Author Archives: binghamboatwright

About binghamboatwright

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

Facebook ditches fake news flag, admits it was making things worse

Well, that didn’t work out like we thought it would, Facebook said last month about the “Disputed” tag, which has now been mothballed.

Since March, Facebook has been slapping disputed flags on what some of us call fake news and what others call the stories that mainstream news outlets with hidden agendas want to suffocate.

Aside from whether or not you agree with the use of disputed tags – tags that Facebook’s been allocating with the input of third-party fact-checkers such as Snopes, ABC News, Politifact, FactCheck and the Associated Press – there’s one thing that’s become clear: the tags haven’t been doing squat to stop the spread of fake news.

In fact, at least one publisher of admittedly fake news (he was eventually conscience-panged out of the lucrative business) has noted that fake news goes viral way before Facebook systems, partners or users have a chance to report it. Then there’s a consequence that seems obvious in hindsight: traffic to some articles flagged as fake has skyrocketed as a backlash to what some groups see as an attempt to bury the “truth”.

Source: Facebook ditches fake news flag, admits it was making things worse

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Tech giant is rolling out new robots to replace workers in hotels, airports and supermarkets

A Korean tech giant on Thursday announced new robots that take aim squarely at the jobs of many services industry workers around the globe.

There have long been predictions that advances in artificial intelligence and automation could end up eliminating millions of jobs over time, and tech companies have been testing robots to carry out a variety of tasks — from working in a pizza parlor to making deliveries that could greatly affect the services industry in the future.

For its part, South Korean giant LG Electronics is the latest company that is planning to sell robots to solve tasks currently completed by humans.

On Thursday, LG said it will showcase three new “concept robots” at the global consumer electronics show, CES, in Las Vegas next week. Those robots are designed for commercial use at hotels, airports and supermarkets, according to the company. An LG spokesman later told CNBC that the robots are still “concept” products and that they are “a long way from ready to go public.”

Source: Tech giant is rolling out new robots to replace workers in hotels, airports and supermarkets

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Oregonians Are Panicking about Self-Serve Gas Pumps

Oregon and New Jersey are the only two states that ban self-service gas stations. But thanks to a new law that went into effect on January 1, customers can now pump their own gas in Oregon, though only at stand-alone gas stations in counties with fewer than 40,000 residents. Elsewhere, the ban still holds.

But even this tiny increase in freedom was apparently too much for some Oregonians. In a Facebook post that’s now gone viral, local news station KTVL polled their fans for their thoughts about the new law. Some did not take the news well.

When Pumping Gas Is Just a Bridge Too Far

Here are a few premium selections:

“Many people are not capable of knowing how to pump gas and the hazards of not doing it correctly. Besides I don’t want to go to work smelling of gas when I get it on my hands or clothes. I agree Very bad idea.”

“I don’t even know HOW to pump gas and I am 62, native Oregonian…..I say NO THANKS! I don’t want to smell like gasoline!”

“I’ve lived in this state all my life and I REFUSE to pump my own gas. I had to do it once in California while visiting my brother and almost died doing it. This a service only qualified people should perform. I will literally park at the pump and wait until someone pumps my gas. I can’t even”

Source: Oregonians Are Panicking about Self-Serve Gas Pumps

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Top-selling German newspaper says new online hate speech law must be scrapped

A new law meant to curtail hate speech on social media in Germany is stifling free speech and making martyrs out of anti-immigrant politicians whose posts are deleted, the top-selling Bild newspaper said on Thursday.

The law which took effect on Jan. 1 can impose fines of up to 50 million euros ($60 million) on sites that fail to remove hate speech promptly. Twitter has deleted anti-Muslim and anti-migrant posts by the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) and blocked a satirical account that parodied Islamophobia.

“Please spare us the thought police!” read a headline in Wednesday’s Bild above an article that called the law a “sin” against freedom of opinion enshrined in Germany’s constitution.

The law requires social media sites to delete or block obviously criminal content within 24 hours but Bild Editor-in-Chief Julian Reichelt said it could be applied against anything and anyone since there was no definition of what was “manifestly unlawful” in most cases.

Intended to prevent radical groups from gaining influence, it was having precisely the opposite effect, he said.

“The law against online hate speech failed on its very first day. It should be abolished immediately,” Reichelt wrote, adding that the law was turning AfD politicians into “opinion martyrs”.

Source: Top-selling German newspaper says new online hate speech law must be scrapped

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Berkeley Antifa Activist Yvette Felarca Ordered to Pay $11,000 for Filing False Restraining Orders

A California court has ordered prominent Antifa activist Yvette Felarca to pay over $11,000 in damages to the former president of the Berkeley College Republicans, Troy Worden.

The court ruled on Wednesday ruled in favor of Worden and his attorney, Mark Meuser, who sued Felarca for damages and attorney fees after she filed false restraining orders against him.

Felarca is one of the leading figureheads of the Berkeley-based Antifa group, By Any Means Necessary. She is allegedly one of the main figures responsible for leading the riot at UC Berkeley in February 2017 to disrupt a MILO speaking event.

Worden, who works for Campus Reform, told the publication: “Felarca’s frivolous legal actions were meant to intimidate me and hinder my political activism.”

Harmeet Dhillon of the Dhillon Law Group, which through which Meuser represents Worden, condemned Felarca for her history of “filing and dismissing utterly frivolous cases against innocent targets.” He pledged to hold her and her lawyers “accountable” for their actions.

“Felarca and her fellow travelers in BAMN/Antifa need to learn that the California courts are not their personal plaything to use and abuse at will by filing baseless and vexatious lawsuits,” he said in October. “She is on notice—stunts like this one will no longer go unchallenged in the courts by ordinary citizens. We will hold her, and her lawyers, accountable.”

Source: Berkeley Antifa Activist Yvette Felarca Ordered to Pay $11,000 for Filing False Restraining Orders – DANGEROUS

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When a North Korean Missile Accidentally Hit a North Korean City

What happens when a North Korean ballistic missile test fails in flight and explodes in a populated area? On April 28, 2017, North Korea launched a single Hwasong-12/KN17 intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) from Pukchang Airfield in South Pyongan Province (the Korean People’s Army’s Air and Anti-Air Force Unit 447 in Ryongak-dong, Sunchon City, to be more precise). That missile failed shortly after launch and crashed in the Chongsin-dong, in North Korean city of Tokchon, causing considerable damage to a complex of industrial or agricultural buildings.

