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Inside a counterfeit Facebook farm

Posted on June 19th, 2015 at 13:27 by John Sinteur in category: News


Casipong inserts earbuds, queues up dance music, and checks her clients’ instructions. Their specifications are often quite pointed. A São Paulo gym might request 75 female Brazilian fitness fanatics, or a bar in San Francisco’s Castro district might want 1,000 local gay men. Her current order is the most common: fake Facebook profiles of beautiful American women between the ages of 20 and 30. Once a client has received the accounts, he will probably use them to sell Facebook likes to customers looking for an illicit social media boost.

Most of the accounts Casipong creates are sold to these digital middlemen — “click farms” as they have come to be known. Just as fast as Silicon Valley conjures something valuable from digital ephemera, click farms seek ways to create counterfeits. Just Google “buy Facebook likes” and you’ll see how easy it is to purchase black-market influence on the internet: 1,000 Facebook likes for $29.99; 1,000 Twitter followers for $12; or any other type of fake social media credential, from YouTube views to Pinterest followers to SoundCloud plays. Social media is now the engine of the internet, and that engine is running on some pretty suspect fuel.

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Posted on June 19th, 2015 at 13:20 by John Sinteur in category: News


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Christian Evangelist Raising Money

Posted on June 18th, 2015 at 13:26 by John Sinteur in category: News


As Daesh/ISIS has taken over parts of Iraq, they’ve displaced a lot of citizens along the way. One estimate says that more than 100,000 people have left the capital of Ramadi alone to avoid the terrorist takeover.

It’s a problem that really bothers Christian evangelist and Repent America director Michael Marcavage:

Perhaps you’ve wondered how you can help make a difference in Iraq for such a dark time as this. How can you care for the oppressed and hurting? Most importantly, how can you make an eternal difference in the lives of the Iraqi people?

Yes, Michael, how can we help?!

Give us the answer!

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  1. Michael Marcavage? Is that even a real name?

    I think this is a trick by the Lord of Darkness. That smug guy with the leather jacket and the goatee looks far too familiar.

  2. Evangelists only want money. Every appeal they make is for money that eventually is funneled to them.

Edward Snowden Supports Apple’s Public Stance On Privacy

Posted on June 18th, 2015 at 9:16 by John Sinteur in category: News


I asked Snowden his thoughts on Cook’s recent acceptance speech for an Electronic Privacy Information Center award, saying:

“CEO Tim Cook recently took a stand on privacy and Apple’s business, saying “some of the most prominent and successful companies have built their businesses by lulling their customers into complacency about their personal information. They’re gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it. We think that’s wrong. And it’s not the kind of company that Apple wants to be.”

Do you think Cook’s perspective genuine and honest, and how do you think it will play out long-term with regards to it hurting or helping Apple’s business, or whether Apple will keep this promise to privacy?”

Snowden responded:

“I think in the current situation, it doesn’t matter if he’s being honest or dishonest. What really matters is that he’s obviously got a commercial incentive to differentiate himself from competitors like Google. But if he does that, if he directs Apple’s business model to be different, to say “we’re not in the business of collecting and selling information. We’re in the business of creating and selling devices that are superior”, then that’s a good thing for privacy. That’s a good thing for customers.

And we should support vendors who are willing to innovate. Who are willing to take positions like that, and go “You know, just because it’s popular to collect everybody’s information and resell it..to advertisers and whatever, it’s going to serve our reputation, it’s going to serve our relationship with our customers, and it’s going to serve society better. If instead we just align ourselves with our customers and what they really want, if we can outcompete people on the value of our products without needing to subsidize that by information that we’ve basically stolen from our customers, that’s absolutely something that should be supported. And regardless of whether it’s honest or dishonest, for the moment, now, that’s something we should support, that’s something we should incentivize, and it’s actually something we should emulate.

And if that position comes to be reversed in the future, I think that should be a much bigger hammer that comes against Apple because then that’s a betrayal of trust, that’s a betrayal of a promise to its customers. But I would like to think that based on the leadership that Tim Cook has shown on this position so far, he’s spoken very passionately about private issues, that we’re going to see that continue and he’ll keep those promises.

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Pope Francis’s anticapitalist revolution launches on Thursday

Posted on June 17th, 2015 at 17:44 by John Sinteur in category: News


Bottom line: Given the global reach of his encyclical, Pope Francis’ revolution will accelerate. So the GOP’s 169 climate deniers, Big Oil, the Koch Empire and all hard-right conservatives better be prepared for a powerful backlash to their resistance.

