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25 Apr 22:59

Gmail for Android is getting a snooze feature

by Dani Deahl

Google launched the new version of Gmail today, and some of the features from Google’s other email client, Inbox, have come with it. As noted by Android Police, the snooze function has been carried over for web and is now making its way to the Gmail app on Android.

If you have snooze available on mobile, it won’t have its own icon in the top bar the way it did in Inbox. Instead, you can access snooze by tapping the overflow icon in the top right corner when viewing an email. Once snooze is selected, you can choose when you’d like the email to pop up at the top of your inbox, with options like “later today,” “tomorrow,” and “this weekend.” You can also choose a custom time and date if you wish. When using the new Gmail on web, snooze now...

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25 Apr 22:54

Trump’s cell phone use is security “nightmare” waiting to happen, lawmakers say

by Cyrus Farivar

Enlarge / A fan dressed as President Donald Trump keeps his fingers moving on his iPhone during the Carolina Panthers against Tampa Bay Buccaneers game on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. (credit: Jeff Siner/Charlotte Observer/TNS via Getty Images)

Two congressional Democrats have sent a formal letter to top White House and law enforcement officials, seeking more information about the president’s use of an unsecured cell phone.

The letter, which was sent Wednesday by Rep. Ted Lieu (D-California) and Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Arizona), comes after recent media reports that Donald Trump is making "increased use" of his personal phone.

Last year, Trump reportedly had an iPhone with just one app on it: Twitter.

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25 Apr 22:53

we need to end Secretaries Day

by Ask a Manager

This is a reprint of a column I wrote several years ago for U.S. News & World Report. Sadly my call was not heeded then, so here it is again.

Today is Secretaries Day, and we should end it this year.

The “holiday” – more recently updated to be called Administrative Professionals Day – was created by the International Association of Administrative Professionals back in 1952, when the organization was known as the National Secretaries Association. If you haven’t encountered this celebration in your office, it’s intended to recognize the work of administrative assistants, receptionists and other administrative support workers – with cards, flowers, and lunches.

Administrative workers certainly do deserve recognition and appreciation. They often have tough jobs, they serve a key role in keeping organizations functioning efficiently and, in many cases, they function as the right hands of busy executives who wouldn’t be able to perform their jobs without them. And support work is hard. Anyone who has ever worked in an admin role can tell you it’s a lot harder than it looks from the outside. Good admins make it look easy – being calm and unflappable is part of doing the job well – but it can be stressful, challenging work.

So given all that, what’s the problem with Secretaries Day? Why wouldn’t we want a holiday to mark these contributions?

The problem with Secretaries Day is that it’s patronizing and demeaning. Having a special holiday for administrative workers separates admins from the rest of the office, marking their work as somehow different from other professional occupations. After all, if we value our admins as we would any other employees, why do we require a special holiday to mark their contributions? We don’t have Accountants Day, Copy Editors Day or Actuaries Day. What is it about administrative workers that requires setting aside a calendar day to recognize their work?

The argument in favor of Secretaries Day appears to be that the role is one that often isn’t fully appreciated by the people who admins support. But the day itself actually adds to that problem, by further ghettoizing the job and pigeonholing admins into a different category from everyone else. It says: “You are different from the rest of us, and we’re going to patronize you with a card rather than giving you year-round professional respect.” The day itself actually adds to the problem that it was created to address.

Complicating matters further, there’s even confusion in some offices over who is supposed to be recognized for the holiday and who isn’t. There are sometimes hurt feelings when someone isn’t recognized but wanted to be, and even more hurt feelings when someone gets a card and didn’t realize he or she was seen as support staff. Plus, some admins are paid more than the people plying them with cards and lunches on Secretaries Day, so they understandably find it awkward to be treated by people who make half as much as they do.

On to top of that, plenty of managers spot how the holiday is patronizing the very people who they want to value, but worry they’ll offend their assistants or make them feel unvalued if they don’t recognize the day in some way. It’s on the calendar, after all, and people know about it! And so the cycle is perpetuated, even though people on both sides of the exchange are often feeling awkward and uncomfortable about it.

And making matters still worse, it sure does feel like there’s a gender component to all of this. The majority of admins are still women, and there’s something particularly condescending about a holiday that says “rather than paying you well and showing you year-round respect, we’re going to give you flowers and trinkets.” And it’s surely no coincidence that many of the traditional gifts for the day – flowers and perfume – are ones that tend to be gendered in our culture. When is the last time someone gave the mailroom guy a rose as thanks for a job well done?

The bottom line is this: Admins deserve respect and appreciation year-round. They deserve professional development opportunities, useful feedback and to be taken seriously as people doing important professional work. And they deserve to be compensated and rewarded in accordance with the work they perform.

