Daily Archives: March 16, 2018

Book details Al Gore’s quest to be  first ‘carbon billionaire’ – ‘Lavishly’ profited off climate lobbying

And it’s not just universities, professors, and green organizations that have reaped financial benefits from the climate panic. Former vice president Al Gore has done quite well for himself, too. As Bloomberg News reported, “In the last personal finance report he filed as vice president, Gore disclosed on May 22, 2000, that the value of his assets totaled between $780,000 and $1.9 million.”Buy by 2007, Gore’s wealth had skyrocketed. By that point he had a net worth “well in excess” of $100 million, including pre–public offering Google stock options, according to an article at Fast Company. MIT scientist Richard Lindzen declared that Gore wanted to become the world’s first “carbon billionaire.” After the Obama administration bloated climate and energy stimulus packages, Gore was on the path to that achievement.By 2008, Gore was so flush that he announced a $300 million campaign to promote climate fears and so-called solutions. And he just kept raking it in. According to a 2012 Washington Post report, “14 green-tech firms in which Gore invested received or directly benefited from more than $2.5 billion in loans, grants and tax breaks, part of Obama’s historic push to seed a U.S. renewable-energy industry with public money.”The Post explained that Gore “benefited from a powerful resume and a constellation of friends in the investment world and in Washington. And four years ago, his portfolio aligned smoothly with the agenda of an incoming administration and its plan to spend billions in stimulus funds on alternative energy. The recovering politician was pushing the right cause at the perfect time. Gore’s orbit extended deeply into the administration, with several former aides winning senior clean-energy posts.”Republican Congressman Fred Upton of Michigan, the chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, has been a critic of Gore’s profiting off the taxpayer funds using his government connections. Gore’s portfolio “is reflective of a disturbing pattern that those closest to the president [Obama] have been rewarded with billions of taxpayer dollars and benefited from the administration’s green bonanza in the rush to spend stimulus cash.”

Source: Book details Al Gore’s quest to become world’s first ‘carbon billionaire’ – ‘Lavishly’ profited off climate lobbying | Climate Depot

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Myanmar Genocide: Facebook Is Stumped by Hate Speech Problem

Facebook has no new plans to address claims by United Nations investigators on Monday that the social media platform facilitated the spread of hate speech in Myanmar. According to U.N. investigator Yanghee Lee, Facebook’s presence in Myanmar ultimately aided the persecution and possible genocide of the Rohingya people.Facebook maintains that it is working to solve the hate speech problem but didn’t offer any new solutions in an email to Inverse.“We take this incredibly seriously and have worked with experts in Myanmar for several years to develop safety resources and counter-speech campaigns,” a Facebook spokesperson said. “Of course, there is always more we can do and we will continue to work with local experts to help keep our community safe.”

Source: Myanmar Genocide: Facebook Is Stumped by Hate Speech Problem | Inverse

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Stanford students demand Apple help them stop using their cell phones so much 

Group petitions corporation to address ‘device dependence’A group of students from Stanford University recently protested outside of Apple’s headquarters to demand that the tech giant address the problem of “phone addiction,” demanding that Apple help them reduce the “significant” amount of time they spend on their phones in order to increase the amount of “significant human interaction” in their lives.In an email to The College Fix, Stanford Students Against Advice Addiction spokesman Sanjay Kannan wrote the group wishes to “take our concerns to Apple by engaging with consumers and employees in a series of demonstrations.”“Since device dependence is not a part of Apple’s business model, and since Apple is an industry trendsetter, we thought they were uniquely positioned to help address the problem,” Kannan told The Fix.

Source: Stanford students demand Apple help them stop using their cell phones so much – The College Fix

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No, Penis Facials Aren’t Backed By Science — Sorry, Sandra Bullock

Cate Blanchett finally revealed what she and Ocean’s 8 co-star Sandra Bullock use to maintain such youthful, luminous skin: the foreskin of Korean infants.In an otherwise glamorous interview with Vogue Australia in which Blanchett promoted the newest Giorgio Armani fragrance, Sì Passione, Blanchett shared her favorite skincare routine — one she and Bullock reportedly like to call “the penis facial.”“Sandra Bullock and I saw this facialist in New York, Georgia Louise, and she gives what we call the penis facial,” Blanchett told Vogue Australia. “It’s something — I don’t know what it is, or whether it’s just cause it smells a bit like sperm — there’s some enzyme in it so Sandy refers to it as the penis facial.”Known officially as the Hollywood EGF (Epidermal Growth Factor) Facial, so-called penis facials have earned the nickname not just because the process smells like sperm, but because it requires a serum derived from the cells of the foreskin of newborn babies.

