Before Gov. Chris Christie’s administration abruptly settled long-running state environmental litigation against ExxonMobil for far less than originally expected, the oil behemoth donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to a Republican group that Christie ran and that financed his election campaigns. Additionally, the Christie administration office that engineered the settlement had been run by a former Exxon lawyer.
When the case was initiated in 2004, when Democrat James McGreevey was governor, New Jersey sought $8.9 billion in damages in a suit alleging that ExxonMobil damaged more than 1,500 acres of waterfront and meadows. Yet, according to documents reported on by the New York Times on Friday, the Christie administration is settling the suit for just $250 million.
When you’re scrolling through your Facebook feed, you don’t see every post by every friend; what you see has been selected by an automatic algorithm that’s not made public. But someone can pay to increase the likelihood that their friends or fans will see their posts. Corporations paying for placement is a big part of how Facebook makes its money. Similarly, a lot of those links to additional articles at the bottom of news pages are paid placements.
The potential for manipulation here is enormous. Here’s one example. During the 2012 election, Facebook users had the opportunity to post an “I Voted” icon, much like the real stickers many of us get at polling places after voting. There is a documented bandwagon effect with respect to voting; you are more likely to vote if you believe your friends are voting, too. This manipulation had the effect of increasing voter turnout 0.4% nationwide. So far, so good. But now imagine if Facebook manipulated the visibility of the “I Voted” icon based on either party affiliation or some decent proxy of it: ZIP code of residence, blogs linked to, URLs liked, and so on. It didn’t, but if it did, it would have had the effect of increasing voter turnout in one direction. It would be hard to detect, and it wouldn’t even be illegal. Facebook could easily tilt a close election by selectively manipulating what posts its users see. Google might do something similar with its search results.
Millions of people watched and shared the video of Caldwell during a “call up” to the front of the church at the 2014 Church of God in Christ conference in St. Louis. Some Christian denominations feature a point in their services at which sinners are called to the altar by an inner voice to repent their sins and testify before the church about their “deliverance” into a state of holy grace.
“I’m not gay no more!” Caldwell famously declared. “I’m delivered! I don’t like mens no more! I like women! Women women women women!”
“They think that they can preach the homosexuals away in the Church of God in Christ,” he said. “And you can’t.”
“I still have desires,” he confessed.
After meeting Alan Turing and his colleagues at Bletchley Park, Winston Churchill reportedly said to MI6’s Stewart Menzies, “I know I told you to leave no stone unturned to find the necessary staff, but I didn’t mean you to take me so literally.”
Few are aware that in their spare time, these same codebreakers held a competition that created several of the finest English-language palindromes, those sentences that read the same backward and forward.
Peter Hilton, the young math student who (in the film, anyway) had a brother on a doomed Royal Navy convoy, won by writing what many consider the best palindrome ever:
Doc, note: I dissent. A fast never prevents a fatness. I diet on cod.
When news broke that Samsung’s Smart TV’s listened to conversations and sent them to a third-party server company, the Korean manufacturer countered by claiming that all data transmissions to and from its televisions were encrypted. When testing demonstrated that the data in question wasn’t encrypted (despite being sent via Port 443, which is typically used for HTTPS traffic), Samsung modified its stance, claiming that new TVs were encrypted properly but older sets were not. This, too, has now been proven false.
Leonard Nimoy, the sonorous, gaunt-faced actor who won a worshipful global following as Mr. Spock, the resolutely logical human-alien first officer of the Starship Enterprise in the television and movie juggernaut “Star Trek,” died on Friday morning at his home in the Bel Air section of Los Angeles. He was 83.
The company was L’Abeille Vie. In 1987 it began to offer a special deal to its richer clients, a Fixed Price Arbitrage Life Insurance Contract.
Life insurance is a popular savings product in France, and typically the customer allocates their money among different investment funds offered by the insurer. But this contract was not typical: prices for the funds were published each Friday, and clients were allowed to switch funds at those prices anytime before the next price was published, even if markets moved in the meantime.
L’Abeille Vie called this an arbitrage, but really it was a gift. Is the stock market up this week? Just call your broker to buy it at last week’s price and pocket the difference.
If I were using an obtuse loophole to get 68% returns from an insurance policy in the U.S., I’d be afraid to have an “accident” every day..