Flowers and a card once a year are no substitute for any of that, and continuing the practice threatens to keep them from being seen as professionals like every other professional in the workplace.

we need to end Secretaries Day was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

25 Apr 12:12

Wegmans is coming to Rockville's Twinbrook Metro

Wegmans is coming to Rockville's Twinbrook Metro
Wegmans will anchor Twinbrook Quarter, a redevelopment project of existing strip shopping centers on Rockville Pike near the Twinbrook Metro.
25 Apr 12:10

Google and Facebook adopt water gun emoji, leaving Microsoft holding the pistol

by Thuy Ong
<em>Microsoft’s alone with realistic gun emoji.</em>

Google is the latest company to ditch the pistol with a new emoji update for Android users. The switch to a bright orange and yellow water gun, rolling out now, mimics changes made by Apple, WhatsApp, Twitter, and Samsung over the last few years. That leaves Microsoft as the only major platform with the realistic handgun emoji. True, Facebook still uses it, but a spokesperson for the company confirmed to Emojipedia that it would also be replacing its gun emoji with a toy water gun. The Verge has reached out to Microsoft for comment.

The move makes Google’s gun emoji correspond with other platforms. So, if a friend sends the playful water pistol from an iPhone, it will now look similar on an Android device or in a tweet without any...

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24 Apr 20:06

Supreme Court upholds patent review process, dealing trolls a blow

by Timothy B. Lee

Enlarge / Justice Clarence Thomas, front, wrote the majority opinion. (credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the constitutionality of a process for challenging low-quality patents. Since its creation in 2011, this "inter partes review" (IPR) process has dramatically lowered the cost of defending against frivolous patent litigation.

The process allows an executive branch agency—not the courts—to revoke a patent after it has been granted. Critics claim that runs afoul of the Constitution's requirement that only the courts can deprive people of their property.

But the Supreme Court didn't buy it. In a 7-2 decision written by Justice Clarence Thomas, the nation's highest court ruled that patent rights were fundamentally a government-granted privilege that could properly come with strings attached. One such condition is the risk that the patent office might change its mind and invalidate a patent that it had previously approved.

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24 Apr 16:36

Ajit Pai hasn’t finalized net neutrality repeal—here’s a theory on why

by Jon Brodkin

Enlarge / FCC Chairman Ajit Pai with his oversized coffee mug in November 2017. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

More than four months after the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal net neutrality rules, the rules are technically still on the books, and we still don't know when they will die their final death.

If you think that's strange, you're not alone. Harold Feld, one of the top experts on telecom law among net neutrality supporters, wrote this week that the situation is "highly unusual." (Feld is a telecom lawyer and senior VP of consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge.)

"There is absolutely no reason for FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to have stretched out this process so ridiculously long," Feld wrote. "It is especially puzzling in light of Pai's insistence that he had to rush through repeal of net neutrality over the objections of just about everyone but the ISPs and their cheerleaders because every day—nay every minute!—ISPs suffer under the horrible, crushing burden of Title II," the FCC statute that governs common carriers.

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24 Apr 11:23

In 'N Out Uses A Bullshit Pop-Up Every Five Years Strategy Just To Lock Up Its Australian Trademark

by Timothy Geigner

When we recently discussed the rather odd story of the famous burger chain In 'N Out suing an Australian burger joint over trademark concerns despite having no storefront presence in the country, there was one aspect of it glossed over in the source link and omitted by me that really deserves some fleshing out. You see, like here in America, Australian trademark law has a provision that you actually must be using the mark in question in order to retain it. More specifically, use must be established every five years in order to keep the trademark valid. Given that In 'N Out operates no storefronts in Australia, readers rightly wondered how it was possible that the company even had a valid trademark to wield in its trademark battle.

The answer to that question is as cynical as it is perverse. It turns out that In 'N Out turns up so-called "pop-up" storefronts for its chain in Australia and a few other countries every so often, specifically to keep just barely within the trademark law provisions.

In Australia, in particular, trademark laws have a “use it or lose” quality to them. If they are not used within a five-year span of time, companies could lose protection for their names and logos. International businesses, though they may never create a fully running branch overseas, could be vulnerable to someone else taking their ideas in other countries if they apply for a trademark. This would dilute the brand in a whole host of ways. To avoid the misfortune of Burger King, who lost its trademark and had to become Hungry Jack’s, In-N-Out found a workaround to establishing a permanent presence in the Land Down Under by simply hosting pop-ups every so often to use their trademark in the country.

Cynical, as I said, and a serious perversion of the purpose of trademark laws generally. The entire point of trademark protections is to keep customers informed as to the source of goods purchased and the affiliations of the companies from which they purchase them. Remember that the context of this story and the chain's lawsuit is the existence of a single burger joint calling itself "Down 'N Out." While there is clear homage to In 'N Out, the burger joint does nothing to convince the public that it's part of the California chain.

So, instead of serving the public good by staving off confusion, what this gaming of Australia's trademark law does instead is to simply lock up language similar to the In 'N Out name by maintaining an insultingly limited presence in the country's market. In 'N Out does not operate these pop-ups in order to server the Australian market. Rather, they operate them specifically so as to deny that Australian market its sort of business. These pop-ups have, ahem, popped up for years, with no sign of In 'N Out even considering having any real storefront presence anywhere in the country. Instead, the pop-ups serve only as an excuse to file lawsuits such as it did against Down 'N Out.

