Monday, September 1, 275760

Random Disclaimer: This is a blog.

9/23/14 EDIT: For in-depth video game information for various obscure RPGs, check out my gaming blog at

5/29/12 EDIT: I've just created a new blog exclusively for ponies and pony-related news, WITHOUT the stressful news articles on this blog.  It's no Equestria Daily, nor will it ever be, but it's still a pony blog. Feel free to check it out if you please...

If you're a brony and a Final Fantasy fan, and you want to play a game that combines ponies with Final Fantasy, I just thought you might like to know that an excellent fan game called Pony Fantasy 6 was released a few days ago.

If you are interested in this game, and would like to give it a try, please follow this link...

This blog contains some controversial posts concerning certain political issues and depressing news stories. If you find some of the content on my blog too controversial for your liking, or you're simply interested in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, go to That is my DailyMotion channel that is filled with every episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic so far. If a new epsisode of MLP:FiM comes on, expect to see it on there within a few hours. It might help to take the edge off from hearing or seeing too much stressful stuff (i.e. some of the posts on my blog), and you may walk away with the realization that not ALL things pertaining to My Little Pony suck. In fact, in the case of FiM, it's AWESOME.

BTW, since DailyMotion absolutely ADORES putting ads all over the place, often ruining perfectly good videos by placing ads at the beginning, end, and occasionally, even the MIDDLE of many videos, please consider installing Adblock Plus for maximum pony enjoyment. DailyMotion can be a great deal better and more enjoyable than YouTube, but only if you use Adblock to get around the horribly annoying ads.

If you're interested in MLP:FiM, but you don't want to go to DailyMotion, either because of the annoying random ads or because the videos play slower there than on other sites, there are dozens, if not hundreds of channels on YouTube that have the entire first and second seasons uploaded to their channels, and they're all ad-free, too. I was planning on creating another YouTube channel to upload pony videos to, but it wouldn't allow me to upload videos past 15 minutes unless I gave a mobile phone number, and I don't have a mobile phone, and I'm NOT breaking these videos into parts.

If ponies aren't your thing, I understand. At any rate, I cannot stress enough that there are PLENTY of depressing pieces of news and controversial opinions about certain subjects on here. But if you can get past this disclaimer, you might find that this blog is fairly interesting and informative. I do my best to post interesting articles from various news sources, many of which provide a glimpse into the harsh realities of the world. Some of them may be easily accessed by searching your favorite news site or clicking on CNN, FOX News, MSNBC, etc, whereas some other news stories are less known for various reasons.

BTW, I've noticed a few people have been searching for "Rainbow Dash Attack", basically a ponified version of the popular Adult Swim Flash game "Robot Unicorn Attack". If you want to play "Rainbow Dash Attack", follow the link below.

If you just want to play the original version, Robot Unicorn Attack, feel free to follow this link...

Saturday, December 31, 275555

A veritable encyclopedia of important links, including search engines, Pastebins, proxies, alternative news sources, etc.

Alternative Search Engines
009  (google)
011  (file search)
012  (library search engine)
019  (file search)
020 (free books)
021  (file search)
022 (file search)
025 (hide my ass)

Friday, January 3, 275000

A Comprehensive List of Suicide Crisis Hotlines across America

If you are feeling suicidal for any reason, please don't throw your life away. Instead, talk with someone you're close to or contact your local suicide hotline. Here is a comprehensive list of all the suicide hotlines across all 50 states.

 Information taken from . If you need more detailed information on the subject of suicide and how to deal with it, please go to the URL and check out any of the links on the left side of it. If you or a loved one or friend is expressing suicidal ideations or behavior, contact the hotline on the list that is nearest to you immediately. 

To find a particular suicide hotline or hotlines in your area, press Ctrl+F, and either type in your state of residence or the name of said hotline.

Thursday, March 6, 2025

CISA 2.0 (Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act) Frequently Asked Questions

What is CISA?

Lawmakers in Washington, D.C. love their acronyms. “CISA” is the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA).

CISA is a bad bill. It would risk user privacy by encouraging companies to transfer private information. It also creates new risks by enabling the use of countermeasures or “hack backs,” which endanger the integrity of the internet and further risk exposure of private information. Yet, the bill seems to be a high priority for some members of Congress and we may see a floor vote within the next few months.

What does CISA do?

CISA’s primary mechanism is to facilitate the transfer of “cyber threat indicators,” which are defined broadly enough to include private information such as email content or personal identities.1 CISA even protects companies that transfer “cyber threat indicators” that other privacy laws would have protected.2 It also ensures that companies that pass on information will be protected against court action — liability limits that disincentivize companies from adequately protecting user privacy.
In addition, the bill does little to allow users to enforce their rights even when companies violate the few privacy protections found in the bill. Knowing when rights have been violated would pose its own challenge. CISA’s transparency provisions wouldn’t allow us to know the full impact on users (in fact, it exempts this information from disclosure under federal open government laws).

How can we stop CISA?

First off, you sign our petition.

Then, you can call or write your senators, particularly Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr and Vice Chairman Dianne Feinstein, to express your concerns. You can also reach out to your local representative to let them know cybersecurity legislation should protect your rights.

Do they really need my personal information?

No, they don’t. Security experts have made clear that personal information need not be shared in order for us to maintain our cybersecurity. Alex Stamos, the Chief Information Security Officer at Yahoo! recently said that while information sharing is easy to discuss, it doesn’t fall into the top ten most effective things the government can do to protect users. Even if companies attempt to go beyond CISA’s requirements and remove private information, advanced analytics might still be used on the “cyber threat indicators” to gain access to identities.

What would companies be able to do with personal information after it is collected?

The bill does little to ensure companies would strip private information before passing “cyber threat indicators" to other companies and the government. CISA requires companies to review “cyber threat indicators” and remove what is known to be private at the time of transfer, however a company would not have to remove information it suspects to be private — or which may be used in conjunction with other information that can identify a user.3

But won’t CISA make the internet more secure?

CISA may actually make the internet less secure.

The bill contains a provision enabling the deployment of countermeasures, also referred to as “hack backs,” which enable a company to take action in response to threats to their network.4 While the bill enables countermeasures to protect the rights of a network owner, owners are only prohibited from intentionally destroying other systems. If they perceive that they are acting based on their rights, and they end up causing damage to other systems, they may not be liable. For instance, a malicious hacker may use a botnet, causing companies to use countermeasures that affect innocent users with no knowledge or intent to participate.

Will the National Security Agency (NSA) be involved?
CISA requires the direct transfer of “cyber threat indicators” to every appropriate agency, including the NSA. That would give the NSA immediate access to massive new datasets, even as Congress has so far failed to pass reforms in the wake of revelations about NSA surveillance.5

Is CISA already a law? Who’s behind it?

No. A draft of the bill was recently circulated to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence by Chairman Burr. As of March 4, 2015, the bill has not yet been formally introduced. Vice Chairman Feinstein introduced a version of the bill last year, though it never made it to a vote by the full Senate. While this is the second iteration of CISA, there have been a number of information sharing bills floated around Congress, in this and previous sessions.

How does President Obama feel about the bill?

While President Obama twice threatened to veto the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), a similar bill from the House of Representatives, he never made the same threat against CISA, probably because it never made it to a Senate vote. The president did recently introduce his own legislative proposal, which, while not good, is not as bad as CISA.

