tactic common in online harassment campaigns. Executives also debated whether Mr. Jones should receive a ''strike'' for each post containing hate speech (which would lead to removing his pages as well as the individual posts) or a single, collective strike (which would remove the posts, but leave his pages up).
Late Sunday, Apple '-- which has often tried to stake out moral high ground on contentious debates '-- removed Infowars podcasts from iTunes. After seeing the news, Mr. Zuckerberg sent a note to his team confirming his own decision: the strikes against Infowars and Mr. Jones would count individually, and the pages would come down. The announcement arrived at 3 a.m. Pacific time.
In the days that followed, other platforms '-- YouTube, Pinterest, MailChimp, and more '-- said they, too, were banning Infowars. The notable exception was Twitter, which decided not to ban the site or Mr. Jones. The company's chief executive, Jack Dorsey, tweeted a veiled shot at the way his rivals handled the situation.
''We're going to hold Jones to the same standard we hold to every account, not taking one-off actions to make us feel good in the short term, and adding fuel to new conspiracy theories,'' he said.
Now, cut off from most of his audience, Mr. Jones will have to chart a new course. He has already stepped enthusiastically into a role as a free-speech martyr. (After the ban took effect, Infowars slapped a ''censored'' label on its videos and launched a ''forbidden information'' marketing campaign.) And conservatives '-- and even some free-speech advocates on the left '-- worried that social media companies may be entering a new, censorious era. Senator Ted Cruz, the Republican from Texas, paraphrased the famous Martin Niem¶ller poem about German accommodation of Nazism: ''First, they came for Alex Jones.''
Social media executives have a history of going to great lengths to assuage fears of anti-conservative bias, and this week was no exception. On Thursday, Richard Allan, a Facebook vice president of policy, published a blog post about the company's commitment to free speech. With the exception of violent threats and hate speech, he wrote, ''we lean toward free expression. It's core to both who we are and why we exist.'' Mr. Dorsey also appeared on Sean Hannity's radio show, where he gave reassurances that Twitter does not discriminate against conservatives.
Image Mr. Jones has millions of followers, a popular video show, and the ear of President Trump Credit Ilana Panich-Linsman for The New York Times Slippery-slope fears about mass censorship by social media platforms are probably overblown. For starters, Infowars presented an unusual case because of its size, the extreme nature of its content and the ferocity of Mr. Jones's critics. Mr. Zuckerberg does not have time to adjudicate every dispute over hate speech on Facebook, nor does he want to.
In fact, taking action against Infowars could allow social media giants to avoid future conflicts over extreme content by setting a new, hard-to-beat standard for unacceptable toxicity. (''Yes, Jewhater McRacist is bad,'' they may say, ''but he's no Alex Jones.'') Many other internet conspiracists have learned how to tiptoe to the edge of platforms' rules without breaking them '-- speaking in code about Pizzagate, for example, or saying things like ''I'm not saying he's a crisis actor, but if he were '...''
One lesson Mr. Zuckerberg has taken from the Infowars saga, said the people involved in the handling of Mr. Jones's Facebook accounts, is that the social network's policies are overly complex and need to be simplified. Privately, company officials have also downplayed the Infowars bans, saying they don't represent a watershed moment in the online free speech debate, but are rather a matter of how to enforce Facebook's existing policies.
This is a convenient narrative, of course, from a company that would rather haggle over terms of service than discuss the power and governance of its platform.
There are legitimate questions, still unanswered, about what to do about the huge, unaccountable corporations that control large pieces of our modern communications infrastructure. Both fans and critics of Infowars can probably agree that a system in which one executive can decide to shut off a news organization's access to a large portion of its audience is hardly ideal.
There are also valid questions about why Infowars got so popular in the first place, and whether attention-maximizing platforms like Facebook and YouTube are designed in way so that people like Mr. Jones are incentivized to push the boundaries of acceptable speech.
After all, these platforms didn't just host Infowars content for those who were seeking it '-- they actively promoted it to millions of people for years, through algorithmic feeds and recommendation engines that decide which videos to show you next. Could these platforms be redesigned so that the next Alex Jones never gets that kind of boost, and remains on the ideological fringes?
These questions will have to wait. For now, tech leaders seem satisfied to have dealt with their Infowars problems, at least temporarily. They will return to their defensive crouch, hiding their power behind policies, making small changes under pressure, and hoping that nobody notices the size of their footprints.
Email Kevin Roose at, or follow him on Facebook at and on Twitter: @kevinroose.
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One month before the election, Sweden's ruling government obtained the ability to silence opponents on Facebook
Sat, 11 Aug 2018 11:41
Sweden's government has been given a direct hotline to Facebook to remove ''unreasonable things'' and ''problematic campaigns'', news outlet Samh¤llsnytt reports, and this is just in time to silence their opponents in the upcoming elections.
''The call has been made''. Infrastructure Minister Peter Eriksson MP has described the cooperation between Facebook and the government to delete unwanted content in a candid interview.
The politician commends the willing cooperation of the social media company. At the same time, more and more of the opposition are leaving social media.
Yesterday in a feature in Studio One on Sweden's Radio P1, the Minister shared the results of the government's pressure on Facebook and other digital giants. He stated that the Swedish election is ''threatened'' and Facebook ''kept their promise'' to the government.
Facebook has promised the government a direct hotline. Both direct contact with MSB but also directly to the political party secretaries so they can alert them when they see something they feel is problematic. He stated that they've already made contact and that it seems to work.
He also said he has attempted the same with Google and some others in the quest to have the state and politics regulate social media to a certain extent, and to remove things they deem unreasonable.
Social media companies have come under criticism for political censorship and just last week the Swedish Democrats, the political opponent to the current Swedish government, had a documentary about the Nazi and racist roots of the Social Democrats removed.
Shortly after publication on YouTube, the film was removed. It was, however, reinstated after extensive protests.
Mr. Eriksson was not asked if the documentary had been labelled a ''problematic campaign'' and if YouTube was ''called'' regarding the film.
Hate Speech -- A Threat to Freedom of Speech | HuffPost
Sat, 11 Aug 2018 11:47
Hate speech in the public sphere takes place online and offline, and affects young girls and boys, women and men. We also see hate speech attacking vulnerable groups like people with disabilities, LGBT-persons and other minority groups.
Social media and the Internet have opened up for many new arenas for exchanging opinions. Freedom of speech is an absolute value in any democracy, both for the public and for the media. At the same time, opinions and debates challenge us as hate speech are spread widely and frequently on new platforms for publishing.
Hate speech may cause fear and can be the reason why people withdraw from the public debate. The result being that important voices that should be heard in the public debate are silenced. We all benefit if we foster an environment where everybody is able to express their opinions without experiencing hate speech. In this matter we all have a responsibility.
I am especially concerned about women and girls being silenced. Attempts to silence women in the public debate through hate speech, are an attack on women's human rights. No one should be silenced or subjected to threats when expressing themselves in public.
Women are under-represented in the media. In order to get a balanced public debate it is important that many voices are heard. We must encourage women and girls to be equal participants with men. Hate speech prevents women from making their voices heard.
I also call upon the media to take responsibility in this matter. In some cases the media may provide a platform for hate speech. At the same time, I would like to stress that a liberal democracy like Norway strongly supports freedom of speech as a fundamental right.
The Norwegian government takes hate speech seriously. In November, prime minister Erna Solberg and I launched a political declaration against hate speech on the behalf of the Norwegian government. Anyone can sign the declaration online and take a stand against hate speech.
Politicians, representatives of labour unions and organizations are among those who have signed and supported the declaration.
This year the Government will launch a strategy against hate speech. In this connection I have organised several meetings involving organizations and individuals to round table discussions on hate speech, and and received a lot of useful input for our strategy.
One of the things I heard about is how desctructive hate speech can be for women and girls who participate in the public debate. Some are ridiculed, subjected to sexually offensive language and even threatened with rape and violence.
This underlines the importance of combating hate speech. We cannot afford that women are silenced in the public debate, because of their gender.
We need arenas for dialogue, tolerance and awareness of the consequences of hate speech. It is important that we discuss this issue with our own children and in schools. We adults have a great responsibility. We need to think about how we express ourselves when children are present. What we say in our family settings have consequences for how our children behave against other people - online and offline.
In order to combat hate speech we also need knowledge. I have initiated a research that will look into attitudes towards Jews and how minorities look at other minorities. In addition, the University of Oslo has established a centre for research on right-winged extremism. One of the centre`s mandate is to look into hate speech.
The police plays a vital role in the fight against hate speech. Some expressions of opinions are forbidden by law. The new Norwegian General Civil Penal Code's section 185 protects against serious hate speech which wilfully or through gross negligence is made publicly. The Norwegian police forces has established a net patrol that are working on this issue. Additionally they have strengthen their efforts against hate crime.
Hate speech may be directed against people on the basis of ethnicity, religion, disability or sexual orientation. Hate speech can have serious consequences for individuals, groups and the whole society. It is important to take a stand and show that this cannot be tolerated. Politicians, organizations and other actors in the public debate must show responsibility and actively work against hate speech.
This post is part of a blog series produced by The Huffington Post in conjunction with International Women's Day, celebrated on March 8, 2016. It is one of four posts penned by Nordic leaders that focus on online hate speech and sexism. A What's Working series, the posts address solutions tied to the United Nations' theme for International Women's Day this year: "Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality." To view all of the posts in the series, click here.
No one's civil liberties are violated by a ban on the far-right Infowars | Michael Segalov | Opinion | The Guardian
Sat, 11 Aug 2018 11:52
I t's nearly a decade since BNP leader Nick Griffin was invited to appear on Question Time, arguably one of the BBC's most irresponsible decisions. There's an often repeated, but flawed suggestion that the presence of the British National party on the corporation's flagship current affairs show back in 2009 led to the party's downfall. I get it '' it's reassuring to think that when scrutinised, hateful prejudice can be defeated with the power of rational words.
Except a quick look at the BNP's polling history suggests the opposite: in the 2005 general election the BNP had pulled in 192,850 votes across the UK. By 2010, that figure was 514,819. According to a YouGov opinion poll conducted in the hours after Griffin appeared on the programme, voter support for the far-right party had increased from 2 to 3%. The BNP itself reported 3,000 new members joined its ranks that night.
Related: The public execution of Infowars is dangerous and counterproductive | Silkie Carlo
''The more important long-term effect was that Griffin's appearance broke the taboo on giving far-right politicians and commentators a platform,'' explains Daniel Trilling, author of Bloody Nasty People. ''And it helped normalise views that have since been expressed by others to be regarded as more respectable.''
It only takes a quick look around the British media today to see this in action: Nigel Farage hosts an LBC radio show in which he chats chummily to Steve Bannon; Breitbart editor Raheem Kassam is invited on to the BBC unopposed to defend Tommy Robinson's Islamophobia and racial hate. Ukip spokespeople continue to appear on our television screens to discuss Brexit, despite the fact that the party has now turned its attention to anti-Muslim policies.
Twitter's decision this week not to kick Infowars conspiracy theorist Alex Jones from its site is another example of a media platform refusing to take responsibility for the hatred it hosts. The lazy explanation, ''we strongly believe Twitter should not be the arbiter of truth'' displays a wilful misunderstanding of the responsibilities of publishers. It's as meaningless as TV shows saying they'll host racists in the interests of ''balance'' and ''fair debate''.
It's time we accept that there's no such thing as an impartial media, and that giving a platform to racists legitimises their ideas and language. When it comes to creating space for the far right, we can draw a red line.
All platforms, whether print, digital, broadcast or social, make active choices every day about the content they publish, produce and share. Television commissioners decide which documentaries or comedies make it to transmission, producers on news shows make a call as to who is invited on air. Every article has been through a commissioning and editing process. And that's before we consider who hires whom; who's the editor and the proprietor? On top of all this there are commercial interests. The same can be said for social media: algorithms, privacy policies, advertising and terms of use determine what we see when we scroll. Both social and traditional media decide which ideas to distribute, it's as simple as that.
That's why it's no affront to liberty if the likes of Apple, YouTube, Facebook and Spotify finally take a stand and kick Infowars off their platforms '' even if there could have been greater transparency about the decision-making process. This isn't a matter of private companies silencing voices or engaging in censorship, but deciding not to profit from hate.
Campaigns led by the public are one way to demand action from publishers and platforms. The Sleeping Giants account brought about a steep decline in advertising revenues on Bannon's far-right Breitbart website after naming and shaming the companies keeping the site afloat. After Sky News Australia interviewed a far-right extremist, a handful of companies pulled ads from the channel this week, spurred on by public pressure: American Express, Huggies and Specsavers among them.
Related: Aggression, abuse and addiction: we need a social media detox | Jonathan Freedland
But this approach is a stopgap: what's needed is a radical change in tactics from the media in all its forms. It's no good for companies with such power to shirk responsibility for the hatred they are spreading. It's not good enough to say, as Twitter has, that journalists should just fact-check conspiracy theories on the platform's behalf. If Infowars, which has claimed the Sandy Hook shooting was faked, accused Hillary Clinton of using ''illegal'' migrants to rig the US election and pushed the racist Obama birther conspiracy, doesn't breach Twitter's guidelines, then the rules need fixing, they aren't a codified constitution.
Giving a platform to racists doesn't just legitimise and amplify their voices; it has serious consequences offline too. A 2018 study by the University of Warwick is uncompromising: ''Our findings suggest that social media has not only become a fertile soil for the spread of hateful ideas but also motivates real-life action.'' One only need look to Infowars' founder Jones's part in spreading the Pizzagate conspiracy theory: a case in which fake news stories claiming that Hillary Clinton oversaw a child abuse ring at a Washington DC restaurant led to an incident with a gunman. It wasn't long ago that Labour MP Jo Cox was brutally murdered. Islamophobic incidents are at an all time high.
The fight against bigotry and fascism won't be won just by booting the likes of Jones off Twitter, or refusing to give Islamophobes airtime. There needs to be political education and work in local communities. We'll need to stand alongside our neighbours when racists march dangerously through our city streets. But media, both traditional and social, has a part to play too.
And if it sounds as though what I'm advocating is an affront to free speech: the far-right have no more of a ''right'' to appear on our screens than my grandma, a spider or a member of Isis. We can't have rational debates with people who think others of certain religions, races, sexualities or genders should be denied their right to exist in safety. It's no affront to civil liberties that you've not got your own TV show, and having a Twitter account isn't a human right.
' Michael Segalov is the news editor at Huck magazine and a freelance journalist
Twitter Permanently BANS Conservative Gavin McInnes and the Official Proud Boys Account
Sat, 11 Aug 2018 12:04
We report the truth - And leave the Russia-Collusion fairy tale to the Conspiracy media
by Cassandra Fairbanks August 10, 2018Twitter has banned both the official verified account for the Proud Boys and the account belonging to their founder, comedian and CRTV host Gavin McInnes.
Twitter also banned the accounts belonging to The Proud Boys Girls, all chapter accounts, and Kyle Chapman, who is better known online as Based Stickman.
It's not just the official Proud Boys account and Gavin McInnes '-- its all the Proud Boys accounts
'-- Cassandra Fairbanks (@CassandraRules) August 11, 2018
The suspensions are permanent, though no reason was provided. All of the accounts appear to have been banned at the same time.
The account holders were all warned that if they attempt to create new accounts, those will also be banned.
It also appears that Twitter has banned links to the Proud Boys website.
Twitter is preventing me from linking the Proud Boys and Gavin disavowing the white identitarians at the anti-conservative Unite the Right rally last year.
'-- Ali Alexander (@ali) August 11, 2018
''This is all a coordinated attack to prevent Trump from getting re-elected. It's pointless however because he's already won and ironically, it's because of moves like this,'' McInnes told Gateway Pundit.
McInnes also noted that leftist media is trying to link their ban to the upcoming Unite Rally, which he has repeatedly denounced.
He told the Gateway Pundit that ''the dumbasses on the left are saying were banned 'before Unite the Right rally.' I clearly disavowed that. It's not our bag.''
In fact, the day before his suspension he tweeted, ''it goes without saying the #ProudBoys won't have anything to do with this. We are a multiracial club that eschews the alt-right and everything they and #occupyWallStreet's Jason Kessler stand for. He's a DNC operative.''
The person running the official Proud Boys account echoed the sentiments about it being a coordinated attack, as social media platforms crack down on pro-Trump voices.
''It's a coordinated attack to stop us from reaching people with our message. White supremacists aren't a problem for the left. They promote them at every turn and use them to scare their voters into voting for them. A group like ours that is unapologetically proud of their patriotism and one that includes men that are both gay and straight from all races and religions scares the shit out of the left and those trying to control us. First they called us Nazis and when that failed they tried to silence us. We aren't going anywhere,'' the owner of the Proud Boys account told Gateway Pundit. ''We will continue to grow. We will continue to win and they know it. See you all on the next platform. YouTube, Apple, Twitter and Facebook are destroying themselves faster than we ever could.''
Twitter told Buzzfeed that it was due to their policy of banning ''extremist groups'' '-- yet dozens of Antifa accounts remain active.
You can continue to follow McInnes on his Instagram account and on
Bans don't seem to be lessening reach of Alex Jones, InfoWars
Sun, 12 Aug 2018 01:09
Some of the nation's largest technology and social media companies have tried to stop Alex Jones and his conspiracy theories. But in a digital world, their attempts seem to have barely slowed him down.
After YouTube, Facebook and others this week removed content by Jones and his website, the InfoWars leader, talk show host and Austin resident fired back, accusing the companies of censorship and urging his audience to fight back against what he called an ''unprecedented attack.''
Meanwhile, Jones' website and other online platforms have remained popular destinations.
InfoWars continues to see more than 1 million page visits per day and has trended upward this month, according to Amazon's Alexa website traffic report, which also said InfoWars averages more than 25 million page views per month.
Consumers still can access InfoWars through the same tech companies that just banned it. Google still offers the Infowars app for Android users, and Apple customers can download it through the App Store.
As of Friday, the show's phone app remained near the top of the charts in both the Apple App and Google Play stores. Infowars Official, an app that lets viewers stream Jones' shows and read news of the day, was ranked fourth among trending apps in the Google Play store Friday. In the news category on Apple's App Store, Infowars earned the fourth slot under the top free apps, behind Twitter and News Break, a local and breaking news service, revealing a sudden boost of user downloads.
Apple told The Washington Post in a written statement: ''We put great effort into curating the App Store to provide the very best experience for everyone. We strongly support all points of view being represented on the App Store, as long as the apps are respectful to users with differing opinions, and follow our clear guidelines, ensuring the App Store is a safe marketplace for all.''
On Twitter, where Jones hasn't been banned, his follower count has reached almost 900,000.
''Alex Jones has been doing this for a long time,'' said Adam Curry, a former host on MTV and longtime podcast personality in Austin. ''When he started off, there was no YouTube, etc. We have the belief that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram are the internet, but it's not. You can't stop people from posting, and he has a very loyal following.''
Jones has previously said his platforms reach 70 million people per week.
In a way, Curry said, Jones' banishment from major websites has helped the host, giving him ammunition to rile up his followers and further promote his initiatives.
For years, Jones has peddled conspiracy theories through his platforms. He has claimed, for example, that the 2012 school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., was a hoax. Some of the parents whose children were killed at Sandy Hook have filed a defamation lawsuit against the host. Jones' attorney was in court in Austin this month seeking to have that and another, separate defamation suit dismissed. A ruling has yet to be made.
After multiple complaints against Jones, some major tech and social media companies decided to take action.
On Monday, Facebook unpublished four pages '-- the Alex Jones Channel page, the Alex Jones page, the InfoWars Page and the InfoWars Nightly News Page.
YouTube, Apple and Spotify also have removed multiple InfoWars videos and podcasts.
The companies cited hate speech as the cause, including pages with content that glorified violence and used dehumanizing language toward Muslims.
True to character, however, Jones has fought back.
His website has been promoting an ''unprecedented attack'' on Jones and displayed photos of the host with tape around his mouth. On Twitter, he has accused YouTube, Apple and others of censorship, and those posts have amassed hundreds of retweets from his followers.
Jones did not return a call from the American-Statesman seeking comment.
Ben Bentzin, a marketing lecturer at the University of Texas, said the removal of Jones' content highlights the problem social media sites have created for themselves by monitoring certain speech and not others.
''There's not a firm, bright line between categories of speech which some people will find offensive and others will find acceptable,'' Bentzin said. ''The antidote to bad speech should start with speech to point out how awful it is.''
Curry, the podcast host, said the best move might have been to do nothing, as Twitter has done.
''It's a desperate move to not have political talk on these platforms,'' Curry said. ''And in a way, it's already backfiring. It's already hurting them.''
Taibbi: Beware the Slippery Slope of Facebook Censorship '' Rolling Stone
Sun, 12 Aug 2018 04:16
You may have seen a story this week detailing how Facebook shut down a series of accounts. As noted by Politico, Facebook claimed these accounts ''sought to inflame social and political tensions in the United States, and said their activity was similar '-- and in some cases connected '-- to that of Russian accounts during the 2016 election.''
Similar? What does ''similar'' mean?
The death-pit for civil liberties is usually found in a combination of fringe/unpopular people or ideas and a national security emergency.
This is where we are with this unsettling new confab of Facebook, Congress and the Trump administration.
Read this jarring quote from Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) about the shutting down of the ''inauthentic'' accounts:
''Today's disclosure is further evidence that the Kremlin continues to exploit platforms like Facebook to sow division and spread disinformation'... I also expect Facebook, along with other platform companies, will continue to identify Russian troll activity and to work with Congress'...''
This was in a story in which Facebook stated that it did not know the source of all the pages. They might be Russian, or they might just be Warner's idea of ''sowing division.'' Are we comfortable with that range of possibilities?
Many of the banned pages look like parodies of some paranoid bureaucrat's idea of dangerous speech.
A page called ''Black Elevation'' shows a picture of Huey Newton and offers readers a job. ''Aztlan Warriors'' contains a meme celebrating the likes of Geronimo and Zapata, giving thanks for their service in the ''the 500 year war against colonialism.''
And a banned ''Mindful Being'' page shared this, which seems culled from Jack Handey's Deep Thoughts bit:
''We must unlearn what we have learned because a conditioned mind cannot comprehend the infinite.''
Facebook also wiped out a ''No Unite The Right 2'' page, appearing to advertise a counter-rally on the upcoming anniversary of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Facebook was ''helped'' in its efforts to wipe out these dangerous memes by the Atlantic Council, on whose board you'll find confidence-inspiring names like Henry Kissinger, former CIA chief Michael Hayden, former acting CIA head Michael Morell and former Bush-era Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff. (The latter is the guy who used to bring you the insane color-coded terror threat level system.)
These people now have their hands on what is essentially a direct lever over nationwide news distribution. It's hard to understate the potential mischief that lurks behind this union of Internet platforms and would-be government censors.
As noted in Rolling Stone earlier this year, 70 percent of Americans get their news from just two sources, Facebook and Google. As that number rises, the power of just a few people to decide what information does and does not reach the public will amplify significantly.
In a way, this is the other shoe dropping after last week's much-publicized brouhaha over Infowars lunatic Alex Jones. Jones had four videos removed from YouTube and had his Facebook page banned for 30 days, though he seemed to find a way around that more or less instantly.
These moves were celebrated across social media, because who doesn't hate Alex Jones?
The complainants in the Jones case included parents of Sandy Hook victims, who have legitimate beef with Jones and his conspiratorial coverage. The Infowars reports asserting the grieving parents were green-screen fakes were not just demonstrably false and rightfully the subject of a defamation suit, but also seemingly crossed a separate line when they published maps and addresses of family members, who experienced threats.
When Jones and his like-minded pals cried censorship and bias, they came across as more than a little disingenuous. After all, right-wingers have consistently argued on behalf of the speech rights of big corporations.
Conservative justices have handed down rulings using the First Amendment to hold back regulation of big tobacco and the gun industry, and to justify unlimited campaign spending. Citizens United was a crucial moment in the degradation of the First Amendment, essentially defining corporate influence as speech.
As many pointed out last week, the Jones ban was not a legal speech issue '' not exactly, anyway. No matter how often Jones yelped about ''Hitler levels of censorship,'' and no matter how many rambling pages he and his minions typed up in their ''emergency report'' on the ''deep state plan to kill the First Amendment,'' it didn't change the objectively true fact their ban was not (yet) a First Amendment issue.
The First Amendment, after all, only addresses the government's power to restrict speech. It doesn't address what Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter can do as private companies, enforcing their terms of service.
So it's true, there was no First Amendment issue with the Jones ban. But that's the problem.
The pre-Internet system for dealing with defamatory and libelous speech was litigation, which was pretty effective. The standard for punishment was also very high. In the 1964 Supreme Court case New York Times v. Sullivan '-- the bedrock case for libel law involving a public figure '-- the court went out of its way to make sure that complainants needed to prove reckless or knowing disregard for fact.
Among other things, the court worried that absent such a tough legal standard, outlets would play it too safe with speech, and ''make only statements which 'steer far wider of the unlawful zone.'''
This mostly worked. Historically there were few analogs to Infowars that got anything like wide distribution because of the financial threat, which scared publishers most of all. In order to have power to distribute widely you needed resources, but you put those resources at risk if you defamed people.
That all changed with digital media. Way back in 1996, when mastodons roamed the earth and people used dial-up to connect to the Internet, Congress passed the Communications Decency Act. It contained the following landmark language:
''No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.''
Essentially this meant that Internet providers wouldn't be treated like news organizations. In the eyes of the law, they were less like CBS or Random House than they were bookstores or newsstands.
The rule allowed platforms to grow exponentially without the same fear of litigation. Companies like Facebook and Google became all-powerful media distributors, and were able to profit from InfoWars-style programs without having to be liable for them.
This led to the flowering of so much obnoxious speech that the First Amendment acquired a reputation as a racist con, and online media distributors, instead of being sued themselves as publishers, began to be viewed as potential restorers of order, beneficent censors.
Now, at a moment of crisis and high political tension, the public seems unable to grasp the gravity of allowing the government or anyone else to use that power.
It is already a scandal that these de facto private media regulators have secret algorithmic processes that push down some news organizations in favor of others. Witness the complaints by outlets like Alternet, Truthdig and others that big platforms have been de-emphasizing alternative sites in the name of combating ''fake news.''
But this week's revelation is worse. When Facebook works with the government and wannabe star-chamber organizations like the Atlantic Council to delete sites on national security grounds, using secret methodology, it opens the door to nightmare possibilities that you'd find in dystopian novels.
The sheer market power of these companies over information flow has always been the real threat. This is why breaking them up should have long ago become an urgent national priority.
Instead, as was obvious during the Senate hearing with Mark Zuckerberg earlier this year, politicians are more interested in using than curtailing the power of these companies. The platforms, for their part, will cave rather than be regulated. The endgame here couldn't be clearer. This is how authoritarian marriages begin, and people should be very worried.
Why decentralized social networking never makes it '-- ever heard of Crossing the Chasm? '' Upon 2020
Sun, 12 Aug 2018 04:36
Every now and then, the ''why hasn't decentralized social networking succeeded'' discussion pops back up. And inevitably, that motivates somebody who thinks they can do better. They proceed to design a new set of decentralized networking protocols, write lots of code, and get early adopters to enthusiastically adopt the New Thing. Which then, inevitably, never grows beyond a certain size.
Rinse and repeat.
How many times has that now happened? And keeps happening?
Has anybody considered that perhaps the protocols weren't the problem? Or whether the code was written in one language or another, or did or didn't use HTML5 or other cool new tech?
The problem '-- and it is the same problem that is never being addressed '-- is that your decentralized social networking app doesn't actually solve any of your users problems that haven't already been solved! And often fails to solve problems that the centralized guys have solved and that their users depend on.
