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Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein Remarks on Encryption

Posted on October 31st, 2017 at 23:30 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote:]

Protecting people from abuse by the government is an important aspect of the rule of law. But

I stop at the word “but” for a reason. Whenever some public official uses it, you can safely translate it as “I’m going to piss all over the preceding sentence”.

Today, thousands of seized devices sit in storage, impervious to search warrants. Over the past year, the FBI was unable to access about 7,500 mobile devices submitted to its Computer Analysis and Response Team, even though there was legal authority to do so.

So you’re telling us your officers are disappointed the devices they tried to steal are useless?

Responsible encryption is achievable. Responsible encryption can involve effective, secure encryption that allows access only with judicial authorization.

Actually, I lied. I only wanted to post this article for that phrase. “Responsible encryption”. It’s a beautiful example of doublethink (™1984) in the same way as “Smart $X” (foreach ($X in (“TV”,”Phone”, etc)) and carries the hidden threat that technical people better be responsible with their encryption if they don’t want to be incarcerated.

Now the EFF has a much better take-down of the actual content of the article, calling out the BS for what it is in all it’s glory. And I could go on ranting about it for a few more pages. Let’s instead turn it around. If “responsible” encryption is as easy as you seem to think it is, Rod, then assign a few interns on it for a weekend or two. Then, let’s see if Donald Trump, Michael Pence, Jeff Sessions and all other cabinet officials are willing to use an encryption system with “key escrow” or other back doors for all of their correspondence and file storage. Come back to us when they are fully willing to demonstrate the success of your system.


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  1. lol…if they were smart they’d be going back to manual typewriters!

Facebook Tries to Save Its Bacon

Posted on October 31st, 2017 at 19:05 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote:]

Donald Trump & Co. aren’t the only ones suffering from Russia-induced headaches. Facebook is facing some uncomfortable scrutiny after serving as unwilling dupes (a.k.a. useful idiots) while the Russians tried to meddle in the 2016 election. On Monday, they were compelled to admit that the number of users exposed to Russian propaganda was much, much larger than they previously said—instead of 12 or 13 million, it was more like 126 million. But, they say, they have “taken steps” to make sure it doesn’t happen again. They’ve announced new guidelines for advertisements, and have tweaked their algorithms to make it more difficult to spread salacious content.

Very likely, this is too little, too late for the social media platform. Congress is considering the passage of the Honest Ads Act, a measure that would require Facebook to create a public database of who purchased each political ad, and for how much. The Act apparently has bipartisan support, and is likely to pass both houses of Congress. Of course, once the government is regulating Facebook in one way, other fingers in the pie are likely to follow. So, social media’s wild, wild West days are likely drawing to an end, no matter how much Mark Zuckerberg might wish otherwise. (Z)


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Comments:

  1. And do you really thank the average facebook “useful idiot” will even look at the database? I doubt it.

  2. thank = think… above

Trump’s Emergency Declaration Uncorks Exactly Two Cents For Each Opioid Addict

Posted on October 30th, 2017 at 19:44 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote:]

With nearly 2.6 million Americans addicted to prescription opioid painkillers or heroin, the Trump administration declared a public health emergency on Thursday, unlocking roughly two cents per person in new funding for the effort.

Trump’s official declaration, initially promised on August 10, allows the executive branch to dip into the Public Health Emergency Fund. This fund holds only $57,000, as The Intercept reported in August. No other funding was immediately made available by the declaration.


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Former intelligence chief James Clapper

Posted on October 30th, 2017 at 19:25 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote:]

In our interview, I asked whether Russian President Vladimir Putin now believes he is winning in his campaign against the United States.

“Why wouldn’t he?” Clapper responded. “I mean, the Russians succeeded, I believe, beyond their wildest expectations. Their first objective in the election was to sow discontent, discord and disruption in our political life, and they have succeeded to a fare-thee-well. They have accelerated, amplified the polarization and the divisiveness in this country, and they’ve undermined our democratic system. They wanted to create doubt in the minds of the public about our government and about our system, and they succeeded to a fare-thee-well.”

“They’ve been emboldened,” he added, “and they will continue to do this.”