But now that Sony and Anthem have been victims of high-profile hacks, and President Obama has hosted his own cybersecurity summit, there’s a lot of pressure on him to sign effective cybersecurity legislation. That legislation should not be CISA. President Obama should stand by his past opposition to CISPA and reject the similarly awful CISA.

Here is a letter from Access and a number of other privacy groups urging President Obama to pledge to veto the previous version of CISA.

How do other experts feel about the bill?

Access recently co-signed a joint letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee urging a rejection of the bill. It was signed by dozens of leading digital rights groups, academics, and technologists. You can read the letter here.

What are the alternatives to information sharing legislation?

The government should pass legislation that promotes proper digital hygiene, such as the use two-factor authentication and indicators of phishing attacks, and encourages companies to do the same. It could encourage the integration of digital security into education curriculums, so that students know how to protect themselves and learn about career opportunities. The government could also implement a federal bug bounty program to encourage individuals to find and report bugs.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Record A Teacher Bullying A Student? That's A Suspension

Is a public school classroom a private space? That seems to be the assertion of school administrators after an 11-year-old student recorded a teacher bullying a student.
A St. Lucie County teacher has been fired after a student used her cellphone to record a teacher bullying another student.

The Samuel Gaines Academy student, 11-year-old- Brianna Cooper, is being praised by her peers. But, she's still facing punishment from school leaders for recording the audio illegally.

WPTV legal expert Michelle Suskauer says it is illegal in Florida to record anyone without them knowing.
Florida's two-party consent/wiretapping law is outdated and likely unconstitutional, but for now it stands. It also provides an exception for recording oral communications where the person speaking would not have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

A classroom, in a public school, would seem to be a place where no one would have an expectation of privacy. Administrators certainly go to lengths to assure their students that nothing they do while at the school is afforded any sort of expectation of privacy, what with random locker/vehicle/cell phone searches and monitoring of computer use. So, why would a teacher be granted an expectation of privacy for something said in a classroom?

Well, it's not so much Florida's law implicated here as much as it is the district's policy on personal devices, even though the school allegedly referred to the recording as "illegal." According to the policy, "wireless communication devices" may not be used to record anything on school grounds.
Inappropriate use includes, but is not limited to: (1) activation, display, manipulation, or inappropriate storage during prohibited times; (2) texting, phoning, or web browsing during prohibited times; (3) taping conversations, music, or other audio at any time; (4) photography or videography of any kind; and (5) any activity that could in any manner infringe upon the rights of other individuals, including but not limited to students, teachers, and staff members.
Now, using this policy to suspend a student who exposed teacher misconduct is just pure tone-deafness, which explains the district's decision to quickly reverse the suspension. Not only that, but this "violation" doesn't even carry with it the penalty of suspension.
Any disruptive, harassing, or other inappropriate use of a wireless communications device while under the School Board’s jurisdiction, shall be cause for disciplinary action under this heading, including confiscation of the device as contraband and, in the event of repeated or serious misuse, loss of the privilege to possess such a device on school property or while attending a school function.
So, the suspension makes even less sense than it would otherwise, given the school's actual policy on cell phone use -- something it seems to have (briefly) ignored in favor of deterring a student from exposing staff misconduct.

But there's still a link to Florida's outdated wiretapping law contained in the school policies. This sentence wraps up the paragraph on inappropriate use of cell phones.
The use of a wireless communications device shall be cause for disciplinary action and/or criminal penalties if the device is used in a criminal act.
At which point, we're back to the question of privacy expectations. Certainly, most schools are quick to cite privacy laws when dealing with the release of student information. Anything to do with minors is inherently more sensitive than that of adults. Not that privacy concerns prevent schools from being as invasive as possible when dealing with their students, requiring signatures on policies that allow administrators to search students' devices, lockers and vehicles for nearly any reason, as well as the offering of waivers to use photos and student information in news stories and school-produced materials.

But this school also forbids the recording of anything while on campus, even with a personal cell phone, granting an expectation of privacy that doesn't actually exist under Florida law. Public schools are public and words uttered by educators and administrators in classrooms and assemblies (any place where it's not "one-on-one") are very much "public" by definition. Florida's wiretapping law shouldn't apply. Unfortunately, school policies take precedent in situations like these, and this district has pretty much assured that the bullying that schools seem so concerned about will only be handled with hearsay, as any recording evidence to back up allegations is forbidden.

Kudos to the school for quickly realizing suspending the student was the wrong way to handle this, but the policies it forces students to follow are just going to make it harder for administrators to deal with misbehaving students and teachers.

Comcast, CenturyLink Give New Home Owner Kafka-esque Introduction To U.S. Broadband Market

There's been no shortage of Comcast horror stories in the media of late, the company promising time and time again that it has made customer service a top priority under the careful watch of a new "Customer Experience" VP. Except despite ten years of these promises and what seems like an endless parade of horrible PR, the customer satisfaction rankings for companies like Comcast are actually getting worse. That's because with no serious competition forcing their hand and regulatory capture ensuring nobody tries to fix things, there's simply no organic penalty for being historically awful at what they do.

While these kinds of stories are a dime a dozen, the Consumerist recently posted what I think is the near perfect encapsulation of what's wrong with the U.S. broadband market. The website tells the story of a Washington State resident named Seth, who purchased a new house after being told by Comcast (several times, according to a FAQ the user is maintaining) that the house was ready for broadband service. Of course once he moved in he was told that neither Comcast or regional telco CenturyLink could provide him service.

On it's face that's not necessarily a big deal -- broadband coverage gaps are common, as are inaccurate service databases. It's the experience the customer has with customer service after the fact that perfectly illustrates the utterly abysmal state of the U.S. broadband industry, and the way carriers' left hand (or right hand, or left foot, or brain) usually doesn't know what the right hand is doing. Seth notes it actually takes months and more than three Comcast technician visits for the company to realize the house has never been serviced before:
"He just appeared out of nowhere and asked us where our cable box was,” writes Seth. “We explained that we didn’t have one, but that we did have a Drop Bury Request in place. He looked perplexed. He told us that there was no way a Drop Bury Request could possibly get us hooked up, we were too far away from the cable infrastructure. We asked him to contact someone at Comcast to get things resolved, and he left."

Then on Feb. 9 another tech showed up — at least this one was on schedule — but just like his predecessors, this guy had not been given the memo that the house was not yet connected to the Comcast network. He was just there to hook up a modem and some cable boxes. Several days later — and again without an appointment — yet another Comcast tech showed up to do an install that simply couldn’t be done."
From there, Seth has to stumble through layer upon layer of what can only be described as total, relentless absurdism, including countless conversations with Comcast support personnel, on site engineering visits, phantom appointment cancellations and claims by Comcast that he'd had a successful install when no work had actually been done. From there it goes beyond "horror story" and well into Terry Gilliam "Brazil" territory, with Comcast at several points being totally unaware of his work order status, whether his house has service, whether the house could get service, and frankly, what planet Seth lives on.