Employees of an Arizona chain of Burger King restaurants received a big surprise last week when they learned many employees would receive bonuses for winning Burger King’s ‘Franchisee of the Year.’Barnett Management Company runs 24 Burger King restaurants throughout Arizona and won the award thanks to excellent customer service and corporate inspections, according to 3TV.Besides the recognition, the CEO of the company received a new Corvette and a Rolex watch from Burger King’s corporate offices.Initially, employees joked with Barnett, asking just for the chance to take the brand new Corvette for a test drive. They later found out Barnett had much more in store for them, employee Eric Tejeda told 3TV.Tom Barnett sold his prizes and redistributed that money among more than 100 employees of the restaurants.
And THAT is why he won. You treat your employees well, they make your business shine like a fucking diamond. It’s that simple.
The Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound, rendering Americans unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site.
The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights.
“My brother saw that and had a revelation. He said, “If we convert the movie footage into numbers, and we can convert the numbers back into movie footage, then once it’s in the numerical form we could do anything to it. We’d have complete power.” With digital, you can change every pixel into anything you want, and you can perform any operation with the film footage that you can imagine. Then he said, “This is the future of special effects in movies,” and decided to teach himself computer graphics in his spare time.”
Compared to other recreational drugs — including alcohol — marijuana may be even safer than previously thought. And researchers may be systematically underestimating risks associated with alcohol use.
Those are the topline findings of recent research published in the journal Scientific Reports, a subsidiary of Nature. Researchers sought to quantify the risk of death associated with the use of a variety of commonly-used substances. They found that at the level of individual use, alcohol was the deadliest substance, followed by heroin and cocaine.
Richard Barklie, who was one of three men police sought after a black man was allegedly pushed off the train by chanting football supporters, has insisted he is not a racist.
Video posted online showed commuter Souleymane Sylla being pushed back onto the platform as some of those on the train chanted “we’re racist, we’re racist and that’s the way we like it”.
Mr Barklie, 50, who was a member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary and a Police Service of Northern Ireland officer, is currently a director of the World Human Rights Forum.
Perhaps we can make him director of the World Human Wrongs Forum?
The family of the codebreaker Alan Turing will visit Downing Street on Monday to demand the government pardons 49,000 other men persecuted like him for their homosexuality.
Ms Barnes said: “I consider it to be fair and just that everybody who was convicted under the Gross Indecency law is given a pardon. It is illogical that my great uncle has been the only one to be pardoned when so many were convicted of the same crime. I feel sure that Alan Turing would have also wanted justice for everybody.”
“I have a method for getting people off the street that should not be there. Mouthy drivers, street lawyers, assholes and just anyone else trying to make my job difficult. Under my floor mat, I keep a small plastic dime baggie with Cocaine in residue. Since it’s just residue, if it is ever found during a search of my car like during an inspection, it’s easy enough to explain. It must have stuck to my foot while walking through San Castle. Anyways, no one’s going to question an empty baggie. The residue is the key because you can fully charge some asshole with possession of cocaine, heroin, or whatever just with the residue. How to get it done? “I asked Mr. DOE for his identification. And he pulled out his wallet, I observed a small plastic baggie fall out of his pocket…” You get the idea. easy, right? Best part is, those baggies can be found lots of places so you can always be ready. Don’t forget to wipe the baggie on the persons skin after you arrest them because you want their DNA on the bag if they say you planted it or fight it in court.”
Deputy Sheriff: Our top boss, Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, supports this behavior and has for his entire career. As with anything, it depends on who you know in our agency. Last year, we had three deputies on the TAC unit, Kevin Drummond and Jarrod Foster, get caught falsifying information for a warrant. They got a pat on the back for a job well done. Just recently, we had a deputy, I think his name was Booth. He was caught completely lying on a car crash. Back a few more years, our Sheriff was involved a massive coverup of the death of two black deputies. He hid the report for years. This is only the beginning. The Sheriff has been involved in falsification of documents and his underling, Chief Deputy Michael Gauger, has been personally involved in an overtime scandal to steal money from the Sheriff’s Office. Does our Sheriff know about this behavior? Of course he does. We have even had a judge outright accuse my agency of committing fraud upon the court in a public hearing. She was one of the ones who saw through all the lying and covering up our department does to get away with the internal crime committed by deputies on a regular basis.
Two congressmen filed separate House bills on Friday that together would legalize, regulate and tax marijuana at the federal level, effectively ending the U.S. government’s decadeslong prohibition of the plant.
Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) introduced the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, which would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act’s schedules, transfer oversight of the substance from the Drug Enforcement Administration over to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and regulate marijuana in a way similar to how alcohol is currently regulated in the U.S.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) introduced the Marijuana Tax Revenue Act, which would set up a federal excise tax for regulated marijuana.
