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Disability pensioner suing NSW Police after officer draws gun and pepper sprays her dog
"A gun was put to the back of my head and a male voice said, 'I will shoot you,'" she told 7.30.
australia  police  weapons 
24 days ago
Thousand Oaks Shooting Witnesses Also Survived The Las Vegas Route 91 Massacre
Some of the people who survived the largest mass shooting in modern US history in Las Vegas found themselves fleeing yet another gunman Wednesday night when he opened fire inside a country music bar in Southern California, killing 12 people...

Maldoon estimated there was a group of at least 15 Vegas shooting survivors who were Borderline regulars. Among them was Brendan Kelly, a marine who reportedly used his body to shield a young woman from bullets and help her to safety in Las Vegas. He confirmed that he also escaped the Borderline shooting.

"Borderline meant a lot to us before Route 91, and ever more afterwards," she said. "They rallied around us, hosting memorials, fundraiser events for the victims, always reminding us that we are Borderline and country music family.
crime  weapons  usa  usa-california  usa-nevada  music 
5 weeks ago
Trump's Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker Was Part of World Patent Marketing, a Miami-Based Invention Scam Company
Today President Donald Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions and announced that his chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker, would become acting attorney general. Whitaker is a former U.S. attorney in Iowa, but he was also involved in a Miami-based invention-marketing company the Federal Trade Commission shut down last year after calling it a scam...

World Patent Marketing collected millions of dollars by promising starry-eyed inventors it would turn their inventions into best sellers. Company reps claimed invention ideas were reviewed by an illustrious board that included big names such as Whitaker, Republican Congressman Brian Mast, and time-travel scientist Ronald Mallett.
corruption  usa  politics  trump-presidency  crime 
5 weeks ago
Schoolbooks and Slavery in 1864: Lessons in the North and South
When you visit Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow, two of the first objects you’ll see are books: The First Dixie Reader, used in the South, and The Gospel of Slavery: A Primer of Freedom, used in the North. Both were likely used in schools to teach children to read; both were published in 1864, during the American Civil War; and both discuss slavery. However, the lessons on slavery in each book are completely different. According to curator Lily Wong, the books help “set the stage” for the exhibition, which explores “both the stunning advances [in rights and freedoms for African Americans] and equally stunning reversals that unfold in the 50 years after the end of slavery.”
history  education  children  usa  politics  racism  books 
5 weeks ago
Boy Talk: Breaking Masculine Stereotypes
Jeffrey Leiken, who runs mentoring programs and has facilitated a boys’ group at a Northern California school for more than a decade, said well-designed boys’ groups encourage “empathy and teach conflict resolution, collaboration and tolerance. This is about life skills development...”

Opening up in front of other boys requires courage because competition, and the distrust that grows from it, is often central to male relationships. So, educators at the University School of Milwaukee were amazed when they started a boys’ lunch for the middle school football team members, and the constant blame and bullying that had become routine yielded to an “almost instantaneous effect of creating a better climate on the team,” said Will Piper, the middle school athletic coordinator, in an email.

Contrary to fears that when boys learn emotional authenticity they become too “soft” or “weak,” just the opposite occurs. “This hasn’t changed me as a person,” said Nico Petricone, a Sheridan seventh grader. “I’m still the same. But I feel emotionally stronger, more stable. Being in this group has given me more confidence about who I am.”
children  education  gender  health 
5 weeks ago
Surgery students 'losing dexterity to stitch patients'
A professor of surgery says students have spent so much time in front of screens and so little time using their hands that they have lost the dexterity for stitching or sewing up patients...

The professor, who teaches surgery to medical students, says young people need to have a more rounded education, including creative and artistic subjects, where they learn to use their hands...

Alice Barnard, chief executive of the Edge education charity, says: "The government pays lip service by saying creative subjects are important, but its policies demonstrate otherwise..."

The report warns that entries to creative subjects have fallen by 20% since 2010, including a 57% fall in design and technology GCSE.
health  science  education  uk 
5 weeks ago
Trump administration sees a 7-degree rise in global temperatures by 2100
Last month, deep in a 500-page environmental impact statement, the Trump administration made a startling assumption: On its current course, the planet will warm a disastrous seven degrees by the end of this century.

A rise of seven degrees Fahrenheit, or about four degrees Celsius, compared with preindustrial levels would be catastrophic, according to scientists. Many coral reefs would dissolve in increasingly acidic oceans. Parts of Manhattan and Miami would be underwater without costly coastal defenses. Extreme heat waves would routinely smother large parts of the globe.

But the administration did not offer this dire forecast, premised on the idea that the world will fail to cut its greenhouse gas emissions, as part of an argument to combat climate change. Just the opposite: The analysis assumes the planet’s fate is already sealed...

“The amazing thing they’re saying is human activities are going to lead to this rise of carbon dioxide that is disastrous for the environment and society. And then they’re saying they’re not going to do anything about it,” said Michael MacCracken, who served as a senior scientist at the U.S. Global Change Research Program from 1993 to 2002.
trump-presidency  politics  environment  future-dystopia  corruption 
5 weeks ago
New human cell structure discovered
A new structure in human cells has been discovered by researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden in collaboration with colleagues in the UK. The structure is a new type of protein complex that the cell uses to attach to its surroundings and proves to play a key part in cell division. The study is published in the journal Nature Cell Biology.
science  health  science-discovery 
5 weeks ago
A Dark Consensus About Screens and Kids Begins to Emerge in Silicon Valley
“On the scale between candy and crack cocaine, it’s closer to crack cocaine,” Mr. Anderson said of screens...

He has five children and 12 tech rules. They include: no phones until the summer before high school, no screens in bedrooms, network-level content blocking, no social media until age 13, no iPads at all and screen time schedules enforced by Google Wifi that he controls from his phone. Bad behavior? The child goes offline for 24 hours...

And there are those in tech who disagree that screens are dangerous... “It’s contrarian,” Mr. Toff said. “But I feel like I’m speaking for a lot of parents that are afraid of speaking out loud for fear of judgment.” He said he thinks back to his own childhood growing up watching a lot of TV. “I think I turned out O.K.,” Mr. Toff said.
education  parenting  children  learning  health  science  future-unknown 
5 weeks ago
Women's Pockets are Inferior.
On average, the pockets in women’s jeans are 48% shorter and 6.5% narrower than men’s pockets...

Only 40 percent of women’s front pockets can completely fit one of the three leading smartphone brands. Less than half of women’s front pockets can fit a wallet specifically designed to fit in front pockets. And you can’t even cram an average woman’s hand beyond the knuckles into the majority of women’s front pockets.
fashion  gender 
5 weeks ago
Major Climate Report Describes a Strong Risk of Crisis as Early as 2040
The report was written and edited by 91 scientists from 40 countries who analyzed more than 6,000 scientific studies... Absent aggressive action, many effects once expected only several decades in the future will arrive by 2040, and at the lower temperature, the report shows...

To prevent 2.7 degrees of warming, the report said, greenhouse pollution must be reduced by 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, and 100 percent by 2050. It also found that, by 2050, use of coal as an electricity source would have to drop from nearly 40 percent today to between 1 and 7 percent. Renewable energy such as wind and solar, which make up about 20 percent of the electricity mix today, would have to increase to as much as 67 percent...

