Big Data Ethics: racially biased training data versus machine learning

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Writing in Slate, Cathy "Weapons of Math Destruction" O'Neill, a skeptical data-scientist, describes the ways that Big Data intersects with ethical considerations. Read the rest

Ten hard truths about the Flint water atrocity

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Years before the complaints from Flint's citizenry about their water provoked action from the state, Governor Rick Snyder spent $440,000 to supply better water to the GM factory, where the new water supply was corroding the car parts on the assembly line. Read the rest

Guess who donated all the money to Black Americans for a Better Future Super PAC? Rich white men.

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The Super PAC has $417,250 to spend on the upcoming election. $400K of that came from Robert Mercer, a white billionaire hedge-fund titan who is the major funder of the Ted Cruz campaign. Read the rest

Michael Moore: Flint needs a revolution, not bottled water

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Michael Moore, perhaps Flint, MI's most famous son, has written an open letter to people who are heartsick at the thought of a whole generation of mostly poor, mostly black children being given permanent brain damage through lead poisoning, thanks to the deliberate indifference of the state's Republican administration and the greedy people who elected them. Read the rest

Donald Trump's dad was Woody Guthrie's hated Klansman landlord

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Woodie Guthrie lived in one of Fred Trump's building for two years, starting in 1950, and was so taken with the KKK-affiliated landlord, who bribed federal officials in exchange for government handouts that he used to build his income property. Read the rest

What the Democratic Party did to alienate poor white Americans

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Robert Reich (previously), Bill Clinton's Secretary of Labor, asks "Why did the white working class abandon the Democrats?" and answers himself: it's partly about race, but it's mostly about finance. Read the rest

Freedom: a #blacklivesmatter anthem

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Evan writes, "Puerta Rican singer Taina Asili has released a new music video, 'Freedom,' that's a perfect anthem for the #BlackLivesMatter movement that illuminates the connections between police violence and mass incarceration. The scene opens as a black woman narrowly escapes arrest at a protest, and then follows her as she evades police, interspersed with images of the same actress portraying a runaway slave on the underground railroad." Read the rest

Martin Luther King, socialist: "capitalism has outlived its usefulness"

In the great tradition of political heroes, Martin Luther King's legacy has been sanitized and purged of its most radical and urgent notions, watered down to a kind of meek pacifism that omits his beliefs in radical political change as a necessary condition of attaining real justice. Read the rest

Charter schools are turning into the next subprime mortgages

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Subprime mortgages began as a project to extend credit to poor people to give them a bridge to home-ownership, but it did so by allowing unscrupulous lenders to offer credit on unfair terms, with government guarantees to back the loans, even the bad ones. Read the rest

Armed domestic terrorists take over federal building, but it's OK, they're white

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A group of white separatist domestic terrorists have occupied the Malheur National Widlife Refuge Building in Burns, Oregon, fronted by the racist terrorist leader Cliven Bundy, who organized supporters to point sniper rifles at federal officers without any consequence in Nevada last year. Read the rest

In Texas, a 12 year old Sikh boy was arrested for "terrorism" over a solar charger

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Dallas cops put Armaan Singh Sarai in jail for three days because someone mistook the solar panel on his phone-charging backpack for a bomb. 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

Airbnb hosts consistently discriminate against black people

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Harvard Business School's Benjamin Edelman, Michael Luca, and Dan Svirsky created 20 identical Airbnb profiles, ten of which had names meant to sound African-American, ten of which were meant to sound white and undertook thousands of attempted Airbnb bookings in Baltimore, Dallas, LA, St Louis and DC. They found that black-seeming Airbnb users were 16% more likely to have their requests declined than white-seeming users. Read the rest

Harlem Cryptoparty: Crypto matters for #blacklivesmatter

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This week's Radio Motherboard podcast (MP3) talks with Matthew Mitchell, a former data journalist who organizes Harlem Cryptoparty, a regular training meeting for black activists who want to learn to defend themselves against the burgeoning police/DHS practice of racially profiling black activists through targeted surveillance.

Though social media surveillance is a modern phenomenon, the US government has a long and shameful history of surveilling black activists (see, for example, the FBI's attempt to convince Martin Luther King to kill himself).

Harlem Cryptoparty is an attempt to help black people armor themselves against everyday surveillance, promoted through barbershops, hair salons, black churches and flyers in the neighborhood.

2:24 Mitchell explains why a cryptography meetup makes sense in Harlem.

5:05 In order to reach the Harlem community, you have to recruit offline.

7:55 Cryptoparties and privacy events are still rare in the inner city in predominantly black and Latino communities, even though it’s not just a hypothetical threat. “You’re worried about, hey this guy threw me against a wall, flashed a badge at me, took my phone, he said if I gave him the phone he’ll let me walk, otherwise I have to do paper work. What was he doing with it?”

9:40 Nusrat Choudury from the ACLU’s Racial Justice program joins us. She wrote this piece, “The Government Is Watching #BlackLivesMatter, And It’s Not Okay.”

12:40 There is a pattern throughout history of the government using the fear of threats to conduct surveillance on “people who look or act different.”

15:30 A private security firm called Zero Fox collected information on protesters in Baltimore and labeled some “high severity physical threats.”

The Black Community Needs Encryption [Adrianne Jeffries/Vice] Read the rest

US immigration law: so f'ed up that Trump's no-Muslim plan would be constitutional

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For more than a century, the US judiciary has been handing down rulings that affirm that non-US citizens, including those seeking entry into the USA, have no rights under the US Constitution -- rulings that also grant the President the power to exclude people based on race, marital status and other biased grounds. Read the rest

Multi-generational cruelty: America's prisons shutting down kids' visitations

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The history of American prison visitations are a mix of racism ("black men, denied sex, will riot in jail") and compassion -- especially the late 1960s' ground-breaking, multi-day family visitation programs that allowed prisoners to play and live with their children for a whole weekend a few times every year. Read the rest

Racist algorithms: how Big Data makes bias seem objective

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The Ford Foundation's Michael Brennan discusses the many studies showing how algorithms can magnify bias -- like the prevalence of police background check ads shown against searches for black names. Read the rest

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