For example: Mastodon lets me tweet, like Twitter. It gives me more characters, but meh, most Tweets are short anyway, and Twitter can raise the limit any time they want. So that's not a compelling feature. What else does it do for me? Having as an identifier sounds cool, but is actually harder to use than Twitter's @foobar. Finding somebody on Mastodon is largely impossible unless you get an introduction. Trending cannot be implemented at all '... I don't mean to pick on Mastodon specifically, but it's the latest whose growth is disappointing. And IMHO, from the perspective of solving user problems, Mastodon does less well than Twitter for the vast majority of users.
So: decentralized social networking will never amount to anything unless it solves at least one real, burning problem much better than the centralized alternatives.
Bonus points: find a problem to solve that is easy to solve in a decentralized fashion, and hard, or impossible to solve in a centralized fashion. (Just like Twitter trending, just reverse.) And all of a sudden, you have something that has an actual reason for being used. ''I use XYZ, because it solves my problem ABC much better than Twitter.'' Sorry, ''I want it to be decentralized'' does not count as a problem.
The problems that do qualify most likely are all problems in a ''vertical'', i.e. they apply to a (perhaps small) subset of all potential social networking users. Which is why a lot of the decentralized tech people never look for them: many of them simply want to write cool decentralized code, hoping that billions will pick it up. The don't want to understand a vertical market inside out so they can come up with a killer solution for the problems in that vertical, which just happens to use decentralized tech underneath. But unless that happens, decentralized social networking, sorry, simply won't happen.
Once you solve one problem in one vertical really well, you can look for the next problem in some other vertical. And solve that, as part of your product. And eventually, you can go broad and perhaps decentralized social networking does reach billions of users. But it is long, hard work. No more easy pickings such as the ones found by Facebook and Twitter at the time.
To use a specific example, here's a problem worth solving with decentralized social networking-style technology that occurred to me last night. It is a real problem with real time savings and other important benefits attached. (Note: you could actually get people to pay for social networking! What an idea!)
Imagine you are the ''resposible adult'' who takes care of an elderly relative, or a child, with a complex, chronic disease. You are probably middle-aged, female, family-minded, and have your hands full. Other than juggling your family and your job, you also need to find the right specialists for young Bob, organize rides to and from treatment, get second options, research conditions, get prescriptions filled, supervise that Bob actually takes them on time, keep all the other relatives updated, draft them for particular task (''can you take him to the physical therapist on Tuesday''), listen in to some on-line self-help groups, being a Mom of course etc. etc.
At the heart of all of these very time-consuming and stressful activities is communication, and bidirectional data sharing between a ''network'' of individuals. Which we could call a ''social network''. But it is very different from what's on Twitter:
First of all, all the info here is default-private. No, you do not want to publish to the world that you are overwhelmed and really need Bob's uncles and aunts to take up some of the work, even if Bob is your kid. Or that Bob had an ''accident'' yesterday that's really not normal for his age. Or the details of the latest lab tests back from the specialist.
It's also not a hang-out-with-the-cool-kids thing like Facebook and Twitter, but a productivity tool. The app would provide specific functionality for this exact problem, such as, for example:
a calendar for appointmentsan easy way to import, from various providers, and then to share and update medical results, like x-ray/ultrasound images, lab tests etcan easy way to bookmark and share and discuss related articlesautomation for common tasks, such as scheduling and rescheduling doctor appointmentsNow this is all off the top of my head, and I'm sure a product could be much better than what I outlined here. But I can easily imagine that such an app would save our harried mom half hour or an hour of work every week. Would she pay a few tens of dollars, with medical bills routinely in the thousands? Duh '...
I also happen to think that if somebody built this product in a centralized fashion, say '''', adoption would be low. What happens within this social network is too personal and too private, too close to our hearts, to hand over to other people. But if it was decentralized instead, running, for example, on a home server, that'd be different. So this is an example where decentralization has actual, tangible benefits for the user.
How many users could it reach? A few million, perhaps. The next few million would have to come from solving additional problems faced by additional users in a different vertical. (Collaborative research, for example.) But this kind of product would have immense staying power, because it solves some very specific problems extremely well, and be profitable for its developers, which is also very important for sustainability.
In summary: we have plenty (too many, in fact) protocols suitable for decentralized social networking, so just pick something and otherwise forget about them. What we don't have is people getting their hands dirty understanding and then solving actual customer problems in specific verticals. What are you waiting for? :-)
P.S: What I discuss here is, of course, nothing else than Geoff Moore's famous ''Crossing the Chasm''. If you haven't read that book and you wonder about lack of broad adoption of some tech or other, stop what you are doing and and do nothing else until you have worked yourself through that book.
What we're reading: How content moderation defines tech platforms - Axios
Sun, 12 Aug 2018 04:49
We know that Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and all the other social media platforms "moderate" the content users post, typically aiming to remove material that violates either a host country's law or the platform's own standards.
The big picture: Moderation is usually understood to be the onerous and thankless cleanup task that these social media giants have had to shoulder as they scaled up to global ubiquity. But the choices companies make about what to delete and who to boot are actually central to their identities, argues scholar Tarleton Gillespie in a new book on the subject.
Apple could be used as a 'bargaining chip' in China-US trade war
Sun, 12 Aug 2018 11:18
Apple has benefited from cheap labor and a strong supply chain in China and needs to share more of its profit with the Chinese people or face "anger and nationalist sentiment" amid the ongoing trade war, an article in the state-backed People's Daily warned Tuesday. The article originally appeared in another state-backed publication, Global Times, last week.
The opinion piece highlights how Apple made $9.6 billion in revenues in China in the June quarter, which helped the U.S. giant to recently hit a $1 trillion valuation.
But the continuing trade war between the U.S. and China could leave Apple and other U.S. firms vulnerable as "bargaining chips" for Beijing, according to the article.
"The eye-catching success achieved in the Chinese market may provoke nationalist sentiment if U.S. President Donald Trump's recently adopted protectionist measures hit Chinese companies hard," the People's Daily said.
"China is by far the most important overseas market for the U.S.-based Apple, leaving it exposed if Chinese people make it a target of anger and nationalist sentiment. China doesn't want to close its doors to Apple despite the trade conflict, but if the U.S. company wants to earn good money in China, its needs to share its development dividends with the Chinese people."
It's unclear how the publication thinks Apple should share its profits with Chinese citizens.
Apple declined to comment.
Last week, China said it was ready to retaliate with tariffs on around $60 billion of U.S. goods, just days after the U.S. administration revealed that Trump had spoken with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and asked him to consider increasing the proposed levies on $200 billion of Chinese goods up to 25 percent, from 10 percent.
So far, Apple has been broadly insulated from the trade war. Trump reportedly told Apple CEO Tim Cook in June that iPhones assembled in China would be spared from levies.
But People's Daily took issue with the economics of the iPhone. The article claimed that Chinese companies in Apple's supply chain only get 1.8 percent of total profits created by the flagship device. People's Daily did not cite where it got this figure from.
Ultimately, Chinese state media argued that U.S. companies could begin to enter the firing line in the conflict between the world's two largest economies.
"The trade conflict initiated by the Trump administration reminds China to re-examine China-U.S. trade," People's Daily wrote. "It seems U.S. companies doing business in China are the biggest winners from China-U.S. trade. The Chinese market is vital for many top U.S. brands, giving Beijing more leeway to play hardball in the trade conflict."
WATCH: Samsung vs. Apple: Who's winning in China?
Apple moves to store iCloud keys in China, raising human rights fears | Reuters
Sun, 12 Aug 2018 11:16
SAN FRANCISCO/BEIJING (Reuters) - When Apple Inc begins hosting Chinese users' iCloud accounts in a new Chinese data center at the end of this month to comply with new laws there, Chinese authorities will have far easier access to text messages, email and other data stored in the cloud.
That's because of a change to how the company handles the cryptographic keys needed to unlock an iCloud account. Until now, such keys have always been stored in the United States, meaning that any government or law enforcement authority seeking access to a Chinese iCloud account needed to go through the U.S. legal system.
Now, according to Apple, for the first time the company will store the keys for Chinese iCloud accounts in China itself. That means Chinese authorities will no longer have to use the U.S. courts to seek information on iCloud users and can instead use their own legal system to ask Apple to hand over iCloud data for Chinese users, legal experts said.
Human rights activists say they fear the authorities could use that power to track down dissidents, citing cases from more than a decade ago in which Yahoo Inc handed over user data that led to arrests and prison sentences for two democracy advocates. Jing Zhao, a human rights activist and Apple shareholder, said he could envisage worse human rights issues arising from Apple handing over iCloud data than occurred in the Yahoo case.
In a statement, Apple said it had to comply with recently introduced Chinese laws that require cloud services offered to Chinese citizens be operated by Chinese companies and that the data be stored in China. It said that while the company's values don't change in different parts of the world, it is subject to each country's laws.
''While we advocated against iCloud being subject to these laws, we were ultimately unsuccessful,'' it said. Apple said it decided it was better to offer iCloud under the new system because discontinuing it would lead to a bad user experience and actually lead to less data privacy and security for its Chinese customers.
As a result, Apple has established a data center for Chinese users in a contractual arrangement with state-owned firm Guizhou - Cloud Big Data Industry Co Ltd. The firm was set up and funded by the provincial government in the relatively poor southwestern Chinese province of Guizhou in 2014. The Guizhou company has close ties to the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party.
The Apple decision highlights a difficult reality for many U.S. technology companies operating in China. If they don't accept demands to partner with Chinese companies and store data in China then they risk losing access to the lucrative Chinese market, despite fears about trade secret theft and the rights of Chinese customers.
BROAD POWERS Apple says the joint venture does not mean that China has any kind of ''backdoor'' into user data and that Apple alone '' not its Chinese partner '' will control the encryption keys. But Chinese customers will notice some differences from the start: their iCloud accounts will now be co-branded with the name of the local partner, a first for Apple.
And even though Chinese iPhones will retain the security features that can make it all but impossible for anyone, even Apple, to get access to the phone itself, that will not apply to the iCloud accounts. Any information in the iCloud account could be accessible to Chinese authorities who can present Apple with a legal order.
Apple said it will only respond to valid legal requests in China, but China's domestic legal process is very different than that in the U.S., lacking anything quite like an American ''warrant'' reviewed by an independent court, Chinese legal experts said. Court approval isn't required under Chinese law and police can issue and execute warrants.
''Even very early in a criminal investigation, police have broad powers to collect evidence,'' said Jeremy Daum, an attorney and research fellow at Yale Law School's Paul Tsai China Center in Beijing. ''(They are) authorized by internal police procedures rather than independent court review, and the public has an obligation to cooperate.''
Guizhou - Cloud Big Data and China's cyber and industry regulators did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The Guizhou provincial government said it had no specific comment.
There are few penalties for breaking what rules do exist around obtaining warrants in China. And while China does have data privacy laws, there are broad exceptions when authorities investigate criminal acts, which can include undermining communist values, ''picking quarrels'' online, or even using a virtual private network to browse the Internet privately.
Apple says the cryptographic keys stored in China will be specific to the data of Chinese customers, meaning Chinese authorities can't ask Apple to use them to decrypt data in other countries like the United States.
Privacy lawyers say the changes represent a big downgrade in protections for Chinese customers.
''The U.S. standard, when it's a warrant and when it's properly executed, is the most privacy-protecting standard,'' said Camille Fischer of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
WARNED CUSTOMERS Apple has given its Chinese users notifications about the Feb. 28 switchover to the Chinese data center in the form of emailed warnings and so-called push alerts, reminding users that they can choose to opt out of iCloud and store information solely on their device. The change only affects users who set China as their country on Apple devices and doesn't affect users who select Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan.
Apple doesn't require an iCloud account to set up and use an iPhone. But if the user enables iCloud during set up, the default settings on the iPhone will automatically create an iCloud back-up. Apple declined to comment on whether it would change its default settings to make iCloud an opt-in service, rather than opt-out, for Chinese users.
Apple said it will not switch customers' accounts to the Chinese data center until they agree to new terms of service and that more than 99.9 percent of current users have already done so.
Until now, Apple appears to have handed over very little data about Chinese users. From mid-2013 to mid-2017, Apple said it did not give customer account content to Chinese authorities, despite having received 176 requests, according to transparency reports published by the company. By contrast, Apple has given the United States customer account content in response to 2,366 out of 8,475 government requests.
Those figures are from before the Chinese cyber security laws took effect and also don't include special national security requests in which U.S. officials might have requested data about Chinese nationals. Apple, along with other companies, is prevented by law from disclosing the targets of those requests.
Apple said requests for data from the new Chinese datacenter will be reflected in its transparency reports and that it won't respond to ''bulk'' data requests.
Human rights activists say they are also concerned about such a close relationship with a state-controlled entity like Guizhou-Cloud Big Data.
Sharon Hom, executive director of Human Rights in China, said the Chinese Communist Party could also pressure Apple through a committee of members it will have within the company. These committees have been pushing for more influence over decision making within foreign-invested companies in the past couple of years.
(Corrects paragraph 7 to read ''contractual arrangement'' instead of ''joint venture''; corrects to show that Apple does not require an iCloud account to set up an iPhone)
A man looks at the screen of his mobile phone in front of an Apple logo outside its store in Shanghai, China July 30, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song Reporting by Stephen NellisEditing by Jonathan Weber and Martin Howell
ShitHole Tech Nation
Tech takeover: Arrival of industry giants remaking downtown Austin
Sun, 12 Aug 2018 01:13
Social media giants, internet companies, the world's largest retailer and the U.S. military.
That's just a short list of the players moving into or expanding their operations in downtown Austin in a race to attract tech workers.
The result, experts say, could be a transformation of the city's core into a technology center similar to San Francisco and Seattle, both of which have seen backlash due to the rising costs and congestion that have ensued.
PHOTO GALLERY: Peek inside the offices of tech companies in downtown Austin
Downtown Austin's tech roster includes major players such as Facebook, Google and Indeed, which already have sizable workforces downtown and combined have added, or will add hundreds of thousands of square feet of office space to accommodate their growth.
Newcomers include Walmart, which this year opened an engineering hub downtown that features all the perks you'd find at a young, cutting-edge startup.
Walmart ATX, at the former home of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema at Fourth and Colorado streets, will develop emerging technology such as machine learning, artificial intelligence and blockchain for use across the company's global operations.
After a national search, the U.S. Army last month chose downtown Austin for its new Futures Command center, which will lead modernization projects for the Army's top programs.
Stephen Spillman/For the American-Statesman The lobby of the Google offices in downtown Austin, which have a view of the city. When the offices are fully built out, Google will occupy 10 floors in the glass high-rise at 500 W. Second St.'‹
The latest tide of tech firms locating or expanding their footprint downtown continues to reshape Austin's central business district. The companies are bringing hundreds of new workers and causing ripple effects throughout the economy, including boosting Austin's tax base and furthering the city's reputation as magnet for tech talent.
Mike Kennedy, principal and managing director in the Austin office of global commercial real estate services firm Avison Young, has watched as more tech companies have moved into the downtown area, expanding the tenant mix beyond the traditional downtown base of government offices, financial institutions and professional services.
The changing tenant mix, Kennedy said, ''has given rapid rise to a heavily diverse economy positively influencing all facets of industry.''
''This contribution has in turn allowed for astounding job growth, attracting both domestic and international talent,'' Kennedy said. ''The influx of new talent and Austin's growing reputation as an innovative tech hub has boosted the overall tax base, stimulating additional development, which has helped expand the boundaries of traditional downtown, further enhancing Austin's overall vitality and quality of life.''
Jay Janner/American-Statesman Staff Employees work at Walmart's new engineering hub in downtown Austin. Workers will develop emerging technology such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, blockchain and internet of things for use across the company's global operations.'‹
The downtown tech surge is happening because companies believe being part of a creative, thriving tech ecosystem is the best way to attract top talent in a highly competitive market, said Diana Holford, senior vice president in Austin with JLL, a global commercial real estate services firm.
''The energy and the positive vibe are invigorating,'' Holford said. ''You can feel the vivacity of the city, which doesn't end with the workday. Rather it continues into the wee hours of the morning. As a result, this is a magnet for a young urban workforce. It is that workforce that companies covet.''
Co-working spaces, incubators and tech accelerators such as Capital Factory are also playing key roles in downtown's growth as a creative tech hub, said Charisse Bodisch, senior vice president of economic development with the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce.
''These are important elements to the dynamism of downtown,'' Bodisch said. ''This innovation component was a factor in the recent Army Futures Command win. To our local ecosystem, it provides the energy, creativity and open exchange of ideas that propels technological advances. This is the environment that causes an explosion of ideas yet to be realized.''
Currently, nearly half of all tenants looking for downtown space are likely to be tech-related, Kennedy said.
''If you were to include East Austin and South Austin, two rapidly emerging areas being quickly consumed by downtown's expanding borders, that number exceeds well over 75 percent and will inevitably increase as more office space is delivered in the near future,'' Kennedy said.
Of the 10.8 million square feet of office space downtown, about 405,000 square feet '-- just under 4 percent '-- has a tech or tech-related tenant, Kennedy said. Figures from the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce show that of a total of 113,400 downtown jobs, about 13.4 percent, or 15,174, are tech-related jobs.
Tech culture changeThe migration of tech players downtown is a major shift from the 1990s, when the region's most promising software firms converged in suburban offices along Capital of Texas Highway (Loop 360), where new developments offered an abundance of affordable space.
Small tech upstarts began moving downtown in the early 2000s, as more high-rise condos and apartments went up, making it possible to work within walking distance of where you lived. A wave of larger companies followed, including software maker Atlassian, Athenahealth and Under Armour, which has made downtown Austin the digital headquarters where it develops the technology for its connected devices.
The latest wave of development is being driven by tech giants that began with smaller spaces. Facebook opened a seven-person Austin office in 2010, its first major U.S. expansion outside its California base. Now Facebook and Indeed are each leasing 10 floors in buildings still under construction.
Facebook now has 700 employees in downtown Austin. Indeed employs 1,600 people in Austin and plans to add 3,000 workers over the next several years.
Tamir Kalifa/AMERICAN-STATESMAN The dining area at Facebook's downtown Austin office at 300 W. Sixth St., where the company has 700 workers.
Google, meanwhile, has more than 800 employees in Austin working on projects across Android, G Suite, Google Play, Cloud, people operations, finance and marketing.
The changes have transformed downtown into an energetic district that doesn't go dark when the workday ends, local office brokers say.
The new generation of buildings downtown is
coming with a growing array of amenities, JLL's Holford said. Those include tenant lounges, larger fitness and locker room areas, open-air decks and large communal spaces.
Many are tailored to the tastes of millennials, with ping-pong tables, baristas and artwork geared toward a younger, hipper demographic.
With many employees being able to work from anywhere, there is a bigger demand for outdoor spaces for informal meetings, gathering spaces or lunch spots. Fareground, the new food court and outdoor space at 111 Congress Ave., is an example of the type of investments building owners are making to cater to a new demographic of workers, rather than putting money into high-end finishes for a lobby or other spaces.
Harsha Kalapala, director of product marketing at zlien, a tech firm with offices near the Capitol, has worked for several tech companies downtown.
''I am very active in the tech community in Austin, so the proximity to so many other good companies helps me catch up with past colleagues and connect with new people every week,'' he said.
And although parking downtown is often a challenge, he said, ''zlien found a really good provision for employees with free parking just two blocks away.''\
No slowdown on demandThough downtown rents in the second quarter hit an all-time high of $56.63 a square foot per year, demand for downtown office space remains ''torrid,'' JLL's Holford said.
''We wish buildings could get built quickly,'' Holford said. ''While professional service firms continue to shed space and become more efficient users of space, technology companies are gobbling up huge expanses of space to accommodate growing workforces.''
For Modernize Inc., a tech firm that connects homeowners with contractors, being downtown meshes with the company's culture.
''Our office vibe mirrors the bustling vibe on Congress Avenue where we are located,'' said Christina Wells, director of people operations for the firm. ''We are fortunate to have so many great businesses within steps of our front door. In addition to great places to eat, catch a show or enjoy happy hour, the Capitol grounds are a few short blocks away, where teams enjoy lunches in the park on nice days. Wellness is important to our employees, and many people will run around Lady Bird Lake on lunch breaks or head to a spin class or yoga in between meetings.''
Laura Skelding Software maker Atlassian, based in Sydney, Australia, has offices on Colorado Street in downtown Austin that feature a large open public space to use for community meet ups and gatherings.'‹
The ongoing wave of big tech expansions downtown hasn't translated to startups being priced out, said Jason Steinberg, brokerage principal at ECR, a commercial real estate services firm.
''We are seeing several large tenants in the downtown market who have relocated to East Austin or plan to in the next year, which provides large blocks of space downtown for smaller tech companies to lease and grow into,'' Steinberg said. ''Startups want to be near the big tech companies for several reasons, including access to human capital and potential new hires.''
ECR, which leases several office buildings downtown that cater toward creative groups and startups, recently signed several leases with new companies that want to be downtown.
''They may put more bodies in the space to justify the higher office rent to be located downtown, but the positives outweigh the negatives for them,'' Steinberg said.
Rick Whiteley, executive director in Austin for Cushman & Wakefield, a commercial real estate services firm, said some companies continue to be willing to pay a premium to be downtown to attract employees.
''I don't see any kind of negative tipping point being reached in the near future,'' Whiteley said. The migration of tech companies just east of downtown provides ''more validation'' of employers wanting a downtown-area address.
While rents are about 20 percent cheaper on the east side, ''that's not really the driver,'' Whiteley said. Not only does East Austin have its own appeal, but a company that was in a high-rise downtown, for example, can boost its profile and have a more significant presence by moving to some of the smaller buildings cropping up on the east side.
Stephen Spillman Coffee bar area at Google's downtown Austin offices.
Despite downtown having higher rents compared with other parts of the city, ''it is critically important for some tech companies to locate downtown to project the right culture for the company and attract the right tenants,'' said Erin Morales, senior vice president in Austin with global commercial real estate services firm CBRE.
''It appears downtown will continue to be the epicenter for tech talent,'' Morales said. ''This will require tech companies to be more strategic in their approach to real estate, as demand does not appear to be slowing down anytime soon.''
Unintended consequencesAs cities such as San Francisco and Seattle have learned, when tech companies take over huge swaths of downtown they bring high-paying jobs and an increased tax base. But there is also a downside.
Both cities are dealing with backlash from non-tech workers and local businesses that are being priced out of the market. Some residents resent the cultural changes that tech has brought, from an influx of upscale restaurants and high-end boutiques to a pervasive techie vibe that has changed the look and feel of downtown.
It's a challenge Austin also needs to discuss, said Rebecca Melancon, executive director of the Austin Independent Business Alliance, a nonprofit that represents 1,000 locally owned Austin businesses.
''As the tech segment grows especially concentrated in one area like we see happening, there are unintended consequences,'' Melancon said. ''Culturally it becomes a tech city and not the Austin we have now, which is more diverse than that. If you have a dominant culture that wants the new, the trendy, the high styles, it makes sense that business responds to that and gives their customers what they want.''
But Melancon said the discussion shouldn't be about pro-growth or no-growth.
''We all want a strong economy, and we all want to see good jobs come here,'' she said. ''The conversation should be how do we go about saving who we are, and how do we help those getting run over by this?''
In fact, some tech firms are deciding downtown Austin isn't the right fit for them anymore.
When it came time for real estate technology startup Opcity to find a larger space than its current office at West Cesar Chavez and Lavaca streets, the company was ready to leave downtown, said CEO Ben Rubenstein.
''Parking is a major pain,'' he said. ''In our garage it was 10 minutes just to get to the ground floor. We plotted on a map where every single person in the company lives, and we mapped out their drive times to different locations in average and peak traffic times.''
Burleson Road in Southeast Austin turned out to be the best location, Rubenstein said. ''Their commute times went down, and we have amenities that just don't exist downtown.''
'Spreading things out'Some large tech companies '-- including HomeAway, Facebook and Indeed '-- are finding the best real estate model combines downtown space with offices in other parts of town.When Indeed announced a major expansion plan in May that could add as many as 3,000 workers, the company said it had signed two new leases '-- one in downtown Austin and one at the Domain. The company will also keep its main campus at the Champion Office Park on North Capital of Texas Highway.
The decision to maintain three sites was made with mobility issues in mind, said Indeed president Chris Hyams. Employees can decide whether to work at the company's existing downtown office or the Champion location, and will eventually have the Domain option.
Internet job search company Indeed is leasing the top nine stories of this planned downtown tower at 6th and Lavaca streets. The company plans to add 3,000 jobs over the next several years. Rendering provided by Trammell Crow.
''We believe that spreading things out over multiple locations is partially a way to help ease some of the traffic and commute time, both for our employees and also for the city as a whole,'' he said.
Indeed economist Daniel Culbertson made the switch from the Champion campus to the company's downtown office about a year ago and has enjoyed meeting up with former co-workers and acquaintances who work nearby.
''The ability to leave work and walk right to a happy hour or dinner or the gym is great,'' Culbertson said. ''I'm excited about how downtown is changing and all the new things that will be opening. It's only going to get better.''
A rendering of a new office tower being planned downtown at 6th and Lavaca streets. Internet job search company Indeed is leasing the top nine stories. The company plans to add 3,000 jobs over the next several years.
TECH TAKEOVER: Arrival of industry giants remaking downtown Austin
Sun, 12 Aug 2018 04:16
Social media giants, internet companies, the world's largest retailer and the U.S. military.
That's just a short list of the players moving into or expanding their operations in downtown Austin in a race to attract tech workers.
The result, experts say, could be a transformation of the city's core into a technology center similar to San Francisco and Seattle, both of which have seen backlash due to the rising costs and congestion that have ensued.
Downtown Austin's tech roster includes major players such as Facebook, Google and Indeed, which already have sizable workforces downtown and combined have added, or will add hundreds of thousands of square feet of office space to accommodate their growth.
For the full story, go to
Gulen again
the current economic chaos in Turkey seem like a soft coup a la the methods
outlined in the “Economic Hitman?’ Short answer: Yes. Can Erdogan keep the
Turkish economy upright without IMF support now? Maybe not. Banks in Germany
(and France, Spain) will be pushing for IMF loans to back up the Turkish
economy. They have large loans on their books to Turkey. And I think said banks
(and others) would welcome more stable leadership in the country. Enter the
Gülen Movement - while roundly hated in Turkey, they have strong government
support in Germany and the USA and may be seen as more easily
this year I talked with someone involved in the Brunson matter (an American) -
I was told that Mike Pence and the Turks had reached a deal but factions within
the CIA and State Dept were working to frustrate their agreement in order to
make Erdogan look as bad as possible (not hard to do). And I had heard last
month while in DC that Brunson would be released from prison after Trump
himself had negotiated the release of a Turkish Hamas courier/’tourist' being
held in Israel. The Turk was released but Erdogan only released Brunson to
house arrest in Turkey. Not what was envisioned. And about 10 days ago, Erdogan
formally announced that Turkey would join the BRICS. I would guess that these 2
things may have personally angered Trump enough to impose sanctions (other
issues - F-35’s, S-400’s etc seemed to be working themselves out…) and start
listening to pro-Gülen elements in the US government.
and his government are still very, very pissed off that Gülen has not been
extradited back to Turkey (or sent back via rendition). They’ve repeatedly
stated Brunson will have to ‘go through the Turkish judicial process’ when the
DOJ here blathers on about lack of evidence and how the extradition process is
still under review. A ’tit for tat’ situation. It’s likely that Brunson had
some interaction with the Gülen Movement. He lived in Izmir for 25 years - the
city in which Gülen first gained a following. Given the Gülen Movement’s use of
‘interfaith dialogue’ which has been very successful in recruiting gullible
sympathizers in religious circles around the world, I wouldn’t be surprised if
Brunson was caught up in some nefarious Gülenist B.S. However, I’ve seen no
evidence that he was a spy or working on behalf of Gülen during the coup
attempt in 2016. Under the state of emergency in Turkey, a lot of secret
testimony, etc., has been gathered but is not released, providing a opaqueness
to prosecutions of this type, however.