Whatever you might think of In 'N Out's actual trademark claim in its lawsuit, that's truly about as cynical as it gets.

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24 Apr 11:22

The FBI's War On Encryption Is Personal, According To Comey's New Book

by Tim Cushing

A recently-released Inspector General's report shows the FBI didn't try as hard as it could to find a way into the San Bernardino shooter's locked iPhone. It appears FBI officials were more interested in obtaining a favorable court ruling than seeking technical assistance from anyone other than Apple, despite the DOJ's courtroom claims about time being of the essence.

This had a lot to do with the current FBI leadership. James Comey made fighting encryption his personal crusade -- one that has been carried forward by both the DOJ and the FBI's new director, Christopher Wray. Comey's new book about his government career -- one that came to an unceremonious end when President Trump fired him -- provides a few more details about his crusade against math and personal security.

A passage in Comey's new book briefly discusses his initial reaction to the news smartphone manufacturers would be moving to default encryption. Comey claims the Snowden leaks prompted a worldwide shift to encrypted communications before moving on to Apple and Google.

In September 2014, after a year of watching our legal capabilities diminish, I saw Apple and Google announce that they would be moving their mobile devices to default encryption. They announced it in such a way as to suggest -- at least to my ears -- that making devices immune to judicial orders was an important social value. This drove me crazy. I just couldn't understand how smart people could not see the social costs to stopping judges, in appropriate cases, from ordering access to electronic devices.

There's more to it than this, but this is from Comey's perspective. Part of the move to device encryption was due to pressure from legislators that phone companies "do more" to protect customers whose devices had been stolen. And some of it was probably backlash to the flow of Snowden leaks, showing the government had assembled a massive surveillance apparatus following the 9/11 attacks, turning tech companies into unwitting accomplices of the surveillance state.

As Comey sees it, the tech sector fails to comprehend the consequences of encrypted communications and devices because it only deals with the positive side of human connections.

The leaders of tech companies don't see the darkness the FBI sees. Our days are dominated by the hunt for people planning terrorist attacks, hurting children, and engaging in organized crime. We see humankind at its most depraved, day in and day out…

I found it appalling that the tech types couldn't see this. I would frequently joke with the FBI "Going Dark" team assigned to seek solutions, "Of course the Silicon Valley types don't see the darkness -- they live where it's sunny all the time and everybody is rich and smart." Theirs was a world where technology made human connections and relationships stronger.

Conversely, the FBI views any communications it can't see as suspect. It ignored solutions to engage in a courtroom battle over a phone that ultimately held nothing of interest. The FBI continues to push for a government solution to the problem -- a mandate it can wield in every situation. Under Comey's command, the FBI has shown it is unable to honestly hold an "adult" conversation about the issues. If officials like Comey feel tech companies are being deliberately obtuse, they cannot honestly argue the FBI isn't acting the same way.

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24 Apr 11:21

Exclusive: Amazon will now deliver packages to the trunk of your car

by Andrew J. Hawkins

Last year, Amazon asked for permission to unlock your front door so it could leave packages inside your home, and a certain number of extremely trusting Amazon Prime subscribers (Amazon won’t say how many) said okay. Now, the tech giant wants to do the same thing with your car.

Amazon announced today a new service that gives its couriers access to a person’s vehicle for the purpose of leaving package deliveries inside. But rather than use smart locks and a cloud-connected camera to gain entry, Amazon wants to use the connected technologies embedded in many modern vehicles today. The company is launching this new service in partnership with two major automakers — General Motors and Volvo — and will be rolling out in 37 cities in the US...

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24 Apr 11:21

Interest in science, not ability, builds trust in climate science

by John Timmer

Enlarge (credit: Carrie Martin/LLNL)

Studies of how people perceive climate science paint a depressing picture—one in which ideology overwhelms evidence. Not only does opinion about the science break down along ideological lines, but knowledge of science seems to make matters worse, accentuating the partisan divide.

Those studies have always been somewhat dissatisfying, though, as they leave little room for anyone to dispassionately evaluate the evidence or voice trust in the researchers who have. And, in fact, they don't explain how exceptions come to exist—the significant conservative voices that are calling for action on climate change.

A study done by Matthew Motta of the University of Minnesota delves into how people might escape ideological blinders. Motta found that people with a long-term interest in science tend to trust scientific authorities like NASA and the IPCC when it comes to climate, regardless of what their political persuasions may be. It's the latest result that indicates that a "scientific curiosity" can get people past their ideology.

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23 Apr 19:17

Over 16,000 sound effects now available for free from the BBC Library

by Rhian Daly

You can now download sounds like a South American parrot talking and a long wood creak

BBC library

Over 16,000 sound effects have been made available for free from the BBC library.

The archive includes effects that have been used on the corporation’s radio output since the 1920s.

Now, the general public can download them for free for the first time. The library includes the likes of a South American parrot talking and screeching, an 11 month old baby boy playing with toys, and a 16-foot speedboat with a 40hp outboard pulling up to stop.

