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Gender: Male
Hometown: VA
Home country: USA
Current location: VA
Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 46,292

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Journal Archives

And the other shoe drops regarding Apple:

Apple’s response to US and UK government demands for backdoors to user data has been direct, bordering on defiant. Yesterday (Feb. 16), Apple CEO Tim Cook published a letter explaining the company’s refusal to comply with a US federal court order to help the FBI access data on a phone recovered from one of the attackers in the San Bernardino, California shootings.

Apple appears to take a different tack in dealing with data security demands from China, a key growth market for the company.

In January 2015, the state-run newspaper People’s Daily claimed, in a tweet, that Apple had agreed to security checks by the Chinese government. This followed a piece in the Beijing News (link in Chinese) that claimed Apple acceded to audits after a meeting between Cook and China’s top internet official, Lu Wei. China’s State Internet Information Office would reportedly be allowed to perform “security checks” on all Apple products sold on the mainland. According to the report, this was despite Cook’s assurances that the devices didn’t contain backdoors accessible by any government, including the US.

If Apple had indeed agreed to a Beijing security audit, it could have shared vital information with the Chinese government, such as its operating system’s source code, that could indirectly help government agents discover vulnerabilities on their own. It would have been a serious departure from Apple’s public, privacy-centric stance.

Cook has said on earnings calls that he believes the Greater China region, which includes Taiwan and Hong Kong along with the mainland, will eventually become Apple’s biggest market. Some could get the impression that Apple capitulated to Beijing’s security demands because it wanted access to a huge and growing market.


How this company tracked 16,000 Iowa caucus-goers via their phones

On Thursday morning, I listened to an interview with the CEO of “a big data intelligence company” called Dstillery; it “demystifies consumers’ online footprints” to target them with ads. The CEO told public radio program Marketplace something astounding: his company had sucked up the mobile device ID’s from the phones of Iowa caucus-goers to match them with their online profiles.

Via Marketplace:

“We watched each of the caucus locations for each party and we collected mobile device ID’s,” Dstillery CEO Tom Phillips said. “It’s a combination of data from the phone and data from other digital devices.”

Dstillery found some interesting things about voters. For one, people who loved to grill or work on their lawns overwhelmingly voted for Trump in Iowa, according to Phillips.

When I heard this, I wondered how the company was doing this. Did they have employees at all the caucus locations holding phone-sniffing devices? The idea that phone-toting people could walk up to vote and immediately have their real world identities matched with a profile based on their digital trail would indeed be, as Marketplace headlined its piece, a “new frontier in voter tracking.”


Beware of the angry white male public intellectual

Richard Dawkins is a bestselling author and atheist pundit who’s been credited with “redefining the role of the public intellectual in Western culture.” As recent events have shown, he’s also part of a largely unacknowledged problem with online harassers.

Late last month, Dawkins approvingly posted a video of a feminist activist known as Chanty Binx, blasting it to his more than one million followers. The video, created by men’s rights activists, features a cartoon caricature of Binx singing a duet with an “Islamist” about how similar they are. It concludes with the cartoon Binx inviting the man to rape her, because “it’s not rape when a Muslim does it.”

When feminist writer Lindy West noted on Twitter that Dawkins was actually pointing his followers at a real woman who’d received death threats for her views in the past, Dawkins deleted the post. Then he apologized for deleting it and went right back to name-calling, declaring that Binx was probably lying about her (documented) harassment. “I was momentarily persuaded, probably wrongly, that a human life (however vile) might be threatened,” he wrote. (Dawkins has since had a minor stroke and has yet to respond to requests for comment. He said in a message recorded Feb. 13 that stress related to his involvement in recent controversies–and his subsequent disinvitation from an upcoming conference–may have contributed to his stroke.)

Men with real power are giving online harassment campaigns the stamp of intellectual seriousness. When we talk about online trolls, we tend to cling to the stereotype that they are anonymous types who wield little power offline. These are the kinds of trolls we associate with GamerGate or the men’s rights movement. But we need to start acknowledging that men with real power and authority are fostering online harassment. Such public intellectuals are perhaps even more dangerous—both because they give online harassment a larger and more mainstream audience, and because they give those campaigns the stamp of moral or intellectual seriousness.


bloody brilliant...

Lost in translation - Wal-Mart stumbles hard in Brazil

When Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT.N) first expanded into Brazil's midwestern farm-belt city of Campo Grande seven years ago, the economy was booming and executives were eager to open stores even in sub-prime locations on one-way streets heading out of town.

