Author Archives: binghamboatwright

About binghamboatwright

newshound, tech adventurist, with an interest in anything electricity goes into and out of.

The greatest moral challenge of our time? It’s how we think about morality itself

It would be easy to conclude that there’s a deficit of morality in the world today. That if only people were more motivated to behave ethically, if only they made morality more prominent in their thinking, then the world would be a better place.But when it comes to pinning down a single greatest moral challenge of our time, I’d argue that there’s not a lack of morality in the world; there’s too much.In fact, I believe the greatest moral challenge of our time is our flawed conception of morality itself. The way we tend to think and talk about morality stifles our ability to engage with views other than our own, it makes managing diversity and disagreement harder, and it tends to lock us into thinking patterns that produce more instances of suffering and unrest than they solve.

Source: The greatest moral challenge of our time? It’s how we think about morality itself

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Salmonella Outbreak: CDC Issues Dire Warning About Pet Turtles

If you think it’s a good idea to put your mouth on a turtle, then you’re not alone. This is a safe space, turtle lickers, and we have some urgent news from you by way of the United States Centers for Disease Control: Please don’t put your mouth on a turtle — even a turtle whom you love dearly. On Tuesday, the CDC announced the findings of an investigation into an outbreak of Salmonella, which concluded that the outbreak was traced back to pet turtles.CDC doctors traced 76 poisoning cases of Salmonella Agbeni to turtles or their habitats in 19 different U.S. states between March 1, 2017 and December 1, 2017. Agbeni is a different strain than the one that the CDC detected in kratom earlier this month.In the turtle-related outbreak, 30 patients were hospitalized, but none died. About a third of the people who got sick were younger than 5 years old, which suggests that even though a turtle may seem like a safe, low-maintenance pet for a child, it’s probably not a good idea to give a very young child a turtle.

Source: Salmonella Outbreak: CDC Issues Dire Warning About Pet Turtles | Inverse

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So you’d like children as young as 14 to vote, eh?

Today we’ll dip into the annals of political inconsistency for a moment and revisit an article from Jonathan Bernstein at Bloomberg from a few weeks ago. It was published just as the fallout from the Florida school shooting was hitting a crescendo and pundits, impressed with the activism on display by the more liberal students from the school, began asking why we shouldn’t just let them vote. Bernstein was among them, publishing an article with the simple title, Let Teenagers Vote. There have been some other events complicating the scenario since then and they put this theory into context a bit better. (Emphasis added)SEE ALSO: ProPublica correction: Gina Haspel was not in charge during the waterboarding of Abu ZubaydahJoshua Douglas argues that the Parkland students organizing against gun violence are a great demonstration of why 16- and 17-year-olds should be allowed to vote. See his recent law review article here.This is one of my longtime hobbyhorses, and so I certainly agree. Indeed, I’d go lower, setting the voting age at 13 or 14, although I’m open to arguments for making it a bit higher or lower. Sixteen, however, is to me an easy call.

Source: So you’d like children as young as 14 to vote, eh?

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Larry Elder: Tariffs and Economic Populism: Good Politics, Bad Economics 

By: Larry Elder

We came to expect economic illiteracy from left-wing President Barack Obama.For example, in attempting to explain away his tepid economic recovery, Obama blamed the emergence of new technologies, which he claimed killed more jobs. “When you go to a bank you use the ATM; you don’t go to a bank teller,” Obama said. “Or you go to the airport and you use a kiosk instead of checking in at the gate.”As to Obama’s claim that ATMs kill teller jobs, Tamar Jacoby of Opportunity America, a pro-growth nonprofit, wrote three years ago: “The number of bank tellers working in the U.S. has risen since the 1970s, when ATMs were introduced. How could that be?

The average bank branch used to employ 20 workers. The spread of ATMs reduced the number to about 13, making it cheaper for banks to open branches. Meanwhile, thanks in part to the convenience of the new machines, the number of banking transactions soared, and banks began to compete by promising better customer service: more bank employees, at more branches, handling more complex tasks than tellers in the past.”Again, this is how Democrats think. But what about the faulty economic thinking of conservatives? For example, Fox’s usually astute Tucker Carlson recently scolded Amazon for not paying any federal income taxes and for supposedly killing competitors and throwing their workers out of work. “I did (pay federal taxes),” said Carlson, “but also I haven’t put tens of thousands of people out of work, like Amazon has.

