AP – Undaunted by a dangerous journey over thousands of miles, people fleeing economic hardship and human rights abuses in African countries are coming to the U.S.-Mexico border in unprecedented numbers, surprising Border Patrol agents more accustomed to Spanish-speaking migrants.
Officials in Texas and even Maine are scrambling to absorb the sharp increase in African migrants. They are coming to America after flying across the Atlantic Ocean to South America and then embarking on an often harrowing overland journey.
In one recent week, agents in the Border Patrol’s Del Rio sector stopped more than 500 African migrants found walking in separate groups along the arid land after splashing across the Rio Grande, children in tow.
The “poor huddled masses” coming across the southern border may not be so poor after all.
Swiss journalist Urs Gehriger recently visited African migrants who breached the border and hung out on the streets of San Antonio, Texas, waiting to go elsewhere in the country, and he met hostility from people who didn’t want to share details about their experiences, conflicted each other, and had rolls of $100 bills.
Some Border Patrol agents in Texas are concerned about exposure to Ebola by a migrant fleeing the Democratic Republic of the Congo for the United States.
But more of them are worried about other illnesses frequently popping up among detainees at stations across the southern border, according to union representatives.
Border Patrol’s holding facilities in the Del Rio and El Paso sectors, or regions, are inundated with sick detainees, as well as sick agents.
CBS – A massive blackout left tens of millions of people without electricity in Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay on Sunday. The Argentine president called it an “unprecedented” failure in the countries’ interconnected power grid.
Authorities were working frantically to restore power, and by the evening, electricity had returned to 98 percent of Argentina, according to state news agency Telam. Power also had been restored to most of Uruguay’s 3 million people as well as to people in neighboring Paraguay.
Earlier Sunday, Argentine voters were forced to cast ballots by the light of cellphones in gubernatorial elections. Public transportation was halted, shops closed and patients dependent on home medical equipment were urged to go to hospitals with generators.
RT – As US leaders once again blame Tehran for an attack on a pair of tankers, Iranian Professor Seyed Mohammad Marandi joins RT to debunk their arguments and challenge the Western narrative on the Islamic Republic.
The timing of the attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman, Professor Marandi notes, was undoubtedly rather odd:
This attack takes place at a time when the Japanese prime minister arrives in Tehran after 41 years, it’s literally an hour before his meeting with the Iranian leader Ayatollah Khamenei begins.
Considering that one of the tankers hit belonged to the Japanese shipping company, Kokuka Sangyo, the timing makes it “obvious that the Iranians wouldn’t be involved in any such thing,” Marandi argued.
However, with the mainstream Western media eager to portray Iran in the worst light, perhaps it should come as no surprise that so many countries are willing to believe such far-fetched claims.
Al Jazeera – Iran has said it will breach the internationally agreed limit of its stockpile of low-enriched uranium within days, ramping up pressure on the remaining signatories to save the 2015 nuclear deal.
The spokesperson for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI), Behrouz Kamalvandi, said on Monday Iran would reach the allowed 300kg level of enriched uranium at levels mandated by the agreement with world powers on June 27.
“We will go further from that ceiling, not only that but we will also increase production drastically. After we pass the limit of 300kg the pace and the speed of enriched uranium production at the lower rate will also increase,” Kamalvandi said on Monday, speaking on television from Iran’s Arak nuclear plant.
The Star – Some users of Yahoo Japan Corp are rising up against Japan’s biggest web portal after the rollout of a new rating system that’s being compared with a social-scoring initiative in China.
The 48 million people with a Yahoo! Japan ID will have to opt-out within a privacy settings webpage if they don’t want to be rated. The score is based on a variety of factors and is calculated based on inputs such as payment history, shopping reviews, whether a user cancelled bookings and the amount of identifiable personal information. Unless users opt out, their ratings may be accessible to freelance jobs site Crowdworks Inc, Yahoo’s bike-sharing service and other businesses.
Makoto Niida, a longtime Yahoo user, opted out of the rating system when he learned about it. “It’s a big deal that the service was enabled by default,” Niida said. “The way they created services that benefit businesses without clear explanations to their users reminds me of China’s surveillance society.”
Yahoo’s new credit-score programme follows efforts by Mizuho Financial Group Inc, NTT Docomo Inc and other companies to use algorithms to assign ratings to consumers. Japan doesn’t have a system similar to FICO in the US, so businesses in the world’s third-largest economy have come up with their own solutions to determine financial trustworthiness. Yahoo’s programme shares some elements with China’s Sesame Credit, a subsidiary of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, according to Masahiko Shoji, a professor at Musashi University specializing in policy and governance issues.
“When China’s scoring system started, people said it was scary, but now they’re starting to realise that it’s being turned into a business in Japan,” Shoji said, adding that Yahoo makes it difficult for users to find where to opt out on its website.