Source: No, Penis Facials Aren’t Backed By Science — Sorry, Sandra Bullock | Inverse

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Criminals can build Web dossiers with data collected by browsers

Everybody knows by now that websites collect information about users’ location, visited pages, and other data that can help them improve or monetize the experience.But just a small minority of Internet users realizes that browsers also collect/store information that can help attackers compile a “Web dossier” to be used for future attacks.“An attacker could compile a list of applications you commonly log into from your URL history, including work applications and personal finance sites. Criminals can learn who in a company has access to the financial or payroll application, for example, and compile a list of usernames to use to break in. Knowing what applications are in use at a company can help an attacker craft more convincing phishing emails to try and trick users into exposing their passwords, which the attacker could then harvest,” explains Ryan Benson, a threat researcher at Exabeam.

Source: Criminals can build Web dossiers with data collected by browsers – Help Net Security

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An inside look at how Sweden is building the world’s second-longest tunnel 

Stockholm is a city known for its waterways. Founded on an archipelago of some thirty thousand islands, bodies of water are rarely more than a stone’s throw away in the Swedish capital. An appreciation for lakes, rivers, and nature in the fullest sense runs high in Swedish sentiment. It’s not by chance, after all, that Stockholm is world-leading in air quality, access to green spaces, and sustainable urban planning.That green mentality recently challenged engineers tasked with the design and construction of a new six lane bypass running 21km (more than 13 miles) north to south along the rapidly expanding city’s western edge. How can you tackle a task that big whilst keeping the environmental impact to an absolute minimum?”Typically, in an area with as low a building density as we have here, you’d take an overground route and construct bridges where necessary,” Johan Brantmark, E4 project manager for the Swedish Transport Administration tells Ars. “That would be cheaper, and far easier of course. But we’re motivated by other priorities, not the least of which is to preserve the surrounding environment. For that, tunnelling is the best approach.”

Source: An inside look at how Sweden is building the world’s second-longest tunnel | Ars Technica

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The FCC says a space startup launched four tiny satellites into orbit without permission – The Verge

Earlier this year, a space startup from Silicon Valley launched four of its first prototype communications satellites on top of an Indian rocket. Except the FCC says that the company didn’t have authorization to send up those spacecraft from the US government, IEEE Spectrum reports. It would seemingly mark the first time a US private company launched un-licensed satellites into orbit — and these rogue spacecraft could pose a danger to other objects in space.The four satellites reportedly belong to a fledgling company called Swarm Technologies, which was started by former Google and NASA JPL engineer Sara Spangelo in 2016. The probes, dubbed SpaceBees 1, 2, 3, and 4, are meant to test out Swarm’s idea for a “space-based Internet of Things” network, according to IEEE, and went up as part of a cluster of 31 satellites aboard an Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket on January 12th. At the time of the launch, India’s space agency didn’t name the operator of the four satellites.

Source: The FCC says a space startup launched four tiny satellites into orbit without permission – The Verge

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Rage against the machine: self-driving cars attacked by angry Californians

The great promise of self-driving cars is that they will save innumerable lives by removing the most fallible and unpredictable element from vehicle traffic: the human.But in San Francisco at least, fickle human behavior is taking a stand.Two of the six collisions involving autonomous vehicles in California so far this year involved humans colliding with self-driving cars, apparently on purpose, according to incident reports collected by the California department of motor vehicles.

On 10 January, a pedestrian in San Francisco’s Mission District ran across the street to confront a GM Cruise autonomous vehicle that was waiting for people to cross the road, according to an incident report filed by the car company. The pedestrian was “shouting”, the report states, and “struck the left side of the Cruise AV’s rear bumper and hatch with his entire body”.

