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In the wake of Blizzard/Activision's announcement of mass layoffs following record profits, Liz Shuler of the AFL-CIO has published an open letter on Kotaku addressed to workers in the notoriously abusive video game industry, calling on them to unionize as the only path to a fair deal. (more…)
Amazon doubled its profits in 2018, to $11.2 billion; the company will receive a $129 million tax rebate for the year. (more…)
Anti-vaxxers know no shame, Facebook is willing to do anything for an ad dollar, water is wet.
Facebook is aggressively being used by anti-vaccination advocates to target pregnant women with sponsored advertisements to spread false information and conspiracy theories as the US battles a climbing measles outbreak.
A sponsored ad found by Quartz journalist Jeremy Merrill shows the anti-vaccination organisation Stop Mandatory Vaccination targeting women ages 20 to 60 who have expressed interest in pregnancy living in the state of Washington – where the governor recently declared a state of emergency over the measles outbreak.
Nearly 50 children and young adults in Clark County, Washington have become sickened by the disease since January.
According to the CDC, there have been over 100 instances of measles since January – more than the entire year of 2016, when there were only 86. So far, nearly every child who has gotten ill is un-vaccinated.
Facebook lets anti-vaxxers target ads specifically at women who are 'interested in pregnancy'.
(But Facebook refuses to put that targeting information into its public database.)
— Jeremy B. Merrill (@jeremybmerrill) February 14, 2019
In the sponsored ad by Stop Mandatory Vaccinations, which has over 100,000 likes on Facebook, it said a woman's daughter died "12 hours after being injected by eight vaccines in 2008."
Vaccination rates have plummeted in pockets of the Pacific Northwest in recent years, as lies about the dangers of vaccines have spread, despite the fact that the measles vaccine is safe for almost everyone and can prevent many debilitating illnesses and death.
5 are dead and five more police officers shot after a gunman opened fire in Aurora, Ill. CBS:
The suspect, identified as Gary Martin, opened fired at Henry Pratt Company Friday afternoon in Aurora and was shot dead, police said.
Martin, 45, is believed to have been employed by the company.
Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman said police were notified about the shooting at 1:24 p.m. They arrived on the scene at 1:28 p.m. and were immediately fired upon.
Five officers were shot. A sixth suffered a knee injury.
Five civilians were killed. The names of the victims have not been released.
ABC News has eyewitness reports:
John Probst, a Henry Pratt employee who escaped the building, said he saw a man holding a pistol with a laser scope. He said he recognized the shooter as a coworker.
There would have been approximately 30 people in the building at the time of the shooting, Probst said.
Probst said he saw other coworkers injured and that the shooter was firing indiscriminately.
"(The shooter) just went ballistic," John Probst, who works at Henry Pratt and was in the building at the time told ABC. "[One victim] came running down; he was bleeding pretty bad."
Probst said he recognized the shooter as a coworker. Probst said he was "rolling down the aisles" with "a pistol with a laser on it."
Just the other day I remarked that the fashion industry picked the worst possible year to try and make racist imagery cool, even as it's obvious why such an insular and privileged culture would think it clever and edgy. Hot on the heels of Katy Perry's blaceface shoes we have Vogue exec Donata Meirelles "on a throne with two black women in traditional dress standing either side of her." She quit when the photo got out.
It has been suggested that the black women's clothes were similar to those worn by slaves, while the throne resembled a cadeira de sinhá - a chair for slave masters.
Other pictures from the party, in Salvador de Bahia in northeast Brazil, show traditionally-dressed black women welcoming and ushering guests.
Rita Batista, a TV presenter, posed the picture with an 1860 photo of a white woman sitting next to two slaves to make the implication clearer.