After initially being told he could pay part of the $50,000 to $60,000 needed to do a coax and hardware run to his house (pretty common for rural cable customers just out of range), Seth ultimately has to give up months later, after the company finally concludes the ROI on the work isn't worth Comcast's time, even with Seth and his neighbors footing the lion's share of the bill. Seth then turns to regional telco CenturyLink in the hopes it could offer something vaguely resembling a sane business transaction, since their website claims he can get service. Yet somehow, his experience actually manages to get worse:
"But then the next day he got a call informing him that his area was in “Permanent Exhaust” and that CenturyLink wouldn’t be adding new customers. Of course, that didn’t stop CenturyLink from billing Seth more than $100 for service he never received and will never be able to receive. Seth then had to convince someone with CenturyLink’s billing department to zero out the account that should have never been opened."
At one point, The Consumerist tries to lend Seth a hand and contacts CenturyLink on his behalf, only to be told by the support rep they can't help because they're leaving the company. Said rep then decides to forward on the complaint to a manager -- who winds up being on a multi-week vacation. Ultimately, CenturyLink has to admit that their website has inaccurate data regarding its coverage area (data that hasn't been corrected to date). CenturyLink, it should be noted, has played a starring role in protectionist state level legislation preventing neighborhoods like Seth's from building their own networks, even in cases where CenturyLink refuses to service them.

With telecommuting to do and the daily usage caps of satellite broadband not an option, Seth's currently stuck on a capped and very expensive Verizon LTE plan until he can figure out what to do with the house. As we've been discussing, AT&T and Verizon have been backing away from DSL in the hopes of shoveling customers just like Seth on to capped, very expensive LTE plans -- in the process actually making already dismal fixed-line competition actually worse. Ultimately, this lack of competition means these companies don't have to care whether you like their service -- or their Kafka-esque support. You will, whether you like it or not, take exactly what they're willing to give you.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Academics from certain colleges and universities pushing to normalize pedophilia

"Paedophilic interest is natural and normal for human males,” said the presentation. “At least a sizeable minority of normal males would like to have sex with children … Normal males are aroused by children.”
Some yellowing tract from the Seventies or early Eighties, era of abusive celebrities and the infamous PIE, the Paedophile Information Exchange? No. Anonymous commenters on some underground website? No again.
The statement that paedophilia is “natural and normal” was made not three decades ago but last July. It was made not in private but as one of the central claims of an academic presentation delivered, at the invitation of the organisers, to many of the key experts in the field at a conference held by the University of Cambridge.
Other presentations included “Liberating the paedophile: a discursive analysis,” and “Danger and difference: the stakes of hebephilia.”
Hebephilia is the sexual preference for children in early puberty, typically 11 to 14-year-olds.
Another attendee, and enthusiastic participant from the floor, was one Tom O’Carroll, a multiple child sex offender, long-time campaigner for the legalisation of sex with children and former head of the Paedophile Information Exchange. “Wonderful!” he wrote on his blog afterwards. “It was a rare few days when I could feel relatively popular!”
Last week, after the conviction of Rolf Harris, the report into Jimmy Savile and claims of an establishment cover-up to protect a sex-offending minister in Margaret Thatcher’s Cabinet, Britain went into a convulsion of anxiety about child abuse in the Eighties. But unnoticed amid the furore is a much more current threat: attempts, right now, in parts of the academic establishment to push the boundaries on the acceptability of child sex.

Jimmy Savile exploited the trust of a nation for his own vile purposes
A key factor in what happened all those decades ago in the dressing rooms of the BBC, the wards of the NHS and, allegedly, the corridors of power was not just institutional failings or establishment “conspiracies”, but a climate of far greater intellectual tolerance of practices that horrify today.
With the Pill, the legalisation of homosexuality and shrinking taboos against premarital sex, the Seventies was an era of quite sudden sexual emancipation. Many liberals, of course, saw through PIE’s cynical rhetoric of “child lib”. But to others on the Left, sex by or with children was just another repressive boundary to be swept away – and some of the most important backing came from academia.
In 1981, a respectable publisher, Batsford, published Perspectives on Paedophilia, edited by Brian Taylor, a sociology lecturer at Sussex University, to challenge what Dr Taylor’s introduction called the “prejudice” against child sex. Disturbingly, the book was aimed at “social workers, community workers, probation officers and child care workers”.
The public, wrote Dr Taylor, “generally thinks of paedophiles as sick or evil men who lurk around school playgrounds in the hope of attempting unspecified beastliness with unsuspecting innocent children”. That, he reassured readers, was merely a “stereotype”, both “inaccurate and unhelpful”, which flew in the face of the “empirical realities of paedophile behaviour”. Why, most adult-child sexual relationships occurred in the family!
The perspectives of most, though not all, the contributors, appeared strongly pro-paedophile. At least two were members of PIE and at least one, Peter Righton, (who was, incredibly, director of education at the National Institute for Social Work) was later convicted of child sex crimes. But from the viewpoint of today, the fascinating thing about Perspectives on Paedophilia is that at least two of its contributors are still academically active and influential.

Prof Ken Plummer, left, and former PIE head Tom O'Carroll
Ken Plummer is emeritus professor of sociology at Essex University, where he has an office and teaches courses, the most recent scheduled for last month. “The isolation, secrecy, guilt and anguish of many paedophiles,” he wrote in Perspectives on Paedophilia, “are not intrinsic to the phenomen[on] but are derived from the extreme social repression placed on minorities …
“Paedophiles are told they are the seducers and rapists of children; they know their experiences are often loving and tender ones. They are told that children are pure and innocent, devoid of sexuality; they know both from their own experiences of childhood and from the children they meet that this is not the case.”
As recently as 2012, Prof Plummer published on his personal blog a chapter he wrote in another book, Male Intergenerational Intimacy, in 1991. “As homosexuality has become slightly less open to sustained moral panic, the new pariah of 'child molester’ has become the latest folk devil,” he wrote. “Many adult paedophiles say that boys actively seek out sex partners … 'childhood’ itself is not a biological given but an historically produced social object.”
Prof Plummer confirmed to The Sunday Telegraph that he had been a member of PIE in order to “facilitate” his research. He said: “I would never want any of my work to be used as a rationale for doing 'bad things’ – and I regard all coercive, abusive, exploitative sexuality as a 'bad thing’. I am sorry if it has impacted anyone negatively this way, or if it has encouraged this.” However, he did not answer when asked if he still held the views he expressed in the Eighties and Nineties. A spokesman for Essex University claimed Prof Plummer’s work “did not express support for paedophilia” and cited the university’s charter which gave academic staff “freedom within the law to put forward controversial and unpopular opinions without placing themselves in jeopardy”.
Graham Powell is one of the country’s most distinguished psychologists, a past president of the British Psychological Society and a current provider of psychology support services to the Serious Organised Crime Agency, the National Crime Squad, the Metropolitan Police, Kent Police, Essex Police and the Internet Watch Foundation.
In Perspectives on Paedophilia, however, he co-authored a chapter which stated: “In the public mind, paedophile attention is generally assumed to be traumatic and to have lasting and wholly deleterious consequences for the victim. The evidence that we have considered here does not support this view … we need to ask not why are the effects of paedophile action so large, but why so small.”
The chapter does admit that there were “methodological problems” with the studies the authors relied on which “leave our conclusions somewhat muted”. Dr Powell told The Sunday Telegraph last week that “what I wrote was completely wrong and it is a matter of deep regret that it could in any way have made things more difficult [for victims]”. He said: “The literature [scientific evidence] was so poor in 1981, people just didn’t realise what was going on. There was a lack of understanding at the academic level.” Dr Powell said he had never been a member of PIE.
In other academic quarters, with rather fewer excuses, that lack of understanding appears to be reasserting itself. The Cambridge University conference, on July 4-5 last year, was about the classification of sexuality in the DSM, a standard international psychiatric manual used by the police and courts.
After a fierce battle in the American Psychiatric Association (APA), which produces it, a proposal to include hebephilia as a disorder in the new edition of the manual has been defeated. The proposal arose because puberty in children has started ever earlier in recent decades and as a result, it was argued, the current definition of paedophilia – pre-pubertal sexual attraction – missed out too many young people.
Ray Blanchard, professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto, who led the APA’s working group on the subject, said that unless some other way was found of encompassing hebephilia in the new manual, that was “tantamount to stating that the APA’s official position is that the sexual preference for early pubertal children is normal”.
Prof Blanchard was in turn criticised by a speaker at the Cambridge conference, Patrick Singy, of Union College, New York, who said hebephilia would be abused as a diagnosis to detain sex offenders as “mentally ill” under US “sexually violent predator” laws even after they had completed their sentences.
But perhaps the most controversial presentation of all was by Philip Tromovitch, a professor at Doshisha University in Japan, who stated in a presentation on the “prevalence of paedophilia” that the “majority of men are probably paedophiles and hebephiles” and that “paedophilic interest is normal and natural in human males”.
O’Carroll, the former PIE leader, was thrilled, and described on his blog how he joined Prof Tromovitch and a colleague for drinks after the conference. “The conversation flowed most agreeably, along with the drinks and the beautiful River Cam,” he said.
It’s fair to say the Tromovitch view does not represent majority academic opinion. It’s likely, too, that some of the academic protests against the “stigmatisation” of paedophiles are as much a backlash against the harshness of sex offender laws as anything else. Finally, of course, academic inquiry is supposed to question conventional wisdom and to deal rigorously with the evidence, whether or not the conclusions it leads you to are popular.
Even so, there really is now no shortage of evidence about the harm done by child abuse. In the latest frenzy about the crimes of the past, it’s worth watching whether we could, in the future, go back to the intellectual climate which allowed them.

