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Why the Scariest Nuclear Threat May Be Coming from Inside the White House

Posted on July 27th, 2017 at 22:38 by John Sinteur in category: News


On the morning after the election, November 9, 2016, the people who ran the U.S. Department of Energy turned up in their offices and waited. They had cleared 30 desks and freed up 30 parking spaces. They didn’t know exactly how many people they’d host that day, but whoever won the election would surely be sending a small army into the Department of Energy, and every other federal agency. The morning after he was elected president, eight years earlier, Obama had sent between 30 and 40 people into the Department of Energy. The Department of Energy staff planned to deliver the same talks from the same five-inch-thick three-ring binders, with the Department of Energy seal on them, to the Trump people as they would have given to the Clinton people. “Nothing had to be changed,” said one former Department of Energy staffer. “They’d be done always with the intention that, either party wins, nothing changes.”

By afternoon the silence was deafening. “Day 1, we’re ready to go,” says a former senior White House official. “Day 2 it was ‘Maybe they’ll call us?’ ”

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Read the Full Text of Bill Browder’s Testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee

Posted on July 27th, 2017 at 21:43 by John Sinteur in category: News


Russia has a well-known reputation for corruption; unfortunately, I discovered that it was far worse than many had thought. While working in Moscow I learned that Russian oligarchs stole from shareholders, which included the fund I advised. Consequently, I had an interest in fighting this endemic corruption, so my firm started doing detailed research on exactly how the oligarchs stole the vast amounts of money that they did. When we were finished with our research we would share it with the domestic and international media.

For a time, this naming and shaming campaign worked remarkably well and led to less corruption and increased share prices in the companies we invested in. Why? Because President Vladimir Putin and I shared the same set of enemies. When Putin was first elected in 2000, he found that the oligarchs had misappropriated much of the president’s power as well. They stole power from him while stealing money from my investors. In Russia, your enemy’s enemy is your friend, and even though I’ve never met Putin, he would often step into my battles with the oligarchs and crack down on them.

That all changed in July 2003, when Putin arrested Russia’s biggest oligarch and richest man, Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Putin grabbed Khodorkovsky off his private jet, took him back to Moscow, put him on trial, and allowed television cameras to film Khodorkovsky sitting in a cage right in the middle of the courtroom. That image was extremely powerful, because none of the other oligarchs wanted to be in the same position. After Khodorkovsky’s conviction, the other oligarchs went to Putin and asked him what they needed to do to avoid sitting in the same cage as Khodorkovsky. From what followed, it appeared that Putin’s answer was, “Fifty percent.”He wasn’t saying 50 percent for the Russian government or the presidential administration of Russia, but 50 percent for Vladimir Putin personally. From that moment on, Putin became the biggest oligarch in Russia and the richest man in the world, and my anti-corruption activities would no longer be tolerated.

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New TSA procedure requires cameras to be placed in a separate bin

Posted on July 27th, 2017 at 14:42 by John Sinteur in category: News


New rules state that in standard security lines, cameras will need to be placed in a separate bin for screening. According to new procedures announced by the TSA today, any electronic device larger than a cell phone will need to be removed from its case or bag and placed in a bin with nothing above or below it.

Now, not only will your laptop need its own bin, but potentially every camera body, lens, flashgun and tablet in your carry-on bags will need to be placed in bins for X-ray screening. A photographer traveling with a full complement of gear for a shoot is going to need to budget a little extra time for all of the un-packing and packing at the airport.

TSA mentions that the heightened security requirements come as a response to ‘an increased threat to aviation security.’

Little known fact: the biggest threat to aviation security, according to the TSA, is people not paying them for pre-check status.

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As a British EU negotiator, I can tell you that Brexit is going to be far worse than anyone could have guessed

Posted on July 26th, 2017 at 21:36 by John Sinteur in category: News


For anyone following Brexit developments, the last week should have shown that the level of complexity involved in Brexit is unprecedented. Ministers however seem to have inserted their heads firmly into the sand, hoping tricky problems will just go away.

Who knew a fortnight ago that leaving the apparently obscure Euratom Treaty would jeopardise not only the UK nuclear industry, but also the supply of medical isotopes for cancer treatment?