Automatic content recognition - Wikipedia
Thu, 09 Aug 2018 20:52
Automatic content recognition (ACR) is an identification technology to recognize content played on a media device or present in a media file. Devices containing ACR support enable users to quickly obtain additional information about the content they have just experienced without any user-based input or search efforts. For example, developers of the application can then provide personalized complementary content to viewers.[1]
How it works Edit To start the recognition, a short media clip (audio, video, or both) is selected. This clip could be selected from within a media file or recorded by a device. Through algorithms such as fingerprinting, information from the actual perceptual content is taken and compared to a database of reference fingerprints, each reference fingerprint corresponding to a known recorded work.[2] The database may contain metadata about the work and associated information, including complementary media. If the fingerprint of the media clip is matched, the identification software returns the corresponding metadata to the client application.[3]
Fingerprints and watermarking Edit Audio based ACR is commonly used in the market. The two leading methodologies are acoustic fingerprinting and watermarking. Another common approach uses video fingerprinting.
Acoustic fingerprinting generates unique fingerprints from the content itself. Fingerprinting techniques work regardless of content format, codec, bitrate and compression techniques.[4] This makes it possible to use across networks and channels. Therefore, it is widely used for interactive TV, second screen application and content monitoring sectors.[5][6] [dead link ] Popular apps like Shazam, YouTube, Facebook,[7] Thetake, Wechat and Weibo are using audio fingerprinting methodology to recognize the content played from a TV and trigger additional features like votes, lotteries, topics or purchases.
In contrast to fingerprinting, digital watermarking requires inserting digital tags containing information about the content into the content itself prior to distribution. For example, a broadcast encoder might insert a watermark every few seconds that could be used to identify to broadcast channel, program id, and time stamp. The watermark is normally inaudible or invisible to the users. Terminal devices like phones or tablets read the watermarks instead of actually recognizing the played content.[8] Watermarking technology is utilized in media protection field to trace where illegal copies originate.[9]
It is expected by Next/Market Insights that 2.5 billion devices will be integrated with ACR technology to provide synchronized live and on-demand video watching experience.[10]
History Edit ACR technology was applied in TV content by Shazam in 2011 which captured the attention from TV industries. Shazam was previously a music recognition service which recognizes music from a sound recording. By utilizing its own fingerprint technology to identify live channels and videos, Shazam extended their business for TV. In 2012 DIRECTV partnered with Viggle which is a TV loyalty vendor to provide interactive viewing experience on the second screen. In 2013 LG partnered with Cognitive Networks (later purchased by Vizio and renamed Inscape), an ACR vendor, to provide ACR driven interaction.[11] In 2015 ACR technology is spread widely to even more applications and smart TVs. Now, social applications and TV manufacturers like Facebook, Twitter, Google, Wechat, Weibo, LG, Samsung, Vizio TV have already used ACR technology either developed by themselves or integrated from third party ACR providers.[citation needed ] In 2016 there are more applications and mobile OS embedded with automatic content recognition services on the market like Peach, Omusic and Mi OS to enhance the music discover experiences.[12][13][14]
Applications Edit Content identification Edit ACR technology helps audiences easily retrieve information about the content they watched. For smart TVs and applications with ACR technology embedded the audience can check the name of the song which is played or descriptions of the movie they watched. In addition to that, the identified video and music content can be linked to internet content providers for on-demand viewing, third parties for additional background information, or complementary media.
Content enhancement Edit Because devices can be "aware" of content being watched or listened to, second screen devices can feed users complementary content beyond what is presented on the primary viewing screen. ACR technology can not only identify the content, but also it can identify the precise location within the content. Thus, additional information can be presented to the user. ACR can enable a variety of interactive features such as polls, coupons, lottery or purchase of goods based on timestamp.[15]
Audience measurement Edit Real-time audience measurement metrics are now achievable by applying ACR technology into smart TVs, set top boxes and mobile devices such as smart phones and tables. This measurement data is highly essential to quantify audience consumption to set advertising pricing policies.
Broadcast monitoring Edit For advertisers and content owners, it is vital to know when and where their content has been played. Traditionally agencies or advertisers have to manually audit the presentation. At scale it only can be checked through a statistical sampling method. ACR technology enables automatic monitoring of the content played in TV. Information like the time of play, duration, frequency can be achieved without any manual effort.[16][17] Many people have expressed some concern[weasel words ] however on the information that these smart TVs are sending out to the companies collecting this data. However there is an option in almost every set to disable this feature.[18]
The alternative approaches are video based automated content recognition technologies. These are a suite of technologies that revolve around the convergence of video and TV Everywhere[19] which will render the audio and digital watermarking methods incapable of handling the millions of unique streams going out and billions of hours of footage to be reviewed with metadata extracted or enriched in relation to the content in real-time. Where acoustic fingerprint fails in its reliance on a database of reference fingerprints. Digital watermarking relies on intrusive frame by frame production stage imprinting on every piece of content.[20] The effectiveness of these techniques have been challenged based on their presumed inability to effectively scale to the amount of video being generated.[21] In practice for monetization and other user based ACR applications the reference database or presence of watermarks only has to cover those videos that are targets of monetization. For example, a video that is hosted on YouTube and viewed only once does not need to be present in a world wide ACR database or be impressed with a watermark.
ACR technology providers Edit ACR service providers include ACRCloud, Audible Magic, Axwave, Digimarc, Gracenote, Kantar Media, and Shazam.
See also Edit References Edit ^ "Automatic Content Recognition (ACR)". Gartner . Retrieved 24 June 2015 . ^ "ACR(Automatic Content Recognition)" . Retrieved 27 February 2017 . ^ "Automated content recognition creating content aware ecosystems" (PDF) . Civolution. Civolution . Retrieved 24 June 2015 . ^ "Panako: a scalable acoustic fingerprinting system handling time-scale and pitch modification". Universiteit Gent . Retrieved 27 February 2017 . ^ Main, Sami. "Nielsen Is Bringing Real-Time Interactive Ads to Smart TVs to Keep Streaming Audiences Engaged". Adweek . Retrieved 2018-01-11 . ^ Brink, Kyle. "A Primer on Automated Content". Viggle. Viggle . Retrieved 22 June 2015 . ^ "Facebook Automatic Content Recognition". Starcom MediaVest Group. SMG . Retrieved 6 July 2015 . ^ Brink, Kyle. "SVP of Product Development". A Primer on Automated Content Recognition. Viggle . Retrieved 22 June 2015 . ^ Solana, Anna. "How these hidden video watermarks can help spot piracy, doctored images | ZDNet". ZDNet . Retrieved 2018-01-11 . ^ "ACR Technology To Drive Social TV As It Reaches 2.5 Billion Devices by 2017". NEXT / MARKET INSIGHTS . Retrieved 24 June 2015 . ^ "LG partners with Cognitive Networks to make Smart TVs smarter and more interactive". engadget . Retrieved 23 August 2016 . ^ "ACRCloud Powers Song Recognition For Hottest New Social Network, Peach". Music Industry News Network. Music Industry News Network . Retrieved 3 March 2016 . ^ Victoria, Ho. "Xiaomi will help you name that song you can't stop humming". Mashable. Mashable . Retrieved 3 March 2016 . ^ "ACRCloud Powers The Launch Of Taiwan's First Music/Humming Recognition Service For Omusic". Music Industry News Network . Retrieved 3 March 2016 . ^ Wolf, Michael. "Three Ways Automatic Content Recognition Will Change TV". Forbes . Retrieved 20 June 2015 . ^ "Automated Content Recognition creating content aware ecosystems" (PDF) . csimagazine. Civolution . Retrieved 24 June 2015 . ^ "Roku Privacy Policy (Section I-B-4 and IV-E)". Roku . Retrieved 30 October 2017 . ^ "Samsung, LG, and Vizio smart TVs are recording'--and sharing data about'--everything you watch Consumer Reports investigates the information brokers who want to turn your viewing habits into cash". Consumer Reports . Retrieved 27 February 2017 . ^ Ramachandran, Shalini; Vranica, Suzanne (2015-10-20). "Comcast Seeks to Harness Trove of TV Data". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660 . Retrieved 2016-05-16 . ^ "The Disadvantages of a Watermark". . Retrieved 2016-05-16 . ^ "Facebook Announces Its ContentID Attempt... Using Audible Magic | Techdirt". Techdirt . Retrieved 2016-05-16 .
Facebook to Banks: Give Us Your Data, We'll Give You Our Users - WSJ
Fri, 10 Aug 2018 17:17
The social-media giant has asked large U.S. banks to share detailed financial information about their customers, including card transactions and checking-account balances, as part of an effort to offer new services to users.
Facebook increasingly wants to be a platform where people buy and sell goods and services, besides connecting with friends. The company over the past year asked JPMorgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo & Co., Citigroup Inc. and U.S. Bancorp to discuss potential offerings it could host for bank customers on Facebook Messenger, people familiar with the matter said.
Facebook has talked about a feature that would show its users their checking-account balances, the people said. It has also pitched fraud alerts, some of the people said.
Data privacy is a sticking point in the banks' conversations with Facebook, said people familiar with the matter. The talks are taking place as Facebook faces several investigations over its ties to political analytics firm Cambridge Analytica, which accessed data on as many 87 million Facebook users without their consent.
One large U.S. bank pulled away from the talks due to privacy concerns, some of the people said.
Facebook has told banks that the additional customer information could be used to offer services that might entice users to spend more time on Messenger, a person familiar with the discussions said. The company is trying to deepen user engagement: Investors shaved more than $120 billion from its market value in one day last month after it said its growth is starting to slow.
Facebook said it wouldn't use the bank data for ad-targeting purposes or share it with third parties.
''We don't use purchase data from banks or credit-card companies for ads,'' spokeswoman Elisabeth Diana said. ''We also don't have special relationships, partnerships or contracts with banks or credit-card companies to use their customers' purchase data for ads.''
Facebook shares climbed sharply Monday on the news, rising 4.45%, marking the biggest one-day gain since last month's historic drop.
Banks face pressure to build relationships with big online platforms, which reach billions of users and drive a growing share of commerce. They also are trying to reach more users digitally. Many struggle to gain traction in mobile payments.
Yet banks are hesitant to hand too much control to third-party platforms such as Facebook. They prefer to keep customers on their own websites and apps.
As part of the proposed deals, Facebook asked banks for information about where their users are shopping with their debit and credit cards outside of purchases they make using Facebook Messenger, the people said. Messenger has some 1.3 billion monthly active users, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said on the company's second-quarter earnings call last month.
Alphabet Inc.'s Google and Inc. also have asked banks to share data if they join with them, in order to provide basic banking services on applications such as Google Assistant and Alexa, according to people familiar with the conversations.
''Like many online companies, we routinely talk to financial institutions about how we can improve people's commerce experiences, like enabling better customer service,'' Facebook's Ms. Diana said. ''An essential part of these efforts is keeping people's information safe and secure.''
Facebook has taken a harder public line on privacy since the Cambridge Analytica uproar. A product privacy team has announced new features such as ''clear history,'' which would allow users to prevent the service from collecting their off-Facebook browsing details. It also is making efforts to alert users to its privacy settings.
That hasn't assuaged concerns over Facebook's privacy practices. Bank executives are worried about the breadth of information being sought, even if it means their bank might not being available on certain platforms their customers use. Bank customers would need to opt-in to the proposed Facebook services, the company said in a statement Monday.
JPMorgan isn't ''sharing our customers' off-platform transaction data with these platforms, and have had to say no to some things as a result,'' spokeswoman Trish Wexler said.
Banks view mobile commerce as one of their biggest opportunities but are still running behind technology firms such as PayPal Holdings Inc. and Square Inc. Customers have moved slowly, too; many Americans still prefer using credit or debit cards, along with cash and checks.
In an effort to compete with PayPal's Venmo, a group of large banks last year connected their smartphone apps to money-transfer network Zelle. Results are mixed so far: While usage has risen, many banks still aren't on the platform.
In recent years, Facebook has tried to transform Messenger into a hub for customer service and commerce, in keeping with a broader trend among mobile messaging services.
A partnership with American Express Co. allows Facebook users to contact the card company's representatives. Last year, Facebook struck a deal with PayPal that allows users of that payment service to send money through Messenger. And Mastercard Inc. cardholders can place online orders with certain merchants through Messenger using the card company's Masterpass digital wallet. (A Mastercard spokesman said Facebook doesn't see the card users' information.)
'--Douglas MacMillan and Laura Stevens contributed to this article.
Write to Emily Glazer at, Deepa Seetharaman at and AnnaMaria Andriotis at
Any Collusion?
Why security experts hate that ''blockchain voting'' will be used in the midterm elections - MIT Technology Review
Fri, 10 Aug 2018 09:09
Ms. Tech; People illustrations by Thomas Helbig, DE | Noun Project
It's too dangerous to conduct elections over the internet, they say, and West Virginia's new plan to put votes on a blockchain doesn't fix Mike OrcuttAugust 9, 2018Voting in West Virginia just got a lot more high-tech'--and experts focused on election security aren't happy about it.
This fall, the state will become the first in the US to allow some voters to submit their federal general election ballots using a smartphone app, part of a pilot project primarily involving members of the military serving overseas. The decision seems to fly in the face of years of dire warnings about the risks of online voting issued by cybersecurity researchers and advocacy groups focused on election integrity. But even more surprising is how West Virginia officials say they plan to address those risks: by using a blockchain.
The project has drawn harsh criticism from election security experts, who argue that as designed, the system does little to fix the problems inherent in online voting.
This piece first appeared in our twice-weekly newsletter Chain Letter, which covers the world of blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Sign up here'--it's free!
We first heard of the West Virginia pilot in May, when the state tested a mobile app, developed by a startup called Voatz, during primary elections. The test was limited to overseas voters registered in two counties. Now, citing third-party audits of those results, officials plan to offer the option to overseas voters from the whole state. Their argument is that a more convenient and secure way to vote online will increase turnout'--and that a blockchain, which can be used to create records that are extremely difficult to tamper with, can protect the process against meddling.
But that premise has been controversial from the start. After two fellows from the Brookings Institution penned an essay praising West Virginia for pioneering the use of blockchain technology in an election, Matt Blaze, a cryptography and security researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, pushed back hard. It's not that blockchains are bad, said Blaze, who testified (PDF) before Congress last year on election cybersecurity. It's that they introduce new security vulnerabilities, and securing the vote tally against fraud ''is more easily, simply, and securely done with other approaches,'' he said.
Blaze and many other election cybersecurity experts oppose online voting of any kind because, they feel, it's fundamentally insecure. Although a number of countries have embraced the practice, in 2015 a team of cryptographers, computer scientists, and political scientists looked closely (PDF) at the prospect of internet voting in the US and concluded that it was not yet technically feasible. Protecting connected devices against hacking is hard enough, and, even if that could be achieved, developing an online system that preserves all the attributes we expect from democratic elections would be incredibly difficult to pull off.
The Voatz system uses biometric authentication to identify individual users before allowing them to mark an electronic ballot, and the votes are then recorded in a private blockchain. The company says that in a general election pilot, its system will use eight ''verified validating nodes,'' or computers (all controlled by the company) that algorithmically check that the data is valid before adding it to the chain.
The system isn't so much a blockchain-based app as it is a mobile app with a blockchain attached, says Marian K. Schneider, president of Verified Voting. The blockchain can't protect the information as it travels over the internet, and doesn't guarantee that a user's choices will be reflected accurately. ''I think they've made a lot of claims that really don't justify any increased confidence in what they are doing versus any other internet voting system,'' Schneider says.
DNC serves WikiLeaks with lawsuit via Twitter - CBS News
Sat, 11 Aug 2018 03:48
The Democratic National Committee on Friday officially served its lawsuit to WikiLeaks via Twitter, employing a rare method to serve its suit to the elusive group that has thus far been unresponsive.
As CBS News first reported last month, the DNC filed a motion with a federal court in Manhattan requesting permission to serve its complaint to WikiLeaks on Twitter, a platform the DNC argued the website uses regularly. The DNC filed a lawsuit in April against the Trump campaign, Russian government and WikiLeaks, alleging a massive conspiracy to tilt the 2016 election in Donald Trump's favor.
All of the DNC's attempts to serve the lawsuit via email failed, the DNC said in last month's motion to the judge, which was ultimately approved.
The lawsuit was served through a tweet from a Twitter account established Friday by Cohen Milstein, the law firm representing the DNC in the suit, with the intent of serving the lawsuit.
The DNC argued the unusual method of serving a lawsuit over Twitter was feasible because WikiLeaks, founded by Julian Assange, frequently uses Twitter and had even suggested it had read the DNC's lawsuit.
How did WikiLeaks become associated with Russia? On April 21, the WikiLeaks Twitter account tweeted, "Democrats have gone all Scientology against @WikiLeaks. We read the DNC lawsuit. Its primary claim against @WikiLeaks is that we published their 'trade secrets.' Scientology infamously tried this trick when we published their secret bibles. Didn't work out well for them.'"
The DNC also noted last month that there is some legal precedent for serving the lawsuit on Twitter. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, the DNC notes, decided service by Twitter was a reasonable way to alert the defendant, who had an active Twitter account.
"WikiLeaks seems to tweet daily," the DNC said in the motion made to the judge last month.
In the months before the 2016 election, WikiLeaks released nearly 20,000 internal DNC emails, many of which were related to Hillary Clinton. WikiLeaks later released thousands of emails belonging to John Podesta, who was Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign chairman.
Mr. Trump and many in his administration have described questions of alleged conspiracy with Russia as an excuse for losing the election.
"Just won lawsuit filed by the DNC and a bunch of Democrat crazies trying to claim the Trump Campaign (and others), colluded with Russia. They haven't figured out that this was an excuse for them losing the election!" the president tweeted in July, although the lawsuit is ongoing.
Just won lawsuit filed by the DNC and a bunch of Democrat crazies trying to claim the Trump Campaign (and others), colluded with Russia. They haven't figured out that this was an excuse for them losing the election!
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 6, 2018
Did Fusion GPS's Researcher Avoid Surveillance With A Ham Radio?
Sun, 12 Aug 2018 13:18
In the late 1950s, when I was entering early adolescence, I became an amateur radio operator. It was like joining a very large audio-visual club whose geekiness was on steroids. Along with knowledge of electronics and Morse code, being a total techno-weirdo was an absolute pre-requisite.
The world back then seemed to be a much larger place, and communicating with foreign countries via the short-wave spectrum was a challenging and random proposition. So it was fun and exciting to communicate by code or voice with hams in remote parts of the planet. At least at first.
Unfortunately, the conversations were confined to exchanging names and locations, describing the strength and clarity of the other operator's signal, and discussing the type of equipment and antenna being used. This never varied.
For example, I once had a chance contact with a Christian missionary in the far-away Belgian Congo. At the time, the Belgians were relinquishing colonial control, Katanga Province had declared independence, and a bloody civil war had broken out. The missionary briefly mentioned in passing that the communist-backed Simba rebels were lurking about, but so far so good. With that small detail out of the way, he then quickly moved on to truly important matters such as the fact that he was using a homemade transmitter, a Hammarlund HQ-110 receiver, and a dipole antenna. And that was that.
It made no difference whether I was communicating with Great Britain, Alaska, Kwajalein, or across the street. The conversation was always the same, and it became mind-numbingly boring. After high school, I let my ham license lapse and had no further contact with amateur radio until a few years ago, when I met an active operator at a social event.
Upon learning that I had once been a ham, he urged me to return to the fold. I responded by holding up my cell phone and pointing out the obvious. With this little device, I could use voice, email, or text messages to easily and reliably contact anyone else similarly equipped anywhere on the face of the earth. Equally important, I could speak to people who might have something more to talk about than signal strength and equipment. So why in today's world would I or anyone else become a ham operator?
A Curious Question IndeedThat brings us to Nellie Ohr, holder of amateur radio call sign KM4UDZ. Ohr graduated from Harvard University in 1983 with a degree in history and Russian literature. She studied in the Soviet Union in 1989 and obtained a PhD in Russian history in 1990.
For those of you who may be tempted to read her 400-plus page PhD thesis, here's a spoiler alert: in murdering untold millions, Joseph Stalin may have engaged in some ''excesses'' which, in her words, ''sometimes represented desperate measures taken by a government that had little real control over the country.'' Translated into simple English, she meant, ''Hey, cut the guy some slack. Creating a proletarian paradise can be tough and anybody can get carried away.''
She is said to be fluent in the Russian language and an expert on cybersecurity. Her husband is Bruce Ohr, the former number four official in President Obama's Justice Department.
According to a sworn court filing by Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson, she was hired by that firm to conduct opposition research on behalf of the Clinton campaign against candidate Donald Trump. In his statement, Simpson acknowledged bank records reflect that Fusion GPS contracted with her ''to help our company with its research and analysis of Mr. Trump.''
At the same time, Fusion GPS retained the services of former British spy and FBI informant Christopher Steele to obtain derogatory information from his Russian sources about Trump. The final Fusion GPS product became the now-discredited eponymous Steele dossier, which James Comey's FBI and Obama's DOJ used to obtain Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants to spy on a Trump campaign member.
Who Are Nellie and Bruce Ohr?The so-called Nunes memorandum by the Republican majority on the House Intelligence Committee states Nellie Ohr was ''employed by Fusion GPS to assist in the cultivation of opposition research on Trump'' and added that her husband ''later provided the FBI with all of his wife's opposition research.'' Sen. Lindsey Graham has stated publicly that she ''did the research for Mr. Steele.''
We now know that, before the House Intelligence Committee, Simpson disclosed that he met personally with Bruce Ohr ''at his request, after the November 2016 election to discuss our findings regarding Russia and the election.'' That committee also learned that during the election campaign, Bruce Ohr met with Steele, the dossier's author.
It has also come out that Bruce Ohr failed to report the source of his wife's income from Fusion GPS on his DOJ ethics disclosure forms. Such disclosure is mandatory, and Ohr's omission raises many questions.
For example, under the law, such an omission could be considered evidence tending to prove his consciousness of guilt. Why would he, in effect, conceal by omission his wife's employment by the firm that produced the meretricious Steele dossier that his own employer, the Obama DOJ, submitted under oath to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) for authorization to spy on the Trump campaign and presidency? Was he trying to hide his connections with Fusion GPS? If so, why? And what inference should a jury draw from such concealment?
He is not alone in this regard. What about Nellie Ohr's ham radio license?
Why Did Nellie Ohr Suddenly Become a Ham in 2016?Ohr is a member of Women in International Security, which describes itself as supporting ''research projects and policy engagement initiatives on critical international security issues, including the nexus between gender and security.'' She has done cybersecurity consulting for Accenture, a politically connected firm, for which she gave a presentation on ''Ties Between Government Intelligence Services and Cyber Criminals '' Closer Than You Think?''
Did she develop an overwhelming middle-aged desire to talk to geeks over the radio?
It is apparent that, between her own professional experience and her marriage to a top DOJ official, she was well aware of the ability of the National Security Agency to intercept and store every communication on the Internet. Did this knowledge have anything to do with her mid-life decision to become a ham radio operator and communicate outside cyberspace?
I got into amateur radio because I was a horny, zit-infested teenager with no hope of ever successfully interacting with members of the opposite sex. Faced with that reality, I sublimated my priapic energies into learning electronics and building radios. My sublimated adolescent urges were so strong that, on several occasions, I almost invented the Internet 20 years before the Pentagon and Al Gore got around to it.
That's why I became a ham. So what's Nellie's excuse? Did she develop an overwhelming middle-aged desire to talk to geeks over the radio? Was this a case of Sudden Onset Geek Syndrome? Or is there some other less benign explanation?
What Was Happening When Nellie Ohr Got Her LicenseOn May 23, 2016, she received a technician-level amateur radio license. The timing is significant. The presidential campaign was underway and she and her employer, Fusion GPS, were digging for dirt in Russia to use against Trump. Given her cybersecurity knowledge, was Nellie Ohr hoping to use non-cyber short wave communications to hide her participation in that nefarious effort from the NSA?
Recall that, in early 2016, NSA head Admiral Mike Rogers became aware of ''ongoing'' and ''intentional'' violations and abuse of FISA surveillance, which he subsequently exposed in testimony before Congress. Thereafter, pressure mounted within the Obama administration to fire him.
Rogers and his NSA posed a potential threat to Fusion GPS's operation as well as the anti-Trump elements at the FBI and DOJ.
The week after the presidential election, when he was facing removal from his post, Rogers visited the president-elect at Trump Tower. On November 19, 2016, Reuters reported that Rogers' decision ''to travel to New York to meet with Trump on Thursday without notifying superiors caused consternation at senior levels of the [Obama] administration.''
The day following Rogers' visit, the president-elect's transition team vacated Trump Tower and moved its operations to New Jersey. Was this because Rogers had warned Trump that he and his transition team were being subjected to illegal government surveillance? While that is unknown, it is clear that Rogers was not and had never been an Obama team player, such that he and his agency posed a potential threat to Fusion GPS's operation as well as the anti-Trump elements at the FBI and DOJ.
So, was Nellie Ohr's late-in-life foray into ham radio an effort to evade the Rogers-led NSA detecting her participation in compiling the Russian-sourced Steele dossier? Just as her husband's omissions on his DOJ ethics forms raise an inference of improper motive, any competent prosecutor could use the circumstantial evidence of her taking up ham radio while digging for dirt on Trump to prove her consciousness of guilt and intention to conceal illegal activities.
This type of circumstantial evidence can be quite powerful. For example, a video of a nun buying a bustier at Victoria's Secret would not be direct evidence that she was having an affair. But it most assuredly would prompt a jury to seriously wonder about her motives and commitment to celibacy. The same can be said for Nelly's ham license. Just what was she up to?
Undoubtedly further information on this topic will be forthcoming. But, in the meantime, it is fair to ask in the ham vernacular of yesteryear, ''Dit-dah-dah; dah; dit-dit-dah-dit?'' That's Morse code for ''WTF?''
Copyright (C) 2018 The Federalist, a wholly independent division of FDRLST Media, All Rights Reserved.
Agenda 2030
Dimming sunlight to slow global warming may harm crop yields: study | Article [AMP] | Reuters
Thu, 09 Aug 2018 21:31
Wed Aug 8, 2018 / 2:16 PM EDT
Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent
OSLO (Reuters) - Spraying a veil of sun-dimming chemicals high above the Earth to slow global warming could harm crop yields in an unintended side-effect of turning down the heat, U.S. scientists said on Wednesday.
Some researchers say a man-made sunshade, perhaps sulfur dioxide released high in the atmosphere, could limit rising temperatures and the after-effects like the wildfires that have ravaged California and Greece this summer.
But a U.S. scientific team found that big volcanic eruptions, such as Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991 and El Chichon in Mexico in 1982, cut yields of wheat, soy and rice after spewing sun-blocking ash that blew around the world.
Pinatubo's eruption, for instance, reduced sunlight by 2.5 percent, cooled the planet by about 0.5 degree Celsius (0.9 Fahrenheit), and disrupted rainfall patterns, they wrote in the journal Nature.
And the study said any future "geoengineering" modelled on volcanoes would have scant benefits for crops, which need light to grow. Less sunlight would reduce yields even though the plants would do better in less sweltering temperatures.
"If we think of geoengineering as an experimental surgery, our findings suggest that the side effects of the treatment are just as bad as the original disease," author Jonathan Proctor of the University of California, Berkeley, told a telephone news conference.
Co-author Solomon Hsiang, also of the University of California, Berkeley, said the findings were a surprise after some previous research suggested plants might grow better with hazier sunshine, especially crops in the shade.
The new study "doesn't necessarily mean we should simply rule out these (geoengineering) technologies," he said. Governments could encourage farmers to grow more shade-tolerant crops if geoengineering were ever deployed.
And interest in geoengineering as a possible climate short-cut may rise because governments are not on track to limit global warming to goals set in the 2015 Paris climate agreement to avert floods, heat waves and rising seas.