Copyright Bots Kill App Over 'Potentially Infringing' Images, Follow This Up By Blocking App For Use Of CC/Public Domain Images

With bots performing all sorts of intellectual property policing these days, fair use considerations are completely off the table. Nuances that can't be handled by a bot should theoretically be turned over to a human being in disputed cases. Unfortunately, dispute processes are often handled in an automated fashion, leading to even more problems.

Tolriq Yatse, the developer of a popular Xbox Media Center (XMBC) remote control app for Android phones, ran into this very problem with Google's Play Store, which suddenly dumped his app over "intellectual property violations" after more than 2 years of trouble-free listing. This might have been a quick fix if Google had been more forthcoming with details, but all Yatse received was a brief notice as his app was removed from the Play store.
Nothing was changed at all apart filling the new forced content rating form and suddenly lost all my revenues.

I hope someone human answer with details soon, but I'm joining the anger from all developers around about how #Google treat devs, take 30% share without problem but certainly do not do support or act as human when killing someone.
His complaints reached his fans and customers, who then made their presence felt. This finally prompted a Google human to give Yatse the details he needed so he could fix his app and get it relisted.
Hi Tolriq,

Thank you for your additional comments.

As previously explained, your promotional images include content that you do not appear to have permission to distribute. For example, images related to films are most likely protected by the various studios that produced and released them. It is reasonable to assume that these would not be made legally available in public domain or via Creative Commons as most studios are extremely protective of their intellectual property. The same could be said of images from various TV series…
This part of Google's response refers to screenshots used in the app's listing. They used to look something like this…

The images used here are only indicative of the app's capabilities. Even if (obviously) unlicensed, the app doesn't promise anything more than control of XBMC content. It doesn't promise access to studios' offerings or otherwise act as a movie/TV show portal. In this context, the movie posters displayed in the screenshots would appear to fall under "fair use." Google's response to Yatse indicates that, even with a human now involved, the Play Store won't tolerate the use of unlicensed images in "promotional" screenshots.

In fact, fair use isn't even discussed. Instead, Google asked Yatse to prove ownership of the disputed artwork before the app could be relisted.
If you are able to prove otherwise, either via direct authorization from a studio representative or the location where you sourced these images (public domain and/or Creative Commons), we could review that information and reconsider the merits of this case.
The motivating factor for this non-consideration is potential litigation, according to the Google Play Team.
This may represent a change from two years ago in that most studios today will file complaints over use of their content unless someone has entered into an agreement with them on some level, and that should not come as a surprise to you.
Even with a direct response, there are still some gray areas the developer is left to address himself.
We are unable to provide specific guidance as to which images may be allowed, but we trust that you will use your best judgment based on what we have mentioned above and in previous communications.
As Yatse points out, this isn't good news for developers.
The answer is very interesting for all Google Play developers :

- Google will remove your application on suspicions and not on real facts.
- No human will check what you upload or say.
- It's nearly impossible to have a real contact and support.
- You need to try to fix problem yourself without details and hope to have it fixed before ban. (Very hard when in fact there's no problem)
Google Play has moved to preemptive takedowns, unprompted by studio complaints. This isn't a good thing. It may protect Google (but only slightly, considering the studios' ongoing antipathy towards the tech company) but it does nothing for developers whose sales it takes a portion of.

In response, Yatse has swapped out the offending artwork for CC-licensed and public domain works. But even that wasn't enough for the Google bots. Those images had to be removed before his app was approved for relisting.
#Yatse is now back on Play Store, without any images until I can figure out what the Google bot does not like in open sources ones.
This understandably limits his options and makes it much harder to convey the app's functionality. Here are the screenshots currently available at Google Play, which show that Yatse (the app) is probably some sort of remote control program and has some color options.

So, based on no complaints from studios or other rights holders, an app comes down. And even with the use of properly-licensed images, it fails to be reinstated. And throughout all of the discussions, fair use isn't mentioned a single time. That's the reality of preemptive IP policing, and it's unlikely to change anytime soon.

A Growing Chorus Is Trying To Rewrite The History Of Net Neutrality -- And Blame Absolutely Everything On Netflix

With either an ISP lawsuit or a 2016 party shift the only way to kill our new net neutrality rules, neutrality opponents have some time to kill. As such, they're in desperate need of somewhere to direct their impotent rage at the foul idea of a healthier Internet free from gatekeeper control. Step one of this catharsis has been to publicly shame the FCC for daring to stand up to broadband ISPs in a series of increasingly absurd and often entirely nonsensical public "fact finding" hearings. Step two is to push forth a series of editorials that tries to rewrite the history of the net neutrality debate -- with Netflix as the villainous, Machiavellian centerpiece.

A few weeks ago, Netflix CFO David Wells told attendees of an investor conference that Title II was "probably not" what the company wanted at the outset. This resulted in an endless stream of stories about how Netflix had "flip-flopped" on its net neutrality position and simply could not be trusted. Except if you actually bothered to read the transcript of his comments, he goes on to note the company is very pleased where things have wound up, and happy to have a viable regulatory mechanism at the FCC to file complaints over things like interconnection:
"Were we pleased that it pushed to Title II, probably not, right? I mean, we were hoping that, there might be a non-regulated solution to it. But it seems like companies that are pursuing their commercial interests including us have to arrive at something like that. So we're super pleased that there is now a notion, at least a vehicle, for a complaint...So I would say we are very pleased with what's been accomplished."
Wells pretty clearly explains that while it would have been nice if we could have protected net neutrality without regulation, it became pretty clear that Title II was the only way regulators could adequately police anti-competitive behavior in the broadband sector. That's what Title II supporters have been saying for months: while Title II isn't perfect, it's the best option we have given the lack of broadband competition in the sector (which despite a lot of rhetoric isn't improving anytime soon). There's nothing hypocritical -- or even shocking -- about what Wells said.

