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Wed, 22 May 2019
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Monsanto spied on friend and foe alike in several countries to steer opinion about GMO and herbicides

monsanto spying
© Global Look Press / Helmut Meyer zur Capellen
The recently exposed illegal dossier US herbicide maker Monsanto, now owned by German pharmaceutical firm Bayer, apparently compiled to influence public opinion, included people from seven European states and maybe beyond.

Monsanto files listing prominent pro- and anti-herbicide public figures, initially revealed by French media, included "stakeholders in France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom, as well as regarding stakeholders related to EU institutions," AFP reported citing Bayer's statement on Tuesday. The company added that it is currently trying to determine whether similar lists exist in other states and hired a law firm for this purpose.

Earlier in May, French media reported that around 200 journalists, politicians, and scientists were named in the filing, created by PR firm FleishmanHillard on behalf of Monsanto. The list, which covered the personalities' views on herbicides and GMO, whether they could be further influenced and reportedly included a lot of personal data, was initially thought to exist only in France, before Bayer admitted that people in other countries might also have been targeted.


92 percent of sex-specific scholarships are reserved for women, study finds

women graduating
University of Michigan-Flint economist Mark Perry has company in his one-man crusade to expose scholarships that exclude men from consideration in possible violation of the law.

Stop Abusive and Violent Environments, which advocates for the due process rights of accused students, has added fair treatment in scholarships to its earlier agenda of fair treatment in sexual misconduct proceedings for both men and women.

The group analyzed sex-specific scholarships at "115 of the nation's largest universities" and found fewer than 10 percent reserved for men. To be specific, fewer than 100 out of nearly 1,200. The rest were reserved for women.

Eye 1

Thanks to Facebook data mining, your cell company can now surreptitiously decide if you're creditworthy enough sell you a new phone - and other fun facts

facebook big brother surveillance
© Soohee Cho/The Intercept
Among the mega-corporations that surveil you, your cellphone carrier has always been one of the keenest monitors, in constant contact with the one small device you keep on you at almost every moment. A confidential Facebook document reviewed by The Intercept shows that the social network courts carriers, along with phone makers - some 100 different companies in 50 countries - by offering the use of even more surveillance data, pulled straight from your smartphone by Facebook itself.

Offered to select Facebook partners, the data includes not just technical information about Facebook members' devices and use of Wi-Fi and cellular networks, but also their past locations, interests, and even their social groups. This data is sourced not just from the company's main iOS and Android apps, but from Instagram and Messenger as well. The data has been used by Facebook partners to assess their standing against competitors, including customers lost to and won from them, but also for more controversial uses like racially targeted ads.

Light Sabers

The Financial Times' editorial board warns Washington's 'coercive steps' against Huawei are 'seriously misguided'

The FT's editorial board rarely agrees with the Trump administration, and when it comes to Washington's decision to blacklist Huawei, the paper's editors believe Trump is making a massive miscalculation.

FT reporters warned yesterday that Google's decision to cut Huawei off from most Android-related offerings represented a "hammer blow" to the telecoms giant's rapidly expanding smartphone business.

Analysts quoted by the South China Morning Post on Tuesday warned that "as far as overseas markets go, this move just turned Huawei's upcoming phones into paperweights."

Beijing, for its part, has sworn to cultivate whole supply chains and app-based ecosystems out of nothing to insulate Huawei from Washington's blacklisting. In this, the FT editors apparently believe the Chinese might succeed.

Stock Down

Oddly enough, study says the US has become LESS racist under Trump - Anti-black, anti-Hispanic prejudice declining

Mission Imposs
© YouTube
President Donald Trump
The election of Donald Trump has, of course, unleashed the latent racist which lurks within millions of Americans. We know this because enlightened opinion keeps telling us so. The New Yorker, for example, ran a piece in November 2016 declaring 'Hate on rise since Trump's election', and quoting a list of incidents collected by the Southern Poverty Law Center - including the experience of a girl in Colorado who was allegedly told by a white man: 'Now that Trump is president I am going to shoot you and all the blacks I can find'. TIME magazine, too, ran a story in the same month announcing 'Racist incidents are up since Donald Trump's election'. In March 2017 the Nation asserted 'Donald Trump's rise has coincided with an explosion in hate groups', claiming that 100 racist organizations had been founded since Trump began his presidential campaign.

And so it goes on. Just as with Britain's vote for Brexit, Trump's strident language and his concentration on issues such as migration is supposed to have coarsened political discourse - legitimizing racist and xenophobic opinions in people who might otherwise have been shamed into silence. By this narrative, even slightly immoderate speeches, posters and campaigns by politicians become magnified through the lens of public opinion into something much more sinister. A speech on migration, goes the theory, can all too easily erupt into bar room arguments and end with a Muslim or a black man having his head kicked in.

It sounds vaguely plausible, but is it true?

Comment: Or maybe Obama was just a sh*t president who was a vacuous yes-man for the deep state, whereas Trump has integrity and is popular.

See also:

Red Flag

Middle schoolers allegedly feed bodily fluids to teachers during gourmet cooking competition

crepe making
© Shutterstock
Worst class ever?