Yahoo Japan officially launches the scoring service on July 1. A pilot program with 13 companies provided high-scoring users with special offers and matched preferred freelancers to companies, Yahoo said in a statement on June 3.
Yahoo Japan, partly owned by SoftBank Group Corp, said users consented to the programme when they first registered their IDs, eliminating the need for opt-ins. Yahoo said it uses the score within its services, but won’t share personal information without additional user consent.
“We are aware of the opinions on social media,” the company said in an emailed statement. “We regret causing any concerns, and will work to improve our communication around this issue.” – Bloomberg
In China, where firearms are tightly restricted, it’s probably no surprise that those who want to hurt people found another way to do it. The dramatic rise of knife attacks around the world shows that the problem these days isn’t with guns. It’s with people.
Mass knife attacks have become so common over the years that a Chinese police department recently released a video to teach citizens how to defend themselves against knife-wielding assailants and it has gone viral, with 16 million views in just a few days. It has subtitles and some great advice that even I would be able to follow.
All humor aside, some folks in the US who want to do away with the Second Amendment are probably saying smugly, “Well, knife attacks are bad, but only people with GUNS can kill dozens of victims quickly.”
Those folks would be wrong.
- In 2014, 33 people were killed and 130 more were injured when a group of men coordinated a terror attack using knives at a train station in southwest China’s Yunnan Province.
- In 2015, fifty workers at a Chinese coal mine were killed in a coordinated knife attack. Fifty more workers were injured.
- In 2016, a facility for the disabled was attacked by a man with a knife. He killed 15 people and injured 45, then later surrendered himself to police.
- In 2017, 18 people walking down a city street were injured when a man attacked them with a knife
- 13 people were seriously injured by a knife-wielding assailant at a shopping mall in Beijing earlier this year. One woman died from her injuries.
This tells me that it isn’t really a problem with guns. It’s a problem with people.
BBC – A Pakistani politician’s live-streamed press conference descended into farce when a cat filter was switched on by mistake.
Shaukat Yousafzai was briefing journalists last Friday when the setting was accidentally turned on.
Facebook users watching the video live commented on the gaffe, but Mr Yousafzai carried on unaware of his feline features.
He later said it was a “mistake” that should not be taken “so seriously”.
BBC – Ecuador has agreed to allow US military planes to operate from an airport on the Galapagos Islands, reports say.
US aircraft will be able to use San Cristobal airport, Ecuador’s defence minister Oswaldo Jarrin has been quoted as saying.
They will “fight drug trafficking” under a deal with Ecuador’s government, Mr Jarrin said.
The reported deal has prompted concerns over the potential impact on the environment and Ecuador’s sovereignty.
CNN – Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced a new settlement in the Golan Heights named after his “great friend” Donald Trump.
Newsmax – The number of cannabis users in China increased by more than 25 percent last year, the China National Narcotics Control Commission announced on Monday, according to CNN.
The organization’s deputy director Liu Yuejin blamed the legalization of marijuana in Canada and parts of the United States for the jump in the amount of drugs smuggled into the country, declaring it a “new threat to China.”
“In two years, we have found increasing cannabis trafficked from North America to China,” Liu said, noting that most of the suspects connected to the illegal parcels were foreign students or students who had come home after working abroad.
China hands out harsh punishment for those caught smuggling or trafficking drugs, with anyone found with more than 50 grams (1.76 ounces) of a controlled substance facing a possible death sentence.
The Guardian – An independent tribunal sitting in London has concluded that the killing of detainees in China for organ transplants is continuing, and victims include imprisoned followers of the Falun Gong movement.
The China Tribunal, chaired by Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, who was a prosecutor at the international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, said in a unanimous determination at the end of its hearings it was “certain that Falun Gong as a source – probably the principal source – of organs for forced organ harvesting”.
“The conclusion shows that very many people have died indescribably hideous deaths for no reason, that more may suffer in similar ways and that all of us live on a planet where extreme wickedness may be found in the power of those, for the time being, running a country with one of the oldest civilisations known to modern man.”
He added: “There is no evidence of the practice having been stopped and the tribunal is satisfied that it is continuing.”
The tribunal has been taking evidence from medical experts, human rights investigators and others.
Among those killed, it has been alleged, are members of religious minorities such as Falun Gong. Persecution of the group began in 1999 after it had attracted tens of millions of followers and came to be seen as a threat to the communist party.
U.S. News, Politics & Government
AFP – A nationwide Fox News poll released Sunday shows President Donald Trump trailing former vice president Joe Biden and no fewer than four other Democratic contenders as early campaigning for the 2020 election begins to gain steam.
A separate survey of battleground states, by CBS, shows Democrats strongly favor Biden as the candidate most likely to beat Trump in next year’s elections.