Still, that Wells had exposed Netflix as a shady trickster has somehow become the talking point du jour in the media and among net neutrality opponents for much of the last six months, with editorials and headlines suggesting Netflix was now "shunning ObamaNet", or was suffering "lobbyist remorse" over net neutrality. In an editorial for the Wall Street Journal, Holman Jenkins Junior declared the CFO had somehow single-handedly proven that the entire push for net neutrality was somehow a Netflix Con:
"Why, a month after this deluge of demurrers, did Netflix change its tune radically and call for utility regulation of even the upstream “network of networks,” which previously had not been considered part of the net-neutrality debate? Because Netflix was then rolling out its own network, Open Connect, to bypass the public network in favor of direct tie-ups with last-mile providers like Comcast,Verizon and AT&T. This largely ignored story has been told in detail by a disparate group of analysts and lawyers including Dan Rayburn, Larry Downes, Jonathan Lee and Fred Campbell. Netflix effectively engineered a slowdown of its own service in late 2013 by relying on an intermediary with inadequate capacity, then waved a bloody shirt in pursuit of the direct-connection deals that today allow Netflix to distribute its content more efficiently and cheaply.

At least now we understand the famous but nearly indecipherable remarks of Netflix CFO David Wells at a Morgan Stanley media conference two weeks ago. To wit, Netflix had been happy to flog the net-neutrality meme while negotiating these agreements, Mr. Wells indicated, and then unhappy when the FCC took its rhetoric seriously and imposed sweeping Title II regulation.
One, as we've noted repeatedly, the new rules are not "utility-style regulations." ISPs are being classified as common carriers, but the FCC is forbearing from a massive swath of Title II regulations reserved for utilities, including price controls and local-loop unbundling. It's more like "Title II lite," and given the ample remaining loopholes for things like zero rated apps, it's very, very far from "heavy handed regulation." Two, Netflix's Open Connect CDN is a free CDN that benefits ISPs, Netflix and consumers alike, and which ISPs are free to refuse. It's not, as Jenkins and FCC Commissioner Pai have tried to claim, some kind of secret devil-worshiping cult (though that would certainly add an awesome twist to the story).

Three, to hear Netflix, Cogent and Level3 tell it, it was the ISPs that failed to upgrade their side of peering relationships to degrade performance and extract direct interconnection fees. That Netflix intentionally sabotaged its own business so it could enjoy the privilege of paying Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon what basically are "duopoly customer access fees" doesn't make the slightest bit of coherent sense. Still, this is the narrative that's now being pushed by numerous industry-friendly folk in papers and trade rags nationwide.

Broadband industry think tanker extraordinaire Fred Campbell has penned a similarly ridiculous editorial that's circulating among industry trade magazines. Campbell, too, suggests we're all victims of the dangerous, shadowy Netflix cabal, using the company's out-of-context CFO comments as the only notable proof:
"Netflix revealed its Title II advocacy was a ruse on March 4, when Netflix chief financial officer David Wells said the company was disappointed by the ultimate outcome at the FCC...Wells didn’t say what “non-regulated solution” Netflix had hoped to achieve, but anyone who followed last year’s shenanigans between Netflix and major ISPs knows that its interest was aimed at obtaining free interconnection deals. Wells’s statement makes clear that Netflix hoped its public push for Title II would force ISPs to capitulate to its demands."
So again, the proof-optional narrative being pushed by ISPs and net neutrality opponents is that the entire ten year net neutrality debate is really all just a clever ploy by Netflix -- to save a few bucks. Netflix is the villain, the narrative continues, and companies like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast -- with a generation of anti-competitive behavior under their belt -- are the real victims here.

Except to seriously believe that you'd have to be so intentionally, willfully oblivious to the point of causing yourself personal, bodily harm. You'd have to ignore that the net neutrality really began with AT&T's former CEO basically stating AT&T wanted to double dip content companies, billing them for doing absolutely nothing. You then have to ignore ten years of history involving giant ISP experiments aimed at trying to make this dream a reality, whether that's AT&T blocking Facetime to push unlimited users on to throttled plans, Verizon's history of trying to block, well, every single technological advancement it hasn't liked over the last decade, or this latest interconnection kerfuffle.

Of course most of us realize the crime Netflix is actually guilty of here: the company stood up to ISPs on issues like net neutrality, a lack of sector competition, broadband pricing and usage caps. You can't have a relatively-respected technology company like that talking trash about the nation's cozy, broken broadband duopoly. As such, the only solution is to discredit Netflix using a literal army of policy wonks, paid to push the "Netflix is the devil" narrative so relentlessly and repetitively that it becomes discourse bedrock. I personally think it would have been much more effective to claim Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is a cyborg-vampire hybrid fueled by virgin and puppy blood, but then again, clumsy character assassination has never been my forte.

TSA Waves Convicted Murderer With Explosives Experience Through Its PreCheck Lane

The TSA's PreCheck program also expedites security screening for "notorious convicted felons" and "former domestic terrorists." Who knew? From the sounds of its in-depth pre-screening efforts, you would think (unnamed) convicted felons wouldn't be able to sail past the checkpoint without even slowing down, but apparently, that's exactly what happened. And it's not just any former felon/domestic terrorist, but one who was previously convicted of murder and offenses involving explosives. (via Kevin Underhill/Lowering the Bar)
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) received a whistleblower disclosure alleging a sufficiently notorious convicted felon was improperly cleared for TSA Pre✓ screening, creating a significant aviation security breach. The disclosure identified this event as a possible error in the TSA Secure Flight program since the traveler’s boarding pass contained a TSA Pre✓ indicator and encrypted barcode.
The good news (such as it were) is that the TSA did not grant the unnamed felon/terrorist PreCheck approval through its laborious and intrusive application process. It also didn't wave him/her through because lines were backing up at the normal checkpoints. (This is called "Managed Inclusion" by the TSA, but it more resembles "For the Hell of It" in practice…) That ends the good news.

It did, however, use its "risk assessment rules" to determine the terrorist/felon to be of no threat. This might be encouraging news for former felons/domestic terrorists, perhaps signaling that government agencies may ultimately forgive some criminal acts and not subject former felons to additional security harassment in perpetuity. Then again, this may just be the TSA's excuse for waving someone with questionable PreCheck clearance through security because a checkmark -- and its own internal bureaucracy -- told it to.
We also determined the Transportation Security Officer (TSO) followed standard operating procedures, but did not feel empowered to redirect the traveler from TSA Pre✓ screening to standard lane screening.
The OIG recommends more "empowerment" for rank-and-file. Good luck with that. If officers don't feel empowered, it's because management has shown them that questioning the (broken and wildly inconsistent) system isn't an option. Neither is doing any independent thinking. When this officer attempted to push it up the line, he/she ran into a pretty predictable response.
[T]he TSO knew of the traveler's TSA Pre✓disqualifying criminal convictions. The TSO followed the standard operating procedures and reported this to the supervisory TSO who then directed the TSO to take no further action and allow the traveler through the TSA Pre✓ lane. As a result, TSA does not have an incident report for this event.
One of the TSA's Behavioral Detection Officers (highly-trained in the art of the mental coin toss) was also contacted by the concerned officer. And, again, no further action was taken/recommended.

