Category: New Posts


Jerry Brown Vetoes 'Fake News Advisory Group'…

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – California will not create a “fake news” advisory group in order to monitor information posted and spread on social media.

Senate Bill 1424 was vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown. He wrote:

“This bill directs the Attorney General to establish an advisory group to study the problem of the spread of false information through Internet-based social media platforms. As evidenced by the numerous studies by academic and policy groups on the spread of false information, the creation of a statutory advisory group to examine this issue is not necessary.”

The bill would have required the California Attorney General to create the advisory committee by April 1, 2019. It would have had to consist of at least one person from the Department of Justice, representatives from social media providers, civil liberties advocates, and First Amendment scholars.

The Assembly and Senate-passed bill required the advisory group to study how false information is spread online, come up with a plan for social media platforms to fix the problem, and develop criteria establishing what is “fake news” versus what is inflammatory or one-sided.

READ ALSO: Young Adults Still Can’t Identify Fake News

The Electronic Frontier Foundation opposed the bill, calling it “flawed” and “misguided.” The group argued the measure would make the government and advisory group responsible for deciding what is true or false. It also pointed out the First Amendment prevents content-based restrictions, even if the statements of “admittedly false.”

A recent study by Massachusetts-based MindEdge Learning was conducted with 1,000 young adults, ages 18 to 31-years-old. According to MindEdge’s nine-question survey, 52 percent of the respondents incorrectly answered at least four questions and received a failing grade. The number of young adults who could detect false information on the internet went down by all of the group’s measures. Only 19 percent of the college students and grads scored an “A” by getting eight or nine questions correct. That number is down from 24 percent in last year’s survey.

SEE: 150 Immigrants Arrested In Southern California ICE Raids

Facebook recently did away with its “Trending News” section – calling it outdated and unpopular. That section was criticized in the past after reports came out claiming the human editors were biased against conservatives. After Facebook fired those editors, the algorithms it replaced them with couldn’t always distinguish real news from fake.

After the 2016 election, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg denied that fake news spread on the social site he oversees influenced the outcome- calling the idea “crazy.”

A previous bill, AB 155, would have required schools to teach students the difference between “fake news” and “real news.” It died in the Assembly Committee on Appropriations.

Senate Bill 1424 was authored by Senator Dr. Richard Pan. It passed the Assembly and Senate in late August.

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Ex-employee warns of 'disturbing' plans…

Google event in ShanghaiImage copyright

Image caption

Google’s own workers have raised concerns after reports it is developing a censored search engine for China

A former Google employee has warned of the firm’s “disturbing” plans in China, in a letter to US lawmakers.

Jack Poulson, who had been a senior researcher at the company until resigning in August, wrote that he was fearful of Google’s ambitions.

His letter alleges Google’s work on a Chinese product – codenamed Dragonfly – would aid Beijing’s efforts to censor and monitor its citizens online.

Google has said its work in China to date has been “exploratory”.

Ben Gomes, Google’s head of search, told the BBC earlier this week: “Right now all we’ve done is some exploration, but since we don’t have any plans to launch something there’s nothing much I can say about it.”

A report by news site The Intercept last week alleged Google had demanded employees delete an internal memo that discussed the plans.

Google has not commented on the staff row, but said: “We’ve been investing for many years to help Chinese users, from developing Android, through mobile apps such as Google Translate and Files Go, and our developer tools.”

It added: “We are not close to launching a search product in China.”

‘Censorship blacklist’

Mr Poulson’s letter details several aspects of Google’s work that had been reported in the press but never officially confirmed by the company. It was submitted to the Senate Commerce Committee, which held a hearing on Wednesday in Washington DC.

The topic of the hearing was “examining safeguards for consumer data privacy”.

Google’s chief privacy officer, Keith Enright, faced questions from Senator Ted Cruz about the company’s intentions to launch a new search engine in China.

Mr Enright confirmed to the Republican lawmaker that Project Dragonfly existed but added that a product was not close to launch.

