The Apocalypticon ~ Face-plant, tech woes, online extremism, the world of pain, climate change, schadenfreude


Tech execs in the gun — In the wake of the terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand last month, Australia is putting major pressure on Big Tech to prevent the spread of hateful and violent content on their platforms, with a new law that threatens major fines and imprisonment.
Microsoft’s culture of sexual discrimination — An internal Microsoft email chain, first reported by Quartz, reportedly details a litany of egregious acts of sexual harassment and discrimination experienced by women at the company.
Facebook paying for better press — Facebook is paying British newspaper the Daily Telegraph to run a series of sponsored articles called “Being human in the information age” defending it against claims it is encouraging the spread of misinformation, aiding in the spread of hate speech, violating privacy, and generally ruining society in myriad other ways. [So weird that new media is paying old media to make it look better! I hope it costs Facebook a lot before getting it nowhere.]
Meanwhile, in the US, the ABC network did the same — ABC News aired an exclusive interview with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg on Good Morning America, but instead of asking Zuckerberg tough questions, interviewer George Stephanopoulos lobbed softball after softball so Zuck could deliver his prepared talking points.
Facebook is still not doing enough to prevent the ongoing promotion of violence and hate in Myanmar on its social network, according to a member of the United Nations team.
Researchers uncovered more than 70 Facebook groups openly selling black-market cyberfraud services, some of which they say had been running for up to eight years.
Google’s ‘ethics’ — Vox and other outlets reported that Google’s newly-created AI ethics board was falling apart amid controversy over several of the board members.
Youtube’s extreme videos — Facing criticism over the videos it recommends to users, YouTube seems to have a new favourite talking point, one that might surprise anyone who has spent time online: extreme content, the company claims, just doesn’t do that well on the site. Yet even a cursory review of YouTube shows that the most shocking and inflammatory videos are regularly among news outlets’ most viewed content.

Around the world of pain — Donald Trump claimed wind turbines cause cancer with their noise This may be because the president has a grudge against wind power, or because he is a complete and total idiot, but it is a patently ridiculous claim that it would be more or less a total waste of our time to debunk. The claim has no scientific support whatsoever, yet his flunkies still pretended the President’s words weren’t idiotic.
Brunei now stones people — Brunei’s interpretation of Islamic law now imposes death by stoning as a punishment for sex between men and adultery, as well as amputation of limbs for theft. Lesbian sex can carry a penalty of up to 10 years in jail. [Um, peace be with you?]
South Korean wildfires — South Korea is using its military to contain a large forest fire that spread quickly after igniting in Gangwon Province, along the country’s east coast. Strong winds have moved the blaze from city to city.
Venezuela is in the midst of “a major, major emergencywhen it comes to health.
Proper procedure did not help crashing plane — The pilots of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 followed proper procedures before the March 10 flight that killed 157 people, according to a preliminary report by the Ethiopian government.
Job-changing in China can drop your social credit — Lots of things can hurt your social credit in China. Failing to repay your debts, plagiarizing academic articles and building a debt-laden tech empire and then fleeing to another country, to name a few. One province now wants to add another “discredited behavior” that seems much more harmless: switching jobs too often. [If only we could stop China’s atrophied leadership from watching Black Mirror and thinking all its concepts are good ideas.]
Chinese autism rates are the same — Around one in a hundred people in China has autism spectrum conditions – a proportion similar to that of the West
Russian military talking to dolphins — A journal published by Russia’s Ministry of Defence became the subject of mockery after publishing claims “Russian specialists” have communicated with dolphins, crashed computer programs and even looked into safes using the power of telepathy.
US strips visa from International Criminal Court prosecutor after they infer US war crimes in Afghanistan — The US has revoked the visa of the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor just weeks after warning it would take such an action against anyone from the ICC who is investigating allegations that US personnel may have committed war crimes in Afghanistan.
In the US, three-quarters of a million people would likely lose their food stamps later this year under a new proposal by the Trump administration. The goal is to encourage able-bodied adults to go to work and get off government aid. But opponents predict people would go hungry instead, if the rule goes into effect.

Climate — Great Barrier is not regenerating: Successive ocean heat waves are not only damaging Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, they are compromising its ability to recover, raising the risk of “widespread ecological collapse,” a new study has found.
Canada warming twice as fast — Canada is, on average, experiencing warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world, with Northern Canada heating up at almost three times the global average, according to a new government report.
Nebraskan flooding disaster — The byzantine networks of rivers and streams that drain the Midwest is facing a flooding crisis of historic proportions.
UK Labour declares climate emergency — The Labour Party declared a climate emergency. It likely marks the first major party declaring a climate emergency at the national level anywhere in the world, in yet another sign that climate politics are rapidly shifting.

Schadenfreude — Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno has accused Julian Assange of violating the terms of his asylum and leaking private photos of Moreno’s family and friends online in the latest dust-up between the WikiLeaks founder and his increasingly frustrated hosts.
So-called ‘pharma bro’ Martin Shkreli is now in solitary. Shkerli earned the eternal ire of the public when he was the CEO of a company called Turing Pharmaceuticals, which he bought the rights to the life-saving drug Daraprim then jacked the price from US$19 to $1052 a pill. He was caught still running one of his companies from inside.

Any good news? Coffee may limit prostate cancer: A research group in Japan has identified compounds found in coffee which may inhibit the growth of prostate cancer.