The Fox poll showed Biden leading Trump by 49 percent to 39 percent among all registered voters nationwide, while Senator Bernie Sanders held nearly the same advantage over the president, at 49 percent to 40 percent.
Holding edges of 1 or 2 points over Trump — albeit within the poll’s 3-point margin of error — were Senators Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, as well as Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana.
The polling comes more than 500 days before the November 3, 2020 election, an eternity in the political world. One widely viewed tweet this week shows five presidential candidates in recent decades who trailed at this point in their campaigns — including Trump — but who went on to win.
NBC – President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign is cutting ties with some of its own pollsters after leaked internal polling showed the president trailing former Vice President Joe Biden in critical 2020 battleground states, according to a person close to the campaign.
The move comes after NBC News obtained new details from a March internal poll that found Trump trailing Biden in 11 key states.
Portions of the campaign’s expansive March polling trickled out in recent days in other news reports.
But a person familiar with the inner workings of the Trump campaign shared more details of the data with NBC News, showing the president trailing across swing states seen as essential to his path to re-election and in Democratic-leaning states where Republicans have looked to gain traction. The polls also show Trump underperforming in reliably red states that haven’t been competitive for decades in presidential elections.
A separate person close to the Trump re-election team told NBC News Saturday that the campaign will be cutting ties with some of its pollsters in response to the information leaks, although the person did not elaborate as to which pollsters would be let go.
The Hill – Anticipation is growing for the Supreme Court’s biggest decisions of the year.
With just two weeks left in the month of June, the justices have yet to issue rulings in 24 cases, including high-profile decisions that will affect the census citizenship question and partisan gerrymandering.
The final stretch may also signal how the new conservative majority will rule on other major cases down the line, providing a glimpse of some of the issues the justices could take up when their next term starts in October.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg suggested in remarks delivered earlier this month that split decisions on the court could be expected before the end of this term.
“Given the number of most-watched cases still unannounced, I cannot predict that the relatively low sharp divisions ratio will hold,” she said, noting that about a quarter of the court’s decisions issued this term have been 5-4 or 5-3.
Ginsburg added that the 2018 retirement of swing vote Justice Anthony Kennedy has had the “greatest consequence for the current term, and perhaps for many terms ahead.”
Justice Brett Kavanaugh succeeded Kennedy, giving conservatives a 5-4 majority on the bench.
There will also be a mad dash in the last two weeks of June to wrap up the term. Ginsburg said in her remarks that while the justices try not to leave too many decisions for the final weeks, “this term, the opposite occurred, but not because we planned it that way.”
The most anticipated decision will determine whether the Trump administration can add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
That debate reached a fever pitch in Congress this past week as the House Oversight and Reform Committee voted to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt for failing to comply with congressional subpoenas relating to the issue.
Another highly anticipated case focuses on partisan gerrymandering, and the final ruling could reshape district maps in Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia ahead of the 2020 elections.
The justices have issued stays on orders by lower courts from earlier this year that struck down congressional districts in Ohio and Michigan as partisan gerrymanders.
Those cases present an opportunity for the Supreme Court to establish a test that lays out what constitutes an unlawful partisan gerrymander.
Also at hand are decisions on which cases the Supreme Court will consider during its next term, which will end just a few months before the 2020 elections.
The justices announced earlier this year that they will hear arguments on whether anti-discrimination laws apply to LGBT people in the workplace.
The administration, however, is eager for the court to hear cases challenging the end of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), after a pair of appeals courts found that Trump officials violated federal law in their winding down of the Obama-era program.
Ron Paul LIberty Report –
Donald Trump is out there, upset, that we didn’t get more monetary stimulus from the Fed. But we got record fiscal stimulus from Congress and the White House.
How much stimulus does Donald Trump need?
We’re spending more than ever before at the government. We’re borrowing more than ever before, and Donald Trump is upset that we’re not printing more than ever before! …
Why does this economy, which is the ‘greatest in U.S. history’ need more artificial stimulation from government and the Federal Reserve than ever before?
Would anybody have really voted for Trump, or certain people, if his prescription for ‘Making America Great Again’ was making the government bigger again? Taking big government and making it bigger than ever, taking monetary policy and making it easier than ever.
If Trump said ‘Vote for me and I promise more government spending than we’ve ever had. I’m going to set records. I’m going to break records for increases in government spending. I am going to break records for increases in deficits….and at the same time I want to run the printing presses. I want more money printing. I want more quantitative easing…’
There’s no way he would have made it out of the Republican Primary if that’s what he was saying.
But all the Republicans are still supporting him!
He enjoys massive support within the Republican party for doing stuff, that if he actually promised to do this, he never would have made it out of the primaries.
