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1  Other / Politics & Society / Europe's robots to become 'electronic persons' under draft plan on: June 22, 2016, 12:30:54 PM



MUNICH, Germany (Reuters) - Europe's growing army of robot workers could be classed as "electronic persons" and their owners liable to paying social security for them if the European Union adopts a draft plan to address the realities of a new industrial revolution.

Robots are being deployed in ever-greater numbers in factories and also taking on tasks such as personal care or surgery, raising fears over unemployment, wealth inequality and alienation.

Their growing intelligence, pervasiveness and autonomy requires rethinking everything from taxation to legal liability, a draft European Parliament motion, dated May 31, suggests.

Some robots are even taking on a human form. Visitors to the world's biggest travel show in March were greeted by a lifelike robot developed by Japan's Toshiba <6502.T> and were helped by another made by France's Aldebaran Robotics.

However, Germany's VDMA, which represents companies such as automation giant Siemens and robot maker Kuka , says the proposals are too complicated and too early.

German robotics and automation turnover rose 7 percent to 12.2 billion euros ($13.8 billion) last year and the country is keen to keep its edge in the latest industrial technology. Kuka is the target of a takeover bid by China's Midea <000333.SZ>.

The draft motion called on the European Commission to consider "that at least the most sophisticated autonomous robots could be established as having the status of electronic persons with specific rights and obligations".

It also suggested the creation of a register for smart autonomous robots, which would link each one to funds established to cover its legal liabilities.

Patrick Schwarzkopf, managing director of the VDMA's robotic and automation department, said: "That we would create a legal framework with electronic persons - that's something that could happen in 50 years but not in 10 years."

"We think it would be very bureaucratic and would stunt the development of robotics," he told reporters at the Automatica robotics trade fair in Munich, while acknowledging that a legal framework for self-driving cars would be needed soon.

The report added that robotics and artificial intelligence may result in a large part of the work now done by humans being taken over by robots, raising concerns about the future of employment and the viability of social security systems.

The draft motion, drawn up by the European parliament's committee on legal affairs also said organizations should have to declare savings they made in social security contributions by using robotics instead of people, for tax purposes.

Schwarzkopf said there was no proven correlation between increasing robot density and unemployment, pointing out that the number of employees in the German automotive industry rose by 13 percent between 2010 and 2015, while industrial robot stock in the industry rose 17 percent in the same period.

The motion faces an uphill battle to win backing from the various political blocks in European Parliament. Even if it did get enough support to pass, it would be a non-binding resolution as the Parliament lacks the authority to propose legislation.



https://www.yahoo.com/news/europes-robots-become-electronic-persons-under-draft-plan-170708335--sector.html?ref=gs



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If I dismantle my robot will I be committing a crime?


2  Other / Politics & Society / NBC News Poll: Americans favor Muslim ban 50-46 on: June 17, 2016, 12:05:04 AM





3  Other / Politics & Society / 17 y/o YouTuber faces years in jail for insulting Islam and Christianity on: June 15, 2016, 04:33:00 PM



#FreeAmosYee





4  Other / Politics & Society / Alex Jones Exclusive Reddit AMA LIVE NOW ((6/14/2016) on: June 14, 2016, 11:13:31 PM






5  Other / Politics & Society / London's mayor has banned 'unrealistic body images' from transport advertising on: June 13, 2016, 11:14:56 PM





 London's new mayor, Sadiq Khan, has announced that advertisements that portray "unhealthy or unrealistic body images" are to be banned from the city's public transport.

In a press release, the London mayor's office said that "from next month, Transport for London," or TfL, "will not allow ads which could reasonably be seen as likely to cause pressure to conform to an unrealistic or unhealthy body shape, or as likely to create body confidence issues, particularly among young people."

It adds that City Hall has asked TfL to create an "Advertising Steering Group" in conjunction with the advertising giants JCDecaux and Exterion to monitor output and reflect London's diversity.

The move follows a massive backlash against various poster campaigns on the transport network for so-called body shaming - most notably the "Beach Body Ready" images for a line of protein shakes that depicted a woman in a bikini last year.

Despite the negative reaction, Protein World - the company featured in the ads - reported made £1 million ($1.4 million) in four days after spending just a quarter of that on the marketing.

Khan said his daughters had helped prompt the decision:

As the father of two teenage girls, I am extremely concerned about this kind of advertising which can demean people, particularly women, and make them ashamed of their bodies. It is high time it came to an end.

Nobody should feel pressurised, while they travel on the Tube or bus, into unrealistic expectations surrounding their bodies and I want to send a clear message to the advertising industry about this.

Graeme Craig, the TfL commercial development director, added that the nature of public-transport advertising made it different from ones on TV or in magazines:

Our customers cannot simply switch off or turn a page if an advertisement offends or upsets them and we have a duty to ensure the copy we carry reflects that unique environment. We want to encourage great advertising that engages people and enhances the transport network.


http://www.businessinsider.com/london-mayor-sadiq-khan-bans-unrealistic-body-images-from-tfl-adverts-2016-6?r=UK&IR=T



6  Other / Politics & Society / Once again one Islamic Terrorists has took the lifes of Gays Peaples (50 DEAD) on: June 12, 2016, 01:22:37 PM

Once again Gun Culture has took the life of Singer Christina Grimme....?

https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=1507888.0








-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"Let us blame the gun. Florida as bad as Texas. TRUMP is responsible. White peaples are evil. Pretty please?"


