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Sat, 25 May 2019
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Who's afraid of Huawei? Why Google's 'fatal blow' may actually be a sign of desperation

© Reuters/Soe Zeya Tun
Are the consequences of Google complying with the US' Huawei ban as serious as they are made out to be? While some claim the move spells the end of the Chinese tech giant, they say they have only begun to fight.

Looking at the coverage following Google's bombshell decision to suspend one of Android's largest distributors, one would get the impression that things are very bleak indeed.

Whereas just last month Huawei surpassed Apple to become the world's second largest cell phone vendor, just as the company began working around the world to install history changing 5G technology, suddenly the company's entire future is being declared "uncertain."

While some are even claiming Google's blow might be "fatal," the rumors of Huawei's death have likely been grossly exaggerated.

Red Flag

Children in social services system most at risk of being sex trafficked

© CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images
Among children reported as likely victims of child sex trafficking upon running away from home, most have one thing in common-they were supposed to be looked after by the government.

In 2014, some 10,000 endangered runaway children were reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), a nonprofit that serves as a clearinghouse for reports on missing children. Nearly 1,700 of them were likely victims of sex trafficking and of those, 68 percent were in the care of social services when they went missing, be it a group home, a government facility, or foster care.

While these sobering statistics have been reported for years by the NCMEC, more recent data suggests that the problem is even more acute.

In 2017, nearly 25,000 runaways reported to NCMEC and nearly 3,600 were likely victims of sex trafficking. Of those, 88 percent came from the social services system.

Comment: The social services system in the US needs to be completely dismantled, taken out of the hands of the incompetent government and be run by private organizations. It's a complete travesty as it exists right now.

No Entry

US shutters large migrant facility in Texas for fear of flu outbreak

 Reuters / Pool

Migrants detained at the McAllen Border Patrol Station.
The US border control agency has halted intake at a migrant holding facility in Texas after an outbreak of a "flu-related illness." The closure comes just one day after a 16-year-old detainee died in custody.

The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency said it would temporarily suspend operations at its primary migrant facility in McAllen, Texas, citing an unknown virus.

"To avoid the spread of illness" the agency has "temporarily suspended intake operations" at the McAllen facility, CBP said in a statement Tuesday, adding that medical staff had "identified a large number of subjects in custody with high fevers whom are also displaying signs of a flu-related illness."

New arrestees will be diverted to other holding centers "until this situation is resolved," the statement said.

Eye 2

New York has a contemptible person who's pulling emergency brakes and disrupting subway commutes

man waiting for subway
© Getty Images
"This is a nutcase who is addicted to f*cking with the trains."

That was how one MTA New York City Transit source with knowledge of the situation described the latest curiosity to befall the city's beleaguered subway.

Someone-no one really knows who-has been disrupting the train system, sneaking into cabs, pulling the emergency brakes, and grinding not just one train, but entire lines in the system to a halt during the busiest hours of the day.

And just like that, they then melt into the darkness between the tunnels, waiting to strike again.

And on Tuesday evening, the official New York City Transit account alerted the public to this person's existence, although the tweet made it sound like yesterday was an isolated incident.

It was not.

Comment: From Jalopnik's latest reporting on this psychopath that gives an idea of how many people's lives he's making just a little bit worse:
This is not to say the suspect has personally tampered with nearly 750 trains in three months; each time he pulled the brakes, it delayed some number of other trains behind it. And those are just the ones officials know about. The actual number could be much higher.
To be sure, 747 is a tiny fraction of the overall number of trains delayed during that time period. In total, 74,220 weekday trains did not reach their terminal station within five minutes of the scheduled time during the months of March and April, mostly the result of myriad of problems for which New York City Transit cannot blame rogue actors.

But most of those 747 trains were rush hour trains, some so crowded with passengers the conductor couldn't get to the rear of the train in a timely fashion. And all those customers, sometimes more than 1,500 per train, were delayed for reasons still unknown.

Red Flag

Research shows focus on traumatized boys critical to gender equality

© Syda Productions/Shutterstock
Boys in poor urban areas around the world are suffering even more than girls from violence, abuse and neglect, groundbreaking international research published Monday suggests.

The study in the Journal of Adolescent Health, along with similar new research, suggests an adequate focus on helping boys is critical to achieving gender equality in the longer term.

"This is the first global study to investigate how a cluster of traumatic childhood experiences known as ACEs, or adverse childhood experiences, work together to cause specific health issues in early adolescence, with terrible life-long consequences," Dr. Robert Blum, the lead researcher for the global early adolescent study, said in a statement. "While we found young girls often suffer significantly, contrary to common belief, boys reported even greater exposure to violence and neglect, which makes them more likely to be violent in return."


'Slap in the face': Daughter of CIA officer killed after 9/11 slams 'American Taliban' release

Alison Spann
© Image courtesy Spann family
Alison Spann
The last time Alison Spann saw her father, she was 9 years old. "My family drove to CIA," she recalls. "I was the only one who cried. The last memory I have of my dad is him walking away from us in the dark with all his bags."

That was shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Johnny "Mike" Spann was 32, a CIA paramilitary officer and former Marine who knew he was bound for northern Afghanistan and might never return. Less than two months later - and moments after he had been questioning a bedraggled Taliban detainee named John Walker Lindh - he was killed by a mob of prisoners attempting to escape from the remote fortress of Qala-i-Jangi.