Pope Francis’s 2015 war cry is to lead a global anticapitalist revolution, a revolution leading billions to take back their planet from a fossil-fuel industry that’s lost its moral compass to the “golden calf” and is destroying its own civilization on Planet Earth.


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  1. I can only imagine John is conflicted by this. On the one hand.. the Catholic church.. on the other an anti-capitalist global revolution. What to do?

  2. @KZ: Well, we can wish the Pope luck in this campaign, while still holding him to account for and remedy the institution’s crimes.

  3. [Quote:]

    I am not a fan of Pope Francis, I have made this clear again and again, however, I don’t think I would join in with Fox News’ Greg Gutfeld in calling him “the most dangerous person on the planet.”

  4. On another other hand, the Pope is unlikely to apologize for the Catholic Church’s historic and continuing stance on birth control (including abortion) and admit that it has significantly contributed to the problems of the planet.

    They always say God wants more pew fodder.

  5. “This is the most important public document of the past 20 years. You can see all of them behind it, all the churchmen who followed their faith into science. You can see Mendel and his pea plants, and Lemaitre, pondering the origins of the universe, and Father Teilhard, finding God at the point of his pick. That is the company Papa Francesco has chosen to keep. That is the tradition he has come to honor. That is the place from which he has issued this remarkable pastoral warning.”


    So says the great Charles P. Pierce.

    Meanwhile, Fox and Marketwatch and the rest of the rip-off merchants that run and comment on “business” are trolling the Pope as a Marxist. What does that make their beloved Jesus – the Sermon on the Mount, turn the other cheek, love thy neighbour Jesus?

  6. That’s because they’re following Supply-Side-Jesus

  7. Oh, and about being “conflicted” on this – I think there’s a few things he should do on this very subject himself.

    In Paraguay, a 10-year-old rape victim is denied an abortion—even though her stepfather is her attacker. In El Salvador suicide is the cause of death for 57 percent of pregnant females between the ages 10 to 19. In Nicaragua, doctors are anxious about even treating a miscarriage.

    Guess what all these countries have in common? If he really wants to improve our chances of saving the planet he can show it by getting his institution to join the 21th century on birth control.

Remote Code Execution as System User on Samsung Phones

Posted on June 17th, 2015 at 8:03 by John Sinteur in category: News


A remote attacker capable of controlling a user’s network traffic can manipulate the keyboard update mechanism on Samsung phones and execute code as a privileged (system) user on the target’s phone. The Swift keyboard comes pre-installed on Samsung devices and cannot be disabled or uninstalled. Even when it is not used as the default keyboard, it can still be exploited.


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  1. “An attack would also be rather involved – essentially, a malicious party would have to have already deeply compromised the security of the network you’re on and use DNS hijacking or a similar man-in-the-middle exploit to redirect your phone to a fake language pack update that could then potentially inject your device with malicious code. And even under these conditions, only when the app initiates a new language pack download or language pack update can the flaw be taken advantage of. This would make it quite difficult to exploit reliably, let alone on any sort of scale.”

  2. I *finally* found a good writeup of that one!

Philae wake-up triggers intense planning

Posted on June 16th, 2015 at 21:48 by John Sinteur in category: News


It is believed that there is sufficient power now being generated to allow some science measurements during the time Philae is illuminated, with initial activities focusing on low-power measurements. This first phase would also likely include measurements that did not previously generate science in November.

However, the mission teams first must establish a more robust link between Rosetta and Philae before uploading the first batch of science operations commands.


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  1. Have they tried the NSA link?

Jeb! has used the same logo since 1994

Posted on June 16th, 2015 at 17:28 by John Sinteur in category: News



Jeb 2016: Small government; huge serifs.

Prepare for serifdom.

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  1. Revenge of the JebI.

  2. I don’t like Bushes, but I do like consistency!

What to expect when you’re expecting a flyby: Planning your July around New Horizons’ Pluto pictures

Posted on June 16th, 2015 at 16:10 by John Sinteur in category: News


Data will arrive on Earth in a series of downlinks. Downlink sessions can last as long as about 8 hours, but are usually somewhat shorter. Whenever New Horizons is downlinking data, it can’t take new photos, so the downlinks get shorter and less frequent as the spacecraft gets close to the time of the flyby, when it concentrates on collecting as much data as possible. Because data downlinks are slow, there will be much less data downlinked than New Horizons has stored on board. After data is downlinked, it must be processed before posting online. How long that will take is not yet known.