A study on Monday said the world is at risk of entering an irreversible "hothouse" state with far higher temperatures than now, even if governments meet goals set in Paris.
But many are skeptical of geoengineering.
Janos Pasztor, head of the Carnegie Climate Geoengineering Governance Initiative, welcomed Wednesday's study as a step to understand the risks and benefits of geoengineering, which could affect everything from human health to life in the oceans.
"We need to move away from the stigma about not even being able to talk about any geoengineering options," he told Reuters.
So far, most geoengineering experiments have been in laboratories. In the United States, Harvard University's Solar Geoengineering Research Program plans a tiny outdoor experiment next year in the upper atmosphere.
(Reporting By Alister Doyle, editing by Larry King)
Germany lifts strict constitutional ban on Nazi symbols to allow them in video games '-- RT World News
Sat, 11 Aug 2018 13:14
Germany has softened its longstanding and strict ban on swastikas and other Nazi symbols, to allow their inclusion in computer and video games, after a heated public debate over the Wolfenstein video game franchise.
The lifting of the ban on Nazi symbols, if used in a ''socially adequate'' way, was announced by a German industry group on Thursday. The Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body (USK), which is responsible for issuing age ratings for video games, said they will ensure the policy shift doesn't promote Nazism.
Read more
Only those titles that clearly disapprove of Nazi ideology may be allowed to use such unconstitutional symbols, on a case-by-case basis, to better reflect that.
For instance, in the German versions of the famous Wolfenstein series, images of Adolf Hitler had to be altered to remove his mustache and the swastikas replaced with a triangular symbol. The gaming community have been strong advocates for video games to be treated like films.
''Through the change in the interpretation of the law, games that critically look at current affairs can for the first time be given a USK age rating,'' said USK Managing Director Elisabeth Secker.
''This has long been the case for films and with regards to the freedom of the arts, this is now rightly also the case with computer and video games.''
The game classification body, which reviews all titles sold in Germany, emphasized that they will continue to act responsibly and scrutinize future video games individually to determine if they qualify for an exemption.
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Monsanto owners call weed killer 'safe' after jury orders big payout
Sun, 12 Aug 2018 13:54
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Plaintiff Dewayne Johnson reacts after hearing the verdict to his case against Monsanto in San Francisco (AFP Photo/JOSH EDELSON)
Berlin (AFP) - Monsanto's German owners insisted Saturday that the weed killer Roundup was "safe," rejecting a California jury's decision to order the chemical giant to pay nearly $290 million for failing to warn a dying groundskeeper that the product might cause cancer.
While observers predicted thousands of potential future claims against the company in the wake of Monsanto's defeat, Bayer -- which recently acquired the US giant -- said the California ruling went against scientific evidence.
"On the basis of scientific conclusions, the views of worldwide regulatory authorities and the decades-long practical experience with glyphosate use, Bayer is convinced that glyphosate is safe and does not cause cancer," the company said in a statement.
It said other court proceedings with other juries might "arrive at different conclusions" than the jury which ruled in the California lawsuit, the first to accuse glyphosate of causing cancer.
Jurors unanimously found that Monsanto -- which vowed to appeal -- acted with "malice" and that its weed killers Roundup and the professional grade version RangerPro contributed "substantially" to Dewayne Johnson's terminal illness.
Johnson, diagnosed in 2014 with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma -- a cancer that affects white blood cells -- says he repeatedly used a professional form of Roundup while working at a school in Benicia, California.
"The cause is way bigger than me. Hopefully this thing will get the attention it needs," Johnson, 46, said after the verdict.
Johnson wept openly, as did some jurors, when he met with the panel later.
The lawsuit built on 2015 findings by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the UN World Health Organization, which classified Roundup's main ingredient glyphosate as a probable carcinogen, causing the state of California to follow suit.
"We are sympathetic to Mr Johnson and his family," Monsanto said in a statement, but promised to "continue to vigorously defend this product".
"The jury got it wrong," Monsanto vice president Scott Partridge told reporters.
But Johnson's attorney Brent Wisner said the verdict "shows the evidence is overwhelming" that the product poses danger.
"When you are right, it is really easy to win," he said.
- More to come? -
Wisner called the ruling the "tip of the spear" of litigation likely to come.
"The jury sent a message to the Monsanto boardroom that they have to change the way they do business," said Robert F. Kennedy Jr -- an environmental lawyer, son of the late US senator and a member of Johnson's legal team.
"You not only see many people injured, you see the corruption of public officials, the capture of agencies that are supposed to protect us from pollution and the falsification of science," he said.
Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond in the US state of Virginia, said the plaintiff's evidence that Monsanto "knew or should have known that Roundup caused his cancer" could benefit those currently seeking damages from Monsanto, as well as encourage new filings.
Tobias said Monsanto's promised appeal could result in the charges being reduced -- but said the company "might want to consider settling now, depending on its calculus of the risk that it might lose on appeal and the adverse publicity that might arise from losing or from continuing to contest the verdict."
But he cautioned that settling now could "make it appear that Monsanto believes it has a weak case."
Partridge, meanwhile, announced that Monsanto had no intention of settling the slew of similar cases in the legal queue.
"It is the most widely used and most widely studied herbicide in the world," Partridge said.
- 'Win for all of humanity' -
Roundup is Monsanto's leading product.
"The Johnson vs Monsanto verdict is a win for all of humanity and all life on earth," said Zen Honeycutt, founding executive director of non-profit group Moms Across America.
In France, a leading anti-Monsanto campaigner told AFP that the California ruling would strengthen the resolve of those doing battle with the agrochemicals giant across the world.
"I was thinking of them and I said to myself that this ruling will help them and give them lots of hope," said Paul Francois, author of "A farmer against Monsanto" ("Un paysan contre Monsanto").
France's minister for ecological transition, Brune Poirson, hailed the "historic decision," tweeting that it validated President Emmanuel Macron's push to ban glyphosate use within three years.
Records unsealed previously by a federal court lent credence to Johnson's claims -- internal company emails with regulators suggested Monsanto had ghostwritten research later attributed to academics.
Founded in 1901 in St Louis, Missouri, Monsanto began producing agrochemicals in the 1940s. It was acquired by Bayer for more than $62 billion in June.
Monsanto launched Roundup in 1976 and soon thereafter began genetically modifying plants, making some resistant to Roundup.
F The Constitution
Opinion | Think the Constitution Will Save Us? Think Again - The New York Times
Thu, 09 Aug 2018 21:42
The subversion of democracy was the explicit intent of the framers.
By Meagan Day and Bhaskar Sunkara
Ms. Day is a staff writer at Jacobin, where Mr. Sunkara is editor.
Aug. 9, 2018 Many progressives view the Constitution as a defense against Trump. But it was made for rich businessmen like him. Credit Charles Mostoller for The New York Times Consider a few facts: Donald Trump is in the White House, despite winning almost three million fewer votes than Hillary Clinton. The Senate, the country's most powerful legislative chamber, grants the same representation to Wyoming's 579,315 residents as it does to 39,536,653 Californians. Key voting rights are denied to citizens in the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and other United States territories. The American government is structured by an 18th-century text that is almost impossible to change.
These ills didn't come about by accident; the subversion of democracy was the explicit intent of the Constitution's framers. For James Madison, writing in Federalist No. 10, ''Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention'' incompatible with the rights of property owners. The byzantine Constitution he helped create serves as the foundation for a system of government that rules over people, rather than an evolving tool for popular self-government.
Writers on the left such as Jacobin's Seth Ackerman and the journalist Daniel Lazare have long argued that constitutional reform needs to be on the agenda. Even some liberals like Vox's Matthew Yglesias rightly worry that the current system of governance is headed toward collapse.
These perspectives are vital at a time when many progressives regard the Constitution as our only line of defense against a would-be autocrat in the White House. Yet whether or not the president knows it, the Constitution has long been venerated by conservative business elites like himself on the grounds that it hands them the power to fend off attempts to redistribute wealth and create new social guarantees in the interest of working people. There's a reason we're the only developed country without guarantees such as universal health care and paid maternity leave. While preserving and expanding the Bill of Rights's incomplete safeguards of individual freedoms, we need to start working toward the establishment of a new political system that truly represents Americans. Our ideal should be a strong federal government powered by a proportionally elected unicameral legislature. But intermediary steps toward that vision can be taken by abolishing the filibuster, establishing federal control over elections and developing a simpler way to amend the Constitution through national referendum.
How hard would change be? As Mr. Ackerman reminds us, while constitutional change is straightforward and feasible in most countries, ''an amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires the consent of no less than thirty-nine different legislatures comprising roughly seventy-eight separately elected chambers.''
But it's a problem worth confronting. As long as we think of our Constitution as a sacred document, instead of an outdated relic, we'll have to deal with its anti-democratic consequences.
This article is part of the Opinion Today newsletter. David Leonhardt, the newsletter's author, is on a break until Aug. 27. While he's gone, several outside writers are taking his place. This week's authors are Meagan Day, a writer for the socialist magazine Jacobin, and Bhaskar Sunkara, the magazine's editor. You can sign up here to receive the newsletter each weekday.
Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter (@NYTOpinion).
Trump broke the presidency. We need to get rid of the job altogether.
Sun, 12 Aug 2018 13:14
Tina Dupuy, Opinion contributor Published 7:00 a.m. ET Aug. 10, 2018 | Updated 8:24 a.m. ET Aug. 10, 2018
Donald Trump is proof that the U.S. presidency is broken and democracy is in peril. It's time to amend the Constitution and abolish the presidency.
President Donald Trump (Photo: Carolyn Kaster/AP)
Abolish the POTUS!
We've seen it: the belligerent typo-ridden tweets; the fawning press conferences with autocrats and overlords; the self-described Nazis on parade praising an American president's name. We have seen it with our own eyes. There is a bloated authoritarian lounging in his bathrobe in a 200-year-old mansion that used to symbolize the principal republic of the world.
This is a man who openly conspired to cheat with the help of a hostile foreign nation in a federal election. On election night, he came in second place, yet due to a scab of slavery in the Constitution (the electoral college), this usurper has the full power of the most powerful military in history, command of the treasury, the absolute power to pardon and he can unilaterally annihilate millions of people with his command to deploy nuclear weapons. He's made refugees begging us for mercy into orphans hoping it will deter other asylum seekers '-- because he can. He's now poised to put a man on the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, who believes in supreme leaders (if they're Republican that is).
Russia attacked our country; the target was Hillary Clinton and liberal democracy and they hit their mark. If you're stunned that President Donald Trump is still in office because he's so horrible and so unpopular and so obviously corrupt '-- you are not alone '-- the overwhelming majority agrees with you. Only about 25 percent of eligible voters voted for President Grab 'Em By The P----. Yet, the majority was apparently powerless to stop him.
Impeachment won't remove Trump from officeAnd I have other bad news. The remedy in our Constitution for a treasonous turncoat who got into the White House on a technicality is impeachment. But guess what? Impeachment has never gotten rid of a bad president in this country. Not ever. Bill Clinton finished his term after being impeached. The threat of impeachment got Nixon to step down, but impeachment as a whole has failed. It's never lived up to its promise.
More: The real impeachment question isn't if Trump broke the law. It's if we can survive him.
Trump can't be trusted to protect America. What will it take for Republicans to impeach?
Trump's rude he-man act is catnip to his fans. They don't care that he's putty for Putin.
It failed to remove President Andrew Johnson, described by his contemporaries as "the vilest radical and most unscrupulous demagogue in the Union." The main charge against Johnson was that he ignored the authority and will of Congress. It was then thata group of concerned citizens saw a monarchy in the making and drew up a petition titled "Memorial Regarding the Abolition of the Presidency." Their idea was to copy the Swiss Republic and make the executive branch a federal council without veto power. Mid-19th century Americans' trepidation that an emperor could follow an idealistic revolution was well founded; they'd witnessed that very thing in France with the ascension of Napoleon.
The petition makes the case that the three branches of government are not equal. ''Congress is more dependent on the President than he is on Congress,'' reads the petition. ''The President has the elements of power; Congress has but words: he can act; Congress can but talk.'' The pamphlet printed in 1868 offers that a constitutional monarchy is still a monarchy, and the exorbitant powers of the executive branch are borrowed from monarchs, which make it impossible to hold a president accountable. And if the president is above the law, they argue, he's an autocrat and not a (small d) democrat.
Abolish presidency to save democracyIn 1973, the idea came up again a few weeks after the second inauguration of Richard Nixon, when Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Barbara Tuchman wrote a piece in The New York Times asking ''Should We Abolish the Presidency?'' Tuchman argued that Congress is at fault for the executive branch becoming too powerful. ''Responsibility must be put where it belongs: in the voter. The failure of Congress is a failure of the people.'' Eighteen months later Nixon resigned. His successor gave Nixon a blanket pardon, ratifying that he was in fact above the law. Tuchman also touted the Swiss Republic's use of a council in lieu of a hero-like dad figure.
But I'm most inspired by Comedy Central's "The President Show" starring comedian Anthony Atamanuik. With his searing Trump impersonation, Atamanuik is introduced as ''the 45th and final president.''
We can make that happen! My fear isn't Trump; it's that the next autocrat is most likely smarter and savvier than Trump. Every partisan from every niche of American politics should be alarmed. We have a branch of government that stinks so bad it's wafted over the entire nation and its outer territories. The entire world sees it. We're in trouble. The presidency is broken. Our little democratic experiment is in peril.
We can amend our Constitution to save the republic. Abolish the presidency! Power to the people! Power to the Congress! Make the co-equal branches of government more equal. Give us a council of boring bureaucrats who will do their job, serve the people and leave after their term ends.
Because, as our forefathers believed, democracy is worth fighting for '-- even if you have to fight a mad king for it.
Tina Dupuy, a former Capitol Hill staffer, has written for The Atlantic, Fast Company, The L.A. Times, Vox and Mother Jones. She's a host at SiriusXM's Progress channel 127. Follow her on Twitter: @TinaDupuy.
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Omarosa says Trump is a racist who uses N-word '' and claims there's tape to prove it | US news | The Guardian
Fri, 10 Aug 2018 12:39
Donald Trump is a ''racist'' who has used the ''N-word'' repeatedly, Omarosa Manigault Newman, once the most prominent African American in the White House, claims in a searing memoir.
The future US president was caught on mic uttering the taboo racial slur ''multiple times'' during the making of his reality TV show The Apprentice and there is a tape to prove it, according to Manigault Newman, citing three unnamed sources.
Trump has been haunted from around the time of his election in 2016 by allegations that outtakes from the reality TV show exist in which he is heard saying the N-word and using other offensive language.
In her book, Unhinged, a copy of which was obtained by the Guardian ahead of its publication next week, the former Apprentice participant insists that the reports are true, although she does not say she heard him use the word herself.
Related: Attack ads, lawsuits, insults and fights: Trump's charged history with race
She also claims that she personally witnessed Trump use racial epithets about the White House counselor Kellyanne Conway's husband George Conway, who is half Filipino. ''Would you look at this George Conway article?'' she quotes the president as saying. ''F**ing FLIP! Disloyal! Fucking Goo-goo.''
Both flip and goo-goo are terms of racial abuse for Filipinos.
Critics have previously questioned Manigault Newman's credibility and are likely to accuse her of seeking revenge against the administration after her abrupt dismissal last December.
At the time, she writes, she felt a ''growing realization that Donald Trump was indeed a racist, a bigot and a misogynist. My certainty about the N-word tape and his frequent uses of that word were the top of a high mountain of truly appalling things I'd experienced with him, during the last two years in particular.''
Recalling her sudden and unceremonious departure, she writes: ''It had finally sunk in that the person I'd thought I'd known so well for so long was actually a racist. Using the N-word was not just the way he talks but, more disturbing, it was how he thought of me and African Americans as a whole.''
Trump hosted NBC's The Apprentice from 2004-2015 before running for the presidency and still likes to laud his high ratings.
His insurgent election campaign was rocked in October 2016 by the release of an Access Hollywood tape in which he bragged about grabbing women ''by the pussy''. The media firestorm prompted Bill Pruitt, a producer on the first two seasons of The Apprentice, to tweet that there were ''far worse'' tapes of Trump behind the scenes of the show.
Further allegations emerged that Trump had used the N-word in the recordings. Then, following the New York property tycoon's shocking victory over Hillary Clinton, the actor and comedian Tom Arnold claimed to have the video of Trump using racist language.
''I have the outtakes to The Apprentice where he says every bad thing ever, every offensive, racist thing ever,'' Arnold told the Seattle-based radio station KIRO. ''It was him sitting in that chair saying the N-word, saying the C-word, calling his son a retard, just being so mean to his own children.''
But Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which owns the rights to the reality TV show, and its British creator, Mark Burnett, have resisted pressure to release the footage because of ''various contractual and legal requirements''.
Once close to Trump, Manigault Newman was among his most high-profile supporters during the election campaign and drew a top salary of $179,700 as director of communications for the White House office of public liaison. She held her April 2017 wedding at Trump's luxury hotel, close to the White House.
Hers is the second memoir from a former Trump administration member, following that of the ex-press secretary Sean Spicer, but it was always expected to be less adulatory. This week the Daily Beast reported that she had secretly recorded conversations with the president and ''leveraged'' this while seeking a book deal. On Sunday she is due to appear on NBC's flagship political show Meet the Press.
Some commentators have struck a note of scepticism about her book. Brian Stelter, senior media correspondent at CNN, wrote in an email newsletter: ''Is former 'Apprentice' star Omarosa Manigault-Newman a reliable source of info about the Trump White House? Buckle up for debates about that in the coming week. Because she's about to betray Trump in a new tell-all book.''
For its part, the White House has previously dismissed criticisms from her. In February the deputy press secretary, Raj Shah, said: ''Omarosa was fired three times on The Apprentice and this was the fourth time we let her go. She had limited contact with the president while here. She has no contact now.''
In the book, she recalls how in late 2016 Trump's team held a conference call and scrambled for how to respond to the tape but it never came out. Then a source from The Apprentice contacted her and claimed to be in possession of it. Trump was in office and Manigault Newman continued to investigate.
She continues: ''By that point, three sources in three separate conversations had described the contents of this tape. They all told me that President Trump hadn't just dropped a single N-word bomb. He'd said it multiple times throughout the show's taping during off-camera outtakes, particularly during the first season of The Apprentice.''
Recalling that she appeared on the first season, Manigault Newman reflects: ''I would look like the biggest imbecile alive for supporting a man who used that word.'' She says she confided in the former White House communications director Hope Hicks, who said, ''I need to hear it for myself,'' and continued to ask her frequently about what progress she was making.
She believes that Hicks told the White House chief of staff, John Kelly, that Omarosa was close to getting her hands on the tape, and this gave him cause to terminate her job, though he found a different pretext.
Four months after her departure, she spoke by phone to one of her Apprentice sources. ''I was told exactly what Donald Trump said '' yes, the N-word and others in a classic Trump-goes-nuclear rant '' and when he's said them. During production he was miked, and there is definitely an audio track.''
Manigault Newman also recalls her interactions with Trump during the filming of The Celebrity Apprentice in late 2007 '' a time when the little known Democrat Barack Obama was in the ascendent. ''During boardroom outtakes, Donald talked about Obama often. He hated him. He never explained why, but now I believe it was because Obama was black.''
Related: Former Apprentice star on leaving Trump's White House: 'I've seen things that made me uncomfortable'
In January, Trump was widely condemned for reportedly dismissing Haiti, El Salvador and African nations as ''shitholes''. Manigault Newman describes a similar experience that appears to support that account. When she told Trump that she was going to Haiti, she writes, he demanded: ''Why did you choose that shitty country as your first foreign trip?''
He added: ''You should have waited until the confirmations were done and gone to Scotland and played golf at [his course] Turnberry.''
In another damning passage, she describes his ''broken outlook'' and how ''the bricks in his racist wall kept getting higher'', wondering if he did ''want to start a race war''. She adds: ''The only other explanation was that his mental state was so deteriorated that the filter between the worst impulses of his mind and his mouth were completely gone.''
The book comes days after Trump faced renewed allegations of racism over his persistent descriptions of the congresswoman Maxine Waters as having a ''low IQ'' and CNN journalist Don Lemon as ''the dumbest man on television'', as well as criticism of the basketball star LeBron James. This weekend marks the first anniversary of the white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia, that erupted in deadly violence; the president claimed there were ''very fine people on both sides''.
Elsewhere in Unhinged, published by Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Manigault Newman takes aim at Trump's sexism. Recalling more outtakes from The Apprentice, she says he asked personal questions about female contestants such as ''What do you think she's like in bed?'' and ''Do you think she's sexy?'' He allegedly asked male contestants: ''Who you think would be better in bed between the two of them?''
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
Jennifer Burkhardt on Twitter: "Someone in #ATXcouncil chamber is snapping instead of clapping when they support something said. I give snaps to you, mystery person."
Fri, 10 Aug 2018 13:59
Someone in
#ATXcouncil chamber is snapping instead of clapping when they support something said. I give snaps to you, mystery person.
Afghan whose deportation was blocked by crying Swedish girl, whipped his wife and daughters
Thu, 09 Aug 2018 22:27
On 23 July the deportation of an Afghan migrant to his home country was temporarily blocked by Swedish social justice activist Elin Ersson. The girl refused to sit down until the man was removed from the flight.
Via a group of activists, Ersson was involved in trying to stop deportations before but never on a plane. She heard that an Afghan man in his 50s was among the passengers to be deported, but she didn't know anything about him.
The footage of Ersson's protest was watched by millions of people and was seen by the left as a brave act and one of the highlights of protests for human rights in Europe.
Screenshots of Ersson in the plane
But now it appears that the Afghan man in his 50s is actually an aggressive wife beater, Swedish news outlet Fria Tider reports.
He had beaten his daughters and his wife, and among other things, ''whipped'' them with a long charging cord.
The man is convicted of assault in Sweden, the police confirmed to Fria Tider. However, that was not why he was deported.
Now, newspaper Nyheter Idag reveals that the man was sentenced to nine months in jail for three cases of assault of his own wife and their two children.
The newspaper writes that the man was frequently violent and the verdict against him is an event on 14 January 2018.
At that day he ''whipped'' his two underage daughters because they did not turn off their TV. According to the judgement, he took a two meter long charging cord, folded it, and then struck the little girls on the back, arms and legs.
However, the assault did not stop there. When the mother came into the room, the children managed to escape from there.
But then the man started to abuse her instead. The 52 year-old whipped the mother so she fell to the floor, and then he grabbed her head and pounded it against the floor.
Opinion | The Outrage Over Sarah Jeong - The New York Times
Fri, 10 Aug 2018 13:22
Let he who is without a bad tweet cast the first stone.
Aug. 9, 2018 Credit Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto, via Getty Images In March, a liberal furor erupted when The Atlantic magazine briefly hired Kevin Williamson, a conservative writer with National Review. Several years earlier, Williamson had written a short tweet in which he seemed to suggest that women who obtain abortions should be hanged. Though he insists this is far from his real view, his fate was sealed when it turned out he had said something similar in a podcast. He was fired almost immediately.
I defended Williamson at the time, but not on account of any potential misinterpretation of his abortion views. My main point was that we should be judged on the totality of our work, and that we are more than just a collage of quotes from our social-media history or some foolish utterances from the near or distant past.
''Your critics show bad faith when they treat an angry tweet or a flippant turn of phrase as proof of moral incorrigibility,'' I wrote. ''Let he who is without a bad tweet, a crap sentence or even a deplorable opinion cast the first stone.''
Not surprisingly, some on the left pilloried me for that argument. So allow me to apply precisely the same logic in defense of my soon-to-be colleague at The Times, Korean-American technology writer Sarah Jeong, who is joining the editorial board with her own extensive history of unfortunate tweets.
Among these: ''White men are bull'--''; ''#CancelWhitePeople''; ''oh man it's kind of sick how much joy I get out of being cruel to old white men'' and ''f'-- white women lol.'' She has also bashed the police, called for censoring a fellow journalist, and believed the 2014 University of Virginia rape hoax, in the course of which she lashed out at ''white men'' and ''white college boys.''
We should call many of these tweets for what they are: racist. I've seen some acrobatic efforts to explain why Jeong's tweets should be treated as ''quasi-satirical,'' hyperbolical and a function of ''social context.'' But the criterion for racism is either objective or it's meaningless: If liberals get to decide for themselves who is or isn't a racist according to their political lights, conservatives will be within their rights to ignore them.
Also worth noting is the leftist double standard when it comes to social-media transgressions. In February, my centrist colleague Bari Weiss celebrated U.S. figure skater Mirai Nagasu's historic triple axel by tweeting a line from the musical ''Hamilton'': ''Immigrants: They get the job done.'' Left-wing social media went berserk over this alleged ''othering'' of Nagasu, who was born in California to immigrant parents.
By contrast, the left has been nothing if not aggressive in its defense of Jeong. That's the right thing to do, but it's also rank hypocrisy coming from many of the same people who loudly demanded the ouster of Williamson, Weiss, or, well, me. The tests for who gets to work at publications like The Times or The Atlantic ought to revolve around considerations of liveliness, integrity, maturity, and talent. When ideology becomes the litmus test, we're on the road to Pravda.
My own misgivings about Jeong's tweets have less to do with their substance than with their often snarky tone, occasional meanness, and sheer number: 103,000 over some nine years, averaging about 31 tweets a day. (Donald Trump only averages 11.)
But that's the way we live now '-- unfiltered '-- and many of us, including me, have been late to appreciate Twitter's narcotic power to bring out the worst in ourselves. Undigested thoughts. Angry retorts. Jokes that don't land. Points made in haste. All the mental burps and inner screams that wisely used to be left unspoken '-- or, if spoken, little heard and seldom recorded.
That's a reason to treat social media approximately the way we do opioids: with utmost caution. But it's also a reason to temper our judgments about people based on the things they say on social media. The person you are drunk or stoned is not the person you are '-- at least not the whole person. Neither is the person you are the one who's on Twitter.
I've spent the last few days reading some of Jeong's longer-form journalism. It's consistently smart and interesting and as distant from some of her more notorious social-media output as a brain is from a bottom. But you'll struggle to find her articles on an internet search, because her serious work is overwhelmed by the controversy her tweets have generated.
Is it ultimately her fault for writing those ugly tweets? Yes. Does it represent the core truth of who she is? I doubt it. Anyone who has been the victim of the social-media furies knows just how distorting and dishonest those furies can be. I'm routinely described on social media as an Arab-hating, climate-denying, pedophile apologist. It's enough for me that my family, friends and employer know I'm none of those things. God save us all when those pillars crumble in the face of our new culture of denunciation.
So welcome, Sarah, to The Times. I look forward to reading you with interest irrespective of agreement. I trust you'll extend the same good faith to all of your new colleagues. Only through such faith do the people, institutions, and nations thrive.
Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter (@NYTopinion), and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter.
Bret L. Stephens joined The Times as an Op-Ed columnist in 2017 after a long career with The Wall Street Journal, where he was deputy editorial page editor and a foreign affairs columnist. Before that he was the editor in chief of The Jerusalem Post. @ BretStephensNYT ' Facebook
Shenzhen Tech Girl Naomi Wu: My experience with Sarah Jeong, Jason Koebler, and Vice Magazine
Sun, 12 Aug 2018 13:33
Translator and proofreader's note: There are large parts of this document that don't parse well either from Chinese or from Naomi's written English into more fluent English. In trying to do so, some of the emotion that Naomi is trying to convey would be lost. I've left those passages as originally written in her own English because there was simply no way to clean them up without losing her intent.
Me in better times, excited by some new fiber optic cables.Part 1 : ViceI'm Naomi Wu a DIY and tech enthusiast in Shenzhen, China. Nine months ago Vice Magazine contacted me for an interview. A lot has been written about that, very little by me.