In the end, a felon/terrorist boarded a plane because the TSA's bureaucratic process can't handle contradictory variables. The PreCheck approval said "yes," but the previous convictions said PreCheck approval should never have happened. The TSA deferred to the obviously incorrect checkmark on the boarding pass. And now we have the punchline to the joke that starts, "A murderer with explosives experience walks into a PreCheck lane…"

The OIG's mostly-redacted recommendation criticizing the TSA's over-reliance on fallible pre-screening processes was mostly ignored by the agency.
TSA officials did not concur with Recommendation 1. In its response, TSA said that with respect to individuals who may pose an elevated security risk to commercial aviation, theU.S. Government's approach to domestic aviation security relies heavily on the TSDB and its Selectee List and No Fly List subcomponents. TSA said, had the intelligence or national law enforcement communities felt that this traveler posed an elevated risk to commercial aviation, they would have nominated the traveler to one of these lists and prevented the traveler from being designated as lower-risk.
To which the OIG responded, "Well, that 's obviously not working because this traveler should have been automatically denied PreCheck approval."
We consider TSA's actions nonresponsive to the intent of Recommendation 1, which is unresolved and open. TSA said it relies on the U.S. Government watchlisting process to identify individuals that represent an elevated risk to commercial aviation. However, not all non-watchlisted passengers are lower-risk and eligible for TSA Pre✓. For example, TSA has established disqualifying criteria, in addition to the watchlisting process, for an applicant seeking TSA Pre✓ Application Program membership. TSA will deny membership to an applicant convicted of any of the 28 disqualifying criminal offenses or not a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident. Even though the traveler is not watchlisted, the traveler would be permanently ineligible for TSA Pre✓.
And yet, a convicted murderer has been PreCheck approved. The TSA wants to blame the rest of the government. The OIG just wants someone to use common sense, rather than never questioning a boarding pass. The OIG has a good point. The TSA claims it's shifting to a smarter, more responsive travel security, like the PreCheck program and its many Behavioral Detection Officers. But when a situation involving both arose, it left the thinking to its brainstem -- unwavering faith in databases and policy -- rather than making any move indicative of higher thought processes.

EA Locks Benchmarkers Out Of Battlefield Hardline After Too Many GPU Swaps

Origin, Electronic Arts' online store and license-check-in system is a hilarious study in how to build a platform to serve legitimate customers and identify infringing copies of the game that both inhibits legitimate customers and misidentifies what is an infringing copy of a game. Add to this the fact that the Origin platform has in the past been found to be in and of itself a massive security exploit and one wonders how the service is still around today. But around it most certainly is, and still screwing with legitimate customers, too, as a group attempting to run benchmark tests on EA's Battlefield Hardline found out.
Guru 3D writer Hilbert Hagedoorn has discovered some pernicious DRM in Battlefield Hardline while attempting to do a "VGA graphics performance" test with the game for a feature article (thanks Blue's News). Apparently the DRM monitors hardware changes - something Hagedoorn was doing a lot of when testing different cards with the game - and when it hits a certain threshold it locks the user out of the game.

"Here's what EAs DRM is doing," Hagedoorn writes. "They don't just verify the number of PCs you work on slash use, nope .. they dare to monitor hardware changes now, which I am sure is a privacy breach on many levels. So once we insert new hardware (graphics cards) the hardware id # hash changes and if that happens a couple of times they are rendering your activation invalid."
For the record, EA has already responded to Game Politics with a wonderfully silly answer: it ain't our DRM, it's the Origin DRM, yo!
"Origin authentication allows players to install a game on up to five different PCs every 24 hours," the EA spokesperson told us this morning. "Players looking to benchmark more than five hardware configurations in one 24 hour period can contact our Customer Support team who can help."
Hoo-boy, EA, that's quite a trip of a rebuttal, considering Origin is your platform and the check-in system you're describing is in fact a form of DRM. So a statement that essentially boils down to, "It wasn't our game DRM, it was our platform DRM!" is absolutely useless. Is the Origin authentication that lets customers install on five different machines in a day fairly lenient as these things go? Sure, except for a couple of things. First, it clearly doesn't work all that well, since simply swapping out a GPU suddenly counts as a whole new machine. Second, why have this restriction at all? If your platform can't be relied upon to properly determine legitimate copies of games, then ditch the platform. Don't back that failure up by annoying paying customers with restrictions designed to buttress your failed attempts.

But all of that may end up being besides the point, because Hagedoorn's early point is the key: why is EA sniffing around our hardware configurations? The company had damned well better be sure that there is something in the EULA that allows for them to sniff out hardware swaps, something quite common amongst PC gamers, nevermind benchmarkers. But even if the EULA allows for this... what the hell?

Judge Calls Out Portland, Oregon Police For Bogus 'Contempt Of Cop' Arrest/Beating

It doesn't happen often, but a judge has called out police officers for using a non-existent offense -- "contempt of cop" -- to justify the use of force against a detained person. Multnomah County (OR) Judge Diana Stewart cleared 16-year-old Portland resident Thai Gurule of several charges brought against him after he was pummeled and tased by police officers for… well, basically for responding angrily to a somewhat derogatory gesture.
Police that night had been looking for a group of seven to nine African American men, including one shirtless one, who had been walking the streets, reportedly damaging property and yelling profanities. Within minutes of receiving the group's last known location, police several blocks away focused their attention on a group of three young men: Gurule, his 20-year-old brother and their friend.
That was the narrative up to the point where Thai Gurule found himself on the receiving end of fists and Tasers. Ignoring the fact that this group had little in common with the suspects other than race, we come to what turned this incident into a confrontation and, finally, a one-side melee.

The following comes from the judge's statement on the dismissal of charges:
As the youth walked past, Officer Hughes said, "Hey" to the youth and when the youth continued, he again said, "Hey" and clapped his hands.

Thai Gurule turned to face Officer Hughes and in an angry or aggressive voice said "Don't fucking clap your hands at me". Officer Hughes stepped forward while the youth stepped back.
Cue escalation. The officers decided to cuff Gurule (for "resisting arrest," apparently). As a crowd began to gather, the officers decided to move Gurule into a prone position for cuffing, supposedly for officer safety. But rather than let Gurule move to a prone position, one of the officers decided to speed up the process by sweeping Gurule's feet out from underneath him. From that point, it became an uncontrolled beating. One officer held Gurule by the hair while the other two wrestled him to the ground and hit him multiple times with their fists and knees. Finding the one-sided "struggle" to be ineffective, Sgt. Lile deployed his Taser.

After they were done throwing blows, the officers threw the book at Thai Gurule, listing all of the following charges on the police report:
Aggravated assault
Simple assault
Criminal threats
Disorderly conduct
Interference with public safety
Resisting arrest
The accompanying reports filed by the officers maintained that Gurule repeatedly swung his fists at officers and tried to choke one of them. Unfortunately for these officers, multiple recordings of the incident that contradicted their narrative were made available to the judge.

Judge Stewart was obviously irate at the thick stack of lies delivered to her in the form of police reports and sworn testimony. She also was none too happy with the officers' justification for initiating the arrest of a person who had done nothing more than fail to treat Officer Hughes with as much deference as he felt he deserved. Not only did she dismiss the charges, but she read the entire damning dismissal order out loud.