There is a catch with the library. Files can only be used for “personal, educational, or research purposes” as per the RemArc licence. You can access the sound effects in the BBC library here. The entire archive is tagged and searchable, making it easy to find all your obscure sound effects needs.

Meanwhile, the BBC has secured a ton of big names for its “Glastonbury replacement” festival, The Biggest Weekend. The event will take place in Belfast, Perth, Swansea and Coventry over the late May Bank Holiday weekend (May 25-28).

Florence + The Machine, Liam Gallagher, Taylor Swift, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Beck, Bastille, Manic Street Preachers, Stereophonics, Sam Smith, Camila Cabello, Wolf Alice, Franz Ferdinand, Lykke Li and more are all set to appear at the event. Tickets and more information can be found here.

The post Over 16,000 sound effects now available for free from the BBC Library appeared first on NME.

23 Apr 18:29

The Tunnel

by Reza

23 Apr 18:09

Desert Island Economics

23 Apr 16:50

The CIA Made A Card Game... And We're Releasing It

by Mike Masnick

Yes, the CIA made a card game. And... we're releasing it. No, really. If you want to play the top secret card game that the CIA used to train analysts, you can now back our Kickstarter project for CIA: Collect It All.

CIA: Collect It All on Kickstarter

Let me explain how we got here...

We write a lot about the CIA here on Techdirt -- often covering just how secretive the organization is around responding to FOIA requests. After all, this is the same organization that invented the famous "Glomar Response" to a FOIA request: the now ubiquitous "we can neither confirm, nor deny." And that one "invention" is used all the time. Indeed, if you have a few extra hours to spend, feel free to go through just our archives demonstrating CIA obstructionism over FOIA.

But... the organization actually did recently respond to a set of interesting FOIA requests. Back in 2017, at SXSW, the CIA revealed its gaming efforts, and even let some attendees play them. That resulted in a few FOIA requests for the details of the game, including one by MuckRock's Mitchell Kotler and another by entrepreneur Douglas Palmer. In response to the FOIA requests, the CIA released the details of some of the games (though, somewhat redacted, and in typical FOIA response gritty photo-copy style), including a card game called "Collection Deck." My first reaction was... "Hey, that would be fun to play..." And then I had a second thought.

There's another super popular topic here on Techdirt: the public domain and how important it is to build on works in the public domain. Remember, under Section 105 of the US Copyright Act, works of the federal government of the United States are not subject to copyright and are in the public domain.

We've already been working with Randy Lubin of Diegetic Games on a few different projects (including Working Futures and others you'll need to stay tuned for). So, we started talking about making a version of the CIA's game to play for ourselves. And everyone we mentioned it to wanted to play as well. And the more we looked at the details, the more we realized that we could make a much nicer version (while paying homage to the original and its route through FOIAdom) that was playable, and maybe even offer some changes, fixes and alternative rules. We decided to name our version, "CIA: Collect It All." Not only does "Collect It All" spell out CIA and pay homage to the CIA's "Collection Deck" name, "Collect It All" was also General Keith Alexander's surveillance motto that we roundly mocked due to its inherent conflict with the old 4th Amendment. Anyway, this seemed like a way to take back the phrase a bit.

And that led us to Kickstarter. We're using Kickstarter in the real original sense of Kickstarter. We had an idea that we thought was pretty damn cool that we wanted for ourselves. And we want to see if others want it as well so we can produce it at scale. If people want it, awesome. We'll make a bunch. If we're wrong and no one really wants it... well, we'll probably still make a copy for ourselves, but you're on your own, working with redacted photocopies.

CIA: Collect It All on Kickstarter

So... here's a chance to:

  1. Get a cool, fun game that until just recently was a top secret training game by created by the CIA -- which, come on, is pretty cool
  2. Help support Techdirt and all the reporting we do (including reporting on the CIA pushing back on FOIA requests)
  3. Demonstrate why building on the public domain is a good thing
  4. Did I mention that you get to play a fun game, with awesome design work (much better than the CIA's), that was originally created by the CIA?
So, check it out and back us on Kickstarter. And tell your friends. Because, look, they wanted to be CIA agents when they were kids too.

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23 Apr 12:22

Smallville's Allison Mack was allegedly a 'top member' of cult that abused women

As she was led from court in Brooklyn on Friday, Allison Mack appeared to wipe away a tear. The actor, best known for a role in the TV series Smallville, had entered a plea of not guilty to sex trafficking and forced labor charges which carry mandatory minimum sentences of 15 years and could lead to life in jail.

Flanked by lawyers and closely shadowed by FBI agents and federal marshals, the 35-year-old’s distress provided the first glimpse of what the future may hold for senior members of an alleged cult known as Nxivm.

Prosecutors claim Mack was second-in-command at the upstate New York headquarters of the group, and therefore instrumental in forcing new recruits to conform to the sexual demands of leader Keith Raniere.