According to a U.S. government source with knowledge of North Korea’s weapons programs who spoke to The Diplomat, the missile’s first stage engines failed after approximately one minute of powered flight, resulting in catastrophic failure. The missile never flew higher than approximately 70 kilometers. The location of the missile’s eventual impact was revealed exclusively to The Diplomat and evidence of the incident can be independently corroborated in commercially available satellite imagery from April and May 2017.

The April 28 failure merits close analysis, especially as North Korea continues to carry out flight-testing of its various ballistic missile platforms from a range of new test sites. In 2017, North Korea has introduced new sites for missile testing, arguably to demonstrate the flexibility of its Strategic Rocket Force. It has even carried out ballistic missile launches from a restricted area at Pyongyang’s Sunan Airport, which also serves as the country’s primary civil aviation facility and the entrypoint for most non-Chinese foreign visitors to North Korea. The potential for similar accidents occurring over Pyongyang, the country’s capital, or other populated regions remains high, especially with untested systems.

Source: When a North Korean Missile Accidentally Hit a North Korean City

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Satanic verses: Dark Web helps decode 17c letter penned by ‘devil-possessed’ nun 

A mysterious coded letter penned in the 17th century by a nun who claimed to be possessed by the Devil himself has finally been deciphered using an algorithm found, oddly enough, on the Dark Web.

Sister Maria Crocifissa della Concezione was writing letters at the convent of Palma di Montechiaro on August 11 1676, when she claimed that Lucifer was attempting to lure her into serving evil reports La Stampa.

She then wrote a note that included a variety of symbols and languages including Greek, Cyrillic, Arabic and Runic. In the intervening centuries, scholars, cryptographers, mystics and occultists have tried and failed to decipher the text.

Recently, a team from The Ludum Science Center in Sicily happened to stumble upon an algorithm on the Dark Web which allowed them to decipher the seemingly unintelligible code.

“We heard about the software, which we believe is used by intelligence services for codebreaking,” said Daniele Abate, director of the center, as cited by The Times.

“We primed the software with ancient Greek, Arabic, the Runic alphabet and Latin to descramble some of the letter and show that it really is devilish,” he said.

The newly minted translation of the bizarrely complex letter has fuelled speculation that not only was the nun a rather talented linguist but also that she may have been schizophrenic.

READ MORE: Satanist delivers historic invocation, hails Satan at Colorado council meeting (VIDEO)

The letter allegedly described the Holy Trinity in Catholicism, God, Jesus and The Holy Spirit, as being “dead weights,”and goes on to state that, “God thinks he can free mortals,” while encouraging to abandon humans.

Source: Satanic verses: Dark Web helps decode 17c letter penned by ‘devil-possessed’ nun — RT World News

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Intel issues updates to protect systems from Spectre and Meltdown 

Intel has already issued updates for the majority of processor products introduced within the past five years. By the end of next week, Intel expects to have issued updates for more than 90 percent of processor products introduced within the past five years.

Many operating system vendors, public cloud service providers, device manufacturers and others have indicated that they have already updated their products and services.

Intel continues to believe that the performance impact of these updates is highly workload-dependent and, for the average computer user, should not be significant and will be mitigated over time. While on some discrete workloads the performance impact from the software updates may initially be higher, additional post-deployment identification, testing and improvement of the software updates should mitigate that impact.

Source: Intel issues updates to protect systems from Spectre and Meltdown – Help Net Security

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Food-safety expert warns latest bizarre Silicon Valley $60 ‘raw water’ trend could quickly turn deadly

Silicon Valley is developing an obsession with “raw” water. However, a food poisoning expert says that the trend is dangerous — and could be deadly.

When food-safety expert Bill Marler saw The New York Times’ trend piece on Silicon Valley’s recent obsession with raw water, he thought he was reading a headline from The Onion.

According to The Times, demand for unfiltered water is skyrocketing as tech-industry insiders develop a taste for water that hasn’t been treated, to prevent the spread of bacteria or other contaminants.

In San Francisco, “unfiltered, untreated, unsterilized spring water” is selling for as much as $60.99 for a 2.5 gallon jug. Startups dedicated to untreated water are popping up. People — including startup Juicero’s cofounder Doug Evans — are gathering gallons of untreated water from natural springs to bring to Burning Man.

Tourmaline Spring sells an untreated water as “sacred, living water.”Tourmaline Spring

While Evans and other fans say raw water is perfect for those who are “extreme about health,” Marler — a food-safety advocate and a lawyer — says the opposite is true.

“Almost everything conceivable that can make you sick can be found in water,” Marler told Business Insider.

Unfiltered, untreated water, even from the cleanest streams, can contain animal feces, spreading Giardia, which has symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea and results in roughly 4,600 hospitalizations a year. Hepatitis A, which resulted in 20 deaths in a California outbreak in 2017, can be spread through water if it isn’t treated. E. coli, and cholera can also be transmitted via untreated water.

Source: Food-safety expert warns latest bizarre Silicon Valley $60 ‘raw water’ trend could quickly turn deadly

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Revealed: Vietnam’s 10,000-Strong Internet Monitoring Force, Tasked With Stamping Out ‘Wrongful Views’

Over the years, Techdirt has published quite a few stories about Vietnam‘s moves to stifle dissent online. On Christmas Day, Colonel General Nguyen Trong Nghia, deputy chairman of the General Political Department of the People’s Army of Vietnam, revealed that the country had secretly created a massive Internet monitoring unit called “Force 47”:

Nghia said the special force tasked with combating wrongful information and anti-state propaganda is called the Force 47, named after Directive No. 47 that governs its foundation.

The team currently has more than 10,000 members, who are “the core fighters” in cyberspace.

The three-star general underlined that members of this team are “red and competent,” implying that they have both technology expertise and good political ideals in addition to personality.

As Tuoi Tre News reports, Force 47 is tasked with fighting “wrongful views”. Bloomberg points out some recent moves by the Vietnamese authorities to police the online world:

Source: Revealed: Vietnam’s 10,000-Strong Internet Monitoring Force, Tasked With Stamping Out ‘Wrongful Views’

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Hostile Urbanism: 22 Intentionally Inhospitable Examples of Defensive Design

It’s not just you – that bench in your city is designed to be uncomfortable on purpose. Armed with a loose definition of what it means to ‘loiter,’ intentionally hostile and sometimes downright sadistic urban design prioritizes separating ‘undesirables’ from city residents deemed more deserving. But these designs aren’t just inhumane – they have a negative practical and psychological effect on virtually everyone who spends time in public spaces. Can you imagine how different our cities could feel if they welcomed us, made us comfortable, asked us to stay a while and treated us like we actually live here?