On Sunday, July 12, New Horizons will transmit the last of its optical navigation data. These images will have lower resolution than the images we have already received from Dawn at Ceres. Then, on Sunday and Monday, July 12 and 13, there will be a series of four “Fail Safe” downlinks. These are designed to return a minimum set of data from all instruments, just in case New Horizons does not survive the flyby. A last downlink ending overnight Monday July 13, called “E-Health 1,” will include one last pre-closest approach photo of Pluto.

Then there is a nail-biting 24-hour period of waiting while New Horizons concentrates on flyby science and does not communicate with Earth, followed by the much-anticipated beep of the “Phone Home” downlink on Tuesday night, July 14. Following closest approach, on Wednesday and Thursday, July 15 and 16, there will be a series of “First Look” downlinks containing a sampling of key science data. Another batch of data will arrive in the “Early High Priority” downlinks over the subsequent weekend, July 17-20. Then there will be a hiatus of 8 weeks before New Horizons turns to systematically downlinking all its data. Almost all image data returned during the week around closest approach will be lossily compressed — they will show JPEG compression artifacts. Only the optical navigation images are losslessly compressed.

The transmission of the High Priority data set will be complete on July 20, and then image transmission will pause. For nearly two months, until September 14, New Horizons will switch to near-real-time downlinking of data from instruments that generate low data volumes (like SWAP and PEPSSI) while it transmits just housekeeping information for all of the rest of the data. No new images will arrive on the ground during this time.

On September 14, New Horizons will begin downlinking a “browse” version of the entire Pluto data set, in which all images will be lossily compressed. It will take about 10 weeks to get that data set to the ground. There will be compression artifacts, but we’ll see the entire data set. Then, around November 16, New Horizons will begin to downlink the entire science data set losslessly compressed. It will take a year to complete that process.


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Rich Californians balk at limits: ‘We’re not all equal when it comes to water’

Posted on June 16th, 2015 at 14:38 by John Sinteur in category: News


Drought or no drought, Steve Yuhas resents the idea that it is somehow shameful to be a water hog. If you can pay for it, he argues, you should get your water.

People “should not be forced to live on property with brown lawns, golf on brown courses or apologize for wanting their gardens to be beautiful,” Yuhas fumed recently on social media. “We pay significant property taxes based on where we live,” he added in an interview. “And, no, we’re not all equal when it comes to water.”

Please turn off your irony meter before reading the next part, or it will explode.

“California used to be the land of opportunity and freedom,” Barbre said. “It’s slowly becoming the land of one group telling everybody else how they think everybody should live their lives.”

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  1. The solution is simple. Violate the laws. Go to jail! That will change attitudes of the 1% very quickly!

  2. Poor sad honkies.

  3. @Spaceman Spiff
    And, think of the jobs that the rich will finally get around to creating.
    “I’ve been found guilty of something. I’ll pay HUGE sums to NOT be the one in jail. You’re poor, therefore a rough character, uneducated and smelly. Take (some of) my money and do my sentence for me. A 21st Century ‘Whipping Boy’, eh?”
    Don’t laugh, expect the super-rich to try this at some point…

Yoga Studio Opens Its Doors To Shelter Cats Hoping To Find A Home

Posted on June 16th, 2015 at 14:28 by John Sinteur in category: News


It’s (obviously) no secret that the company of cats is good for the soul, and that practicing yoga is too. But when the two come together, it’s a match made in heaven — and even more so when it’s for such a wonderful cause.


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  1. Clearly, pussy videos are most of the internet’s worth.

Reporter Who Wrote Sunday Times ‘Snowden’ Propaganda Admits That He’s Just Writing What UK Gov’t Told Him

Posted on June 16th, 2015 at 7:49 by John Sinteur in category: News


So we’ve already written about the massive problems with the Sunday Times’ big report claiming that the Russians and Chinese had “cracked” the encryption on the Snowden files (or possibly just been handed those files by Snowden) and that he had “blood on his hands” even though no one has come to any harm. It also argued that David Miranda was detained after he got documents from Snowden in Moscow, despite the fact that he was neither in Moscow, nor had met Snowden (a claim the article quietly deleted). That same report also claimed that UK intelligence agency MI6 had to remove “agents” from Moscow because of this leak, despite the fact that they’re not called “agents” and there’s no evidence of any actual risk. So far, the only official response from News Corp. the publisher of The Sunday Times (through a variety of subsidiaries) was to try to censor the criticism of the story with a DMCA takedown request.