7  Other / Politics & Society / Scientific Paper Falsely Linking Conservatives With Psychoticism ‘Quite Minor’ on: June 10, 2016, 11:09:12 AM



Hoo-wee, the New York Times will really have to extend itself to top the boner and mother-of-all-corrections at the American Journal of Political Science. This is the journal that published a finding much beloved of liberals a few years back that purported to find scientific evidence that conservatives are more likely to exhibit traits associated with psychoticism, such as authoritarianism and tough-mindedness, and that the supposed “authoritarian” personality of conservatives might even have a genetic basis (and therefore be treatable someday?). Settle in with a cup or glass of your favorite beverage, and get ready to enjoy one of the most epic academic face plants ever.

The original article was called “Correlation not causation: the relationship between personality traits and political ideologies,” and was written by three academics at Virginia Commonwealth University. Here’s the relevant part of the abstract:

    Work in psychology, behavioral genetics, and recently political science, however, has demonstrated that political preferences also develop in childhood and are equally influenced by genetic factors. These findings cast doubt on the assumed causal relationship between personality and politics. Here we test the causal relationship between personality traits and political attitudes using a direction of causation structural model on a genetically informative sample. The results suggest that personality traits do not cause people to develop political attitudes; rather, the correlation between the two is a function of an innate common underlying genetic factor.

After the usual long winding path through the existing literature and exhausting discussion of their methodology, we get to some analysis and conclusions, and this is where the fun starts. There’s a lot of jargon and highly technical discussion as usual, but some comprehensible copy:

    In line with our expectations, P [for “Psychoticism”] (positively related to tough-mindedness and authoritarianism) is associated with social conservatism and conservative military attitudes. Intriguingly, the strength of the relationship between P and political ideology differs across sexes. P‘s link with social conservatism is stronger for females while its link with military attitudes is stronger for males. We also find individuals higher in Neuroticism are more likely to be economically liberal. Furthermore, Neuroticism is completely unrelated to social ideology, which has been the focus of many in the field. Finally, those higher in Social Desirability are also more likely to express socially liberal attitudes.

Here I must explain that “Social Desirability” is a social science term that essentially translates into common sense language as someone who self-consciously wants to get along. Keep this in mind as we get to the epic correction. Keep also in mind where the authors also express some surprise that “neurotic” people would turn out to be liberals and support the welfare state:

    People higher in Neuroticism tend to be more economically liberal. What is intriguing about this relationship is that it is in the opposite direction of what past theories would predict. . . That is, neurotic people are more likely to support public policies that provide aid to the economically disadvantaged (public housing, foreign aid, immigration, etc).

Now if you’re still with me, take in the opening of this very long correction:

    The authors regret that there is an error in the published version of “Correlation not Causation: The Relationship between Personality Traits and Political Ideologies” American Journal of Political Science 56 (1), 34–51. The interpretation of the coding of the political attitude items in the descriptive and preliminary analyses portion of the manuscript was exactly reversed.

I’m just going to let that sit there for a moment while you swallow your beverage and put your cup or glass down so as not to risk damage to your keyboard. To continue:

    Thus, where we indicated that higher scores in Table 1 (page 40) reflect a more conservative response, they actually reflect a more liberal response. Specifically, in the original manuscript, the descriptive analyses report that those higher in Eysenck’s psychoticism are more conservative, but they are actually more liberal; and where the original manuscript reports those higher in neuroticism and social desirability are more liberal, they are, in fact, more conservative.

If you go back to the excerpts above and swap out the ideological categories you will have to suppress a horselaugh. Liberals are more prone to “psychoticism” (which the authors hasten to explain doesn’t meant “psychotic,” but what the hell. . .), and hence authoritatianism, which would come as no surprise to any conservative who pays attention to authoritarian liberalism. And people higher in Social Desirability will turn out to be conservatives, which is also congruent with the many simpler survey findings that conservatives are happier than liberals.

If you continue with the explanation in the correction it would seem to suggest that someone simply transposed the data somewhere along the line during the coding steps. Or maybe the authors were hoping for a job with Dan Rather or Katie Couric if tenure didn’t come through? They are defending themselves by saying that the main point of the paper was to demonstrate the magnitude of correlations between personality traits and sociopolitical attitudes, and hence that the ideological direction of the correlation doesn’t matter. This doesn’t wash well with the great folks at the indispensible Retraction Watch, who interviewed one of the academics who spotted the mistake, Steven Ludeke of the University of Southern Denmark, who said:

    The erroneous results represented some of the larger correlations between personality and politics ever reported; they were reported and interpreted, repeatedly, in the wrong direction; and then cited at rates that are (for this field) extremely high. And the relationship between personality and politics is, as we note in the paper, quite a “hot” topic, with a large number of new papers appearing every year. So although the errors do not matter for the result that the authors (rightly) see as their most important, I obviously think the errors themselves matter quite a lot, especially for what it says about the scientific process both pre- and post-review.

In other words, if this study hadn’t come out conforming to the liberal narrative and sliming conservatives, it wouldn’t have attracted much notice. By the way, your tax dollars paid for this essential social science research. A note at the end says, “The data for this article were collected with the financial support of the National Institute of Health.” And people wonder why Republicans in Congress want to cut off federal funding for social science research. As an alternative, I suggest redirecting federal social science funds to Retraction Watch.

And cue Emily Litella whenever you’re ready.


http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2016/06/epic-correction-of-the-decade.php


8  Other / Politics & Society / Highway Cops Uses Device To Seize Money Used During The "Commission Of A Crime" on: June 09, 2016, 11:33:04 AM



You may have heard of civil asset forfeiture. 

That's where police can seize your property and cash without first proving you committed a crime; without a warrant and without arresting you, as long as they suspect that your property is somehow tied to a crime.

