New letter Issue #800
|April 10, 2015 – Issue #800
“The difference between stupidity and genius is
| Discovered: the stupidest thing the tobacco control industry has ever said. By Carl V Phillips. I am not talking about the worst claim or the most harmful – those would obviously be anti-THR lies, though I am not sure how you would pick one to put at the top of the list. I am not talking about other major lies that have distorted public policy and contributed to the Orwell-ization of our society, like the claims that smoking costs the government money or that moderate exposure to environmental tobacco smoke causes a measurable risk of disease. I do not even mean bald-faced statements whose falsehood is obvious to anyone who gives the a moment’s thought, like their claims that tobacco use has no benefits. No, I am talking about one of those moments when someone says something so stupid that you open your mouth to reply but are are overwhelmed and have no idea where to start, and so are frozen like an open-mouthed statue by the sheer enormity of the stupid.
Government Out of Control. Chris Snowdon has been looking back at the origins of the Tobacco Display ban. Well, we must look at what has happened. In my local co-op, the tobacco display is covered by two sliding doors in a fetching colour of darkish green. The word “TOBACCO” is etched onto one door in large, black capital letters. On the other door is the message: “If you need help, ask a member of staff”. Will those doors deter a ‘child or young person under 18’ from asking for cigs? If they do not, then what is the point of them, since the whole point of the display ban, as has been said again and again, is to deter young people. But the question that I asked, ‘Will those doors deter a ‘child or young person under 18′ from asking for cigs?’, is a daft question. Such youths already have the sense NOT to try to buy cigs in shops – unless they already are aware the the shopkeeper in question will sell cigs to them.
Spanish Congress Approves Draconian Laws Essentially Sending Spain Back to the Dark Ages. Three laws widely criticized by the opposition and human rights groups were approved in Spanish Congress. The Penal Code, the new Anti-Terror Law and the Law on Citizen Safety. The three new texts challenge freedom of expression in the streets and on the Internet. Under the new Citizen Safety Law or Ley Mordaza (Gag Law) as human rights defenders have renamed it, public protests, freedoms of speech and the press and documenting police abuses will become crimes. Together with the Citizen Safety Act, the new Penal Code will also criminalize online activism and organizing. Essentially, Spanish citizens should throw their computers out the windows, smash their hard drives to bits and never log on to the internet ever again. Forget about public organizing and any press freedoms that previously existed will be sharply curtailed once the new trifecta of insanely repressive laws goes into effect this coming July.
Michael Bloomberg ‘considering running for mayor of London.’ The American billionaire businessman, three-time New York mayor and philanthropist, is considering running as Tory candidate for London mayor in 2016, it has been claimed. However, Mr Bloomberg’s former deputy mayor, Howard Wolfson, poured cold water on the prospect of a Bloomberg run for (London’s) City Hall.
Cybersecurity: Digital Shadow Exposes What Facebook Really Knows About You. How much can people discover about you over social media? It began as a mere marketing stunt, but Digital Shadow remains a very useful (and potentially scary) application. Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs is a sci-fi game that works on a smart premise: that our lives can be laid out to a hacker and used against us. Our family, our friends, our interests, our personalities: they build up a digital trail, leaving us exposed. It sounds like an Asimov or Bradbury concept, but the accompanying Digital Shadow, used to advertise the game, shows us that this dystopia isn’t too far removed from today. By allowing it access to Facebook, Digital Shadow gets to know you. But how accurate is it really? I let it loose on my profile to find out…
AND Law Proposed To Force Employees To Friend Their Boss On Facebook. It holds that employers could require workers to “friend” them on social media, and that firing for a refusal to add them would be seen as just grounds for termination. Some employers could be granted even more access to their employees’ accounts, by requiring them to turn over their passwords so that employers could read their private emails.
Cybersecurity: Behavioral Detection Software: How Police Are Listening to You. Behavioral recognition systems (BRS) are one of the first law-enforcement applications of AI. BRS is an AI-based software which analyzes camera footage without human input. Increasingly, American and foreign law enforcement agencies are using BRS software that can analyze CCTV camera footage to detect various behaviors. There are benign applications for such technology. Police could use BRS to automatically detect all fights captured on camera within a city. Most software which analyzes video footage is “stupid.” That said, the software is only capable of detecting specific pre-programmed behaviors. BRS takes surveillance software to a new level: it can be trained to detect new types of behavior and learns through statistical analysis.
Cybersecurity: Turns Out Feds Actually Tracked Most International Calls For Nearly A Decade Before 9/11 – Didn’t Stop The Attack. It was revealed that the DEA had its own database of phone call metadata of nearly all calls from inside the US to foreign countries. Brad Heath at USA Today came out with a report yesterday that goes into much more detail on the program, showing that it dates back to at least 1992 – meaning that the feds almost certainly had the calls that Feinstein and Mueller pretended the government didn’t have prior to 9/11. So don’t believe the intelligence community and its apologists when they wrongly insist that such a mass surveillance program is necessary.
Cybersecurity: Don’t See Evil: Google’s Boycott Campaign Against War Photography and Alternative Media. By being the first dot-com to really get the search engine right, Google unlocked the nascent power of the internet, greatly liberating the individual. It is easy to take for granted and forget how revolutionary the advent of “Just Google it” was for the life of the mind. Suddenly, specific, useful knowledge could be had on most any topic in seconds with just a quick flurry of fingers on a keyboard.
Cybersecurity: Automakers Say You Don’t Really Own Your Car. They say no one should be allowed to even look at the code without the manufacturer’s permission because letting the public learn how cars work could help malicious hackers, “third-party software developers” (the horror!), and competitors. The parade of horribles makes it clear that it is an extraordinary stretch to apply the DMCA to the code that runs vehicles.