The reason he won is he promised smaller government, ‘draining the swamp,’ getting us out of debt, ‘the Fed is too easy, they’re keeping interest rates artificially low…
Trump is what we used to call a RINO (a Republican In Name Only). That’s basically what Trump is. He’s a RINO.
Yet nobody cares!
Republicans couldn’t be happier with a RINO president.
USA Today – President Donald Trump says health care will be a focus of his re-election campaign and that his administration will release its plan to replace Obamacare in a couple of months
“We already have the concept of the plan, but it’ll be less expensive than Obamacare by a lot,” Trump said in a wide-ranging television interview that aired Sunday night on ABC News’ 20/20. “And it’ll be much better health care.”
Trump, who will formally kick off his re-election campaign in Orlando, Fla., on Tuesday, offered no details of his health care plan, but suggested he was in favor of continuing insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.
In April, Trump suggested he would not push for a vote in Congress to replace Obamacare until after the 2020 elections. But in the TV interview, he told interviewer George Stephanopoulos that his administration would definitely unveil its Obamacare replacement plan before the election.
Asked what his pitch to voters would be next year, Trump said he also would emphasize safety, security and the economy.
—Trump claimed that no other president has been treated as badly by the press as he has. Not even Abraham Lincoln.
“Abraham Lincoln was treated supposedly very badly, but nobody’s been treated badly like me,” he said.
—Trump insisted he never planned to fire special counsel Robert Mueller and that Richard Nixon was part of the reason.
—Trump suggested former President Barack Obama knew about what he said was an effort in the FBI to undermine his presidential campaign.
Asked if Obama was behind that effort, Trump hedged. But, “I would say that he certainly must have known about it because it went very high up in the chain.”
Michael Snyder – Over the next several weeks, our planet will have a close encounter with the Taurid meteor swarm. It will be the closest that we have been to the center of the meteor swarm since 1975, and we won’t have an encounter this close again until 2032. So for astronomers, this is a really big deal. And hopefully there will be no danger to Earth during this pass, but some scientists are absolutely convinced that the Tunguska explosion of 1908 which flattened 80 million trees in Russia was caused by an object from the Taurid meteor swarm. As you will see below, the last week of June will mark the point when we are the closest to the center of the meteor swarm, and so that will be when the risk is the greatest. According to CBS News, our planet “will approach within 30,000,000 km of the center of the Taurid swarm” by the end of this month…
his summer, Earth will approach within 30,000,000 km of the center of the Taurid swarm, the study says. That would be Earth’s closest encounter with the swarm since 1975 and the best viewing opportunity we’ll have until the early 2030s.
30 million kilometers may sound like a great distance, but in astronomical terms that is not very far at all, and it is important to remember that distance is measured from the exact center of the meteor swarm.
And there are some scientists that are convinced that giant rocks from this meteor swarm have been responsible for multiple “once-per-1,000-years catastrophic events on Earth” in the past. The following comes from Forbes…
The remnants of a comet. As Earth orbits the Sun, its orbital path often goes through dust and debris left by comets, with matter no bigger than a grain of sand busting into Earth’s atmosphere and burning up as “shooting stars”. Mostly, they’re harmless, but the Taurid swam is an exceptionally large cloud of debris, probably from Comet 2P/Encke, that scientists think may be responsible for some once-per-1,000-years catastrophic events on Earth. The Taurid complex-giant comet hypothesis proposes that a giant comet fragmented in the inner solar system, producing dust and small Near-Earth Objects (NEOs), including 2P/Encke and other asteroids, still present today. Among the observational evidence is increased “fireball” shooting star activity when Earth gets close to the “Taurid Swarm”, and increased impacts on the Moon.
Economy & Business
Economic Collapse Blog – The amount of corn produced in the United States this year is going to be way below expectations. The Department of Agriculture just slashed its harvest estimates quite dramatically in its June report, but some farmers in the Midwest believe that those reduced projections are still way too optimistic. As I have previously detailed, millions upon millions of acres will go unplanted this year, but that is only part of the story. Much of the corn that has actually been planted is coming up very slowly due to the exceedingly poor conditions, and corn farmers all over the Midwest are reporting that their plants look absolutely terrible. If we get picture perfect weather between now and harvest time, this will simply be a terrible year. But if severe heat and/or an early frost hits the Midwest, this could very easily be the worst year that we have ever seen for corn farmers in the United States.
The other day, Illinois farmer James McCune gathered a large number of his fellow corn farmers for a “Prevent Plant Party”, and the mainstream media showed up to cover it. The following is from CNBC’s coverage of the event…
James McCune, a farmer from Mineral, Illinois, was unable to plant 85% of his intended corn acres and wanted to commiserate with his fellow farmers by hosting the “Prevent Plant Party” at The Happy Spot. He invited them to swap stories while tucking in to fried chicken and a keg of beer in Deer Grove, a village of about 50 people located 120 miles west of Chicago.