They’ve hired a lot, but they’ve put many more out of work. They’ve destroyed many more businesses than they’ve created. Look, I get it, that’s the nature of market capitalism, but they feel no obligation to give back at all to the federal treasury — at all?”Is Amazon guilty, as Carlson claims, of destroying “many more businesses than they’ve created”? Not according to the Foundation for Economic Reform, a free-market think tank. The FEE writes: “As of January (2017), Amazon had 306,800 employees and a promise to hire an additional 100,000 full-time employees by mid-2018. On their own these numbers are impressive, but they do not account for the additional employees who will find future part-time employment via Amazon’s participation in the sharing economy.” New Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell even credits Amazon with helping to keep inflation low.

Source: Larry Elder: Tariffs and Economic Populism: Good Politics, Bad Economics – The Larry Elder Show

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Hacked Retail Robots Can Assault Customers With Porn and Demand Bitcoin 

It’s the end of your phone’s annual life cycle and you have decided to go in for an upgrade. You make your way into a local Sprint store where you are warmly greeted by Pepper, a four-foot-tall, humanoid service robot. Pepper welcomes you and asks how it can be of assistance.Suddenly, something goes terribly wrong. Before you can avert your gaze, hardcore porn starts streaming from Pepper’s chest tablet. You plea to make the moaning stop but instead Pepper simply looks at you and angrily demands large sums of Bitcoin. You throw your hands up in defeat, unsure what to do. And then, Pepper cusses you out.According to newly released research, this profane disruption could actually happen, and it could cost companies money.

Source: Hacked Retail Robots Can Assault Customers With Porn and Demand Bitcoin – Motherboard

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People in this Canadian city are seeing lynx everywhere 

The residents of a northwestern Ontario city seem to have found themselves in the midst of a lynx convention.The animals are showing up in the city’s most urban areas — backyards, ski parks, condo properties — seemingly indifferent to the slack-jawed humans in their midst.And they’re putting on a heck of a show.While these animals, called Canadian lynx, can be found across the country, they typically call forests home. This year, something appears to have changed.Police in Thunder Bay have confirmed to MNN that it’s the first time the service has received calls about the animals within the city limits.As in roads. Sidewalks. And yards.

Source: People in this Canadian city are seeing lynx everywhere | MNN – Mother Nature Network

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VIDEO: Cultural appropriation worries ruin St. Patrick’s Day


College students traditionally love St. Patrick’s Day, but how do they feel after realizing that it’s a form of cultural appropriation?

Source: VIDEO: Cultural appropriation worries ruin St. Patrick’s Day

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Coca-Cola Admits Its Bottled Water May Be Contaminated With Plastic

This week, a study of eleven popular water bottle brands revealed microplastics are pervasive in packaging around the world. Though this may be unsurprising considering the widespread use of plastics, Coca-Cola admitted the possibility that their water products contain synthetic materials.The research was commissioned by Orb Media, a non-profit journalistic organization, and conducted by researchers at the State University of New York. International brands tested included Nestle Pure Life, Evian, San Pellegrino, Dasani (owned by Coca-Cola), and Aquafina (owned by Pepsi), and overall, the results indicated there were microplastics in 93 percent of the bottles tested.Nestle clocked the highest rate of microplastics per liter, with a high of 10,390 particles per liter (ppl). By comparison, the average for all brands tested was 325 ppl. Dasani aligned with the average, coming in at 335 ppl. Aquafina was at 1,295 while Evian and San Pellegrino had smaller amounts than the average (256 and 75, respectively). National brands had significant rates, including Aqua of Indonesia (4,713), Bisleri of India (5,230), and Epura of Mexico (2,267).