The report concludes that the world is already more than halfway to the 2.7-degree mark. Human activities have caused warming of about 1.8 degrees since about the 1850s, the beginning of large-scale industrial coal burning, the report found.
environment  future-dystopia  science 
6 weeks ago
Rep. Matt Shea takes credit, criticism for document titled 'Biblical Basis for War'
Under one heading, “Rules of War,” it makes a chilling prescription for enemies who flout “biblical law.” It states, “If they do not yield – kill all males”...

He also delves into the philosophy known as “just war theory,” which has been endorsed by many mainstream Christians.

But critics of Shea – who embraces far-right conspiracy theories, associates with a fundamentalist religious group in northern Stevens County and champions a push for a 51st state called Liberty – saw something sinister in the document.
racism  religion  religion-christianity  creepy  usa-washington  usa  politics 
6 weeks ago
Large Majorities Dislike Political Correctness
According to the report, 25 percent of Americans are traditional or devoted conservatives, and their views are far outside the American mainstream. Some 8 percent of Americans are progressive activists, and their views are even less typical. By contrast, the two-thirds of Americans who don’t belong to either extreme constitute an “exhausted majority.” Their members “share a sense of fatigue with our polarized national conversation, a willingness to be flexible in their political viewpoints, and a lack of voice in the national conversation.”

Most members of the “exhausted majority,” and then some, dislike political correctness. Among the general population, a full 80 percent believe that “political correctness is a problem in our country.” Even young people are uncomfortable with it, including 74 percent ages 24 to 29, and 79 percent under age 24. On this particular issue, the woke are in a clear minority across all ages.

Youth isn’t a good proxy for support of political correctness—and it turns out race isn’t, either.

Whites are ever so slightly less likely than average to believe that political correctness is a problem in the country: 79 percent of them share this sentiment. Instead, it is Asians (82 percent), Hispanics (87percent), and American Indians (88 percent) who are most likely to oppose political correctness.
politics  usa  language 
8 weeks ago
WaPo Picks a Side in Maryland Race—the Side That’s Offering Billions to Amazon
The Post has a penchant for attacking Democrats who don’t toe the corporate line. They have gone out of their way to try to discredit Sanders on numerous occasions (FAIR.org, 10/1/15, 3/8/16, 5/11/16, 11/17/16, etc.), running 16 negative stories on Sanders in one 16-hour period during the 2016 primaries. The paper (7/11/18) described Mark Elrich, a progressive who is running for Montgomery County executive, as a “leftist” whose “anti-business and anti-development” attitudes should be “cause for concern” to voters—though it said that Elrich’s assurance that “he would embrace a decision by Amazon to locate its second corporate headquarters in the county” was “welcome.” Like Jealous, Elrich has since assured Bezos that he will not attempt to block the Amazon HQ should it land in Montgomery County.

As it does with Sanders and Elrich, the Post’s coverage of Jealous combines skepticism towards his electoral chances and dismissal of his supposedly radical policies. Disparaging the political and practical viability of such people-friendly policies as universal healthcare and a livable minimum wage is in the obvious interests of the billionaire class—and, by extension, billionaire-owned news outlets like the Post.
usa-maryland  corruption  media  politics  usa 
8 weeks ago
Read This If You’re Not Sure You Want Kids
“I’m not sure.” Yeah, me neither. And we’re not alone.

People are increasingly unsure about kids, and the US and European fertility rate is at an all-time low. According to Pew Research Center study, 1 in 5 people will remain childless. That’s doubled since the 1970s. Women are not just delaying babies; they’re debating them altogether.
children  parenting  women  health  statistics  science 
9 weeks ago
'NAFTA' Replacement Extends Canada's Copyright Term to Life +70 years
One key change for Canada is that the country’s current copyright term will be extended by 20 years. At the moment copyrighted works are protected for the term of the author’s life, plus 50 years. This will be extended to life plus 70 years, at a minimum.
copyright  canada  usa  politics 
10 weeks ago
The truth about false rape accusations
It’s exceedingly rare for a false rape allegation to end in prison time. According to the National Registry of Exonerations, since records began in 1989, in the US there are only 52 cases where men convicted of sexual assault were exonerated because it turned out they were falsely accused. By way of comparison, in the same period, there are 790 cases in which people were exonerated for murder...

The evidence suggests that even in the rare case where a man is the subject of a false rape complaint, chances are that the charges will be dropped without him ever learning about the allegations...

In every academic study, one of the most common kinds of false accuser is a teenage girl who tells her parents she was raped to avoid getting in trouble. Unwanted pregnancy is sometimes cited by such girls, but the reason can also be trivial; the phrase “missed curfew” shows up with disturbing frequency in these cases. As a rule, it’s the parents who insist on getting police involved. Two different studies have found that almost half of all false rape complaints are lodged by someone other than the alleged victim, usually a parent...

But while false accusers often have similar histories, they have various motives. These can be divided into roughly four categories: personal gain, mental illness, revenge, and the need for an alibi.
statistics  crime  abuse  sexism 
11 weeks ago
Scientists Warn the UN of Capitalism's Imminent Demise
The new paper, ‘The Race of Our Lives Revisited,’ provides a bruising indictment of contemporary capitalism’s complicity in the ecological crisis. Grantham’s verdict is that “capitalism and mainstream economics simply cannot deal with these problems,” namely, the systematic depletion of planetary ecosystems and environmental resources:

“The replacement cost of the copper, phosphate, oil, and soil—and so on—that we use is not even considered. If it were, it’s likely that the last 10 or 20 years (for the developed world, anyway) has seen no true profit at all, no increase in income, but the reverse,” he wrote.
environment  politics  future-dystopia  economy 
september 2018
Kansans drank contaminated water for years and weren’t told
It didn’t test private wells less than a mile away. Nor did it notify residents that their drinking wells could be contaminated with dry cleaning chemicals, known as perchloroethylene, so they could test the water themselves.

“We didn’t find out for 7 years,” said Joe Hufman, whose well was contaminated by a Haysville dry cleaner. “Haysville knew it. KDHE knew it. Kwik Shop knew it.”

It had happened at least once before, at a dry cleaning site near Central and Tyler in Wichita, where the state waited more than four years between discovering contamination nearby and notifying residents of more than 200 homes.

Some fear it could happen again at 22 contaminated sites where the state has not checked for people on well water — or that it could happen at a yet unknown site of contamination.

Kansans aren’t required to use city water if they already have a well, and some Wichita neighborhoods still rely on private well water.

The delays stem from a 1995 state law that places more emphasis on protecting the dry cleaning industry than protecting public health.
usa  usa-kansas  health  environment  politics  corruption 
september 2018
Farmworkers Are Dying from Extreme Heat
When farmworkers are out picking tomatoes or spraying pesticides in the high heat, they can be exposed to heat-related illnesses, some of which can lead to death if left untreated. According to Public Citizen, 130 million workers who make their living outside—from farmworkers to construction workers—lack heat stress protections. Between 1992 and 2016, nearly 70,000 workers were seriously injured from heat, and 783 of them died. 

Since farmworkers are often from marginalized groups like undocumented immigrants—the Department of Labor estimates 47 percent of them are undocumented—fear of deportation can lead to a reluctance to report incidents or even seek medical attention. That means the real numbers may be even higher.
health  food  equality  environment  usa  immigration  crime 
august 2018
Verizon throttled fire department’s “unlimited” data during Calif. wildfire
The Santa Clara fire department has responded to Verizon's claim that the throttling was just a customer service error and "has nothing to do with net neutrality." To the contrary, "Verizon's throttling has everything to do with net neutrality," a county official said.
environment  telecoms  usa  usa-california  crime 
august 2018
Nevada-California desert ‘half empty’ of birds after population collapse
Over the past century, the number of bird species has fallen by an average of 43 percent at survey sites across an area larger than New York state. Almost a third of species are less common and widespread now than they once were throughout the region...