Either way, one of the journalists who wrote the story, Tom Harper, gave an interview to CNN which is quite incredible to watch. Harper just keeps repeating that he doesn’t know what’s actually true, and that he was just saying what the government told him — more or less admitting that his role here was not as a reporter, but as a propagandist or a stenographer.

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  1. Who would have thought that a Murdoch owned news outlet would be so unreliable?

  2. Unreliable? The Murdoch press always does exactly the wrong thing, the dishonest and misleading thing, the pandering and hypocritical thing, every single time. Seems pretty reliable to me.

  3. @porpentine: lol…you get what he pays for?

Pay low-income families more to boost economic growth, says IMF

Posted on June 16th, 2015 at 7:46 by John Sinteur in category: News


The idea that increased income inequality makes economies more dynamic has been rejected by an International Monetary Fund study, which shows the widening income gap between rich and poor is bad for growth.

A report by five IMF economists dismissed “trickle-down” economics, and said that if governments wanted to increase the pace of growth they should concentrate on helping the poorest 20% of citizens.

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Duqu 2.0

Posted on June 14th, 2015 at 21:29 by John Sinteur in category: News


Kaspersky Labs has discovered and publicized details of a new nation-state surveillance malware system, called Duqu 2.0. It’s being attributed to Israel.

There’s a lot of details, and I recommend reading them. There was probably a Kerberos zero-day vulnerability involved, allowing the attackers to send updates to Kaspersky’s clients. There’s code specifically targeting anti-virus software, both Kaspersky and others. The system includes anti-sniffer defense, and packet-injection code. It’s designed to reside in RAM so that it better avoids detection. This is all very sophisticated.

Eugene Kaspersky wrote an op-ed condemning the attack — and making his company look good — and almost, but not quite, comparing attacking his company to attacking the Red Cross:

Historically companies like mine have always played an important role in the development of IT. When the number of Internet users exploded, cybercrime skyrocketed and became a serious threat to the security of billions of Internet users and connected devices. Law enforcement agencies were not prepared for the advent of the digital era, and private security companies were alone in providing protection against cybercrime ­ both to individuals and to businesses. The security community has been something like a group of doctors for the Internet; we even share some vocabulary with the medical profession: we talk about ‘viruses’, ‘disinfection’, etc. And obviously we’re helping law enforcement develop its skills to fight cybercrime more effectively.

One thing that struck me from a very good Wired article on Duqu 2.0:

Raiu says each of the infections began within three weeks before the P5+1 meetings occurred at that particular location. “It cannot be coincidental,” he says. “Obviously the intention was to spy on these meetings.”

Initially Kaspersky was unsure all of these infections were related, because one of the victims appeared not to be part of the nuclear negotiations. But three weeks after discovering the infection, Raiu says, news outlets began reporting that negotiations were already taking place at the site. “Somehow the attackers knew in advance that this was one of the [negotiation] locations,” Raiu says.

Exactly how the attackers spied on the negotiations is unclear, but the malware contained modules for sniffing WiFi networks and hijacking email communications. But Raiu believes the attackers were more sophisticated than this. “I don’t think their style is to infect people connecting to the WiFi. I think they were after some kind of room surveillance — to hijack the audio through the teleconference or hotel phone systems.”

Those meetings are talks about Iran’s nuclear program, which we previously believed Israel spied on. Look at the details of the attack, though: hack the hotel’s Internet, get into the phone system, and turn the hotel phones into room bugs. Very clever.

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  1. Are the US and Israel working together? Raiu seems to infer that when he said the attackers knew the location in advance.

Heinz Hermann Polzer 1919 – 2015

Posted on June 14th, 2015 at 12:32 by John Sinteur in category: News

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My Dad, JFK, Was for Free Trade. Democrats Today Should Be Too. – Caroline Kennedy

Posted on June 14th, 2015 at 12:08 by John Sinteur in category: News


A vitally important part of that strategy is the Trans Pacific Partnership. This ambitious, 12-nation trade agreement, now in the final stages of negotiation, has the potential to knit the United States and our allies into the world’s strongest, most prosperous partnership.