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Media captionWATCH: Google’s privacy chief is quizzed by Senator Ted Cruz about its Chinese search engine project

Representatives from AT&T, Apple, Twitter and Amazon also took part in the hearing, most of which centred on whether there was a need for a new federal data privacy law.

‘Catastrophic failure’

The letter alleges Google is working on:

  • A prototype interface designed to allow a Chinese joint venture company to search for a given user’s search queries based on their phone number
  • An extensive censorship blacklist developed in accordance with Chinese government demands. Among others, it contained the English term “human rights”, the Mandarin terms for ‘student protest’ and ‘Nobel prize’, and very large numbers of phrases involving ‘Xi Jinping’ and other members of the CCP
  • Explicit code to ensure only Chinese government-approved air quality data would be returned in response to Chinese users’ search

Mr Poulson said the sum of these efforts amounted to a “catastrophic failure” of Google’s internal policies on privacy – as well as going against assurances made to the US trade regulator regarding data protection measures in its products.

“Dragonfly is part of a broad pattern of unaccountable decision making across the tech industry,” Mr Poulson wrote.

Mr Poulson’s letter follows a joint statement signed by hundreds of current Google employees against Dragonfly sent last month.

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650 Bangladeshi Nationals Arrested in TX …

650 Bangladeshi Nationals Arrested in TX ...

(Third column, 11th story, link)

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Trash piles from Haiti, Dominican strewn across beaches…

Hurricane Florence is being blamed for piles of trash from Haiti and the Dominican Republic found strewn across miles of North Carolina beaches.

That’s an 1,100 mile trip across the Atlantic.

Residents of North Topsail Beach began posting photos of the mysterious trash on Facebook over the weekend, noting brightly colored products labeled in Spanish and French were now lodged in the sand.

North Topsail Beach firefighter Bradley Thomas Dixon told McClatchy he expected the record-setting storm to spread trash across Topsail Island’s beaches, but was “shocked to find the majority came from another country.“

“I started realizing that I did not recognize 60 percent of the bottles that I was picking up!” said Dixon, who was among those who volunteered to clean beaches over the weekend.

“That was when I found a plastic bottle cap that said ‘Haiti.’ I guess Hurricane Florence scooped up a big pile of trash out in the Atlantic and scattered it on North Carolina beaches…Topsail is littered with it.”

North Topsail homeowners Margot Clark and Jennifer Cusimano Miller say they also found some of the Haitian trash, which was made up of plastic bottles for things such as shampoo, vinegar, deodorant and ketchup.

“I have to imagine Florence brought them in,” Miller told McClatchy. “I’ve never seen plastic trash to this magnitude on our beach…I definitely think this is storm related.”

How trash may have been pulled from Hispaniola (home of Haiti and the Dominican Republic) to Topsail Island is something of a mystery since NOAA tracking shows the storm kept north of the island when it passed Sept. 11.

However, Hurricane Florence had a big reach, expanding to 300 miles wide as it neared the U.S coast, says NOAA. As the storm grew, it passed over what NOAA calls “garbage patches”: Large concentrations of litter in the ocean made up mainly of bits of plastic, both large and small. NOAA maps show several such spots were along the path of Hurricane Florence.

Dixon says he tried to pick up as much of it as possible along four miles of beach Sunday, and still had to leave some behind. His goal, he says, was to keep it from going back into the ocean.

“I can’t fathom the volume of trash that must be floating in the ocean from that one small island. It is a serious problem when a shoreline over 1,100 miles away is tainted,” he said.

Mark Price: 704-358-5245, @markprice_obs

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Bromance cools for once-chummy Trump and Macron…

NEW YORK (AP) — Gone is the shoulder squeezing, the affectionate dandruff-brushing — and French President Emmanuel Macron’s hope that he could use his unlikely friendship with Donald Trump to rein in the American president’s more incendiary instincts.

When the two men met Monday in New York, they shook hands lightly and got down to the tasks at hand. They agreed to disagree on the Iranian nuclear accord and Trump’s protectionist policies and one-sided support for Israel, according to two French presidential advisers.