Benches That Prevent Laying Down

The Camden Bench hates you. Seriously. It isn’t just a vaguely Brutalist block of concrete with a surface faceted for the sake of aesthetics. It’s the public furniture equivalent of a finger wagging in your face. Commissioned by the Camden London Borough Council and installed in 2012, it boasts of its ability to deter a grand total of 22 behaviors, including sleeping, skateboarding, canoodling, drug dealing (what?), littering, graffiti and theft. Its solidity makes it too heavy to move, its angles make it uncomfortable, it has no crevices and it’s coated in a waterproof anti-paint coating.

In a masterful stroke of smirking condescension, its manufacturer, UK-based Factory Furniture, calls it “a more inclusive place to sit,” noting that its indentations are at different heights. Sure. But where there’s a will, there’s a way, and skateboarders have already proven the marketing materials wrong, as seen in a video at The Guardian.

But other bench designs simply insert armrests and other objects, ostensibly to ‘separate the seats.’ We all know what they’re really for – preventing anyone from laying down. Cities criminalize homelessness and ghettoize low-income residents in an attempt to conceal poverty under the guise of making public areas cleaner and safer while the machinery that creates these social and economic conditions in the first place churns away. Furthermore, these designs don’t distinguish between houseless people and other city residents who might be ill, disabled, pregnant, elderly or just tired after a long bike ride. So who are they for?


The Archisuit by artist Sarah Ross is one example of ways in which city residents fight back against these measures. “Archisuit consists of an edition of four leisure jogging suits made for specific architectural structures in Los Angeles. The suits include the negative space of the structures and allow a wearer to fit into, or onto, structures designed to deny them.”

(images via Wikimedia CommonsFactory Furniture, Flickr Creative Commons, Sarah Ross)

Public Seating ‘Alternatives’


If you’re a small person, you might be able to rest a single butt cheek on the wooden oval stools at Montreal’s Laurier Station. If you’re not, the most these ‘seats’ can offer you is a momentary place to sort of awkwardly lean against the wall. In Tokyo, a tubular stainless steel bench that gets dangerously hot in summer and freezing in the winter certainly won’t let you settle in for long. Some parks have installed giant boulders in place of benches – good luck taking a nap on one of those.


A book called Unpleasant Design by Selena Savic and Gordan Savicic chronicles all of these awkward seats and other ways in which public spaces are made intentionally uncomfortable, modified to deter certain activities or otherwise created to manipulate us. Examples they’ve gathered include decorative ‘picket fences’ around public landscaping that are really spikes, boulders placed beneath highway overpasses, trash cans with tiny openings and even benches with studs built right into the seat that only retract for a short period if you insert some coins into a slot. The latter started as a satirical joke by sculptor Fabian Brunsing, but Chinese officials didn’t see the humor, copying the design in Shandong’s Yantai Park.

Source: Hostile Urbanism: 22 Intentionally Inhospitable Examples of Defensive Design

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Obama Team Did Some ‘Extreme Vetting’ of Muslims Before Trump, New Documents Show

Social-media screening of aspiring immigrants, many from majority Muslim countries, was broader under the previous administration than previously known.

Five months before President Trump came to office vowing “extreme vetting” for immigrants, the Obama administration added social media checks to a program that scrutinizes persons from majority-Muslim nations, newly obtained internal documents show.

Social-media screening at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services collectively encompassed aspiring immigrants such as asylees and refugees, and even some visa-holders currently in the United States. The effort going back five years had produced little actionable intelligence, according to multiple internal reviews obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Nevertheless, that hasn’t stopped the Trump administration’s plans to build off of the program that one critic likened to a “digital Muslim ban.”

It began in 2012, when Homeland Security laid out a policy that greenlit social media monitoring for applicant assessments. In 2014, USCIS started pilot projects to analyze the publicly available social media of small groups of would-be immigrants.

Source: Obama Team Did Some ‘Extreme Vetting’ of Muslims Before Trump, New Documents Show

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Maybe Sex Robots Will Make Men, Not Women, Obsolete

Advances in robotics and artificial intelligence have raised a dystopian concern for women: What if female robots become so realistic — and so adept at sex — that they render men incapable of engaging in real human relationships?

 Actually, I think it’s the men who should be worried. It’s entirely possible that robots can outperform them.

Perhaps it’s time for a Big Think. Are women not as capable as men of crude objectification? There’s room here for everyone’s impure thoughts and desires. Robots don’t discriminate, and they can probably give good massages.

 Don’t get me wrong, I have a good husband. I doubt I would trade in. But if I had a daughter, I might consider giving her a robot as a college graduation present. Preferably one who can do the dishes and guard the door.

And yes, I do think women could get spoiled by dashing menbots. Their standards might go up. They might even be lost to the dating pool altogether — like what’s already happened with some Japanese men.

Source: Maybe Sex Robots Will Make Men, Not Women, Obsolete

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Mexican psychic predicts no US-North Korea nuclear war

MEXICO CITY: Hovering over his tarot cards and holding a microphone to his wizard-like beard, Mexican psychic Antonio Vazquez on Thursday (Jan 4) said there was no need to fear a nuclear war between the United States and North Korea. Better known as “El Brujo Mayor” (Grand Warlock), Vazquez is famous in Mexico for his predictions at the start of each year on subjects ranging from politics to celebrities and sports. No need to fear that 2018 will see a clash of egos between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un escalate into nuclear war, he said: “Knight of Swords! No bombs will fly.

They will reach an agreement.” But there will be no such good fortune for Colombian pop star Shakira, who recently had to suspend a world tour after a vocal cord injury. “I sense someone has cast a spell on her,” he said with a worried look. “I don’t think she’ll recover.” Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Brazilian leader Michel Temer and Mexican drug lord Joaquin Guzman should also look out: El Brujo foresees an assassination in one or the other South American country, and “very poor health” for Guzman, known as “El Chapo,” who is currently in solitary confinement in a US jail. Vazquez also ventured a prediction on the 2018 World Cup in Russia: defending champions Germany will defeat Spain in the finals. However, El Brujo is not exactly known for his infallibility. In 2016, he predicted Trump would lose the Republican primary election, that “El Chapo” would be killed and Maduro forced from power.

Source: Mexican psychic predicts no US-North Korea nuclear war

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Opinion | Publicly, We Say #MeToo. Privately, We Have Misgivings.

You can be sure that this weekend at the Golden Globes, Hollywood celebrities, not exactly known for their independent thinking, will turn the red carpet into a #MeToo moment replete with designer duds. Many have promised to wear black dresses to protest the stream of allegations against industry moguls and actors. Perhaps Meryl Streep will get grilled — again — about what she knew about Harvey Weinstein. The rest of us will diligently follow along on Twitter, sharing hashtags and suitably pious opprobrium.

