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Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Campaigns of malicious falsehoods

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We know that “I read it on the Internet” is not the most convincing way to substantiate a fact: many postings may contain errors, show ignorance of facts, and so on. But one also must contend with deliberate malicious deception not just of individual posts or message, but of coordinated serious efforts to deceive and destroy. I already mentioned the fake-news site that tries to create fear and, I suppose, panic (if they can).

Now I found one that’s even worse: a hate group (identified as such by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Tara Culp-Ressler describes it at ThinkProgress:

A misogynist group is attempting to co-opt a well-known international campaign against domestic violence, setting up a fake website intended to confuse visitors who may be trying to donate to the cause.

The new website is attempting to divert supporters looking for the White Ribbon Campaign, a nonprofit group in Canada that engages men in the effort to stop intimate partner violence. It was founded in 1989 in response to the “Montreal Massacre,” in which a 25-year-old gunman shouted “You’re all a bunch of feminists, and I hate feminists!” before opening fire and killing 14 female students. Since then, the White Ribbon movement has spread to other countries like Scotland and Australia. It also has a relatively popular Facebook page.

The real sites have international URLs, like http://www.whiteribbon.ca. The fake campaign, however, is hosted on http://www.whiteribbon.org — something that may trick Americans into thinking it’s the United States’ official chapter. There’s a fake Facebook account to go along with it.

The fake site urges people to be wary of “false White Ribbon initiatives” dedicated to addressing “violence against women,” telling them to donate to its group instead.

“There are numerous attempts by other entities to corrupt the message of the White Ribbon Initiative by inserting dishonest and sexist messages into this movement,”claims a post on the fake White Ribbon site. “Hopefully this message, and the other content on this website (which is provided to you by the world’s foremost experts on family violence), will help you see through the corruption and dishonesty being furthered by other programs.”

But the dishonesty is actually being furthered by http://www.whiteribbon.org itself. As reported by We Hunted The Mammoth, a blog dedicated to tracking anti-feminist online groups, the fake site was set up by A Voice For Men — an infamously misogynist forum dedicated to “men’s rights activists.” Indeed, when you click on the “One-Time Paypal Donation” button on the fake White Ribbon site, it leads to a donation page for A Voice For Men.

The men’s rights movement believes that feminism harms men, and is primarily fueled by resentment over the women’s rights movement. That’s why MRAs take issue with the real White Ribbon Campaign, which seeks to challenge “harmful ideas of manhood that lead to violence against women.” A Voice For Men’s fake site makes it clear that this framing is offensive to them, writing that “family violence is a serious problem that knows no gender” and “we cannot address this complicated, critical problem by pointing the finger at one sex as the default perpetrator and at another sex as the default victim.”

But the members of A Voice For Men — which has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center — aren’t simply interested in a conversation about how violence affects both men and women. They have a well-documented history of manipulating facts, accusing feminists of encouraging domestic violence to make money, and even making violent threats against women. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 October 2014 at 2:28 pm

Doesn’t this count as yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater?

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And given that exception, shut down the site and fine the owners substantial sums.

UPDATE: This post must have been quite confusing: I used the wrong link in the original post (the link that’s still there). I’m leaving that link in place because Big Chrono’s comment is relevant to the matter at that link (which is a story about how the NYPD has set its own course and is ignoring the Mayor’s direction).

This is the link that should have been used, and the reference in the title refers to circumstances under which the First Amendment right to free speech does not apply. As Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., noted: “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.”

Written by LeisureGuy

22 October 2014 at 4:54 pm

Cop vindicated of sexual harassment claim because of his body camera

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Very interesting story. Video of newscast, which includes some of the body-cam footage (do we still call it “footage”?). From the story:

After failing the sobriety test, Griego was taken into the station for DWI. A breathalyzer detected a .13 blood alcohol level. [Legal limit in NM for people 21 and older is .08%. - LG]

Griego then asked the officer if she could use the restroom.

Officer Frazier then heard Griego speaking with someone while in the bathroom, asking, “How can I get this officer in trouble?”

Frazier then remembered Griego had slipped her cell phone into her bra at the beginning of the traffic stop, according to the report.

When Frazier ordered Griego to step out of the restroom, she began accusing him of sexual misconduct.

“[You were] inappropriately touching me while I was waiting in the car,” Griego can be heard saying in the video.

Frazier informed Griego that the entire stop had been recorded. Officers with the sex crimes division of the department later conducted a full investigation and cleared Frazier of any wrongdoing.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 October 2014 at 11:10 am

Cool timepiece you can easily read by touching

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Take a look. From the link (which has lots of photos and a few videos):

Wouldn’t it be great if you could check the time in a dark movie theater without having to illuminate your smartphone? What about not having to look down at your watch to check the time during a drawn-out client lunch?

The Bradley is a tactile timepiece that allows you to not only see what time it is, but to feel what time it is.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 October 2014 at 1:45 pm

Posted in Technology

Google launches support for Security Key,

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Interesting idea. I’m sure NSA will working produce keys that include additional microprogramming to install spyware in computers that use it and try to get those in circulation…

Written by LeisureGuy

21 October 2014 at 12:31 pm

Posted in NSA, Technology

Comcast, Net Neutrality, and a supine Congress

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Years ago (1964) a book was written about Congress titled Congress: The Sapless Branch, and that title rings true today. We have reached the point now where Congressional action contrary to the interests of large corporations seems increasingly difficult. T. C. Sottek writes in the Verge:

Here’s what’s happening right now on net neutrality:

The FCC’s comment period is over and 3.7 million people weighed in — that means even more people are concerned about net neutrality than Super Bowl XXXVIII: Wardrobe Malfunctiongate. And, yes, America, it’s totally reasonable and appropriate to be mad at the FCC. It has screwed up on net neutrality for years from cowardice and simply by using the wrong words. But Americans who want to protect net neutrality should also start being mad at Congress.

