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Nicolas Collignon

Why Did a Chinese Peroxide Company Pay $1 Billion for a Talking Cat?

1 min read

Once again, we see how finance is disconnected from reality and its activities do not make any type of sens in the real world.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2017-05-17/why-did-a-chinese-peroxide-company-pay-1-billion-for-a-talking-cat

Nicolas Collignon

So, turns out that fidget spinners aren't just a stupid hype after all... :-)
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fidget-toys-arent-just-hype/

Nicolas Collignon

Trump’s New Bank Regulator: Lawyer Who Helped Banks Charge More Fees

So the guy who is now THE Bank Regulator in the United States, is specialized in helping banks f*ck the population by avoiding state laws protecting consumers.

In the early 2000s, banks successfully sued to stop Iowa from limiting their ability to charge ATM fees to non-customers. They also fought off states’ attempts to stop them from charging non-customers to cash checks drawn on the banks’ accounts. In another case, they stopped California from forcing two banks to conduct audits of their own residential mortgages.

What do all these cases have in common? The winning argument in each was that states had no right to impose their laws on federally regulated national banks. And the man who helped make that powerful argument was Keith Noreika — President Trump’s pick to head the federal agency that oversees national banks.

Noreika, a prominent Washington attorney who specializes in financial regulatory law, has made a career out of representing banks as they sought to fight back consumer-friendly state regulations and class-action lawsuits accusing banks of deceptive practices.

To read full article, click on the title.

Nicolas Collignon

Trump’s Expected Pick for Top USDA Scientist Is Not a Scientist

One of the main issues with politics today: career politicians who run for their own, their friends' or their party's interests are given jobs that should be awarded to specialists, competent and self-less people, who are supposed to take enlightened decisions for the greater good.

Instead, we have partisan nominations of people who, like in this example, have no scientific background whatsoever and are supposed to be their agency's "chief scientist".

No wonder people are fed up. No wonder politics cannot change the world. No wonder populist parties have higher scores than ever in numerous elections.

The USDA’s research section studies everything from climate change to nutrition. Under the 2008 Farm Bill, its leader is supposed to serve as the agency’s “chief scientist” and be chosen “from among distinguished scientists with specialized or significant experience in agricultural research, education, and economics.”

But Sam Clovis — who, according to sources with knowledge of the appointment and members of the agriculture trade press, is President Trump’s pick to oversee the section — appears to have no such credentials.

Clovis has never taken a graduate course in science and is openly skeptical of climate change. While he has a doctorate in public administration and was a tenured professor of business and public policy at Morningside College for 10 years, he has published almost no academic work.

Clovis is better known for hosting a conservative talk radio show in his native Iowa and, after mounting an unsuccessful run for Senate in 2014, becoming a fiery pro-Trump advocate on television.

To read the full article, click on the title.

Nicolas Collignon

Any Half-Decent Hacker Could Break Into Mar-a-Lago

We parked a 17-foot motor boat in a lagoon about 800 feet from the back lawn of The Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach and pointed a 2-foot wireless antenna that resembled a potato gun toward the club. Within a minute, we spotted three weakly encrypted Wi-Fi networks. We could have hacked them in less than five minutes, but we refrained.

A few days later, we drove through the grounds of the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, with the same antenna and aimed it at the clubhouse. We identified two open Wi-Fi networks that anyone could join without a password. We resisted the temptation.

We have also visited two of President Donald Trump’s other family-run retreats, the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., and a golf club in Sterling, Virginia. Our inspections found weak and open Wi-Fi networks, wireless printers without passwords, servers with outdated and vulnerable software, and unencrypted login pages to back-end databases containing sensitive information.

The risks posed by the lax security, experts say, go well beyond simple digital snooping. Sophisticated attackers could take advantage of vulnerabilities in the Wi-Fi networks to take over devices like computers or smart phones and use them to record conversations involving anyone on the premises.

To read the full article, click on the title.

Nicolas Collignon

Popular social media sites 'harm young people's mental health'

Parents need to moderate their children's use of social media, and explain that what they see on Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat etc. is not real life.

Four of the five most popular forms of social media harm young people’s mental health, with Instagram the most damaging, according to research by two health organisations.

Instagram has the most negative impact on young people’s mental wellbeing, a survey of almost 1,500 14- to 24-year-olds found, and the health groups accused it of deepening young people’s feelings of inadequacy and anxiety.

The survey, published on Friday, concluded that Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter are also harmful. Among the five only YouTube was judged to have a positive impact.

