Tag Archives: inequality

Th Apocalypticon ~ The right, Trump, ridiculoUS, China sin, around the world of pain, stupidity, complacence and inequality


Resurgence of the right — JM Berger, an author who studies extremist movements, says “We’re seeing a resurgence [of white nationalism] in various countries. It’s a worldwide phenomenon.” Berger studies the online activity of extremists. He notes the New Zealand shooter praised US President Trump as “as a symbol of renewed white identity” in a 74-page document he published before the massacre. [Holy crap,  Trump constantly underlines how far from any kind of supremacy a white male can possibly be!]
Trump Tweet spike — There has been a spike in tweets about ’embarrassment’ under Trump. Scientists analysed millions of US Twitter posts to find a 45% rise in references in 13 months.
Trump can’t block his Twitter haters — Last year, a federal judge in Manhattan ruled that Donald Trump (a man whose tweeting has ranged from boosting neo-Nazi propaganda and slamming critics to worrying the military about nuclear war) could not block critics on Twitter: his feed is a public forum and blocking his haters amounted to a violation of the First Amendment. Well, he’s still fighting that ruling. [Of course he is.]
Personnel money diverted to Trump’s stupid wall — The Department of Defense is shifting $1 billion from a military personnel account to build a 57-mile fence at the southern US border, saying the funds were freed up after some service branches fell short of their recruiting goals.
US airbases under water — The US Air Force says it needs $4.9 billion in new funding over the next two and a half years to cover the costs of rebuilding two air bases hit by natural disasters. [You know, those  disasters Trump thinks aren’t caused by climate change.]

Still in the US — The US Department of Housing and Urban Development is suing Facebook for allegedly violating the Fair Housing Act. HUD accuses Facebook of unlawfully discriminating against people based on race, religion, familial status, disability and other characteristics that closely align with the 1968 Fair House Act’s protected classes.
Gun ‘enthusiasts’ fail in bump-stock concessions — The US Supreme Court officially denied an appeal from gun rights advocates seeking to stop a Trump administration ban on bump stocks, the gun add-ons that can dramatically increase rates of fire. The ban went into effect on Tuesday. [But they’re so much better for murdering large groups of people!]
Anti-vaxx rabbit holes — Social media giants crackdown and Facebook says it will make changes to stop anti-vaxx content, but Instagram’s recommendation engine makes it exceptionally easy to come across a waterfall of anti-vaccine accounts.
New York suburb declares Measles emergency — In a move aimed at getting the public’s attention, officials in New York’s Rockland County have declared a state of emergency in response to an ongoing measles outbreak. Among the measures is a 30-day ban on any unvaccinated people under the age of 18 from being in public places.
Pot User — Pot use, especially with edibles, can sometimes cause health problems serious enough to prompt a trip to the hospital. It found that people in Colorado have increasingly sought emergency care for cannabis-related symptoms.
Intel back doors — Researchers have discovered new undocumented features in Intel chipsets that can be abused.
Biometric drivers licence a ‘human rights issue’ — Phillip Hudok claims the state of West Virginia is violating his religious beliefs by requiring him to get a biometric drivers licence.
The Christian West Virginia man garnered local attention on Monday afternoon when he arrived at the Elkins Department of Motor Vehicles wearing Native American attire. [Apparently, his cultural misappropriation did not clash with his supposedly deeply held religious beliefs.]

The China sin-drome — Former Interpol boss on charges: Meng Hongwei, president of Interpol when he was reported missing in China last year, has been expelled from the Communist Party of China and will be prosecuted on bribery charges. [Serves him right for having his own thoughts! And phooey to the international policing body!]
China Grindr — Beijing Kunlun Tech, the parent company of dating app Grindr, is planning to sell the service after a national security committee in the US found its acquisition of the dating app last year posed a national security risk.
Chinese Macs have Taiwanese flag deleted — Following Monday’s release of macOS 10.14.4, Macs sold in China are reportedly no longer displaying the Taiwanese flag emoji. [China is an amazing super power. That apparently doesn’t stop it being petty and ridiculous.]

Around the whirled — Italian government malware in Google Play Store: Hackers working for a surveillance company infected hundreds of people with several malicious Android apps that were hosted on the official Google Play Store in Italy for months.
Fukushima contaminants went a long way — Radioactive contamination from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant hit by a tsunami in 2011 has drifted as far north as waters off a remote Alaska island in the Bering Strait.
Aquaculture elevates greenhouse gases — An international team of scientists has determined that the adoption of industrial-scale aquaculture is linked to rapid increases in greenhouse gas emissions.
Automation threatens 1.5 million English jobs — About 1.5 million workers in Britain are at high risk of losing their jobs to automation, according to government estimates, with women and those in part-time work most affected.
Australia threatens social media giants — Following the live-streamed New Zealand mosque shooting that left 50 dead in Christchurch, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison wants to crack down on extremist content on social media.
Morrison will meet with Australian executives of Facebook, Twitter and Google to discuss extremist content legislation that would punish these companies’ executives with jail time. Local internet service providers will also be present at the meeting. [Lock them up! Lock them up…]

Good news: The European Union is taking the lead in saving the world — The EU parliament has voted to ban single-use plastic cutlery, plastic cotton swabs, straws, and coffee stirrers as part of a sweeping law aimed at fighting the plastic waste that pollutes oceans and beaches.
Glacier reverses decline — Jakobshavn Isbrae has been the single largest source of mass loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet over the last 20 years. During that time, it has been retreating, accelerating and thinning. Airborne altimetry and satellite imagery has shown, though, that since 2016 Jakobshavn has been re-advancing, slowing and thickening.