“Everybody’s so down in the dumps,” McCune said.
In addition, McCune told Fox Business that this year is “a disaster like I’ve never seen before”, and he said that some of his neighbors got even less corn planted than he did…
“It’s a disaster like I’ve never seen before,” McCune told FOX Business. “My neighbors didn’t get 90 percent of their corn planted.”
After non-stop rain plagued the region this spring – when corn farmers typically get seed in the ground – most have decided time is now too short and are choosing not to plant.
Reuters – Huawei’s American chip suppliers, including Qualcomm and Intel, are quietly pressing the U.S. government to ease its ban on sales to the Chinese tech giant, even as Huawei itself avoids typical government lobbying, people familiar with the situation said.
Energy & Environment
AP – Floodwaters from the Midwest are killing oysters and pushing crabs, shrimp and finfish out of bays and marshes and into saltier waters
Science & Technology
(To discuss with Mike today)
Stat of the Nation – Here’s A List Of Ideas & Statements YouTube Will Ban You For Expressing Under Their New ‘Hate Speech Policy’
Google-owned YouTube on Wednesday released a list of generic ideas and statements they will ban you for expressing under their rapidly expanding new “hate speech policy.”
Even though America has no laws prohibiting “hate speech” and courts have ruled repeatedly that “hate speech” is free speech, that hasn’t stopped Big Tech monopolies from censoring people for their political views under their own made-up definitions.
YouTube changed their “hate speech” definitions on Wednesday and added, among others, “immigration status” as a new protected class.
While reading this list, you should know that it’s completely arbitrary whether or not they choose to ban you, and as many people learned on Wednesday, you don’t even need to have one strike, nor actually violate any of their policies to get banned. Merely triggering their ADL-approved AI system is enough to get your entire channel closed, even if you’re a journalist or an historian.
Here’s YouTube’s new list:
If you’re posting content
Don’t post content on YouTube if the purpose of that content is to do one or more of the following.
– Encourage violence against individuals or groups based on any of on the attributes noted above. We don’t allow threats on YouTube, and we treat implied calls for violence as real threats. You can learn more about our policies on threats and harassment.
– Incite hatred against individuals or groups based on any of the attributes noted above.
Other types of content that violates this policy
– Dehumanizing individuals or groups by calling them subhuman, comparing them to animals, insects, pests, disease, or any other non-human entity.
– Praise or glorify violence against individuals or groups based on the attributes noted above.
– Use racial, ethnic, religious, or other slurs where the primary purpose is to promote hatred.
– Use stereotypes that incite or promote hatred based on any of the attributes noted above. This can take the form of speech, text, or imagery promoting these stereotypes or treating them as factual.
– Claim that individuals or groups are physically or mentally inferior, deficient, or diseased based on any of the attributes noted for the purpose of inciting hatred. This includes statements that one group is less than another, calling them less intelligent, less capable, or damaged.
– Allege the superiority of a group over those with any of the attributes noted above to justify violence, discrimination, segregation, or exclusion.
– Conspiracy theories ascribing evil, corrupt, or malicious intent to individuals or groups based on any of the attributes noted above.
– Call for the subjugation or domination over individuals or groups based on any of the attributes noted above.
– Deny that a well-documented, violent event took place.
Infowars – Google chose to recognize father’s day with a ‘gender neutral’ doodle and a link to an article which didn’t mentions father’s day once.
The doodle cartoon for father’s day depicted a family which looked something like a cross between Teletubbies and ducks.
The search giant also provided a link to an article entitled ‘parenting 101’ which didn’t mention father’s day at all.
Another image depicted the father figure as a cactus rather than an actual man.
“Because celebrating men in any way would exclude women, and we can’t have that in 2019, now can we?” commented one respondent.
As I previously highlighted, in many regions of the world Google’s ‘doodle’ failed to recognize Easter for two years running, leading actor James Woods to remark, “they loathe Christians”.
The Silicon Valley giant routinely devotes doodles to Islamic figures and Hindu holidays, but lied in claiming that “we don’t have Doodles for religious holidays,” when faced with criticism about its refusal to acknowledge Easter.
USA Today – Waukee police, hoping to tap into the growing number of home security cameras to solve crimes, are asking residents to register their cameras so police can quickly request footage if an incident occurs nearby.
Police departments across the country are turning to homeowners to establish a network of cameras throughout their communities. Cities in Texas, New York and Virginia, among others, have established similar programs, taking advantage of increasingly popular doorbell cameras.
Cedar Rapids Police began their community camera program last year. Police say private video footage from a 2018 burglary helped them to catch a murder suspect. The man later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison.