It’s Congress that has largely turned net neutrality regulation into a partisan charade that occasionally results in threats to the FCC’s budget and authority via Congress’ telecommunications benefactors. The FCC’s dithering on net neutrality has been enabled for years by this nonsense and it’s now reflected even by the agency’s bench, which seats some commissioners who have advocated stripping themselves of power to avoid going against corporate interests. Even the FCC’s chairman is intimately familiar with those corporate interests; Tom Wheeler is a former telecom lobbyist and was appointed by a president who promised that lobbyists wouldn’t run his administration in a distant magical time called “Before He Was Elected.”

If you want a clear example of Congress’ ineptitude on net neutrality, look no further than a letter sent to Comcast today by . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 October 2014 at 4:02 pm

Laura Poitras and Edward Snowden

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I just found a couple of excellent long reads about the Snowden affair and Laura Poitras’s role in it.

First is an interview of Poitras by Tom Englehardt; second is an article by Alex Pasternack in Motherboard. I strongly encourage you to read both.

Englehardt begins:

Here’s a Ripley’s Believe It or Not! stat from our new age of national security. How many Americans have security clearances? The answer: 5.1 million, a figure that reflects the explosive growth of the national security state in the post-9/11 era. Imagine the kind of system needed just to vet that many people for access to our secret world (to the tune of billions of dollars). We’re talking here about the total population of Norway and significantly more people than you can find in Costa Rica, Ireland, or New Zealand. And yet it’s only about 1.6% of the American population, while on ever more matters, the unvetted 98.4% of us are meant to be left in the dark.

For our own safety, of course. That goes without saying.

All of this offers a new definition of democracy in which we, the people, are to know only what the national security state cares to tell us.  Under this system, ignorance is the necessary, legally enforced prerequisite for feeling protected.  In this sense, it is telling that the only crime for which those inside the national security state can be held accountable in post-9/11 Washington is not potential perjury before Congress, or the destruction of evidence of a crime, or torture, or kidnapping, or assassination, or the deaths of prisoners in an extralegal prison system, but whistleblowing; that is, telling the American people something about what their government is actually doing.  And that crime, and only that crime, has been prosecuted to the full extent of the law (and beyond) with a vigor unmatched in American history.  To offer a single example, the only American to go to jail for the CIA’s Bush-era torture program was John Kiriakou, a CIA whistleblower who revealed the name of an agent involved in the program to a reporter.

In these years, as power drained from Congress, an increasingly imperial White House has launched various wars (redefined by its lawyers as anything but), as well as a global assassination campaign in which the White House has its own “kill list” and the president himself decides on global hits.  Then, without regard for national sovereignty or the fact that someone is an American citizen (and upon the secret invocation of legal mumbo-jumbo), the drones are sent off to do the necessary killing.

And yet that doesn’t mean that we, the people, know nothing . . .

Continue reading.

And Pasternack begins:

I get my face photographed and printed on a temporary ID card that I deposit into a slot and I get on an elevator and am led down a hallway. On a desk, I spot a signed letter with the Vice President’s seal. I’m brought into a windowless room, and there is the filmmaker Laura Poitras. On a coffee table is a MacBook Pro with a sticker that says “National Security Agency—Monitored Device.” Behind her, there’s a framed Ricky Gervais poster. We are at the offices of HBO, which began discussions to acquire the TV rights to her new film, “Citizenfour,” even before it was finished, not long before it premiered at the New York Film Festival to a standing ovation. We shake hands and I display my recorder. “Mind if I record?” I ask.

She laughs briefly and agrees. “That’s very respectful, given the context,” she says.

The context is quite serious. It was a 12-minute video made by Poitras that in June 2013 attached a name and a face to disclosures of a massive secret and legally dubious global surveillance system. A year earlier, Poitras became the first journalist to communicate with the NSA contractor Edward J. Snowden, then anonymously. Though she shared bylines on stories in the Guardian and the Times and Der Spiegel, much of the reporting was done by Glenn Greenwald and others, most recently at The Intercept, the upstart outlet where Poitras is also now also a founding editor. She has been in more of a hide-out mode, working on her much-anticipated documentary on multiple computers out of a bunker-like editing studio in Berlin. She moved there from New York in 2012, after years of getting stopped at the airport every time she tried to fly; starting in 2006, her air tickets were marked “SSSS” for Secondary Security Screening Selection, subjecting her to extra scrutiny at the borders.

She is no longer stopped, but wagers that she is still watched by her own government. She uses her cell phone sparingly and has become an expert in encrypted communications. “I really do feel that there are some really angry powerful people, mad at the reporting that we’re doing. I should expect they’re paying attention to my communications and who I spend time with.”

I asked her if she thought that by speaking with her, I too would end up on such a list.  . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 October 2014 at 3:22 pm

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