In discussing the "resisting arrest" charge, Judge Stewart also addressed the pure BS motivating the officers' arrest of Gurule. She points out there's an exceedingly low bar that needs to be met to satisfy the requirements for bringing this charge, but the officers couldn't even meet that.
Actual restraint was placed upon the youth at the moment that Officers Hughes and Hornstein placed control or escort holds on the youth. At that moment, even given the broad authority described above, there is insufficient evidence before the court that the Officers were operating under their community caretaking function, or therefore under color.

At that time, there is no evidence of concerns about a crowd forming. That concern arose as much as a minute later when the officers decided to take the youth to the ground.
Establishing this, she gets to the heart of the matter.
The only facts before the court are that the youth failed the attitude test when he turned and aggressively complained about Officer Hughes clapping him hands. Officer Hughes stepped forward and the youth stepped back and Officer Hughes, immediately followed by Officer Hornstein placed the holds restraining the youth.
And there it is: the bogus arrest was prompted by a little disrespect Officer Hughes just couldn't handle. It is surprising enough that a judge would call out an officer for this sort of behavior. It's even more surprising that she would move on to allowing an arrested suspect's self-defense claims stand. In most cases, the judicial branch shows deference to police officers who use excessive force in their self-defense ("feared for their safety"). In this instance, the deference went the other way.
[W]hile a person may not use physical force to resist what is actually or perceived by the defendant to be an unlawful arrest, a person may use physical force in defending oneself from excessive use of force by an arresting officer. Any injury caused to an officer in the course of engaging in a justifiable use of force to defend oneself may under such circumstances be justified and not criminal.


In this case, the youth's age is a relevant factor which the court considers even without the testimony of youth. Therefore, the question before the court is whether this youth and a reasonable 16 year old youth in his position would have believed that the use or imminent use of force against him exceeded the force reasonably necessary and whether he was entitled to defend himself with a degree of force which a reasonable 16 year old would reasonably believe to be necessary for the purpose.


The take down, although intended to be gentle and with adequate warning was nothing like that plan. Officer Hornstein swept the youth's feet out from under him causing him the sensation of falling forward without the use of his hands to break his fall. The next 35 to 45 seconds was a melee of fists and punches and bodies falling upon him. Prior to reaching the wall, the youth was attempting to regain his footing and get back on his feet and remove himself from what a reasonable person would have felt was a senseless and aggressive use of excessive physical force.

Once at the wall, the independent evidence of the video clips is less clear but continues to show the youth trying to struggle away from the officers rather than engage in a physical altercation…


[G]iven that confusion, rapidity of events, the tangle of officers and the youth and the confusion caused by the crowd, I find that as to all charges herein, the state has not established beyond a reasonable doubt that the youth was not reasonably justified in the use of self-defense as to all of the charges herein.
And with that, Thai Gurule is no longer facing criminal charges. As of yet, there's no word of what consequences, if any, are awaiting the officers involved. The city's police department is only a couple of years removed from a DOJ investigation, but incidents like these show there's still work to be done.

And, of course, the local police union has greeted this decision with assertions that the officers involved did nothing wrong and that Judge Stewart is nothing more than an armchair quarterback, but you'll have to click over to Popehat to read Ken White's entertaining/infuriating take on the union head's counterclaims.

Monsanto fined $600k by EPA for uncontrolled releases of toxic chemicals

Monsanto has agreed to pay the US government $600,000 for not reporting hundreds of uncontrolled toxic chemical releases from its Idaho phosphate plant. The releases in Soda Springs occurred between 2006 and 2009.
The plant emitted hydrogen cyanide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and mercury into the atmosphere during that three-year span, officials from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Justice Department said in a statement. Companies are required by law to report such releases immediately.
READ MORE: Monsanto lobbyist claims 'safe to drink a quart of pesticide' – but bolts when offered a glass (VIDEO)
"Each of these chemicals are hazardous and can pose serious health risks to workers and the community if mishandled or released in an uncontrolled manner," the federal statement said.

The Soda Springs facilities are operated by P4 Production LLC, a wholly owned Monsanto subsidiary. The company said it reconciled differences with the EPA, some as early as 2009, and received the EPA's violation notice in May 2011.

The company came into compliance by reporting the releases that continue to occur. But instead of reporting on a daily basis, Monsanto obtained a type of continuing release report, good for a year, according to Suzanne Powers, a compliance officer with the EPA, as reported by AP.

Monsanto said in a statement that none of the releases exceeded federal or state laws, and that the federal government was not accusing them of going beyond its standards.
"The protection of our employees, public health and the environment is always our No. 1 priority," said Roger Gibson, P4's vice president of operations. "As a long-time neighbor within the Soda Springs community, we care deeply about public health and the quality of our air, land and water, and we are committed to complying fully and transparently with all applicable laws and regulations."

READ MORE: Too ‘dramatic’: Monsanto shuns WHO verdict that Roundup ‘probably’ causes cancer

Several of the chemicals realeased in Soda Springs aren't considered priority pollutants, EPA
spokesman Mark MacIntyre said.
“They fall through the crack a little bit in terms of the Clean Air Act and how they're regulated," Powers noted.

The southeastern Idaho plant has processed phosphate ore since 1952. Monsanto refines the ore mined by several companies. Phosphorus is used in the company’s Roundup herbicides, as well as in fire retardants and aviation fluids.
“Monsanto is committed to mining in an environmentally responsible and sensitive way. Soda Springs has and will continue to go above and beyond legal requirements for responsible mining,” the company said on its website. “We want to minimize environmental impacts, and we want to ensure the land is responsibly restored after mining has ceased. This includes planting flowers, grasses and shrubs, as well as constructing habitats to encourage wildlife to return to the land.”

In 2011, P4 agreed to pay a $1.4 million civil penalty for Clean Water Act violations at its South Rasmussen Mine near Soda Springs. In addition to the penalty, P4 said it would spend an estimated $875,000 on monitoring and to prevent pollutants from entering local waters.

The $600,000 fine is a slap on the wrist for a company that earned nearly $1.5 billion in profits during fiscal year 2013.

Monsanto lobbyist claims 'safe to drink a quart of pesticide' – but bolts when offered a glass

A lobbyist for Monsanto claimed that it was safe to drink “a quart” of the company’s Roundup pesticide, but pointedly refused to try even a sip when offered a glass during an interview with French TV before storming off the set.
Patrick Moore told a Canal+ journalist that glyphosate, the active ingredient in the world’s most widely 
used weed killer, was not responsible for an increase in cancer rates in Argentina.
“You can drink a whole quart of it and it won’t hurt you,” he insisted.

When the journalist informed him that a cup of the herbicide was prepared for him, Moore bristled, saying: “I’m not stupid.”

But when pressed by the interviewer if the substance was dangerous, Moore replied: “It’s not dangerous to humans.” He added that many try to commit suicide by drinking Roundup, but “fail regularly.”

He then walked off set, calling the interviewer a “jerk.”

Moore, a biologist, had been an environmentalist for Greenpeace before becoming a lobbyist for the nuclear, logging and genetic engineering industries.

Last week, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer released a
report which found that glyphosate was “probably carcinogenic to humans,” citing three studies that suggest that exposure to the chemical could be responsible for increased risks for non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

After the study’s publication, Monsanto has scrambled to get the WHO to retract its report. The company said Tuesday that the findings were biased and invalid.
“We question the quality of the assessment," Philip Miller, Monsanto vice president of global regulatory affairs, said Tuesday in an interview. "The WHO has something to explain."
Monsanto first introduced glyphosate weed killers in 1974, but they gained popularity in the mid-1990s when the company began developing corn, soy and cotton seeds genetically engineered to resist the herbicide. According to a 2012 study by Washington State University the rise of “Roundup Ready” crops has resulted in a surge of glyphosate use.