But privately, I suspect, many of us, including many longstanding feminists, will be rolling our eyes, having had it with the reflexive and unnuanced sense of outrage that has accompanied this cause from its inception, turning a bona fide moment of moral accountability into a series of ad hoc and sometimes unproven accusations.

For many weeks now, the conversation that has been going on in private about this reckoning is radically different from the public one. This is not a good sign, suggesting the sort of social intimidation that is the underside of a culture of political correctness, such as we are increasingly living in.

The women I know — of all ages — have responded by and large with a mixture of slightly horrified excitement (bordering on titillation) as to who will be the next man accused and overt disbelief.

Publicly, they say the right things, expressing approval and joining in the chorus of voices that applaud the takedown of maleficent characters who prey on vulnerable women in the workplace.

In private it’s a different story. “Grow up, this is real life,” I hear these same feminist friends say. “What ever happened to flirting?” and “What about the women who are the predators?” Some women, including random people I talk to in supermarket lines, have gone so far as to call it an outright witch hunt.

It goes without saying that no one is coming to the defense of heinous sorts, like Kevin Spacey and Matt Lauer. But the trickle-down effect to cases like those of Garrison Keillor, Jonathan Schwartz, Ryan Lizza and Al Franken, in which the accusations are scattered, anonymous or, as far as the public knows, very vague and unspecific, has been troubling.

Continue reading the main story

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Pentagon Seeks Laser-Powered Bat Drones. Really.

A new contest seeks flight systems inspired by Mother Nature and powered by directed-energy beams.

Tired: multi-rotor copters and fixed-wing drones. Wired: flying robots that move like living animals, are crafted of next-generation materials, and draw their power not from batteries but energy beamed from nearby aircraft.

On Wednesday, the the Defense Enterprise Science Initiative, or DESIannounced a competition for basic science grants to build “new paradigms for autonomous flight, with a focus on highly-maneuverable platforms and algorithms for flight control and decision making.” An accompanying Broad Agency Announcement gets more specific: basically, they’re looking for bat-like drones that can be powered with directed-energy beams.

Source: Pentagon Seeks Laser-Powered Bat Drones. Really.

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ADHD drug tied to heart defects in babies

By Lisa Rapaport

Pregnant women who take drugs like Ritalin and Concerta for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are more likely than those who don’t to have babies with heart deformities and other birth defects, a recent study suggests. Researchers examined data on more than 1.8 million pregnancies in the U.S., including 2,072 women who used methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta, Daytrana) and 5,571 who took an amphetamine (Adderall) during their first trimester. Overall, women who took methylphenidate were 11 percent more likely to have a baby with birth defects and 28 percent more likely to have infants with heart malformations than women who didn’t take stimulants for ADHD during pregnancy.

There was no increased risk of birth defects in general or heart malformations specifically with amphetamines like Adderall, the researchers found.“Our findings suggest that there might be a small increase in the risk of cardiac malformations associated with intrauterine exposure to methylphenidate,” said lead study author Krista Huybrechts of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “Although the absolute risk is small, it is nevertheless important evidence to consider when weighing the potential risks and benefits of different treatment strategies for ADHD in young women of reproductive age and in pregnant women,” Huybrechts said by email. An estimated 3 percent of children, teens and adults have ADHD, researchers note in JAMA Psychiatry.

Stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin are among the most commonly prescribed medications for the condition, and these drugs are increasingly being used by women of childbearing age. All of the women in the current study had health insurance through Medicaid, the U.S. benefits program for the poor. Among children of women who were not taking stimulants for ADHD, 35 out of every 1,000 babies had birth defects, compared with 46 out of every 1,000 infants born to women using drugs like Ritalin. To assess whether these results were unique to the U.S. or to women on Medicaid, researchers also examined health registry data for more than 2.5 million pregnancies in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. In the Nordic data, drugs like Ritalin were also associated with a 28 percent higher risk of heart malformations in babies.

The study wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove whether or how specific ADHD drugs might cause birth defects. Because the study only included live births, it didn’t explore whether the drugs might increase the risks of severe birth defects that lead to miscarriage or stillbirths or that prompt women to terminate pregnancies, the authors note. “If a woman has mild symptoms, it might be possible to avoid use of the medicine during pregnancy,” said Dr. William Cooper, a researcher at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, who wasn’t involved in the study but wrote an accompanying editorial. “However, if the woman has severe symptoms that interfere with her daily function, the results of this study can help to guide decisions on whether to continue,” Cooper said by email. It may also make sense for some women with ADHD to consider stopping or changing medications when they’re trying to conceive, Huybrechts said. “Considering the high rate of unplanned pregnancies among young women, the potential for accidental exposure is also very high,” Huybrechts said. “Although the absolute risk is small, it is nevertheless important evidence to consider when weighing the potential risks and benefits of different treatment strategies for ADHD in young women of reproductive age and in pregnant women.”SOURCES: and JAMA Psychiatry,

Source: ADHD drug tied to heart defects in babies

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Food stamp recipients down 2M under Trump, USDA figures show

Since Donald Trump became president, the Dow Jones industrial average has climbed to 25,000 and fewer Americans are unemployed.

Another interesting fact: The number of people collecting food stamps has declined by more than two million.

Data released by the Department of Agriculture show that the number of participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), otherwise known as food stamps, dropped to 42,182,443 for fiscal 2017 – a decline of 2,036,920 from the fiscal 2016 total of 44,219,363.

USDA figures since show that the program has gone from costing taxpayers about $250 million for about 2.8 million recipients in 1969, under President Richard Nixon, to a peak of costing nearly $80 billion for nearly 48 million recipients in 2013, under President Barack Obama.

Source: Food stamp recipients down 2M under Trump, USDA figures show

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Efforts grow to help students evaluate what they see online

Alarmed by the proliferation of false content online, state lawmakers around the country are pushing schools to put more emphasis on teaching students how to tell fact from fiction.

Lawmakers in several states have introduced or passed bills calling on public school systems to do more to teach media literacy skills that they say are critical to democracy. The effort has been bipartisan but has received little attention despite successful legislation in Washington state, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Mexico.

Several more states are expected to consider such bills in the coming year, including Arizona, New York and Hawaii.

“I don’t think it’s a partisan issue to appreciate the importance of good information and the teaching of tools for navigating the information environment,” said Hans Zeiger, a Republican state senator in Washington who co-sponsored a bill that passed in his state earlier this year. “There is such a thing as an objective source versus other kinds of sources, and that’s an appropriate thing for schools to be teaching.”

Advocates say the K-12 curriculum has not kept pace with rapid changes in technology. Studies show many children spend hours every day online but struggle to comprehend the content that comes at them.