The government alleges that so-called Nxivm “slaves” were forced to starve; ordered to remain celibate; and held down as Raniere’s initials were branded below their hips with a cauterizing pen. Mack is alleged to have put her hands on the women’s chests, telling them to “feel the pain” and to “think of [their] master”.

“Ms Mack was one of the top members of a highly organized scheme which was designed to provide sex to [Raniere],” assistant US attorney Moira Penza said in court. “Under the guise of female empowerment, she starved women until they fit her co-defendant’s sexual feminine ideal.”

The government also alleged that Mack forced recruits to pose naked for photos – “including on one occasion close-up pictures of their vaginas” – that were given to Raniere, 57. He was arrested in Mexico last month, after being indicted, and has pleaded not guilty on charges of sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy and forced labor conspiracy. He is also being held in New York.

Mack, who played Clark Kent’s friend Chloe Sullivan in Smallville – the hit a series about Superman’s origins – was ordered held, judge Cheryl Pollak arguing that her lawyers failed to offer a “sufficient” bail package given the gravity of the charges.

Mack’s attorneys had argued that she was not a flight risk because she returned to the US voluntarily from Mexico. “The allegations contained in the indictment are only that: allegations. The hard facts establish that she is not a risk of flight,” lawyer Sean Buckley said.

Outside the court, Stanley Zareff – a friend of Dynasty star Catherine Oxenberg, whose daughter India is believed to be a member of Nxivm – said Mack had no right to be freed. India Oxenberg, she said, had become involved with Nxivm as part of a search for self-enlightenment.

“I hope that she can see the light and wake up,” he said. “Her family loves her. This is a crazy group. This is not fake news. And we certainly don’t want Allison Mack released. With Keith away, she’s now the leader of the group and I don’t trust her for a minute.”


Nxivm was founded as an executive-focused self-help organisation but it appears to have metamorphised into a personality cult centred on Raniere, who falsely claims to have been a child prodigy who held the 1989 Guinness World Record for “highest IQ” and who followers reverentially call “Vanguard”.

Raniere was arrested at a villa outside Puerto Vallarta in Mexico on 25 March. Mack and Clyne were reportedly with him but fled.

According to the complaint against him, in 2003 Raniere began running workshops at a compound about 20 miles outside Albany, the New York state capital. The curriculum included teaching women about “the need for men to have multiple sexual partners and the need for women to be monogamous”.

By 2015, the government alleges, Raniere had established a society within Nxivm called DOS or “The Vow”, in which “women were recruited to be slaves under the false pretense of joining a women-only mentorship group”. Any challenge to his authority was brutally resisted, prosecutors allege, saying Raniere “physically assaulted at least two intimate partners” and punished one member for expressing romantic feelings for another with 18 months confinement.

Marc Agnifilo, a lawyer for Raniere, said earlier this month he was “confident these allegations will be soundly disproven”.

On Friday, prosecutors expressed concern over granting Mack bail, arguing that Nxivm members appeared to have access to money. An account Raniere was using at the time of his arrest had $8m in it, authorities have said.

It is thought that the group’s access to funds may be through the trusts of Clare and Sara Bronfman, heiresses to the Seagram liquor fortune and members of Nxivm. In 2003, Forbes published an exposé in which family patriarch Edgar Bronfman Sr described the group as “a cult”. A 2010 report in Vanity Fair claimed the Bronfman sisters’ funds were helping Nvixm resist a “multi-million-dollar, multi-front legal war”.

According to the Albany Times Union, New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman opened and then suspended an investigation into the Ethical Science Foundation, a group formed in 2007 by Clare Bronfman.

The government investigation of Nxivm gathered pace last year, when former member Sarah Edmondson provided a first-hand account of the alleged branding practice. Edmondson later told Vice: “It was like a bad horror movie. We even had these surgical masks on because the smell of flesh was so strong.”

Her account, published by the New York Times, sparked an FBI investigation and triggered Raniere’s flight to Mexico. He did, however, respond to the Times story, posting on the group’s website: “This story might be a criminal product of criminal minds who, in the end, are also hurting the victims of the story.”

The group may not have ended recruitment efforts. Last month, according to the New York Post, a member threw a party in Williamsburg, promising “an evening of meeting cool, like-minded artists and chatting about life, authenticity, and the awesome human potential”.

Mack’s attorneys are due back in court on Monday, to petition for bail. Prosecutors have warned that Nxivm members have registered websites in the names of potential witnesses. Mack, prosecutor Penza said on Friday, “obviously has the ability to manipulate people. She has, based on the structure, a number of slaves underneath her who have pledged vows of obedience”.

Raniere will be in Brooklyn federal court on Wednesday, to request bail.

23 Apr 11:47

Florida detectives attempted to use a dead suspect’s fingerprint to unlock his phone

by Andrew Liptak

A pair of Florida police detectives attempted to use a dead suspect’s finger to unlock his phone after he was killed by police officers last month, reports the Tampa Bay Times (via Gizmodo).