AT&T captures users' internet browsing habits to personalize ads

New revelations show that AT&T’s gigabit internet service is rerouting user web browsing history to an in-house scanning platform, all in order to deliver personalized ads of websites visited by the user to their email boxes – and even to their homes.

The revelations about the tracking and advertising systems come as questions were raised regarding the company’s ability to offer such a speedy and competitive service at a reasonable price (about $70), particularly in markets where Google Fiber is operating.

Internet users are familiar with cookies that track a user's history on specific sites, but AT&T's tracking and advertising system is open-ended, limitless, and intrusive, reported Ars Technica. Customers are oblivious to the practice unless they read the fine print on their customer agreement, which gives AT&T legal permission to examine a customer's internet traffic under its Internet Preferences program.

READ MORE: World’s top tech companies ask Congress to tighten NSA spying laws

"[The program tracks] the webpages you visit, the time you spend on each, the links or ads you see and follow, and the search terms you enter," said AT&T. The company uses the information so advertisers can target a person's interests. The advertisers will pay more if a customer is likely to be interested in their products.

Customers can only opt-out of the system, once they know about it, by spending more money for services.

"You may opt-out of receiving these e-mails by choosing not to participate in the AT&T Internet Preferences and switching to GigaPower Standard pricing," said AT&T.

A stand-alone internet package is an additional $29 a month and the fee can grow to $60 a month if telephone and TV services are included. In cities where AT&T is not competing against Google Fiber, an average customer was being charged $120 month, with additional fees to opt-out of its Internet Preferences program.
READ MORE: FCC chairman proposes 'strongest open internet protections ever'

Regarding sensitive data, AT&T said that “customers' personal information is never given to that advertisers."

Still, questions are being raised about privacy laws and deceptive marketing practices.

"There are always questions about consent being willful and informed," Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told Ars Technica. "The reason legally it's important is under federal law it won't be unlawful for them to look at this stuff if you consent to them looking at it."

READ MORE: Google data collection worries Americans more than NSA

Tien said AT&T had covered it bases by disclosing the details of its data collection.

AT&T has been in the spotlight before over its practices. In October 2014, the Federal Trade Commission sued the nation's second-largest carrier for deceiving 3.5 million customers by selling them "unlimited" internet plans, which it then slowed to lower internet speeds, sometimes as much as 90 percent if a customer surfed the web too much. The company received 190,000 calls in complaint over the practice.

Yet AT&T is not the only company that engages in this practice. Google can access user data via Android and Apple iOS apps such as Google search, Gmail, Chrome, or Google Maps if a customer uses these apps while they shop. Google gets permission to do this when users opt-in to the "location services" option in their smartphone's menu.

Inmates allegedly forced by jailer into ‘gladiator-style fights’

Accusations that a California sheriff’s deputy forced inmates at a local to jail to fight one another for his own amusement has landed an official with an already sordid past in hot water once again.
The jailer, Deputy Scott Neu, and three of his colleagues are now on paid administrative leave as authorities look into claims laid forth on Thursday by San Francisco's elected public defender, Jeff Adachi.

Interviews conducted with two inmates who say they were forced to fight one another were released on Thursday. In the recordings, the men said they felt threatened by Neu and only participated over fear of what would happen if they refused.
“He threatened to handcuff and beat me up,” one of the inmates, Stanley Harris, said during a recent phone interview. “He said he’d put me in like a holding tank, handcuff me and fuck me up.”
Harris, a six-foot tall African-American man weighing roughly 350 pounds, said Neu promised to reward him if he fought another inmate, Ricardo Palikiko Garcia, and won.
“I got a cheeseburger if you whoop his ass,” Harris said he was told by the deputy. “I’ll take care of you if you fuck him up,” he recalled hearing.

The two inmates were forced to fight each other in front of Neu and other deputies twice since early March, both men told investigators. Adachi began examining claims of misconduct after being alerted by the father of one of the inmates on March 12. Soon after he hired a private detective to gather evidence, and Adachi decided to go public with the details on Thursday after learning that another fight was forthcoming.

In between fights, according to Harris, Neu subjected him to “training” by forcing him to do hundreds of push-ups to physically prepare. In other instances, according to the inmate, Neu took off his belt and shirt and tried to fight Harris. Another time, he told Adachi that he felt sexually threatened when the deputy made a remark about the prisoner’s “cheeks.”

Garcia, Harris’ challenger, said during an interview with Adachi that deputies, including Neu, had forced him to fight and had placed bets on the brawl. He claims he was told he would be taken to a secluded spot to be beaten and restrained if he refused.

As far as the fights, Garcia said that Neu told him “anything goes.”
“Just don’t punch in the face so – so no one can basically see the marks. But anything goes other than 
the face,” he said.

According to Adachi, a private investigation led him to conclude that Neu made the men partake in at least two jailhouse brawls earlier this month at the county jail on 850 Bryant Street. Adachi said he hired a private investigator to interview potential witnesses after learning that an inmate at the facility said he was injured, possibly with a broken rib, as a result of fighting with another man. The subsequent probe, Adachi said, suggested Neu had been orchestrating brawls among prisoners and betting on the outcome.
“These revelations are sickening,” Adachi said. “Deputy Neu forced these young men to participate in gladiator-style fights for his own sadistic entertainment.”

To other inmates, Garcia said, Neu confiscated belongings and then made them gamble to get them back.
“[I] just feel like he gets a kick out of it because I just see the look on his face and, you know, it looks like it brings him joy by doing this, while we’re suffering by what he’s doing,” Garcia told investigators. “I don’t know if it’s a gamble addiction or if he just likes to see inmates go through, you know, you know, a whole lot of pain.”
“This is sadistic behavior,” Adachi said of the allegations. “This is something that goes beyond any sense of common decency.”

Neu was previously accused of sexually harassing and sexually assaulting inmates, yet remained employed by the city even after the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to settle those claims out of court in 2009.
“It was sick, sick conduct,” Adante Pointer, an attorney who represented a female inmate in that case, recalled this week. “I am surprised he was even still in the position to be with inmates unsupervised.”

According to Pointer, Neu was accused of forcing his client and two transgender inmates to perform sexual acts on him. The city settled to the tune of $97,500, according to Board of Supervisors records, and Neu was reassigned to inmate transport, Pointer said.

Mark Nicco, an assistant legal counsel for the San Francisco County Sheriff’s Department, told Reuters that Deputies Evan Staehely, Eugene Jones and Clifford Iba are on administrative leave pending the results of an internal investigation, as is Neu. In a statement to the San Francisco Chronicle, however, the San Francisco Deputy Sheriff’s Association said that the allegations were “exaggerated” and called the fighting “little more than horseplay.”

“[Adachi] has done a cursory sham investigation by interviewing a few inmates over a scant two days rather than having the decency to request a serious impartial investigation,” Harry Stern, an attorney for the deputy’s union, told the newspaper.

Not all law enforcement officials share that opinion, though. Ross Mirkarimi, the county sheriff, called the alleged acts “barbaric” and said he would ask for the state and federal government to open their own probes. On Thursday, the San Francisco police chief and district attorney’s office both said that they had launched their own investigations.