Daily Archives: May 11, 2017

People Are Making Homemade Blankets To Help Shelter Pets Feel Safe 

Shelter life can often be very stressful for the homeless animals who end up there.Some have been given up by the only families they have ever known, while others have been picked up as strays from harsh lives on the street. This can lead to fear, confusion, withdrawn behavior or sometimes even hostility toward people or other animals. RELATED VIDEO:Lucky Dogs Pulled From Shelters Just Got Forever HomesWATCH NOW Lindsay FredaSo, Jennifer Halpern, founder of Pillows For Paws, set out on a mission to help shelter animals feel more comfortable by making blankets, beds and toys just for them. A shelter dog enjoying his handmade blanket |Petra Romano“Since the shelter is a very stressful environment that has all types of noise, people, animals and scents, a blanket can make all the difference in making an animal feel better,” Cindy Lu, a feline behavior supervisor at Animal Care Centers of NYC (ACC), told The Dodo. “Instead of just lying down on a cold surface, a cat [or dog] can sprawl out or roll over on these comfy blankets, rubbing their scent on them.”

Source: People Are Making Homemade Blankets To Help Shelter Pets Feel Safe – The Dodo

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More Android phones than ever are covertly listening for inaudible sounds in ads

Almost a year after app developer SilverPush vowed to kill its privacy-threatening software that used inaudible sound embedded into TV commercials to covertly track phone users, the technology is more popular than ever, with more than 200 Android apps that have been downloaded millions of times from the official Google Play market, according to a recently published research paper.

As of January, there were 234 Android apps that were created using SilverPush’s publicly available software developer kit, according to the paper, which was published by researchers from Technische Universitat Braunschweig in Germany. That represents a dramatic increase in the number of Android apps known to use the creepy audio tracking scheme. In April 2015, there were only five such apps.The apps silently listen for ultrasonic sounds that marketers use as high-tech beacons to indicate when a phone user is viewing a TV commercial or other type of targeted audio. A representative sample of just five of the 234 apps have been downloaded from 2.25 million to 11.1 million times, according to the researchers, citing official Google Play figures. None of them discloses the tracking capabilities in their privacy policies.

Source: More Android phones than ever are covertly listening for inaudible sounds in ads | Ars Technica

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Blasphemy and terrorism: Catchall phrases to repress dissent

Blasphemy has joined terrorism as a catchall phrase to intimidate, incarcerate and kill critics and political opponents as well as stifle unfettered debate and settle scores.There is, however, one difference: terrorism is a justification for curbing freedom of expression often used by governments irrespective of how democratic or undemocratic they may be. Blasphemy serves not only as a tool for governments, but has also empowered religious ultra-conservatives, frenzied mobs, and extremist groups and individuals.A four-decade long, massively funded Saudi public diplomacy campaign has created an enabling environment in Muslim-majority countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh, where alleged blasphemers and atheists have been kidnapped, abused and sometimes killed in recent months and years.The Saudi campaign was designed to implant Sunni Muslim ultra-conservatism in Muslim communities across the globe as an antidote to the faded zeal of revolutionary Iran, and to position the kingdom rather than the Islamic republic as the dominant power in the Middle East and the Muslim world beyond. It has fostered a world of ultra-conservatism that lives its own life, often independent of the kingdom.A Saudi court last month sentenced a man to death on charges of blasphemy and atheism. The sentence sparked debate on Twitter with many applauding the sentence. Another Saudi was last year sentenced to 10 years in prison and 2,000 lashes for expressing atheist sentiments on social media.Saudi Arabia and other Muslim nations have been lobbying in recent years for the criminalisation of blasphemy in international law, in a move that would legitimise curbs on free speech and growing Muslim intolerance towards any open discussion of their faith. The kingdom’s ability to further its efforts was enhanced last November when it was elected as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Source: Blasphemy and terrorism: Catchall phrases to repress dissent | Scoop News

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Leaked: The UK’s secret blueprint with telcos for mass spying on internet, phones – and backdoors

The UK government has secretly drawn up more details of its new bulk surveillance powers – awarding itself the ability to monitor Brits’ live communications, and insert encryption backdoors by the backdoor.

