2019-01-01 00:00:00 ..
2019-08-18 13:49:50 UTC
2019-08-19 13:33:31 UTC
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Days after the Trump administration instituted a controversial travel ban in January 2017, Google employees discussed ways they might be able to tweak the company's search-related functions to show users how to contribute to pro-immigration organizations and contact lawmakers and government agencies, according to internal company emails.
The email traffic, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, shows that employees proposed ways to "leverage" search functions and take steps to counter what they considered to be "islamophobic, algorithmically biased results from search terms 'Islam', 'Muslim', 'Iran', etc." and "prejudiced, algorithmically biased search results from search terms 'Mexico', 'Hispanic', 'Latino', etc."
The email chain, while sprinkled with cautionary notes about engaging in political activity, suggests employees considered ways to harness the company's vast influence on the internet in response to the travel ban. Google said none of the ideas discussed were implemented.
"These emails were just a brainstorm of ideas, none of which were ever implemented," a company spokeswoman said in a statement. "Google has never manipulated its search results or modified any of its products to promote a particular political ideology—not in the current campaign season, not during the 2016 election, and not in the aftermath of President Trump's executive order on immigration. Our processes and policies would not have allowed for any manipulation of search results to promote political ideologies."
In the Salon
There seems to be a lot of science being thrown at the "Trump Phenomenon." Salon covers yet another, and interviews the author.
A new paper, recently presented at the American Political Science Association's annual convention, suggests a widespread motive driving people to share fake news, conspiracy theories and other hostile political rumors. "Many status-obsessed, yet marginalized individuals experience a 'Need for Chaos' and want to 'watch the world burn'," lead author Michael Petersen tweeted, announcing the availability of a preprint copy.
Truth, in such a worldview, is beside the point, which offers a new perspective on the limitations of fact-checking. The motivation behind sharing or spreading narratives one may not even believe can help make sense of a variety of threatening or confusing recent developments in advanced democracies. It also sheds light on disturbing similarities with outbreaks of ethnic or genocidal violence, such as those seen in Rwanda and the Balkan nations during the 1990s.
Preprint of the paper available at PsyArXiv, here. [DOI: 10.31234/osf.io/6m4ts]
U.S. Justice Department officials said on Thursday they have charged and sanctioned a North Korean man in the 2017 global WannaCry ransomware cyberattack and the 2014 cyberassault on Sony Corp .
The charges, part of a strategy by the U.S. government to deter future cyberattacks by naming and shaming the alleged perpetrators, also alleged that the North Korean hacker broke into the central bank of Bangladesh in 2016, according to a criminal complaint.
Park Jin Hyok worked as part of a team of hackers, also known as the Lazarus Group, to try to breach multiple other U.S. businesses, according to the complaint. In 2016 and 2017, Park's targets included defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp . The complaint said there was no evidence Lockheed was breached.
The U.S. Treasury Department has imposed sanctions against Park and the Chinese-based front company he worked for, Chosun Expo.
Also covered by c|net:
The Justice Department has charged a North Korean computer programmer in major cybercrimes over the last four years, including the WannaCry ransomware attack and the Sony Pictures hack.
The DOJ said Thursday that it's charged Jin Hyok Park, a North Korean computer programmer, with one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud and abuse and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The charges are related to a massive attack against Sony in 2014, the $81 million Bangladesh Bank heist in 2016 and the WannaCry ransomware attack in 2017 that ensnared thousands of computers in hospitals, universities and banks worldwide.
The Sony attack was tied to the film The Interview, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, a comedy that depicted an assassination attempt against North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.
In retaliation, North Koreans pulled off one of the most damaging hacks on a US company, leaking thousands of emails between Sony executives, including personal information about employees and celebrities. The attack also crippled the company's computer infrastructure.
The WannaCry attack locked up more than 300,000 computers in 150 countries, demanding that victims pay the ransom or risk losing access to their devices forever.
Park is not the only person accused in these attacks, but he is the only person named in the criminal complaint. DOJ officials said that Park didn't act alone and that the investigation is still ongoing.
It appears that the French environment minister has become so disgusted with his government's inaction that he has publicly resigned.
PARIS (Reuters) - French Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot resigned on Tuesday in frustration over sluggish progress on climate goals and nuclear energy policy, dealing a major blow to President Emmanuel Macron's already tarnished green credentials.
Hulot said in the interview France is "persisting" in a nuclear industry that's a "useless madness, economically and technically".