Now, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol has a device that also allows them to seize money in your bank account or on prepaid cards.

It's called an ERAD, or Electronic Recovery and Access to Data machine, and state police began using 16 of them last month. 

Here's how it works. If a trooper suspects you may have money tied to some type of crime, the highway patrol can scan any cards you have and seize the money. 

"We're gonna look for different factors in the way that you're acting,” Oklahoma Highway Patrol Lt. John Vincent said. “We're gonna look for if there's a difference in your story. If there's someway that we can prove that you're falsifying information to us about your business."

Troopers insist this isn't just about seizing cash. 

"I know that a lot of people are just going to focus on the seizing money. That's a very small thing that' s happening now. The largest part that we have found ... the biggest benefit has been the identity theft," Vincent said.

"If you can prove can prove that you have a legitimate reason to have that money it will be given back to you. And we've done that in the past," Vincent said about any money seized.

State Sen. Kyle Loveless, R-Oklahoma City, said that removes due process and the belief that a suspect is presumed innocent until proven guilty. He said we've already seen cases in Oklahoma where police are abusing the system.

"We've seen single mom's stuff be taken, a cancer survivor his drugs taken, we saw a Christian band being taken. We've seen innocent people's stuff being taken. We've seen where the money goes and how it's been misspent," Loveless said.

Loveless plans to introduce legislation next session that would require a conviction before any assets could be seized.

"If I had to err on the side of one side versus the other, I would err on the side of the Constitution,” Loveless said. “And I think that's what we need to do."

News 9 obtained a copy of the contract with the state.

It shows the state is paying ERAD Group Inc., $5,000 for the software and scanners, then 7.7 percent of all the cash the highway patrol seizes. 




http://www.news9.com/story/32168555/ohp-uses-new-device-to-seize-money-used-during-the-commission-of-a-crime



9  Other / Politics & Society / Who can decode the message? Bizarre Opening Ceremony For Gotthard Base Tunnel on: June 09, 2016, 02:34:45 AM


[...]
Angela Merkel, Matteo Renzi and François Hollande joined Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann for the opening ceremony and a ride in first class through the tunnel.

Part 1
https://youtu.be/JVw_mPvYcDM

Part 2
https://youtu.be/K1Xg7lYuYus


http://darkhorsenews.com/bizarre-opening-ceremony-for-gotthard-base-tunnel-in-switzerland/



10  Other / Politics & Society / The Web’s Creator Looks to Reinvent It on: June 08, 2016, 01:15:47 AM






SAN FRANCISCO — Twenty-seven years ago, Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web as a way for scientists to easily find information. It has since become the world’s most powerful medium for knowledge, communications and commerce — but that doesn’t mean Mr. Berners-Lee is happy with all of the consequences.

“It controls what people see, creates mechanisms for how people interact,” he said of the modern day web. “It’s been great, but spying, blocking sites, repurposing people’s content, taking you to the wrong websites — that completely undermines the spirit of helping people create.”

So on Tuesday, Mr. Berners-Lee gathered in San Francisco with other top computer scientists — including Brewster Kahle, head of the nonprofit Internet Archive and an internet activist — to discuss a new phase for the web.

Today, the World Wide Web has become a system that is often subject to control by governments and corporations. Countries like China can block certain web pages from their citizens, and cloud services like Amazon Web Services hold powerful sway. So what might happen, the computer scientists posited, if they could harness newer technologies — like the software used for digital currencies, or the technology of peer-to-peer music sharing — to create a more decentralized web with more privacy, less government and corporate control, and a level of permanence and reliability?

“National histories, the story of a country, now happen on the web,” said Vinton G. Cerf, another founder of the internet and chief internet evangelist at Google, in a phone interview ahead of a speech to the group scheduled for Wednesday. “People think making things digital means they’ll last forever, but that isn’t true now.”


The project is in its early days, but the discussions — and caliber of the people involved — underscored how the World Wide Web’s direction in recent years has stirred a deep anxiety among some technologists. The revelations by Edward J. Snowden that the web has been used by governments for spying and the realization that companies like Amazon, Facebook and Google have become gatekeepers to our digital lives have added to concerns.

On Tuesday, Mr. Berners-Lee and Mr. Kahle and others brainstormed at the event, called the Decentralized Web Summit, over new ways that web pages could be distributed broadly without the standard control of a web server computer, as well as ways of storing scientific data without having to pay storage fees to companies like Amazon, Dropbox or Google.

Efforts at creating greater amounts of privacy and accountability, by adding more encryption to various parts of the web and archiving all versions of a web page, also came up. Such efforts would make it harder to censor content.

“Edward Snowden showed we’ve inadvertently built the world’s largest surveillance network with the web,” said Mr. Kahle, whose group organized the conference. “China can make it impossible for people there to read things, and just a few big service providers are the de facto organizers of your experience. We have the ability to change all that.”

Many people conflate the internet’s online services and the web as one and the same — yet they are technically quite different. The internet is a networking infrastructure, where any two machines can communicate over a variety of paths, and one local network of computers can connect with other networks.

The web, on the other hand, is a popular means to access that network of networks. But because of the way web pages are created, managed and named, the web is not fully decentralized. Take down a certain server and a certain web page becomes unavailable. Links to pages can corrode over time. Censorship systems like China’s Great Firewall eliminate access to much information for most of its people. By looking at internet addresses, it is possible for governments and companies to get a good idea of who is reading which web pages.

In some ways, the efforts to change the technology of creating the web are a kind of coming-of-age story. Mr. Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web while working at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, as a tool for scientists. Today, the web still runs on technologies of the older world.