It’s not news that reruns of Friends aren’t what cable TV really wants you to be watching. Networks make money by showing ads, and for years those networks have been looking for ways to pack in more and more quick spots to get you to buy Charmin, Tide, and Viagra. Now, the Wall Street Journal reports that many networks are desperately trying to increase the number of commercials you watch per hour, sometimes resorting to subtly speeding up older shows and reruns in an effort to recapture the revenue from tanking ratings.
The Journal notes that TBS used compression technology to speed up the Wizard of Oz during its airing last November, causing pop-culture writer Stephen Cox to notice that the munchkins’ voices were pitched higher than normal. TBS, TNT, and TV Land have also sped up shows including Seinfeld and Friends.
Speeding up shows isn’t the only way networks are trying to fit in ad time. On TNT, reruns of Law and Order have truncated opening credits—once a minute and 45 seconds long, the introduction is now just 24 seconds. “It feels wrong,” Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman told the Journal about the show’s “squashed” opening and closing credits. “It is not how it was shot, written, or imagined. It wasn’t meant to be that way, so don’t make it that way.”
Upper-right is a live feed from my tuner card from tonight’s Seinfeld rerun. Lower-right is a digital recording from Fox Chicago about 10 years ago on the same hardware. TBS’s broadcast gained 15 seconds in 3:22. This amounts to almost 2 full minutes for the entire episode.
AMERICAN AND BRITISH spies hacked into the internal computer network of the largest manufacturer of SIM cards in the world, stealing encryption keys used to protect the privacy of cellphone communications across the globe, according to top-secret documents provided to The Intercept by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The hack was perpetrated by a joint unit consisting of operatives from the NSA and its British counterpart Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ. The breach, detailed in a secret 2010 GCHQ document, gave the surveillance agencies the potential to secretly monitor a large portion of the world’s cellular communications, including both voice and data.
The company targeted by the intelligence agencies, Gemalto, is a multinational firm incorporated in the Netherlands that makes the chips used in mobile phones and next-generation credit cards. Among its clients are AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint and some 450 wireless network providers around the world. The company operates in 85 countries and has more than 40 manufacturing facilities. One of its three global headquarters is in Austin, Texas and it has a large factory in Pennsylvania.
In all, Gemalto produces some 2 billion SIM cards a year. Its motto is “Security to be Free.”
I love it how you can always look at a motto for a company and immediately know the biggest problem they have even if they don’t know it themselves. Remember when Philips used “Let’s make things better”? – it’s almost as if they knew they were producing crap.
A Southern District of Texas judge sentenced Salinas earlier this month to six months in prison and a $10,600 fine after he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of computer fraud and abuse. The charge stemmed from his repeatedly scanning the local Hidalgo County website for vulnerabilities in early 2012. But just months before he took that plea, the 28-year-old with ties to the hacktivist group Anonymous instead faced 44 felony hacking and cyberstalking charges, all of which were later dismissed. And now that his case is over, Salinas is willing to say why he believes he faced that overwhelming list of empty charges. As he tells it, two FBI agents asked him to hack targets on the bureau’s behalf, and he refused.
Over the course of a six-hour FBI interrogation in May, 2013, months after his arrest, Salinas says two agents from the FBI’s Southern District of Texas office asked him to use his skills to gather information on Mexican drug cartels and local government figures accepting bribes from drug traffickers. “They asked me to gather information on elected officials, cartel members, anyone I could get data from that would help them out,” Salinas told WIRED in a phone interview before his sentencing. “I told them no.”
“Fundamentally this represents the FBI trying to recruit by indictment,” says Salinas’ lawyer Tor Ekeland, who took the case pro bono last year. “The message was clear: If he had agreed to help them, they would have dropped the charges in a second.”
Vice President Joseph R. Biden has once again raised the eyebrows of social media commentators, who saw his beckoning of Stephanie Carter — the wife of the new defense secretary, Ashton Carter — and subsequent grab of her shoulders and close-eared whisper as little more than America’s “creepy uncle” at work.
Mr. Biden, at the swearing-in ceremony of Mr. Carter, motioned for Mrs. Carter to join him across the room. When she did, he then put both hands on her shoulders and let them linger there for a good 20 seconds, as he leaned in close to whisper in her ear, The Telegraph reported. It’s not known what he whispered.
But shortly after, Mr. Carter reached out and put his own hand on her shoulder and thanked her — his “perfect wife Stephanie,” he said — for her support, The Telegraph reported.
Social media was quick to respond.
The killing of John Geer is probably the clearest and most compelling example of what amounts to police impunity in recent American history.
An Australian learner driver who stitched his own chainsaw wound and drank gin for the pain before driving to hospital has lost a Supreme Court appeal against a drink-driving charge.
Timothy Withrow, from Port Willunga near Adelaide, had a blood alcohol reading three times the legal limit.
