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wepon ([personal profile] wepon) wrote2017-02-01 01:05 pm
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Link Roundup January 2017

Dos and don'ts on designing for accessibility
The dos and don’ts of designing for accessibility are general guidelines, best design practices for making services accessible in government. Currently, there are six different posters in the series that cater to users from these areas: low vision, D/deaf and hard of hearing, dyslexia, motor disabilities, users on the autistic spectrum and users of screen readers.


Trump Says U.S. Would ‘Outmatch’ Rivals in a New Nuclear Arms Race
Sweeping aside efforts by his aides to temper his comments, or to suggest that he was merely talking about curbing the spread of nuclear technology, especially to terrorists, Mr. Trump told a talk-show host, Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC: “Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.”


What Gamergate should have taught us about the 'alt-right'
The stark parallels between Gamergate and the political atmosphere of 2016 may come as a surprise, but it shouldn’t: both saw their impact and reach amplified by self-interested parties who underplayed the obvious nastiness they were also promoting. With 2014’s Gamergate, Breitbart seized the opportunity to harness the pre-existing ignorance and anger among disaffected young white dudes. With Trump’s movement in 2016, the outlet was effectively running his campaign: Steve Bannon took leave of his role at the company in August 2016 when he was hired as chief executive of Trump’s presidential campaign. Despite Bannon’s distance from Breitbart in an official capacity, the outlet’s ideology and relentless support of Trump remained unchanged – with editor-in-chief Joel Pollak notably sending an internal memo to staff that ordered them not to support Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields after allegations she was attacked by Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.


Here’s How Managers Can Be Replaced by Software
For one task, we programmed iCEO to oversee the preparation of a 124-page research report for a prestigious client (a Fortune 50 company). We spent a few hours plugging in the parameters of the project, i.e. structuring the flow of tasks, then hit play. For instance, to create an in-depth assessment of how graphene is produced, iCEO asked workers on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to curate a list of articles on the topic. After duplicates were removed, the list of articles was passed on to a pool of technical analysts from oDesk, who extracted and arranged the articles’ key insights. A cohort of Elance writers then turned these into coherent text, which went to another pool of subject matter experts for review, passing them on to a sequence of oDesk editors, proofreaders, and fact checkers. iCEO routed tasks across 23 people from around the world, including the creation of 60 images and graphs, followed by formatting and preparation. We stood back and watched iCEO execute this project. We rarely needed to intervene, even to check the quality of individual components of the report as they were submitted to iCEO, or spend time hiring staff, because QA and HR were also automated by iCEO. (The hiring of oDesk contractors for this project, for example, was itself an oDesk assignment.)


Obamacare Is First Item On Congress' Chopping Block
Democrats rammed the Affordable Care Act through Congress in 2010 with no Republican support. It was a huge, complicated law and, like most legislation, it was flawed. Over the subsequent six years, Republicans, who were angry at the way the Affordable Care Act was passed, refused to cooperate in any actions that would be seen as helping it succeed. Instead, they promised in speeches and television interviews to repeal it entirely. In fact, the House has voted more than 60 times over the years to do just that.


Claiming mandate, GOP Congress lays plans to propel sweeping conservative agenda
GOP leaders have cited the 21-year old Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to cast simple majority votes of disapproval for regulations, as a way to block anything the administration has ordered since June 2016. Since its passage, the CRA has been used only once. But in December, the conservative House Freedom Caucus began compiling a list of more than 200 regulations it views as vulnerable to a disapproval vote. They include “burdensome” school lunch standards, tobacco regulations, laws that set higher wages for contractors and elements of the Paris climate-change agreement.


The new fetal burial rules in Texas are temporarily blocked in court
The regulations applied to hospitals, abortion clinics, and other health care facilities, but not individual women. That wasn’t the case for a similar law in Indiana signed by Vice President-elect Mike Pence earlier this year. That law, which was later blocked by a judge, was so poorly written that it could have technically required women to cremate or bury their menstrual blood.


Peter Thiel, Trump’s Tech Pal, Explains Himself
“Everyone says Trump is going to change everything way too much,” says the famed venture capitalist, contrarian and member of the Trump transition team. “Well, maybe Trump is going to change everything way too little. That seems like the much more plausible risk to me.”


Ben Carson Knows Nothing
If there was anything like a contentious exchange, it was between Carson and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who pressed the HUD nominee to promise that the agency’s budget not would financially benefit Trump or his businesses. Carson promised to “not play favorites,” but wouldn’t rule it out. “I will manage things that benefit the American people,” he said, adding that he wouldn’t object to funds going to the Trump Organization if it happened in the context of a move to help low-income Americans.


KING: Arizona lawmaker proposes new bill banning classes or events discussing social justice on college campuses
A conservative Arizona lawmaker, Rep. Bob Thorpe, is proposing a far-reaching law in Arizona, House Bill 2120, banning virtually every college event, activity or course which discusses social justice, skin privilege, or racial equality. Violating the law would allow the state of Arizona to levy multimillion-dollar fines and penalties against universities — removing at least 10% of their state aid. This is no joke. Arizona already passed a law targeting ethnic studies in the state. They are fully willing and able to pass this bill as well.


Thousands Could Lose Food Stamps as States Restore Pre-Recession Requirements
About 45 million people receive benefits in the food stamp program, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal-leaning research and advocacy group, estimates that 500,000 to a million people will lose benefits this year.


N.S.A. Gets More Latitude to Share Intercepted Communications
The change means that far more officials will be searching through raw data. Essentially, the government is reducing the risk that the N.S.A. will fail to recognize that a piece of information would be valuable to another agency, but increasing the risk that officials will see private information about innocent people.