For years, they have pushed schools to incorporate media literacy — including the ability to evaluate and analyze sources of information — into lesson plans in civics, language arts, science and other subjects.

Their efforts started getting traction after the 2016 presidential election, which highlighted how even many adults can be fooled by false and misleading content peddled by agenda-driven domestic and foreign sources.

“Five years ago, it was difficult to get people to understand what we were doing and what we wanted to see happen in education and the skills students needed to learn,” said Michelle Ciulla Lipkin, executive director of the National Association for Media Literacy Education. “Now there is no question about the vitalness of this in classrooms.”


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Piracy Notices Can Mess With Your Thermostat, ISP Warns

US Internet provider Armstrong warns that persistent pirates can have their Internet access throttled. As a result, they may no longer have full control over their thermostats. Those who continue pirating after an obligatory copyright education may have their full service terminated.

Since the early 2000’s copyright holders have been sending ISPs takedown notices, to alert account holders that someone’s been using their connection to share copyrighted material.

The goal of these warnings is to deter people from sharing pirated material in the future.

Internet providers are not legally obliged to forward the notices, but many do. What ISPs are required to do is implement a policy to deal with frequent offenders.

Keeping pirates on board without taking any action can make the ISP liable, as Cox found out the hard way. While this case is currently on appeal, some ISPs have already put stringent measures in place.

Take Armstrong Zoom Internet, for example, which has roughly a million subscribers in the Northeastern part of the U.S. Like many other ISPs it reserves the right to terminate repeat infringers, a policy which it doesn’t hide.

Our attention was caught by a recent letter the company sent to one of its users. The ISP points out that it received multiple copyright infringement notices, urging the customer to stop, or else.

“…please be advised that, if Armstrong receives additional notifications of infringement connected With your Zoom Internet Service, Armstrong will remove you from your current service level and place you at the lowest service level.

“This will allow you to access email, but limit your speeds and affect your ability to upload or download material to the internet or use other file-sharing capabilities.”

While reduced Internet speeds are bad enough, there’s another scary prospect. The reduced service level may also prevent subscribers from controlling their thermostat remotely. Not ideal during the winter.

“Please be advised that this may affect other services which you may have connected to your internet service, such as the ability to control your thermostat remotely or video monitoring services.”

Accused pirates who want their full service restored, and regain control over their thermostats, have to answer some copyright questions and read an educational piece about copyright infringement.

When they sign an agreement acknowledging that they have done so, full Internet access is restored. However, if more complaints come in later, the consequences will be more severe.

“…if Armstrong received additional notifications after you sign the Acknowledgement, your Zoom Internet Service will be terminated,” the provider writes.

Getting back in after that is only possible after signing an affidavit, so under penalty of perjury, and by paying a fee.

Only then they will regain full control over their thermostat again.

Source: Piracy Notices Can Mess With Your Thermostat, ISP Warns – TorrentFreak

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Intel CEO sold all the stock he could after Intel learned of security bug


Brian Krzanich, chief executive officer of Intel, sold millions of dollars’ worth of Intel stock—all he could part with under corporate bylaws—after Intel learned of Meltdown and Spectre, two related families of security flaws in Intel processors.

While an Intel spokesperson told CBS Marketwatch reporter Jeremy Owens that the trades were “unrelated” to the security revelations, and Intel financial filings showed that the stock sales were previously scheduled, Krzanich scheduled those sales on October 30. That’s a full five months after researchers informed Intel of the vulnerabilities. And Intel has offered no further explanation of why Krzanich abruptly sold off all the stock he was permitted to.

Source: Intel CEO sold all the stock he could after Intel learned of security bug

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Philip Morris says its New Year’s resolution is to give up cigarettes

Philip Morris International has made a dramatic New Year’s resolution: “We’re trying to give up cigarettes.”


The maker of such cigarette brands as Marlboro, L&M, Parliament and Chesterfield took out full-page ads in several newspapers in the United Kingdom that said its new ambition in 2018 is to build a smoke-free future and eventually stop selling cigarettes.

The manifesto, as described on the company’s web site, is to help people quit smoking traditional cigarettes and to one day replace them all with smoke-free alternatives like e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products.

The company claims the alternatives are less harmful and that “we can achieve a significant public-health benefit only when a large number of these smokers switch from cigarettes to better products.”

The Philip Morris ad states: “No cigarette company has done anything like this before. You might wonder if we really mean it.”

The World Health Organization has asked that question as well. The United Nations health agency has refused to partner with The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World which is funded by Philip Morris International.

“The tobacco industry and its front groups have misled the public about the risks associated with other tobacco products,” the World Health Organizations said in a September 2017 statement.

Source: Philip Morris says its New Year’s resolution is to give up cigarettes

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DHS Expanding Operations Into More Than 70 Countries, Violating Travelers and National Sovereignty

The Department of Homeland Security is expanding globally in an effort to “strengthen international security while preventing a terrorist attack, drug shipment, or human smuggling ring” according to a report by the New York Times.

An estimated 2,000 Homeland Security employees from Immigration and Customs Enforcement and special agents to Transportation Security Administration officials are now being deployed to more than 70 countries around the world.

While the New York Times reports this is an effort under Trump, the reality is that this started in October 2010 under Obama, when nearly 190 countries signed a historic ICAO agreement that establishes a foundation for aviation security.

This effort to push U.S. immigration laws in European countries has created tensions between the U.S. and other nations.

In Germany, lawmakers have questioned the department’s counter-terrorism Immigration Advisory Program, where travelers at foreign airports are investigated and sometimes interviewed by plainclothes Customs and Border Protection officers before they are permitted to board flights into the United States.

Source: DHS Expanding Operations Into More Than 70 Countries, Violating Travelers and National Sovereignty

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Hotel That Charged Guest $350 For A Negative Review Now Facing A Lawsuit From State Attorney General

The American Dream: own your own business… be your own boss… run your reputation into the ground… charge people’s credit cards $350 for negative reviews… get sued by the government. Welcome to Nashville, Indiana, home of the Abbey Inn, whose absentee ownership, lack of on-duty staff, and hidden clauses have led to a precipitous decline in brand health, along with the opportunity to defend itself against a lawsuit brought by the state’s attorney general.

It all started with hotel guest Katrina Walker’s disastrous stay at the Abbey Inn.

The hotel room wasn’t just dirty. It was “a nightmare,” the guest said.

The air smelled like sewage. Hair and dirt covered the bed sheets, as if the linens hadn’t been cleaned after the last guests had left the Abbey Inn & Suites room that Katrina Arthur and her husband were renting in Nashville, Ind in March 2016. The air conditioner and shower in the room didn’t work right, either, Arthur told WRTV.