Consider payments. In many cases, people pay for things online by entering credit card information, not much different from handing a card to a merchant for an imprint.

At the session on Tuesday, computer scientists talked about how new payment technologies could increase individual control over money. For example, if people adapted the so-called ledger system by which digital currencies are used, a musician might potentially be able to sell records without intermediaries like Apple’s iTunes. News sites might be able to have a system of micropayments for reading a single article, instead of counting on web ads for money.

“Ad revenue is the only model for too many people on the web now,” Mr. Berners-Lee said. “People assume today’s consumer has to make a deal with a marketing machine to get stuff for ‘free,’ even if they’re horrified by what happens with their data. Imagine a world where paying for things was easy on both sides.”

Mr. Kahle’s Internet Archive, which exists on a combination of grants and fees from digitizing books for libraries, operates the Wayback Machine, which serves as a record of discontinued websites or early versions of pages.

To make that work now, Mr. Kahle has to search and capture a page, then give it a brand new web address. With the right kind of distributed system, he said, “the archive can have all of the versions, because there would be a permanent record located across many sites.”

The movement to change how the web is built, like a surprising number of technology discussions, has an almost religious dimension.

Some of the participants are extreme privacy advocates who have created methods of building sites that can’t be censored, using cryptography. Mr. Cerf said he was wary of extreme anonymity, but thought the ways that digital currencies permanently record transactions could be used to make the web more accountable.

Still, not all the major players agree on whether the web needs decentralizing.

“The web is already decentralized,” Mr. Berners-Lee said. “The problem is the dominance of one search engine, one big social network, one Twitter for microblogging. We don’t have a technology problem, we have a social problem.”

One that can, perhaps, be solved by more technology.


http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/08/technology/the-webs-creator-looks-to-reinvent-it.html?_r=0


---------------------------------
Someone with the right connection should invite him to participate on bitcointalk.org.


11  Other / Politics & Society / Sen. Elizabeth Warren: ‘I don’t believe in superdelegates’ on: June 05, 2016, 03:06:00 PM



    Warren: ‘I don’t believe in superdelegates’

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren said on Saturday that she doesn’t believe in her party’s superdelegate process.

    “I’m a superdelegate, and I don’t believe in superdelegates,” Warren told reporters following the Massachusetts State Democratic Convention.

    Warren’s comments came after the state party here voted on a resolution to “thoroughly, objectively, and transparently” study the superdelegate process ahead of the 2020 presidential race.

    Warren said she agreed that the process should be scrutinized.

    The Massachusetts senator, a leader of the party’s progressive wing, has conspicuously avoided backing either Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton. She said today she has “no timetable” for making an endorsement in the race.

    Asked whether Sanders should leave the race next week, Warren demurred.


https://youtu.be/-xeOrWDeGt4


12  Other / Politics & Society / US Hiring Grinds To A Near-Halt; Many Stop Looking For Work… on: June 04, 2016, 05:28:36 PM






U.S. hiring slowed to a near-standstill in May, sowing doubts about the economy’s health and complicating the Federal Reserve’s efforts to raise interest rates.

While unemployment slid from 5 percent to 4.7 percent, the lowest since November 2007, the rate fell for a troubling reason: Nearly a half-million jobless Americans stopped looking for work and so were no longer counted as unemployed.

Employers added just 38,000 jobs in May, the fewest in over five years.

Less-educated workers bore the brunt of the hiring slump, with a quarter-million high school dropouts losing their jobs in May. That has perpetuated a long-term trend toward a two-tiered job market, with college-educated adults more likely to be employed and earning steady raises.

“The shockingly low payrolls gain in May provides further evidence that the economy is showing clear signs of slowing,” said Laura Rosner, an economist at BNP Paribas.

The much-weaker-than-expected figure raised doubts that the Federal Reserve will increase short-term interest rates at its next meeting in mid-June or perhaps even at its subsequent meeting in July. Many analysts had expected an increase by July.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average closed down 32 points, for a loss of 0.2 percent.

The disappointing report spilled into the presidential race, with Donald Trump referring to it on Twitter as a “terrible jobs report” and a “bombshell.” The figures come just days after President Barack Obama touted his economic record in Elkhart, Indiana.

Americans particularly worried about the economy have been more likely to support outsider candidates such as Trump and Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Trump’s support has also come disproportionately from adults without college degrees, and Friday’s report served as a stark reminder that less-educated Americans have continued to lose economic ground even as overall hiring and growth have picked up since the Great Recession.

Essentially all of the 7 million jobs added over the past decade belong to workers with at least some college experience. The number of high school graduates with jobs is 3 million lower than 10 years ago.

“The high school jobs are gone and they’re not coming back,” said Anthony Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and Workforce. “It’s driven by a fundamental shift from an industrial economy to a post-industrial economy.”

Craig Lloyd, 27, has mostly worked part-time jobs in restaurants in Wichita, Kansas, since graduating from high school 10 years ago. Some paid as little as minimum wage, while his most recent position as a sous-chef paid $12 an hour.

Three months ago, he started his own business selling burritos out of a friend’s food truck on weekends.

His wife is returning to school to get her degree, but he doesn’t plan to do so himself. “I’ve really put off getting a higher education, because of the debt that you can incur,” Lloyd said.


http://www.wistv.com/story/32131515/us-hiring-grinds-to-a-near-halt-many-stop-looking-for-work





Obama: America is not in decline, Trump lacks ‘magic wand’ to grow economy (June 1, 2016)



ELKHART, Ind. — President Obama defended his economic record on Wednesday during a visit to an Indiana city that has come to symbolize the nation’s uneven recovery, saying that he created millions of new jobs and questioning Republican Donald Trump’s ability to steer the economy in the right direction.