The decline of birds could impact the animals that prey on them and desert plants that rely on birds to pollinate their flowers and spread their seeds.

Researchers are calling it a collapse because it has occurred across the entire desert bird community.

“Studies elsewhere have found that climate change typically makes places unfavorable for some birds but opens the door for others to come in,” Iknayan said. “In the desert we are not seeing increases in any of our species except for the common raven. There are a lack of climate change winners in the system.”
animals  environment  future-dystopia  usa  usa-california  usa-nevada 
august 2018
What Happens to #MeToo When a Feminist Is the Accused?
An 11-month Title IX investigation found Professor Ronell, described by a colleague as “one of the very few philosopher-stars of this world,” responsible for sexual harassment, both physical and verbal, to the extent that her behavior was “sufficiently pervasive to alter the terms and conditions of Mr. Reitman’s learning environment.” The university has suspended Professor Ronell for the coming academic year.

In the Title IX final report, excerpts of which were obtained by The New York Times, Mr. Reitman said that she had sexually harassed him for three years, and shared dozens of emails in which she referred to him as “my most adored one,” “Sweet cuddly Baby,” “cock-er spaniel,” and “my astounding and beautiful Nimrod.”

Coming in the middle of the #MeToo movement’s reckoning over sexual misconduct, it raised a challenge for feminists — how to respond when one of their own behaved badly. And the response has roiled a corner of academia.
abuse  sexism  crime  creepy  education  equality 
august 2018
Penn Jillette, In Conversation
But if there aren’t meaningful jobs, is there any reason for libertarianism? I have been very seduced lately by the basic universal human income. But would we be able to find work that would fulfill us if we were on a basic universal income? Really, though, my libertarianism has come down to trying to get into the thought process on any question of Is there a way to solve this with more freedom instead of less? Sometimes the answer’s no. But I think libertarianism is a good thing to have in the conversation. If you told me right now that the United States is going to go to a fully libertarian government I think I’d be against it. But do I want that idea to be discussed? Yes.
politics  celebrity  usa  trump-presidency  interview  economy 
august 2018
Catholic Church Covered Up Child Sex Abuse in Pennsylvania for Decades, Grand Jury Says
Bishops and other leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in Pennsylvania covered up child sexual abuse by more than 300 priests over a period of 70 years, persuading victims not to report the abuse and police officers not to investigate it, according to a report issued by a grand jury on Tuesday.

The report, which covered six of the state’s eight Catholic dioceses and found more than 1,000 identifiable victims, is the broadest examination yet by a government agency in the United States of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church...

The grand jury added that the church officials named in their report have been protected, and some have been promoted...

The report said that church officials followed a “playbook for concealing the truth:” minimize the abuse using words like “inappropriate contact” instead of “rape”; assign priests untrained in sexual abuse cases to investigate their colleagues; when removing an accused priest, don’t inform the community of the real reasons.
abuse  crime  religion  usa  christianity  usa-pennsylvania  corruption 
august 2018
More Americans struggling to buy food, especially those with kids
After several years of declines, the so-called national food hardship rate is climbing, according to findings from the Food Research & Action Center, a nonprofit group that works to eliminate hunger. The survey, based on a national Gallup poll of 338,000 households, found that nearly 16 percent of families lacked the funds to buy food at least once in 2017, up slightly from the previous year. The risk of hunger was 1.3 times higher in homes with kids.
poverty  usa  money  equality  food  children  future-dystopia 
august 2018
1 in 3 GoFundMe campaigns are for medical bills, CEO says
GoFundMe has raised more than $5 billion from 50 million donations since the website launched eight years ago—and one in every three of the site's campaigns are intended to pay medical bills, according to CEO Rob Solomon.
health  usa  money  poverty  equality 
august 2018
Plastic surgery trend: more people want their faces to look like edited photos
So at age 23, Smith turned to Botox, a local injection that causes facial wrinkles to smooth out, for a real-life fix. Five years later, she’s still getting injections into her forehead every nine months. She’s also had her lips filled and her skin lasered “because it didn’t look pretty on camera.” And for now, she feels satisfied. She hardly edits her photos anymore, she says, because “I don’t have the shadow.”

Smith’s dermatologist, Noëlle Sherber, says Smith is part of a new wave in plastic surgery: people seeking to permanently alter their faces, inspired by touched-up or filtered photos of themselves.
health  science  women  psychology  future-dystopia 
august 2018
The Coming Worm Apocalypse Should Terrify You
The study reviewed global evidence for loss of earthworms under modern conventional farming. Long-term farming trials—some that have run for over 170 years—consistently found losses of 50 percent to 100 percent of worm biomass, with an average loss of more than 80 percent.

In other words, modern farming practices have killed off four out of five worms that once lived on farms. Farmers around the world have been turning verdant fields into subterranean deserts. 
future-dystopia  environment  food 
august 2018
Pride and prejudice? The Americans who fly the Confederate flag
“The Confederate flag played a big, big part in our history,” Ira says. “… Why are these minorities pushing to do away with this flag? Look at what’s happening to our statues!” he says...

In his attic, McCluney downplays slavery ownership – saying “elite” planters, not soldiers, owned most slaves. “Most (southerners) did not have a dog in the hunt,” he says.

He is right, but only to a point. Most of the soldiers were young – a fifth were under 18 – and few owned any of the 4 million slaves in the US. But many of their households owned at least one, or they aspired to ascend to slave ownership. The 1860 census shows 49% of families in Mississippi – one in two – owned at least one slave. Mississippi had 436,631, the most in the nation and 55% of the state’s population...

Thomasa Massey, 49, jumps out of her car at Pearl Park in a majority-white Jackson suburb wearing a T-shirt with Confederate butterflies she designed with “Pride, Not Prejudice” underneath...

Davis, 47, also believes the institution might have died out due to “modernization … if they were able to compromise another 20 years. That’s what state’s rights were about: protecting slavery,” he says. “… There would not have been a war over tariffs...”

Stuart blames detractors. “It’s not us that’s racial; it’s them that’s racial. Most of ’em don’t know what it means,” she says. “It’s a symbol of our state; it’s who we are...”

“If we can’t get white people to stand together, it’s going to be another civil war,” [Barnes] adds.
history  mississippi  usa  politics  racism  equality 
august 2018
Here's How America Uses Its Land
Gathered together, cropland would take up more than a fifth of the 48 contiguous states. Pasture and rangeland would cover most of the Western U.S., and all of the country’s cities and towns would fit neatly in the Northeast...