Source: Coca-Cola Admits Its Bottled Water May Be Contaminated With Plastic

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The Massive Prize Luring Miners to the Stars

Sending a spacecraft to the far reaches of our solar system to mine asteroids might seem like an improbable ambition best left to science fiction. But it’s inching closer to reality. A NASA mission is underway to test the feasibility on a nearby asteroid, and a niche group of companies is ramping up to claim a piece of the pie.Industry barons see a future in finding and harnessing water on asteroids for rocket fuel, which will allow astronauts and spacecrafts to stay in orbit for longer periods. Investors, including Richard Branson, China’s Tencent Holdings and the nation of Luxembourg, see a longer-term solution to replenishing materials such as iron and nickel as Earth’s natural resources are depleted.Millions of asteroids roam our solar system. Most are thought unsuitable for mining, either because they’re too small, too inaccessible to Earth or because the materials that make up the asteroid have little value. But we know of almost 1,000 asteroids that show potential. Timing is everything, though. The varied orbits of these asteroids mean that many are nearby only once every several years.The estimated potential value of some of these asteroids–assuming you could completely mine them, and assuming current market valuations–is so substantial as to be barely comprehensible. The most valuable known asteroid is estimated to be worth $15 quintillion, according to Asterank, a database owned by Planetary Resources, a company that aims to mine asteroids. That represents the world’s total gross domestic product (about $80 trillion) 192,283 times over.

Source: The Massive Prize Luring Miners to the Stars

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Oregon couple’s final days captured in intimate aid-in-dying video 

On the last morning of their lives, Charlie and Francie Emerick held hands.The Portland couple, married for 66 years and both terminally ill, died together in their bed on April 20, 2017, after taking lethal doses of medication obtained under the state’s Death With Dignity law.Francie, 88, went first, within 15 minutes, a testament to the state of her badly weakened heart. Charlie, 87, a respected ear, nose and throat physician, died an hour later, ending a long struggle that included prostate cancer and Parkinson’s disease diagnosed in 2012.”They had no regrets, no unfinished business,” said Sher Safran, 62, one of the pair’s three grown daughters. “It felt like their time, and it meant so much to know they were together.”In the two decades since Oregon became the first state to legalize medical aid-in-dying, more than 1,300 people have died there after obtaining lethal prescriptions. The Emericks were among 143 people to do so in 2017, and they appear to be the only couple to ever take the drugs together, at the same time, officials said.

Source: Oregon couple’s final days captured in intimate aid-in-dying video |

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Chinese police are expanding facial recognition sunglasses program

China’s police have been testing sunglasses with built-in facial recognition since at least last month to catch suspects and those traveling under false identities. Now China is expanding the facial recognition sunglasses program as police are beginning to use them in the outskirts of Beijing, according to Reuters. The program was used as extra security while Parliament voted to extend Xi Jinping’s presidency to a lifetime rule, and paralleled the increased censorship and surveillance measures seen throughout China.Police used the sunglasses to check travelers and car registration plates against the government’s blacklist before Parliament’s annual meeting this past weekend. The Chinese government has a list of people who are not allowed to enter the meeting and might face additional enforcement action. The blacklist includes criminals, journalists, political dissidents, and human rights activists, among others.Previously, the glasses were only been tested in trains stations in Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan Province. By February 8th, police had allegedly caught seven suspects, and 26 travelers using false identities.

Source: Chinese police are expanding facial recognition sunglasses program – The Verge

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Sweden to crack down on Islamic schools

Sweden plans to ban groups who do not support gender equality from starting or running schools, the country’s education minister said on Sunday.Gustav Fridolin made the call as he launched an inquiry into tightening the regulation of religious schools in the country.  “The regulatory framework will be tightened,” Gustav Fridolin wrote in an article in the Aftonbladet newspaper. “Those who do not support fundamental values around equality and human rights should be stopped from running free schools in Sweden.”  The proposal comes as the debate around religious free schools continues to rage in the country, most recently over the decision to let the Islamic headmaster and former Moderate party MP Abdirisak Waberi start a new Islamic school in the city of Borås.  Waberi has been criticised in the past for attempting to explain why under Islam it is permitted for a man to marry four women but not for a woman to marry four men, and for expressing a desire to live in a state governed by Shariah law. In 2006, he told Ottar magazine that he thought men should be the heads of their families.  “In my opinion, it is the man that is the strong person in the relationship. He controls the relationship, and the woman stands as a base,” he said.