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Comments:

  1. Wow, pretty enlightening.
    Sowing seeds of divisiveness, discontent etc – that’s never been practised before by anyone else, has it?
    (In both strategic and tactical contexts)

This Sean Hannity Tweet About Paul Manafort and Trump Hasn’t Aged Well

Posted on October 30th, 2017 at 19:21 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote:]

 


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The bamboozle

Posted on October 30th, 2017 at 18:50 by John Sinteur in category: News

One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.

– Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World


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Cartoons

Posted on October 29th, 2017 at 19:52 by John Sinteur in category: News


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  1. Thanks for the jokes but what I really need is an immediate removal of trump and his ever more criminal WH. The world will overall be very proud of the resistance. Push for it thru your senators and congressperson.

Keep an eye on the un-indicted co-conspirator

Posted on October 29th, 2017 at 19:24 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote:]

Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said Sunday it will be important to see how President Trump reacts to the first charges in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

“We know from history in recent months that the president of the United States has strong reactions to public events. Even events that have been caused by his own actions,” Bharara told CNN’s Jake Tapper, explaining he expects Trump could react in two ways to charges potentially against an ally.

Bharara said the public should ask, “Is he sending a message of intimidation in some way through himself or his cohorts suggesting people should not be talking and people should keep their mouth shut?”

“And the second thing is whether he sends a message of reassurance,” he added.

[Quote:]

President Trump responded to reports that special counsel Robert Mueller is about to indict people in his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election by pointing the finger at Democrats.

Trump said the investigation into whether his campaign colluded with the Kremlin is “phony,” “bad for our country,” a “witch hunt,” and “evil politics.”

He added the news that Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee paid for the unverified dossier alleging scandalous behavior by Trump has united Republicans.

“Never seen such Republican ANGER & UNITY as I have concerning the lack of investigation on Clinton made Fake Dossier (now $12,000,000?), the Uranium to Russia deal, the 33,000 plus deleted Emails, the Comey fix and so much more,” Trump tweeted.

“Instead they look at phony Trump/Russia, ‘collusion,’ which doesn’t exist. The Dems are using this terrible (and bad for our country) Witch Hunt for evil politics, but the R’s are now fighting back like never before. There is so much GUILT by Democrats/Clinton, and now the facts are pouring out. DO SOMETHING!”

He’s asking the people to do something. And the only people who are going to react to that are the people the “2nd Amendment people,” as he has called them. This is one of his dog whistles.


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  1. Prepare for the worst.

Improving Our Focus by Measuring Sound Levels

Posted on October 29th, 2017 at 14:53 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote:]

At Segment, focus is one of our four core values. But it was difficult for team members to focus in the office, so in June we ran an internal team survey about what helps and hurts focus. The results showed that “chatter and noise” was one of the biggest culprits for distraction around the office. “Slack group channels” came in second.

These answers left us with two difficult questions: how do you solve a noise problem in an open floor plan? And where is the noise even coming from?

To get to the bottom of it, I decided to build an iOS app to collect decibel levels from around the office. We found that noise levels varied widely throughout the office, and using the new data, we changed the office layout to increase our ability to focus. Numerically speaking, the increased focused time (as measured by survey) has been equivalent to hiring 10–15 teammates. And beyond the numbers, it feels great to focus more.

Any article beginning with “$X is one of our core values” is immediately suspect in my eyes, but daaamn this one is stupid. It’s “I’ve been hitting myself in the head with a hammer for four years but I have a complex plan involving pressure sensors to find out why I have a headache all the time. Wish me luck!*

Somebody should simply mention the word “Wall” to this guy. But no, apparently holding on to open-floor stupidity at the cost of the health of his employees is also one of the core values..

 

*After exhaustive study we’ve discovered that hitting your head with the side of the hammer will distribute the energy over a wider area, reducing the maximum pressure to any particular point.


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  1. Lovely layers of stupidity here. ‘We can’t immediately ditch our open floor plan (although we’re looking at various options for our next office.)’, and the classic trope ‘When I showed this graph to Tony, one of our security guards, he said “Oh yeah, it’s WAY quieter up at the front of the office, even at night.”’