Another growth area: land owned by wealthy families. According to The Land Report magazine, since 2008 the amount of land owned by the 100 largest private landowners has grown from 28 million acres to 40 million, an area larger than the state of Florida.
maps  usa  environment  money  economy 
august 2018
Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change
Hansen’s most recent paper, published last year, announced that Earth is now as warm as it was before the last ice age, 115,000 years ago, when the seas were more than six meters higher than they are today. He and his team have concluded that the only way to avoid dangerous levels of warming is to bend the emissions arc below the x-axis. We must, in other words, find our way to “negative emissions,” extracting more carbon dioxide from the air than we contribute to it. If emissions, by miracle, do rapidly decline, most of the necessary carbon absorption could be handled by replanting forests and improving agricultural practices. If not, “massive technological CO₂ extraction,” using some combination of technologies as yet unperfected or uninvented, will be required. Hansen estimates that this will incur costs of $89 trillion to $535 trillion this century, and may even be impossible at the necessary scale. He is not optimistic.
science  history  usa  politics  health  environment  future-dystopia 
august 2018
Heatwave deaths will rise steadily by 2080 as globe warms up
Researchers developed a model to estimate the number of deaths related to heatwaves in 412 communities across 20 countries for the period of 2031 to 2080...

A key finding of the study shows that under the extreme scenario, there will be a 471 per cent increase in deaths caused by heatwaves in three Australian cities (Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne) in comparison with the period 1971-2010.
environment  future-dystopia  australia  health 
august 2018
US house prices are going to rise at twice the speed of inflation and pay
The latest poll of nearly 45 analysts taken May 16-June 5 showed the S&P/Case Shiller composite index of home prices in 20 cities is expected to gain a further 5.7 percent this year.

That compared to predictions for average earnings growth of 2.8 percent and inflation of 2.5 percent 2018, according to a separate Reuters poll of economists...

A further breakdown of the April data showed the inventory of existing homes had declined for 35 straight months on an annual basis while the median house price was up for a 74th consecutive month.

About 80 percent of nearly 40 analysts who answered an extra question said the already tight supply of affordable homes in the United States will either stay the same or fall from here over the next 12 months.
housing  money  economy 
july 2018
Regular heatwaves 'will kill thousands'
The Environmental Audit Committee warns of 7,000 heat-related deaths every year in the UK by 2050 if the government doesn't act quickly...

During the 2003 heatwave, excess deaths in nursing homes in parts of the UK rose by 42%. The MPs want hospitals and care homes inspected to check they can cope with scorching heat...

In a densely populated city, temperatures are higher. Homes built in the 1960s and 1970s present a particular risk, as can flats with windows that are small, hard to open or face the same way. The committee complains there is no regulation to prevent overheating in buildings...

Cities can be up to 10C hotter than the surrounding countryside because hard surfaces absorb heat during the day and give out heat at night. This is the heat island effect. If people get too hot in bed, it prevents them recovering from the previous day's heat. Yet the government's planning framework makes no mention of the heat island effect.
environment  health  future-dystopia  uk 
july 2018
Motherhood in the Age of Fear
I was beginning to understand that it didn’t matter if what I’d done was dangerous; it only mattered if other parents felt it was dangerous. When it comes to kids’ safety, feelings are facts.
opinion  children  parenting  women  crime  usa  politics 
july 2018
The Global Heatwave Is About to Hit Your Wallet
Wheat futures for December have jumped almost 10 percent in the past month in Paris, with prices this week reaching the highest since the contract started trading in 2015.

After years of bumper harvests, global output could drop this year for the first time since the 2012 to 2013 growing season. This could have political and social ramifications. Egypt, which relies on subsidized bread to feed its almost 100 million people, is already paying the highest price for its imports in more than three years...

[France's] fleet of nuclear power plants is also suffering. Rivers have become too warm to effectively cool the reactors, and Electricite de France SA may be forced to cut output later this week at two stations.
environment  food  future-dystopia 
july 2018
GOP candidate calls woman 'young and naive' for asking about fossil fuel industry donations
"You've said that climate change is a result of people's body heat, and are refusing to take action on the issue," Strauss said. "Does this have anything to do with the $200,000 that you have taken from the fossil fuel industry?"

Wagner laughs off the question initially, calling Rose naive — prompting applause and laughter from the crowd. "Are we here to elect a governor or elect a scientist?" Wagner asked.
politics  usa  pennsylvania  corruption  elections  environment 
july 2018
Israel adopts controversial Jewish 'nation state' law
The bill strips Arabic of its designation as an official language alongside Hebrew, downgrading it to a "special status" that enables its continued use within Israeli institutions. There are 1.8 million Arabs in Israel, about 20% of the 9 million population...

Clauses that were dropped in last-minute political wrangling – and after objections by Israel's president and attorney general – would have enshrined in law the establishment of Jewish-only communities, and instructed courts to rule according to Jewish ritual law when there were no relevant legal precedents.

Instead, a more vaguely worded version was approved, which says: "The state views the development of Jewish settlement as a national value and will act to encourage and promote its establishment."
religion  judaism  israel  racism  equality  politics 
july 2018
Wages aren’t growing when adjusted for inflation, new data finds
According to the Labor Department, median weekly earnings fell 0.6% in inflation-adjusted dollars in the second quarter, compared to the same time period of 2017. That’s now the third straight quarter where inflation has outpaced wage growth...

In the report on median earnings released Tuesday, women were earning 81 cents for every dollar a man made. Among the major occupational groups, persons employed full time in management, professional, and related occupations had the highest median weekly earnings — $1,463 for men and $1,080 for women. Men and women employed in service jobs earned the least, $615 and $512, respectively.
money  economy  usa  trump-presidency  gender-pay-gap 
july 2018
CEOs are dumping stock in their companies. Here's what that means
Companies have announced them this year at a rate of more than $5 billion a day. The buyback boom has been viewed by investors as a sign of confidence among CEOs. Yet with their own money, executives are quietly taking a much different approach: They're cashing out...

But Mousseau cautioned against viewing the spike of insider selling as a signal about where the stock market and economy are heading because he doubts that executives know more than everyone else. "I don't want to give them that much credit," he said.
economy  money  usa 
july 2018
Health Insurers Are Vacuuming Up Details About You — And It Could Raise Your Rates
With little public scrutiny, the health insurance industry has joined forces with data brokers to vacuum up personal details about hundreds of millions of Americans, including, odds are, many readers of this story. The companies are tracking your race, education level, TV habits, marital status, net worth. They’re collecting what you post on social media, whether you’re behind on your bills, what you order online. Then they feed this information into complicated computer algorithms that spit out predictions about how much your health care could cost them.
health  privacy  usa 
july 2018
Top Voting Machine Vendor Admits It Installed Remote-Access Software on Systems Sold to States
In a letter sent to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) in April and obtained recently by Motherboard, Election Systems and Software acknowledged that it had "provided pcAnywhere remote connection software … to a small number of customers between 2000 and 2006," which was installed on the election-management system ES&S sold them...

ES&S is the top voting machine maker in the country, a position it held in the years 2000-2006 when it was installing pcAnywhere on its systems. The company's machines were used statewide in a number of states, and at least 60 percent of ballots cast in the US in 2006 were tabulated on ES&S election-management systems...

Software like pcAnywhere is used by system administrators to access and control systems from a remote location to conduct maintenance or upgrade or alter software. But election-management systems and voting machines are supposed to be air-gapped for security reasons—that is, disconnected from the internet and from any other systems that are connected to the internet. ES&S customers who had pcAnywhere installed also had modems on their election-management systems so ES&S technicians could dial into the systems and use the software to troubleshoot, thereby creating a potential port of entry for hackers as well.
politics  security  usa  elections 
july 2018
Russian Influence Campaign Sought To Exploit Americans' Trust In Local News
These accounts apparently never spread misinformation. In fact, they posted real local news, serving as sleeper accounts building trust and readership for some future, unforeseen effort.