In a far-ranging interview and town-hall event with PBS NewsHour in Elkhart, Obama touted the economic gains seen under his watch in hard-hit counties like Elkhart, where the unemployment rate soared to nearly 20 percent soon after he took office.

Unemployment in the county, which the Obama administration used as a touchstone early on to gauge its economic recovery plan, now stands at roughly four percent.

“We’re going to have to make sure that we make some good decisions going forward, but the notion that somehow America is in decline is just not born out by the facts.”

“We’re going to have to make sure that we make some good decisions going forward, but the notion that somehow America is in decline is just not born out by the facts,” Obama said in an interview with the NewsHour’s Gwen Ifill.

Nevertheless, in the interview and a town hall held immediately after in downtown Elkhart, the president acknowledged that many people around the country remain worried about making ends meet.

“Even though we’ve recovered, people feel like the ground under their feet isn’t quite as solid,” Obama said. “If they’re feeling insecure, and they’re offered a simple reason to be more secure, people are going to be tempted by it.”

The comment was clearly aimed at Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee. Trump’s populist economic message has energized millions of voters, but his critics — including Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee — have long argued that Trump does not have the experience or gravity to lead the country.

The president declined to invoke the real estate mogul’s full name, saying that he would let Trump “do his advertising for him.”

But Obama criticized Trump’s claims that he could use his business acumen to spur economic growth and tackle other complex issues.

“He just says, ‘I’m gonna negotiate a better deal.’ Well how? How exactly are you going to negotiate that?” Obama said during the town hall portion of the event. “What magic wand do you have? And usually the answer is, he doesn’t have an answer.”


http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/watch-live-president-obamas-town-hall-in-elkhart-indiana/



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It will be very hard for historians to clean up 0bama's records.


13  Other / Politics & Society / Arrests For Social Media Posts Surge In London on: June 02, 2016, 11:43:12 PM






If you can’t do the time, don’t … eh… tweet carelessly in London? London is increasingly slapping people with prosecutions for reckless, aggressive or plain hateful language on social media.

“Online crimes of speech” are landing a growing number of people in London’s courts, according to data reported by the city’s police force in response to a Freedom of Information Request. While these types of arrests seemed to be on the decline between 2010 and 2013, a surge was observed again last year.

The Register reports that the number of arrests made for obscene, anxiety-causing, and otherwise offensive messages has increased by 37 percent since 2010. The most common type of these arrests is for “Sending messages intended to offend or menace,” accounting for over 60 percent of all crimes included under Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003. This controversial bit of legislation broadly defines illegal communication as “using public electronic communications network in order to cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety,” a definition that could, frankly, apply to pretty much every website on earth at some point, particularly Britain’s own Daily Mail. Violating this law can carry a six-month prison term or fine of up to the equivalent of $5,500.

The arrests were all made under the same legislation which spawned the UK’s infamous Twitter Joke Trial. Using just 135 characters, 28-year-old Paul Chambers tweeted a joke that would go on to capture the country’s attention.

“Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your shit together, otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky-high!!”

The “joke tweet” was initially deemed not credible by the airport staff that came across it, but police determined that it was enough to warrant an arrest, leading to a precedent-setting guilty verdict. In an essay for The Guardian, Chambers admitted that his frustrated tweet was “ill-advised,” but stated that the initial conviction caused him to believe that he lives “in such a hyper-sensitive world that we cannot engage in hyperbole…without having civil liberties trampled on by, at best, heavy-handed police.”

The case was eventually quashed on appeal (two years and several thousand pounds after the entire ordeal began) and the legislation in question was amended to include interim guidelines on how social media can and should be prosecuted. Under these guidelines, criminal prosecution was made limited to credible threats of violence, harassment, or stalking. Chambers’ threat was deemed not credible, given the audience.

In more recent years, the legislation has been used to arrest Twitter users responsible for making racist or anti-Muslim comments. Among the scores of those recently arrested for inflammatory posts was a Scottish resident who had been using Facebook as a platform to espouse his disdain for Syrian refugees.

Meeting the problem at its source, some British police departments have taken to social media platforms to remind citizens to “think before” posting offensive material.

    Think before you post or you may receive a visit from us this weekend. Use the internet safely. #thinkbeforeyoupost pic.twitter.com/xNiDMf3jPA

    — GreaterGlasgPolice (@GreaterGlasgPol) April 1, 2016

While citizens of the United Kingdom have largely unimpinged-upon internet access, the most recent Freedom on the Net report states that there is a higher degree of content limitations there than in the U.S. Online harassment remains a problem throughout the world, and the UK is no exception. A recent study found that the words ‘slut’ and ‘whore’ were used by UK Twitter users 10,000 times in merely three weeks.

But if you want to avoid a brush with the British law, there’s one golden rule. If in doubt, don’t tweet it out.



http://www.vocativ.com/325190/arrests-for-social-media-posts-surge-in-london/


14  Other / Politics & Society / Tech Giants Vow to Tackle Online Hate Speech Within 24 Hours on: May 31, 2016, 03:03:50 PM





U.S. Internet giants Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc., Google and Microsoft Corp. pledged to tackle online hate speech in less than 24 hours as part of a joint commitment with the European Union to combat the use of social media by terrorists.

Beyond national laws that criminalize hate speech, there is a need to ensure such activity by Internet users is “expeditiously reviewed by online intermediaries and social media platforms, upon receipt of a valid notification, in an appropriate time-frame,” the companies and the European Commission said in a joint statement on Tuesday.