I've avoided writing about my experience with Sarah Jeong, Jason Koebler, and Vice Magazine in detail because I can't explain the whole story the way I want to. I can't really blame anyone who is unfamiliar with China's issues, who might say ''Naomi, I don't see what's the big deal'' or think I'm nuts, or who may've otherwise been unable to connect the few dots that I've provided. I'm sorry for being vague about my full side of it, but one day I'll be able to write every detail and things will be clearer. In the meantime, this is what I can write, and again, I'm very sorry it's so incomplete.
I know'...ðŸ--I am a Chinese national, I have never been to the West, I know a few of your media brands by name but little of their reputation. I only learned after working with them that Vice Magazine, as part of their business model goes to developing countries and produces stories in a way they never could in the US without severe repercussions- often putting locals at risk:
Like Vice has done in many other places, they sent a reporter to China to interview me. It's important to understand- I'm a PRC citizen. Born, educated and raised here, unlike many wealthy Chinese you may have met, I have a single passport. I also have as far as I know the largest English language following on YouTube and Twitter of any PRC citizen living in China. Both of these platforms are blocked in China and I maintain my accounts by using an illegal VPN. I had, prior to my contact with Vice a habit of posting regularly (and often heatedly) about gender issues in China. If you know anything about China, you know all this makes for an extraordinarily delicate position that has to be handled with great care.
I am not a blind nationalist, but I actually do love living in Shenzhen and I have no plans to emigrate. I know it may be hard to understand, but I feel life here is improving every year, and I like using my YouTube channel to document my life, local tech, and personal hobbies. But just like anywhere else, you play by the local rules if you want to stay- both written and unwritten. China rules are very different than Western rules- and not all of them are worse as you might think, although some of these rules may seem strange to Westerners.
To their credit, foreign correspondents here in China are incredibly professional about understanding that locals need to work within these rules. Before Vice, I've never heard of journalist here endangering a source. It's one of the reasons Chinese have historically held foreign media in high regard (although this has slipped a bit in recent years).
In negotiating Vice's visit, I was, of course, hesitant- as anyone in my position would be. In the past I've worked with outlets like the Wall Street Journal and been delighted with their care and professionalism. Publicity in China carries great risk, but it also helps get me followers so I can afford to continue shooting for my channel. I exchanged several emails with Vice magazine making it clear what the scope of the article would be. The key points being no discussion of sexual orientation or my relationships. This is a very small request as Vice Magazine has interviewed countless male DIY YouTube creators without ever asking them to respond to 4Chan/Reddit allegations about who they sleep with (as they did with me).
Below is a copy of my agreement with Vice. Please note that they've not disputed this:
The agreement between Vice Magazine, and Naomi Wu.When the Vice reporter came in January 2018, I showed them around Shenzhen for three days. During this visit, I brought the reporter to my home, long enough for the reporter to get an in-depth idea of my circumstances. In my home, I worked on an automated bartender project I had built for a friends bar- to address with the best possible evidence the ongoing Internet smear campaign against me that only a White man could do work like mine. All this was apparently not juicy enough for Vice. Frankly, it's very rare I get accused of not being click-baity enough just being myself.
The Vice reporter returned home to NYC and in the following week began to ask the questions about my personal life it had been agreed were off limits. I was given the ''opportunity'' to address anonymous 4chan/Reddit speculation about my personal life from the ongoing harassment campaign against me- or look guilty in silence. This is not professional, this is not journalism:
The Reuters Handbook of JournalismEven the most basic level of professionalism was too much to ask of Vice- and yet they want to hide behind the title of ''journalists'' and claim to be above any accountability, when they are nothing of the kind.
I was obviously upset and fearful as Vice made it clear they intended to break our agreement and include speculation about my personal life. The worst part was I would not know in what way they intended to break that agreement until publication, then it would be too late. Average circulation is one million print issues. This is not a little blog post, if there was a mistake'...
These exact issues are covered in ethics guides from countless sources:
Society of Professional Journalists Code of EthicsThe Ethical Journalism NetworkThese are not games you play in China, it doesn't matter if the sum total of their experience living a warm sheltered life in America makes them think it will probably be ok. Things are not the same here. That is not how agreements with sources works, Vice wasn't in a position to understand the exact nature of the risk I face or what limits have to operate within- and didn't care to find out. It doesn't matter if the story ''reads positive'' or ''seems fine'' to an American reader- they are not who I have to be concerned with.
Vice would endanger me for a few clicks because in Brooklyn certain things are no big deal. This is not journalism and does not deserve to hide behind the protection legitimate use of that title warrants, this is a savage abuse of privilege knowing full well that in China I had no possible recourse against a billion dollar company who thought titillating their readers with my personal details was worth putting me in jeopardy.
I begged them through a series or emails not to do this- to consult with anyone who had ever been a journalist in China and verify what I was telling them. I was then put in touch with the editor-in-chief Jason Koebler. He dismissed it- arrogantly sure he understood the threat model of a Chinese women with a massive social media following who had been outspoken on local gender issues, while at the same time making it absolutely clear he did not understand at all or frankly even care enough to Google what is a routine occurrence in China in these circumstances.
It's not that a White American can't understand China- that is nonsense, there are countless American journalists and scholars here that are experts in this field that Jason Koebler or Vice could have contacted to verify what I was telling them, I begged them to. They simply didn't care.
What could I do? When it was clear they would publish no matter what I said, I took to Twitter. But of course, Vice and Jason were clever and knew my hands were tied. I can't very well spell out my risk without putting myself at risk. I can point out it's sexist to discuss my relationships but never discuss the male DIY YouTube creators they feature relationships? A weak argument. I can point it out loudly, but it didn't really explain why I was so scared, so desperate- I just looked a bit nuts. Which happens a lot when you have to worry about things that your audience on the other side of the planet has never had to worry about so think just aren't real problems. So Vice just continued to ignore me.
No one will tell you I am a typical Chinese girl. I have a difficult background. I have had to fight for everything my whole life. When I became a tech enthusiast, due to my strange appearance I had to fight to be allowed to speak at events, and then fight for other Chinese women to be allowed to speak as well. In the West powerful men declared there was no way a Chinese girl could do what I do. I beat them and proved them wrong also. Still, if needed I will show up with my soldering iron and my kit anywhere if anyone doubts me. I am no coward to be easily bullied. My mother taught me that one day a man will beat you, and you should keep getting up until his hand is broken to teach him the lesson that it will never be easy. I live by that.
Shenzhen children know me by my Chinese name: Machinery Enchantress (æ'ºæ°å...–姬)For the past few years, I've fought for my right to participate in my field as an equal- because I'm qualified not through some charity or quota. I fight in the tradition of the hacker community- with tech. I have engineered and deployed WiFi hacking drones to send messages and built and worn LCD clothing to attract a crowd to listen to me speak about letting Chinese women participate in tech events as more than just decoration. Why else do we encourage young women to learn STEM if not to empower them with new tech for a new age?
If I am not scared to do this in China, I am not going to be scared of some Brooklyn hipsters who think they can come to China, leave and throw a Chinese woman under the bus. Things are not perfect in my country, we struggle very hard to fix our problems and catch up in many ways, but we have a sense of right- and this was not right.
Right now, I have no power. Almost every American journalist I contacted for help ignored me. I was told ''hire a lawyer'' as if I have the means for that. Even when I spoke to American lawyers they said technically the written agreement was not a legal contract so it would be easy for Vice to wriggle out of it- since they have an army of high priced attorneys. I'm just a Chinese girl fighting a huge media empire that does things like this to people every day without consequence. Things like right and wrong don't matter; they can do anything they like to me. I couldn't even get a visa to America to fight them. I'd stand in front of their office and shout all day if I could. The message everyone gives me is to simply give up, they are American, they are too big, too rich, too powerful.
But I won't give up because what they did to me was wrong.
I'm Guangdong born and bred, daughter of the Ten Tigers, my ancestral home is Foshan- the same soil as Wong Fei-hung and Ip Man- you can't come to our place and bully a local girl. Even if I die you can't do that.
So I fight how I can.
Sarah Jeong wrote an article on the use of ''unmasking'' to address abuse on the Internet when you are absolutely without recourse, in this case this was not the hurtful language and threats I get a thousand times a day, this was the potential for very real and personal harm. My attacker would not stop, would not listen to reason, did not care what harm might come to me. I don't care if someone gives himself a pretty title he does not deserve and tries to hide behind it. If you earn a living hurting people weaker than you, you are no journalist and do not get to claim the protections of that honorable profession.
My emails to Vice and American journalists were ignored, Vice was refusing to honor the agreement, refusing to even consult an expert on my risk. So I found some public records on the Internet. I found an address for Jason Koebler, the Vice guy who thinks it's ok to abuse a Chinese girl just because he has some power. I've heard Vice guys like some power over girls so maybe that's it. But not this girl.
So I waited until the day that celebrates the famous American Hacker Aaron Swartz. He is a hero of course. I got my tools, my CAD, my 3D printer and I fought the only way a small Chinese girl can- I build tech.
I created a pair of boots with tiny video displays in the sides, the video they play is of me making the boots. And, for a few seconds they flash the address I found for Jason Koebler. In the final video less than 5 seconds. Just showing a little bit. So they will please stop. So they will please listen to me. So they will please ask someone what will happen to me if they are careless.
I emailed the video to Jason (but did not post it) asking him to reply to emails, let me explain the risk. Nothing. He and other Vice employees are always so arrogant, so typical to think he is better than anyone else and can do anything he wants just because someone does not have that magic blue passport that makes him feel so special everywhere in the world Vice goes to damage local lives for a stupid story.
But'...I got a little worried. All the Internet info says he lives alone. I'm not posting anything new that anyone who wished him ill does not already know- but would not want to concern a parent. What if he has a relative living in his home? Like all Chinese I love children very much, since we have had so few under the one-child system. I am already twenty-four and I have no baby. So of course I asked- politely to make sure, since this is serious.
Then I posted the video. Of course, no one but Jason even notices the address in the video because it is so fast and so tiny. Vice has expensive lawyers and they convince YouTube to take the video down which was reasonable, and Patreon to terminate my account. In the past Patreon wouldn't terminate accounts of some horrible people who violated their TOS also, but no one wants to mess with Vice lawyers. It was petty and vindictive, meant to shut me down and teach me a lesson. Did the first, never the second.
Vice- with their usual sense of journalistic ethics, selectively released parts of our private emails to bolster their narrative as ''Vice Magazine- The Innocent Victim In All This''. Also as a sort of backhanded threat to me that they could release other private emails containing more sensitive personal details if I kept pushing. I have a feeling that or something like it, is what will happen in response to this article- which is why I've been reluctant to go into more detail until now.
Despite Vice's firmly established track record of deception and truly disgusting behavior, particularly towards women in vulnerable positions- people actually bought it. That breaking an agreement with me, that putting me in danger- this was nothing because some sleazy grown man in Brooklyn who was willing to endanger a young woman for a few extra clicks had a publicly available address shown for five seconds on a shoe- he was the real victim. Or at least the kind of victim Americans actually care about.
At this point, I don't care who disagrees. I'd do it again even if it costs me my life. Wrong is wrong. Powerful media corporations should not abuse their privilege and platforms to bully and endanger the same people they profit off.
I hear ''but you fought back wrong'' while no one was there to help when I begged for weeks for help fighting back ''right''. No one can seem to say in my shoes what would have been ''right'' is other than lie down and let them do what they want. I am no one's victim. ''How dare you bite the ankle of the man who put his boot on your neck- he might have been slightly hurt!''
We are people too and we can't always fight back pretty and clean with expensive lawyers the way you can- it does not mean we deserve to be abused because we can't fight the way you think is ok.
I'd lost all my monthly income because I had no Patreon. Most alternatives PayPal, Drip etc. don't work in China (yes really, no cryptocurrency and peer-to-peer tech aren't viable options, yes I know you don't believe me, trust me if it were easy there would be more Chinese YouTubers, ok got it- you don't believe me. It's still true).
I went back to what I used to do for a living- Web Development, freelance coding online for overseas clients. I code under a male pseudonym so my unusual appearance does not cause difficulties. I couldn't run my YouTube channel anymore since it's very time consuming and without Patreon the revenue from that is quite small compared to coding, and full time coding was required to support myself with little time left over. I like to cook at home anyway and Chinese food is cheap to make.
I was ok, it was all worth it and I'd do it again. True poverty is not being able to afford some small principles. I could afford to stand up to bullies, and one day there will be a way to have grandchildren and they will know I did. Then I had some other bad problems I can't discuss, but they were what I was worried about from the beginning. I had to find a way to solve those and find new income before I could get back online.
Then Sarah Jeong decided to attack me on behalf of her former co-worker Jason Koebler. I'd followed her but had never spoken to her before then.
Part 2 : Sarah JeongSarah did not come to listen, mediate, or learn- she was sent by Jason Koebler to destroy me and protect a business model that has endangered voiceless sources in the developing World countless times.
Sarah Jeong was educated at Berkeley and Harvard and only an idiot would deny the woman is quite brilliant in her areas of expertise. This has given her a large platform and she is considered the final word in her respective fields by many people. Some of the areas that people look to her are law, Internet harassment, and Asian-American issues. As a journalist- this is her beat, and her word on the subject carries a crushing and near irrefutable weight.
There is a bias all Asians fight of a monolithic Asian identity. That East Asia is all basically the same- Chinese, Japanese, Korean- ''whatever''. Sarah is well aware of this bias and used it to persuade people who were on the fence whether to support me in my desperate bid for Vice to honor their agreement. In the multi-page rant she directed at me, she said the following:
The deliberate folksy use of language by a Harvard trained lawyer disguises an extremely succinct and frankly elegant hit piece designed to destroy my credibility.
Sarah, although fully aware of at least one of the more immediate threats to my wellbeing, cleverly choses to cast it as a simple issue of an interracial relationship. A mild concern- surely overblown?Having built her strawman of ''interracial relationship'' being my complaint, she set two matches to it. The imaginary anonymous source who corroborates interracial relationships are no big deal (again, at this point the audience actually believes that's the issue). Interestingly enough Sarah has been attacked online for only dating White men, so knows it can be a risk for some Asian women- but also knows from speaking to Vice it's not my concern. She has zero problem being intellectually dishonest when it suits her goals.Then Sarah drops a veritable atom bomb of an Appeal to Authority, she is Korean (having lived a full week as an adult in Korea). South Korea is pretty much the same as Mainland China, therefore I was never in any danger. She invokes the monolithic Asian culture myth precisely because she knows her largely White audience believes this anyway.Sarah knew the truth, she also knew I was straight-jacketed and could not fight back. I was stuck miserably saying ''it's not that''.
Honestly, it was a thing of beauty- pure willful evil of course, but you have to respect the costly training and centuries of legacy knowledge bestowed by highest institutions of learning in the World applied like a magnifying glass on an ant.
I, the unfortunate ant smelling something burning, at the time had a great deal of respect for Sarah and responded with that respect:
Yes, in retrospect I was a bit of a naive idiot for thinking Sarah didn't know exactly what she was doing.No response from Sarah. Then or any other time I reach out to her via Twitter DM to discuss the issue privately.
Other Asian-American women took exception and while they did not have access to the full backstory that would put the defensive unmasking of my Aaron Swartz Day Disruptive Tech project into any sort of reasonable perspective, they knew something didn't smell right and tried for a better explanation:
(See above underlined link for full comment thread)I tried again, walking a careful line barely able to articulate a fraction of what I needed to. Again, with absolute respect:
(See above underlined link for full comment thread)All to no effect.
Her unprovoked attack was devastatingly effective, Western women all over Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and YouTube comments sections reposted about her ''insightful Twitter thread'' (of course those flocking to these threads had no pre-existing issues with a whorish looking underweight Asian girl and were not in the least bit eager to have me taken down a peg.)
The support I had previously had in getting Vice to limit the story to what had been agreed on, to treat me the same as the countless DIY men they cover without mention of their personal lives, and to having my Patreon account restored- evaporated.
Sarah had won- and she knew it. She'd been trained by the best universities in the World to fight exactly this kind of fight, to win by any means, for right or wrong. She was a trained Special Forces combatant against child. With the platform that journalism gave her amplifying that power, sent on behalf of the exact sort of ''privileged White man'' she claims to despise, she went out to destroy another Asian woman. All while knowing full well the issue was far more complex than she was pretending, the facts completely different- and simply not caring. Not then, not in the following months when it became clear to more and more people just how badly she had abused her power, her education, her profession, and her privilege.
It took me two months before I could start up again, and then only with sponsorship provided by a Chinese tech company and with more strict limits on what I could post. No more nuanced discussion of tech issues on social media- Tor in China, VPNs as a wealth and class filter, gender equality in Chinese tech, MakeEd training for young women- all off-limits now. My income is half of what it was with Patreon and I am not well-off to begin with. The effect this has had on my life, my content, my standard of living- has been devastating and Sarah played no small part in it that.
I have been vocal in calling for Sarah to be accountable for her actions for the last four months, this is not some new opportunistic thing for me. It's everyone else who are the Johnny-come-lately-s, and just because they are American it does not mean their concerns are more important than the actual harm done to me.
Remember that email agreement with Vice? The one they have not disputed?
Here's what Sarah had this to say:
If you were a source in a vulnerable position, would you talk to her? But the sources won't know how Sarah feels about agreements- just that she works at The New York Times.
A position at the New York Times will amplify Sarah's power one hundred fold, and if I thought she would never again abuse her power in this manner I'd stay out of it. But since she is unwilling to address her mistake, to come to terms with what she did I can only assume she intends to do the same to others.
This is why I am vocal in my objection to Sarah Jeong having any position at the New York Times. The position, properly filled requires someone with both competence and a conscience, Sarah has the first in excess and but not a shred of the second. I don't think anyone should support someone who does not seem to be an actual believer in the values they espouse, but is instead a follower of convenience and absolutely comfortable it betraying those values when it serves her own ends.
Naomi Wu
In the meantime- if I'm going to keep my YouTube channel alive another month I've got a workbench full of projects to finish and videos to shoot.
Michael Avenatti Urges Democrats to Reject Michelle Obama's Advice on Trump - The New York Times
Sun, 12 Aug 2018 04:54
Michael Avenatti gave his first speech as a prospective presidential candidate on Friday at the Wing Ding, a Democratic Party fund-raiser in Clear Lake, Iowa. Credit Chris Zoeller/Globe-Gazette, via Associated Press CLEAR LAKE, Iowa '-- Michael Avenatti, fresh off his declaration that he may run for president in 2020, used his first big speech as a prospective candidate to call on the Democratic Party to reject Michelle Obama's oft-quoted advice about President Trump and his allies: ''When they go low, we go high.''
Mr. Avenatti, the hard-charging lawyer who represents the pornographic film star Stephanie Clifford, known as Stormy Daniels, did not once mention the former first lady in his keynote speech Friday night at the Democratic Wing Ding, a party fund-raiser in northern Iowa. But there was no mistaking his meaning.
''We must be a party that fights fire with fire,'' Mr. Avenatti said to cheers from the audience, his voice rising. ''When they go low, I say hit back harder.''
He received a thunderous ovation at the end of his speech, notably louder than the applause for the night's other speakers, including Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio as well as Representative John Delaney of Maryland, who is running for president.
At times, his language verged on apocalyptic. The Democratic Party, he said, is ''fighting for no less than the survival of our republic,'' and doing so against ''a man that wants to turn back the hands of time, to send us back to the Dark Ages.''
In such a fight, he continued, ''we must honestly ask ourselves whether those that we fight for can afford our gentleness.''
It is a message in keeping with the work that has made Mr. Avenatti a boldface name: his alliance with Ms. Clifford, who claims to have had an affair with Mr. Trump and is suing the president's onetime fixer, Michael D. Cohen.
As Ms. Clifford's lawyer, Mr. Avenatti has adopted the president's brash manner and some of his tactics. He has a similar instinct for using the news media to his advantage; he seems always to be on one cable news show or another. His Twitter feed is sometimes combative, sometimes coy, virtually always provocative '-- an example of the tack he is now urging the Democratic Party to take.
There was a certain tension, however, in his speech, which mingled calls to arms with calls for Democrats to reach out compassionately to Trump voters whose support for the president may be wavering. Democrats should think of such voters ''not as evildoers but as victims of a great con,'' he said. ''Decent people get conned all the time, and let's face it, Trump is a very good con man.''
He also devoted part of his roughly 20-minute address to political platitudes. At times, it became abundantly clear that he was trying, at least to some extent, to recast himself from pugnacious lawyer to palatable politician. He talked about ''good-paying jobs'' and about giving people ''a real shot at a real American dream.'' He talked about saving Roe v. Wade. He listed some standard items on the Democratic platform: equal pay. Women's rights. Gay rights. He ended by declaring that the people would ''make America decent again.''
But it was when talking about political combat that he was most enthusiastic, and visibly most in his element.
Want peace? he asked the audience. ''We must be willing to do battle to achieve it.''
After disaster alert failures, U.S. moves toward national system | Article [AMP] | Reuters
Sat, 11 Aug 2018 14:43
Thu Aug 9, 2018 / 12:49 PM EDT
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - In California last month, two young children and their great-grandmother died in a wildfire that family members say they never saw coming.
In January, thousands of people were panic-stricken in Hawaii by a false alarm that a ballistic missile was about to strike the islands.
These and other critical failures have prompted a review of disaster alerts in the United States, which largely operate at a local level, underlining the potential need for a nationwide system, as scientists warn changing weather may bring more hurricanes and wildfires.
"For all practical purposes we don't really have a national warning system," Dennis Mileti, professor emeritus at the University of Colorado at Boulder, told Reuters.
Mileti, a nationally recognized expert on disaster preparedness, is on a panel the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) convened this summer to improve the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, or IPAWS, the platform established a decade ago for all U.S. emergency alerts.
Previewing its findings to Reuters, Mileti said the panel will propose to Congress to revamp national warning systems, and in cases such as ballistic missile alerts, take them out of the hands of local officials.
A half century ago, before 24-hour cable news networks or the internet, the three main television broadcast stations which could be counted on to issue standard emergency messages to the entire U.S. population
Now, people in the path of natural disasters typically get alerts from a patchwork of state and local agencies, using different platforms and messaging systems, often manned by part-time employees, Mileti said.
For example, in the state of California, warnings are issued by counties that sometimes outsource the job to someone else.
"You don't get too many good warnings in local communities where" untrained amateurs are in charge, Mileti said.
Human error is another key issue.
Last year, some residents of California's Sonoma County failed to get timely notice of an approaching wildfire that killed 17 people after authorities, concerned about traffic becoming snarled along evacuation routes, decided not to notify everyone at once.
A community of 10,000 people not in imminent danger from the Carr Fire in Northern California, meanwhile, was evacuated by accident when "somebody hit the wrong button," Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko told the Sacramento Bee.
And in January, many Hawaiians and tourists fled their homes and hotels when an emergency bulletin - sent by mistake - blared out: "BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL."
A U.S. government report later blamed the false alarm on human error and inadequate safeguards.
California Gov. Jerry Brown, after touring the fiery calamity near Redding on Saturday, called on the state legislature to enact "the best alert system we can get ... given the rising threats on the changing of the weather, the climate."
Many scientists say global warming is not only causing more extreme weather, but more expensive disasters and the need for more sophisticated alerting systems.
Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria combined with wildfires in the West and other calamities to make 2017 the most expensive year on record for disasters in the United States, costing $306 billion, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
False alarms and human error can pose a problematic cost-benefit equation, said Adam Rose, a Professor at the University of Southern California's Sol Price School of Public Policy and predictive analysis expert.
"Is it better to be safe and have some evacuations that turn out be unnecessary, which can incur some economic costs and even create a slim danger of death or injury? Or is it better to not be safe enough?"
Mileti said his panel will recommend standardizing warning messages, so people in harm's way can immediately identify the sender, the danger and what action they should take. Improved training of alert system operators can cut down on human error, he said.
Rather than be told simply to "evacuate," for example, residents of a community facing flash floods, a tsunami, tornado or flames from a wildfire would be told to leave immediately and to go where they can find safe ground.
Mileti pointed to a National Institute of Standards and Technology investigation into a tornado that devastated Joplin, Missouri, on May 22, 2011, killing over 150 people. It found residents were given only a five-minute warning the twister was about to strike.
"Many of the bodies first responders found were found holding cellphones, trying to get additional information," Mileti said.
(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; editing by Bill Tarrant and G Crosse)
Press Freedom
The Freedom of the Press | The Orwell Prize
Fri, 10 Aug 2018 10:09
This material remains under copyright and is reproduced by kind permission of the Orwell Estate and Penguin Books.
This book was first thought of, so far as the central idea goes, in 1937, but was not written down until about the end of 1943. By the time when it came to be written it was obvious that there would be great difficulty in getting it published (in spite of the present book shortage which ensures that anything describable as a book will 'sell'), and in the event it was refused by four publishers. Only one of these had any ideological motive. Two had been publishing anti-Russian books for years, and the other had no noticeable political colour. One publisher actually started by accepting the book, but after making the preliminary arrangements he decided to consult the Ministry of Information, who appear to have warned him, or at any rate strongly advised him, against publishing it. Here is an extract from his letter:
I mentioned the reaction I had had from an important official in the Ministry of Information with regard to Animal Farm. I must confess that this expression of opinion has given me seriously to think'... I can see now that it might be regarded as something which it was highly ill-advised to publish at the present time. If the fable were addressed generally to dictators and dictatorships at large then publication would be all right, but the fable does follow, as I see now, so completely the progress of the Russian Soviets and their two dictators, that it can apply only to Russia, to the exclusion of the other dictatorships. Another thing: it would be less offensive if the predominant caste in the fable were not pigs[1]. I think the choice of pigs as the ruling caste will no doubt give offence to many people, and particularly to anyone who is a bit touchy, as undoubtedly the Russians are.
This kind of thing is not a good symptom. Obviously it is not desirable that a government department should have any power of censorship (except security censorship, which no one objects to in war time) over books which are not officially sponsored. But the chief danger to freedom of thought and speech at this moment is not the direct interference of the MOI or any official body. If publishers and editors exert themselves to keep certain topics out of print, it is not because they are frightened of prosecution but because they are frightened of public opinion. In this country intellectual cowardice is the worst enemy a writer or journalist has to face, and that fact does not seem to me to have had the discussion it deserves.
Any fairminded person with journalistic experience will admit that during this war official censorship has not been particularly irksome. We have not been subjected to the kind of totalitarian 'co-ordination' that it might have been reasonable to expect. The press has some justified grievances, but on the whole the Government has behaved well and has been surprisingly tolerant of minority opinions. The sinister fact about literary censorship in England is that it is largely voluntary.
Unpopular ideas can be silenced, and inconvenient facts kept dark, without the need for any official ban. Anyone who has lived long in a foreign country will know of instances of sensational items of news'--things which on their own merits would get the big headlines'--being kept right out of the British press, not because the Government intervened but because of a general tacit agreement that 'it wouldn't do' to mention that particular fact. So far as the daily newspapers go, this is easy to understand. The British press is extremely centralised, and most of it is owned by wealthy men who have every motive to be dishonest on certain important topics. But the same kind of veiled censorship also operates in books and periodicals, as well as in plays, films and radio. At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed that all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to say this, that or the other, but it is 'not done' to say it, just as in mid-Victorian times it was 'not done' to mention trousers in the presence of a lady. Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness. A genuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing, either in the popular press or in the highbrow periodicals.
At this moment what is demanded by the prevailing orthodoxy is an uncritical admiration of Soviet Russia. Everyone knows this, nearly everyone acts on it. Any serious criticism of the Soviet r(C)gime, any disclosure of facts which the Soviet government would prefer to keep hidden, is next door to unprintable. And this nation-wide conspiracy to flatter our ally takes place, curiously enough, against a background of genuine intellectual tolerance. For though you are not allowed to criticise the Soviet government, at least you are reasonably free to criticise our own. Hardly anyone will print an attack on Stalin, but it is quite safe to attack Churchill, at any rate in books and periodicals. And throughout five years of war, during two or three of which we were fighting for national survival, countless books, pamphlets and articles advocating a compromise peace have been published without interference. More, they have been published without exciting much disapproval. So long as the prestige of the USSR is not involved, the principle of free speech has been reasonably well upheld. There are other forbidden topics, and I shall mention some of them presently, but the prevailing attitude towards the USSR is much the most serious symptom. It is, as it were, spontaneous, and is not due to the action of any pressure group.