Linus F. Phillip was killed at the end of March by officers Matthew Steiner and Prentice Ables after they pulled him over due to his car’s tinted windows, according to the Tampa Bay Times. He was killed when the two officers tried to arrest him after smelling marijuana in the car, and he attempted to drive away while one officer was caught halfway out of the vehicle. The officer fired his gun at the Phillip, who crashed and was later pronounced dead.

Shortly after Phillip’s death, Largos detectives went to the Sylvan Abbey Funeral Home in...

Continue reading…

20 Apr 22:51

China’s Antarctic research stations are being ruined by tourists

Sometimes researchers have to stop their work and feed the visitors lunch.
20 Apr 19:17

Here are the types of marijuana best for stress and anxiety, according to users

by Beth Mole

Enlarge / Inventory including "Merry N'Berry" is on display at a medical marijuana dispensary (credit: Getty | Tom Williams)

By passively monitoring user-generated data from medical cannabis patients, researchers have glimpsed the types and amounts of marijuana that seem effective for relieving symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. The findings could direct more detailed research into the best strains for specific conditions. But the data also hints at a danger of using marijuana to manage depression symptoms in the long term.

The study, published this week in the Journal of Affective Disorders by researchers at Washington State University, is based on data from a medical cannabis app called Strainprint, which lets patients track symptom severity after medical cannabis use. Before that, users enter detailed information about the strain of marijuana used, including selecting specific products from a list of those sold by licensed medical cannabis distributors in Canada. Health Canada has uniquely strict production and quality control guidelines for products sold there. But if a patient is using a product not on the list, they can manually input information about the strain, including cannabinoid content.

The researchers looked at data from nearly 1,400 medical cannabis users, analyzing outcomes from almost 12,000 inhalation sessions. The researchers kept their analysis just to sessions involving inhalation (smoking, vaping, concentrates, dab bubbler, dab portable), to try to control—at least a little—for efficacy and timing of the onset of effects.

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20 Apr 19:17

FOSTA/SESTA Passed Thanks To Facebook's Vocal Support; New Article Suggests Facebook Is Violating FOSTA/SESTA

by Mike Masnick

One of the main reasons FOSTA/SESTA is now law is because of Facebook's vocal support for the bill. Sheryl Sandberg repeatedly spoke out in favor of the bill, misrepresenting what the bill actually did. In our own post-mortem on what happened with FOSTA/SESTA we noted that a big part of the problem was that many people inside Facebook (incredibly) did not appear to understand how CDA 230 works, and thus misunderstood how FOSTA/SESTA would create all sorts of problems. Last month, we noted that there was some evidence to suggest that Facebook itself was violating the law it supported.

However, a new article from Buzzfeed presents even more evidence of just how much liability Facebook may have put on itself in supporting the law. The article is fairly incredible, talking about how Facebook has allowed a group on its site that helps landlords seek out gay sex in exchange for housing -- and the report is chilling in how far it goes. In some cases, it certainly appears to reach the level of sex trafficking, where those desperate for housing basically become sex slaves to their landlords.

Today, in the first instalment of this series, we uncover some of the damage done to these young men – the sexual violence – by landlords, and reveal how they are being enabled by two major internet companies, one of which is Facebook. The world’s largest social media platform, BuzzFeed News can reveal, is hosting explicit posts from landlords promising housing in return for gay sex.

In multiple interviews with the men exchanging sex for rent and groups trying to deal with the crisis, BuzzFeed News also uncovered a spectrum of experiences that goes far beyond what has so far been documented, with social media, hook-up apps, and chemsex parties facilitating everything.

At best, impoverished young men are seeking refuge in places where they are at risk of sexual exploitation. At worst, teenagers are being kept in domestic prisons where all personal boundaries are breached, where their lives are in danger.

I've seen multiple people point out -- accurately -- that the article's focus on Facebook here is a little silly. The real focus should be on the "landlords" who are seeking out and taking advantage of desperate young men in need of a place to live. But, given that the focus is on Facebook, it certainly appears that Facebook has the knowledge required to be a violation of FOSTA/SESTA:

Despite the explicit nature of the postings on the group’s site, the administrator told BuzzFeed News that Facebook has not intervened. “We have never had an incident from Facebook,” he said. “If they [members] want to post something that will not fly with Facebook I write them, and tell them what needs to be changed.”

This has not stopped explicit notices being posted.

When approached by BuzzFeed News to respond to issues relating to this group, Facebook initially replied promising that a representative would comment. That response, however, did not materialise, despite several attempts by BuzzFeed News, over several days, to invite Facebook to do so. A week after first contacting the social media company, the group remains on its site.

It still seems wrong to blame Facebook for what the horrific landlords are doing here, but, hey, FOSTA/SESTA is now the law, and it's the law thanks in large part to Facebook's strong support for it. So, given all of this, will Facebook now face legal action, either from the victims of this group or from law enforcement?