“We were just wanting to get away and have some alone time,” Arthur told the TV station. “It looked really pretty on the website.”

Source: Hotel That Charged Guest $350 For A Negative Review Now Facing A Lawsuit From State Attorney General

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College course teaches students about ‘queering the Bible’ 

Class ‘destabilizes long held assumptions’ about what’s in the Bible; university refuses to comment

Swarthmore College is offering a course next year that will survey “queer and trans* readings of biblical texts” by using “queer and trans* theoretical approaches,” with faculty staying silent on the specifics of the course material.

“Queering the Bible” is set to launch next fall and will be instructed by Gwynn Kessler, an associate professor of religion, according to Swarthmore’s course catalog.

The course, which is being offered through Swarthmore’s Religion Department, promises to “[introduce] students to the complexity of constructions of sex, gender, and identity in one of the most influential literary works produced in ancient times.”

“By reading the Bible with the methods of queer and trans* theoretical approaches,” the catalog advertises, “this class destabilizes long held assumptions about what the bible–and religion–says about gender and sexuality.”

It appears that the Swarthmore Religion Department will offer no other Bible-centric courses next fall apart from this one. Out of around ten listed courses that explicitly involve Bible study at Swarthmore, “Queering the Bible” appears to be the only one taking place in fall of 2018. Only one other Bible-related course, a class teaching the grammar and vocabulary necessary to read the Old Testament in the original Hebrew, is offered during that time.

Source: College course teaches students about ‘queering the Bible’ – The College Fix

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Facebook wants you to think it’s just a platform. It’s not.

IN SOME RESPECTS, Facebook isn’t so different from the publishers that rely on it. A report from Gizmodo this week suggests that a team of “news curators” subjectively selected stories for the objective-sounding “trending” section of the Facebook homepage. One former contractor alleged that the team suppressed conservative news–and conservative outlets–that the social network’s almighty algorithm surfaced. The obvious analogy is to left-leaning journalists picking stories for a newspaper’s front page. Facebook, however, reaches audiences no newspaper could imagine.

The allegations have stoked fears that social platforms may be pressing their thumbs on the ideological scale. The Senate Commerce Committee even requested a fuller explanation of “trending” selection in a letter sent to Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday. In a statement to Brian Stelter later on Tuesday, Facebook said it’s looking forward to answering questions about the process.

It’s unclear how much this small plot of homepage real estate affects stories’ reach; users’ newsfeeds have prime location by comparison, and the “trending” tab is hard to locate on mobile devices. Yet the report cuts against Facebook’s altruistic-sounding mission “to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.” What’s more, it alludes to the more far-reaching editorial-like decisions social networks make in sorting news and digital content. Facebook may describe itself as “a platform,” but it acts a lot like a publisher.

continue: Facebook wants you to think it’s just a platform. It’s not.

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AIs Won’t Command Us to Obey. They Will Seduce Us.

(FEE) – I just finished listening to Stephen Wolfram’s  three-part podcast titled “The Future of AI and Civilization.” If you have any interest in Artificial Intelligence and are not familiar with Wolfram’s work, you should look into it. Genius polymath, creator…Read more →

Source: AIs Won’t Command Us to Obey. They Will Seduce Us. – The Fifth Column

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Facebook Handing over More Info to US Government: ‘This Is What Facebook Was Designed to Do’


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Your next booty call won’t be with a human

Inflatable, tacky and comically proportioned, sex dolls used to be funnier than they were sexy.

However, the times are changing and the humble blow-up doll has been replaced with ultra-realistic, AI-infused sex robots that can cost over $10,000.

One particularly high-tech sex robot, Harmony, can even have a conversation with a user before things get steamy.

Harmony is undoubtedly impressive, but she’s isn’t perfect. She could have a sexier voice, might one day learn how to pole-dance and could even look like a user’s favorite celebrity.

Suffice it to say, the sex robot revolution is almost here, and it’s only gaining momentum. One need only look at what people are doing with today’s high-end sex dolls to get a glimpse of what people will soon be doing with their robotic siblings.

Brothels full of sex dolls fulfill people’s kinkiest requests. Apps connect lonely hearts with “warmed-up” second-hand sex dolls. And “barbarian” techies groped, mounted and soiled a sex doll right in the middle of an electronics fair.

Source: Your next booty call won’t be with a human

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Facebook patent: Your friends could help you get a loan – or not

Facebook patented technology on Tuesday that could be used for a number of things. It could help filter out spam email and offensive content. Or it could improve searches.

It could also allow lenders to use a borrower’s social network to determine whether he or she is a good credit risk.

Here’s how it would work: You apply for a loan and your would-be lender somehow examines the credit ratings of your Facebook friends.

“If the average credit rating of these members is at least a minimum credit score, the lender continues to process the loan application. Otherwise, the loan application is rejected,” the patent states.

Facebook (FB) declined to comment.

 The company applied for the patent in 2012, after buying it in a bundle of patents from Friendster for $40 million five years ago.

It’s not clear if Facebook would ever try to use the patent for lending, or how exactly it would work. How practical is it for a lender to try to access all the necessary information it needs from your Facebook friends?

Source: Facebook patent: Your friends could help you get a loan – or not

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Shoppers banned for too many store returns

Millions of Americans shopped this past Black Friday. Among the crowds of customers at Best Buy that night was Rob Trainor, of Amelia, Ohio.

The next day, he says, he looked over his purchases and decided to return a couple of computer items.

But at the Best Buy return counter, he says, “the first transaction got a warning. The next return was denied, and the clerk couldn’t do anything about it.”

It appears he had been flagged as a serial returner, even though he had not even opened his purchases.

He was stunned. “These are items that were unopened, with receipts, that I had bought 24 hours earlier,” Trainor said.

National database keeps records of your returns

A manager told him Best Buy could not do anything about it, and that he had to call a company called “The Retail Equation,” which Trainor learned was a sort of credit bureau for returns.

The company provided him his report, which showed the problem: multiple Best Buy returns a year earlier.

“There was a return December 6th of 2016, and again on December 30th of 2016. And the ones I tried to make on November 24th of 2017,” he said, frustrated that returns from a 12 months earlier were now preventing him from making any more.

Stores ask for your drivers license when making a return for several reasons. It’s not just to prevent theft, as most of us assume. It’s also because in many case your name gets entered into a national system keeping track of your returns.

Source: Shoppers banned for too many store returns

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World’s largest amphibious aircraft makes maiden flight in South China (VIDEO) 

A four-engine amphibious aircraft, said to be the world’s largest and roughly the size of a Boeing 737, took its maiden flight in the coastal Chinese city of Zhuhai.