"I don't want to lie to myself anymore", said Hulot.
The TV personality was lured into government past year as President Emmanuel Macron sought a high-profile figurehead for the environmental agenda.
In his radio interview, however, Hulot emphasized the inadequacy of "mini-steps" on climate change by France and other nations, voicing hope that his exit might "provoke deep introspection in our society about the reality of the world".
The Apollo missions that flew to the Moon during the 1960s were designed and controlled by what is now known as Johnson Space Center, the home of the famous "Mission Control." Moreover, the astronauts that flew to the Moon all lived in Houston. It would stand to reason, therefore, that as NASA gears up to return to the Moon, major elements of this program would likewise be controlled from the Texas metropolis that styles itself "Space City."
Times change, however. In recent months, the politically well-positioned Marshall Space Flight Center, in Huntsville, Alabama, has been quietly pressing leaders with NASA Headquarters for program management of mid- to large-size landers to the lunar surface, which would evolve into human landers. Sources indicated this effort was having some success.
However, Texas legislators have now begun to push back. On Tuesday, both of Texas' senators (John Cornyn and Ted Cruz), as well as three representatives with space-related committee chairs (John Culberson, Lamar Smith, and Brian Babin), wrote a letter to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.
"We support NASA's focus on returning to the Moon and using it as part of a stepping stone approach to place American boots on the surface of Mars in the 2030s," the Texas Republicans wrote. "As NASA reviews solicitations for lunar landers, we write to express our strong support for the establishment of NASA's lunar lander program at the Johnson Space Center." The letter reminds Bridenstine of Houston's strong spaceflight heritage.
Somehow, "Huntsville, we have a problem" doesn't have the same ring to it.
Submitted via IRC for SoyCow4408
Getting to the polls can be an obstacle for many American voters. Thirty-five percent of youth who didn't go to college say a lack of transportation was why they didn't vote in the 2016 election, according to The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.
Ride-hailing service Lyft said Thursday that it wants to help tackle the problem by offering half-priced rides across the country during this year's midterm elections. Riders can enter location-based codes into the Lyft app to access the discounted rides.
"It's about using our voice and our platform to make sure folks have access to go vote," said Mike Masserman, Lyft's head of Social Impact.
The US midterm elections will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 6.
Sen. John McCain, who faced down his captors in a Vietnam prisoner of war camp with jut-jawed defiance and later turned his rebellious streak into a 35-year political career that took him to Congress and the Republican presidential nomination, died Saturday after battling brain cancer for more than a year. He was 81.
McCain, with his irascible grin and fighter-pilot moxie, was a fearless and outspoken voice on policy and politics to the end, unswerving in his defense of democratic values and unflinching in his criticism of his fellow Republican, President Donald Trump. He was elected to the Senate from Arizona six times but twice thwarted in seeking the presidency.
An upstart presidential bid in 2000 didn't last long. Eight years later, he fought back from the brink of defeat to win the GOP nomination, only to be overpowered by Democrat Barack Obama. McCain chose a little-known Alaska governor as his running mate in that race, and turned Sarah Palin into a national political figure.
After losing to Obama in an electoral landslide, McCain returned to the Senate determined not to be defined by a failed presidential campaign in which his reputation as a maverick had faded. In the politics of the moment and in national political debate over the decades, McCain energetically advanced his ideas and punched back hard at critics — Trump not least among them.
The scion of a decorated military family, McCain embraced his role as chairman of the Armed Services Committee, pushing for aggressive U.S. military intervention overseas and eager to contribute to "defeating the forces of radical Islam that want to destroy America."
Asked how he wanted to be remembered, McCain said simply: "That I made a major contribution to the defense of the nation."
Apple, Facebook, Spotify, and YouTube's decision to ban right-wing shock jock Alex Jones and his media site, Infowars, from their platforms in early August has reignited a debate about what, if any, obligations these companies have to provide access to ideologically diverse users in the name of free speech. Twitter came under enormous criticism for refusing to go along, but on Tuesday announced that they were suspending Jones's account for one week due to violations of its rules. Jones was banned after years of public outrage over lies spread by Infowars, including the infamous "Pizzagate" conspiracy and the false claim that the Sandy Hook shooting, in which 26 elementary school children and staff members were killed, was a hoax. Jones is also known for tirades against Muslims, immigrants, and transgender people.