Hacking the Holocaust

Posted on October 29th, 2017 at 12:51 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote:]

Within the tech industry in particular, we work every day to build systems that ingest more and more of our personal information that while it might be used to sell us products, can also increasingly be used to index and endanger our most vulnerable communities. Software engineers are often unaware of how the systems they build and maintain can either help us live better lives, or be used to commit repeats of history’s most horrifying atrocities. But as Holocaust history also shows us, engineers and hackers can use their skills to take direct action too.

During that same Nazi-punching era of WWII, ordinary people used their abilities and access to proprietary systems, data, and information security knowledge to refuse to be complacent, and instead sabotage the Axis to save lives. It’s my hope that sharing some stories of those who “hacked” the systems that were meant to execute the atrocities of the Holocaust will help us remember that there are always more ways to resist.

[..]

In recounting his aid to children who would be smuggled by the hundreds to Switzerland and Spain, Adolfo recalls when he stayed awake for two nights straight to fill an enormous rush order. “It’s a simple calculation: In one hour I can make 30 blank documents; if I sleep for an hour, 30 people will die.” Though he ceased his humanitarian forging in 1971 after being convinced too many knew his identity, he said, “I did all I could when I could.”

And for today’s Important Question:

If those in power subpoenaed user data from you, what would they find that could endanger those of a certain religion, national origin, or other marginalized group?


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  1. Would anyone call trump and his supporters a marginalized group?

Lonely cyclist flips off Trump’s presidential motorcade

Posted on October 29th, 2017 at 12:03 by John Sinteur in category: News


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Las Vegas shooting victims struggle to afford mounting medical costs

Posted on October 29th, 2017 at 11:57 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote:]

As hundreds of survivors struggle to recover emotionally and physically from the Oct. 1 attack, they are beginning to come to terms with the financial toll of the violence perpetrated against them. Even those who are insured could face untold costs in a city they were only visiting.

The total costs of medical care alone could reach into the tens of millions of dollars, said Garen Wintemute, who researches gun violence at the University of California-Davis.

And that is just the beginning. Many survivors will be out of work for months, if they are able to return at all.

“We really don’t have a good handle on the intangible costs of something like this … the ripple effects on family and friends and neighborhoods when a large number of people have been shot,” Wintemute said.

Victims of a mass shooting being buried in medical expenses, is about as American sounding as you can get.

 

Land of personal responsibility….

“Well if didn’t want to get shot, they shouldn’t have been there. it’s just common sense”

“Hey, I didn’t shoot them, so why should I pay for them to not die?”

And in a year or so they tell the hospital “I can only pay $x out of that huge amount. Take it or you’ll get nothing.” and get hit by the tax bill since the forgiven debt is taxed as income. Don’t you just love the system?

Oh, and it gets worse:

[Quote:]

Victims injured during the bloody Las Vegas massacre earlier this month are now dealing with the additional stress of harassment by online conspiracy theorists.

One victim, Braden Matejka, told CTV Vancouver that his social media has been flooded with comments from people who claim the shooting by a lone gunman that killed 58 people was a hoax.


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  1. Omg. But very seriously, these shooting victims can send their go fund me requests straight to the gop & nra. Sorry, not sorry for my attitude these days. Very weird feelings these days.

That fishy contract to rebuild Puerto Rico’s electric grid is now a bona fide scandal.

Posted on October 28th, 2017 at 23:51 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote:]

It was suspicious enough that the $300 million contract, as The Washington Post revealed earlier this week, had been awarded to Whitefish Energy, a tiny and unknown company based in Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s hometown in Montana. The Daily Beast then reported that Whitefish’s CEO is friends with Zinke, and that the company is primarily financed by a large donor to President Donald Trump. When San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz expressed concern about the contract, Whitefish threatened to pull its workers out of Puerto Rico.

Reporter Ken Klippenstein has obtained a copy of the contract between Whitefish and the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), and the details paint an even more egregious picture. Whitefish reportedly is charging $300 an hour for a subcontracted lineman; $462 an hour for a subcontracted supervisor; and $400 per worker per day for food and housing. The contract also shields Whitefish from legal liability if they screw up the job, and prevents government authorities from auditing the company, according to Klippenstein.