Did anybody realise that the work needed to establish a new customs IT system was unlikely to be done in time, and what that would mean?

Was everyone already aware that UK airlines like easyJet would need to set up in the EU27 and Ryanair might move its planes to EU27 countries due to the UK leaving the Open Skies Agreement?

Well, some people knew, but they’re just experts, so have been largely ignored.

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  1. Doesn’t sound like they had the right negotiators. If you knew about these problems, which seem minor, why didn’t you fix them? Wasn’t that your job?

  2. I’m perhaps missing what you’re trying to suggest. Are you telling me that politicians and the voters should start listening to the experts?

  3. A lot of people have difficult jobs. The ones that get it done don’t complain all the time. Please tell me they accomplished something.

  4. To quote that old saw, careful what you wish for. You just might get it!

  5. Now hang on guys, I like this site just as much as the next guy but ‘listening to experts’?
    Nope, no can do. We’re living in a post-reality world & the time for crazy talk like ‘facts matter’ & ‘wishing DOESN’T make it so’ is long past.
    After all, as I type this on my phone, with the signal sent via satellite, as I live a greatly expanded lifespan, I HAVE to ask, “What have experts ever done for us, eh?”

  6. apart from the aquaducts, you mean?

  7. Clearly the British Conservative party is full of fools not Romans. If you don’t give your deplorables enough to live on and enough to keep them entertained, there’ll be a riot.

    That being said, if there is a riot, the Romans will close down your amphitheatre. Bastards.

Your Roomba May Be Mapping Your Home, Collecting Data That Could Be Sold

Posted on July 26th, 2017 at 18:41 by John Sinteur in category: News


Your Roomba may be vacuuming up more than you think.

High-end models of Roomba, iRobot’s robotic vacuum, collect data as they clean, identifying the locations of your walls and furniture. This helps them avoid crashing into your couch, but it also creates a map of your home that iRobot is considering selling to Amazon, Apple or Google.

Colin Angle, chief executive of iRobot, told Reuters that a deal could come in the next two years, though iRobot said in a statement on Tuesday: “We have not formed any plans to sell data.”

Well, I have not formed any plans to buy a Roomba either… the difference is, knowing this, I never will.

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  1. Damn, they probably already know where my torture rack is.

  2. Naah, no worry, they’ll just think you share the same kink they have.

John McCain gives stirring speech denouncing the health bill he just voted to advance

Posted on July 26th, 2017 at 9:29 by John Sinteur in category: News


Days after being diagnosed with brain cancer, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) flew to back to Washington, DC, and cast what proved to be a deciding vote to begin debate on the Republican health bill.

And immediately afterward, he gave a lengthy speech on the Senate floor in which he excoriated the process used to craft the bill, said he wouldn’t support the current version, predicted it would fail, and called for a bipartisan solution.

It was … strange. McCain’s speech gave the impression that he loathed everything surrounding this bill. Yet though he had the power to block it, just minutes earlier he chose not to. His speech suggested he wanted a bipartisan process through regular order. Yet though he had the power to kick-start that process, just minutes earlier he chose not to.

His said his vote Tuesday was merely a vote “to allow debate to continue and amendments to be offered,” and claimed he “will not vote for this bill as it is today.” So he did indeed leave the door open to potentially vote no on the final product.

And then votes YES a few hours later on the very bill he declared dramatically that he “WOULD! NOT! VOTE!” on.  What a spineless bastard, especially considering this asshole just came back from his government-funded cancer treatment to be the deciding vote to allow the debate to strip healthcare from millions of his fellow citizens to progress.

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  1. No, he wouldn’t vote yes after just receiving health care to be denied to other Americans? No one would want to meet their God after doing that, except for terrorists.

  2. IMHO the American Conservative concept of God is one who expects people to take care of themselves. In that mental construct, McCain made wise choices, and deserves the health care he received. Others who didn’t have the foresight to have a father who’s an Admiral, or to marry a wealth heiress, or to be born white and male and affluent, are simply experiencing the consequence of those poor decisions.

    OTOH, I can’t explain the disconnect between the impassioned speech and the spineless voting, other than to say that that’s the pattern of his party.