"They set them up for a reason. And if at any given moment, they wanted to operationalize this network of what seemed to be local American news handles, they can significantly influence the narrative on a breaking news story," Schafer told NPR. "But now instead of just showing up online and flooding it with news sites, they have these accounts with two years of credible history."
media  russia  usa  politics  propaganda  internet  twitter 
july 2018
DIY Guns: A Landmark Ruling Opens the Door for Homemade Firearms
Two months ago, the Department of Justice quietly offered Wilson a settlement to end a lawsuit he and a group of co-plaintiffs have pursued since 2015 against the United States government. Wilson and his team of lawyers focused their legal argument on a free speech claim: They pointed out that by forbidding Wilson from posting his 3-D-printable data, the State Department was not only violating his right to bear arms but his right to freely share information. By blurring the line between a gun and a digital file, Wilson had also successfully blurred the lines between the Second Amendment and the First.

"If code is speech, the constitutional contradictions are evident," Wilson explained to WIRED when he first launched the lawsuit in 2015. "So what if this code is a gun?” The Department of Justice's surprising settlement, confirmed in court documents earlier this month, essentially surrenders to that argument...

Turning physical guns into digital files, instead of vice-versa, is a new trick for Defense Distributed. While Wilson's organization first gained notoriety for its invention of the first 3-D printable gun, what it called the Liberator, it has since largely moved past 3-D printing. Most of the company's operations are now focused on its core business: making and selling a consumer-grade computer-controlled milling machine known as the Ghost Gunner, designed to allow its owner to carve gun parts out of far more durable aluminum. In the largest room of Defense Distributed's headquarters, half a dozen millennial staffers with beards and close-cropped hair—all resembling Cody Wilson, in other words—are busy building those mills in an assembly line, each machine capable of skirting all federal gun control to churn out untraceable metal glocks and semiautomatic rifles en masse.
weapons  usa  politics  future-dystopia 
july 2018
Mexico Faces Its Own Surge of Refugees Entering the Country
By taking on thousands of refugees, however, Mexico is relieving the burden on the overloaded U.S. courts. Mexico also detains large numbers of undocumented Central Americans who are not applying for refugee status here, and deports them back to their home countries. In fiscal year 2017, Mexico deported more than 94,000 Central Americans – even more than the 74,000 deported from the United States in the same time, according to figures from the Migration Policy Institute cited by the newspaper Reforma.

Violence by gangs such as the Mara Salvatrucha drives many of the refugees from their homes in Central America's Northern Triangle of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. But there has also been a wave of political turmoil, with bloody crackdowns on protesters in Honduras, Nicaragua and Venezuela over the past year. The top source countries of refugees arriving in Mexico are now Honduras, followed by Venezuela and then El Salvador, according to the UNHCR.
mexico  immigration  politics  el-salvador  honduras  venezuela  nicaragua 
july 2018
The Complexity of Simply Searching For Medical Advice
As we increasingly rely on search and on social to answer questions that have a profound impact on both individuals and society, especially where health is concerned, this difficulty in discerning, and surfacing, sound science from pseudo-science has alarming consequences. Will we have to fight the battle of keyword voids at a grassroots level, wrangling with the asymmetry of passion by tapping people to find these voids and create counter-content? Do we need to organize counter-GoFundMe campaigns to pay for ad campaigns that promote real science? Or will the tech platforms where this is occuring begin to understand that giving legitimacy to health misinformation via high search and social rankings is profoundly harmful? Getting high-quality, fact-based health information shouldn’t be dependent on the outcome of SEO games, or on who has more resources for pay-to-play content promotion.

Ultimately, the question is, how do we incorporate factual accuracy into rankings when no one is willing to be the “arbiter of truth.” Unfortunately, the answer is not easily Googled.
health  science  money  education  advertising  seo 
july 2018
Some of the pictures of border kids that haunt me most are from 2014. Here's why
Do you think it’s outrageous when an attorney for the U.S. Justice Department argues that kids as little as 3-years-old are capable of defending themselves in American immigration courts. I know I do. But that happened — with few people paying attention — in 2016, when the attorney general was Loretta Lynch and Obama was POTUS.

Then there was the Associated Press scoop that went viral last week about migrant kids as young as 14 who say they were beaten while handcuffed, locked up in solitary confinement, and left naked in concrete cells at a juvenile detention center in Virginia — which happened in 2015 and 2016, long before Donald J. Trump became our 45th and current president.
opinion  immigration  racism  obama-presidency  politics  usa 
july 2018
How Smart TVs in Millions of U.S. Homes Track More Than What’s On Tonight
Once enabled, Samba TV can track nearly everything that appears on the TV on a second-by-second basis, essentially reading pixels to identify network shows and ads, as well as programs on Netflix and HBO and even video games played on the TV. Samba TV has even offered advertisers the ability to base their targeting on whether people watch conservative or liberal media outlets and which party’s presidential debate they watched...

The Times is among the websites that allow advertisers to use data from Samba to track if people who see their ads visit their websites, but a Times spokeswoman, Eileen Murphy, said that the company did that “simply as a matter of convenience for our clients” and that it was not an endorsement of Samba TV’s technology.
lol  surveillance  advertising  usa  money  politics  media 
july 2018
Been Down So Long It Looks Like Debt to Me
I started the conversation by asking, “Theoretically, if I were to, say, kill myself, what would happen to the debt?”
money  usa  education 
july 2018
The Economist’s Premature Obituary for the Sanders Movement
The Economist article underscores an important current in today’s political climate: the reluctance of corporate media to seriously discuss left-leaning policies that provide alternatives to the racist and corrupt policies of the Trump administration, on the one hand, and the pro-corporate, half-compromise policies that the Democratic Party pushed over the past generation, which contributed to Trump’s victory in 2016...

What the Economist and the rest of corporate media miss is that the Democratic Party establishment continues to engage in ongoing suppression of progressive candidates. Democratic House whip Steny Hoyer was caught on tape trying to strong-arm a progressive candidate out of running (Intercept, 4/26/18), while Joe Crowley was accused by Ocasio-Cortez of Election Day dirty tricks. Major Democratic interest groups, such as the pro-choice EMILY’s List, declined to endorse female candidates like Ocasio-Cortez in favor of Crowley, while national Democratic politicians like Kirsten Gillibrand endorsed incumbent New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo over his progressive female challenger Cynthia Nixon.
media  politics  usa  corruption  democrats 
june 2018
Who’s Really Crossing the U.S. Border, and Why They’re Coming
Back in 2000, Mexican nationals made up 98 percent of the total migrants and Central Americans (referring to Honduran, Guatemalan, and Salvadoran migrants) only one percent. Today, Central Americans make up closer to 50 percent...

For Central American residents, control of these gangs over their neighborhood likely means a weekly or monthly extortion payment simply for the right to operate a business or live in their territory. The price for failing to provide this money is death. All it takes is a neighbor or nearby shopkeeper to be gunned down for failing to pay the adequate fees, and it becomes clear that the only options are pay or flee. Parents may also send their children to the United States or take them north as the gangs try to recruit them into their activities: Boys of eleven years old (or younger) may be recruited as lookouts and teenage girls may be eyed for becoming the members’ “girlfriends.” Older women who date or at one point dated a gang member can become trapped and unable to escape the violence, with partner-violence a driving migratory factor for many women...