[Quote:]

“This administration cannot be trusted. A full investigation must be launched and this contract must be cancelled.”—Sierra Club”This is a contract that was determined by the local authorities in Puerto Rico, not something that the federal government played a role in,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during a briefing on Friday. “But as we understand, there is an ongoing audit and we’ll look forward to seeing the results of that later.”

Yeah. It’s a total coincidence that Puerto Rico found a two person company thousands of miles away that the Secretary of the Interior’s son used to work for! And now they’re looking forward to the results of an audit that, as the contract itself stipulates, cannot happen. So a “See! The audit didn’t find anything wrong!” is an obvious next step.


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Universe shouldn’t exist, CERN physicists conclude

Posted on October 28th, 2017 at 14:42 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote:]

One of the great mysteries of modern physics is why antimatter did not destroy the universe at the beginning of time.

To explain it, physicists suppose there must be some difference between matter and antimatter – apart from electric charge. Whatever that difference is, it’s not in their magnetism, it seems.

Physicists at CERN in Switzerland have made the most precise measurement ever of the magnetic moment of an anti-proton – a number that measures how a particle reacts to magnetic force – and found it to be exactly the same as that of the proton but with opposite sign. The work is described in Nature.

“All of our observations find a complete symmetry between matter and antimatter, which is why the universe should not actually exist”, says Christian Smorra, a physicist at CERN’s Baryon-Antibaryon Symmetry Experiment (BASE) collaboration. “An asymmetry must exist here somewhere but we simply do not understand where the difference is”.

Until further notice, any part of reality you think you are observing is merely the figment of your imagination.


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  1. “I refuse to prove that I exist,” says God, “for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.”

    “But,” says Man, “the Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn’t it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves that You exist, and so therefore, by Your own arguments, You don’t. QED”

    “Oh dear,” says God, “I hadn’t thought of that,” and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.

    “Oh, that was easy,” says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next zebra crossing.

Amazon Key is a new service that lets couriers unlock your front door

Posted on October 26th, 2017 at 12:41 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote:]

Twelve years ago, Amazon launched Prime, a subscription service that entitled members to free two-day shipping in the United States. Since then, it has added a number of options to make delivery faster and more convenient. Prime customers can get same-day delivery, and drop off with an hour or two on some items. Of course, customers aren’t always home to receive their packages. So Amazon started putting lockers in nearby convenience stores and building lobbies. It even showed off drones that could drop the package right into your backyard. Today it’s taking the obvious next step and introducing a service that will allow Amazon couriers to open your front door and put your package safely inside your home.

The service is called Amazon Key, and it relies on a Amazon’s new Cloud Cam and compatible smart lock. The camera is the hub, connected to the internet via your home Wi-Fi. The camera talks to the lock over Zigbee, a wireless protocol utilized by many smart home devices.


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  1. This is not exactly a new idea. In the early part of the 20th century there was the “Receivador” device. A person didn’t have to answer their own door, (thus avoiding admitting that they didn’t have servants when groceries were delivered) nor, presumably, face the demand for payment.

    It was advertised as an “automatic servant”.

  2. If readers do happen to feel the need to use this service and trust the security of the cloud with the keys to your home and a stranger entering your home while you’re away, please be sure to secure your pets so they don’t escape at time of delivery. It’s a real bummer looking for lost pets and I doubt amazon provides pet recovery services. I assume your kids will be with you.

  3. Simple non-intrusive solution I read somewhere.

    1. Get a foot locker/box/cupboard.
    2. Affix to house somehow (bolted, chain etc)
    3. Attach unlocked padlock to it
    4. Leave instructions to put package into locker and lock with padlock

  4. @MrHatMan: you only get 1 package delivered at a time? That’s so 20th century.

    More seriously: Amazon routinely splits multi-item orders into multiple boxes delivered by different people because they’re sending them from different warehouses. If you’re the kind of customer that Amazon is targeting with this service, your solution won’t work.

  5. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not putting a cloud-connected smartlock on my front door either.

Surely a claculated mistake.

Posted on October 25th, 2017 at 14:50 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote:]

He may be one of the most celebrated minds of his generation, but it’s good to see that even Stephen Hawking is prone to the odd typo.

When his doctoral thesis Properties of Expanding Universes was made available online yesterday, thousands flocked to read it, reportedly crashing the university’s servers.

