Report: iCloud plan puts China's Apple users at risk

According to The Hong Kong Free Press, Apple is set to hand over the keys to the the accounts of iCloud users in China to a company owned by the surveillance and censorship-happy Chinese government.

Guizhou-Cloud Big Data (GCBD) will take over the operation of Apple's Chinese data center at the end of February, making GCBD responsible for all legal and financial transactions between the Apple and China's iCloud users. Once GCBD is running the show, Apple will be responsible for investing one billion USD to build a new server farm in Guiyang and to provide technical support in the interest of preserving data security.

Apple's doesn't like telling folks what iCloud user data they're able to read. The information could be limited to the size of uploaded files and where those files were uploaded, or as comprehensive as being able to browse through the photos taken with an iPhone. That China's communist government, which is big on watching the digital doings of its citizens, censorship and political activism could will soon have access to the iCloud account information of every iPhone, iPad or Mac user in China pretty troubling. 

This isn't the first time that Apple has bowed to pressure from the Chinese government, either. At the ass end of 2017, they happily removed close to 700 VPN apps from the Chinese iTunes App Store, making it extremely difficult for iOS users to view uncensored content. So, say good bye to news stories about China and the rest of the world that hasn't been approved by Chinese state censors. Read the rest

China's Internet Czar has been purged

It's been months since Xi Jinping secured another five years in office and got his second five-year plan through Chinese Communist Party, and he's cleaning house: last week, the Chinese state news agency announced that Lu Wei, one of the most powerful internet policymakers in the world, had been fired, purged from the Party, and would be prosecuted for corruption. Read the rest

Chinese transit cops deploy face-recognition glasses to spot indebted people, oppressed ethnic/religious minorities and criminals

Chinese transit cops are wearing glasses with heads-up displays and cameras tied into the country's facial recognition to spot criminals, people smugglers, and riders who are using high-speed trains in defiance of rules that prohibit indebted people and people from ethnic and religious minorities from traveling. Read the rest

Scotty goes to China to make a custom iPhone from spare parts

Last year Scotty of Strange Parts made an iPhone from spare parts he picked up at the mind-boggling electronics markets in Shenzhen, China. He recently returned to buy parts to make a one-of-a-kind iPhone from parts. In this video he selects a back and gets it laser engraved with a neat design.

Enough of these boring looking iPhones - let's make a custom Strange Parts iPhone here in Shenzhen, China. I headed out to the cell phone parts markets in Huaqiangbei, to find a custom iPhone back. I then headed off to the laser engraving booths to have them etch a custom design in the iphone back. I think it came out pretty well!

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Hearing impaired dancers become a 'thousand armed' goddess

Now this is beautiful.

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In-depth investigation of the Alibaba-to-Instagram pipeline for scammy crapgadgets with excellent branding

Artist Jenny Odell created the Bureau of Suspended Objects to photographically archive and researched the manufacturing origins of 200 objects found at a San Francisco city dump; last August, she prepared a special report for Oakland's Museum of Capitalism about the bizarre world of shitty "free" watches sold through Instagram influences and heavily promoted through bottom-feeding remnant ad-buys, uncovering a twilight zone of copypasted imagery and promotional materials livened with fake stories about mysterious founders and branded tales. Read the rest

Trump slaps 30% tariff on imported solar-cells

It's a political no-brainer for Trump, who gets to clobber the renewables market, rattle his saber at China, extend the viable economic life of climate-destroying hydrocarbon fuels (like coal) and rile up the libs. Read the rest

Marriott fires employee for "willfully liking" a tweet in support of Tibetan independence

Marriott has fired one of its social media managers because the employee "wrongfully liked" a tweet from Friends of Tibet, a group that supports Tibetan independence from China. Read the rest

China's new army of nationalist trolls is an all-volunteer force

The early days of the Chinese national internet strategy were dominated by the 50-Cent Army, so-called because they were reputed to be paid 0.5 RMB for ever patriotic message they posted to social media; but as the volume of quackspeak astroturfing rose, the army's composition changed to patriotic government employees putting in extra time off the clock to support their country. Read the rest

Only Chinese companies will be allowed to map Chinese roads

Self-driving cars require incredibly accurate, up-to-date maps; in China, only Chinese companies will be able to make these maps. Nominally, this is about preventing espionage, but it also has the non-coincedental effect of forcing foreign autonomous vehicle companies to partner with (much more easily controlled) Chinese firms, a policy already in place for traditional auto manufacturing. Read the rest

Anatomy of how crooks use financial secrecy in the UK and New Zealand to rip off international investors with impunity

The financial secrecy regimes in New Zealand and the UK create many opportunities for "jurisdictional regulatory arbitrage," playing each system's weaknesses off against the other to operate in near-perfect secrecy, creating companies whose owners are anonymized but still able to cash out the firms' profits -- an enormous boon to fraudsters who run Ponzi schemes and other dodgy enterprises that rely on the UK and New Zealands' reputation as places of good governance and financial uprightness. Read the rest

China will collect the DNA of every adult in Xinjiang province, where Uyghur people are systematically oppressed

Xinjiang province is the site of intense surveillance and oppression, even by Chinese standards; it's home to the largely Muslim Uyghur minority, and a combination of racism and Islamaphobia drive a uniquely intrusive grade of policing and surveillance. Read the rest

Material culture, considered (harmful?)

Designer, maker and writer Hillary Predko's "Kipple Field Notes" is five short essays on the nature of stuff in the 21st century, its relationship to justice, the environment, cities, intergenerational strife, housing, and geopolitics. Read the rest

Man painted own road signs to get to work faster

A man in China was fined $125 after painting his own road signs to expedite his daily commute.

The Modern Express reports that a 28-year-old man surnamed Cai, was fined 1,000 yuan (£112; $151) in the eastern city of Lianyungang, Jiangsu province. He was captured on camera on 27 September with a can of white paint painting new arrows onto the road to redirect traffic, and told police it was the result of frustrations over the long delays on his daily bus journey to work.

"I saw that the straight lane was always packed with cars, while the lane that turns left has a lot of space," he told the police.

"I thought changing the signs would make my commute smoother."

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The stairs in a viral sensation public library in China run with blood, and its "books" are just sheets of aluminum screened with pictures of spines

Starchitect-designed Tianjin Binhai Library is a viral sensation; the Dutch firm MVRDV incorporated a soaring, six-storey spherical atrium with undulating floor-to-ceiling shelves served by striking, irregular white stairs. Read the rest

This "book-lined" Beijing subway car is an audiobook library

Beijing's subway system now includes some experimental cars decorated to look like fanciful, book-lined rooms; scan the QR codes and you get free audiobook downloads for popular Chinese novels. Read the rest

Man chugs beer seasoned with live wrigglers, cigarette smoke and flaming hooch

In this unsourced video that hit Reddit's front page this morning, a man who appears to be Chinese funnels a handful of wrigglers (minnows? eels? loaches?) into a bottle of beer, tops it with a flaming shot of hooch (baiju?) that he's seasoned with a lungful of cigarette smoke, then impressively chugs it in a matter of seconds, all with an air of showmanship; it's a video that combines self-abuse, animal cruelty, dubious intoxicants, and implausible biological feats. Read the rest

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