Obama Commutes Bulk of Chelsea Manning’s Sentence
Under the terms of Mr. Obama’s commutation announced by the White House on Tuesday, Ms. Manning is set to be freed on May 17 of this year rather than in 2045.


A Long List of What We Know Thanks to Private Manning
Too often (that is, most of the time), the value and import of the Manning/WikiLeaks disclosures are ignored or dismissed, just as Snowden’s NSA scoops are often derided as “nothing new.”


How the town of Whitefish defeated its neo-Nazi trolls — and became a national model of resistance
“What this has shown me is that if we want to make a change as a community, our best way to do that is at the grassroots, local level,” Randall told me. “That’s where can confront these issues of racism and anti-Semitism and bigotry first. It’s not just someone on social media making a comment — thumbs up, thumbs down. It’s neighbors meeting face-to-face and coordinating plans to put their values out there. It’s pretty powerful stuff. Here in Montana, we might not have much say nationally. But we can make Whitefish a better town. And if we do that all around the country, I think the national narrative can change.”


Interior Department reactivates Twitter accounts after shutdown following inauguration
“All bureaus and the department have been directed by incoming administration to shut down Twitter platforms immediately until further notice,” said an email circulated to thousands of Interior employees. The email, obtained by The Washington Post, described the stand-down as an “urgent directive” and said social media managers must shut down the accounts “until further directed.”


Anonymous Bomb Threats Rattle Jewish Centers Across Eastern U.S.
“We’ve seen this at Jewish community centers over the last year,” Mr. Silverman said. “We’ve seen it at Jewish day schools. We’ve seen it at synagogues.” “It’s all about training and preparedness,” he added.


Trump’s inaugural cake was commissioned to look exactly like Obama’s, baker says
On Saturday morning, Tiffany MacIsaac, owner of Washington’s Buttercream Bakeshop, stepped forward to say she had been the one to create the much-talked-about cake. She said that the order came in while she was out of town and that the client had brought in a photo of the cake from Obama’s inauguration, asking her to re-create it. “They came to us a couple of weeks ago, which is pretty last minute, and said ‘We have a photo that we would like to replicate,’ ” MacIsaac told The Washington Post by phone.


Trump Knows You Better Than You Know Yourself
And the company took even more radical measures: starting in July 2016, a new app was prepared for Trump campaign canvassers with which they could find out the political orientation and personality profile of a particular house’s residents in advance. If the Trump people ring a doorbell, it’s only the doorbell of someone the app has identified as receptive to his messages, and the canvassers can base their line of attack on personality-specific conversation guides also provided by the app. Then they enter a subject’s reactions to certain messaging back into the app, from where this new data flows back to the control rooms of Cambridge Analytica.


House GOP quietly closes investigation into Flint water crisis
While the Republican chairman signaled the apparent conclusion of the inquiry — Congress ended its session last week for a three-week holiday break — the panel’s senior Democrat insisted the investigation continues and accused Michigan’s Republican governor of stonewalling the committee over documents related to the Flint water crisis.


Without evidence, Trump tells lawmakers 3 million to 5 million illegal ballots cost him the popular vote
Two people familiar with the meeting said Trump spent about 10 minutes at the start of the bipartisan gathering rehashing the campaign. He also told them that between 3 million and 5 million illegal votes caused him to lose the popular vote.


Donald Trump just named a net neutrality foe to head the FCC
The president can appoint an existing FCC member chair without Senate approval, according to Ryan Radia, a legal expert at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. So Pai won’t have to go through the confirmation process in order to assume his new role. Republicans will have a majority on the FCC and in Congress, so there’s likely nothing Democrats or liberal groups can do to stop Republicans from rolling back network neutrality rules. But it’s going to be a long, ugly fight that could tie up the FCC in the courts for years to come.


Data Streams
KATE CRAWFORD. What’s interesting to me when I think about the Chinese citizen credit score is that here, in the West, it gets vilified as a sort of extremist position, like, “Who would possibly create something so clearly prone to error? And so clearly fascist in its construction?” Yet, having said that, only last week we saw that an insurance company in the UK, the Admiral Group, was trying to market an app that would offer people either a discount on their car insurance or an increase in their premium based on the type of things they write on Facebook. Fortunately, that was blocked, but similar approaches are already being deployed. The correlations Admiral was using were things like if you use exclamation marks or if you use words like “always” and “never,” it indicates that you have a rash personality and that you will be a bad driver. So if you happen to be someone who uses emojis and exclamation marks, you will be paying more to insure your car. This seems very similar to a type of citizen scoring that I think has permeated at the molecular level in so many parts of life throughout the US. It’s too easy for Americans to point to China and go, “Oh, it would never happen here.” But in a much more dispersed, much harder to detect manner, these things are already starting to become a part of how lives are being predicted, insured, and rated. In many ways, I see it as very banal; the Chinese credit score has already happened. It’s already here, regardless of where we are citizens.


Trump administration tells EPA to freeze all grants, contracts
“New EPA administration has asked that all contract and grant awards be temporarily suspended, effective immediately,” read the email, which was shared with The Washington Post. “Until we receive further clarification, which we hope to have soon, please construe this to include task orders and work assignments.”


Trump pressured Park Service to find proof for his claims about inauguration crowd
In a Saturday phone call, Trump personally ordered Reynolds to produce additional photographs of the previous day’s crowds on the Mall, according to three individuals who have knowledge of the conversation. The president believed that the photos might prove that the media had lied in reporting that attendance had been no better than average. Trump also expressed anger over a retweet sent from the agency’s account, in which side-by-side photographs showed far fewer people at his swearing-in than had shown up to see Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009.


Four more journalists get felony charges after covering inauguration unrest
None of the arrest reports for the six journalists makes any specific allegations about what any of them are supposed to have done wrong.