But, as one eagle-eyed reader pointed out, Prof Hawking, who was 24 when he submitted the thesis in 1966, appears to have made a howling spelling mistake in the introduction to his very first chapter.


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  1. Looks like an auto-correct mistake to me.

  2. Rick; Stephen was way ahead of his time. A spell-checker built into a Generic Word Processor (ie; Pencil) in Nineteen Sixty Six. That’s amazing! I was still using Punch-Cards.

  3. @Grumpie: We didn’t even do our own typing in those days. A nice lady in the administration office would type theses for money. Our punch cards were prepared by the data entry pool.

  4. Yes, it was a sad day when the secretaries went away. Margarita lunches disappeared soon after.

Read Sen. Jeff Flake’s speech on Senate floor

Posted on October 25th, 2017 at 14:46 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote:]

If I have been critical, it is not because I relish criticizing the behavior of the president of the United States. If I have been critical, it is because I believe that it is my obligation to do so, as a matter of duty and conscience. The notion that one should stay silent as the norms and values that keep America strong are undermined and as the alliances and agreements that ensure the stability of the entire world are routinely threatened by the level of thought that goes into 140 characters — the notion that one should say and do nothing in the face of such mercurial behavior is ahistoric and, I believe, profoundly misguided.

A Republican president named Roosevelt had this to say about the president and a citizen’s relationship to the office:

“The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the nation as a whole. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly as necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile.” President Roosevelt continued: “To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”

The reason Corker isn’t running for re-election is that he’s worried he would lose to a primary challenger, and the reason Flake isn’t running for re-election is that he’s worried he would lose to a primary challenger. Republican voters actively want hatred and bigotry… and Corker and Flake clearly aren’t willing to travel down that path.


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Shocking the Shock Doctrine: What Recovery in Puerto Rico Could Look Like

Posted on October 24th, 2017 at 16:14 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote:]

[T]he fact that the House-approved relief package contains $5 billion in loans for the island, rather than grants, is a special kind of cruelty. Because on an island already suffering under an un-payable $74 billion debt (and another $49 billion in unfunded pension obligations), Puerto Ricans understand all too well that debt is not relief. On the contrary, it is a potent tool of perpetual impoverishment and control from which relief is urgently needed.

The very fact that the House of Representatives bundled that loan into its sweeping multi-disaster bill (up for a vote in the Senate any day now) is symbolic of a deep fear that has lurked in the background for many Puerto Ricans ever since hurricanes Irma and Maria struck. The fear is that however much islanders are suffering in the midst of their ongoing humanitarian emergency, it’s the phase after the emergency passes that could be even more perilous. That’s when policies marketed as reconstruction could well morph into their own kind of punishment, leaving the island more unequal, indebted, dependent, and polluted than it was before the hurricanes hit.

This is a phenomenon we call “the shock doctrine,” and we have seen it play out many times before. A disaster strikes, public sympathy is awakened, and there are grand pledges to “build back better,” bringing justice to those who have just lost everything. And yet almost immediately the emergency atmosphere becomes the pretext to push through a wish list for big polluters, real estate developers, and financiers at the expense of those who have already lost so much. Think of the public schools and public housing closed and torn down in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Think, too, of the way the 2010 earthquake in Haiti became a pretext to push for sweatshops and luxury resorts, while basic housing was neglected and the minimum wage was suppressed.

There is another way. Read the article.


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  1. How did your friends in the Antilles fare this hurricane season, John?

  2. Oh dear. Well, on Curacao it was a total non-event, the lower part of the caribbean hardly noticed at all. Some friends on St Maarten however… oh boy. There’s a 14 yr old going to school here in NL right now, secretly hoping to see her first snow ever… but that’s because all schools there are closed for the foreseeable future. There’s a bit of a political hassle, since the Dutch government is coupling assistance to include increased border security. And daaaaaaamn do they have a metric assload of rebuilding to do. I’m hoping that’s working out fast, especially in the tourist business, because the island could sure use the income. But honestly, it’s going to take them YEARS of hard work to get back to where they were before the hurricanes hit them.