Yet, there are some who are reluctant to change the status quo and embrace the future. This is nothing new. But there is a proud Democratic free-trade tradition that we should not forget. For my father, President John F. Kennedy, expanding trade was integral to America’s prosperity and security. As he told Congress on January 11, 1962, when asking for a precursor to the same authority President Obama is requesting today, “Our decision could well affect the unity of the West, the course of the Cold War, and the economic growth of our Nation for a generation to come.”

Should Democrats today then also support other Kennedy policies? Perhaps we should arm Cuban exiles to overthrow the Castro regime in a half-baked invasion plan.

By now there’s been so much talk about the TPP that you can safely assume that if there really was any good part of it, it would have been shouted off the rooftops. Instead, ALL leaks we’ve seen are bad news. And they’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel if they are having the Obama ambassador to Japan do this.

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  1. My take on it, has been that the White House has done a piss-poor job explaining why it would be a good idea and that the opposition to it has been much more well-organized. The TPP may very well be a good thing but I don’t think we’ll ever know.

  2. More “piss” from the 1%. Will this trickle down never stop?

When I lost my hands making flatscreens I can’t afford, nobody would help me

Posted on June 14th, 2015 at 10:47 by John Sinteur in category: News


After five days in the hospital, I checked myself out. But I didn’t go home first. I went directly to the factory where I worked for HD Electronics. I asked to see the manager. He offered me 50,000 pesos ($3,800).

“I’ve lost both my hands,” I said. “How will my family survive on 50,000 pesos?”

“That’s our offer,” he said. “Stop making such a big scandal about it and take it.”


HD Electronics contracts for LG Electronics.

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Billionaire Cartier Boss Warns of Imminent Uprising, ‘Envy, Hatred’ of Poor People

Posted on June 14th, 2015 at 8:39 by John Sinteur in category: News


“How is society going to cope with structural unemployment and the envy, hatred and the social warfare? We are destroying the middle classes at this stage and it will affect us. It’s unfair. So that’s what keeps me awake at night.”

“We are in for a huge change in society. Get used to it, and be prepared. Hopefully we will survive it, because we’re planning for it.”


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  1. “Hopefully we will survive it, because we’re planning for it.”

    There are two good examples of where the best planning did not save the tail from wagging the dog. The French Revolution, where the economically squeezed middle class turned on the aristocratic elite, only to be subverted by the rise of Napoleon, and Nazi Germany where an economically squeezed middle class turned on the Weimar Republic Government to support the National Socialists.
    The elite factions in France could not form a coherent opposition to the rise of the Populist Bonaparte and the elites in Germany failed to prevent the creature they’d helped create from turning on them.
    Valuable lesson can be learnt from studying stories like that of the Golum or Frankenstein, the American equivalent would be the rise of Pitchfork Ben Tillman: http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/tillman.html

A Texas prosecutor who withheld evidence to win a murder conviction just lost his law license

Posted on June 13th, 2015 at 18:52 by John Sinteur in category: News


A three-member evidentiary panel of the legal agency ordered Thursday the disbarment of Charles Sebesta, who spent 25 years as district attorney in Burleson and Washington counties, after finding he committed professional misconduct in his prosecution of accused murderer Anthony Graves.

Graves was convicted and sent to Texas death row for the 1992 slayings of six people. A federal appeals court reversed his conviction in 2006.

He was released from prison four years later, after a serving a dozen years on death row, when a special prosecutor determined he should be freed and declared innocent.

“It takes great courage to say a prosecutor was so clearly acting against the rules of fair play that he should be stripped of his law license,” Graves said Friday in a statement released by his lawyers. “But the panel did just that, and I appreciate it.

He should be up on attempted first degree murder charges for his willful, deliberate, and malicious actions.

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Gay marriage protest: Nick Jensen uninvited to Canberra wedding

Posted on June 13th, 2015 at 8:04 by John Sinteur in category: News


Well, Nick, I’m sure you’ve come to appreciate over the past 48 hours that it’s not just changes to legislation that have consequences. Newspaper articles do, too. And here’s one of them, albeit a small one — I don’t want you anywhere near my wedding. You and your views are not welcome, because you’re right — the institution we’re marrying into isn’t the same one you think you’re in.

And I’m pretty sure the consequences of your actions this week are going to mean more to you than to anyone else.


That was the best ‘fuck off you twat’ I’ve ever seen.