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20 Apr 16:47


by Reza

20 Apr 16:47

Sex Workers Set Up Their Own Social Network In Response To FOSTA/SESTA; And Now It's Been Shut Down Due To FOSTA/SESTA

by Mike Masnick

Just a few weeks ago we wrote about how a group of sex workers, in response to the passing of FOSTA/SESTA, had set up their own social network, called Switter, which was a Mastodon instance. As we noted in our post, doing so was unlikely to solve any of the problems of FOSTA/SESTA, because it's perhaps even more likely that Switter itself would become a target of FOSTA/SESTA (remember, with FOSTA, the targeting goes beyond "sex trafficking" to all prostitution).

And, indeed, it appears I was not the only one to think so. The organization that created Switter, Assembly Four, put up a note saying that Cloudflare had shut down Switter claiming the site was in violation of its terms of service.

Cloudflare has been made aware that your site is in violation of our published Terms of Service. Pursuant to our published policy, Cloudflare will terminate service to your website.

Cloudflare will terminate your service for switter{.}at by disabling our authoritative DNS.

Assembly Four asked Cloudflare to clarify just what term it had violated and the company has now come out and noted that it reluctantly pulled the plug on Switter out of a fear that it would create criminal liability for Cloudflare under FOSTA/SESTA. Cloudflare was among the companies who lobbied against the bill, and they note that they disagree with the way the bill was drafted -- but given the nature of the law, the company feels compelled to take this action:

“[Terminating service to Switter] is related to our attempts to understand FOSTA, which is a very bad law and a very dangerous precedent,” he told me in a phone conversation. “We have been traditionally very open about what we do and our roles as an internet infrastructure company, and the steps we take to both comply with the law and our legal obligations—but also provide security and protection, let the internet flourish and support our goals of building a better internet.”

Remember, this was a site for sex workers to communicate with each other. It was purely a platform for speech. And it's being shut down because of fears from the vague and poorly drafted FOSTA/SESTA bill. In other words, yet more confirmation that just as free speech experts predicted, FOSTA/SESTA would lead to outright suppression of speech.

I've seen some complaints on Twitter that Cloudflare should have stood up for Switter and not done this. I don't think that's reasonable. The penalties under FOSTA/SESTA are not just fines. It's a criminal statute. It's one thing to take a stand when you're facing monetary damages or something of that nature. It's something altogether different when you're asking a company to stand up to criminal charges based on a law that is incredibly vague and broad, and for which there is no caselaw. Yes, it would be nice to have some companies push back and potentially help to invalidate the law as unconstitutional, but you can't demand that of every company.

I am curious, though, how supporters of FOSTA/SESTA react to this. Do they not care that sex workers want to be able to communicate? Do they not care that social networks are being shut down over this? Do they not care about speech being suppressed?

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20 Apr 10:58

Google's SMS replacement ready to launch

Chat app
Image caption Chat adds modern features to Android's Messages app

Google has started the global roll-out of its new Chat messaging service, which is designed to replace SMS text messages on Android phones.

Chat has features such as group texts, videos, typing indicators and read receipts, which are not available when sending SMS texts.

Chat will be integrated with the default messages app on Android phones.

However, it will be up to mobile operators to enable the service and it does not offer encrypted messages.

The new system has been in development for several years, but is now beginning to appear on Android phones.

SMS - the short message service - was widely adopted in the 1990s. It lets mobile phones exchange basic 160-character text messages over the mobile network.

Modern messaging apps offer much more advanced features and send messages over the internet rather than using SMS.

However, the default messaging app on Android smartphones - Messages - is still a comparatively basic SMS client.

Google has tried several times to launch its own feature-rich mobile messaging app, but its attempts have failed to win over a large audience.

On Thursday, the company said it was "pausing" development of its latest effort - Allo - which was launched in 2016.

Advanced rivals

Google's rivals such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp support advanced features such as typing indicators and high-resolution pictures. Apple's iPhones have the similarly feature-rich iMessage service built-in.

This time, rather than try to launch yet another messaging app, Google has been working to integrate a new messaging standard with its Android operating system.

Mobile operators, phone manufacturers and app-makers will be able to use the new technology to develop messaging apps that are compatible with one another.

Image caption Chat lets people see when a contact is typing

The standard is known as the Universal Profile for Rich Communication Services (RCS) - but it will be given the more consumer-friendly name of Chat when it is rolled out to Android devices.

To develop Chat, Google has worked with more than 50 mobile networks including Vodafone, T-Mobile and Verizon and manufacturers such as Samsung, LG and Huawei.


Once Chat rolls out worldwide, Android users will be able to take advantage of the advanced features when messaging other Android users.

As with Apple's iMessage system, if the intended recipient does not have a Chat-compatible device, messages will be sent via the old SMS system instead.

Google has stressed that Chat is not a new Google app. Since RCS is a communications standard, it is up to individual mobile networks and phone-makers to switch on the functionality.

Since messages are sent over the internet, they will not use up a customer's SMS text message allowance. However, a mobile operator could in theory charge customers a separate fee to use Chat.

US mobile giant Sprint is already providing Chat functionality, while Rogers in Canada has also switched on the service.

Microsoft is one of the companies that has supported RCS but it has not confirmed whether it will add Chat functionality to Windows 10. Apple has not signed up to the project.