Source: World’s largest amphibious aircraft makes maiden flight in South China (VIDEO) — RT World News

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Leaving the house linked to longevity in older adults


 For older people, getting out of the house regularly may contribute to a longer life – and the effect is independent of medical problems or mobility issues, according to new research from Israel.

For study participants in their 70s, 80s and 90s, the frequency with which they left the house predicted how likely they were to make it to the next age milestone, researchers report in Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

“The simple act of getting out of the house every day propels people into engagement with the world,” said lead author Dr. Jeremy Jacobs of Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center in Jerusalem in a phone interview.

“We saw similar benefits that you’d expect from treating blood pressure or cholesterol with medicine,” Jacobs said. “Social factors are important in the process of aging.”

Jacobs and colleagues analyzed data on 3,375 adults at ages 70, 78, 85 and 90 who were participating in the Jerusalem Longitudinal Study.

Based on their responses to questions about how often they left the house, participants were grouped into three categories: frequently (six or seven days per week), often (two to five times per week) or rarely (once a week or less).

People who left the house frequently at any of the ages examined were significantly more likely to live to the next age group. For example, among people who left the house frequently, often or rarely at age 78, 71 percent, 67 percent and 43 percent, respectively, survived to age 85. Among people who left the house frequently, often or rarely at age 90, 64 percent, 56 percent and 38 percent, respectively, made it to 95.

Source: Leaving the house linked to longevity in older adults

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Women less likely to be shown ads for high-paid jobs on Google, study shows

Female job seekers are much less likely to be shown adverts on Google for highly paid jobs than men, researchers have found.

The team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon built an automated testing rig called AdFisher that pretended to be a series of male and female job seekers. Their 17,370 fake profiles only visited jobseeker sites and were shown 600,000 adverts which the team tracked and analysed.

The authors of the study wrote: “In particular, we found that males were shown ads encouraging the seeking of coaching services for high paying jobs more than females.”

One experiment showed that Google displayed adverts for a career coaching service for “$200k+” executive jobs 1,852 times to the male group and only 318 times to the female group. Another experiment, in July 2014, showed a similar trend but was not statistically significant.

Google’s ad targeting system is complex, taking into account various factors of personal information, browsing history and internet activity. Critically the fake users started with completely fresh profiles and behaved in the same way, with gender being the only factor that was different and illustrating that the ad targeting for these job adverts was discriminatory.

Source: Women less likely to be shown ads for high-paid jobs on Google, study shows

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Chromosomes Don’t Determine Biological Sex, Claims University Professor – DANGEROUS

A biology professor at San Jose State University claims that chromosomes do not determine sex, and shut down those who questioned her claims by flashing her credentials.

Writing on Twitter, professor Rachael French got into an argument with a Texas Rep. Briscoe Cain, accusing him of “bigotry” after he claimed that there were only two genders. The Texas state legislator posted a picture of XX and XY chromosomes, writing: “in case you forgot how many genders there are.”

French replied, “Hey, geneticist here. You’ve disingenuous and for bigoted purposes oversimplified a complex phenomenon. A few notes: 1) Sex and gender aren’t the same thing. 2) Chromosomes don’t determine sex.”

In case you forgot how many genders there are.

Hey, geneticist here. You’ve disingenuously and for bigoted purposes oversimplified a complex phenomenon. A few notes: 1) Sex and gender aren’t the same thing. 2) Chromosomes don’t determine sex.

 “I know middle school biology told you they do, but nope,” the professor added. “A single gene on the Y starts a cascade of events involving genes all over the genome to determine sex. If any of those things changes, surprise!”

French said that there is a difference between sex and gender. She described gender as “a complex phenomenon arising from interactions between genes and the environment.” Sex, in contrast, “describes the physical manifestations.”

“Gender,” she writes, “describes the psychological and/or emotional identity. They’re regulated somewhat, though certainly not entirely, independently.”

Source: Chromosomes Don’t Determine Biological Sex, Claims University Professor – DANGEROUS

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NSA Leak Reveals Program that Spies on the Contents of Americans Communications 

New NSA mass surveillance programs have come to light thanks to a joint NSA and United States Army virtual hard drive image left exposed on the internet. The new leaks have exposed an NSA program which collects the contents of the communications of American citizens and residents, including the contents of SMS text messages and emails. The virtual hard drive belonged to the United States Army’s Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) and the NSA. The leak was discovered by the Director of Cyber Risk Research and Cyber Risk Analyst, Chris Vickery, at the cybersecurity research organization UpGuard.

The virtual hard drive was discovered on a public Amazon Web Services server. Information discovered in the virtual hard drive included top secret files that were not even protected with a password. Vickery informed the federal government of the leak back in October. The server was then secured. It is not known who is operating the Amazon Web Services server.

The programs revealed are called Ragtime, and there are at least 11 variations of it. Four of the Ragtime programs were known prior to this new leak, including Ragtime-A, Ragtime-B, Ragtime-C, and Ragtime-P. The Ragtime-A program allegedly involves the collection of counterterrorism data from foreigners communicating with each other. The Ragtime-B program allegedly captures intelligence from foreign governments as it passes through networks located in the United States. The Ragtime-C program is a joint effort with the United Kingdom’s GCHQ, which allegedly concentrates on collecting information related to nuclear non-proliferation. Intelligence gathered through the Ragtime-P program allegedly involves data captured under the bulk collection authorized under the USA PATRIOT Act.

Source: NSA Leak Reveals Program that Spies on the Contents of Americans Communications – Deep Dot Web

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How to Burst the “Filter Bubble” that Protects Us from Opposing Views

Computer scientists have discovered a way to number-crunch an individual’s own preferences to recommend content from others with opposing views. The goal? To burst the “filter bubble” that surrounds us with people we like and content that we agree with.

The term “filter bubble” entered the public domain back in 2011 when the internet activist Eli Pariser coined it to refer to the way recommendation engines shield people from certain aspects of the real world.

Pariser used the example of two people who googled the term “BP”. One received links to investment news about BP while the other received links to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, presumably as a result of some recommendation algorithm.

This is an insidious problem. Much social research shows that people prefer to receive information that they agree with instead of information that challenges their beliefs. This problem is compounded when social networks recommend content based on what users already like and on what people similar to them also like.

This is the filter bubble—being surrounded only by people you like and content that you agree with.

And the danger is that it can polarise populations creating potentially harmful divisions in society.