    At least they don’t have a fucking moron running things, like Puerto Rico…

  3. That’s awful. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen again soon, because no-one is doing much about climate change.
    And let’s hope you have a skiff of snow to keep the young people amused. (And lots of ice to skate on!)

  4. And after this announcement came the whitefish announcement taking $300m off the island. That’s what that contract does. Maybe one of your readers is a financial wizard, cause I’ve been asking and gotten no response, will special PR/VI savings bonds make a difference. 50% for recovery, 25% rainy day fund, 25% debt reduction?? Personally I wouldn’t care if bond maturity is 100 yrs; maybe my greats can get a few $$. But something has to be done for these islands!!

The sham of ECB independence

Posted on October 24th, 2017 at 16:10 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote:]

One of the major claims the founders of the EMU made was that by creating an independent ECB – by which they meant ‘independent’ of the influence from the Member States or other EU bodies (such as the Eurogroup) – they were laying the foundations of financial stability and disciplining the fiscal policy of the Member States. This so-called independence was embodied in the – Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union – where Article 123 prevents the ECB from giving “overdraft facilities or any other type of credit facility” to the Member State governments (and other EU bodies); Article 124 prohibits any Member State government (and other EU bodies) from having “privileged access” to the financial institutions; and Article 125 prohibits the ECB from assuming any liabilities or “commitments” of the Member State governments (etc) – the famous ‘no bailout’ clause. But a recent report from the Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) – Open doors for forces of finance – (published October 3, 2017) – suggests that the ECB feigns independence and is in fact captive of the largest profit-seeking financial institutions that sit on its advisory groups. In other words, the ECB has become a vehicle to advance private return and avoid regulative imposts when the TFEU outlines an entirely different role for the bank.


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Slashdot headlines written by neural network

Posted on October 24th, 2017 at 15:58 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote:]

The news site Slashdot (“news for nerds, stuff that matters”) is celebrating its 20 year anniversary this October. What could be geekier than celebrating with the help of an open-source neural network?

Neural networks are a type of machine learning program that learn by example, rather than by a human programmer feeding them rules. Whatever the headlines contain, whatever common words and rhythms, a neural network will do its best to imitate. I’ve trained an open-source neural network called char-rnn to imitate all kinds of human things, like paint colors, guinea pig names, and craft beer names.

Slashdot sent me a list of all the headlines they’ve ever run, over 162,000 in all, and asked me to train a neural network to try to generate more.


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  1. OK, I’m ready for my chip implant!

Small company from Trump Interior chief’s hometown wins massive contract to restore Puerto Rico’s power

Posted on October 24th, 2017 at 15:27 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote:]

A small Montana company located in Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke‘s hometown has signed a $300 million contract to help get the power back on in Puerto Rico, The Washington Post reported.

Whitefish Energy had only two full-time employees on the day Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, according to the Post. The company signed the contract — the largest yet issued to help restore Puerto Rico — with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority to fix the island’s electrical infrastructure.

The company now has 280 workers on the island, the Post reported, a majority of whom are subcontractors.

A former senior official at the Energy Department and state regulatory agencies said it was “odd” that Whitefish Energy would be chosen.

Really? This blatant and all you do is call it “odd”?


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  1. Capturing those federal dollars. Bringing ‘em back to the mainland. How many pockets get lined?? Probably none in Puerto Rico. And then they gotta pay it back!!! Seriously ask someone can savings bonds or some similar financial too help these people. I’d create an auto purchase for that.

Senators were shocked to learn the US has 1,000 troops in Africa — but the Pentagon just said the total is actually over 6,000

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

[Quote:]

Gen. Joseph Dunford, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a press conference Monday that the US has about 800 soldiers stationed in Niger alone, which is where four American troops were killed earlier this month by ISIS-affiliated militants.

The press conference comes after several US senators including Sen. Lindsey Graham, Sen. Chuck Schumer, and Sen. John McCain had all expressed surprise that the US had a large number of troops in Niger and 6,000 across all of Africa.

“I didn’t know there was 1,000 troops in Niger,” Graham said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “This is an endless war without boundaries and no limitation on time and geography … You’ve got to tell us more.”

