Algorithmic risk-assessment: hiding racism behind "empirical" black boxes

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Courts around America and the world increasingly rely on software based risk-assessment software in determining bail and sentencing; the systems require the accused to answer more than a hundred questions which are fed into a secret model that spits out a single-digit "risk score" that courts use to decide who to lock up, and for how long. Read the rest

Plagiarism detection app vs Russia's elites: 1-2 fake PhDs discovered every day

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Dissernet, a leaderless collective of Russian scientists and journalists scrapes the doctoral dissertations of Russian elites -- who have been attaining advanced degrees at an unprecedented rate -- runs them through plagiarism detection software to flag probable frauds for human review, and publishes the names of officials who've been caught cheating, one or two every day. Read the rest

Paypal refuses to deliver online purchases to UK addresses containing "Isis"

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The Isis River, which flows through the English university city of Oxford, has inspired many place names that include "Isis," including "Isis Close." Read the rest

Disney movies head exclusively to Netflix starting in September

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“Netflix will become the exclusive US pay TV home of the latest films from Disney, Marvel, Lucasfilm and Pixar,” Netflix announced today in a blog post. The blockbuster Netflix/Disney deal from 2012 goes into effect this fall.

From September onwards, Netflix will become the exclusive US pay TV home of the latest films from Disney, Marvel, Lucasfilm and Pixar. And we’re excited to be bringing you new and exclusive Netflix Original movies including Mascots from the master of low-key comedy Christopher Guest (Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, A Mighty Wind) and War Machine, from acclaimed Australian director David Michod and starring Brad Pitt, in the serio-comic tale of the U.S. military adventure in Afghanistan.

Get Ready for Summer on Netflix US [netflix.com]

Disney and Netflix giveth, and they taketh away. In the long list of titles Netflix will be adding and removing next month, one noticeable loss is some really great ‘90s Disney movies. From E Online:

Hercules, Mulan, Hunchback of Notre Dame and Hunchback of Notre Dame II (actually from 2002) will all be gone off Netflix in June. Hercules, an underrated classic if you ask us, will no longer be available come June 1. On the plus side, you still have time to enjoy the Hunchback of Notre Dame series and Mulan until June 24. Not every Disney animated movie will be off Netflix next month, so this situation could be worse. Tarzan, Robin Hood, Lilo & Stitch and Emperor's New Groove will still be around for your viewing pleasure.

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Pat Buchanan on the Republican Party's historical opposition to free trade deals

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Arch-conservative Patrick J Buchanan's May column in American Conservative (an organ he founded) traces the history of the Republican Party's position on free trade, arguing that the "party of Lincoln" opposed free trade deals from its first days (Lincoln: "I am in favor of a national bank... and a high protective tariff") through to Reagan's tariffs against Japanese motorcycles. Read the rest

United offered men-only "executive" flights until 1970

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The flights operated between NYC and Chicago and LA and San Francisco, came with complimentary cigars and specially prepared meals, and were off-limits to women and children; some services were co-branded with the Wall Street Journal. Read the rest

Elderly man kills wife because they couldn't afford her medicine

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William J. Hager of Port St. Lucie, Florida is a 86 year old man who confessed to shooting his 76 year old wife, Carolyn Hager, in her sleep, because the couple could no longer afford her medications, leaving her in pain and wanting to die. Read the rest

American Youtube musician breaks silence over 100-day detention in Jakarta

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Ewan writes, "In Septempber of last year, American YouTube musician Kina Grannis embarked on a tour of Asia. As usual, her social media presences detailed the process beautifully (I've interviewed Kina myself and have called her the gold standard among YouTube musicians on more than one occasion). Read the rest

Airbnb stealth-updates terms of service, says it's not an insurer and requires binding arbitration

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The March 29 edition of Airbnb's terms of service requires that people who rent out their homes acknowledge that despite the company's widely advertised Host Protection Insurance program, "you understand and agree that Airbnb does not act as an insurer." Read the rest

Oculus breaks promise, uses DRM to kill app that let you switch VR systems

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As recently as 5 months ago, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey was promising his customers that they could play the software they bought from the Oculus store on "whatever they want," guaranteeing that the company wouldn't shut down apps that let customers move their purchased software to non-Oculus hardware. Read the rest

Apple rejects game about Palestine because political messages disqualify games from consideration

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Liyla and the Shadows of War (Google Play link) is a game about a child's struggles living in the Gaza strip, and Apple says it is ineligible for consideration for inclusion in the Ios App Store because it would be "more appropriate to categorize your app in News or Reference for example." Read the rest

Time Warner Cable CEO Rob Marcus gets $92 million severance after 2.5 years on the job

Robert Marcus, outgoing Time Warner Cable CEO [Reuters]
The sale of Time Warner Cable to Charter Communications is completed today, and former TWC customers (including me) can probably look forward to a whole new era of crappy service, Netflix throttling, and horrible customer service experiences under our new broadband overlords.

Read the rest

How much is your ISP ripping you off? New Netflix speed test tool can answer that.

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Streaming video service Netflix today launched Fast.com, which shows you your internet connections in megabits per second. You can use it on your mobile or over your home broadband connection, and it doesn't require a Netflix account.

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Elsevier buys SSRN

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Elsevier is one of the world's largest scholarly publishers and one of the most bitter enemies that open access publishing has; SSRN is one of the biggest open access scholarly publishing repositories in the world: what could possibly go wrong? Read the rest

Copyright trolls Rightscorp are teetering on the verge of bankruptcy

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Rightscorp, the copyright trolls whose business-model was convincing ISPs to freeze their customers' Internet access in response to unsubstantiated copyright accusations, and then ransom those connections back for $20 each, will be out of money by the end of this quarter. Read the rest

Phoenix airport threatens to kick out TSA, hire private (unaccountable) contractors

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The administrators of the Phoenix Sky Harbor airport are apparently considering getting rid of the TSA and replacing them with private contractors, similar to the setup at San Francisco International Airport. Read the rest

US Gov't survey: Half of Americans reluctant to shop online due to privacy & security fears

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A study by the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration found that half of American Internet users are "deterred" from engaging in online transactions because of fears over privacy and security breaches. Read the rest

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