The code of conduct arrives as Europe comes to terms with the bloody attacks in Paris and Brussels by Islamic State, which has used the Web and social media to spread its message of hate against its enemies. The companies said it remains a “challenge” to strike the right balance between freedom of expression and hate speech in the self-generated content on online platforms.

“We remain committed to letting the Tweets flow,” said Twitter’s head of public policy for Europe, Karen White, in the statement. “However, there is a clear distinction between freedom of expression and conduct that incites violence and hate.”
Platforms Sued

A French Jewish youth group, UEJF, sued Twitter, Facebook and Google in Paris this month over how they monitor hate speech on the web. In the course of about six weeks in April and May, members of French anti-discrimination groups flagged unambiguous hate speech that they said promoted racism, homophobia or anti-Semitism. More than 90 percent of the posts pointed out to Twitter and YouTube remained online within 15 days on average following requests for removal, according to the study by UEJF, SOS Racisme and SOS Homophobie.

“With a global community of 1.6 billion people we work hard to balance giving people the power to express themselves whilst ensuring we provide a respectful environment,” said Monika Bickert, head of global policy management at Facebook, in the statement. “There’s no place for hate speech on Facebook.”



http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-05-31/tech-giants-vow-to-tackle-online-hate-speech-within-24-hours


15  Other / Politics & Society / Rise of Ad-Blocking Software Threatens Online Revenue on: May 30, 2016, 11:15:36 PM



Many of the world’s largest Internet companies, like Google and Facebook, rely heavily on advertising to finance their online empires.

But that business model is increasingly coming under threat, with one in five smartphone users, or almost 420 million people worldwide, blocking advertising when browsing the web on cellphones. That represents a 90 percent annual increase, according to a new report from PageFair, a start-up that helps to recoup some of this lost advertising revenue, and Priori Data, a company that tracks smartphone applications.

The use of ad-blocking software has divided the online world. Supporters say it allows people to get better access to content without having to suffer through abrasive ads. Opponents, particularly companies that rely on advertising, say blocking ads violates the implicit contract that people agree to when viewing online material, much of which is paid for by digital advertising.

Mobile ad blockers, though, have become particularly widespread in emerging markets, where people are more reliant on their smartphones to use the Internet.

Already, 36 percent of the smartphone users in the Asia-Pacific region have so-called ad-blocking browsers on their mobile devices, allowing them to remove online ads when they use the Internet. In India and Indonesia — two of the world’s fastest-growing Internet markets — that figure is almost two-thirds of smartphone users, according to the report.

“We found the results surprising because in the West we don’t often consider what’s going on in developing countries,” said Sean Blanchfield, chief executive of PageFair. “It’s only a matter of time until mobile ad blocking comes to the West.”

Patrick Kane, chief executive of Priori Data, said greater use of the software in emerging markets was driven by attempts to minimize spending on mobile data. Ad blockers help conserve data and make websites load faster by not downloading ads on people’s phones.

While mobile ad blocking is mostly an emerging market phenomenon now, it is costing the global advertising industry billions of dollars a year in lost revenue. Roughly 200 million people also have ad-blocking software on their desktop computers, PageFair estimates.

Still, only 4.3 million Americans, or 2.2 percent of smartphone owners, used ad blockers — through browsers or other services — on their smartphones as of March. By comparison, 159 million people in China have installed ad-blocking software on their cellphones, the report said.

But as people in Western markets increasingly rely on smartphones to reach the Internet, the use of mobile ad blocking is expected to rise.

In June, Three UK, a British cellphone provider, will conduct an ad-blocking test across its network, allowing people to opt in to remove ads whenever they use their mobile phones. Digicel, a carrier that operates mostly in the Caribbean, has started offering a similar service.

Analysts say such efforts may breach so-called net neutrality rules, which require all online data, including intrusive ads, to be treated equally. Legal experts, though, say the use of ad blocking has yet to be challenged in courts over whether it meets net neutrality standards.

Despite this legal uncertainty, people’s interest in blocking ads, particularly on their cellphones, is unlikely to wane.

“It’s already used by hundreds of millions of people,” Mr. Blanchfield, of PageFair, said. “You can’t put the cat back in the bag.”


http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/31/business/international/smartphone-ad-blocking-software-mobile.html?_r=0


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Some websites are impossible to load because of all the ads. Crashes, etc. I see an opportunity for the bitcoin bug brains...




16  Other / Politics & Society / Google VS Memorial Day on: May 30, 2016, 08:21:50 PM






17  Other / Politics & Society / Governments Turn to Commercial Spyware to Intimidate Dissidents on: May 30, 2016, 03:40:29 AM



SAN FRANCISCO — In the last five years, Ahmed Mansoor, a human rights activist in the United Arab Emirates, has been jailed and fired from his job, along with having his passport confiscated, his car stolen, his email hacked, his location tracked and his bank account robbed of $140,000. He has also been beaten, twice, in the same week.

Mr. Mansoor’s experience has become a cautionary tale for dissidents, journalists and human rights activists. It used to be that only a handful of countries had access to sophisticated hacking and spying tools. But these days, nearly all kinds of countries, be they small, oil-rich nations like the Emirates, or poor but populous countries like Ethiopia, are buying commercial spyware or hiring and training programmers to develop their own hacking and surveillance tools.

The barriers to join the global surveillance apparatus have never been lower. Dozens of companies, ranging from NSO Group and Cellebrite in Israel to Finfisher in Germany and Hacking Team in Italy, sell digital spy tools to governments.

A number of companies in the United States are training foreign law enforcement and intelligence officials to code their own surveillance tools. In many cases these tools are able to circumvent security measures like encryption. Some countries are using them to watch dissidents. Others are using them to aggressively silence and punish their critics, inside and outside their borders.

