Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for May 28th, 2019

Facebook defends decision to keep up Pelosi video

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Maggie Miller reports in The Hill:

A Facebook representative on Tuesday defended the company’s decision to not take down a video of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that was meant to make her appear drunk, saying flagging the video and not removing it promoted user choice.

Neil Potts, Facebook’s public policy manager, said taking that approach allows people to understand what the video is and why it has been flagged.

“It is our policy to inform people when we have information that might be false on the platform so they can make their own decisions about that content,” Potts said during a meeting of the international grand committee on big data, privacy and democracy in Ottawa, Canada.

The grand committee includes politicians from a dozen countries who meet with representatives of Facebook and other tech companies to discuss how to protect privacy and prevent abuse on social media.

Politicians on both sides of the aisle are grappling with how to handle fake and manipulated videos after the Pelosi video racked up millions of views and raised the debate in the United States. Experts are warning that manipulated videos will be a new frontier for social media companies and people running for office in 2020.

The remarks from Potts underline Facebook’s view that the videos ultimately come down to a form of free expression, and that those seeing the videos on social media simply need to be told of their full context.

The Pelosi video was slowed down to make the Speaker appear to be slurring her words.

While it did not take down the video, Facebook said it had been flagged by company fact-checkers as false, and that as a result Facebook was “heavily reducing its distribution in news feed and showing additional context from this fact-checker,” such as related articles. . .

Continue reading.

I have an idea: take of video of Mark Zuckerberg, doctor the hell out of it, and put it up on Facebook to see whether they refuse to take that one down. Somehow I think the decision would be different.

I am so tired of these over-privileged arrogant scum.

Written by Leisureguy

28 May 2019 at 4:58 pm

Posted in Daily life

I don’t eat bread, and now I’m glad I don’t

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I have for several years avoided certain foods, and I cannot recall the last time I bought a loaf of bread. Troy Farah writes in the Guardian:

Give us this day our daily foam expander. It may sound odd, but in America, your loaf of bread can contain ingredients with industrial applications – additives that also appear in things like yoga mats, pesticides, hair straighteners, explosives and petroleum products.

Some of these chemicals, used as optional whiteners, dough conditioners and rising agents, may be harmful to human health. Potassium bromate, a potent oxidizer that helps bread rise, has been linked to kidney and thyroid cancers in rodents. Azodicarbonamide (ACA), a chemical that forms bubbles in foams and plastics like vinyl, is used to bleach and leaven dough – but when baked, it, too, has been linked to cancer in lab animals.

Other countries, including China, Brazil and members of the European Union, have weighed the potential risks and decided to outlaw potassium bromate in food. India banned it in 2016, and the UK has forbidden it since 1990. Azodicarbonamide has been banned for consumption by the European Union for over a decade.

But despite petitions from several advocacy groups – some dating back decades – the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still considers these to be Gras or “generally recognized as safe” to eat, though plenty of experts disagree.

“The system for ensuring that ingredients added to food are safe is broken,” said Lisa Lefferts, senior scientist at the consumer advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest. Lefferts, who specializes in food additives, said that once a substance was in the food supply, the FDA rarely took further action, even when there was evidence that it isn’t safe.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned the FDA to ban potassium bromate two decades ago due to cancer concerns, but the FDA’s response, according to a letter from the agency, was that it couldn’t examine the issue due to “limited availability of resources and other agency priorities”.

That has spurred consumers to take matters in their own hands. Bowing to pressure from a petition started by Vani Hari, author of the popular blog, numerous chains including Subway, Wendy’s, McDonald’s and White Castle dumped azodicarbonamide in 2014. That same year, the not-for-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG) released a list of more than 500 products containing ACA. Today, that number is about 200.

EWG has also found potassium bromate, sometimes appearing on food labels as bromated flour, in at least 100 items sold in the US, including Swanson’schicken pot pie, Goya’s chorizo croquettes and Nathan’s pepperoni and provolone stromboli.

Reached for comment, Conagra Brands, which recently acquired Swanson foods, said the company intended to phase out potassium bromate in their chicken pot pies.

As more American consumers become savvy to these ingredients, more companies are phasing them out – but not everyone. Arby’s still has ACA in its croissants, French bread sticks, and sourdough breakfast bread while Pillsbury includes it in tubes of breadstick dough. The Guardian contacted these companies for comment and will update this article upon receiving a response. Pillsbury did reply, saying it complied with all FDA regulations.

Those regulations allow only very small amounts of ACA and PB in bread – just 45 and 75 parts per million respectively. The FDA says those amounts make the risk of exposure to toxic byproducts negligible.

“If [an additive] really is a carcinogen in humans, then no amount would be considered ‘safe’,” said Ryan Marino, an emergency medical toxicologist at the University of Pittsburgh.

According to Marino, part of the reason data is scarce on this topic is that the industry itself can determine if chemical additives are safe. The FDA does not review every additive that makes its way into food. Instead, companies can rely on their own experts to determine what’s safe and what isn’t. And once something was determined as Gras, Marino said, “there is not often any financial incentive for additional testing”.

ACA is a good example. First discovered around 1959, the chemical entered the bread supply only three years later. By 1980, the bright yellow crystals were linked to asthma in workers exposed to the chemical while manufacturing plastics. But the concern for bread-eaters comes from what happens to ACA when it’s heated or baked, breaking down into two chemicals: semicarbazide and urethane. Urethane is “reasonably anticipated” to be a human carcinogen, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services, while semicarbazide has shown toxicity in some animals, but not yet humans.

The FDA told the Guardian that consumers had no reason to be concerned. “All food additives are carefully regulated by federal authorities and various international organizations to ensure that foods are safe to eat and are accurately labeled,” a spokesperson said via email. “As part of FDA’s overall commitment to ensure the safety of the food supply, the agency uses an extensive, science-based process to evaluate the safety of food additives. Further, FDA continues to monitor the science on food ingredients and is prepared to take appropriate action if there are safety concerns.”

It’s not just so-called dough conditioners in bread. Two preservatives, BHA and BHT, subject to strong restrictions in the EU, are widely used in baked goods in the US. These emulsifiers keep fats and oils from spoiling, but the International Agency for Research on Cancer suggests there is sufficient evidence that BHA causes tumor growth in lab animals, with more limited evidence for the same in BHT. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

28 May 2019 at 1:59 pm

Phoenix Solstice and a blue Baby Smooth

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In yesterday’s SOTD post, I praised Otoko Organics shaving soap and listed an Australian vendor. Eddie from Australia very kindly pointed out a US vendor. I highly recommend the soap: interesting and effective and a pleasant fragrance.

Today’s shave used an old stand-by, Phoenix Artisan’s Solstice, whose fragrance and formula make it one of my favorites (and I believe it is now available in the ultra-premium CK-6 formulation). The lather was great, the fragrance reminiscent of a desert summer, and my new Baby Smooth did the great job Baby Smooth always does. I used one of the Derby Extra blades that came with the razor, and it worked fine, though I think I’ll next move to Gillette 7 O’Clock SharpEdge or the like when I change blades.

A splash of Solstice aftershave finished the job and set me ready for the day.

Written by Leisureguy

28 May 2019 at 8:09 am

Posted in Shaving

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