The servility with which the greater part of the English intelligentsia have swallowed and repeated Russian propaganda from 1941 onwards would be quite astounding if it were not that they have behaved similarly on several earlier occasions. On one controversial issue after another the Russian viewpoint has been accepted without examination and then publicised with complete disregard to historical truth or intellectual decency. To name only one instance, the BBC celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Red Army without mentioning Trotsky. This was about as accurate as commemorating the battle of Trafalgar without mentioning Nelson, but it evoked no protest from the English intelligentsia. In the internal struggles in the various occupied countries, the British press has in almost all cases sided with the faction favoured by the Russians and libelled the opposing faction, sometimes suppressing material evidence in order to do so. A particularly glaring case was that of Colonel Mihailovich, the Jugoslav Chetnik leader. The Russians, who had their own Jugoslav protege in Marshal Tito, accused Mihailovich of collaborating with the Germans. This accusation was promptly taken up by the British press: Mihailovich's supporters were given no chance of answering it, and facts contradicting it were simply kept out of print. In July of 1943 the Germans offered a reward of 100,000 gold crowns for the capture of Tito, and a similar reward for the capture of Mihailovich. The British press 'splashed' the reward for Tito, but only one paper mentioned (in small print) the reward for Mihailovich: and the charges of collaborating with the Germans continued. Very similar things happened during the Spanish civil war. Then, too, the factions on the Republican side which the Russians were determined to crush were recklessly libelled in the English leftwing press, and any statement in their defence even in letter form, was refused publication. At present, not only is serious criticism of the USSR considered reprehensible, but even the fact of the existence of such criticism is kept secret in some cases. For example, shortly before his death Trotsky had written a biography of Stalin. One may assume that it was not an altogether unbiased book, but obviously it was saleable. An American publisher had arranged to issue it and the book was in print '-- I believe the review copies had been sent out '-- when the USSR entered the war. The book was immediately withdrawn. Not a word about this has ever appeared in the British press, though clearly the existence of such a book, and its suppression, was a news item worth a few paragraphs.
It is important to distinguish between the kind of censorship that the English literary intelligentsia voluntarily impose upon themselves, and the censorship that can sometimes be enforced by pressure groups. Notoriously, certain topics cannot be discussed because of 'vested interests'. The best-known case is the patent medicine racket. Again, the Catholic Church has considerable influence in the press and can silence criticism of itself to some extent. A scandal involving a Catholic priest is almost never given publicity, whereas an Anglican priest who gets into trouble (e.g. the Rector of Stiffkey) is headline news. It is very rare for anything of an anti-Catholic tendency to appear on the stage or in a film. Any actor can tell you that a play or film which attacks or makes fun of the Catholic Church is liable to be boycotted in the press and will probably be a failure. But this kind of thing is harmless, or at least it is understandable. Any large organisation will look after its own interests as best it can, and overt propaganda is not a thing to object to. One would no more expect the Daily Worker to publicise unfavourable facts about the USSR than one would expect the Catholic Herald to denounce the Pope. But then every thinking person knows the Daily Worker and the Catholic Herald for what they are. What is disquieting is that where the USSR and its policies are concerned one cannot expect intelligent criticism or even, in many cases, plain honesty from Liberal writers and journalists who are under no direct pressure to falsify their opinions. Stalin is sacrosanct and certain aspects of his policy must not be seriously discussed. This rule has been almost universally observed since 1941, but it had operated, to a greater extent than is sometimes realised, for ten years earlier than that. Throughout that time, criticism of the Soviet r(C)gime from the left could only obtain a hearing with difficulty. There was a huge output of anti-Russian literature, but nearly all of it was from the Conservative angle and manifestly dishonest, out of date and actuated by sordid motives. On the other side there was an equally huge and almost equally dishonest stream of pro-Russian propaganda, and what amounted to a boycott on anyone who tried to discuss all-important questions in a grown-up manner. You could, indeed, publish anti-Russian books, but to do so was to make sure of being ignored or misrepresented by nearly the whole of the highbrow press. Both publicly and privately you were warned that it was 'not done'. What you said might possibly be true, but it was 'inopportune' and played into the hands of this or that reactionary interest. This attitude was usually defended on the ground that the international situation, and the urgent need for an Anglo-Russian alliance, demanded it; but it was clear that this was a rationalisation. The English intelligentsia, or a great part of it, had developed a nationalistic loyalty towards me USSR, and in their hearts they felt that to cast any doubt on the wisdom of Stalin was a kind of blasphemy. Events in Russia and events elsewhere were to be judged by different standards. The endless executions in the purges of 1936-8 were applauded by life-long opponents of capital punishment, and it was considered equally proper to publicise famines when they happened in India and to conceal them when they happened in the Ukraine. And if this was true before the war, the intellectual atmosphere is certainly no better now.
But now to come back to this book of mine. The reaction towards it of most English intellectuals will be quite simple: 'It oughtn't to have been published.' Naturally, those reviewers who understand the art of denigration will not attack it on political grounds but on literary ones. They will say that it is a dull, silly book and a disgraceful waste of paper. This may well be true, but it is obviously not the whole of the story. One does not say that a book 'ought not to have been published' merely because it is a bad book. After all, acres of rubbish are printed daily and no one bothers. The English intelligentsia, or most of them, will object to this book because it traduces their Leader and (as they see it) does harm to the cause of progress. If it did the opposite they would have nothing to say against it, even if its literary faults were ten times as glaring as they are. The success of, for instance, the Left Book Club over a period of four or five years shows how willing they are to tolerate both scurrility and slipshod writing, provided that it tells them what they want to hear.
The issue involved here is quite a simple one: Is every opinion, however unpopular '-- however foolish, even '-- entitled to a hearing? Put it in that form and nearly any English intellectual will feel that he ought to say 'Yes'. But give it a concrete shape, and ask, 'How about an attack on Stalin? Is that entitled to a hearing?', and the answer more often than not will be 'No'. In that case the current orthodoxy happens to be challenged, and so the principle of free speech lapses. Now, when one demands liberty of speech and of the press, one is not demanding absolute liberty. There always must be, or at any rate there always will be, some degree of censorship, so long as organised societies endure. But freedom, as Rosa Luxembourg [sic] said, is 'freedom for the other fellow'. The same principle is contained in the famous words of Voltaire: 'I detest what you say; I will defend to the death your right to say it.' If the intellectual liberty which without a doubt has been one of the distinguishing marks of western civilisation means anything at all, it means that everyone shall have the right to say and to print what he believes to be the truth, provided only that it does not harm the rest of the community in some quite unmistakable way. Both capitalist democracy and the western versions of Socialism have till recently taken that principle for granted. Our Government, as I have already pointed out, still makes some show of respecting it. The ordinary people in the street '' partly, perhaps, because they are not sufficiently interested in ideas to be intolerant about them '' still vaguely hold that 'I suppose everyone's got a right to their own opinion.' It is only, or at any rate it is chiefly, the literary and scientific intelligentsia, the very people who ought to be the guardians of liberty, who are beginning to despise it, in theory as well as in practice.
One of the peculiar phenomena of our time is the renegade Liberal. Over and above the familiar Marxist claim that 'bourgeois liberty' is an illusion, there is now a widespread tendency to argue that one can only defend democracy by totalitarian methods. If one loves democracy, the argument runs, one must crush its enemies by no matter what means. And who are its enemies? It always appears that they are not only those who attack it openly and consciously, but those who 'objectively' endanger it by spreading mistaken doctrines. In other words, defending democracy involves destroying all independence of thought. This argument was used, for instance, to justify the Russian purges. The most ardent Russophile hardly believed that all of the victims were guilty of all the things they were accused of: but by holding heretical opinions they 'objectively' harmed the r(C)gime, and therefore it was quite right not only to massacre them but to discredit them by false accusations. The same argument was used to justify the quite conscious lying that went on in the leftwing press about the Trotskyists and other Republican minorities in the Spanish civil war. And it was used again as a reason for yelping against habeas corpus when Mosley was released in 1943.
These people don't see that if you encourage totalitarian methods, the time may come when they will be used against you instead of for you. Make a habit of imprisoning Fascists without trial, and perhaps the process won't stop at Fascists. Soon after the suppressed Daily Worker had been reinstated, I was lecturing to a workingmen's college in South London. The audience were working-class and lower-middle class intellectuals '-- the same sort of audience that one used to meet at Left Book Club branches. The lecture had touched on the freedom of the press, and at the end, to my astonishment, several questioners stood up and asked me: Did I not think that the lifting of the ban on the Daily Worker was a great mistake? When asked why, they said that it was a paper of doubtful loyalty and ought not to be tolerated in war time. I found myself defending the Daily Worker, which has gone out of its way to libel me more than once. But where had these people learned this essentially totalitarian outlook? Pretty certainly they had learned it from the Communists themselves! Tolerance and decency are deeply rooted in England, but they are not indestructible, and they have to be kept alive partly by conscious effort. The result of preaching totalitarian doctrines is to weaken the instinct by means of which free peoples know what is or is not dangerous. The case of Mosley illustrates this. In 1940 it was perfectly right to intern Mosley, whether or not he had committed any technical crime. We were fighting for our lives and could not allow a possible quisling to go free. To keep him shut up, without trial, in 1943 was an outrage. The general failure to see this was a bad symptom, though it is true that the agitation against Mosley's release was partly factitious and partly a rationalisation of other discontents. But how much of the present slide towards Fascist ways of thought is traceable to the 'anti-Fascism' of the past ten years and the unscrupulousness it has entailed?
It is important to realise that the current Russomania is only a symptom of the general weakening of the western liberal tradition. Had the MOI chipped in and definitely vetoed the publication of this book, the bulk of the English intelligentsia would have seen nothing disquieting in this. Uncritical loyalty to the USSR happens to be the current orthodoxy, and where the supposed interests of the USSR are involved they are willing to tolerate not only censorship but the deliberate falsification of history. To name one instance. At the death of John Reed, the author of Ten Days that Shook the World '-- first-hand account of the early days of the Russian Revolution '-- the copyright of the book passed into the hands of the British Communist Party, to whom I believe Reed had bequeathed it. Some years later the British Communists, having destroyed the original edition of the book as completely as they could, issued a garbled version from which they had eliminated mentions of Trotsky and also omitted the introduction written by Lenin. If a radical intelligentsia had still existed in Britain, this act of forgery would have been exposed and denounced in every literary paper in the country. As it was there was little or no protest. To many English intellectuals it seemed quite a natural thing to do. And this tolerance or plain dishonesty means much more than that admiration for Russia happens to be fashionable at this moment. Quite possibly that particular fashion will not last. For all I know, by the time this book is published my view of the Soviet r(C)gime may be the generally-accepted one. But what use would that be in itself? To exchange one orthodoxy for another is not necessarily an advance. The enemy is the gramophone mind, whether or not one agrees with the record that is being played at the moment.
I am well acquainted with all the arguments against freedom of thought and speech '-- the arguments which claim that it cannot exist, and the arguments which claim that it ought not to. I answer simply that they don't convince me and that our civilisation over a period of four hundred years has been founded on the opposite notice. For quite a decade past I have believed that the existing Russian r(C)gime is a mainly evil thing, and I claim the right to say so, in spite of the fact that we are allies with the USSR in a war which I want to see won. If I had to choose a text to justify myself, I should choose the line from Milton:
By the known rules of ancient liberty.
The word ancient emphasises the fact that intellectual freedom is a deep-rooted tradition without which our characteristic western culture could only doubtfully exist. From that tradition many of our intellectuals are visibly turning away. They have accepted the principle that a book should be published or suppressed, praised or damned, not on its merits but according to political expediency. And others who do not actually hold this view assent to it from sheer cowardice. An example of this is the failure of the numerous and vocal English pacifists to raise their voices against the prevalent worship of Russian militarism. According to those pacifists, all violence is evil, and they have urged us at every stage of the war to give in or at least to make a compromise peace. But how many of them have ever suggested that war is also evil when it is waged by the Red Army? Apparently the Russians have a right to defend themselves, whereas for us to do [so] is a deadly sin. One can only explain this contradiction in one way: that is, by a cowardly desire to keep in with the bulk of the intelligentsia, whose patriotism is directed towards the USSR rather than towards Britain. I know that the English intelligentsia have plenty of reason for their timidity and dishonesty, indeed I know by heart the arguments by which they justify themselves. But at least let us have no more nonsense about defending liberty against Fascism. If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. The common people still vaguely subscribe to that doctrine and act on it. In our country '-- it is not the same in all countries: it was not so in republican France, and it is not so in the USA today '-- it is the liberals who fear liberty and the intellectuals who want to do dirt on the intellect: it is to draw attention to that fact that I have written this preface.
Proposed preface to Animal Farm, first published in the Times Literary Supplement on 15 September 1972 with an introduction by Sir Bernard Crick. Ian Angus found the original manuscript in 1972.
Notes[1] It is not quite clear whether this suggested modification is Mr'...'s own idea, or originated with the Ministry of Information; but it seems to have the official ring about it. George Orwell
More than 100 newspapers will publish editorials decrying Trump's anti-press rhetoric
Sun, 12 Aug 2018 04:39
"The dirty war on the free press must end." That's the idea behind an unusual editorial-writing initiative that has enlisted scores of newspapers across America.
The Boston Globe has been contacting newspaper editorial boards and proposing a "coordinated response" to President Trump's escalating "enemy of the people" rhetoric.
"We propose to publish an editorial on August 16 on the dangers of the administration's assault on the press and ask others to commit to publishing their own editorials on the same date," The Globe said in its pitch to fellow papers.
The effort began just a few days ago.
As of Saturday, "we have more than 100 publications signed up, and I expect that number to grow in the coming days," Marjorie Pritchard, the Globe's deputy editorial page editor, told CNN.
The American Society of News Editors, the New England Newspaper and Press Association and other groups have helped her spread the word.
"The response has been overwhelming," Pritchard said. "We have some big newspapers, but the majority are from smaller markets, all enthusiastic about standing up to Trump's assault on journalism."
Instead of printing the exact same message, each publication will write its own editorial, Pritchard said.
That was a key part of her pitch: "The impact of Trump's assault on journalism looks different in Boise than it does in Boston," she wrote. "Our words will differ. But at least we can agree that such attacks are alarming."
Journalists have noticed an uptick in Trump's attacks against the news media in recent weeks. He has been using dehumanizing language like "enemy of the people" more often. He has also been speaking to reporters less often, limiting the chances for questions to be asked.
With Trump's words and deeds as the backdrop, some media critics have urged the White House press corps to engage in acts of solidarity. There were cheers last month when reporters in the briefing room deferred to rivals who were trying to ask follow-up questions, and when numerous outlets stood up for CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins after Collins was told she could not attend a Trump event.
The coordinated editorials may be another example of unity across the news business.
Although there's a longstanding debate about the effectiveness of newspaper editorials, there is certainly strength in numbers -- the greater the number of participants, the more readers will see the message.
Pritchard said she expects differing views from the editorials, "but the same sentiment: The importance of a free and independent press."
CNNMoney (New York) First published August 11, 2018: 3:35 PM ET
Former Ohio State Wrestler Recants Claim That Jim Jordan Knew Of Sexual Abuse | The Daily Caller
Fri, 10 Aug 2018 10:03
A former Ohio State University wrestler is recanting his claims that Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan knew of sexual abuse allegations against a university physician when he coached wrestling at the school over 20 years ago.
''At no time did I ever say or have any direct knowledge that Jim Jordan knew of Dr. Richard Strauss's inappropriate behavior,'' Mark Coleman, a former MMA fighter who wrestled at Ohio State when Jordan coached there, said in a statement.
''I have nothing but respect for Jim Jordan as I have known him for more than 30 years and know him to be of impeccable character.''
Coleman is the first former OSU wrestler to recant his claims that Jordan knew about sexual abuse at the hands of Dr. Richard Strauss, an OSU physician accused of molesting dozens of student-athletes.
Jordan, who was an assistant coach at OSU from 1986 to 1994, was first linked to the allegations against Strauss in an NBC News article published July 3. A former wrestler named Mike DiSabato led the push to accuse Jordan of turning a blind eye to Strauss's behavior.
Jordan, who is mounting a bid for Speaker of the House, has vehemently denied knowing about Strauss's actions. He has said that he would have taken action had he known about them. OSU is conducting an investigation into Strauss, who committed suicide in 2005.
Coleman, DiSabato and six other former wrestlers said Jordan must have known about the allegations because they were a topic of frequent conversation in the OSU wrestling program. Wrestlers and other athletes claimed Strauss would fondle them during physical examinations. (RELATED: Before Media Campaign, Jim Jordan Accuser Sought Settlement From OSU)
Coleman told The Wall Street Journal on July 5 that he believed Jordan knew about Strauss's behavior.
''There's no way unless he's got dementia or something that he's got no recollection of what was going on at Ohio State,'' he said.
''I have nothing but respect for this man, I love this man, but he knew as far as I'm concerned.''
Coleman is also distancing himself from DiSabato, a sports marketing executive who has sued Ohio State University in the past.
''Mike DiSabato and his PR representative have released information and made statements publicly without my authorization and, in my opinion, are using them to exploit and embarrass The Ohio State University,'' Coleman said in his statement. (RELATED: Jim Jordan Accusers Have Sketchy History, Raising Questions About Their 'Authenticity')
''I am distancing myself from Mike DiSabato as he is not my manager and does not speak for me. I am also disappointed with many of the public statements made by Mr. DiSabato and his personal attacks on individuals employed by the university and others.''
Though Coleman is backtracking from his claims against Jordan, he maintains that he was a victim of Strauss's.
''I was a victim of Dr. Strauss and like many others, I wish to cooperate with the investigation to see that whatever justice is available is achieved,'' he said.
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NEW: Daily Beast Working on Major NBC News Sexual Harassment and Misconduct Story
Sat, 11 Aug 2018 03:48
The Daily Beast is working on a major story about sexual harassment and misconduct at NBC News, sources tell Mediaite.
The story involves varying allegations against senior NBC News executives, and relates to alleged misconduct from years ago as well as more current allegations against network brass.
One source told Mediaite that executives at NBC News are ''panicked'' by the reporting. NBC News did not provide comment.
The Beast's reporting comes in a tumultuous year for NBC News. The network was rocked by sexual harassment allegations against star Today show host Matt Lauer, who was fired after a colleague came forward to accuse him of inappropriate behavior. More allegations against the longtime NBC News host followed.
Legendary anchor Tom Brokaw was later accused by two women of having sexually harassed them at NBC News in the 1990s. Brokaw vehemently denied the allegations, was defended by a slew of high profile former and current female NBC colleagues, and has held onto his position at the network.
NBC's internal investigation into Lauer found company executives were unaware of the workplace allegations against him. The internal investigation was reportedly called into question by staffers at the network, as well as former Today show co-host Ann Curry.
We have reached out to The Daily Beast for comment but have not yet heard back. This story is developing and we will update when we have more'... as usual, if you have any info on this story, email me:
[Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images]
AI That Reads All a Company's Emails to Gauge Morale - The Atlantic
Fri, 10 Aug 2018 12:15
When Andrew Fastow, the former chief financial officer of Enron, finishes a public-speaking gig these days, a dozen or so people from the audience are typically waiting to talk to him. Some ask about his role in the scandal that brought down the energy company. Others want to know about his six years in prison. After a 2016 event in Amsterdam, as the crowd was thinning out, Fastow spotted two men standing in a corner. Once everyone else had left, they walked up to him and handed him a laminated chart.
The men were there on behalf of KeenCorp, a data-analytics firm. Companies hire KeenCorp to analyze their employees' emails. KeenCorp doesn't read the emails, exactly'--its software focuses on word patterns and their context. The software then assigns the body of messages a numerical index that purports to measure the level of employee ''engagement.'' When workers are feeling positive and engaged, the number is high; when they are disengaged or expressing negative emotions like tension, the number is low.
The two men in Amsterdam told Fastow that they had tested the software using several years' worth of emails sent by Enron's top 150 executives, which had become publicly available after the company's demise. They were checking to see how key moments in the company's tumultuous collapse would register on the KeenCorp index. But something appeared to have gone wrong.
The software had returned the lowest index score at the end of 2001, when Enron filed for bankruptcy. That made sense: Enron executives would have been growing more agitated as the company neared insolvency. But the index had also plummeted more than two years earlier. The two men had scoured various books and reports on Enron's downfall, but it wasn't clear what made this earlier date important. Pointing to the sudden dip on the left side of the laminated chart, they told Fastow they had one question: ''Do you remember anything unusual happening at Enron on June 28, 1999?''
T he so-called text-analytics industry is booming. The technology has been around for a while'--it powers, among other things, the spam filter you rely on to keep your inbox manageable'--but as the tools have grown in sophistication, so have their uses. Many brands, for instance, rely on text-analytics firms to monitor their reputation on social media, in online reviews, and elsewhere on the web.
Text analytics has become especially popular in finance. Investment banks and hedge funds scour public filings, corporate press releases, and statements by executives to find slight changes in language that might indicate whether a company's stock price is likely to go up or down; Goldman Sachs calls this kind of natural-language processing ''a critical tool for tomorrow's investors.'' Specialty-research firms use artificial-intelligence algorithms to derive insights from earnings-call transcripts, broker research, and news stories.
Does text analytics work? In a recent paper, researchers at Harvard Business School and the University of Illinois at Chicago found that a company's stock price declines significantly in the months after the company subtly changes descriptions of certain risks. Computer algorithms can spot such changes quickly, even in lengthy filings, a feat that is beyond the capacity of most human investors. The researchers cited as an example NetApp, a data-management firm in Silicon Valley. NetApp's 2010 annual report stated: ''The failure to comply with U.S. government regulatory requirements could subject us to fines and other penalties.'' Addressing the same concern in the 2011 report, the company clarified that ''failure to comply'' applied to ''us or our reseller partners.'' Even a savvy human stock analyst might have missed that phrase, but the researchers' algorithms set off an alarm.
Granted, the study scoured old filings; the researchers had the benefit of hindsight. Still, a skeptical investor, armed with the knowledge that NetApp had seen fit to make this change, might have asked herself why. If she'd turned up an answer, or even just found the change worrying enough to sell her stock, she'd have saved a fortune: Embedded in that small edit was an early warning. Six months after the 2011 report appeared, news broke that the Syrian government had purchased NetApp equipment through an Italian reseller and used that equipment to spy on its citizens. By then, NetApp's stock price had already dropped 20 percent.
W hile text analytics has become common on Wall Street, it has not yet been widely used to assess the words written by employees at work. Many firms are sensitive about intruding too much on privacy, though courts have held that employees have virtually no expectation of privacy at work, particularly if they've been given notice that their correspondence may be monitored. Yet as language analytics improves, companies may have a hard time resisting the urge to mine employee information.
One obvious application of language analysis is as a tool for human-resources departments. HR teams have their own, old-fashioned ways of keeping tabs on employee morale, but people aren't necessarily honest when asked about their work, even in anonymous surveys. Our grammar, syntax, and word choices might betray more about how we really feel.
Take Vibe, a program that searches through keywords and emoji in messages sent on Slack, the workplace-communication app. The algorithm reports in real time on whether a team is feeling disappointed, disapproving, happy, irritated, or stressed. Frederic Peyrot, one of Vibe's creators, told me Vibe was more an experiment than a product, but some 500 companies have tried it.
Keeping tabs on employee happiness is crucial to running a successful business. But counting emoji is unlikely to prevent the next Enron. Does KeenCorp really have the ability to uncover malfeasance through text analysis?
That question brings us back to June 28, 1999. The two men from KeenCorp didn't realize it, but their algorithm had, in fact, spotted one of the most important inflection points in Enron's history. Fastow told me that on that date, the company's board had spent hours discussing a novel proposal called ''LJM,'' which involved a series of complex and dubious transactions that would hide some of Enron's poorly performing assets and bolster its financial statements. Ultimately, when discovered, LJM contributed to the firm's undoing.
According to Fastow, Enron's employees didn't formally challenge LJM. No one went to the board and said, ''This is wrong; we shouldn't do it.'' But KeenCorp says its algorithm detected tension at the company starting with the first LJM deals.
Today, KeenCorp has 15 employees, half a dozen major clients, and several consultants and advisers'--including Andy Fastow, who told me he had been so impressed with the algorithm's ability to spot employees' concerns about LJM that he'd decided to become an investor. Fastow knows he's stuck with a legacy of unethical and illegal behavior from his time at Enron. He says he hopes that, in making companies aware of KeenCorp's software, he can help ''prevent similar situations from occurring in the future.''
I was skeptical about KeenCorp at first . Text analysis after the fact was one thing, but could an analysis of employee emails actually contain enough information to help executives spot serious trouble in real time? As evidence that it can, KeenCorp points to the ''heat maps'' of employee engagement that its software creates. KeenCorp says the maps have helped companies identify potential problems in the workplace, including audit-related concerns that accountants failed to flag. The software merely provides a warning, of course'--it isn't trained in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. But a warning could be enough to help uncover serious problems.
Such early tips might also become an important tool to help companies ensure that they are complying with government rules'--a Herculean task for firms in highly regulated fields like finance, health care, insurance, and pharmaceuticals. An early-warning system, though, is only as good as the people using it. Someone at the company, high or low, has to be willing to say something when the heat map turns red'--and others have to listen. It is hard to imagine Enron's directors heeding any warning about the use of complex financial transactions in 1999'--the bad actors included the CEO, and we know that whistle-blowers at the company were ignored.
The potential benefits of analyzing employee correspondence must also be weighed against the costs: In some industries, like finance, the rank and file are acutely aware that everything they say in an email can be read by a higher-up, but in other industries the scanning of emails, however anonymous, will be viewed as intrusive if not downright Big Brotherly.
But it is managers who might have the most to fear from text-analysis tools. Viktor Mirovic, KeenCorp's CFO, told me that the firm's software can chart how employees react when a leader is hired or promoted. And one KeenCorp client, he said, investigated a branch office after its heat map suddenly started glowing and found that the head of the office had begun an affair with a subordinate.
When I asked Mirovic about privacy concerns, he said that KeenCorp does not collect, store, or report any information at the individual level. According to KeenCorp, all messages are ''stripped and treated so that the privacy of individual employees is fully protected.'' Nevertheless, Mirovic concedes that many companies do want to obtain information about individuals. Those seeking that information might turn to other software, or build their own data-mining system.
T ext analysis is a fledgling technology. It remains unclear how often such tools might suggest a problem when none exists, and not all wrongdoing will register on a heat map, no matter how finely tuned.
Still, a market will surely emerge for services claiming that they can find useful information in our work emails. Adam Badawi, a colleague of mine at UC Berkeley, uses natural-language algorithms to assess regulatory filings. He predicts that text analytics will become part of legal-and-compliance culture as the tools grow more sophisticated. Firms will want to protect themselves from liability by examining employee communications more comprehensively, particularly with respect to allegations of bias, fraud, and harassment. ''This is something companies are hungry for,'' Badawi told me.
In an ideal world, employees would be honest with their bosses, and come clean about all the problems they observe at work. But in the real world, many employees worry that the messenger will be shot; their worst fears stay bottled up. Text analytics might allow firms to gain insights from their employees while intruding only minimally on their privacy. The lesson: Figure out the truth about how the workforce is feeling not by eavesdropping on the substance of what employees say, but by examining how they are saying it.
This article appears in the September 2018 print edition with the headline ''The Secrets in Your Inbox.''