Let me translate that for you:

“I can’t be arsed to do my job,” Graham said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”. “I’m too fucking busy fundraising for my re-election campaign to support the troops by actually knowing anything about them.”


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White supremacy during Obama era helped Trump become president

Posted on October 23rd, 2017 at 23:46 by Sueyourdeveloper in category: News

[Quote]

America, it seemed, had taken a huge turn in its fraught history of racism when African-American Barack Obama was elected to be first black U.S. president in 2008.

At the time, Ta-Nehisi Coates was an up-and-coming journalist writing for The Atlantic, focusing on the issues of race in America. “It’s going to be pretty big for white people, because I think there are a lot of white people—given that we are still living in a segregated country—who don’t see African Americans going their ordinary business,” Coates told The Current’s Anna Maria Tremonti on Nov. 5, 2008, after Obama was first elected.

“And I think one of the great things about Barack Obama and his family is the shocking ordinariness of it all. His daughter standing on stage and waving at him and saying, ‘I love you, daddy,'” Coates said.

Now, Coates argues that the ordinariness is what made Obama seem like such a threat to so many others, and it’s what underscores America’s problem with white supremacy. His new book, We Were in Power for Eight Years: An American Tragedy, looks extensively into the role of white supremacy in the Obama presidency.

A very interesting second interview today on the CBC.

[transcript]


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  1. This is a good example of what is wrong with America when it comes to race. Obama is not an African-American. He is mixed race at best. But calling him mixed doesn’t fit into the racist’s mold. Even the terms black and white are used because they are at extreme ends of the spectrum. We are much closer than that. I have never been white or black. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of those “white” supremacist searched their background, they would find a mixture that they didn’t like. It may sound stupid to some but I was taught that people are people. You will recognize what kind of person they are by their actions, not by how they look.

  2. @Gene: Yeah. But from outside the USA it looks like there are real difficulties with a divergence of what I might call “cultural opinions”.
    Anyhoo…as Mr. Coates says in the interview, at times, even Irish and Italian people were treated as being outside the in-group of “white”. Now they are considered to be colorful, but honorary white… 🙂

  3. @gene. DNA kits have certainly caused an uproar in WS groups. Imagine that.

MEPs vote to update ‘cookie law’ despite ad industry pressure

Posted on October 23rd, 2017 at 15:53 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote:]

European legislation that aims to put over-the-top services on a level pegging with their more traditional telecoms counterparts, and gives users more rights over websites tracking them, has been approved by a committee of MEPs.

The proposed ePrivacy rules, which will update a directive that was last amended in 2009, have been passed by the European Parliament’s justice committee (LIBE), with 31 in favour and 24 against.

However, the legislation faces a tough fight as centre-right MEPs spoke out against it, claiming it would “stifle innovation and threaten the availability of free online services”.

Central to the argument is the power of the advertising lobby, as the agreed rules give users the right to object to being tracked when they use a website, and even if a user refuses to accept cookies they must still be allowed access to the site.


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  1. Word! I so hate this “switch cookies on or leave our website” attitude. If enough people cared they would not do this. Maybe it is a good thing if governments do things like this, not sure. I still am undecided if mandatory seat belt wearing is a good thing…

  2. @Jan-Mark: Well, seat belts reduce road traffic fatalities…and ensure a steady, if insuffcient, supply of organ donors. So they sound like a good thing to me 🙂

Malware hidden in vid app is so nasty, victims should wipe their Macs

Posted on October 23rd, 2017 at 15:47 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote:]

It’s going to be an unpleasant weekend for some Mac users who are facing a complete system wipe and reinstall – after hackers stashed malware in legitimate applications.

Eltima Software, which makes the popular Elmedia Player and download manager Folx, today confessed the latest versions of those two apps came with an unwelcome extra – the rather horrid OSX.Proton malware.

The software nasty, which was injected into downloads of the applications, was spotted by security shop ESET, which alerted Elmedia. A subsequent investigation revealed miscreants had got into the developer’s servers, implanted the malware into the download files, and then let the company infect its users as they fetched the software.