“It’s crazy how many people have doorbell cameras … it’s going to be an advantage for us,” Waukee police Sgt. Mackenzie Sposeto said. “We just started thinking outside of the box and, knowing that we’re already going to businesses, so why aren’t we involving the community to be proactive with us?”
More than 3.4 million doorbell recording devices were expected to be sold last year. Market research firm Strategy Analytics expects sales to reach $1.4 billion by 2023, up from $500 million last year.
The Mercury News – You won’t need to pull out your ticket to board the flight to Cancun at JetBlue’s Gate 18 at John F. Kennedy Airport. Put away your passport, too.
All this convenience costs is your face. You get only one of those, so I hope it’s worth it.
Facial-recognition technology is unproven and largely unregulated – yet it is already arriving at airports all over the United States. At JetBlue “e-gates” and earlier prototypes, the airline has scanned 150,000 faces in the past two years to verify international travelers before they board.
In Atlanta, Delta has an entire “biometric terminal” that uses your face at check in, bag drop, security and boarding. It says the scans help board international flights nine minutes faster, saving two seconds per passenger.
This has all the makings of a convenience trap. That’s how privacy-invading technology – the stuff of China’s police state – creeps into American life. Mostly in the name of efficiency, airlines and the U.S. government are, at a large scale, scanning the faces of people who aren’t suspected of crimes. It’s America’s biggest step yet to normalize treating our faces as data that can be stored, tracked and, inevitably, stolen.
For now, airport facial recognition is focused on international travelers and is voluntary. Or, rather, U.S. citizens have the right to opt out.
But airports are stressful places where many of us are inclined to trade all sorts of liberties for the promise of safety or expedience. As one passenger boarding at Gate 18 told me, “I don’t care if you need to strip me naked, so long as it gets me onto that plane and makes us safe.”
Here’s the reality: So far, airport facial recognition has very little to do with increasing flight security. Passengers are already screened for that by humans and machines. And the face-scanning systems end up relying on human checks a lot more often than officials like to talk about.
Off the Grid News – Walmart is beginning to use AI surveillance of shoppers on Long Island in a move that is bound to generate some major privacy concerns. In particular, Walmart uses its artificial intelligence (AI) to get vast amounts of data about customer behavior.
To elaborate, AI observes shoppers through cameras at a Walmart Neighborhood Market in Levittown, New York, Tech Crunch reports. So, AI watches shoppers as they buy food for their families.
Tech Crunch claims Walmart only uses the data that AI gathers to determine inventory levels. However, Walmart admits to collecting 1.6 terabytes (one million bites) of customer-behavior data per second in an on-site data center. Ironically, the data center computers are on display to the public.
Walmart Experiments On Shoppers
Notably, Walmart is conducting a behavioral science experiment on Long Island shoppers. For example, Walmart calls the Levittown Neighborhood Market the Intelligent Retail Lab (IRL).
Moreover, Walmart concedes that the IRL’s purpose is to test technology in a real-world environment. In essence, Walmart is experimenting on customers. People are basically paying for the experience of being Walmart’s guinea pigs.
What Is Walmart Doing On Long Island?
Walmart’s artificial intelligence can learn a lot about customers. For instance, the AI can tell what products you buy. Additionally, the AI can discern and analyze patterns of customer behavior.
Nonetheless, neither Tech Crunch nor Store No 8 reveals what Walmart does with all the data that their AI system gathers. Meanwhile, Walmart is recruiting data engineers to work at Store No 8’s “Project Franklin” in Brooklyn.
Store No 8’s website describes “Project Franklin” as “a stealth-mode startup operating independently within Walmart’s tech incubator.” The website does not say what Project Franklin has to do with the IRL. Notwithstanding, its Brooklyn residence is on Long Island just like the Levittown store is.
Walmart’s AI Is Watching You
Walmart wants customer data to see how and why people buy merchandise.
For example, Walmart could see what groups of people buy which products. In addition, Walmart could discern what patterns prompt you to buy more expensive items.
Walmart could also use AI to watch for shoplifting, vandalism, and other destructive customer behavior. Significantly, AI can already alert Walmart associates to empty shelves.
As a result, it is safe to assume that AI will soon direct Walmart security or even the police to shoplifting suspects. Furthermore, AI could spot which customers need help and send associates to assist them.
Artificial intelligence is now giving human employees orders at the IRL as well. To explain, Walmart’s AI already tells IRL associates which shelves to stock and where to find outdated foods, Tech Crunch reports.
Daily Mail – An armband that promises to help you kick bad habits like eating too much fast food or biting your nails is being sold by Amazon for £193 ($242).
The Pavlok bracelet gives users a penalty of a 350-volt electric shock every time they step out of line.
It works for a wide range of nasty habits including smoking, sleeping in, spending too much time on the internet and even sleeping in.