The Apocalypticon ~ China, surveillance, inequality, Face-oogle, data, Math Men


According to World Health Organization data, China has overtaken the United States in healthy life expectancy at birth for the first time. The data from 2016 finds Chinese newborns can look forward to 68.7 years of healthy life ahead of them, compared with 68.5 years for American babies.
The United States was one of only five countries, along with Somalia, Afghanistan, Georgia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, where healthy life expectancy at birth fell in 2016, according to a Reuters analysis of the WHO data, which was published without year-on-year comparisons in mid-May. [I’m trying to get my head around 68.7-year-old babies.]
Maybe Americans should ask for more surveillance? A high school in Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province located on the eastern coast of China, has employed facial recognition technology to monitor students’ attentiveness in class, local media reports. Three cameras at the front of the classroom scan students’ faces every 30 seconds, analysing their facial expressions to detect their mood. The different moods – surprised, sad, antipathy, angry, happy, afraid, neutral – are recorded and averaged during each class. A display screen, only visible to the teacher, shows the data in real-time. A certain value is determined as a student not paying enough attention.
Still sucks to be a girl, though. China’s gender gap is not confined to tech. The country’s gender parity ranking fell in 2017 for the ninth straight year, leaving China placed 100 out of 144 countries surveyed in a report by the World Economic Forum.
The country ranked 60th in terms of female labour force participation and 70th in terms of wage equality for similar work. Men on average had an estimated income of around $19,000, over $7000 more than women.
Samantha Kwok, the Australian-Chinese founder of the Beijing-based recruitment firm JingJobs, said clients often gave her two job descriptions: one to be published publicly and a second internal one that detailed requirements based on age or gender…
A greenhouse gas is billowing into the atmosphere from a source somewhere in East Asia that no one can identify at a rate scientists have never before seen, and it’s ignited a scientific dash to get to the bottom of it. In 2014, mysterious toxic plumes of CFC-11 – a type of CFC – began to drift across the Pacific Ocean. [And who left the question mark off that headline, left?]

In the data wars, Google is reminding organisations to review how much of their Google Groups mailing lists should be public and indexed by Google.com since sensitive data is being exposed. The notice was prompted in part by a review that KrebsOnSecurity undertook with several researchers who’ve been busy cataloging thousands of companies using public Google Groups lists to manage customer support and in some cases sensitive internal communications. Google Groups is a service that provides discussion groups for people sharing common interests. Because of the organic way Google Groups tend to grow as more people are added to projects – and perhaps given the ability to create public accounts on otherwise private groups – a number of organisations with household names are leaking sensitive data in their message lists.
Once, the Mad Men ruled advertising. They’ve now been eclipsed by Math Men: engineers and data scientists whose province is machines, algorithms, pureed data, and artificial intelligence. Yet Math Men are beleaguered, as Mark Zuckerberg demonstrated when he humbled himself before Congress, in April. Math Men’s adoration of data, coupled with their truculence and an arrogant conviction that their ‘science’ is nearly flawless [which has more to do with its money-making potential, I suspect], has aroused government anger much as Microsoft did two decades ago.
Unknown third parties appear to be exploiting the Chrome Store’s ‘theme’ section to offer visitors access to a wide range of pirate movies including Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War and Rampage. When clicking through to the page offering Ready Player One, for example, users are presented with a theme that apparently allows them to watch the movie online in ‘Full HD Online 4k’. Of course, the whole scheme is a dubious scam which eventually leads users to Vioos dot co, a platform that tries very hard to give the impression of being a pirate streaming portal but actually provides nothing of use.
That’s why we all trust Google to build military drones, right? No? Coz that’s what’s happening. In March, Google signed a secretive agreement with the Pentagon to provide cutting edge AI technology for drone warfare, causing about a dozen Google employees to resign in protest and thousands to sign a petition calling for an end to the contract. Google has since tried to quash the dissent, claiming that the contract was “only” for US$9 million, according to the New York Times. Internal company emails obtained by The Intercept tell a different story: the September emails show that Google’s business development arm expected the military drone artificial intelligence revenue to ramp up from an initial US$15 million to an eventual US$250 million per year.
Meanwhile, users in Europe have already filed complaints against Facebook and Google, saying the tech companies are in violation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Apple approves Telegram update even after Russian government demands Apple shut the app down — Amidst a contentious battle with the Russian government over demands to pull Telegram, the encrypted message app, from the App Store, Apple has approved an updated version of the messaging app having seemingly blocked such changes for two months.

Excerpt from my forthcoming book: Essentially, there are many threats that could wipe out huge numbers of humans. It’s worth recalling the dinosaurs were on the planet for around 60 million years before volcanoes and an asteroid wiped them out – Homo Sapiens has only been around for about 200,000 years. Yet, numbers of us may survive an apocalypse: we have done many times before.