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“(...)Já as escravas de casas ricas eram adornadas por seus próprios senhores. Quando saíam para as ruas acompanhando suas senhoras ou crianças, eram exibidas em trajes finos e carregadas de joias.A própria escrava era um objeto de ostentação do dono, um objeto de luxo a ser mostrado publicamente”. Trecho do livro Jóias de Crioula de Laura Cunha e Thomas Milz. A primeira foto foi tirada em 1860. De acordo com @edercansino a foto que faz parte do acervo do @imoreirasalles, intitulada “senhora da família Costa Carvalho na liteira com dois escravos” foi feita na Bahia por fotógrafo desconhecido. A segunda imagem é de 2019 mesmo. #sóeuacheiestranho #Bahiaterradafelicidade #ritadeixederecalque #passeodedinhoprolado #osprincípiosacimadaspersonalidades #qualquersemelhança #nãoémeracoincidência
When you're learning to play a musical instrument, you have to play the same songs and scales over and over again. YouTube's algorithm doesn't seem to know this, and so it demonetized a piano tutorial channel for "Repetitious content."
We just found out that our channel was demonetised for "Repetitious content" and we believe that this is an error, possibly decided by an algorithm, and now the biggest part of our livelihood has been taken away. Please help us by discussing this (tweeting and posting) if possible. We need to be heard by YouTube. It's a risk for the piano and synthesia community as we all have similar-looking videos.
I hope they get this sorted out soon!
Alfonso Ribeiro sure can move, but the Copyright office doesn't see anything registerable about it. This ruling further imperils Ribeiro's claim that Epic Games 'Fortnite' has stolen from him.
The US Copyright Office refused to register The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star Alfonso Ribeiro’s “Carlton dance” routine, likely weakening lawsuits against two game studios that copied the dance. In new legal filings, Take-Two Interactive produced letters and emails from the Copyright Office, showing serious concern over whether the dance qualified for copyright protection and, if it could, whether Ribeiro even owned the rights.
Ribeiro sued Take-Two for copying the Carlton dance, which he created while playing Fresh Prince character Carlton Banks, for a celebratory dance gesture in NBA 2K. He’s also filed a lawsuit against Epic Games, which used a version of the Carlton dance in Fortnite. As The Hollywood Reporter notes, Take-Two filed a defense earlier this week, asking a judge to dismiss the case. It argues that Banks’ dance is too basic to be protected by copyright, which only covers more complex “choreography.”
A letter from the Copyright Office backs up that argument — at least, for one of three dance variations that Ribeiro submitted. The letter calls his submission “a simple routine made up of three dance steps” and refuses registration. “The fact that a dance or movement may contain more than a trivial amount of original authorship is irrelevant,” it reads. In other words, even if Ribeiro’s dance was unique and distinctive, it’s not protected by copyright.
Ja Rule, who claims he hasn't watched either of the Fyre festival documentaries, is ready to rise like a phoenix from the, er, flames:
"(Fyre is) the most iconiq festival that never was," he says. "So I have plans to create the iconic music festival."
According to Digg, this bus driver in China realized he wouldn't make it through a toll plaza so he pulled a u-ey. I think he actually wanted to grab a killer parking spot on the other side of the road.
“I swear the secret ingredient is crack!”
Comfy Jr is selling a set of five Paperback Paradise postcards, including:
Incel From Another Planet
Here They Come: The Bats That Kicked My Ass
Whose Cat is This?
Secret Sex Skeleton
Eat Celestial Shit
“Maximus the Akita refusing to come inside yet again,” or COCAINE'S A HELLUVA DRUG, you pick.
Trump admitted this morning that his "National Emergency" is not actually an emergency – "I didn't need to do this," he said about it. But the National Emergency would allow him to build his wall "faster."
"I want to do it faster," he said. "I can do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn't need to do this. I would rather do it much faster. I don't have to do it for the election. I have already done a lot of wall for the election 2020."
George Conway, a conservative lawyer — and the husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway — who has been critical of the president, tweeted that Trump's comment "should be the first sentence of the first paragraph of every complaint filed this afternoon."
Former US attorney Joyce Alene tweeted that Trump's comments were a "gift to all the lawyers preparing to sue him." Elizabeth Goitein of the Brennan Center for Justice tweeted that they were "plaintiffs' Exhibit A." Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe tweeted, "Some emergency!" Adi Kamdar, a fellow at the Knight First Amendment Institute, tweeted, "The brief practically writes itself."