Users have to administer the shocks themselves or the Pavlok app can be downloaded by friends so that they can give you a buzz if they catch you out.
Some habits – particularly those that are sleep related, such as not waking up at the right time – can be automated via the app.
Users need to wear their bands – created by Behavioral Technology in Salt Lake City, Utah – throughout the day and give themselves a zap when they engage in the habit they’re trying to quit.
The company claims that ‘within 3-5 days’, you’ll begin to notice your cravings significantly reduced if not gone entirely.
‘Pavlok allows you to speak your reptile brain’s language by adding an unpleasant element, or a safe and harmless ‘zap’ of electricity on your wrist.
This means that what you have been taught to love, it conditions your mind to associate an ‘unpleasant’ feeling with your bad habit, according to the manufacturer.
It is priced at £193 on Amazon’s website.
ABC – If you go outside and look at the sky on Sunday evening, it’s likely you’ll see a full Strawberry Moon from anywhere in the United States.
The ‘Strawberry Moon’ happens every June and was named by the Algonquin tribes of the northern United States and Canada because it was their signal to harvest their strawberries, according to NASA.
The Strawberry Moon will reach its peak at about 4:30 a.m. Eastern time and about 1:30 a.m. Pacific time on Monday morning.
Newsbusters – Movie criticism ain’t what it used to be.
Film critics once served audiences by telling them if a movie was worth their hard-earned cash. Some critics still cling to that approach.
Others use their forums to promote their ideological agendas. And, since the vast majority of film critics lean left, the results are predictably woke.
That’s less of a problem for critics who work for progressive sites like The Nation or Mother Jones. Their audiences expect a hard-left look at film. The same holds true for conservative National Review readers checking out the latest from Kyle Smith.
Other critics toil for allegedly neutral sites but heap their political baggage onto the readers’ laps. Which brings us to TheWrap.com.
The site’s review of The Secret Life of Pets 2 must be read to be fully believed. The film sequel follows the further adventures of Max (Patton Oswalt), Gidget (Jenny Slate) and Duke (Eric Stonestreet).
The site’s review reads like a parody of the trend under discussion. A kiddie film, we’re told, isn’t acceptable unless it checks a set number of cultural boxes.
The Secret Life of Pets 2, on the other hand … effectively acts as an animated ode to heteronormativity, toxic masculinity and patriarchal worldviews, passed off as harmless plot points to entertain young audiences.
This is a children’s movie review, mind you.
The critic clutches a swinging set of pearls over Secret Life’s “conservative” messaging. That’s a non-starter, apparently.
Pets 2’s descent into the bowels of what reads as conservative messaging begins as Katie (voiced by Ellie Kemper), Max’s owner, randomly meets a young man, quickly marries and has a child. In this fictional universe, that’s clearly the only natural progression of events in a woman’s life. That trope is later reinforced through the pet characters.
We’re also told a film can be criticized for what’s NOT on screen as well as what’s visible.
In case it wasn’t obvious, Pets 2 makes no attempt at diversifying the notion of what a family is today. No same-sex couples are in sight as pet owners, much less as parents. Nothing that deviates from the default straight married couple is even hinted at.
Of course, had a same-sex pet couple existed, it might not have pushed enough social justice points to truly qualify as progressive.
The Wrap – The trend of slumping sequels has continued at the box office this weekend, as Sony’s “Men In Black: International” and Warner Bros.’ “Shaft” are currently projected to open below tracker expectations.
“MIB: International” will take the No. 1 spot this weekend, but after grossing $10.4 million on Friday from 4,224 locations, the spinoff starring Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson is now projected to gross $26 million on its opening weekend, behind the $30 million projection set by Sony and the $35-40 million projected by analysts. By comparison, all three of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones’ “MIB” films opened to roughly double that figure, with 2012’s “Men In Black 3” opening to a $54.5 million three-day launch on Memorial Day weekend
Daily Mail – Spending time on the internet is reducing our ability to focus on one task at a time – and it means we no longer store facts in our brains.
Our lives have been forever changed by gaining access to infinite amounts of information at the touch of a button, but the way our head works has too.
A new review looking into the effect of the online world on our brain functions from researchers in the UK, US and Australia, has drawn a number of surprising conclusions.
The review focused on the world wide web’s influence in three areas: attention spans, memory, and social cognition.
It notes that the internet is now ‘unavoidable, ubiquitous, and a highly functional aspect of modern living’ before diving into how it has changed our society.
Professor Jerome Sarris, an author on the paper, told Medical News Today the online world could have far reaching consequences.
He said: ‘The bombardment of stimuli via the internet, and the resultant divided attention commonly experienced, presents a range of concerns.
‘I believe that this, along with the increasing #Instagramification of society, has the ability to alter both the structure and functioning of the brain, while potentially also altering our social fabric.’