The businesslike mood contrasted with Trump’s fawning over Macron at a state dinner in April, and Macron’s lavish Eiffel Tower welcome for the Trumps last year.

Hours after their meeting, the two men laid out starkly different worldviews in speeches at the U.N. General Assembly.

“Nationalism always leads to defeat,” said the progressive, multilateralist Macron.

“We reject the ideology of globalism and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism,” said Trump, trumpeting his America-first, zero-sum vision.

Macron later ticked off ways Trump has disappointed him — from his withdrawal from the Paris climate accord and Iranian nuclear deal to unilateral tariffs on steel and aluminum.

Still, Macron said he’ll keep working with Trump on a “case by case” basis, and insisted that they’re not rivals but pragmatic allies.

At their meeting, “Both leaders reaffirmed their commitment to closely coordinate to address global challenges,” the White House said. Macron specified that meant working together on Syria and a new U.S. trade deal with Europe — as long as it doesn’t involve such things as American GMO products that make European consumers wary.

Macron appeared to convince Trump to follow through on promises to visit Paris in November to mark 100 years since the armistice ending World War I, and added a possible battlefield tour to Trump’s program.

And Trump offered Macron an unexpected compliment, praising him as the new “hardliner” of Europe for his tough stance on Brexit negotiations, according to the French officials. The officials took part in Monday’s meeting but were not authorized to be publicly named according to presidential policy.

Given Trump’s combative, mercurial presidency, the French aides made a point to stress one positive thing about Trump and Macron’s latest sit-down session: no new conflicts emerged.

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WIRE: Tech Giants Spend $80 Billion to Make Sure No One Else Can Compete…

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Without star QB, 49ERS primetime network nightmare…

Jimmy Garoppolo went down with a knee injury yesterday, and we await the final verdict on just how serious it is. The fear is that he is done for the year with at least one ligament tear. The San Francisco 49ers’ hopes for the 2018 season hang in the balance, but there’s another group that is also very invested in the news: the television networks.

The networks went all-in on the Garoppolo hype after the 49ers’ finish last year, and here’s how a five-week stretch from mid-October to mid-November looks for San Francisco’s schedule.

Week 6, at Green Bay, MNF
Week 7, vs. LA Rams, SNF
Week 8, at Arizona, FOX, 4:25 ET start
Week 9, vs. Oakland, TNF
Week 10, vs. NY Giants, MNF

That’s four primetime matchups scheduled over a five-week stretch, plus San Francisco playing in the late afternoon doubleheader window (though that week also has the Packers and Rams game). The only one of those primetime games that can be flexed out is the Sunday Night game against the Rams. While the Rams are an entertaining team and perhaps the best in the league, NBC has a dilemma of keeping a 49ers team that will be coming off a primetime showcase the previous week. The Chiefs and Patriots play the previous week on Sunday Night Football, so going to Kansas City vs. Cincinnati or New England vs. Chicago may not be in the cards. But the other possible options are either the Panthers vs. Eagles, or taking a chance on the electricity of Baker Mayfield and the Browns versus the current surprise team, the Buccaneers.

Jimmy Garoppolo Ex-Girlfriend Alexandra King Calls Injury ‘Karma’

The 49ers are also scheduled for a Week 13 Sunday Night game against Seattle in December, which you can almost certainly expect to be flexed out for a different game. But even with that, the fall is going to feature a heavy dose of San Francisco in primetime. That might be a disaster if they play like they did before Garoppolo arrived last season.

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DOWD: Sick to Your Stomach? #MeToo…


The Capitol is covered in mud. Again.

Somewhere in the dim recesses of my mind, I can recall a time when the sight of that white dome thrilled me.

I can also vaguely remember a time, back before the travesty of Bush v. Gore, when I felt awe walking past the Supreme Court. And if I try really hard, I can summon the lost sensation of pride in covering the White House.

But all that is utterly changed.