A 2017 Doctors Without Borders report noted that 68 percent of the migrants that it provided services to in shelters across Mexico had been the victim of a crime during the journey. Women and children are also at particular risk, with nearly one-third of the women reporting that they were sexually assaulted during their trip through Mexico...

Previously, many migrants would seek to reach the United States by hiking through the desert undetected. But in recent years, families have begun crossing the border and waiting for a Border Patrol agent, or showing up at ports of entry, to ask for asylum. Before the Trump administration’s recent immigration crackdown, these families would be then taken to a family detention center, where they would have to pass a “credible fear” interview to be released—that is, prove that they have a real fear of returning to their home countries. At least 77 percent of the families pass this hurdle and are released with an ankle monitor or after paying a bond. They can then begin their cases in immigration courts.

The Trump administration is looking to shake up this system. Under the current policy and the June 20th executive order, the administration is pushing to detain families together for months, if not years, while their cases are processed. However, this flies in the face of the Flores settlement, a 1997 consent decree that courts have found to require that children not be detained for more than 20 days. The administration is now seeking to modify the settlement, a gambit that seems unlikely to succeed given the deciding judge’s previous rulings on the matter against the Obama administration.
abuse  el-salvador  guatemala  honduras  mexico  immigration  politics  usa  trump-presidency 
june 2018
Women Ask for Raises as Often as Men, but Are Less Likely to Get Them
We found that, holding background factors constant, women ask for a raise just as often as men, but men are more likely to be successful. Women who asked obtained a raise 15% of the time, while men obtained a pay increase 20% of the time. While that may sound like a modest difference, over a lifetime it really adds up...

Older workers [ask for a raise] more often. Long-tenured employees do so more often. Full-timers do so more often. Perhaps unsurprisingly, all part-timers, whether male or female, tend both to “ask,” and to get, less often...

The younger women in the labor market appear statistically indistinguishable — even in “getting” — from the younger men. Hence it could be that negotiating behavior through the years has begun to change. Future research may be able to decide whether true changes are going on in the modern labor market. Perhaps the world really is beginning to transform...
australia  equality  sexism  gender  money  gender-pay-gap  statistics 
june 2018
Anthony Bourdain: The Last Gasp of CNN’s Original Vision
While so much of media adds spin, Bourdain, in his earlier writing and later video work, often sought to strip away the facade — get people past the veneer of tourist traps. He started by writing about what he knew, the reality of the restaurant kitchen, and then moved out from there. Though his work sometimes devolved into self-involvement or snark, he brought something to US cable that is a rarity: a sense of the reality of the World Out There.
media  celebrity 
june 2018
Where a Taboo Is Leading to the Deaths of Young Girls
“If a woman goes inside the family’s home during her period, three things will happen,” explained a farmer named Runcho. “A tiger will come; the house will catch on fire; and the head of the house will get sick.”

Mr. Runcho spoke without any doubt or flourish. When asked if he had ever seen a tiger in his village, he smiled and didn’t answer yes or no, but then told a long story about how, maybe 10 years ago, he accidentally brushed up against his daughter when she was menstruating and lost his sight for several days.

“It was a nightmare,” he said...

When I asked Mr. Runcho if he would like to sleep in the crawl space, he laughed. “Why should I?” he said. “It’s for women!”
nepal  gender  health  religion  sexism  equality 
june 2018
The Fight for the Right to Be Cremated by Water
In 2016, cremation became the most common method of body disposal in the U.S., overtaking entombment for the first time... The spectrum of what’s morally acceptable is broadening, at the same time that the most common disposal methods are coming under scrutiny for their environmental impact. More than four million gallons of toxic embalming fluids and 20 million feet of wood are put in the ground in the U.S. every year, while a single cremation emits as much carbon dioxide as a 1,000-mile car trip. Thus, the rise in America of “green burials,” where bodies are wrapped in biodegradable material and not embalmed...

Sieber is a part of this trend, but she doesn’t want a green burial. When she dies, she told me, she wants her body to be dunked in a high-pressure chamber filled with water and lye. That water will be heated to anywhere from 200 to 300 degrees, and in six to twelve hours her flesh, blood, and muscle will dissolve. When the water is drained, all that will remain in the tank are her bones and dental fillings. If her family desires, they can have her remains crushed into ash, to be displayed or buried or scattered.

This process is known colloquially as water cremation and scientifically as alkaline hydrolysis, or aquamation. It’s the most environmentally friendly method of death care, says Sieber, the vice president of research at Bio-Response Solutions. Founded by her father in 2006, the company manufactures aquamation equipment for funeral homes and crematories throughout North America. “This has no emissions, it’s greener, it’s a clean technology to work with,” Sieber said.
science  death 
june 2018
Imagining a Better Boyhood
To embrace anything feminine, if you’re not biologically female, causes discomfort and confusion, because throughout most of history and in most parts of the world, being a woman has been a disadvantage. Why would a boy, born into all the power of maleness, reach outside his privileged domain? It doesn’t compute...

While society is chipping away at giving girls broader access to life’s possibilities, it isn’t presenting boys with a full continuum of how they can be in the world. To carve out a masculine identity requires whittling away everything that falls outside the norms of boyhood. At the earliest ages, it’s about external signifiers like favorite colors, TV shows, and clothes. But later, the paring knife cuts away intimate friendships, emotional range, and open communication...

There are so few positive variations on what a “real man” can look like, that when the youngest generations show signs of reshaping masculinity, the only word that exists for them is nonconforming. The term highlights that nobody knows what to call these variations on maleness. Instead of understanding that children can resist or challenge traditional masculinity from within the bounds of boyhood, it’s assumed that they’re in a phase, that they need guidance, or that they don’t want to be boys.
children  gender  parenting 
june 2018
Body Positivity Is a Scam
There’s nothing capitalism can’t alchemize into a business opportunity, but for it to be a useful tool for marketers, body positivity needed to be decoupled from fatness and political advocacy, sanitized, and neatly repackaged into something that begins and ends with images. So now, what we talk about when we talk about our physical selves is who gets to be thought of as pretty and who doesn’t, as though personal beauty is an obligatory part of a fulfilling life...

Contemporary body positivity makes it incumbent on people with nonconforming bodies to change their own self-perception without requiring anyone with any power to question what created the phenomenon in the first place...

Nothing has changed in how most people feel about themselves; instead, it’s simply become very gauche to articulate any of those negative feelings. That wouldn’t be very body-positive of you.
health  psychology  media  women 
june 2018
Are Hit Songs Becoming Less Musically Diverse?
The result is a trend toward similarity, with smaller distances among songs. To date, songs that charted between 2012 and 2016 were the most similar, according to EchoNest data...

“Track-and-hook” is Seabrook’s coinage for a music-making method that fundamentally distinguishes today’s music-making from all that came before. What separates track-and-hook from its predecessors is how the music is made. The storied, solitary figure working out musical problems at a piano while filling up an ashtray has been replaced by teams of digital production specialists and subspecialists, each assigned to a snare track, a bass track, and so on, mixed and matched and stuck together like Legos...

The obvious trend is that the Billboard Hot 100 will continue to musically converge, a path that might just be the natural progression of popular culture. Give it enough time and we’ll all be listening to the same thing.
music  history 
june 2018
In Britain, Austerity Is Changing Everything
Whatever the operative thinking, austerity’s manifestations are palpable and omnipresent. It has refashioned British society, making it less like the rest of Western Europe, with its generous social safety nets and egalitarian ethos, and more like the United States, where millions lack health care and job loss can set off a precipitous plunge in fortunes...