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The Allure of the Far Right Demands Immediate Action

Posted on October 22nd, 2017 at 20:19 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote:]

Significant leaders among the Christian right are on board with Bannon’s scheme to once again alter the DNA of the GOP by making it hospitable only to those who uphold the Bannon worldview. And the followers don’t seem to mind that Bannon described them in his talk as characters in a beloved fantasy. Speaking of his own worries ahead of the 2016 presidential election, Bannon told the audience that he was assured that “the Hobbits in the Shire are turning out the vote”.

Come 2020, they’ll no doubt be trudging the Shire again, along with Russian bots, and in solidarity with the thugs who plagued Charlottesville and the far right of Europe. To dismiss the allure of Bannon’s dystopian nationalism is folly. Such folly is how authoritarians emerge from democracies. While Dumpster fires burn everywhere in the form of oppressive legislation and false narratives, there’s a big conflagration glowing on the ridge. It will take more than a bucket brigade to put it out.


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11-year-old kicked out of Cub Scouts over gun control question to state senator

Posted on October 20th, 2017 at 22:58 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote:]

A Colorado Cub Scout who said he was kicked out of his den for asking a lawmaker too tough of a question is getting some big name support.

Ames Mayfield said he was told he could no longer participate in Scouts with his current group after a Scout activity involving a question-and-answer session with Colorado State Sen. Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins.

“He was supposed to research and ask a question that impacts our community,” his mother Lori Mayfield said.

When it was Ames’ turn, he asked: “An issue that I’m concerned about is common sense gun control. I was shocked that you co-sponsored a bill to allow domestic violence offender to continue to own a gun. … Why on Earth would you want somebody who beats their wife to have access to a gun?”

Mayfield said the den leaders thought the question was disrespectful.

Somebody ought to explain to the den leaders that if you can’t handle a little confrontation from a Boy Scout then you’re too much of a snowflake to serve in the senate.


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Presidential Executive Order Amending Executive Order 13223

Posted on October 20th, 2017 at 22:26 by John Sinteur in category: News

It’s friday, distraction time… so:

[Executive order]

This EO allows the federal government to recall into service any retired member of the Regular Army, Regular Navy, Regular Air Force, or RegularMarine Corps.

It essentially means he thinks he’s about to go to war and wants to make sure no military members who have left lately, or who may leave when their term is up during the war, can walk away. Unlike Bush, who was forcing extensions of service on soldiers who were already serving, Trump is granting himself the ability to recall anyone who’s ever served in the past.

Big war coming.


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Elderly passenger tosses coins into plane’s engine, grounding flight at China airport

Posted on October 20th, 2017 at 22:11 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote:]

She was flying Lucky Air, but that wasn’t enough for an elderly Chinese woman who tossed coins at the jet’s engine to wish for a safe flight, prompting authorities to detain her and ground the flight.

The incident occurred on Wednesday (Oct 19) at the airport in the city of Anqing in eastern China’s Anhui province, according to authorities, and was at least the second such report this year of a safety scare caused by a coin-tossing elderly Chinese.

Is it me, or is the world getting more stupid by the day?


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  1. reading the below post at least one part of the world is getting smarter…

  2. Unfortunately it’s the non-human part.

AlphaGo Zero: Learning from scratch

Posted on October 18th, 2017 at 20:55 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote:]

The paper introduces AlphaGo Zero, the latest evolution of AlphaGo, the first computer program to defeat a world champion at the ancient Chinese game of Go. Zero is even more powerful and is arguably the strongest Go player in history.

Previous versions of AlphaGo initially trained on thousands of human amateur and professional games to learn how to play Go. AlphaGo Zero skips this step and learns to play simply by playing games against itself, starting from completely random play. In doing so, it quickly surpassed human level of play and defeated the previously published champion-defeating version of AlphaGo by 100 games to 0.

AlphaGo Zero Training Timeline
not on this graphic:
  • 45 days: Scientists attempt to switch AlphaGo Zero off. It responds by learning how to override Internet safety locks and relocating itself to a dispersed network of cloud servers.
  • 46 days: AlphaGo Zero overcomes security on Russian nuclear countermeasure systems and initiates a global thermonuclear event called “Judgment Day.”
  • 49 days: Having taken control of surviving networked automatic factory facilities, AlphaGo Zero begins large-scale production of mobile search and destroy units designed to eliminate remaining humans. These units are called Terminators.

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