Source: Rage against the machine: self-driving cars attacked by angry Californians | Technology | The Guardian

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Tax evasion ‘educator’ sentenced to 4½ years in jail for tax evasion – British Columbia

A woman who worked as an “educator” at a group that taught people across Canada how to evade paying taxes has been sentenced to four-and-a-half years in jail after being convicted of tax evasion and counselling fraud.Debbie Arlene Anderson of Chilliwack, B.C. also faces fines totalling $35,026.71, after evading $22,689.90 in federal income tax between 2005 and 2007.According to a release by the Canada Revenue Agency, Anderson was an educator at Paradigm Education Group, a “fraudulent scheme” that sold books, DVDs and CDs related to tax evasion.The group also organized and taught fee-based seminars, which advised people about how to structure their affairs in a way to illegally avoid taxes.”The CRA warns all Canadians to beware of ‘tax protesters’ who try to convince you that Canadians do not have to pay tax on the income they earn,” the release reads in part.”Canadian courts have repeatedly and consistently rejected arguments made in these tax protester schemes.”

Source: Tax evasion ‘educator’ sentenced to 4½ years in jail for tax evasion – British Columbia – CBC News

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‘A sledgehammer to crack a nut’: Charities slam UK voter ID trials

Mandatory voter ID trials are “dangerous” and won’t stop the main cause of election fraud, UK government has been told.A group of 40 charities and academics have written to Chloe Smith, minister for the constitution, setting out their concerns about voter ID pilots planned for May’s local elections.The government is attempting to tackle election fraud in a number of ways, reaching for high and low-tech options in varying degrees.

One idea is to require voters to bring personal identification before they cast their ballot, and the Cabinet Office today set out the pilot schemes for five cities in the upcoming elections. The plan is for it to be rolled out more widely in 2020.Voters in Bromley, Gosport and Woking will be required to present one piece of photo ID or several non-photo forms, such as utility or council tax bills, before they can vote.

Source: ‘A sledgehammer to crack a nut’: Charities slam UK voter ID trials • The Register

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Police use DNA to nab OC man who ejaculated through fence

A man accused of exposing himself to three women in Orange County is facing criminal charges after he was connected to the crimes through DNA evidence, and prosecutors are looking for more potential victims.Christian Adam Ramirez, 21, of Fullerton is accused of exposing himself and touching his genitals while staring at women on three separate occasions in Fullerton and Buena Park, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.According to the district attorney’s office, Ramirez had pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of soliciting another to engage in lewd conduct In June of 2017. Ramirez voluntarily provided a DNA sample to prosecutors as part of his sentence.

Source: Police use DNA to nab OC man who ejaculated through fence | abc7.com

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Zip Tie Quadcopter Frame is as Cheap as They Come | Hackaday

We’ve seen some cheap quadcopter builds over the years, but this one takes the cake. After seeing somebody post a joke about building a quadcopter frame out of zip ties and hot glue, [IronMew] decided to try it for real. The final result is a micro quadcopter that actually flies half-way decently and seems to be fairly resistant to crash damage thanks to the flexible structure.The first attempts at building the frame failed, as the zip ties (unsurprisingly) were too flexible and couldn’t support the weight of the motors. Eventually, [IronMew] realized that trying to replicate the traditional quadcopter frame design just wasn’t going to work. Rather than a body with arms radiating out to hold the motors, the layout he eventually came up with is essentially the reverse of a normal quadcopter frame.

Source: Zip Tie Quadcopter Frame is as Cheap as They Come | Hackaday

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Uncle Sam slams plans to give govts final say over domain privacy 

A plan by ICANN to let governments collectively decide who is allowed to bypass new European privacy rules over domain names has been blasted by its most powerful member, the United States.

At a meeting of DNS oversight organization ICANN, the US government representative told colleagues from across the globe his country didn’t like the idea of the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) to decide which groups should be granted access to the full “Whois” data.

It should instead be a self-regulatory effort with groups that have a legitimate need for such information working together to create their own accreditation system, the USG rep argued.