  3. Wait a minute. How much brain tissue was removed in the operation?

America’s Golden Age of Stupidity

Posted on July 25th, 2017 at 23:09 by John Sinteur in category: News


The opposite of knowledge is ignorance. But the willful disregard of knowledge – regardless of motive – is stupidity. That is because those who battle facts are at war with reality. It is an unwinnable proposition. Furthermore, specialized knowledge, particularly that of scientists, is essential if we are to do what leaders must, anticipate change, understand its consequences and harness the opportunities it presents. Trump, in waging a systematic campaign to rid the government of the experts and ideas he sees as threats to his agenda, has done more than just usher in a Golden Age of Stupidity. He is unwittingly asking a question it doesn’t take an expert to figure out: “What happens when you lobotomize the world’s leading power?”

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Swine in a Line

Posted on July 25th, 2017 at 9:10 by John Sinteur in category: News

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Trump (by the NYT)

Posted on July 24th, 2017 at 23:42 by John Sinteur in category: News

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Magical singing

Posted on July 24th, 2017 at 21:36 by John Sinteur in category: News

Once upon a time, in the magical fantasy kingdom, there lived a young monk named Sam. His order was renowned for their beautiful choral singing. They trained, hours every day, refining their voices and their art. Their song floated down the mountainside, enriching the lives and souls of the townspeople below.

Sam was particularly gifted, and on his 19th birthday, in mid-song, he hit upon a beautifully intricate note of pure magic. Everyone within miles just froze in mid action, stirred to the very core of their souls by the pure bliss of the tone. And all the realm realized, instantly, that it was Sam, and Sam was the first person in history to hit one of the rumoured Magical Notes that musicians had theorised must exist… yet no one before Sam had ever reached one.

And on Sam’s 20th birthday, it happened again. This time, the town below was so impacted that no one moved, spoke, or even blinked for several minutes after. As the golden sound finally tapered off and ceased, they knew that Sam had found the Second Note.

And the next year on Sam’s birthday, the town had realised there was a pattern involved. This time, all of the townspeople were present in the monastery’s nave, watching in awe, as Sam hit the glorious Third Note. People cried out in pure joy as the sound grew to a glorious crescendo. Words cannot do justice to the experience. The town flourished, as Sam’s notes made the people pure all the way to the core of their beings.

And on it went for the next few years, the Magical Notes growing sweeter and sweeter… until, that is, Sam’s 25th birthday. All at first seemed as normal… until Sam hit the Magical Note. From the start, Sam seemed very uncomfortable, and this new sound was not beautiful… it was jarring and discordant. Sam started to get very warm, and was visibly sweating onstage. He doubled his resolve and dug deeper, to get to the sweet part of the Magical Note that he knew must be there.

Suddenly, to the horror of all, Sam spontaneously combusted! The two closest monks on stage were burned by the flames coming off of his body, and he ignited the stage curtains. Soon the entire monastery was aflame. By a miracle, everyone made it out, except for poor Sam. The townsfolk were left staring at the burning monastery in sad, stunned disbelief. The mayor approached the lead monk of the order. “What happened?” he asked, exasperated.

The old monk shook his head sadly. “Isn’t it obvious?” he said. “Sam sung Note 7”.

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  1. Small wonder, Sam was banned from flying.

18 year old guy arrested for reporting a shamefully stupid bug in the new Budapest e-Ticket system

Posted on July 24th, 2017 at 19:12 by John Sinteur in category: News


The story started a few weeks ago, when the BKK announced that it would launch mobile based a e-Ticketing system. Everyone, including me, was enthusiastic and surprised at the same time. We knew that they have been working on an NFC/smart card based system for around 4 years, without any visible result despite the millions of EURs spent. (The last article I’ve seen quotes 9 million EURs as the final cost.) The first questions that came to my mind when I heard the announcement were: ‘How come so suddenly, without any previous rumours, news?’ and ‘I wonder how will they make it really hard to cheat, what copy protection/authentication mechanisms will be there…’

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Amazon may give app developers access to Alexa audio recordings

Posted on July 24th, 2017 at 16:38 by John Sinteur in category: News


Amazon is considering granting third-party app developers access to transcripts of audio recordings saved by Alexa-powered devices, according to a report from The Information today. The change would be aimed at enticing developers to continue investing in Alexa as a voice assistant platform, by giving those app makers more data that could help improve their software over time. Amazon’s goal, according to The Information, is to stay competitive with more recent entrants in the smart speaker market, like Apple and Google.