This quote should be the first sentence of the first paragraph of every complaint filed this afternoon. https://t.co/ClHQhpTaEe
— George Conway (@gtconway3d) February 15, 2019
Trump, questioned by @PeterAlexander, concedes there’s no national emergency to justify building his wall. “I didn’t need to do this.” “I just want to do it faster.” A gift to all the lawyers preparing to sue him.
— Joyce Alene (@JoyceWhiteVance) February 15, 2019
POTUS just now, on declaring a national emergency: "I could do the wall over a much longer period of time... I didn't need to do this." That's plaintiffs' Exhibit A.
— Elizabeth Goitein (@LizaGoitein) February 15, 2019
Trump just said “I didn’t need to do this.” Some emergency!
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) February 15, 2019
The brief practically writes itself. https://t.co/4SNijGYdEk
— Adi Kamdar (@adikamdar) February 15, 2019
Image: Gage Skidmore/Flickr
“The natural world is a beautiful place, so inviting, bit slippery but god i love gushing waterfalls.” (more…)
Need a song for the third act of your indy film? Here you go:
Wyoming GOP Senator explains death-penalty vote by saying that being executed was good enough for Jesus, so it's good enough for criminals
A bill to repeal Wyoming's death penalty law has failed in the state senate, thanks, in part, to the vote of Sen. Lynn Hutchings [R-Cheyenne, contact details], who said, "The greatest man who ever lived died via the death penalty for you and me. I’m grateful to him for our future hope because of this. Governments were instituted to execute justice. If it wasn’t for Jesus dying via the death penalty, we would all have no hope."
Despite public pledges, leading scientific journals still allow statistical misconduct and refuse to correct it
A leading form of statistical malpractice in scientific studies is to retroactively comb through the data for "interesting" patterns; while such patterns may provide useful leads for future investigations, simply cherry-picking data that looks significant out of a study that has otherwise failed to prove out the researcher's initial hypothesis can generate false -- but plausible-seeming -- conclusions. (more…)
The non-profit research organization, Open AI, developed a system called GPT-2, which "generates synthetic text samples in response to the model being primed with an arbitrary input. The model is chameleon-like — it adapts to the style and content of the conditioning text. This allows the user to generate realistic and coherent continuations about a topic of their choosing, as seen by the following select samples."
GPT-2 is so good at writing fake news that the developer said, "Due to our concerns about malicious applications of the technology, we are not releasing the trained model."
Here's an example of the output:
SYSTEM PROMPT (HUMAN-WRITTEN)
Recycling is good for the world.
NO! YOU COULD NOT BE MORE WRONG!!
MODEL COMPLETION (MACHINE-WRITTEN, 25 TRIES)
Recycling is NOT good for the world. It is bad for the environment, it is bad for our health, and it is bad for our economy. I’m not kidding. Recycling is not good for the environment. It is destructive to the earth and it is a major contributor to global warming. Recycling is not good for our health. It contributes to obesity and diseases like heart disease and cancer. Recycling is bad for our economy. It increases the cost of a product, and in turn, the price of everything that is made with that product. Recycling is not good for our nation. We pay a tremendous price for the privilege of having the world’s most advanced and efficient recycling system. Recycling is a huge, colossal waste of time, energy, money, and resources. And THAT is why we need to get back to basics and get back to basics in our recycling efforts. One of the best ways to start is to look at the process of creating a paper product. When you make a paper product, it is basically a long chain of materials. Everything from the raw materials (wood, cardboard, paper, etc.), to the reagents (dyes, solvents, etc.) to the printing equipment (chemicals, glue, paper, ink, etc.), to the packaging, to the packaging materials (mercury, chemicals, etc.) to the processing equipment (heating, cooling, etc.), to the packaging materials, to the packaging materials that are shipped overseas and to the packaging materials that are used in the United States. Each step along the way creates tons of waste that we constantly have to clean up. The process of making a paper product is a very wasteful one. But the end result is something that all of us need to consume. And if we want to keep the recycling process running efficiently, then we really need to think about each and every step that goes into making a paper product.
Image: Alex Mit/Shutterstock