A group of middle school students in Ohio allegedly served urine-and-semen-filled crepes to their teachers during a "gourmet" cooking competition - and are now being investigated by the local authorities, a report says.

The stomach-churning meal went down Thursday at Hyatts Middle School in Powell, according to WBNS.

The teachers involved were reportedly judges for the cooking contest, which happened during a "Global Gourmet" class and was captured on video. Several students allegedly put urine and/or semen onto the crepes and fed them to faculty members, the local sheriff's office reports.

Investigators were probing the incident on Monday and weighing felony assault charges.


Study reveals many Dems, claiming mental distress after Trump won the election, were faking it

Anne Devlin
© AP/Tamir Kalifa
Anne Devlin, from Plano, Texas, cries in the gallery of the House of Representatives after the Electoral College voted at the state Capitol in Austin, Texas, Monday, Dec. 19, 2016.
In the wake of the 2016 election, liberals nationwide were claiming significant mental/emotional distress. Last month so-called comedian Chelsea Handler claimed Trump's election drove her to drugs and to seek psychiatrist help for anxiety relief, yada, yada, yada.

But, according to a new study published in SAGE Open (an open-access, peer-reviewed, academic journal), many registered Democrats were embellishing their mental anguish "as a means to back their party."
"Our research suggests that for many Democrats, expressing mental distress after the election was a form of partisan cheerleading," write researchers Masha Krupenkin, David Rothschild, Shawndra Hill and Elad Yom-Tov in their findings. "Clearly, many Democrats were, and are, upset about the Republican victory in 2016; these findings do not invalidate those feelings but put their depth and related actions into perspective."

Cell Phone

Private contact information of millions of Instagram influencers found in a Mumbai database

© Dado Ruvic / Reuters
A massive database containing contact information of millions of Instagram influencers, celebrities and brand accounts has been found online.

The database, hosted by Amazon Web Services, was left exposed and without a password allowing anyone to look inside. At the time of writing, the database had over 49 million records - but was growing by the hour.

From a brief review of the data, each record contained public data scraped from influencer Instagram accounts, including their bio, profile picture, the number of followers they have, if they're verified and their location by city and country, but also contained their private contact information, such as the Instagram account owner's email address and phone number.

Security researcher Anurag Sen discovered the database and alerted TechCrunch in an effort to find the owner and get the database secured. We traced the database back to Mumbai-based social media marketing firm Chtrbox, which pays influencers to post sponsored content on their accounts. Each record in the database contained a record that calculated the worth of each account, based off the number of followers, engagement, reach, likes and shares they had. This was used as a metric to determine how much the company could pay an Instagram celebrity or influencer to post an ad.

Arrow Up

Alabama public television won't air same-sex marriage episode of PBS children's show Arthur

PBS series Arthur

A file image from WGBH in Boston and Cinar Corp. of the public television character "Arthur." Alabama Public Television opted to not show an episode of the animated series which featured a gay wedding.
Alabama Public Television chose not to air PBS's Arthur episode that included a same-sex marriage.

In the episode, which aired nationwide May 13, Arthur and his friends attend their beloved teacher Mr. Ratburn's nuptials to his partner.

APT preempted the episode by showing a re-run of Arthur.

Mike Mckenzie, director of programming at APT, said APT was notified by WGBH and PBS in mid-April about the episode titled "Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone" and decided to show a re-run. Mckenzie said APT has no plans to air the episode at a later date.

"Parents have trusted Alabama Public Television for more than 50 years to provide children's programs that entertain, educate and inspire," Mckenzie said in an email. "More importantly - although we strongly encourage parents to watch television with their children and talk about what they have learned afterwards - parents trust that their children can watch APT without their supervision. We also know that children who are younger than the 'target' audience for Arthur also watch the program."

Comment: Seems a reasonable stance to take, i.e. let parents decide what their children will be exposed to and when!

Star of David

Eurovision organisers threaten Icelandic band with 'consequences' for displaying support for Palestine at Israeli event

Eurovision hatari palestine flag
© Screenshot dalla diretta EBU/emma Beswick
Icelandic group Hatari makes a statement at Eurovision
Iceland protested against Israeli occupation of Palestine

The European Broadcasting Union has hinted at punishment for the Icelandic delegation following Hatari's protest at the Eurovision Song Contest final.

Tensions have been high this year at Eurovision due to the host country Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories, with calls for artists and viewers to boycott the contest.

And during the voting, Iceland's act Hatari showed their support for Palestine by holding up flags and banners reading 'Palestine' when the camera cut to them in the green room.

The EBU, which runs Eurovision, said of the protest:
'In the live broadcast of the Eurovision Song Contest Grand Final, Hatari, the Icelandic act, briefly displayed small Palestinian banners whilst sat in the Green Room. The Eurovision Song Contest is a non-political event and this directly contradicts the contest's rules.

Comment: Pretty cynical rules, as Israel has played up hosting Eurovision in every way possible for the last year, in an attempt to portray "that sh*tty little country" as cultured and civilized. Try as they might, Israel cannot keep the reality of their oppression of Palestine from creeping into even the most tightly controlled events. The more they clamp down, the more the truth will spread..