“There’s no substantial regulation,” said Bill Marczak, a senior fellow at the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs, who has been tracking the spread of spyware around the globe. “Any government who wants spyware can buy it outright or hire someone to develop it for you. And when we see the poorest countries deploying spyware, it’s clear money is no longer a barrier.”

Mr. Marczak examined Mr. Mansoor’s emails and found that, before his arrest, he had been targeted by spyware sold by Finfisher and Hacking Team, which sell surveillance tools to governments for comparably cheap six- and seven-figure sums. Both companies sell tools that turn computers and phones into listening devices that can monitor a target’s messages, calls and whereabouts.

In 2011, in the midst of the Arab Spring, Mr. Mansoor was arrested with four others on charges of insulting Emirate rulers. He and the others had called for universal suffrage. They were quickly released and pardoned following international pressure


http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/30/technology/governments-turn-to-commercial-spyware-to-intimidate-dissidents.html


18  Other / Politics & Society / Mind-reaching machine could soon turn your secret thoughts into speech on: May 29, 2016, 01:11:09 PM







A mind-reaching machine that can translate thoughts into speech is coming closer to reality.

The research has been ongoing for several years, and recently, scientists successfully managed to playback a word that someone is thinking by monitoring their brain activity.

While there remains a long way to go, they say this could help victims of stroke and others with speech paralysis to communicate with their loved ones.

A mind-reaching machine that can translate thoughts into speech is coming closer to reality. The research has been ongoing for several years, and recently, scientists successfully managed to playback a word that someone is thinking by monitoring their brain activity


HOW THEY DID IT

Using electrodes placed on the surface of the language areas of the brain of awake patients, scientists monitored the pattern of electrical responses of brain cells during perceived speech.

The scientists then created a computer model that could match spoken sounds to these signals.

The researchers took a clever approach to overcome some important limitations.

For example, they accounted for the natural differences in sound timing when one is producing the same word twice, such as when thinking of the word then by uttering it.

Remarkably, the team was then able to decode speech when a person thinks of a specific word, from direct brain recordings.

Professor Robert Knight and his team at UC Berkeley have been studying how hearing words, speaking out loud and imagining words involves brain areas that overlap.

'Now, the challenge is to reproduce comprehensible speech from direct brain recordings done while a person imagines a word they would like to say,' said Knight, who is also the Founding Editor of Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

Knight says the goal of the device is to help people affected by motor disease such as paralysis and Lou Gehrig's Disease.

'There are many neurological disorders that limit speech despite patients being fully aware of what they want to say,' Knight said.

'We want to develop an implantable device that decodes the signals that occur in the brain when we think about a word, then turn these signals into a sound file that can be reproduced by a speech device.'

Such a novel device would communicate people's intended thoughts via an electronic speaker or writing device, but the team still has a lot more research to conduct.

They have been able to reproduce a word a person has just heard on a machine, by monitoring temporal lobe activity in a neurosurgical setting.

Using electrodes placed on the surface of the language areas of the brain of awake patients, they monitored the pattern of electrical responses of brain cells during perceived speech.

The scientists then created a computer model that could match spoken sounds to these signals.

'We recorded electrical signals directly from the human language areas when a person heard words,' Knight explained.

'We then decoded these electrical signals and were able to turn them into sound files that reflected what the person heard, with remarkable accuracy.'

Using electrodes placed on the surface of the language areas of the brain of awake patients, scientists monitored the pattern of electrical responses of brain cells during perceived speech. The scientists then created a computer model that could match spoken sounds to these signals

Remarkably, the team was then able to decode speech when a person thinks of a specific word, from direct brain recordings.

'The new techniques and mathematical processing of the brain signals got us closer to the details we need to extract the signals that are relevant for reproducing speech,' he said.

The researchers took a clever approach to overcome some important limitations.

For example, they accounted for the natural differences in sound timing when one is producing the same word twice, such as when thinking of the word then by uttering it.

'We applied a temporal realignment procedure that improved our accuracy in classifying words that are spoken or imagined,' Knight explained.

The team's approach is based on evidence that the brain evolved to sense the physical properties of the sounds produced by human voice, and then process them into meaningful elements of language, such as words, despite their high variability.

'Our work showed us it is possible to capture the brain signals that represent an intended word,' he said.

Such substantial progress brings the team closer to building an effective prosthetic device, but the work must continue.

'Better understanding of language organization and better recording devices will allow us to achieve useful implantable, wireless and battery-powered speech prosthesis,' said Knight.

So far, the work is based on rare data collected from patients that have been scheduled for neurosurgery for a non-related reason, such as to treat epilepsy.

'Our ultimate goal is to create a small device that can be used in everyday life,' he said.


http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3613443/The-device-eavesdrops-voices-head-Mind-reaching-machine-soon-turn-secret-thoughts-speech.html


19  Other / Politics & Society / War Crimes of Imperial Japan: A Lesson In Moral Equivalence for Mr. Obama on: May 28, 2016, 09:42:45 PM





A terrified baby left in Shanghai's South Station after a Japanese bombing



President Obama made a single, vague reference to “evil” during his prepared remarks in Hiroshima: “We may not be able to eliminate man’s capacity to do evil, so nations and the alliances that we form must possess the means to defend ourselves. But among those nations like my own that hold nuclear stockpiles, we must have the courage to escape the logic of fear and pursue a world without them.”