It didn’t last. At the end of December, the U.S. retailer closed both of its Maxxi brand cash-and-carry stores in Campo Grande as part of a restructuring that shuttered 60 locations across Brazil, including some Supercenters. Shoppers said the stores could not compete on assortment, price or location.

"It was never clear who Maxxi was for. It wasn't cheap enough for the poor. But there was no appeal for the middle class," said Ordecy Gossler, 40, a public accountant filling his cart with cleaning supplies and toilet paper at Atacadăo, a rival chain run by France's Carrefour (CARR.PA).

Today, Wal-Mart has just one Supercenter left in this city of 850,000 people, whose demographic of thrifty shoppers had once seemed suited to the world's largest retailer. It shuttered the city’s other one at the end of the year, as traffic dwindled in the shopping mall it was meant to anchor.

The retreat from Campo Grande is emblematic of Wal-Mart’s broader issues in Brazil, a once-red-hot destination for foreign retailers and other companies that has turned stone cold. And the lackluster performance in Latin America's largest economy shows how tactics that helped Wal-Mart build success in the U.S. sometimes get badly lost in translation overseas.


China warns U.S. of 'serious consequences' over Washington plaza name

China's Foreign Ministry warned the United States on Tuesday there would be "serious consequences" if a plaza in front of the Chinese embassy in Washington was named after a pro-democracy dissident and Nobel Peace Prize winner.

By unanimous voice vote, the U.S. Senate on Friday backed a plan to name the plaza after Liu Xiaobo, jailed for 11 years in 2009 on subversion charges for organizing a petition urging an end to one-party rule.

China views Liu as a criminal.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the move ran "contrary to the basic norms of international relations" and China was resolutely opposed to it.

"If the relevant bill is passed into law it will cause serious consequences. We demand the U.S. Senate stop promoting the bill and hope the U.S. executive authorities put an end to this political farce," Hong told a daily news briefing, without elaborating.

On Sunday, the Global Times, an influential Chinese state-run tabloid, said the naming scheme was "futile".

"The U.S. has been at its wits' end in dealing with China as it is reluctant to employ military threats or economic sanctions that may backfire. The only option for Washington seems to be petty actions that disturb China," it said in an editorial.


Keep crying, China


MUST SEE: The inside of pump on 2014 #Flint fire truck. At 10 on @WSMHFOX66 why water is to blame #FlintWaterCrisis


Emmett Till and Tamir Rice, Sons of the Great Migration

Atlanta — IN winter 1916, several hundred black families from the Selma, Ala., Cotton Belt began quietly defecting from the Jim Crow South, with its night rides and hanging trees, some confiding to The Chicago Defender in February that the “treatment doesn’t warrant staying.” It was the start of the Great Migration, a leaderless revolution that would incite six million black refugees over six decades to seek asylum within the borders of their own country.

They could not know what was in store for them or their descendants, nor the hostilities they would face wherever they went. Consider the story of two mothers whose lives bookend the migration and whose family lines would meet similar, unimaginable fates. The horrors they were fleeing would follow them in freedom and into the current day.

The first was Mamie Carthan Till, whose parents carried her from Mississippi to Illinois early in the 1920s. In Chicago, she would marry and give birth to a son, Emmett. In the summer of 1955, she would send him to visit relatives back in Mississippi. Emmett had just turned 14, had been raised in the new world and was unschooled in the “yes, sir, no, sir” ways of the Southern caste system. That August, he was kidnapped, beaten and shot to death, ostensibly for whistling at a white woman at a convenience store. His murder would become a turning point in the civil rights movement.

Around that year, another woman, Millie Lee Wylie, left the bottomlands of Sumter County, Ala., near where the migration had begun, and settled in Cleveland. There, more than half a century later, just before Thanksgiving 2014, her 12-year-old great-grandson, bundled up in the cold, was playing with a friend’s pellet gun at a park outside a recreation center. His name was Tamir Rice. A now familiar video shows a police officer shooting him seconds after arrival, and an officer tackling his sister to the ground as she ran toward her dying brother. Tamir’s became one of the most recognizable names in a metronome of unarmed black people killed by the police in the last two years, further galvanizing the Black Lives Matter movement.