Today, Eduardo Graells-Garrido at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona as well as Mounia Lalmas and Daniel Quercia, both at Yahoo Labs, say they’ve hit on a way to burst the filter bubble. Their idea that although people may have opposing views on sensitive topics, they may also share interests in other areas. And they’ve built a recommendation engine that points these kinds of people towards each other based on their own preferences.

Source: How to Burst the “Filter Bubble” that Protects Us from Opposing Views

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The Power of Big Data and Psychographics

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CNN Reporter Celebrates New Year’s Eve and Legal Recreational Pot by Lighting Reveler’s Bong

As California prepared to legalize marijuana sales, CNN reporter Randi Kaye ended 2017 on a “high” note, covering New Year’s Eve in Colorado, where recreational cannabis has been legal since 2012.

Giving the Sunshine State a glimpse of its future, the CNN News fixture handled joints at a “paint and puff” party and even lit a gas mask bong for one reveler.

“I just want to point out, that this is all legal in Colorado,” host Anderson Cooper told co-host Andy Cohen.

While Kaye did not appear to partake in any drug use herself, Twitter users provided commentary as she rode a pot bus, which took revelers to various pot-related stops, including a marijuana grow house.

Source: CNN Reporter Celebrates New Year’s Eve and Legal Recreational Pot by Lighting Reveler’s Bong

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In Russia drugs have not risen in price for more than 20 years

In 2006, one square meter of housing in Russia cost $600 and now – $840. A kilogram of beef rose in price from $2 to $5, a bottle of vodka – from $2.8 to $9, a ticket to a theatre went up by 226%. The price of clothes, food, public services has increased and the cost of only one consumer good has not changed, even decreased. Drugs get cheaper in all the world, including Russia. Let us figure out this illogical (from an economic perspective) phenomenon.

What do drug users say?

The only source of information on price of controlled substances fluctuation in Russia was the Federal Drug Control Service (FDCS), disembodied in May 2016. FDCS reported incomplete and irregular statistics on price change. Its public representatives announced a cost increase of “hard drugs”, which was, of course, a result of Service’s effective work. However, it is hard to believe in an announced price of one heroin injection – $70. There are no serious scientific studies on the Russian drug market, that is why we had no choice but to ask users about it.

Mikhail (Ekaterinburg): “When I started to use drugs, 15-20 years ago, “a unit” (about 0.1 gram) of heroin cost $1.7. At the moment it is sold by grams at a price from $16 to $25, 5 grams are as much as $83″.

Valeria (Tolyatti): “I have been using opioids for more than 30 years already. The cost holds on the similar level – $16 per gram of heroin”.

Aleksey (Saint-Petersburg): “Weed has always been $11 per gram. Some dealers increased prices after the crisis and now you can buy marijuana for $16. But the average cost has not changed – $11-$12 – the same as it was 5 years ago”.

What is vendors’ opinion

Two drug dealers were interviewed, one of them lives in Saint-Petersburg and sells cannabis, the other one produces and distributes amphetamine and spices in Novosibirsk. Both of them confirm price stability and noticed a slight rise after depreciation of the Russian ruble in 2014.

Vladimir (Saint-Petersburg): “I have been vending for 5-6 years. I always buy in bulk, in this case the price is more profitable. For example, 100 grams of marijuana cost $500-$600. I set the regular retail price – $11 per gram, if a customer buys 10 or more grams I can give a discount. Although, some dealers manage to sell weed for $16 in case the strain is exclusive”.

Sergey (Novosibirsk): “When I arrived to Novosibirsk in 2006 a matchbox of cannabis imported from Kazakhstan cost $5. Soon the price increased up to $6, then $9 and stayed on that level for a long time. Afterwards that marijuana became an exclusive product and got more expensive – $16. Later it disappeared from the market completely, only spices were sold. For the time being you can buy only home-grown cannabis at the rocketed price which is from $33 to $83 per gram. Ten years ago it was $25. The cost price of 50 grams clean amphetamine is approximately $18. If sulfuric acid is admixed, you will get about 300 grams. The bulk price per gram is $16-$25, the retail one equals $33-$50. I would say that cost has not changed for the last five years, except in night clubs, where amphetamine is often overpriced – up to $85 per gram”.

Findings of researches

European and American researches confirm that prices of drugs not only stagnate, but also fall down in long-time terms. According to UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) the number of heroin and cocaine users increased by 3% in 2005 compared with 1992. At the same moment, during a 20 years’ time frame, the cost of 1 gram of cocaine went down from $99 to $83 in France. And in Portugal from $63 to $61, which is surprisingly insignificant if legalization is taken into account. The price fluctuation differs from state to state, but one common point is – it drops.

Billions of dollars are funded to fight drug trafficking in the USA every year, but it does not “break the trend”. In 1981, when federal agencies started collection of statistical data, the price of cocaine was sky-high – $600 per gram. At the moment it is $60-90 depending on geographical location towards the southern border.

Development of heroin prices is nevertheless impressive: since 2001 the cost of “street” heroin is quite stable – about $30 per gram, while before it cost $90. Twenty years ago this drug was a real luxury at the price $800 per gram in Finland, now you can buy it for $159. Luxemburg is the only state in the European Union where the cocaine price increased for the last 20 years, however heroin got cheaper – from $172 to $88. In the USA its street cost is $100-150, while in 1992 it topped $300.

Influence of darknet

In the beginning of 2010, people got basically new possibility – buy drugs on the internet. In order to obtain any stuff – from Valium to heroin – one should just learn how to use Tor browser.

A search on the biggest Russian darknet market Hydra showed that a gram of amphetamine can be bought in Novosibirsk at a much lower price compared with the one of Sergey (previously interviewed drug dealer) – $18-30. The opposite situation is in a price of marijuana – weed ordinarily costs $20 per gram, which is more than $11-13 stated by Vladimir. Heroin offer in Ekaterinburg is rather limited, but matches the value defined by Mikhail ($16-25) in most cases. An average price in Moscow is higher – about $33.

Russian DNMs grow and more people access darknet to buy drugs, but still it remains a prerogative of technically savvy and financially more prosperous consumer category.

According to the research conducted by “The Economist” a DNM price of heroin turned out to be twice as high as the street one. Cocaine is about 40% more expensive. This margin is attributed to the cost of packaging and delivery. Russian DNM vendors hide smaller parties of drugs across a town and send a buyer coordinates of a treasure. In this case the delivery expense covers work of professional “treasure men”.

An overprice of purchases made on DNMs is offset by improved quality control because customers can leave a feedback. “Energy Control”, Spanish research center, came to the conclusion that cocaine sold on the Internet is much cleaner in comparison with the street one (72% and 48%).

Source: In Russia drugs have not risen in price for more than 20 years – Deep Dot Web

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