He spoke at length about the horrors experienced by the populace of Hiroshima:

    We stand here in the middle of this city and force ourselves to imagine the moment the bomb fell. We force ourselves to feel the dread of children confused by what they see. We listen to a silent cry. We remember all the innocents killed across the arc of that terrible war and the wars that came before and the wars that would follow.

    Mere words cannot give voice to such suffering. But we have a shared responsibility to look directly into the eye of history and ask what we must do differently to curb such suffering again.

“Let all the souls here rest in peace, for we shall not repeat the evil,” he said, when reading the inscription on a monument at the Peace Memorial Park.

He somehow forgot to mention the evils perpetrated by Imperial Japan or the unspeakable suffering it inflicted upon POWs and civilians who fell into its clutches.

Let’s correct that oversight, to help the President understand why moral equivalence is the dim refuge of lazy minds, and equating American troops with the Axis forces they defeated is an outrage.

Pearl Harbor

We can start with the one everybody knows about: the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. That was a war crime, Mr. Obama, as very clearly stated in the relevant international laws of the day. It was accompanied by equally illegal bombings against Singapore, Hong Kong, and the Philippines, as part of a very deliberate Japanese strategy. In Hiroshima, Obama’s sole criticism of the Empire of Japan was some mumbled mush about “mistakes of the past,” and that wasn’t even exclusively directed at the Japanese. Nothing they did was a mistake.


Mr. Obama, who claims to be a lawyer and devotee of international law, may be interested to know that every single one of the 3,581 casualties at Pearl Harbor (according to the National WWII Museum tally) were considered non-combatants, including the 2,403 military personnel who were killed, because Japan did not declare war before the attack. If it happened today, it would be rightly denounced as a terrorist attack.

The Bataan Death March

Here’s another one every American school kid should know about: the Bataan Death March. There was no swift death for the thousands of Americans and Filipinos under siege by Japanese forces in the Philippines. They were already sick and starving when they surrendered to the Japanese.

In an act of pure, deliberate sadism, because they were enraged by stiff American resistance during the siege, the Japanese forced their prisoners to march a hundred miles to a prison camp on foot. Many of the prisoners were killed out of hand, including anyone who dared to ask for water… and anyone who collapsed from dehydration. POWs reported Japanese soldiers taking away their meager supply of water and feeding it to horses while they watched. Starving men were tortured with false offers of food. Prisoners who accepted gifts of food from civilians along the route were murdered.

Some were murdered merely for possessing Japanese items, including currency. They were killed by beheading and run through with bayonets, as well as gunshots. Bayonet victims died from orgies of frenzied stabbing, not clean and swift impalement. Some of the captives were reportedly driven insane by exposure to the sun.  They were also crammed into barbed-wire pens were malaria, dengue fever, dysentery, and other diseases ran wild.

It has been estimated that between 5,000 and 11,000 of Japan’s prisoners were killed during the Bataan Death March. That wasn’t the only death march the Empire perpetrated, either. The prisoners of Sandakan were subjected to multiple forced marches, once the Japanese lost interest in using them as slave labor. By the time they were finished, only six of the original 2,390 prisoners were still alive.

One of the Japanese torture methods recounted by survivors of Sandakan involved pouring water down a prisoner’s throat until his stomach became distended, and then kicking him in the stomach.

About half of Japan’s captives in the Pacific died before the end of the war. Brave men who survived the experience spent the rest of their lives refusing to talk about what they went through.

The Rape of Nanking

Citizen of the World Barack Obama doesn’t much care for the idea of “American exceptionalism,” so he might want to consider the atrocities Imperial Japan perpetrated against the people of other countries, too. In Bataan and other POW atrocities, for example, the Japanese were even more brutal toward Filipinos than Americans. China, of course, still remembers the Rape of Nanking.

That was a literal rape, involving up to 80,000 sexual assaults. The once-prosperous city of Nanking, capital of Nationalist China at the time, was laid waste. Japanese conquerors murdered men, women, and children by the thousands, leaving bodies piled up along the streets. The Yangtze River turned red from all the blood.

The death toll ran into the hundreds of thousands, leaving some modern observers to speak of genocide. The exact body count remains a matter of political dispute between Japan and China to this day. The figure generally accepted at post-war trials was over 200,000, but some think the total number is closer to 400,000.

Imperial Japan approached its Chinese foes with the same strategy ISIS uses against its enemies today: maximum carnage and savagery, to terrorize the foe into submission. They used some of the exact same methods ISIS does, including burning captives alive, beheading them, and burying them alive in slaughter pits.


http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2016/05/27/war-crimes-imperial-japan-lesson-moral-equivalence-mr-obama/


20  Other / Politics & Society / W.H.O. Refuses To Move Rio Olympics Over Zika Virus Outbreak In South America… on: May 28, 2016, 03:27:26 PM



The World Health Organization (WHO) has rejected a call to move or postpone this summer’s Rio Olympic Games over the Zika outbreak.

It said this would “not significantly alter” the spread of the virus, which is linked to serious birth defects.

In an open letter to the WHO, more than 100 leading scientists had said new findings about Zika made it “unethical” for the Games to go ahead.

They also said the global health body should revisit its Zika guidance.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said it sees no reason to delay or move the Games because of the mosquito-borne disease.

The outbreak began in Brazil a year ago, but now more than 60 countries and territories have continuing transmission.

Between February and April 2016, Brazil’s health ministry registered 91,387 likely cases of the Zika virus.

The number of babies born with Zika-linked defects stood at 4,908 in April.
While Zika’s symptoms are mild, in the letter the experts say it causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads and may also cause a rare and sometimes fatal neurological syndrome in adults.


http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-36401150


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Decision based on settled science or big money? WHO decides...?


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