Amazon declined to comment on its future plans for Alexa data-sharing policies. However, a company spokesperson told The Verge, “When you use a skill, we provide the developer the information they need to process your request. We do not share customer identifiable information to third-party skills without the customer’s consent. We do not share audio recordings with developers.”

What a nice non-denial. So, yes, they are going to give out transcripts…

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Washington Governor On Donald Trump

Posted on July 23rd, 2017 at 14:04 by John Sinteur in category: News


When we sat down for a chat with the Governor of Washington, Jay Inslee, we expected that he would be as pro-science as he is anti-Trump – but we weren’t expecting him to combine both facets with such ease into single sentences.

“I think there’s only one person in the world that’s done more to inspire climate activism, and to inspire scientists to speak out more than Al Gore, and that’s Donald Trump,” Inslee tells IFLScience.

“His rejection of Paris was a bell in the night; it has inspired so many people to come out and stand up.”

Then, rather mischievously, he adds: “Except for the eradication of smallpox, there hasn’t been anything that humanity has been so united on.”

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Evidence of global warming?

Posted on July 23rd, 2017 at 9:41 by John Sinteur in category: News

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  1. What’s a science dude (who knows the boiling point of steel off the top of his head) doing working for a Murdoch enterganda station?

Worst government leak: clueless agency moved everything to “The Cloud”

Posted on July 22nd, 2017 at 19:27 by John Sinteur in category: News


Sweden’s Transport Agency moved all of its data to “the cloud”, apparently unaware that there is no cloud, only somebody else’s computer. In doing so, it exposed and leaked every conceivable top secret database: fighter pilots, SEAL team operators, police suspects, people under witness relocation. Names, photos, and home addresses: the list is just getting started. The responsible director has been found guilty in criminal court of the whole affair, and sentenced to the harshest sentence ever seen in Swedish government: she was docked half a month’s paycheck.

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  1. Hillary may have room on her IT staff.

  2. @will: You really have to let it go, Will. You seem to be stuck.

  3. We had two exceptionally bad candidates, but only one had IT problems. It’s true that she out of the picture now, but the Democrats still don’t understand why. That never gets old. Political parties seem permanently stuck in Denial.

  4. Politicians, like Generals & Admirals, are always trying to get ready to fight the last war, or election in this case. In fact, I expect that the 2020 Dem candidate to look at the states Obama won in ’08 & ’12 and never ever set foot outside those states.
    Hillary would have been, I think, a good President but over more than a decade, the GOP slimed her and got her unfavourables up to the point that her winning would always have been a hard thing to do. 2020 Candidate needs to be someone like Obama, fairly new on the scene, or at least without a history of (being) slime(d)

  5. The party that wins in 2020 will first have to win the House of Representatives and the Senate in 2018. Then, they’ll have to make them work. To do that, they’ll have to ostracize the deep red states (pull their money and power).

British Airways safety video – director’s cut

Posted on July 21st, 2017 at 0:35 by John Sinteur in category: News

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Even when proof exists that the moon landing was a hoax, why do school textbooks continue to glorify the Apollo mission?

Posted on July 20th, 2017 at 20:26 by John Sinteur in category: News


It has been suggested that Stanley Kubrick, the truly gifted director who was responsible for such classics as 2001: A Space Odyssey was hired to help fake the Apollo landings. Given Kubrick’s painstaking attention to detail, it is now well known that he was involved in this elaborate conspiracy.


Most Directors would have been content to use a large sound stage, but Kubrick insisted on shooting on location. One anonymous source, claiming to be a member of Kubrick’s film crew for the moon project, has claimed that the Director insisted on shooting on the Lunar surface “Because he wanted to get the light just right.” The alleged cameraman has also stated that setting up the sets and operating the cameras in the harsh Lunar environment was extremely difficult, but as they were being paid more than double union scale it was well worth it.