Tamir Rice would become to this young century what Emmett Till was to the last. In pictures, the boys resemble each other, the same half-smiles on their full moon faces, the most widely distributed photographs of them taken from the same angle, in similar light, their clear eyes looking into the camera with the same male-child assuredness of near adolescence. They are now tragic symbols of the search for black freedom in this country.


Cleveland Mayor Drops Ambulance Charge to Tamir Rice's Estate

Cleveland's mayor and other city officials apologized Thursday for asking for reimbursement from Tamir Rice's family for the medical services he received after he was fatally shot by a police officer.

But Tamir's family wasn't buying it, calling the incident "deeply disturbing."

The claim, filed Wednesday in probate court, sought $500 for the ambulance ride and treatment provided to Tamir, the 12-year-old boy who was shot by Cleveland police in November 2014 while in possession of a pellet gun.

Tamir's family on Wednesday slammed the city's "callousness, insensitivity and poor judgment" in sending the bill.

"I want to start off again apologizing to the Rice family if this, in fact, has added to any grief or pain that they may have," Mayor Frank Jackson said at a news conference Thursday.

City Finance Director Sharon Dumas said the city never actually billed Tamir's family for the medical services and has no intention of doing so.

She and Richard Horvath, the city's chief corporate counsel, said the claim filed Wednesday was a "routine" result of the probate process, in which Tamir's estate asked for a billing statement for services rendered to identify any potential creditors.

"Because of that process being routine, none of the managers" — including Jackson or other city leaders — "were notified of this before it was filed," Horvath said in announcing that the claim would be withdrawn.


Former Texas prosecutor disbarred for sending innocent man to death row

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - A Texas legal panel voted on Monday to disbar a former prosecutor for sending an innocent man to death row by presenting tainted testimony and making false statements that undermined the defendant's alibi.

The Board of Disciplinary Appeals appointed by the Texas Supreme Court upheld a state licensing board's decision to disbar Charles Sebesta for his conduct in convicting Anthony Graves, who spent 18 years in prison on charges of setting a fire that killed six people before being freed.

Graves, who spent 12 of those years on death row, had sought to have Sebesta disbarred.

Sebesta had convicted Robert Carter for the murders and tried to get Carter to say Graves was an accomplice. But the day before he was to testify, Carter told Sebesta he acted alone and Graves was not involved, the board said.

"Sebesta never disclosed this information to the defense," the board said.

Sebesta then presented false testimony implicating Graves, crucial in a conviction since there was no physical evidence linking him to the crime, it said.

Before Graves' attorney was to present the alibi witness, Sebesta falsely stated in court that the witness was a suspect in the murders and could be indicted. The witness refused to testify and left the court, it said.


How Julian Assange Is Destroying WikiLeaks

Hamburg, Germany — LAST week a United Nations panel ruled that Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks who has been living in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden, had been arbitrarily detained, and called for his immediate release. Though Mr. Assange says he will remain in the embassy, the ruling was hailed by his legions of supporters, who saw it as a rare instance of justice for a man they believe has been persecuted for exposing government secrets.

There’s no doubt that WikiLeaks, which Mr. Assange founded in 2006, has been a boon for global civil liberties. The problem is that the project is inseparable from the man. Mr. Assange has made little secret about his skepticism toward Western democracy and his willingness to work with autocratic governments like Vladimir V. Putin’s Russia. His personal politics undermines WikiLeaks’ neutrality — and the noble cause for which WikiLeaks used to stand. What we need is a WikiLeaks without the founder of WikiLeaks.

The idea behind WikiLeaks is simple, and ingenious: an online drop box that provides maximum security for whistle-blowers in the digital age. Anyone determined to disclose corporate or government misbehavior — from tax fraud to war crimes — can be sure that the heavily protected WikiLeaks’s submission system ensures their emails and uploads cannot be traced.

The idea to unmask lies and reveal illegitimate secrets has worked well. Whistle-blowers submitted material that proved corruption of the former Kenyan president, tax-avoidance strategies employed by big European banks, and indiscriminate killings of civilians by an American attack helicopter in Iraq. News outlets, including The Guardian, Der Spiegel and The New York Times, helped Mr. Assange spread the scoops.

Yet, even back then, observers and media partners felt that Mr. Assange had more in mind than transparency, that there was an ideology behind his idea. Over time, that ideology has become increasingly apparent, through his regular public statements and his stint as a host for a Russian state-controlled TV network...


Been pointing this stuff out for a long time now...
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