In its draft technical capability notices paper [PDF], all communications companies – including phone networks and ISPs – will be obliged to provide real-time access to the full content of any named individual within one working day, as well as any “secondary data” relating to that person.

That includes encrypted content – which means that UK organizations will not be allowed to introduce true end-to-end encryption of their users’ data but will be legally required to introduce a backdoor to their systems so the authorities can read any and all communications.

In addition, comms providers will be required to make bulk surveillance possible by introducing systems that can provide real-time interception of 1 in 10,000 of its customers. Or in other words, the UK government will be able to simultaneously spy on 6,500 folks in Blighty at any given moment.

According to the draft, telcos and other comms platforms must “provide and maintain the capability to disclose, where practicable, the content of communications or secondary data in an intelligible form and to remove electronic protection applied by or on behalf of the telecommunications operator to the communications or data.”

The live surveillance of individuals will require authorization from secretaries of state, overseen by a judge appointed by the prime minister. And there are a few safeguards built into the system following strong opposition to earlier drafts of the Investigatory Powers Act.

Source: Leaked: The UK’s secret blueprint with telcos for mass spying on internet, phones – and backdoors • The Register

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4chan Is Inventing Hate Symbols Faster Than Liberals Can Get Offended by Them

The hand gesturing world was rocked last week when the “OK” hand symbol was deemed a reference to white power by Fusion blogger Emma Roller.This came after a series of rightwing journalists including Mike Cernovich, made the gesture in the White House press room.Photo via Cassandra FairbanksThe racial implications of the OK symbol were part of a months long trolling operation from 4chan /pol/ board to make the once harmless sign into a symbol of hate just to piss off the libs.“We must flood Twitter and other social media with spam, claiming that the OK hand sign is a symbol of white supremacy,” one 4chan user wrote in February. “Make fake accounts with basic white girl names and type shit like: OMG that’s so truuuuu.”But now the folks at /pol/ are taking the crusade further by attempting to turn almost every common hand sign into a symbol of intolerance. So far the media has been incredibly complicit in taking their hate meme bait, from anime cat girls to derpy purple Facebook birds.

Source: 4chan Is Inventing Hate Symbols Faster Than Liberals Can Get Offended by Them | Heat Street

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Facebook enters war against “information operations,” acknowledges election hijinx 

Facebook Security has revealed more of how the company has begun to combat the spread of propaganda and “fake news,” acknowledging for the first time that the company tracked a campaign that attempted to influence the 2016 US presidential campaign. Facebook began to fight “fake news” posts (sort of) earlier this year when the company introduced a “disputed” label that is now being added to some shared stories of questionable provenance. But the company has also launched a less-visible effort to clamp down on “false amplification” of propaganda efforts on its social media platform.During the 2016 presidential campaign, Facebook Security team members monitored a number of activities that “we assessed to fit the pattern of information operations,” according to a paper published by the company last week. The paper, authored by Facebook Security’s Jen Weedon, William Nuland, and Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos—entitled “Information Operations and Facebook”—acknowledges that Facebook accounts were used as part of a coordinated effort to spread misinformation and influence the shape of political conversations. Facebook did not attempt to attribute the campaign to a specific party.

Source: Facebook enters war against “information operations,” acknowledges election hijinx | Ars Technica

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Touchable Tablets Could Guide the Blind

EPFLResearchers at EPFL have developed a tablet to help people with a visual impairment find their way around unfamiliar places. The device very quickly forms shapes and relief maps that users can then explore with their fingers, using their sense of touch. The tablet could also be used to help visually impaired schoolchildren learn subjects such as geometry or mathematics.Navigating in an unfamiliar setting is a major challenge for people with a visual impairment. To make it easier for them to find their way, EPFL researchers have developed a lightweight and reconfigurable touchscreen tablet capable of generating shapes and maps. Users can then “read” the graphic data on the screen with their fingers. The research is part of the European project Blindpad.Measuring 12 by 15 centimeters, the tablet comprises 192 tiny buttons that can move up and down in just a few milliseconds, almost instantaneously creating patterns such as the layout of a building, street or conference room. Users can also zoom in on a specific part of the map. The actuators are fast enough to make individual buttons vibrate. The technology has already been tested by several visually impaired people and will be presented at the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2017) in Denver on 6 May.

Source: Touchable Tablets Could Guide the Blind

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