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Elizabeth Warren

Posted on June 13th, 2015 at 8:01 by John Sinteur in category: News


“The problem is not that I don’t understand the global banking system. The problem for these guys is that I fully understand the system and I understand how they make their money. And that’s what they don’t like about me.” — Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Jamie Dimon’s recent comments “mansplaining” banking to her


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Montana Republican: Noah was 600 years old when he built the Ark, so why do Americans need retirement?

Posted on June 12th, 2015 at 18:41 by John Sinteur in category: News


Greg Gianforte, aspiring Republican governor of Montana, urges college students to reject policy that favors savings plans and retirement options because, like Noah, Christians have “an obligation to work” until they are hundreds of years old, the Huffington Post reports.

Speaking at the Montana Bible College in February, Gianforte told students, “There’s nothing in the Bible that talks about retirement. And yet it’s been an accepted concept in our culture today. Nowhere does it say, ‘Well, he was a good and faithful servant, so he went to the beach.’ It doesn’t say that anywhere.”

“The example I think of is Noah,” Gianforte continued. “How old was Noah when he built the Ark? 600. He wasn’t like, cashing Social Security checks. He wasn’t hanging out; he was working. So, I think we have an obligation to work. The role we have in work may change over time, but the concept of retirement is not biblical.”


Superman learned to fly as a child, so why do Americans need cars?

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  1. Good point, John, although Noah wasn’t working. In the story he was a looney who, hearing voices, was building a huge boat in his backyard. Neighbours were complaining.

    I know quite a few people who have this affliction. The waters haven’t arisen around most of them, yet :-)

  2. I say let him run on a platform that eliminates benefits for senior citizens and see how many votes he gets.

  3. Flush toilets and cell phones are not biblical. I don’t think Christians should have them.

Live with Phil

Posted on June 12th, 2015 at 9:29 by John Sinteur in category: News


It was announced and sold out without John specifying any guests. He didn’t hype it up or drop any enticing hints. Nobody knew who would be on stage until they walked through the curtains, but we all assumed it would be some of the developers, journalists, and friends who usually join John to give The Talk Show its great personality.

But after a brief introduction from Merlin Mann and Adam Lisagor, John introduced, “and I shit you not,” Apple’s senior vice president of marketing, Phil Schiller.

Being familiar with John’s dry humor, I’m not sure most of the audience believed him. Many cheered. Some hesitated. For a few seconds, nobody walked out, and people started laughing, thinking they got the joke.

And then Phil Schiller really walked on stage.

Apple doesn’t do this.

Apple executives rarely speak publicly outside of Apple events, especially for live interviews. One of the highest-ranking executives of the world’s highest-profile company being subjected to questions, unprepared and unedited, in front of a live audience full of recording devices, is rarely worth the PR risk: the potential downside is much larger than the likely upside. Do well, and a bunch of existing fans will like you a bit more; do poorly, and it’s front-page news worldwide.

Both Apple and Phil Schiller himself took a huge risk in doing this. That they agreed at all is a noteworthy gift to this community of long-time enthusiasts, many of whom have felt under-appreciated as the company has grown.

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A blow for mobile advertising: The next version of Safari will let users block ads on iPhones and iPads

Posted on June 12th, 2015 at 5:58 by John Sinteur in category: News


It didn’t get a mention in Apple’s big keynote announcements Monday — which already had plenty of interest to publishers — but deep within Apple’s developer documentation lies perhaps the most important item of all to the news industry.

Adblocking is coming to the iPhone with iOS 9.


Of the $11.8 billion in mobile search revenue Google booked in 2014, 75 percent — nearly $9 billion — came from iOS, according to a recent Goldman Sachs analysis cited by the New York Times. Half of that total is chalked up to a deal with Apple that makes Google the default search engine for mobile Safari.

That arrangement is thought to cost Google between $1 billion and $2 billion each year, and many believe that it will end sooner than later. Apple is rumored to be considering a switch to Yahoo or Bing, and might also enter the market with its own solution.

Apple is known to be working on a large-scale web search program, led by the team acquired with social analytics firm Topsy in 2013.

These developments put Google in a precarious position when it comes to mobile search, and losing iOS is a potentially disastrous scenario.

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  1. Blimey! Do I have time to make popcorn before these monsters fight to the death?

Meet the N.C. GOP’s latest racket: rigging the state Supreme Court

Posted on June 11th, 2015 at 13:57 by John Sinteur in category: News


Background now, on legislative gerrymandering and a pair of recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions that went against the Republicans here and in Alabama. But these decisions were preliminary, not final, and for our purposes they funnel back to one Republican fellow: N.C. Supreme Court Justice Robert Edmunds.