Source: Sweden to crack down on Islamic schools – The Local

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Zoo Forced to Put All Mammals on Contraception

Thanks, in all likelihood, to a tuberculosis-infected badger, a zoo in England has had to put 60 mammal species on birth control via injections, implants, tablets, and IUDs, the BBC reports. And, yes, that includes lions and tigers, according to the Times. The large cats must be knocked out with a dart gun before receiving their contraception injection. The Telegraph reports 11 antelopes at Paignton Zoo had to be killed last summer after one was found to be infected with TB. The disease is believed to have originated with a badger. Government rules say no animals can be transferred from the zoo until the end of the year at earliest to prevent the spread of TB. That’s left the zoo concerned about overcrowding.

Source: Zoo Forced to Put All Mammals on Contraception

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Ubuntu Installs Made 10% Faster Using Tool Made by Facebook 

If you long to install Ubuntu a little bit faster help it at hand thanks to some nifty open-source tech developed by Facebook.Using Zstandard (zstd), a ‘lossless data compression algorithm’ developed by Facebook, Ubuntu developers have been able to speed up Ubuntu installs by 10%.While Zstd is primarily designed for use in “real-time compression scenarios” it is able to unpack packages during an Ubuntu install faster than current compression tools Xz and Gzip do.And based on their tests with Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Zstd works without any significant increase in memory of CPU usage.

Source: Ubuntu Installs Made 10% Faster Using Tool Made by Facebook – OMG! Ubuntu!

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The Amsterdam Pirate Party is using its leader’s penis to promote privacy

In the age of online campaigns, you’d expect political parties which specialize in tech — like the Pirate Party — to have elections in the bag by employing some digital voodoo. However, it seems that the Amsterdam Pirate Party is going with a more old school approach to grabbing voters’ attention: nudity.According to Dutch news site FOK! the Pirate Party has hung up posters all over the city of Amsterdam featuring a naked photo of the city’s party leader, Jelle de Graaf, holding a banner saying “Nothing to hide.”

The picture — which you can find a NSFW version of here — isn’t meant to draw voters attention to de Graaf’s genitalia in the municipal elections on March 21, but rather the citizens’ right to privacy.

“Opponents of the right to privacy usually say that they don’t have anything to hide,” de Graaf told TNW in a phone interview. “But I disagree. I think everybody has something to hide, although I might have little bit less to hide after this poster.”

Source: The Amsterdam Pirate Party is using its leader’s penis to promote privacy

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Soviet Communism Was Dependent on Western Technology

Despite the central role played by State-controlled central banks and financial institutions in bringing about the conditions which led to the global credit crunch of 2008, free markets and capitalism, rather than government failure, have taken all the blame for that complex crisis, and Marxism and other varieties of socialism are once again attracting the enthusiastic support of many young people in our universities and colleges.Unfortunately, however well-intentioned, this renewed interest in hard-core socialism, and the belief that it offers relevant solutions to our existing problems ignores the lessons taught by the many failed socialist experiments of the 20th century, some of which are described by two American economists: Kevin D. Williamson, in his recent paperback, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism, and Thomas J. D. Lorenzo, in his equally informative and well-documented new study, “The Problem with Socialism.”

Source: Soviet Communism Was Dependent on Western Technology – Foundation for Economic Education – Working for a free and prosperous world

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Dentists Dying of Lung Disease Mysteriously, CDC Says

A progressive and often fatal lung disease killed dentists at a much faster rate than that of the general population at a Virginia hospital over the past two decades, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.The CDC reported that idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis affected eight male dentists and a dental technician out of 900 patients studied, Newsweek reported. Although the dentists only represented 1 percent of the number with the disease, only 0.038 percent of people in the U.S. are dentists.

Source: Dentists Dying of Lung Disease Mysteriously, CDC Says |

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Congress moves to ban child-sex dolls and robots.