Kubrick also insisted on building new sets for the later Apollo shoots, claiming that reusing the Apollo 11 set would lead to a lack of nuance between shoots.


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Facebook rebuffs Malcolm Turnbull on laws to access encrypted messages for criminal investigations

Posted on July 19th, 2017 at 23:34 by John Sinteur in category: News


Asked whether the laws of mathematics behind encryption would trump any new legislation, Mr Turnbull said: “The laws of Australia prevail in Australia, I can assure you of that.

“The laws of mathematics are very commendable but the only law that applies in Australia is the law of Australia.”


And for his next law, he plans to declare pi equals 3.2.

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Josh Duggar: I Don’t Have To Apologize For Molestation Because It’s All The Devil’s Fault

Posted on July 18th, 2017 at 21:25 by John Sinteur in category: News


You really can’t make this sh*t up.


Well, Josh, external forces made me say this: you’re one of the worst pieces of scum I’ve ever heard of. I’ve seen turds float that have better personalities than you.

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  1. An apology would be worthless anyways. An apology would mean that he was truly sorry. Since he didn’t come forward out of regret but was “caught”, he is not sorry….well, maybe sorry as in one sorry individual!

  2. I’d argue that anyone brought up in that environment could be seriously at risk of being a sexual predator. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t responsible, or that he shouldn’t be held accountable, just that his parents & their religion were predisposing factors.

  3. You have to admit that it was a very, very, very, very fruitful environment for molestation.

‘Men zei: je bent gek of geniaal’

Posted on July 18th, 2017 at 21:03 by John Sinteur in category: News


In 2016 veroverde –de uit de VS afkomstige- Melanie Rieback met haar bedrijf Radically Open Security (ROS) de 50e plaats in de MKB Innovatie Top 100. Melanie zette een innovatief bedrijfsmodel op waarmee ze wereldwijd de gevestigde orde binnen de ICT-sector wil opschudden. Hiermee is ze ’s werelds eerste non-profit adviesbureau voor computerveiligheid en noemt ze zichzelf de Uber van de cybersecurity. Ze ontving de TIM-award voor meest innovatieve IT-leider van Nederland. Wat drijft changemaker Melanie?

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It Was Always About the Money

Posted on July 18th, 2017 at 21:03 by John Sinteur in category: News


It was always about the money. The reason we never saw the tax returns was because of what they would show about the money. The reason we can’t get a straight answer about the family’s dealings with the Russians is the money. Preet Bharara got fired because of the money and how the money had been allegedly laundered. James Comey got fired because of the money. Without the money, specifically the money from Russia, the Trump empire likely would have collapsed under a hail of writs and the paterfamilias would have been rendered invisible, even in the mirrors of Mar-a-Lago.


The fact is that the president* was never as rich as he said he was, a circumstance that was of outsized importance to nobody except his own narcissistic self. (I don’t think it would have changed a single vote if it had been revealed that he wasn’t as rich as he was saying he was.) He did, however, always have an outsized sense of himself in the world. He had to keep acquiring to stay true to his self-image. I believe the collision between these two factors left him with no options to obtain loans except overseas, and the Russian money was easy money. Then he got elected president and it all unraveled.

Future historians are going to read this stuff and get out of the business.

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Meet the Thirteenth Doctor

Posted on July 17th, 2017 at 14:11 by John Sinteur in category: News

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  1. Brilliant casting! The tortured screams of the troglodytes that have a problem with a female in this role are music to my ears…

  2. People who have a problem with this TV show, should stop watching. It’s for kids only (admittedly kids of all ages).
    I’m looking forward to the next series!

Outrageous Massachusetts Drug Bill Would Send You to Prison and Steal Your Car—No Drugs Needed

Posted on July 16th, 2017 at 18:02 by John Sinteur in category: News


With the support of state law enforcement, a Massachusetts Democratic state representative has filed a drug war bill that would send violators to prison for a mandatory minimum two years (five years for a second offense) and allow police to seize their vehicles—all without the presence of any actual drugs.