First, gerrymandering. That’s the method by which the political party in power “packs” the other party’s voters into a relatively few election districts, minimizing their clout overall.

It’s not a new concept. Except, that is, for the racial gerrymandering aspect, which makes the old stinker reek so much worse.

Example: North Carolina. The Republicans drew the state’s legislative districts so that Democratic voters—especially black Democrats—were packed into one-third of the 170 Senate and House districts. This helped Republicans control the other two-thirds. With half the statewide vote, the GOP holds the Senate 33-17 and the House 75-45, as well as 10 of the state’s 13 congressional districts.

When North Carolina’s gerrymandered districts were challenged in court as racially discriminatory, guess what? The N.C. Supreme Court upheld the Republicans’ handiwork by a 4-2 vote, with Edmunds writing the majority opinion for the four GOP justices. Two Democratic justices, Cheri Beasley and Robin Hudson, signed a blistering dissent. (The third Democratic justice, Sam Ervin IV, was elected in November, after the case was argued.)

But then the Republicans got an unpleasant surprise. The U.S. Supreme Court, hardly a bastion of liberalism, rejected a similar, race-based gerrymander from Alabama. Soon, applying the same logic, it rejected the North Carolina gerrymander, telling the N.C. Supreme Court to reconsider the earlier challenge in light of its Alabama ruling.

Put simply, the U.S. Supreme Court is saying that Republicans can’t just jam as many black voters as they want into as few districts as they can manage without violating the principle of fair representation under the Voting Rights Act. To Alabama, it said, you went too far. To N.C.: Take heed.

This was bad news for Edmunds, whose eight-year term expires at the end of 2016. He was expected to seek re-election next year, but given that the voters chose three Democratic justices out of four in 2014, and that the 2016 presidential election climate will likely be more favorable for a Democratic challenger, Edmunds was already in some jeopardy. Now, he’d be forced to run uphill, carrying a blot on his record where voting rights are concerned.

Enter HB 222. It creates “retention elections” for sitting Supreme Court justices if they were previously elected against an opponent.

Justices like, uh, Bob Edmunds.

Which is another way of saying that Edmunds will have no opponent next year. Instead, voters will be asked to “retain” him—and if the answer is no, his replacement would be appointed by the governor for a two-year term.

The governor, of course, is McCrory. But even if a Democrat were elected governor in 2016, a lame-duck McCrory could still make the appointment if Edmunds, after being rejected, resigned prior to Dec. 31.

And really, what are the chances the voters will remove an unopposed justice?

The same retention rule will allow Republican Justices Barbara Jackson and Paul Newby to also “run” for “re-election” unopposed in 2018 and 2020, respectively.

Meanwhile, the N.C. Supreme Court is not exactly hustling to rehear the gerrymandering challenge. Ordered on April 20 to do so, it delayed initial arguments until Aug. 31, and it may well remand the case to a lower court for additional findings.

Which, with the heat off Edmunds, could allow the Republican justices to slow-walk racially discriminatory gerrymandering past the ’16 elections and all the way to 2020. At which point a new U.S. Census will be taken, and shameless gerrymandering can begin again.

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  1. All districts should be drawn by computers. The final allocation should be approved by Federal guidelines which can only be amended by a 2/3rd majority. End of Problem!

  2. @will: Excellent! Now go and make it happen. We’ll sign your petition! (Although as a non-American I don’t get to vote.)

HTC reflects on Champions League iPhone cock-up

Posted on June 11th, 2015 at 10:20 by John Sinteur in category: News


To celebrate its involvement as a sponsor of this year’s UEFA Champions League, HTC produced a blingtastic limited edition, 24ct gold version of the HTC One M9.

And then it obviously had to take to Twitter to tell the world about how great the phone looked.

Unfortunately, HTC failed to notice that pure gold is very shiny, and as a result it reflects stuff. The stuff in this case being the person taking the picture of the golden phone.

What the reflection shows is that the photograph was taken with, and presumably Tweeted from, an iPhone. Maybe HTC agrees with our review, which suggested that the M9’s 20MP camera is a little below par in the quality stakes.

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Sanders blasts Internet ‘nonsense': ‘I do not have dual citizenship with Israel’ | TheHill

Posted on June 11th, 2015 at 9:59 by John Sinteur in category: News


Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) repeatedly denied during a radio interview with NPR host Diane Rehm on Wednesday that he has dual citizenship with Israel, bemoaning the “nonsense” people see on the Internet.