One of the great legislative challenges of history, from the Hittite abominations to the regulation of internet porn, has been anticipating the latent evils unleashed by man’s ingenuity. Now, child sex dolls—robots engineered to warm to the human touch and disturbingly lifelike in their prepubescent features—are being marketed to pedophiles. Made overseas, they’re increasingly prevalent stateside.Republican Dan Donovan of Staten Island, a federal prosecutor for 20 years before his election to the House in 2015, has made it his mission to sound the warning about child sex dolls. “When I saw articles on the issues of child sex dolls abroad, I knew I had to act immediately to stop the proliferation of them within the United States,” Donovan said in an email to THE WEEKLY STANDARD. (They’re already illegal in the United Kingdom and hotly debated in Canada.)To wit, Donovan has proposed the Curbing Realistic Exploitative Electronic Pedophilic Robots (CREEPER) Act to ban their import and make possession of them illegal. Donovan spent an entire career locking up pedophiles and he says that, “Every case has stayed with me—there is no situation where a child was hurt or victimized that doesn’t leave your thoughts.” And now, as then, he adds: “I will do everything possible to stop crimes against children.”

Source: Congress moves to ban child-sex dolls and robots. | The Weekly Standard

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Abu Zarin Hussin dead – Firefighter famed for kissing snake dies after king cobra bite

Hussin headed the King Cobra Squad of his local fire department, teaching his colleagues how to capture the reptiles without harming them.His luck finally ran out when he was called out to a snake catching operation in Bentong, where he was fatally biten.Hussin rose to fame when he was pictured kissing a King Cobra, one of several 14ft snakes he claimed to play football and read bedtime stories with.It emerged last year that Hussin had ended up in a coma twice over snake bites, yet had no intention of ever giving up his perilous pets.BARCROFT MEDIA6The fireman, who taught his colleagues to catch the reptiles without harming them, was on a snake-catching mission when he was fatally bittenThe 32-year-old, from Kelantan, Malaysia, followed in the footsteps of his father and became a specialist snake handler in the fire service.But despite the love for his work, Abu accepts that snake handling is not for the fainthearted.

Source: Abu Zarin Hussin dead – Firefighter famed for kissing snake dies after king cobra bite

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Turns Out, Fidget Spinners Are Even Better When They Fly

What would it look like if a drone and a fidget spinner somehow had a baby? Probably the Flying Fidget Spinner. This invention has three propellers so you can channel all that excess twitchy energy into airborne spinning, and right now it’s on sale for 80% off the usual price: just $24.99. The Flying Fidget Spinner operates pretty much like the ones that don’t fly. You spin it just like you normally would. But once you let it go, it hovers, suspended in midair. You can tilt it at different angles to change the flight path—but it will alway comes back to you due to the spin force you apply. Normally this new school toy tech retails for $129.99, but you can score one on sale today for just $24.99.

Source: Turns Out, Fidget Spinners Are Even Better When They Fly

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Universities Keep Kicking Christian Groups Off Their Campuses

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, a student group, was recently kicked off the Michigan-based Wayne State University’s campus, solely for asking it be allowed to choose leaders who share its faith. Until this trouble with the school, the student group had been on campus for over 75 years. Incidents like this have been occurring on college campuses recently at an alarming rate.Late yesterday afternoon, just two days after InterVarsity asked a federal court to protect its right to choose leaders who affirm its faith, Wayne did an about-turn and decided to allow them back on campus — at least temporarily. Still, issues like this are not just a violation of free speech — they send a disturbing, overt message to the rest of us about what’s ahead for the public square.Christians v. Wayne State UniversityAfter school officials stripped them of official recognition because the group requires its leaders to affirm their faith, InterVarsity sued Wayne State University, with the help of the Becket Fund, a religious liberty organization. Wayne State has over 400 student groups that contribute to its intellectual and cultural diversity, all of which are free to select leaders who embrace their mission — except this one Christian student group, naturally.InterVarsity welcomes all students to its meetings and to join as members. Their only requirement is that the group’s leaders believe in and live out their Christian faith. Yet in 2017, Wayne State rejected the group’s constitution, derecognized InterVarsity, and canceled all of InterVarsity scheduled meetings. Wayne State said InterVarsity’s religious leadership requirements violated school policy. Meanwhile, like many other similar free speech cases on college campuses, Wayne State actively violates its own policy in many of its programs and allows dozens of other larger student groups do the same.