In a cruel twist of fate, Alison Spann's mother died of cancer a month later. Suddenly, the young girl became the first orphan of what was already known as the War on Terror.

Now 27, Alison Spann is a television reporter working in Biloxi, Mississippi. After her father was killed, Lindh, now 38, was recaptured and it was discovered he was an American who had grown up in California, converted to Islam at age 16, and at 20, traveled to Afghanistan, joining the Taliban before 9/11 and attending al Qaeda training camps. After being captured by Northern Alliance fighters on Nov. 25, 2001, he was taken to Qala-i-Jangi.


Maria Butina: jailed for the crime of being Russian

Maria Butina

Maria Butina, leader of a pro-gun organization, speaks in October 2013 during a press conference in Moscow
Maria Butina was not a Russian spy. She did not trade sex for influence. She had nothing to do with any clandestine espionage activity, nor did she ever hide her dealings with American political officials. In fact, she unabashedly loved America - perhaps to a fault. But she's currently sitting in jail, and almost no one will say a word in her defense. The ordeal to which she's been subjected is jaw-dropping for its recklessness and absurdity.

There's so much that's wrong with this case, it's almost hard to know where to begin. Maybe the most obnoxious malfeasance was committed by moralizing media members who saw fit to cast judgment on her personal romantic decisions - as if that was ever remotely any of their business in the first place. Butina was in a long-term relationship with an older man, Paul Erickson, a fact automatically skewed as proof (somehow) that she was a transactional harlot. The sleazy hunch was never supported by actual facts, but that didn't stop journalists from spewing the most malignant theories about what could have possibly possessed her to enter this consensual adult relationship. When it comes to the wider Trump-Russia saga, all ordinary journalistic and ethical standards are chucked decisively out the window.

Comment: 'Russians don't surrender': Butina asks for help to fight injustice in video address from US prison


'Climate crises' madness: Girl reportedly bullied by teacher and Classmates for refusing to participate in 'Climate Strike'

Greta Thunberg
© AP
A Swedish girl who refused to join her classmates in skipping school for the sake of the climate has ended up being labelled as a "climate denier", which her mother described as "mass psychosis".

A high-school pupil who refused to attend a so-called "school strike for climate" has been bullied not only by her classmates, but the teacher as well, the magazine Det Goda Samhället reported.

When the girl's classmates decided to join the "climate strike" spearheaded by teenage activist-turned-superstar Greta Thunberg, "Sanna" declared she didn't want to attend and was given a tongue-lashing from the teacher.

"The teacher said 'Sanna' was uncommitted and failed to understand the seriousness of the climate threat. She asked her to reconsider her decision, and she said it openly, for the entire class to hear. 'Sanna' felt like the teacher was trying to ridicule her in front of the others", "Lena", the girl's mother, told Det Goda Samhället.

Because of the teacher's actions, the rest of the class also turned against "Sanna", who ended up being boycotted by her own friends and accused of being a "climate denier", "Lena" recalled.


Geoffrey Rush wins record $2.9 million defamation payout in sexual harassment case

Geoffrey Rush and his accuser Eryn Jean Norvill

Geoffrey Rush and his accuser Eryn Jean Norvill
Geoffrey Rush holds the record for the largest defamation payout to a single person in Australia after The Daily Telegraph agreed to pay the actor almost $2 million for lost earnings, on top of an $850,000 payout, for a series of reports accusing him of "inappropriate behaviour" towards a female actor.

On Thursday, the Federal Court heard that lawyers for Mr Rush and Nationwide News, the publisher of the Telegraph, had agreed the Oscar winner should receive $1.98 million in damages for past and future economic loss resulting from the reports.

The court heard Mr Rush had previously offered to settle the case for $50,000, plus costs, and an apology.

The $1.98 million figure is in addition to $850,000 in compensatory and aggravated damages, plus $42,302 in interest, that Federal Court Justice Michael Wigney previously awarded Mr Rush to vindicate his reputation and compensate him for the "personal distress and hurt" caused by the reports.

Damages for economic loss are in a separate category and require proof of particular loss.


AI assistants like Siri and Alexa spread sexism, UN study reveals

AI assistant
© Shutterstock
Voice-activated personal assistants like Amazon's Alexa and Apple's Siri are reinforcing and spreading sexism, according to a recent United Nations study.

The feminine-voiced AI helpers, which also include Google Assistant and Microsoft's Cortana, perpetuate the harmful gender stereotype that women are subservient and tolerate being treated poorly, the report from UNESCO found.

"Because the speech of most voice assistants is female, it sends a signal that women are... docile helpers, available at the touch of a button or with a blunt voice command like 'hey' or 'OK,'" the report says.

Comment: Give. Us. A. Break. These AI assistants are not women, they are sexless. No one thinks that they're women so it's not possible for them to perpetuate gender stereotypes. The UN 'study' could just have easily come up with reasons why using a female voice is a positive thing - they're helpful, pleasant, capable, trustworthy... If these companies had chosen to use a male voice for their products, there would likely be a list of complaints about the exclusion of women from AI. It just goes to show, if you look hard enough, you can find something to be outraged by anywhere.