“Senator, you have dual citizenship with Israel,” Rehm remarked on “The Diane Rehm Show.”

“Well, no, I do not have dual citizenship with Israel,” the 2016 presidential candidate responded.

“I’m an American,” he said. “I don’t know where that question came from.”


Rehm apologized for her exchange with Sanders in a statement released Wednesday afternoon, noting that her claim about his citizenship status emerged from a “comment on Facebook” that she had read.

“On today’s show I made a mistake,” she said. “Rather than asking if Senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders whether he had dual U.S./Israeli citizenship, as I had read in a comment on Facebook, I stated it as fact.”

Jeb Bush has dual citizenship. So does Ted Cruz.

Okay, now you can cite this as a source.

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  1. Um…is it wrong to be Jewish, already? (Or Mexican or Canadian?)

  2. Sue, it depends. Is it a religion or a nationality? A passport for a religion is just nonsense.

  3. @will: The story was (presumably) an attempt to malign Mr. Sanders by saying that he had Israeli citizenship. He is Jewish, I believe, so in theory he would be entitled to an Israeli passport, but that’s the genesis of another of those birther conspiracy things. People must have too much time on their hands and too few anti-depressants, imo.

    Incidentally, you can literally get a passport for a religion now, as a reparation for past discrimination and expulsion:


Details on pursuit, fatal police shooting emerge

Posted on June 11th, 2015 at 9:36 by John Sinteur in category: News


A Des Moines police officer fired her service weapon through the rolled-up window of her patrol car on Tuesday night, fatally shooting an unarmed man said to be charging at her car, according to police.

Ryan Keith Bolinger, 28, of West Des Moines, died at the scene from a single gunshot to the torso. Police and witnesses said he led two officers on a slow chase through northwestern Des Moines Tuesday evening that ended with Bolinger exiting his vehicle and coming toward the squad car.

“He was walking with a purpose,” Sgt. Jason Halifax of Des Moines Police said following a press conference Wednesday on the shooting.


“The use of deadly force can take many forms … it all has to do in how an officer perceives a situation and how they feel at the time,” Sgt. Jason Halifax of Des Moines Police said. “There’s not a hard, fast, this is when you shoot and this is when you don’t.”

This sounds fair. Imagine you are a police officer and you see another human being. What do you know about them? How do you know that they won’t follow you home and eat your cereal, or worse! And walking without purpose is probably grounds for suspicion as well!

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Teen pregnancies — and abortions — plummeted after Hawaii ditched abstinence-based sex ed

Posted on June 10th, 2015 at 0:17 by John Sinteur in category: News


Public schools in Hawaii moved away from abstinence-based sex education about five years ago – and the teen pregnancy and abortion rates have plummeted.

The number of terminated pregnancies dropped nearly 30 percent between 2010 and 2014 – the largest decline in the nation – and the state’s historically high teen pregnancy rate fell during the same period, reported the Associated Press.

Health and education experts aren’t sure exactly why those rates dropped so sharply, but they noted the declines came as Hawaii moved to evidence-based sex education in 2010 and since 2013 has allowed girls as young as 14 access to emergency contraception without parental consent.

Republican critics say the changes to the teen pregnancy and abortion rates are misleading.

“It’s the availability of the morning-after pill,” said Rep. Bob McDermott (R-HI), who believes current sex-ed programs encourage teens to have sex. “The need for surgical abortions is diminished.”

Abstinence-based sex ed is like a collision-based driving school.

Yes, it’s a crash-course!



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  1. So we should force 14 year old girls to have babies? That would make the world a better place?

  2. @Will – why yes of course. It keeps them poor, stupid, and their kids are the same and make great fodder for the republican & democratic (not much dif…) propaganda and war machines.

  3. @Mykolas: “…republican & democratic (not much dif…)” Sometimes least worst is better than most worst.

    It’s tempting to say, “They are all terrible, I give up!” but that’s playing into the hands of those who want to take away your power (puny though it is).

Voldemort is polling better than many Republican presidential candidates

Posted on June 9th, 2015 at 19:42 by John Sinteur in category: News


As it turns out, the shark from the Jaws movies has better favorability numbers than any politician included in the latest Washington Post-ABC News survey. Ditto for The Terminator. Same for Darth Vader.

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  1. Looks about right to me! At least Bernie got >0 on the poll…

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