Wednesday, January 10, 2018

We hate abuse of power and control freakery

It may surprise many Mittleuropean to hear that Australia is not the first country in the world to welcome the Novy Rok.  Fireworks exploding over Sydney harbour symbolises the start of global New Year’s festivities for most Of the world, but the tiny Pacific island of Tonga, the Friendly and Happy island, rang in 2018 at 10am GMT on December 31 – a full three hours before it reached Down Under.

Last year’s ‘next year’ now is ‘this year’,
yesterday’s become today,
flowing on from past to present,
passing without pause or stay:
hours, days and weeks divide
months and years that onward slide –
markers on the clock of living,
intervals for thought and giving.

Will last year's predicted El Niño happen this year?

The smoke trembles,as if we all exhaled the same, flammable wish
power to the powerless

The debate about Australia’s relationship with China is characterized by a degree of mutual incomprehension born of difference. Both sides share some of the blame for the current bilateral tensions. Continue reading 

The False Promises of Worker Retraining Atlantic

They all say Trump is like a child’: author defends White House exposé as Rex Tillerson insists president is mentally fit to serve'


New guide helps journalists, researchers investigate misinformation, memes and trolling 

“Recent scandals about the role of social media in key political events in the US, UK and other European countries over the past couple of years have underscored the need to understand the interactions between digital platforms, misleading information and propaganda, and their influence on collective life in democracies. In response to this, the Public… Continue Reading

Security breach in India? Hat tip Brian Slesinsky

In 2010 India started scanning personal details like names, addresses, dates of birth, mobile numbers, and more, along with all 10 fingerprints and iris scans of its 1.3 billion citizens, into a centralized government database called Aadhaar to create a voluntary identity system. On Wednesday this database was reportedly breached.
The Tribune, a local Indian newspaper, published a report claiming its reporters paid Rs. 500 (approximately $8) to a person who said his name was Anil Kumar, and who they contacted through WhatsApp. Kumar was able to create a username and password that gave them access to the demographic information of nearly 1.2 billion Indians who have currently enrolled in Aadhaar, simply by entering a person’s unique 12-digit Aadhaar number. Regional officers working with the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the government agency responsible for Aadhaar, told the Tribune the access was “illegal,” and a “major national security breach.”
second report, published on Thursday by the Quint, an Indian news website, revealed that anyone can create an administrator account that lets them access the Aadhaar database as long as they’re invited by an existing administrator. 
“Oprah Winfrey is “actively thinking” about running for president, two of her close friends told CNN Monday” [CNN]. 
“Oprah 2020: Winfrey’s Golden Globes speech kicks off speculation about a White House run” [Vox]. A good round-up.
“Oprah’s powerful Golden Globes speech (transcript, video)” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]. 
“Democrats’ best hope for 2020: Oprah” [New York Post]. From September 27, 2017: “If any figure in the United States bears watching over the next couple of years as our political culture continues the radical transformation that led to the election of Donald Trump, it’s Oprah. I believe she’s uniquely positioned, should she wish to commit herself, to seek the Democratic nomination for president and challenge Trump in 2020.” 

Chinese attempts to influence Australian policy haven’t stopped Malcolm Turnbull’s government making increasingly tough criticisms of the nation’s largest trading partner. Despite China’s waning policy influence, the government is introducing onorousespionage and foreign interference legislation to counter the problem. If this stops foreign countries from covertly influencing Australian policy, that’s fine. But the legislation could potentially curtail public discussion and free speech, neither of which is assisted by some commentators and unnamed intelligence sources who brand just about anyone with any contact with China as an “agent of influence”. Continue reading 
Clubbing, British MP style Politico

Brazil says it has bagged Royal Navy flagship HMS Ocean for £84m The Register “Imperial collapse watch.”

Pricing access to the Trump White House: the strange case of the Times social media policy

"Any semblance of a political opinion must be squashed, with the appearance of neutrality and balance preserved at all costs."

Normalizing Trump: An incredibly brief explainer

A conflict in the journalist's code was created by a president wholly unfit for the job.

Show your work: The new terms for trust in journalism

The transparency movement has finally come of age. Power has shifted to the users. Their trust has to be earned in different ways now.

I hate abuse of power and control freakery, whether it’s Microsoft choking off browser competition in a prior decade, Apple dictating what gets into its App Store in this one or big entertainment companies’ ongoing insistence on customer-hostile usage restrictions on digital media. The computer is among the most amazing general-purpose tools ever invented; why would you artificially constrain its utility? If you’re curious about my politics, the preceding paragraph should make it clear that I worry about abuse of power by corporations, not just the government. I vote accordingly.

'Shambolic': Peak hour delays cruel commuters