It was wrenching to watch the futile Iraq War unfold. It is jarring to think I could live through three sagas of impeachment. But I most dread the rhyming history we are plunged into now: the merciless pummeling of a woman who dares to obstruct the glide path of a conservative Supreme Court nominee.

It is unnerving to think how far women have come, only to find ourselves dragged back to the same place.

It has been almost exactly 27 years since the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings, and we are still defensively explaining — including to our troglodyte president — why women do not always tell authorities about verbal and physical sexual assaults.

We are still watching a bookish university professor from the West, who tried to anonymously report an alleged blight on the character of a man about to ascend to a lifetime of power, get smeared as a demanding, mixed-up, uptight, loony fantasist.

Like Eve with the apple, she schemed to “come out of the night like a missile and destroy a man,” as Republican Sen. Alan Simpson said of Hill.

We are still watching on the Republican side of the panel an all-white male chorus — two of these singers were there three decades ago — plotting to win at all costs.

I didn’t sleep the week of the Hill-Thomas hearings. At first, I was feverishly trying to figure out what was true.

But it quickly became apparent that Thomas was lying.

His friends and supporters had talked publicly about how, at Yale Law School, Thomas was a regular patron of X-rated movie houses and enjoyed describing the porn to friends afterward.

But that was not introduced into testimony by either the Republicans or the Democrats. Instead, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch — who is still on the Judiciary Committee at age 84 — suggested that a man as esteemed as Thomas could not possibly know the language of porn.

Hatch preposterously accused Hill of scavenging her testimony about Long Dong Silver from an old law case, and her story about Thomas asking “Who put pubic hair on my Coke?” from the novel, “The Exorcist.”

No one was trying to figure out the truth or do what was best for the court and the country. Republicans only cared about ramming through a right-wing justice. Even though they were the majority, Democrats were cowed by Thomas wrapping himself in the charged symbolism of the civil rights movement he had always scorned. And they were gun-shy after criticism of their initial bungling of Hill’s revelation. Joe Biden, committee chair, canceled the testimony of Hill’s backup witnesses from work.

Teddy Kennedy was mute, hobbled by his own past sins. The feminists were less concerned with Hill’s humiliation than with using her as a bludgeon to block a justice who would be devastating on women’s rights.

After a three-day FBI investigation, the White House declared Hill’s charges “unfounded.” Then agents were pressured by Republicans into providing affidavits suggesting that Hill had embellished her testimony.

Anita Hill was alone, in a hearing room full of Republican liars and Democratic cowards, getting ripped apart as “a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty,” in the words of Kavanaugh pal turned Hillary henchman David Brock; and this in front of her elderly parents.

Post .MeToo, the Republicans know they have to be more careful on the surface. Their work to discredit Christine Blasey Ford will have to be outsourced; consider the outrageous attempt by Ed Whelan — a friend of Brett Kavanaugh’s who heads a prominent conservative think tank on ethics — to throw suspicion on a look-alike classmate at Georgetown Prep.

Blasey is dealing with some demonic forces not in play with Hill: a vicious partisan internet that drove her out of her house and being discredited personally by a president who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault, and who is advised by the man who enabled Roger Ailes’ loathsome behavior at Fox News.

We haven’t forgotten our history. But we still seem doomed to repeat it.

Maureen Dowd is a columnist for The New York Times.

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For first time ever, woman anchors nightly news in Saudi Arabia…


Weam Al Dakheel just became the first woman to deliver the nightly news on television in Saudi Arabia. Al Dakheel appeared alongside a male co-host on the state-run channel Thursday night.

“Jumanah AlShami was the first woman to present morning newscasts in 2016. Today history repeats itself as Weam Al Dakheel becomes the presenter of the main nightly newscast, setting a precedent in a historic first for Saudi TV 1,” the channel posted on its Twitter account.

Her appearance drew plaudits on social media, where viewers celebrated the milestone.

Al Dakheel began working for the channel earlier this year. She has previously worked for CNBC Arabia and as an anchor on Al-Arab, a Bahrain-based news channel.