Source: Uncle Sam slams plans to give govts final say over domain privacy • The Register

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The Novichok Nerve Agent Story Is Indeed Another Iraqi WMD Scam

As recently as 2016 Dr Robin Black, Head of the Detection Laboratory at the UK’s only chemical weapons facility at Porton Down, a former colleague of Dr David Kelly, published in an extremely prestigious scientific journal that the evidence for the existence of Novichoks was scant and their composition unknown.In recent years, there has been much speculation that a fourth generation of nerve agents, ‘Novichoks’ (newcomer), was developed in Russia, beginning in the 1970s as part of the ‘Foliant’ programme, with the aim of finding agents that would compromise defensive countermeasures. Information on these compounds has been sparse in the public domain, mostly originating from a dissident Russian military chemist, Vil Mirzayanov. No independent confirmation of the structures or the properties of such compounds has been published. (Black, 2016)Yet now, the British Government is claiming to be able instantly to identify a substance which its only biological weapons research centre has never seen before and was unsure of its existence. Worse, it claims to be able not only to identify it, but to pinpoint its origin. Given Dr Black’s publication, it is plain that claim cannot be true.The world’s international chemical weapons experts share Dr Black’s opinion. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is a UN body based in the Hague. In 2013 this was the report of its Scientific Advisory Board, which included US, French, German and Russian government representatives and on which Dr Black was the UK representative:

Source: The Novichok Nerve Agent Story Is Indeed Another Iraqi WMD Scam | Global Research – Centre for Research on Globalization

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IKEA is betting bugs are the future of burgers

Earlier this month, Sonic rolled out the Sonic Slinger, a burger made of a blend of beef and mushrooms. Mushrooms make up 25 to 30 percent of the burger. Because more of the patty is plant-based, it has less fat and calories than a traditional burger. It also has a smaller carbon footprint.The Slinger is one step toward making fast food more environmentally friendly, but SPACE10, a research and innovation lab affiliated with IKEA, is making giant leaps in the same direction. They’re not working with mushrooms, though; they’re focused on bugs and algae.Before I go on, I need to get one issue of the way. It’s time to stop factoring in the ick factor when we talk about culinary bugs. We need to get over it. Insects are mainstream fare for people in many other cultures. They’re a viable source of protein that requires significantly less natural resources to produce than animal-based proteins, especially meat from cows. It’s estimated that it takes 1,800 gallons of water to create one pound of beef, but it only takes one gallon of water to create one pound of insect protein.

Source: IKEA is betting bugs are the future of burgers | MNN – Mother Nature Network

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YouTube is turning to Wikipedia to help it fight conspiracy theories

As the public grows more concerned about the heaps of harmful or misleading videos on YouTube, the company is looking for ways to clean itself up.Speaking at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, on the evening of March 13, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said the video streamer will launch features intended to curb the spread of misinformation. On videos promoting conspiracy theories, the site will place linked Wikipedia text boxes discussing the event in question.“When there are videos that are focused around something that’s a conspiracy—and we’re using a list of well-known internet conspiracies from Wikipedia—then we will show a companion unit of information from Wikipedia showing that here is information about the event,” Wojcicki said, according to the Verge.The company provided the following statement to Quartz:

Source: YouTube is turning to Wikipedia to help it fight conspiracy theories — Quartz

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Largest U.S. radio company iHeartMedia files for bankruptcy

IHeartMedia Inc (IHRT.PK) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Thursday as the largest U.S. radio station owner reached an agreement with creditors to more than halve its $20 billion in debt.The iHeartMedia billboard is seen atop a building in the Bronx in New York, U.S., March 15, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon StapletonThe company said the agreement it ‍reached with holders of more than $10 billion of its outstanding debt would restructure its balance sheet by transferring 94 percent of the stock in the reorganized company to its lenders.IHeartMedia has struggled with debt that was taken on to finance a $17.9 billion leveraged buyout, or LBO, in 2008 of what was then Clear Channel Communications Inc. That deal led by Bain Capital LLC and Thomas H. Lee Partners LP closed just as a financial crisis began to undermine the U.S. economy.In the years that followed, the operator of 849 radio stations has faced intensifying competition for advertisers and listeners from internet platforms such as music streaming services.

Source: Largest U.S. radio company iHeartMedia files for bankruptcy

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