Lighthill report - Wikipedia
Sun, 12 Aug 2018 14:15
The Lighthill report is the name commonly used for the paper "Artificial Intelligence: A General Survey" by James Lighthill, published in Artificial Intelligence: a paper symposium in 1973.[1]
Published in 1973, it was compiled by Lighthill for the British Science Research Council as an evaluation of the academic research in the field of artificial intelligence. The report gave a very pessimistic prognosis for many core aspects of research in this field, stating that "In no part of the field have the discoveries made so far produced the major impact that was then promised".
It "formed the basis for the decision by the British government to end support for AI research in all but three universities"[2]'--Edinburgh, Sussex and Essex. While the report was supportive of research into the simulation of neurophysiological and psychological processes, it was "highly critical of basic research in foundational areas such as robotics and language processing".[1] The report stated that AI researchers had failed to address the issue of combinatorial explosion when solving problems within real world domains. That is, the report states that AI techniques may work within the scope of small problem domains, but the techniques would not scale up well to solve more realistic problems. The report represents a pessimistic view of AI that began after early excitement in the field.
The Science Research Council's decision to invite the report was partly a reaction to high levels of discord within the University of Edinburgh's Department of Artificial Intelligence, one of the earliest and biggest centres for AI research in the UK.[3]
See also [ edit ] AI winterALPAC reportReferences [ edit ] External links [ edit ] Other Freddy II Robot Resources Includes a link to the 90 minute 1973 "Controversy" debate from the Royal Academy of Lighthill vs. Michie, McCarthy and Gregory in response to Lighthill's report to the British government. 1973 BBC "Controversy" debate [ edit ] Part 1 on YouTube Part 2 on YouTube Part 3 on YouTube Part 4 on YouTube Part 5 on YouTube Part 6 on YouTube
AI winter - Wikipedia
Sun, 12 Aug 2018 14:15
In the history of artificial intelligence, an AI winter is a period of reduced funding and interest in artificial intelligence research.[1] The term was coined by analogy to the idea of a nuclear winter. The field has experienced several hype cycles, followed by disappointment and criticism, followed by funding cuts, followed by renewed interest years or decades later.
The term first appeared in 1984 as the topic of a public debate at the annual meeting of AAAI (then called the "American Association of Artificial Intelligence"). It is a chain reaction that begins with pessimism in the AI community, followed by pessimism in the press, followed by a severe cutback in funding, followed by the end of serious research. At the meeting, Roger Schank and Marvin Minsky'--two leading AI researchers who had survived the "winter" of the 1970s'--warned the business community that enthusiasm for AI had spiraled out of control in the 1980s and that disappointment would certainly follow. Three years later, the billion-dollar AI industry began to collapse.
Hypes are common in many emerging technologies, such as the railway mania or the dot-com bubble. The AI winter is primarily a collapse in the perception of AI by government bureaucrats and venture capitalists. Despite the rise and fall of AI's reputation, it has continued to develop new and successful technologies. AI researcher Rodney Brooks would complain in 2002 that "there's this stupid myth out there that AI has failed, but AI is around you every second of the day." In 2005, Ray Kurzweil agreed: "Many observers still think that the AI winter was the end of the story and that nothing since has come of the AI field. Yet today many thousands of AI applications are deeply embedded in the infrastructure of every industry."
Enthusiasm and optimism about AI has gradually increased since its low point in 1990, and by the 2010s artificial intelligence (and especially the sub-field of machine learning) became widely used and well-funded. As Ray Kurzweil writes: "the AI winter is long since over."
Overview [ edit ] There were two major winters in 1974''1980 and 1987''1993[6] and several smaller episodes, including the following:
1966: failure of machine translation1970: abandonment of connectionismPeriod of overlapping trends:1971''75: DARPA's frustration with the Speech Understanding Research program at Carnegie Mellon University1973: large decrease in AI research in the United Kingdom in response to the Lighthill report1973''74: DARPA's cutbacks to academic AI research in general1987: collapse of the Lisp machine market1988: cancellation of new spending on AI by the Strategic Computing Initiative1993: expert systems slowly reaching the bottom1990s: quiet disappearance of the fifth-generation computer project's original goalsEarly episodes [ edit ] Machine translation and the ALPAC report of 1966 [ edit ] During the Cold War, the US government was particularly interested in the automatic, instant translation of Russian documents and scientific reports. The government aggressively supported efforts at machine translation starting in 1954. At the outset, the researchers were optimistic. Noam Chomsky's new work in grammar was streamlining the translation process and there were "many predictions of imminent 'breakthroughs'".[7]
However, researchers had underestimated the profound difficulty of word-sense disambiguation. In order to translate a sentence, a machine needed to have some idea what the sentence was about, otherwise it made mistakes. An apocryphal[8] example is "the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak." Translated back and forth with Russian, it became "the vodka is good but the meat is rotten." Similarly, "out of sight, out of mind" became "blind idiot". Later researchers would call this the commonsense knowledge problem.
By 1964, the National Research Council had become concerned about the lack of progress and formed the Automatic Language Processing Advisory Committee (ALPAC) to look into the problem. They concluded, in a famous 1966 report, that machine translation was more expensive, less accurate and slower than human translation. After spending some 20 million dollars, the NRC ended all support. Careers were destroyed and research ended.[7]
Machine translation is still an open research problem in the 21st century, which has been met with some success (Google Translate, Yahoo Babel Fish).
The abandonment of connectionism in 1969 [ edit ] See also: Perceptrons and Frank RosenblattSome of the earliest work in AI used networks or circuits of connected units to simulate intelligent behavior. Examples of this kind of work, called "connectionism", include Walter Pitts and Warren McCullough's first description of a neural network for logic and Marvin Minsky's work on the SNARC system. In the late '50s, most of these approaches were abandoned when researchers began to explore symbolic reasoning as the essence of intelligence, following the success of programs like the Logic Theorist and the General Problem Solver.[10]
However, one type of connectionist work continued: the study of perceptrons, invented by Frank Rosenblatt, who kept the field alive with his salesmanship and the sheer force of his personality.[11]He optimistically predicted that the perceptron "may eventually be able to learn, make decisions, and translate languages".[12]Mainstream research into perceptrons came to an abrupt end in 1969, when Marvin Minsky and Seymour Papert published the book Perceptrons, which was perceived as outlining the limits of what perceptrons could do.
Connectionist approaches were abandoned for the next decade or so. While important work, such as Paul Werbos' discovery of backpropagation, continued in a limited way, major funding for connectionist projects was difficult to find in the 1970s and early 1980s.[13]The "winter" of connectionist research came to an end in the middle 1980s, when the work of John Hopfield, David Rumelhart and others revived large scale interest in neural networks.[14] Rosenblatt did not live to see this, however, as he died in a boating accident shortly after Perceptrons was published.[12]
The setbacks of 1974 [ edit ] The Lighthill report [ edit ] In 1973, professor Sir James Lighthill was asked by the UK Parliament to evaluate the state of AI research in the United Kingdom. His report, now called the Lighthill report, criticized the utter failure of AI to achieve its "grandiose objectives." He concluded that nothing being done in AI couldn't be done in other sciences. He specifically mentioned the problem of "combinatorial explosion" or "intractability", which implied that many of AI's most successful algorithms would grind to a halt on real world problems and were only suitable for solving "toy" versions.[15]
The report was contested in a debate broadcast in the BBC "Controversy" series in 1973. The debate "The general purpose robot is a mirage" from the Royal Institution was Lighthill versus the team of Donald Michie, John McCarthy and Richard Gregory.[16] McCarthy later wrote that "the combinatorial explosion problem has been recognized in AI from the beginning".[17]
The report led to the complete dismantling of AI research in England.[15] AI research continued in only a few second tier universities (Edinburgh, Essex and Sussex). This "created a bow-wave effect that led to funding cuts across Europe", writes James Hendler.[18] Research would not revive on a large scale until 1983, when Alvey (a research project of the British Government) began to fund AI again from a war chest of £350 million in response to the Japanese Fifth Generation Project (see below). Alvey had a number of UK-only requirements which did not sit well internationally, especially with US partners, and lost Phase 2 funding.
DARPA's funding cuts of the early 1970s [ edit ] During the 1960s, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (then known as "ARPA", now known as "DARPA") provided millions of dollars for AI research with almost no strings attached. DARPA's director in those years, J. C. R. Licklider believed in "funding people, not projects"[19] and allowed AI's leaders (such as Marvin Minsky, John McCarthy, Herbert A. Simon or Allen Newell) to spend it almost any way they liked.
This attitude changed after the passage of Mansfield Amendment in 1969, which required DARPA to fund "mission-oriented direct research, rather than basic undirected research".[20] Pure undirected research of the kind that had gone on in the 1960s would no longer be funded by DARPA. Researchers now had to show that their work would soon produce some useful military technology. AI research proposals were held to a very high standard. The situation was not helped when the Lighthill report and DARPA's own study (the American Study Group) suggested that most AI research was unlikely to produce anything truly useful in the foreseeable future. DARPA's money was directed at specific projects with identifiable goals, such as autonomous tanks and battle management systems. By 1974, funding for AI projects was hard to find.[20]
AI researcher Hans Moravec blamed the crisis on the unrealistic predictions of his colleagues: "Many researchers were caught up in a web of increasing exaggeration. Their initial promises to DARPA had been much too optimistic. Of course, what they delivered stopped considerably short of that. But they felt they couldn't in their next proposal promise less than in the first one, so they promised more."[21] The result, Moravec claims, is that some of the staff at DARPA had lost patience with AI research. "It was literally phrased at DARPA that 'some of these people were going to be taught a lesson [by] having their two-million-dollar-a-year contracts cut to almost nothing!'" Moravec told Daniel Crevier.[22]
While the autonomous tank project was a failure, the battle management system (the Dynamic Analysis and Replanning Tool) proved to be enormously successful, saving billions in the first Gulf War, repaying all of DARPAs investment in AI[23] and justifying DARPA's pragmatic policy.[24]
The SUR debacle [ edit ] DARPA was deeply disappointed with researchers working on the Speech Understanding Research program at Carnegie Mellon University. DARPA had hoped for, and felt it had been promised, a system that could respond to voice commands from a pilot. The SUR team had developed a system which could recognize spoken English, but only if the words were spoken in a particular order. DARPA felt it had been duped and, in 1974, they cancelled a three million dollar a year grant.[25]
Many years later, successful commercial speech recognition systems would use the technology developed by the Carnegie Mellon team (such as hidden Markov models) and the market for speech recognition systems would reach $4 billion by 2001.[26]
The setbacks of the late 1980s and early 1990s [ edit ] The collapse of the Lisp machine market in 1987 [ edit ] In the 1980s, a form of AI program called an "expert system" was adopted by corporations around the world. The first commercial expert system was XCON, developed at Carnegie Mellon for Digital Equipment Corporation, and it was an enormous success: it was estimated to have saved the company 40 million dollars over just six years of operation. Corporations around the world began to develop and deploy expert systems and by 1985 they were spending over a billion dollars on AI, most of it to in-house AI departments. An industry grew up to support them, including software companies like Teknowledge and Intellicorp (KEE), and hardware companies like Symbolics and Lisp Machines Inc. who built specialized computers, called Lisp machines, that were optimized to process the programming language Lisp, the preferred language for AI.[27]
In 1987, three years after Minsky and Schank's prediction, the market for specialized AI hardware collapsed. Workstations by companies like Sun Microsystems offered a powerful alternative to LISP machines and companies like Lucid offered a LISP environment for this new class of workstations. The performance of these general workstations became an increasingly difficult challenge for LISP Machines. Companies like Lucid and Franz Lisp offered increasingly more powerful versions of LISP. For example, benchmarks were published showing workstations maintaining a performance advantage over LISP machines.[28] Later desktop computers built by Apple and IBM would also offer a simpler and more popular architecture to run LISP applications on. By 1987 they had become more powerful than the more expensive Lisp machines. The desktop computers had rule-based engines such as CLIPS available.[29] These alternatives left consumers with no reason to buy an expensive machine specialized for running LISP. An entire industry worth half a billion dollars was replaced in a single year.[30]
Commercially, many Lisp companies failed, like Symbolics, Lisp Machines Inc., Lucid Inc., etc. Other companies, like Texas Instruments and Xerox, abandoned the field. However, a number of customer companies (that is, companies using systems written in Lisp and developed on Lisp machine platforms) continued to maintain systems. In some cases, this maintenance involved the assumption of the resulting support work.
The fall of expert systems [ edit ] By the early 1990s, the earliest successful expert systems, such as XCON, proved too expensive to maintain. They were difficult to update, they could not learn, they were "brittle" (i.e., they could make grotesque mistakes when given unusual inputs), and they fell prey to problems (such as the qualification problem) that had been identified years earlier in research in nonmonotonic logic. Expert systems proved useful, but only in a few special contexts.[1][31] Another problem dealt with the computational hardness of truth maintenance efforts for general knowledge. KEE used an assumption-based approach (see NASA, TEXSYS) supporting multiple-world scenarios that was difficult to understand and apply.
The few remaining expert system shell companies were eventually forced to downsize and search for new markets and software paradigms, like case based reasoning or universal database access. The maturation of Common Lisp saved many systems such as ICAD which found application in knowledge-based engineering. Other systems, such as Intellicorp's KEE, moved from Lisp to a C++ (variant) on the PC and helped establish object-oriented technology (including providing major support for the development of UML).
The fizzle of the fifth generation [ edit ] In 1981, the Japanese Ministry of International Trade and Industry set aside $850 million for the Fifth generation computer project. Their objectives were to write programs and build machines that could carry on conversations, translate languages, interpret pictures, and reason like human beings. By 1991, the impressive list of goals penned in 1981 had not been met. Indeed, some of them had not been met in 2001, or 2011. As with other AI projects, expectations had run much higher than what was actually possible.[32]
Cutbacks at the Strategic Computing Initiative [ edit ] In 1983, in response to the fifth generation project, DARPA again began to fund AI research through the Strategic Computing Initiative. As originally proposed the project would begin with practical, achievable goals, which even included artificial general intelligence as long term objective. The program was under the direction of the Information Processing Technology Office (IPTO) and was also directed at supercomputing and microelectronics. By 1985 it had spent $100 million and 92 projects were underway at 60 institutions, half in industry, half in universities and government labs. AI research was generously funded by the SCI.[33]
Jack Schwarz, who ascended to the leadership of IPTO in 1987, dismissed expert systems as "clever programming" and cut funding to AI "deeply and brutally", "eviscerating" SCI. Schwarz felt that DARPA should focus its funding only on those technologies which showed the most promise, in his words, DARPA should "surf", rather than "dog paddle", and he felt strongly AI was not "the next wave". Insiders in the program cited problems in communication, organization and integration. A few projects survived the funding cuts, including pilot's assistant and an autonomous land vehicle (which were never delivered) and the DART battle management system, which (as noted above) was successful.[34]
Lasting effects of the AI winters [ edit ] This section needs to be updated. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (September 2015)
The winter that wouldn't end [ edit ] A survey of reports from the mid-2000s suggests that AI's reputation was still less than stellar:
Alex Castro, quoted in The Economist, 7 June 2007: "[Investors] were put off by the term 'voice recognition' which, like 'artificial intelligence', is associated with systems that have all too often failed to live up to their promises."[35]Patty Tascarella in Pittsburgh Business Times, 2006: "Some believe the word 'robotics' actually carries a stigma that hurts a company's chances at funding."[36]John Markoff in the New York Times, 2005: "At its low point, some computer scientists and software engineers avoided the term artificial intelligence for fear of being viewed as wild-eyed dreamers."[37]AI under different names [ edit ] Many researchers in AI in the mid 2000s deliberately called their work by other names, such as informatics, machine learning, analytics, knowledge-based systems, business rules management, cognitive systems, intelligent systems, intelligent agents or computational intelligence, to indicate that their work emphasizes particular tools or is directed at a particular sub-problem. Although this may be partly because they consider their field to be fundamentally different from AI, it is also true that the new names help to procure funding by avoiding the stigma of false promises attached to the name "artificial intelligence".[37]
AI behind the scenes [ edit ] "Many observers still think that the AI winter was the end of the story and that nothing since come of the AI field," wrote Ray Kurzweil in 2005, "yet today many thousands of AI applications are deeply embedded in the infrastructure of every industry." In the late 1990s and early 21st century, AI technology became widely used as elements of larger systems,[38] but the field is rarely credited for these successes. In 2006, Nick Bostrom explained that "a lot of cutting edge AI has filtered into general applications, often without being called AI because once something becomes useful enough and common enough it's not labeled AI anymore."[39] Rodney Brooks stated around the same time that "there's this stupid myth out there that AI has failed, but AI is around you every second of the day."
Technologies developed by AI researchers have achieved commercial success in a number of domains, such asmachine translation,data mining,industrial robotics,logistics,[40]speech recognition,[41]banking software,[42]medical diagnosis[42] andGoogle's search engine.[43]
Fuzzy logic controllers have been developed for automatic gearboxes in automobiles (the 2006 Audi TT, VW Touareg[44] and VW Caravell feature the DSP transmission which utilizes fuzzy logic, a number of Å koda variants (Å koda Fabia) also currently include a fuzzy logic-based controller). Camera sensors widely utilize fuzzy logic to enable focus.
Heuristic search and data analytics are both technologies that have developed from the evolutionary computing and machine learning subdivision of the AI research community. Again, these techniques have been applied to a wide range of real world problems with considerable commercial success.
In the case of Heuristic Search, ILOG has developed a large number of applications including deriving job shop schedules for many manufacturing installations.[45] Many telecommunications companies also make use of this technology in the management of their workforces, for example BT Group has deployed heuristic search[46] in a scheduling application that provides the work schedules of 20,000 engineers.
Data analytics technology utilizing algorithms for the automated formation of classifiers that were developed in the supervised machine learning community in the 1990s (for example, TDIDT, Support Vector Machines, Neural Nets, IBL) are now[when? ] used pervasively by companies for marketing survey targeting and discovery of trends and features in data sets.
AI funding [ edit ] Primarily the way researchers and economists judge the status of an AI winter is by reviewing which AI projects are being funded, how much and by whom. Trends in funding are often set by major funding agencies in the developed world. Currently, DARPA and a civilian funding program called EU-FP7 provide much of the funding for AI research in the US and European Union.
As of 2007, DARPA was soliciting AI research proposals under a number of programs including The Grand Challenge Program, Cognitive Technology Threat Warning System (CT2WS), "Human Assisted Neural Devices (SN07-43)", "Autonomous Real-Time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance-Imaging System (ARGUS-IS)" and "Urban Reasoning and Geospatial Exploitation Technology (URGENT)"
Perhaps best known is DARPA's Grand Challenge Program[47] which has developed fully automated road vehicles that can successfully navigate real world terrain[48] in a fully autonomous fashion.
DARPA has also supported programs on the Semantic Web with a great deal of emphasis on intelligent management of content and automated understanding. However James Hendler, the manager of the DARPA program at the time, expressed some disappointment with the government's ability to create rapid change, and moved to working with the World Wide Web Consortium to transition the technologies to the private sector.
The EU-FP7 funding program provides financial support to researchers within the European Union. In 2007''2008, it was funding AI research under the Cognitive Systems: Interaction and Robotics Programme ('‚¬193m), the Digital Libraries and Content Programme ('‚¬203m) and the FET programme ('‚¬185m).[49]
Possibility of another winter [ edit ] Concerns are sometimes raised that a new AI winter could be triggered by any overly ambitious or unrealistic promise by prominent AI scientists. For example, some researchers feared that the widely publicized promises in the early 1990s that Cog would show the intelligence of a human two-year-old might lead to an AI winter.
James Hendler observed in 2008 that AI funding both in the EU and the US was being channeled more into applications and cross-breeding with traditional sciences, such as bioinformatics.[29] This shift away from basic research is happening at the same time as there is a drive towards applications of, for example, the Semantic Web. Invoking the pipeline argument (see underlying causes), Hendler saw a parallel with the 1980s winter and warned of a coming AI winter in the 2010s.
Possibility of another spring [ edit ] There are also constant reports that another AI spring is imminent or has already occurred:
Raj Reddy, in his presidential address to AAAI, 1988: "[T]he field is more exciting than ever. Our recent advances are significant and substantial. And the mythical AI winter may have turned into an AI spring. I see many flowers blooming."[50]Pamela McCorduck in Machines Who Think: "In the 1990s, shoots of green broke through the wintry AI soil."[51]Jim Hendler and Devika Subramanian in AAAI Newsletter, 1999: "Spring is here! Far from the AI winter of the past decade, it is now a great time to be in AI."[52]Ray Kurzweil in his book The Singularity is Near, 2005: "The AI Winter is long since over"Heather Halvenstein in Computerworld, 2005: "Researchers now are emerging from what has been called an 'AI winter'"[53]John Markoff in The New York Times, 2005: "Now there is talk about an A.I. spring among researchers"[37]James Hendler, in the Editorial of the 2007 May/June issue of IEEE Intelligent Systems (Hendler 2007): "Where Are All the Intelligent Agents?"Underlying causes behind AI winters [ edit ] Several explanations have been put forth for the cause of AI winters in general. As AI progressed from government-funded applications to commercial ones, new dynamics came into play. While hype is the most commonly cited cause, the explanations are not necessarily mutually exclusive.
Hype [ edit ] The AI winters can[citation needed ] be partly understood as a sequence of over-inflated expectations and subsequent crash seen in stock-markets and exemplified[citation needed ] by the railway mania and dotcom bubble. In a common pattern in development of new technology (known as hype cycle), an event, typically a technological breakthrough, creates publicity which feeds on itself to create a "peak of inflated expectations" followed by a "trough of disillusionment". Since scientific and technological progress can't keep pace with the publicity-fueled increase in expectations among investors and other stakeholders, a crash must follow. AI technology seems to be no exception to this rule.[citation needed ]
Institutional factors [ edit ] Another factor is AI's place in the organisation of universities. Research on AI often takes the form of interdisciplinary research. One example is the Master of Artificial Intelligence[54] program at KU Leuven which involve lecturers from Philosophy to Mechanical Engineering. AI is therefore prone to the same problems other types of interdisciplinary research face. Funding is channeled through the established departments and during budget cuts, there will be a tendency to shield the "core contents" of each department, at the expense of interdisciplinary and less traditional research projects.
Economic factors [ edit ] Downturns in a country's national economy cause budget cuts in universities. The "core contents" tendency worsen the effect on AI research and investors in the market are likely to put their money into less risky ventures during a crisis. Together this may amplify an economic downturn into an AI winter. It is worth noting that the Lighthill report came at a time of economic crisis in the UK,[55] when universities had to make cuts and the question was only which programs should go.
Insufficient computing capability [ edit ] Early in the computing history the potential for neural networks was understood but it has never been realized. Fairly simple networks require significant computing capacity even by today's standards.
Empty pipeline [ edit ] It is common to see the relationship between basic research and technology as a pipeline. Advances in basic research give birth to advances in applied research, which in turn leads to new commercial applications. From this it is often argued that a lack of basic research will lead to a drop in marketable technology some years down the line. This view was advanced by James Hendler in 2008,[29] where he claimed that the fall of expert systems in the late '80s was not due to an inherent and unavoidable brittleness of expert systems, but to funding cuts in basic research in the 1970s. These expert systems advanced in the 1980s through applied research and product development, but, by the end of the decade, the pipeline had run dry and expert systems were unable to produce improvements that could have overcome this brittleness and secured further funding.