Her appearance is part of a broader effort to fold women into the workforce. Last year, the crown prince has unveiled his ambitious “Vision 2030,” designed to modernize Saudi Arabia and move away from its overwhelming reliance on oil exports. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman hopes to reorient the economy and reinvigorate the workforce.

Among the transformations is the aggressive relaunch of Al Saudiya, the country’s state-run station, run by the Ministry of Culture and Information. The channel has been asked to focus on Salman’s modernization efforts.

Vision 2030 also imagines a more inclusive Saudi Arabia, where women are more free to work and move around. This summer, women were allowed to drive for the first time. They are also now welcome at soccer games and more employment opportunities are available to them. Salman has said he hopes women will make up a third of the workforce by 2030. Right now, women hold about 22 percent of the country’s jobs.

Earlier this month, the country’s airline said it will begin recruiting women stewardesses.

But there are limits to how far these efforts stretch. Though women can work more, companies are required to segregate the sexes. Even as women began driving, more than a dozen women’s rights activists in country were detained and arrested. Some are still behind bars. And one of the most onerous requirements women face – the rule that a male guardian must give them permission to work, marry, travel and even get medical treatment- is still on the books.

In a June poll of 550 women’s rights experts, Saudi Arabia was voted to have the second most discriminatory policies around women and economics.

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Robot manufacturers warned 'bug in AI code' will lead to murder sprees…

Autonomous weaponry is poised to be thrust into the military market and used by the world’s leading nations.

Group Campaign to Stop Killer robots has even warned the murderous machines are on the cusp of “mass production”.

But an expert in artificial intelligence believes their introduction will come at a truly devastating cost.

Oklahoma University lecturer Dr Subhash Kak has warned a flaw in their design could result in a large number of deaths.

Dr Kak told Daily Star Online: “The manufacturers are cognisant of such malfunction of fault which they will do their best to minimise or eliminate.

“Killer robots could easily go wrong. “They may be used by crazed individuals or religious extremists to terrorise and kill people”

Dr Kak

“At the same time they would pressure parliament or other legislative bodies to give them exemption from liability.

“There could be a bug in the code of the robot that promotes such behaviour.”

His comments came after he previously told us: “Killer robots could easily go wrong.

“They may be used by crazed individuals or religious extremists to terrorise and kill people.

“They could go wrong due to a bug, or an unknown coding flaw that showed up as response to an unforeseen or unanticipated environment or situation.

Killer robots with 'bug in AI code' could lead to murder spreesGETTY

WARNING: An expert says a ‘bug in AI code’ could lead to robot murder sprees
(Pic: GETTY)

“Or they could be hacked.”

Senior arms researcher at Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, Bonnie Docherty, previously warned killer robots will “proliferate around the world”.

And she believes they would violate ethical and legal standards.

She said: “Permitting the development and use of killer robots would undermine established moral and legal standards.

“Countries should work together to preemptively ban these weapons systems before they proliferate around the world.

“The groundswell of opposition among scientists, faith leaders, tech companies, nongovernmental groups, and ordinary citizens shows that the public understands that killer robots cross a moral threshold.

“Their concerns, shared by many governments, deserve an immediate response.”

A number of countries, including the US and Russia, have recently opposed a treaty banning killer robots.

It led Noel Sharkey, a roboticist, to slam them as “shameful”.

He said: “The two main options on the table for next year’s work were binding regulations in the form of a political declaration led by Germany and France and negotiations towards a new international law to prohibit the use and development of autonomous weapons systems led by Austria, Brazil and Chile.

“Cuba was particularly stubborn and would not accept any wording that even hinted that there might be any benefits.

“The others concede in the end with a compromise to take out the word ‘risks’ although the risks themselves remained.

“It is shameful that a handful of states can prevent the majority from moving towards negotiations that would regulate or prevent the use of these morally reprehensible weapons.”

He added: “The campaign strongly objects to permitting the development of weapons systems that, once activated, would be able to select and attack targets without human intervention.”

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