Source: Universities Keep Kicking Christian Groups Off Their Campuses

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NSA Deletes “Honesty” and “Openness” From Core Values

THE NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY maintains a page on its website that outlines its mission statement. But earlier this month, the agency made a discreet change: It removed “honesty” as its top priority.Since at least May 2016, the surveillance agency had featured honesty as the first of four “core values” listed on, alongside “respect for the law,” “integrity,” and “transparency.” The agency vowed on the site to “be truthful with each other.”On January 12, however, the NSA removed the mission statement page – which can still be viewed through the Internet Archive – and replaced it with a new version. Now, the parts about honesty and the pledge to be truthful have been deleted. The agency’s new top value is “commitment to service,” which it says means “excellence in the pursuit of our critical mission.”

Source: NSA Deletes “Honesty” and “Openness” From Core Values

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India, France to work on satellites for maritime surveillance

India and France today decided to step up cooperation in the space sector by exploring ways to use satellites for maritime surveillance and collaborating on inter-planetary missions.India’s Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and French National Space Agency (CNES) would work together on the design and development of joint products and techniques to monitor and protect their assets in land and sea, said a document — Joint Vision for Space Cooperation — issued after talks between Prime Minister Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron.ISRO and CNES also inked an agreement for end-to-end solution for detection, identification and monitoring of vessels in the regions of interest.

Source: India, France to work on satellites for maritime surveillance- The New Indian Express

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The War On What’s Real

Nine years ago, I sat at ground zero of the face-swapping revolution.  I was inside the screening room of Ed Ulbrich, who was hot off building the technology that had transformed Brad Pitt’s visage in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Ulbrich had welcomed me to his VFX studio Digital Domain to preview something that could top even the technical magic of Benjamin Button. He dimmed the lights, and the opening notes of his latest opus, Tron Legacy, began to play. Soon, I was face to face with a digitally-reconstructed Jeff Bridges, who wasn’t 60 years old anymore, but a spry 30. To Ulbrich, face-swapping was the Holy Grail of special effects–and we were witnessing its realization.Still from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. [Photo: © 2008 – Paramount Pictures]“It was really hard, it was really slow, it was really tedious, it was really expensive,” Ulbrich said at the time. “And the next time we do it it’s going to be less difficult, and less slow and less expensive.” Digital Domain eventually pivoted to resurrecting Tupac as a hologram, and later declared bankruptcy. But the company left its mark: digital face-swapping has become a mainstay tool of Hollywood, putting Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator Genesis and Carrie Fisher in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.The jaw-dropping effect is still fairly difficult and expensive, though–or it was until an anonymous Redditor named Deepfakes changed all that overnight and brought Ulbrich’s words back to me with perfect clarity. In early 2018, Deepfakes released a unique bit of code to the public that allows anyone to easily and convincingly map a face onto someone else’s head in full motion video. Then, another Redditor quickly created FakeApp, which gave the Deepfakes scripts a user-friendly front end.

Source: The War On What’s Real

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Five Senators And A Big Pharma Trade Association Urge Tech Companies To Censor Drug And Pharmacy Websites

In a report by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), published today, it was revealed that five Senators – three Democrats and two Republicans – wrote letters to four big tech companies, calling for censorship of drug information. Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Pinterest were contacted and accused of facilitating trade in prescription drugs and illegal narcotics.These letters, which according to the EFF are nearly identical, were separately written but sent around the same time last month. Interestingly, the letters were announced in a mailing list to members of the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies (ASOP).ASOP is a non-profit organization headquartered in Washington D.C., dedicated to “protecting consumers around the world, and combating illegal online drug sales,” among other things, as stated on the organization’s official website.

Source: Five Senators And A Big Pharma Trade Association Urge Tech Companies To Censor Drug And Pharmacy Websites

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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 |

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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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