Some critics have claimed that, given the monopoly-like power that Silicon Valley giants now exert over the internet, encouraging them to regulate content based on ideology, hate speech, or arbitrations of "truth" and "falsity" will jeopardize internet freedom and vest a handful of corporate executives too much control over it. But others have defended the choice to ban Jones, citing the anti-hate speech rules and nonviolence policies almost universally adopted by major internet platforms. Because terms of service are open to interpretation — "hate speech," for example, can be difficult to define — there is a significant risk that standards will be inconsistently applied. The ambiguous policies also present a threat to controversial speech from the left — think, for example, of speech related to the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, or expressive speech about bad cops or white men.
Twitter had been heavily criticized in the days following a Aug. 8 statement by CEO Jack Dorsey explaining that Alex Jones and InfoWars had not been banned because they had not violated Twitter's rules.
Many of the banned pages look like parodies of some paranoid bureaucrat's idea of dangerous speech. A page called "Black Elevation" shows a picture of Huey Newton and offers readers a job. "Aztlan Warriors" contains a meme celebrating the likes of Geronimo and Zapata, giving thanks for their service in the "the 500 year war against colonialism." And a banned "Mindful Being" page shared this, which seems culled from Jack Handey's Deep Thoughts bit: "We must unlearn what we have learned because a conditioned mind cannot comprehend the infinite." Facebook also wiped out a "No Unite The Right 2" page, appearing to advertise a counter-rally on the upcoming anniversary of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Facebook was "helped" in its efforts to wipe out these dangerous memes by the Atlantic Council, on whose board you'll find confidence-inspiring names like Henry Kissinger, former CIA chief Michael Hayden, former acting CIA head Michael Morell and former Bush-era Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff. (The latter is the guy who used to bring you the insane color-coded terror threat level system.) These people now have their hands on what is essentially a direct lever over nationwide news distribution. It's hard to understate the potential mischief that lurks behind this union of Internet platforms and would-be government censors.
Deplatforming: does it work?
The Trump administration is expected to issue a proposal in coming weeks that would make it harder for legal immigrants to become citizens or get green cards if they have ever used a range of popular public welfare programs, including Obamacare, four sources with knowledge of the plan told NBC News.
The move, which would not need congressional approval, is part of White House senior adviser Stephen Miller's plan to limit the number of migrants who obtain legal status in the U.S. each year.
[...] Though its effects could be far-reaching, the proposal to limit citizenship to immigrants who have not used public assistance does not appear to need congressional approval. As the Clinton administration did in 1999, the Trump administration would be redefining the term "public charge," which first emerged in immigration law in the 1800s in order to shield the U.S. from burdening too many immigrants who could not contribute to society.
The Democratic National Committee on Friday officially served its lawsuit to WikiLeaks via Twitter, employing a rare method to serve its suit to the elusive group that has thus far been unresponsive.
As CBS News first reported last month, the DNC filed a motion with a federal court in Manhattan requesting permission to serve its complaint to WikiLeaks on Twitter, a platform the DNC argued the website uses regularly. The DNC filed a lawsuit in April against the Trump campaign, Russian government and WikiLeaks, alleging a massive conspiracy to tilt the 2016 election in Donald Trump's favor.
All of the DNC's attempts to serve the lawsuit via email failed, the DNC said in last month's motion to the judge, which was ultimately approved.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been holed up in Ecuador's London embassy for six years, is considering an offer to appear before a U.S. Senate committee to discuss alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, his lawyer said on Thursday.
WikiLeaks published a letter from the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday which asked Assange to make himself available to testify in person at a closed hearing as part of its investigation into whether Moscow meddled to help Donald Trump win the 2016 presidential election. "The U.S. Senate Select Committee request confirms their interest in hearing from Mr Assange," lawyer Jennifer Robinson said in a statement.
Lawyers for Julian Assange say they are "seriously considering" a request from a US Senate committee to interview the WikiLeaks founder as part of its investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US election.
The Senate select committee on intelligence has written to Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has been living for more than six years.
[...] The chairman of the committee, Richard Burr, wrote: "As you are aware, the Senate select committee on intelligence is conducting a bipartisan inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 US elections. As part of that inquiry, the committee requests that you make yourself available for a closed interview with bipartisan committee staff at a mutually agreeable time and location."
The ultimate irony would involve Julian Assange avoiding Metropolitan Police arrest by somehow fleeing to the United States.