To a degree, a spirit of voluntarism materialized. At public libraries, volunteers now outnumber paid staff. In struggling communities, residents have formed food banks while distributing hand-me-down school uniforms. But to many in Britain, this is akin to setting your house on fire and then reveling in the community spirit as neighbors come running to help extinguish the blaze...

Nationally, spending on police forces has dropped 17 percent since 2010, while the number of police officers has dropped 14 percent, according to an analysis by the Institute for Government. Spending on road maintenance has shrunk more than one-fourth, while support for libraries has fallen nearly a third.

The national court system has eliminated nearly a third of its staff. Spending on prisons has plunged more than a fifth, with violent assaults on prison guards more than doubling. The number of elderly people receiving government-furnished care that enables them to remain in their homes has fallen by roughly a quarter.
politics  uk  poverty  equality  money 
may 2018
What's Going On In Your Child's Brain When You Read Them A Story?
When children could see illustrations, language-network activity dropped a bit compared to the audio condition. Instead of only paying attention to the words, Hutton says, the children's understanding of the story was "scaffolded" by having the images as clues.

"Give them a picture and they have a cookie to work with," he explains. "With animation it's all dumped on them all at once and they don't have to do any of the work."

Most importantly, in the illustrated book condition, researchers saw increased connectivity between — and among — all the networks they were looking at: visual perception, imagery, default mode and language.
education  books  children  learning  science 
may 2018
Mussels off the coast of Seattle test positive for opioids
While mussels likely don't metabolize drugs like oxycodone, and thus wouldn't necessarily be physically harmed by the presence of it in their tissues, studies show that fish are not so lucky. In fact, scientists at the University of Utah recently discovered that, if given the opportunity, zebrafish will willingly dose themselves with opioids. Scientists say salmon and other fish might have a similar response.

The Puget Sound Institute notes that the amounts of opioids detected were thousands of times smaller than a typical human dose. And none of the mussels tested are near any commercial shellfish beds.
health  animals  science  drugs  seattle  washington-state  usa 
may 2018
Giving Birth Made Me Question the Informed Consent Process During Childbirth
Looking at this data, it’s clear that for many markers of maternal morbidity, C-sections come with higher risk than vaginal delivery—but the absolute risks of most of those complications are still quite low for the general population.

It’s also important that expectant mothers understand that when it comes to vaginal deliveries and vaginal-assisted deliveries, “lower” risk doesn’t actually mean without risk. And for certain measures of morbidity, like pelvic floor trauma, vaginal and vaginal-assisted deliveries can actually be riskier than C-sections—and the absolute risks of them can be much higher.

With vaginal deliveries, there is a real possibility not only of vaginal tearing, but pelvic floor problems that can manifest as urinary incontinence, anal sphincter injury and fecal incontinence, and pelvic organ prolapse. In some cases, these aren’t noticed right after birth because swelling and other factors can lead to a missed diagnosis or make some injuries truly “occult” (meaning hidden without imaging tools).

The meta-analysis in PLOS Medicine found that vaginal delivery is associated with greater risk of urinary incontinence (14.9% incidence after vaginal delivery, compared to 8.93% incidence after C-section) and pelvic organ prolapse (5.99% for vaginal delivery, compared to 1.81% for C-sections) in the mother. According to ACOG, the risks of tearing and urinary and fecal incontinence are higher with assisted vaginal delivery.

Here is where an extensive understanding of the various risks might come into play. While an unplanned hysterectomy due to complications from a C-section is generally viewed as much worse and more traumatic than urinary incontinence, the number of women who have the former is significantly lower than the number of women walking around with permanent pelvic floor damage. Ask a woman to weigh a 0.07% risk of unplanned hysterectomy to a significantly higher risk of spending the rest of her life peeing a little when she laughs, coughs, sneezes, runs, lifts, and other general life activities, and her answer might not be so obvious.
health  children  women  science  statistics 
may 2018
He Was Dying. Antibiotics Weren’t Working. Then Doctors Tried a Forgotten Treatment.
The treatment Strathdee had fixed on as a last-ditch hope is almost never used in the United States. The Food and Drug Administration has not licensed phage therapy, keeping it out of pharmacies and hospitals. Few physicians have used it even experimentally, and most civilians have never heard of it. But phages are a natural phenomenon, frequently deployed in the former Soviet Union. When used properly, they can save lives.
health  science 
may 2018
How a Special Diet Kept the Knights Templar Fighting Fit
The knights’ diets seem to have been a balancing act between the ordinary fasting demands on monks, and the fact that these knights lived active, military lives. You couldn’t crusade, or joust, on an empty stomach. (Although the Knights Templar only jousted in combat or training—not for sport.) So three times a week, the knights were permitted to eat meat—even though it was “understood that the custom of eating flesh corrupts the body.” On Sundays, everyone ate meat, with higher-up members permitted both lunch and dinner with some kind of roast animal. Accounts from the time show that this was often beef, ham, or bacon, with salt for seasoning or to cure the meat...

But on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, the knights ate more spartan, vegetable-filled meals. Although the rules describe these meals as “two or three meals of vegetables or other dishes eaten with bread,” they also often included milk, eggs, and cheese. Otherwise, they might eat potage, made with oats or pulses, gruels, or fiber-rich vegetable stews. (The wealthier brothers might mix in expensive spices, such as cumin.) In their gardens, they grew fruits and vegetables, especially Mediterranean produce such as figs, almonds, pomegranates, olives, and corn (grain).* These healthy foodstuffs likely also made their way into their meals.

Once a week, on Fridays, they observed a Lenten fast—no eggs, milk, or other animal products. For hearty fare, they relied on dried or salted fish, and dairy or egg substitutes made from almond milk. Even here, however, there are pragmatic concessions. The weak and sick abstained from these fasts and received “meat, flesh, birds, and all other foods which bring good health,” to return them to fighting shape as quickly as possible.
food  history  health 
may 2018
I Don’t Know How to Waste Time on the Internet Anymore
And then, one day, I think in 2013, Twitter and Facebook were not really very fun anymore. And worse, the fun things they had supplanted were never coming back. Forums were depopulated; blogs were shut down. Twitter, one agent of their death, became completely worthless: a water-drop-torture feed of performative outrage, self-promotion, and discussion of Twitter itself. Facebook had become, well … you’ve been on Facebook...

There is an argument that this my fault. I followed the wrong people; I am too nostalgic about bad blogs; I am in my 30s and what I used to think was fun time-killing is now deadly. But I don’t think so. What happened is that the internet stopped being something you went to in order to separate from the real world — from your job and your work and your obligations and responsibilities. It’s not the place you seek to waste time, but the place you go to so that you’ll someday have time to waste. The internet is a utility world for me now. It is efficient and all-encompassing. It is not very much fun.
internet  facebook  twitter  history  opinion 
may 2018
Fact or friction: the problem with factchecking in the book world
Wood says that as the publishing industry stands now, constraints make it nearly impossible for publishers to be able to dedicate the kind of time and financial resources that would be required for a full factcheck on every book they publish. So while publishing houses provide copy-editing, proofreading and legal services who keep an eye out for issues of libel and intellectual property. Factchecking is usually outside the scope of what they can feasibly do.
books  media  money 
may 2018
Could Ida B. Wells Have Exposed Lynching on Your Newsfeed?
To determine trustworthiness, [Facebook] plans to survey its 2 billion users about the sources with which they’re most familiar and best recognize.