He was challenging an earlier ruling by a lower court that refused to consider the matter “trifling”.
By law traffic offences deemed trifling can result in a lighter punishment.
Withrow sustained a gaping wound to his hand while using a chainsaw at his residence in February last year.
He phoned two emergency departments, but was told that they were very busy and would not be able to treat him for more than 10 hours.
Withrow then used a large sewing needle and some fishing line to sew up the wound and washed it with gin to prevent infection. He also drank gin to help with the pain.
He later decided to drive to the hospital for treatment after not being able to contact his wife. He said he could not afford an ambulance.
He was pulled over by police after failing to stop at a sign, and charged with several driving offences as well as being issued an immediate licence disqualification. Though he had previously held a driving licence in the US he did not have a full Australian licence.
In court he had pleaded guilty but before sentencing asked for the matter to be dealt with as trifling.
But Justice Kevin Nicholson agreed with the earlier ruling that Withrow had had options other than driving himself, including calling an ambulance or taxi, or approaching a neighbour for help.
“He posed a clear danger not only to himself but to other road users,” Justice Nicholson said, according to local media.
“I admire [his] courage and his tolerance to pain but I do not admire his judgment.”
So wait… you’re fully expected to make level headed decisionn just after suffering a chainsaw wound?
And they had a couple of cops sitting around watching for people rolling through a stop sign, but no available ambulances?
Is the country more stupid than usual when it comes to “priorities”, or is it just me?
From my perspective as a reporter, Koch Industries is the most hostile and paranoid organization I’ve ever engaged with — and I’ve reported on Fox News.
The U.S. National Security Agency has figured out how to hide spying software deep within hard drives made by Western Digital, Seagate, Toshiba and other top manufacturers, giving the agency the means to eavesdrop on the majority of the world’s computers, according to cyber researchers and former operatives.
That long-sought and closely guarded ability was part of a cluster of spying programs discovered by Kaspersky Lab, the Moscow-based security software maker that has exposed a series of Western cyberespionage operations.
Kaspersky said it found personal computers in 30 countries infected with one or more of the spying programs, with the most infections seen in Iran, followed by Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Mali, Syria, Yemen and Algeria. The targets included government and military institutions, telecommunication companies, banks, energy companies, nuclear researchers, media, and Islamic activists, Kaspersky said.
MI5 is facing allegations it was complicit in the sexual abuse of children, the high court in Northern Ireland will hear on Tuesday.
Victims of the abuse are taking legal action to force a full independent inquiry with the power to compel witnesses to testify and the security service to hand over documents.
The case, in Belfast, is the first in court over the alleged cover-up of British state involvement at the Kincora children’s home in Northern Ireland in the 1970s. It is also the first of the recent sex abuse cases allegedly tying in the British state directly. Victims allege that the cover-up over Kincora has lasted decades.
Former CSIS officer Francois Lavigne is alarmed by the Conservative government’s new anti-terror bill.
He believes the measures proposed in C-51 are unnecessary, a threat to the rights of Canadians and that the prime minister is using fascist techniques to push the bill.
Mr. Lavigne started his career with the RCMP security service in 1983, before the CSIS was established.
“I was hired by the barn burners,” he said in an interview last week. “I went to work for the FIU unit, the foreign interference unit. And that was where the barn burners came from.”
The barn burners were the off-the-leash Mounties whose law-breaking ways led to the McDonald Commission, which led to the establishment of Canadian Security Intelligence Service in 1984.
Mr. Lavigne, who went from the Mounties to CSIS and later worked overseeing spies in the solicitor general’s office, likes CSIS’s design. It was set up as an intelligence-gathering body, not an enforcement agency, actively overseen by an inspector general and reviewed by the Security Intelligence Review Committee.
Mr. Lavigne, 55, left government in 1999, but follows intelligence news closely.
He spent years tracking dangerous radicals without the powers the government wants to give to CSIS.
“I find it a little convenient that in the past few years that these radicalized people are the biggest threat to ever hit us,” he said. “There are more people dying because of drunk drivers or because of gang violence.”
The changes in C-51 will give CSIS broad powers to take action to disrupt plots and reduce threats, in Canada and abroad. This is a recipe for trouble.
“If you give them more powers, if you lower the threshold, if you allow them to collect even more information, follow more people, detain people, inevitably it’s going to lead to lawsuits, to embarrassment. It’s not if it will happen. It’s when.”
Resentment has mounted so much in South Korea against what has come to be known as “gabjil”, high-handedness by the rich and powerful, that parliamentarians are proposing legislation to punish some of the worst abuses.