How a cooked Assange quote ended up media gospel

Julian Assange. Image: Reuters.

Wikileaks, the clearing house for state secrets, seems more about founder Julian Assange's grudges these days: especially the one for Hillary Clinton. Much fuss was made over a quote—that he had "enough evidence" to guarantee an indictment of her—that was widely attributed to him. It turns out, though, that the quote doesn't check out: most point to a mangled interview on the UK's ITV where it isn't even said. Jesse Singal set out to track down a source that no-one bothered to verify. It's a surprisingly tantalizing and teasing journey, but the tl;dr seems to be that the quote was originally fabricated by the investment blog Zero Hedge. Read the rest

Olympics to companies: mentioning "Olympics" in social media is a trademark violation

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The US Olympics Committee has sent a letter to companies that sponsor athletes but don't sponsor the games, warning them that mentioning the Olympics in social media is a trademark violation. Read the rest

Web Sheriff's legal scare strategy: throw everything at the wall, hope something sticks

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Web Sheriff has been retained by the mysterious celeb(s) at the center of the super injunction over an olive-oil threesome in a paddling pool, and as we learned, merely mentioning that such a thing exists is enough to lure them out of their caves and onto your doorstep, from which vantage they will endlessly pastebomb a series of legal threats, each more bizarre and incoherent than the last. Read the rest

Company says facial features reveal terrorists and pedophiles 80% of the time

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Faception uses 15 secret classifiers of facial features to accuse subjects of terrorism and pedophilia, as well as predicting their poker abilities. Read the rest

No, tax-havens aren't good for society (duh)

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As the Panama Papers story unfolds and we learn more about the systematic world-scale corruption of offshore tax-havens, the usual suspects have mounted a charm-offensive top defend anonymous offshore bank accounts as critical to democracy and a check against the rise of fascism (no, really). Read the rest

Three pieces of statistical "bullshit" about the UK EU referendum

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Economist Tim Harford attacks three of the statistics being widely cited in the campaigns over the upcoming referendum on the UK remaining in the EU, two from the "leave" camp and one from the "stay" camp. Read the rest

Verizon pays $1.35M FCC settlement for using "supercookies"

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In 2014, Verizon was caught sneaking "supercookies" onto its customers' computers -- these are tracking cookies that bypassed the normal cookie system to surveil Verizon users and target ads to them. Read the rest

Detoxing is (worse than) bullshit: high lead levels in "detox clay"

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"Bentonite Me Baby" is a brand of "detox clay" that you spread on your face, or eat, to rid your body of mysterious, nonspecific "toxins." It is full of lead. Read the rest

University of Maryland claims sponsor's chocolate milk helps concussion recovery

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The University of Maryland's Maryland Industrial Partnerships program hooks up researchers with businesses: just before Christmas, MIPS sent out a press-release claiming that a local brand of chocolate milk aided in recovery from concussions sustained playing high school football. Read the rest

Why all scientific diet research turns out to be bullshit

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The gold standard for researching the effects of diet on health is the self-reported food-diary, which is prone to lots of error, underreporting of "bad" food, and changes in diet that result from simply keeping track of what you're eating. The standard tool for correcting these errors comparisons with more self-reported tests. Read the rest

Exponential population growth and other unkillable science myths

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There's a widespread understanding that the vaccine-autism link and climate denial are bullshit, but there are plenty of widespread science myths that are repeated by people who should know better, from the idea that early screening lowers cancer mortality to the idea that the human population is growing exponentially. Read the rest

Everybody knows: FBI won't confirm or deny buying cyberweapons from Hacking Team

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Back in July, a hacker dumped the emails and other files from Hacking Team, Italy's notorious cyber-arms dealer. Coincidentally, Vice had recently filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the FBI, asking if they were buying cyberweapons from Hacking Team. Read the rest

"Reporter" who wrote ridiculous story about Snowden leaks in China admits he was just acting as a government stenographer

Tom Harper wrote the ridiculous cover story in the Sunday Times in which anonymous government sources claimed that the Russians and Chinese had somehow gained the power to decrypt copies of the files Edward Snowden took from the NSA, depite the fact that these files were never in Russia and despite the fact that the UK government claims that when criminals use crypto on their communications, the state is powerless to decrypt them. Read the rest

Translation: once they learn the truth, techies hate and fear us

US Defense Secretary: Snowden Caused Tensions With Techies Read the rest

SF Muni spends anti-terror money on fare evaders because it's a gateway to terrorism

Cmdr. Mikail Ali, the former top transit police officer in San Francisco, justified spending anti-terror funding on fare evaders because "Fare evasion is the nexus by which we make those initial contacts [with criminals]" and cracking down on it lets them find terrorists. Read the rest

NSA can't find any emails from Snowden, then it can (convenient, no?)

Yesterday, the NSA released an email from Edward Snowden to his superiors asking about the legality of NSA spying, claiming it was the only evidence they had that he ever tried to go through channels before turning leaker; on its face, this is pretty damning. But there's one problem: six months ago, the NSA claimed that they had no emails of the sort from Snowden, and then this one happened to turn up just in time to counter Snowden's allegations on US TV that he'd tried to blow the whistle from inside. My guess? Someone as canny as Snowden kept copies of all the communiques he made and flags he raised, and will be shortly making the NSA look like pathetic liars (again). Read the rest

De-obfuscating Big Cable's numbers: investment flat since 2000

The cable lobby group NCTA claims the industry has been investing record amounts in network upgrades, which will dry up if they are forced to endure Net Neutrality. Techdirt points out that Big Cable's numbers are cumulative, and re-runs them year on year. Turns out investment has been flat since about 2000. Read the rest

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