However, by that standard, we’d never have had Tom Paine, Ida Tarbell or Ida B. Wells. We’d never have had a revolution, broken up the robber-baron monopoly corporations, or heard enough about the lynchings to have anything resembling a [National Lynching Memorial]—or even, probably, to make them stop.
history  media  racism  usa  facebook 
may 2018
Democrats release Facebook ads linked to Russian troll factory
A random walk through some of the 3,000-plus files provided by the committee shows that the vast majority got a tiny, tiny number of “impressions” — which simply means they appeared in someone’s news feed. And most got an equally minuscule number of clicks, and in some cases none at all. Did simply viewing these ads cause anyone to change their mind about Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, or about issues like immigration or Black Lives Matter?

Experts in this type of disinformation and propaganda warfare, which has been going on since before the internet and social media were invented, say pushing people in a specific direction often isn’t the point. As Facebook noted in an internal security report released last year, much of the activity involving fake social-media accounts spreading misinformation didn’t seem to have any specific goal, but instead appeared to be designed simply to sow confusion.
democrats  politics  facebook  internet  u.s.-elections  usa  russia  trump-presidency 
may 2018
Out of 26 Major Editorials on Trump’s Syria Strikes, Zero Opposed
None of the top 100 newspapers questioned the US’s legal or moral right to bomb Syria, and all accepted US government claims to be neutral arbiters of “international law.” Many editorials handwrung about a “lack of strategy” or absence of congressional approval, but none so much that they opposed the bombing. Strategy and legal sanction are add-on features—nice but, by all accounts, not essential.

The total lack of editorial board dissent is consistent with major papers’ tradition of uniform acceptance of US military action. The most influential paper in the country, the New York Times, has not opposed a single US war—from the Persian Gulf to Bosnia, to Kosovo to Iraq to Libya to the forever war on ISIS—in the past 30 years.
media  politics  trump-presidency  war 
may 2018
I tried leaving Facebook. I couldn’t
Facebook had replaced much of the emotional labor of social networking that consumed previous generations. We have forgotten (or perhaps never noticed) how many hours our parents spent keeping their address books up to date, knocking on doors to make sure everyone in the neighborhood was invited to the weekend BBQ, doing the rounds of phone calls with relatives, clipping out interesting newspaper articles and mailing them to a friend, putting together the cards for Valentine’s Day, Easter, Christmas, and more. We don’t think about what it’s like to carefully file business cards alphabetically in a Rolodex. People spent a lot of time on these sorts of things, once, because the less of that work you did, the less of a social network you had.
facebook  internet  relationships 
may 2018
Drew Cloud Is a Well-Known Expert on Student Loans. One Problem: He’s Not Real.
Drew Cloud’s story was simple: He founded the website, an "independent, authoritative news outlet" covering all things student loans, "after he had difficulty finding the most recent student loan news and information all in one place."

He became ubiquitous on that topic. But he’s a fiction, the invention of a student-loan refinancing company.
education  media  money 
april 2018
Facebook retracted Zuckerberg’s messages from recipients’ inboxes
You can’t remove Facebook messages from the inboxes of people you sent them to, but Facebook did that for Mark Zuckerberg and other executives. Three sources confirm to TechCrunch that old Facebook messages they received from Zuckerberg have disappeared from their Facebook inboxes, while their own replies to him conspicuously remain. An email receipt of a Facebook message from 2010 reviewed by TechCrunch proves Zuckerberg sent people messages that no longer appear in their Facebook chat logs or...
facebook  funny  corruption  usa 
april 2018
Facebook explored data sharing agreement with hospitals
As recently as last month, the company was talking to several health organizations, including Stanford Medical School and American College of Cardiology, about signing the data-sharing agreement.

While the data shared would obscure personally identifiable information, such as the patient's name, Facebook proposed using a common computer science technique called "hashing" to match individuals who existed in both sets. Facebook says the data would have been used only for research conducted by the...
privacy  health  usa  facebook 
april 2018
'Corporations Are People' Is Built on a 19th-Century Lie
A few years later, in an opinion in an unrelated case, Field wrote that “corporations are persons within the meaning” of the Fourteenth Amendment. “It was so held in Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad,” explained Field, who knew very well that the Court had done no such thing.

His gambit worked. In the following years, the case would be cited over and over by courts across the nation, including the Supreme Court, for deciding that corporations had rights under the Fourteenth Amendm...
history  u.s.a.  money  corruption 
april 2018
Only One Bank Was Indicted For Mortgage Fraud Tied To The 2008 Collapse — And It Was Innocent
You might think the Manhattan district attorney had his choice of banks to prosecute for these obvious and far-reaching crimes, but in the end only one bank has been indicted on felony fraud charges related to the 2008 collapse: Abacus.
money  economy  u.s.a.  politics  corruption 
september 2017
The Sickness of American Healthcare
Here’s who the media failed to cover: the 177 million Americans who get their insurance through job-based coverage. They are Clinton voters, Sanders voters, Johnson voters, Stein voters and, yes, Trump voters. Media generally overlook the crushing impact the ACA has had on their health insurance. To the extent people with employer-provided insurance are interviewed on healthcare, they are often wrapped in the wrong frame—that their concerns about the ACA are irrational, because the ACA didn’t impact people who were already covered.
health  politics  u.s.a. 
september 2017
Offshore wind farms could tame hurricanes, Stanford-led study says
Computer simulations by Professor Mark Z. Jacobson have shown that offshore wind farms with thousands of wind turbines could have sapped the power of three real-life hurricanes, significantly decreasing their winds and accompanying storm surge, and possibly preventing billions of dollars in damages.
science  environment 
september 2017
Archeological find affirms Heiltsuk Nation's oral history
B.C. archaeologists have excavated a settlement in the area — in traditional Heiltsuk Nation territory — and dated it to 14,000 years ago, during the last ice age where glaciers covered much of North America. 

"This find is very important because it reaffirms a lot of the history that our people have been talking about for thousands of years," Housty said.
canada  history  native-american-tribes  amazing 
september 2017
As prices rise, mortgage lenders are making it easier to buy a house
After the housing crisis, Fannie Mae established a debt-to-income cap of 45 percent, except for those who put at least 20 percent down and could show they had enough savings to pay their mortgage for 12 months if they lost their job. Exceptions were also made if a borrower received income from someone who lived in the house, but was not on the loan.

Last month, Fannie did away with those special requirements, raising its cap to 50 percent....

With the exploding cost of higher education causing some students to borrow more than $100,000, several changes are directly targeting young homebuyers typically burdened with hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in monthly student-loan payments.

Among Fannie Mae’s changes:

• If a borrower has some student loans or other nonmortgage debt paid by parents or others, those payments will no longer count toward their debt-to-income ratio.

• Once a borrower becomes a homeowner, Fannie will allow them to qualify for a cheaper cash-out refinance if they use it to pay off their high-interest student loans.

• If a student-loan borrower is enrolled in an income-based repayment plan, the lower monthly payment can be used when calculating a debt-to-income ratio. Before, lenders often had to use 1 percent of the outstanding student-loan balance as the monthly payment.
money  economy  housing  signs-of-recession  u.s.a.  politics 
september 2017
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