Failure to adapt [ edit ] The fall of the Lisp machine market and the failure of the fifth generation computers were cases of expensive advanced products being overtaken by simpler and cheaper alternatives. This fits the definition of a low-end disruptive technology, with the Lisp machine makers being marginalized. Expert systems were carried over to the new desktop computers by for instance CLIPS, so the fall of the Lisp machine market and the fall of expert systems are strictly speaking two separate events. Still, the failure to adapt to such a change in the outside computing milieu is cited as one reason for the 1980s AI winter.[29]
Arguments and debates on past and future of AI [ edit ] Several philosophers, cognitive scientists and computer scientists have speculated on where AI might have failed and what lies in its future. Hubert Dreyfus highlighted flawed assumptions of AI research in the past and, as early as 1966, correctly predicted that the first wave of AI research would fail to fulfill the very public promises it was making. Others critics like Noam Chomsky have argued that AI is headed in the wrong direction, in part because of its heavy reliance on statistical techniques.[56] Chomsky's comments fit into a larger debate with Peter Norvig, centered around the role of statistical methods in AI. The exchange between the two started with comments made by Chomsky at a symposium at MIT[57] to which Norvig wrote a response.[58]
See also [ edit ] AI effectHistory of artificial intelligenceSoftware crisisNotes [ edit ] ^ a b AI Expert Newsletter: W is for Winter Archived 9 November 2013 at the Wayback Machine. ^ Different sources use different dates for the AI winter. Consider: (1) Howe 1994: "Lighthill's [1973] report provoked a massive loss of confidence in AI by the academic establishment in the UK (and to a lesser extent in the US). It persisted for a decade '• the so-called '"AI Winter'", (2) Russell & Norvig 2003, p. 24: "Overall, the AI industry boomed from a few million dollars in 1980 to billions of dollars in 1988. Soon after that came a period called the 'AI Winter'". ^ a b John Hutchins 2005 The history of machine translation in a nutshell. ^ Hutchins, John. 1995. "The whisky was invisible", or Persistent myths of MT. Retrieved from ^ McCorduck 2004, pp. 52''107 ^ Pamela McCorduck quotes one colleague as saying, "He was a press agent's dream, a real medicine man." (McCorduck 2004, p. 105) ^ a b Crevier 1993, pp. 102''5 ^ Crevier 1993, pp. 102''105, McCorduck 2004, pp. 104''107, Russell & Norvig 2003, p. 22 ^ Crevier 1993, pp. 214''6 and Russell & Norvig 2003, p. 25 ^ a b Crevier 1993, p. 117, Russell & Norvig 2003, p. 22, Howe 1994 and see also Lighthill 1973 ^ "BBC Controversy Lighthill debate 1973". BBC "Controversy" debates series. ARTIFICIAL_INTELLIGENCE-APPLICATIONS¯INSTITUTE. 1973 . Retrieved 13 August 2010 . ^ McCarthy, John (1993). "Review of the Lighthill Report". Archived from the original on 30 September 2008 . Retrieved 10 September 2008 . ^ Hendler, James. "Avoiding Another AI Winter" (PDF) . Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 February 2012. ^ Crevier 1993, p. 65 ^ a b NRC 1999, under "Shift to Applied Research Increases Investment" (only the sections before 1980 apply to the current discussion). ^ Crevier 1993, p. 115 ^ Crevier 1993, p. 117 ^ Russell & Norvig 2003, p. 25 ^ NRC 1999 ^ Crevier 1993, pp. 115''116 (on whom this account is based). Other views include McCorduck 2004, pp. 306''313 and NRC 1999 under "Success in Speech Recognition". ^ NRC 1999 under "Success in Speech Recognition". ^ Crevier 1993, pp. 161''2, 197''203 ^ Brooks, Rodney. "Design of an Optimizing, Dynamically Retargetable Compiler for Common LISP" (PDF) . Lucid, Inc. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 August 2013. ^ a b c d Avoiding another AI Winter, James Hendler, IEEE Intelligent Systems (March/April 2008 (Vol. 23, No. 2) pp. 2''4 ^ Crevier 1993, pp. 209''210 ^ Crevier 1993, pp. 204''208 ^ Crevier 1993, pp. 211''212 ^ McCorduck 2004, pp. 426''429 ^ McCorduck 2004, pp. 430''431 ^ Alex Castro in Are you talking to me? The Economist Technology Quarterly (7 June 2007) Archived 13 June 2008 at the Wayback Machine. ^ Robotics firms find fundraising struggle, with venture capital shy. By Patty Tascarella. Pittsburgh Business Times (11 August 2006) Archived 26 March 2014 at the Wayback Machine. ^ a b c Markoff, John (14 October 2005). "Behind Artificial Intelligence, a Squadron of Bright Real People". The New York Times . Retrieved 30 July 2007 . ^ NRC 1999 under "Artificial Intelligence in the 90s" ^ AI set to exceed human brain power (26 July 2006) Archived 3 November 2006 at the Wayback Machine. ^ Russell & Norvig 2003, p. 28 ^ For the new state of the art in AI based speech recognition, see Are You Talking to Me? Archived 13 June 2008 at the Wayback Machine. ^ a b "AI-inspired systems were already integral to many everyday technologies such as internet search engines, bank software for processing transactions and in medical diagnosis." Nick Bostrom, AI set to exceed human brain power (26 July 2006) Archived 3 November 2006 at the Wayback Machine. ^ For the use of AI at Google, see Google's man behind the curtain, Google backs character recognition and Spying an intelligent search engine. ^ Touareg Short Lead Press Introduction, Volkswagen of America Archived 16 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine. ^ ^ Success Stories. Archived 4 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine. ^ Grand Challenge Home Archived 24 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine. ^ DARPA Archived 6 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine. ^ Information and Communication Technologies in FP7, overview document for European Union funding. Retrieved 20 September 2007. ^ Reddy, Raj (1988). "Foundations and Grand Challenges of Artificial Intelligence" (PDF) . Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 June 2012. ^ McCorduck 2004, p. 418 ^ The Sixteenth National Conference on Artificial Intelligence Archived 2 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine. ^ Heather Havenstein Spring comes to AI Winter, Computer World, 14 February 2005 Archived 31 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine. ^ Master Artificial Intelligence Archived 6 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine. ^,,2122424,00.html obituary of Donald Michie in The Guardian Archived 27 January 2008 at the Wayback Machine. ^ Yarden Katz, "Noam Chomsky on Where Artificial Intelligence Went Wrong", The Atlantic, 1 November 2012 Archived 2 November 2012 at WebCite ^ Noam Chomsky, "Pinker/Chomsky Q&A from MIT150 Panel" Archived 17 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine. ^ Peter Norvig, "On Chomsky and the Two Cultures of Statistical Learning" Archived 31 May 2011 at WebCite References [ edit ] Crevier, Daniel (1993), AI: The Tumultuous Search for Artificial Intelligence, New York, NY: BasicBooks, ISBN 0-465-02997-3 Hendler, James (2007). "Where Are All the Intelligent Agents?". IEEE Intelligent Systems. 22 (3): 2''3. doi:10.1109/MIS.2007.62 Howe, J. (November 1994). "Artificial Intelligence at Edinburgh University : a Perspective". Archived from the original on 17 August 2007 . Retrieved 30 August 2007 Kurzweil, Ray (2005). "The Singularity is Near". Viking Press Lighthill, Professor Sir James (1973). "Artificial Intelligence: A General Survey". Artificial Intelligence: a paper symposium. Science Research Council Minsky, Marvin; Papert, Seymour (1969). "Perceptrons: An Introduction to Computational Geometry". The MIT Press McCorduck, Pamela (2004), Machines Who Think (2nd ed.), Natick, MA: A. K. Peters, Ltd., ISBN 1-56881-205-1 NRC (1999). "Developments in Artificial Intelligence". Funding a Revolution: Government Support for Computing Research. National Academy Press. Archived from the original on 12 January 2008 . Retrieved 30 August 2007 Russell, Stuart J.; Norvig, Peter (2003), Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach (2nd ed.), Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, ISBN 0-13-790395-2 Further reading [ edit ] Marcus, Gary, "Am I Human?: Researchers need new ways to distinguish artificial intelligence from the natural kind", Scientific American, vol. 316, no. 3 (March 2017), pp. 58''63. Multiple tests of artificial-intelligence efficacy are needed because, "just as there is no single test of athletic prowess, there cannot be one ultimate test of intelligence." One such test, a "Construction Challenge", would test perception and physical action'--"two important elements of intelligent behavior that were entirely absent from the original Turing test." Another proposal has been to give machines the same standardized tests of science and other disciplines that schoolchildren take. A so far insuperable stumbling block to artificial intelligence is an incapacity for reliable disambiguation. "[V]irtually every sentence [that people generate] is ambiguous, often in multiple ways." A prominent example is known as the "pronoun disambiguation problem": a machine has no way of determining to whom or what a pronoun in a sentence'--such as "he", "she" or "it"'--refers.Luke Muehlhauser (September 2016). "What should we learn from past AI forecasts?". Open Philanthropy Project. External links [ edit ] ComputerWorld article (February 2005)AI Expert Newsletter (January 2005)"If It Works, It's Not AI: A Commercial Look at Artificial Intelligence startups"Patterns of Software- a collection of essays by Richard P. Gabriel, including several autobiographical essaysReview of ``Artificial Intelligence: A General Survey by John McCarthyOther Freddy II Robot Resources Includes a link to the 90 minute 1973 "Controversy" debate from the Royal Academy of Lighthill vs. Michie, McCarthy and Gregory in response to Lighthill's report to the British government.
Cracking Down on Synthetic Opioid Sales
Thu, 09 Aug 2018 22:01
The United States is facing the deadliest drug crisis in American history. The latest statistics suggest that approximately 72,000 Americans lost their lives to drug overdoses in 2017 '-- the highest drug death toll in a single year and the fastest single-year increase in that death toll in American history.
Meanwhile, millions of Americans are living with the consequences of a family member's addiction or an addiction of their own. It is incredible but true that drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death.
Sadly, Florida knows the consequences of this crisis all too well.
Drug overdose deaths increased 47 percent statewide from 2015 to 2016, compared to 21 percent nationwide. In just one year, we lost nearly 2,800 Floridians to overdoses involving opioids '' an increase of nearly 1,000 deaths.
And as we all know, these are not numbers'--these are moms, dads, daughters, spouses, friends and neighbors.
For example, remember that around 2 a.m. on New Year's Day 2017, a man and a woman were found dead outside their car on Interstate 4 near Daytona Beach. Their three sons '-- ages 2, 1, and less than a year old '' sat in the back seat, crying. The couple had overdosed on illicitly made fentanyl.
Unfortunately, there are many more tragic stories like this in America today.
But we at the Department of Justice are not going to accept the status quo. Ending the drug crisis is a top priority of President Donald Trump and his administration.
President Trump has a comprehensive plan to end this national crisis. He has negotiated and signed bipartisan legislation to spend $4 billion this year to address opioid abuse. He has launched a national awareness campaign about the dangers of opioid abuse. And he has set the ambitious goal of reducing opioid prescription rates in America by one-third in three years.
Prevention and treatment are two critical elements in stopping this crisis of addiction.
Law enforcement is a critical pillar of President Trump's Opioids Plan. By putting crooked traffickers and crooked doctors, pharmacists, manufacturers, and distributors behind bars '-- going after the suppliers, not the users suffering from drug addiction '-- we prevent those criminals from committing more crimes and spreading addiction. That saves lives.
One example of how law enforcement saves lives can be seen in Manatee County.
Like many parts of this country, Manatee County experienced massive increases in opioid deaths in 2015 and 2016.
In response, federal prosecutors began prosecuting synthetic opioid sales, regardless of the amount of drugs involved, resulting in 45 prosecutions. Deaths started to go down.
From the last six months of 2016 to the last six months of 2017, overdose deaths dropped by 70 percent in Manatee County. The Manatee County Sheriff's Office went from responding to 11 overdoses a day to an average of one a day.
These are remarkable results. I believe that many other parts of the country'--where the drug epidemic is at its worst'--need solutions like this one and can benefit from this proven strategy.
That is why I have begun Operation Synthetic Opioids Surge.
Under Operation SOS, I am ordering our prosecutors in 10 districts with some of the highest overdose death rates to prosecute every case of illicit synthetic opioid distribution'--no matter how small.
When it comes to synthetic opioids, there is no such thing as a small case. Three milligrams of fentanyl can be fatal. That's equivalent to a pinch of salt. It's not even enough to cover Lincoln's face on a penny. Depending on the purity, you could fit more than 1,000 fatal doses of fentanyl in a teaspoon.
I understand that this more aggressive posture will require a lot more work for prosecutors, who are already dealing with an unprecedented epidemic. That is why, as they implement this effective strategy, I am sending them reinforcements.
Last month, I sent more than 300 new assistant U.S. attorneys to districts across America. It was the largest prosecutor surge in decades.
Now I am sending another new prosecutor to each of these 10 districts where we will implement the Manatee County strategy. Having served as a federal prosecutor for 14 years, I know what a difference that can make.
The people of Florida should be grateful for the outstanding service of law enforcement officers in Manatee County. They are a great example of how law enforcement can make a big difference in a short period of time.
I believe that, along with the Trump administration's other law enforcement and public health efforts, Operation SOS will weaken drug distribution networks, reduce illicit fentanyl availability and save lives.
This op-ed appeared in the Tampa Bay Times on August 9, 2018.
Adjusting to Wearing Hearing Aids '' It takes You '... and Your Brain
Sun, 12 Aug 2018 04:31
If the truth be told, we hear with our brains, not with our ears. Now, certainly our ears do play an important role in what we hear and how we hear, but our ears are simply very sophisticated sound collection systems. The sounds that are collected by the ears are sent through the auditory nerve to the brainstem and the signal then continues up to the auditory cortex '' the hearing part of the brain. It is only in the brain that sounds and voices can be interpreted and have meaning. Hence, we do hear with our brains, not with our ears.
Another important fact to note about the brain and hearing is that loudness is a perception. In other words, something that you perceive as being loud to you today may not sound as loud to you tomorrow. A simple analogy to your sense of touch can provide a ready example of this phenomenon. Let's say that you have never worn a wrist watch, and then you decide to buy and wear one. Initially you are aware of the feeling of the watch on your wrist all the time. However, as you grow accustomed or acclimated to wearing the watch, you become less and less aware of the feeling of it on your wrist.
When you have been experiencing a hearing loss over a period of time, your brain will have become accustomed to hearing with that hearing loss. Your level of hearing may be at a softer volume, or with reduced clarity (or both). It becomes difficult to understand conversation and discern the words clearly in order to carry on a meaningful conversation. When we utilize hearing aids to increase the clarity and/or volume of sounds, those hearing aids positively alter the way you will hear. In a manner similar to the watch example cited above, if you are used to hearing with a hearing loss, and suddenly you begin to hear more than what you had become accustomed to (with the help of hearing aids), it will take you and your brain some time to adjust to these changes.
Often new hearing aid users are surprised by what they are able to hear with their new hearing aids. Everyday sounds such as water hitting the basin of a sink may sound louder, rustling paper sounds sharper, voices sound clearer, and even one's own voice will sound different. Often patients are surprised to hear the sound of their own footsteps, birds chirping in the morning, or the blinker in the car. Because loudness is a perception, these sounds seem significantly louder than they used to seem, and even louder than the new hearing aid user remembers. This perception that environmental sounds and voices sound different and louder than remembered will eventually moderate as the hearing aids continue to be worn and as the brain acclimatizes to the new sounds heard. Much like the feeling of the wristwatch that is noticed less and less as it is worn; these sounds will become less noticeable as the hearing aids are used.
This change in perception, in which hearing aid wearers become more comfortable with the sounds they hear, demonstrates that the brain can change. The change takes place as the brain becomes better at understanding the sounds that it hears when one is wearing appropriately fit hearing aids. Research on an individual's adjustment to hearing aids tells us that our brains can still continue to change and thereby increase the benefits derived from hearing aids up to nine months after the initial hearing aid fitting. This is an important fact to keep in mind when we think about hearing in difficult listening environments, such as experienced in a busy restaurant. The first time a new hearing aid wearer visits a noisy restaurant will turn out to be a somewhat different experience from visiting that same noisy restaurant six months later.
If you are new to hearing aids, or think that you should probably have your hearing tested, please consult a qualified audiologist. Also, please remember that your brain plays a very important role in hearing, and while your brain has the ability to change, those changes can take time, '... and patience. Your audiologist will work with you to help you through the process of adjusting to hearing aids.
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VIDEO - CNN Credits Media For The Banning of Alex Jones / Infowars - YouTube
Sun, 12 Aug 2018 13:37
VIDEO - CNN Credits Media For The Banning of Alex Jones / Infowars - YouTube
Sun, 12 Aug 2018 13:37
CNN Credits Media For The Banning of Alex Jones / Infowars
Sun, 12 Aug 2018 13:37
VIDEO - A Prescription for Murder?
Sun, 12 Aug 2018 13:30
Click on image to play video. Episode only available in Canada.
Could a pill prescribed by your doctor turn you into a killer? Canadians are among the world's biggest users of antidepressants, with about 9% of the population on one depression-fighting drug or another, according to a recent study. Many of these antidepressants are SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. For the vast majority of people these drugs are very helpful, but A Prescription for Murder? reveals the devastating side effects on a tiny minority that can lead to psychosis, violence, possibly even murder.
Patients should not change or stop taking their medication without first seeking medical advice.
With unique access to psychiatric reports, court footage and drug company data, reporter Shelley Jofre investigates the mass killings at the 2012 midnight premiere of a Batman movie in Aurora, Colorado. A 24-year-old PhD student, James Holmes, who had no record of violence or gun ownership, murdered 12 and injured 70 people. Did the SSRI antidepressant he had been prescribed play a part in the killings? A Prescription for Murder? also uncovers other cases of murder and extreme violence which developed after people took SSRIs - including a Canadian father who strangled his 11-year-old son.
VIDEO - Would you scan a homeless person to give them money? - BBC News
Sun, 12 Aug 2018 12:11
A scheme in Oxford called Greater Change wants to provide homeless people with barcodes, so members of the public can give them money using smartphones.
A smartphone film by Dougal Shaw, produced by Sam Judah, for BBC World Hacks.
VIDEO - More than 100 newspapers will publish editorials decrying Trump's anti-press rhetoric
Sun, 12 Aug 2018 04:39
"The dirty war on the free press must end." That's the idea behind an unusual editorial-writing initiative that has enlisted scores of newspapers across America.
The Boston Globe has been contacting newspaper editorial boards and proposing a "coordinated response" to President Trump's escalating "enemy of the people" rhetoric.
"We propose to publish an editorial on August 16 on the dangers of the administration's assault on the press and ask others to commit to publishing their own editorials on the same date," The Globe said in its pitch to fellow papers.
The effort began just a few days ago.
As of Saturday, "we have more than 100 publications signed up, and I expect that number to grow in the coming days," Marjorie Pritchard, the Globe's deputy editorial page editor, told CNN.
The American Society of News Editors, the New England Newspaper and Press Association and other groups have helped her spread the word.
"The response has been overwhelming," Pritchard said. "We have some big newspapers, but the majority are from smaller markets, all enthusiastic about standing up to Trump's assault on journalism."
Instead of printing the exact same message, each publication will write its own editorial, Pritchard said.
That was a key part of her pitch: "The impact of Trump's assault on journalism looks different in Boise than it does in Boston," she wrote. "Our words will differ. But at least we can agree that such attacks are alarming."
Journalists have noticed an uptick in Trump's attacks against the news media in recent weeks. He has been using dehumanizing language like "enemy of the people" more often. He has also been speaking to reporters less often, limiting the chances for questions to be asked.
With Trump's words and deeds as the backdrop, some media critics have urged the White House press corps to engage in acts of solidarity. There were cheers last month when reporters in the briefing room deferred to rivals who were trying to ask follow-up questions, and when numerous outlets stood up for CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins after Collins was told she could not attend a Trump event.
The coordinated editorials may be another example of unity across the news business.
Although there's a longstanding debate about the effectiveness of newspaper editorials, there is certainly strength in numbers -- the greater the number of participants, the more readers will see the message.
Pritchard said she expects differing views from the editorials, "but the same sentiment: The importance of a free and independent press."
CNNMoney (New York) First published August 11, 2018: 3:35 PM ET
VIDEO - In suspected 'suicide' video, disheveled Dutch official describes being raped by Muslim gang, says colleague ordered attack
Sat, 11 Aug 2018 17:48
Two days after a former member of the Dutch Parliament posted a horrifying video on social media where she described her alleged kidnapping and rape by a local Muslim gang and hinted that she might commit suicide, she ended her own life.
Posted Monday, the video showed outspoken Freedom Party member Willie Dille, 53, a former MP who most recently served on The Hague's city council, describing a series of unfortunate events that had allegedly begun a year earlier and continued since.
''On May 15, March 15, 2017 I was kidnapped, raped and maltreated by a group of Muslims because they wanted me to keep quit in the Hague city council,'' she said. ''After they were finished they said: 'Do you respect Mohammed, do you respect Allah, do you respect Arnoud?' And then I knew who was behind it.''
Arnoud van Doorn was a former city council member whom she'd once fired and whom she claimed hated her ''intensely'' and whom she suspected had been behind her attack.
The original version of Dille's video may be seen below, though it should be noted it's in Dutch:
''After it happened I did not tell anyone. I just did my debates the next day. The only thing that changed from that moment on, is that I never felt safe again,'' she continued, describing the continued abuse she'd allegedly faced since March of 2017.
''Last week it all got worse again. I was stopped in The Hague by two Moroccans in a car who said, 'We will soon cut your throat and let you bleed to death because you keep fighting against Islam.' This afternoon it happened again, while I was busy with other work. I was walking with a child, the same thing happened again.''
Dille concluded by saying that though she wanted the fight against Islam's oppressive ways to continue, she could not bear the risk of her children and family being hurt: ''If I keep fighting as politician, my family is in danger. If they kill me, that would not be too bad, but I can not do this to my family. That's why I decided to stop it.''
Two days later she committed suicide, local authorities confirmed with RT. They also noted that they'd been in contact with her ''on multiple occasions in the past period, concerning the incidents she claimed had happened to her.''
They pointed out though that Dille never filed a formal complaint, despite recommendations from them that she do as such: ''But for reasons not known to us, [she] didn't. Neither did she provide us with details about the incident to enable us to commence an investigation,'' they reportedly said.
While Dille's allegations were never investigated by the authorities, it's a fact that Europe is currently awash in Muslim rape/grooming gangs that target women and children. The media have been reluctant to highlight this activity, lest it engender more so-called ''Islamophobia'' among the masses.
Described as ''right wing'' by the media, the Freedom Party of which Dille had been a member of prior to her death is a strong believer in immigration with assimilation. It's proposed outlawing mosques, Islamic schools, Korans and other cultural services or items that it believes promotes negative behavior such as kidnappings and rapes.
Sat, 11 Aug 2018 14:33
VIDEO - YouTube - Jordan Peterson Interview: "Sam Harris, the Intellectual Dark Web & the crisis of the left"
Sat, 11 Aug 2018 13:53
VIDEO - YouTube - Liz Wheeler offers Ocasio-Cortez $25,000 to debate!
Sat, 11 Aug 2018 11:26
VIDEO - British conspiracy theorist who died suddenly 'had his laptop wiped by authorities' | Daily Mail Online
Sat, 11 Aug 2018 04:06
Max Spiers (pictured) vomited two litres of black blood before he died suddenly
A conspiracy theorist's laptop and mobile will be analysed at an inquest into his death after the UFO expert vomited two litres of black fluid and died aged 39.
Max Spiers's laptop was wiped when authorities returned it after his death more than two years ago during a trip to Poland to attend a conference.
Today a pre-inquest review at Guildhall in Sandwich, Kent, heard how the contents of his SIM card were also of particular interest.
Before he died Mr Spiers messaged his mother, Vanessa Bates, saying: 'You're boy's in trouble, if anything happens to me, investigate.'
An initial inquest opened in December 2016 when the court heard he vomited two litres of black blood, but the inquest was adjourned last year.
The father of two allegedly made many 'enemies' in his investigations. His inquest will now be held over four days from January 7, 2019.
Authorities in Poland, where Mr Spiers was attending a conference, initially concluded the sudden death was due to natural causes.
At the pre-inquest review today at the Guildhall in Sandwich, Kent, the court heard the barrister for Max's mother, Adam Taylor, call for members of the Polish emergency services to appear as witnesses at the inquest.
Vanessa Bates (pictured) received a message from her son in which he claimed to be 'in trouble' before he died in Poland
Sections from a 700-page docket of statements and evidence assembled will be translated from Polish for next year's inquest.
Possible evidence over whether disciplinary proceedings were brought against police officers in Poland over Mr Spiers's death should also be heard at the inquest, the court heard.
Mr Taylor said that Mr Spiers's laptop was wiped but that it was not empty at the time of his death.
Mr Spiers (pictured, left) was in Poland for a conference (right) when he died suddenly and a friend found his body
He confirmed analysis of a laptop and a mobile phone that belonged to him should also be presented at the inquest.
'The way in which they were returned and what was done to them is clearly one of the big mysteries,' he said. 'The family has no knowledge whatsoever of what the results of that analysis were.
'The issue is the Sim card and what was on it. Without sight of the report the family has no answer to these questions.'
There were also a 'number of discrepancies' in emergency services accounts about Max's death, the court heard.
Monika Duvall, a friend who Mr Bates had reportedly been living with, was also asked to attend the inquest.
Speaking afterwards, Vanessa expressed concerns about being able to bring the Polish witnesses to the inquest.
Polish authorities concluded Mr Spiers (pictured) died of natural causes but a UK hospital couldn't find a cause of death
'Today felt very positive. It's just over two years now. I did not expect him to go to Poland and not come back.
'We've got hundreds of pages we are working our way through which are all in Polish. It's been difficult but gradually we've worked our way through. There certainly was some mention of that from the Polish side.
'We've still got stuff that are not translated and I think when we get to the inquest we will know more about whether police procedures were or were not followed. He should be here. He was very fit and healthy when I said goodbye to him.
'Everything that we have in terms of health records before he went were that he was in great health. This was an enormous blow. I miss him dreadfully.'
After Mr Spiers's body was repatriated to the UK, doctors at a Margate hospital were unable to determine the cause of his death.
Kent Police then launched a joint investigation with Polish police into the conspiracy theorist's death.
At an inquest opening in Canterbury in December 2016, the court heard how the 39-year-old had been visiting Poland to speak at a conference after holidaying with a friend in Cyprus.
Shortly before his death, Mr Spiers was said to have been probing into the lives of well-known figures in politics, business and entertainment. At the time his mum Vanessa said she feared the worst.
'I think Max had been digging in some dark places and somebody wanted him dead.'
She is hopeful the investigation will shed light on the mysterious death.
'It's been a long time coming, but I'm just relieved that at last something is happening and there is a proper investigation and inquest,' she added.
Her theory was shared by many online, with other conspiracy theorists, UFO investigators and bloggers calling the circumstances of Mr Spiers' death suspicious.
At the time, Coroner Alan Blunsdon told the court he was still awaiting a report from Polish authorities, adding that the workload of Kent Police may delay forensic analysis of Mr Spiers' phone and computer.
Coroner Christopher Sutton Mattocks set the date of January 7 for the four-day inquest, which will be heard at the Archbishops Palace in Maidstone.
He said: 'It is extremely important that when we start everybody is completely ready for this and we have all the information available.'
VIDEO - YouTube - Kanye on Kimmel
Fri, 10 Aug 2018 19:10
VIDEO - YouTube - Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Talks to Glenn Greenwald About the Democratic Party and 2018 Midterms
Fri, 10 Aug 2018 13:10
VIDEO - YouTube - Nudelman collusion and meddling
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VIDEO - YouTube - Ingraham: The left's effort to remake America
Fri, 10 Aug 2018 11:37
VIDEO - WATCH: The Jack In The Box Ad That Upset #MeToo Champions '' True PunditTrue Pundit
Thu, 09 Aug 2018 22:20
Business TVWATCH: The Jack In The Box Ad That Upset #MeToo ChampionsJack in the Box created a new ad, titled ''Jack's Bowls,'' that has elicited criticism from those who say it champions sexual innuendo in the workplace. In a piece in Adweek titled, ''Jack in the Box Just Launched One of the Most Tone-Deaf Ads of the #MeToo Era,'' writer David Griner wrote that the ad ''celebrates sexual innuendo in the workplace,'' asserting that the ad is ''basically a minute of incessant genital jokes.''
Griner notes that Jack in the Box and the ad agency David&Goliath ''defended the spot, telling Adweek that the ad is not referencing the high-profile #MeToo movement '...'' Jack in the Box and David&Goliath released a statement to Adweek, saying:
This ad is a creative and humorous expression around the teriyaki bowl, highlighting how a burger brand such as Jack in the Box has the guts'--or 'bowls''--to go beyond the usual and serve something other than burgers. This ad is not diminishing any movement, and we stand firmly against any form of harassment and value those who have the guts to combat it.'' READ MORE
New York '-- Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand Has Longstanding Professional And Continuing Financial Ties To Harvey Weinstein's Long-time Attorney, Close Adviser And Business Investor Who Himself Was Widely Criticized Over Controversial Tactics He Reportedly Deployed To Minimize The Allegations Of Sexual Assault And Harassment Faced By The Hollywood Mogul.
Boies Schiller Flexner LLP, the law firm headed by famed attorney David Boies, has been Gillibrand's single largest campaign donor throughout her political career and is currently her second-largest donor in the 2018 election cycle, behind her largest benefactor this year by only $1,230.
Boies helped Weinstein settle a sexual harassment claim and reportedly personally signed a contract with a shadowy private investigation company that engaged in efforts to foil the extensive New York Times investigation into the accusations against Weinstein. Those efforts reportedly included an operative going so far as to pose as a women's rights activist to glean information from one of Weinstein's accusers. An operative from the firm hired by Boies also reportedly went undercover to meet with reporters in an effort to get the names of female accusers speaking to the news media about Weinstein.
Gillibrand's continued acceptance of financial support from Boies's firm comes despite her being one of the most prominent and outspoken supporters of the #MeToo movement. Gillibrand positioned herself as a leading #MeToo advocate in December 2017, when she became the first senator to demand that Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) step down after a photo surfaced that appeared to show then-comedian Franken engaging in inappropriate sexual conduct years before he ran for public office. She also sent shockwaves across the Democratic political arena when she commented that Bill Clinton should have resigned as president during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. '' READ MORE
Help Support True Pundit's Independent Voice by Contributing Today! Daily Wire
VIDEO - CNBC's Fast Money on Twitter: "$TSLA CEO Elon Musk is floating a buyout, but one area of the market is doubting it will happen, says @Convertbond"
Thu, 09 Aug 2018 22:06
The general public doubts anything that comes from
@cnbc or
@CNBCFastMoney So politcally agenda driven you make CNN look bipartisan. On to
@FoxBusiness for good.
VIDEO - Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 on Twitter: "Video: Robert Mueller claims it never occurred to him that he should use the FBI to prevent terrorist attacks"
Thu, 09 Aug 2018 21:39
Red, White, & Blue @ OceanmanPhoenix
3m Replying to
@JackPosobiec ? It didn't occur to him? Why not?
View conversation · eamon moffet @ emoffet
3m Replying to
@JackPosobiec I do respect Mueller 911 work but this probe us shoddy in many ways
View conversation · 🇺🇸LoveGolfUSA🇺🇸 @ LoveGodUSA
3m Replying to
@JackPosobiec Hmm.. and he had what job?
View conversation · Antifa Hunter @ Red81Raider
3m Replying to
@JackPosobiec The only thing that occurred to Muller is that he should cash Hillary's check before she goes to jail and her asset are seized.
View conversation · Frank Grizzaffi @ FrankGrizzaffi
2m Replying to
@JackPosobiec View conversation · Comey D. Clown @ IzzyMandlebaum
1m Replying to
@JackPosobiec Famous But Incompetent ... jus sayin
#MAGA View conversation · Blueskies @ blueskies6123
1m Replying to
@JackPosobiec @CreativeCrown What planet are these people On? If the terrorist attack is big enough you might not be around Mueller. You can't be that dumb. You're exempt from a plane going into your building? Lord have mercy you need to.take Comey with you & just.leave. Go open a snowball stand .
View conversation · Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 @ JackPosobiec
1m Replying to
@LoveGodUSA FBI Director
View conversation ·

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