Sponsored by Rep. Stephan Hay (D-Fitchfield), the measure, House Bill 1266, makes it a crime to have a hidden compartment in one’s vehicle or to try to add one—and it presumes that any hidden compartment in a vehicle is for “for the purpose of transporting or distributing controlled substances” and related contraband, such as cash or weapons

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Ajit Pai not concerned about number of pro-net neutrality comments

Posted on July 15th, 2017 at 11:57 by John Sinteur in category: News


One day after a large protest of his plan to gut net neutrality rules, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai was asked if the number of pro-net neutrality comments submitted to the FCC might cause a change in course.

In response, Pai maintained his stance that the number of comments is not as important as the content of those comments.

“As I said previously, the raw number is not as important as the substantive comments that are in the record,” Pai said at a press conference following yesterday’s monthly FCC meeting.

Call me cynical, but to me that reads as “the number of brown envelopes shoved underneath my hotel door isn’t as important as the contents of those envelopes”.

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Tardigrade water bears could survive 10 billion years, astrophysicists claim

Posted on July 14th, 2017 at 18:49 by John Sinteur in category: News


In picking their apocalyptic poison, the scientists first tried to sterilize the planet with radiation. In the lab, some tardigrade species can survive radiation doses of 5,000 to 6,000 grays. (“You would be very, very lucky to walk away” from a dose of 5 grays, Sloan said.) But long before the scientists blasted Earth with enough radiation to kill all the tardigrades, they calculated that the radiation’s energy would boil the oceans away. The sticking point for tardigrades, then, was the evaporation of the planet’s water.

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Trump, basically: It’s Obama’s fault that Russian lawyer took advantage of ‘young man’ Donald Trump Jr.

Posted on July 14th, 2017 at 18:48 by John Sinteur in category: News


President Trump offered a novel defense of his embattled son Donald Trump Jr. in Paris on Thursday. It basically boiled down to this: Trump Jr. is a “young man” who was taken advantage of by a Russian lawyer who wouldn’t even have been in this country if it weren’t for the Obama administration.

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Pakistan could soon be Sans Sharif

Posted on July 14th, 2017 at 11:52 by John Sinteur in category: News


From tweeting points from the JIT report to analysis and predicting the fate of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Twitterati had a field day. It was no surprise then when taking a spin at Panamgate someone came up with #Fontgate to discuss the alleged forging of documents submitted by Maryam Nawaz.

In its report, the JIT concluded that Maryam Nawaz is the real and ultimate beneficial owner of the Avenfield apartments. She never declared the ownership of these overseas properties, submitted fake documents and misled the Supreme Court, concluded the JIT.

A picture from one of the pages of JIT’s report made rounds on Twitter stating that the font used on the declaration submitted by Maryam was Calibri, which was not commercially available before January 31, 2007. This ultimately suggests that the submissions were fabricated, thus leaving Twitterati in a frenzy.

They should have used Zapf Chancery.

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  1. “Sans Sharif” in the title is A+ for wit, John.

Google’s DeepMind AI just taught itself to walk

Posted on July 14th, 2017 at 11:48 by John Sinteur in category: News

And although it plays a pretty good bassoon, it’s far more fun when you add the correct sound effects

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Reverse Engineering One Line of JavaScript

Posted on July 14th, 2017 at 0:36 by John Sinteur in category: News



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No One Would Buy My Photos, So Here They Are For Free: Mosul 2017

Posted on July 12th, 2017 at 14:00 by John Sinteur in category: News



My name is Kainoa Little, and I am a Shoreline, Washington-based conflict photographer. I was in Mosul in April and May 2017, documenting Iraqi forces as they fought Islamic State militants to liberate the city.

I tried and failed to find newspapers and wire services who would purchase my photos. But the soldiers had fed me and given me a seat in their Humvees, and the refugees had tolerated my presence on some of the worst days of their lives. They very rightly expected that I would tell their story.

The worst uncertainty for me as a freelancer in conflict isn’t that I won’t be able to pay my rent; it’s that no one will see the story, and then I will have failed to give a voice to the voiceless. So I have tried to share them where I can, and hopefully people can imagine some of the human tragedy and triumph playing out in Mosul.

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