The review found that people who regularly multitask online, by checking different social media sites such as Facebook or streaming entertainment, struggle to focus on a single task.
Constant use of the internet, via our smartphones or laptops, means that many of us have developed ‘checking’ behaviours – where the user looks at their phone regularly, but only for short periods of time.
oseph Firth, another author of the review, told Medical News Today: ‘The limitless stream of prompts and notifications from the internet encourages us towards constantly holding a divided attention — which then, in turn, may decrease our capacity for maintaining concentration on a single task.’
Mercola – Magnesium is required for the activation of vitamin D, and deficiency may increase your risk of anxiety, depression, heart disease, migraines, osteoporosis and more.
Statistics show that at least 50 percent of the American population are deficient in magnesium; a simple blood panel may not reveal magnesium deficiency as only 1 percent is available in your blood and the rest is stored in your bones and muscle.
Research suggests magnesium is necessary for optimal heart and kidney health as it protects your arteries from calcification; it has also shown effectiveness in treatment or prevention of migraines, anxiety and depression.
Seek out organically grown, whole foods rich in magnesium, such as spinach, broccoli and avocado; if you choose to supplement, consider magnesium threonate as it appears to be the most efficient at penetrating cell membranes
NaturalNews – Are pharmaceuticals making you sick? Research shows that popular over-the-counter medications can deplete your body of magnesium, leading to a dangerous deficiency and potentially, disease. Even the FDA has been forced to admit that proton pump inhibitors — popular drugs used to treat excess stomach acid — are a threat to human health, especially when used for long periods of time.
Taking proton pump inhibitors, or PPIs, regularly can lead to magnesium deficiency, and ultimately, any number of diseases related to low magnesium levels. PPIs are not the only drugs that can negatively effect nutritional status; there are many popular drugs which can rob your body of essential nutrients like calcium and B vitamins. This information, of course, is almost never shared with patients. And where there be nutrient deficiency, there be poor health.
No wonder so many Americans are on multiple prescription drugs.
Common OTC drug causes nutrient deficiency
PPIs are readily available as an over-the-counter (OTC) option for people looking to treat acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). As Healthline explains, PPIs work by preventing or decreasing the amount of acid your stomach produces. This is supposed to help prevent heartburn and give your body time to heal.
While mainstream medicine regards PPIs as “safe,” the FDA issued a public safety announcement in 2011 after PPI use was linked to magnesium deficiency — which can cause devastating health effects. These include irregular heartbeat, convulsions, muscle spasms, and other long-term consequences. The only way to resolve PPI-related magnesium deficiency is to halt the medication.
As sources note, the FDA claims that PPIs are safe as long as they’re taken “as directed.” But as Healthline reports, over-the-counter PPIs are only intended to be taken for two weeks, and come in lower doses than prescription.
Twenty percent of adults surveyed admit to not following the instructions on OTC drug labels. “Safe” is a relative term.
The magnesium deficiency caused by PPIs can be life-threatening, but most people may never know they’re deficient. With all things, there are different levels of deficiency. A lifetime of low magnesium can cause many health problems that are never directly attributed to nutritional status.
As Dr. Mark Sircus explains, magnesium deficiency is a worldwide problem. Even moderate increases in magnesium intake can greatly reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes in vulnerable populations. Studies have also shown that low magnesium intake can have negative effects on mental health, hormone function and blood sugar levels.
NaturalNews – Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, known simply as ADHD, is characterized by difficulty paying attention and controlling compulsive behavior. In the U.S., ADHD is commonly diagnosed in children and is managed using medications. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 9.4 percent of American children ages two to 17 have ADHD — that means about 6.1 million children are being treated with drugs like stimulants and antidepressants. On the other hand, in France where ADHD is classified differently, clinicians are finding success in managing childhood symptoms through a holistic approach. Compared with the U.S., less than 0.5 percent of children in France are diagnosed with the disorder.
So why the difference?
The psychosocial approach versus the pharmaceutical approach
Clinical psychiatrists in the U.S. consider ADHD a biological disorder with biological causes, so the preferred treatment is with psychostimulants. In France, however, instead of classifying ADHD as a biological dysfunction and pathologizing what is normal childhood behavior, clinicians choose to address the underlying causes of a child’s distress — not in the brain but in a social context. Hence their preferred methods of treatment are psychotherapy and family counseling.
American psychiatrists use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) to classify childhood emotional problems, while French psychiatrists use their own system called The French Classification for Child and Adolescent Mental Disorders (abbreviated CFTMEA in French). CFTMEA focuses primarily on psychosocial causes of children’s symptoms, but DSM disregards these causes and encourages medical treatment. This leads American clinicians to give the ADHD diagnosis in a large number of cases and prescribe pharmaceutical interventions.