Samsung, which already replaces Android's default messaging app on its devices, will integrate RCS with its own software.

Security experts have warned that Chat does not offer encrypted communication. As with SMS, Chat messages are not scrambled as they travel across the mobile network.

Google's Anil Sabharwal told technology news site The Verge that "RCS continues to be a carrier-owned service", which means that messages can still be legally intercepted.

The company said it expected the functionality to be widely available on Android phones within two years.

20 Apr 10:47

The Higher Your Salary, the More Time Your Employer Will Pay You Not To Work.

The Higher Your Salary, the More Time Your Employer Will Pay You Not To Work.

The Higher Your Salary, the More Time Your Employer Will Pay You Not To Work - Slashdot
The best-paid workers in the US not only make more money than many of their colleagues, they also tend to get more paid vacation days. An anonymous reader shares a report: An annual survey of of employee benefits conducted by the US government shows that, in 2017, nearly half of the people in the to...
20 Apr 10:47

Ghost Writer

by squires

Spooky. Happy Halloween, everyone

See also: Twitter // Instagram // Tumblr // Store (Teepublic)

The post Ghost Writer appeared first on Moonbeard.

19 Apr 17:56

Doctors tried to lower $148K cancer drug cost; makers triple price of pill

by Beth Mole

(credit: Wellness GM)

A drug that treats a variety of white blood cell cancers typically costs about $148,000 a year, and doctors can customize and quickly adjust doses by adjusting how many small-dose pills of it patients should take each day—generally up to four pills. At least, that was the case until now.

Last year, doctors presented results from a small pilot trial hinting that smaller doses could work just as well as the larger dose—dropping patients down from three pills a day to just one. Taking just one pill a day could dramatically reduce costs to around $50,000 a year. And it could lessen unpleasant side-effects, such as diarrhea, muscle and bone pain, and tiredness. But just as doctors were gearing up for more trials on the lower dosages, the makers of the drug revealed plans that torpedoed the doctors’ efforts: they were tripling the price of the drug and changing pill dosages.

The drug, ibrutinib (brand name Imbruvica), typically came in 140mg capsules, of which patients took doses from 140mg per day to 560mg per day depending on their cancer and individual medical situation. (There were also 70mg capsules for patients taking certain treatment combinations or having liver complications.) The pills treat a variety of cancers involving a type of white blood cell called B cells. The cancers include mantle cell lymphoma, which was approved for treatment with four 140mg pills per day, and chronic lymphocytic leukemia, approved to be treated with three 140mg pills per day. Each 140mg pill costs somewhere around $133—for now.

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19 Apr 16:36

Umpire strike zone changes to finish games earlier

by Nathan Yau

When watching baseball on television, we get the benefit of seeing whether a pitch entered the strike zone or not. Umpires go by eye, and intentional or not, they tend towards finishing a game over extra innings. Michael Lopez, Brian Mills, and Gus Wezerek for FiveThirtyEight:

The left panel shows the comparative rate of strike calls when, in the bottom of an inning in extras, the batting team is positioned to win — defined as having a runner on base in a tie game — relative to those rates in situations when there’s no runner on base in a tie game. When the home team has a baserunner, umps call more balls, thus setting up more favorable counts for home-team hitters, creating more trouble for the pitcher, and giving the home team more chances to end the game.

I doubt the shift is on purpose, but it’s interesting to see the calls go that way regardless. Also, from a non baseball-viewer, why isn’t there any replay in baseball yet?

Tags: baseball, FiveThirtyEight, sports, work

19 Apr 16:23

Oracle will charge companies for using Java starting Feb 2019

19 Apr 16:20

How Uber moves the ‘blue dot’ to improve GPS accuracy in big cities

by Andrew J. Hawkins

You might have noticed a problem when you try to use your smartphone to navigate a big city: your GPS location is usually super inaccurate. Sometimes it's only by a few feet, but if you’re in a particularly dense part of the city where satellite signals are blocked by high-rise buildings, the discrepancy can be orders of magnitude greater. For most people, it’s just one of the many modern-day nuisances of urban life. But for companies that rely on two people with smartphones finding each other in a labyrinth of steel and concrete — like Uber — GPS inaccuracy is a source of never-ending pain and frustration.

Like ships passing in the night, a driver can be on one corner looking for a rider who’s actually on the other side of the block....

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19 Apr 11:36

Programming a song on Nintendo Labo with Toy-Con Garage took all of my brainpower

by Dami Lee

Over the last few weeks on YouTube, Nintendo’s been teasing what you can do with Labo — the DIY cardboard accessory kit for the Switch — which comes out this Friday. One of the most intriguing videos was a demonstration of Toy-Con Garage, the programming platform within Labo’s software. Using the toy piano included in the Variety Kit, a makeshift cardboard guitar, and multiple controllers (including one attached to some Crocs), Nintendo showed off a Labo band.


There’s some really creative use cases for Toy-Con Garage, much of which allow for Rube Goldberg machine-like possibilities. But using the Switch as a tool for music production seemed like one of the most practical and promising features of Labo, so I...

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