The four platforms have a negative effect because they can exacerbate children’s and young people’s body image worries, and worsen bullying, sleep problems and feelings of anxiety, depression and loneliness, the participants said.

The findings follow growing concern among politicians, health bodies, doctors, charities and parents about young people suffering harm as a result of sexting, cyberbullying and social media reinforcing feelings of self-loathing and even the risk of them committing suicide.

To read the full article, click on the title.

Nicolas Collignon

Nicolas Collignon

Can Low-Wage Industries Survive Without Immigrants and Refugees - ProPublica

For decades, the company had largely relied on Mayan immigrants fleeing violence in Guatemala, many of whom were not allowed to work in the United States. Case Farms’ history with the Mayans reveals how U.S. companies subvert immigration laws to take advantage of undocumented immigrants, but it also illustrates a broader — and perhaps underappreciated — truth about the American economy: So much of it depends on a never-ending global scramble for low-skilled labor.

[...]

Low-wage industries depend heavily on migrants from the world’s hotspots, secured through refugee programs as well as other means. That reliance has prompted some of the nation’s meatpackers to fear that under Trump the global marketplace may shut down, resulting in labor shortages that, they say, will drive up prices and reduce food supplies. “A legal immigration system that works is the best way to address illegal immigration,” Cargill chief executive David MacLennan wrote recently. “We must not close our minds or our borders.”

To read full article, click on the title.

Nicolas Collignon

How Cloudflare Helps Serve Up Hate on the Web - ProPublica

Cloudflare, a prominent San Francisco outfit, provides services to neo-Nazi sites like The Daily Stormer, including giving them personal information on people who complain about their content.

Last week we found out about Cloudbleed , a bug on Cloudflare services ...

To read more, click on the title.

Nicolas Collignon

Want to rescue rural America? Bust monopolies. - The Washington Post

From 2010 to 2014, 60 percent of counties nationwide saw more businesses close than open, compared with just 17 percent during the four years following the 1990s slowdown. During the 1990s recovery, smaller communities — counties with less than half a million people — generated 71 percent of all net new businesses, with counties under 100,000 people accounting for a full third. During the 2010 to 2014 recovery, however, the figure for counties with fewer than half a million people was 19 percent. For counties with less than 100,000 people, it was zero.

How did we get here? After the Great Depression, the government used antimonopoly laws to keep markets open and fair for smaller, independent businesses — in other words, to keep mom-and-pop shops open and Main Street buzzing. These were businesses run by people who cared about and understood their communities, that kept wealth circulating locally, that created the vast majority of new jobs and that were often the source of game-changing innovation.

But in the 1980s, folks in power decided bigger was better, and conventional political wisdom followed suit. For the federal officials charged with protecting competition, that meant that cheap consumer prices trumped all other values, including the preservation of American jobs, open and competitive markets where innovation could flourish, and maintaining level playing fields for start-ups and small businesses. To this day, when government officials evaluate mergers, it’s considered a good thing when they result in job losses — because that means, in the twisted reasoning we still use, gains in economic efficiency. The hard-working Americans turned out on the street corner to look for new jobs are the human sacrifices to the insatiable beast of corporate concentration.

Nicolas Collignon

Winning the debate on encryption — a 101 guide for politicians

Dear Politicians,

With elections coming up and quite a few cringe-worthy comments that have come from many of you and from all sides of the political spectrum, we figured it was time to have a chat about encryption.

Must read. Click on the title.

Nicolas Collignon

Trump Cabinet has Bible study meetings with pastor who wants disciples of Christ to take over the government

Sooo yeah, the world is in good hands.

Cabinet officials in the President Donald Trump’s White House meet for a weekly Bible study group led by a right-wing pastor dedicated to “making disciples of Christ in the Capitol” and spreading Christian fundamentalism among U.S. leaders.

[...]

Drollinger is “(a) former college basketball star turned evangelical Christian whose own church disavowed him over his bigotry and radical theology.”

The controversial pastor “has variously proclaimed that Catholicism is ‘the world’s largest false religion,’ that female legislators who continue working after having children are sinners, and that homosexuality is an ‘abomination.’ He has also written that social welfare programs are un-Christian. ‘It is safe to say that God is a Capitalist,’ Drollinger once wrote, ‘not a Communist.'”

Nicolas Collignon

Nicolas Collignon

Bose headphones have been spying on customers, lawsuit claims

The main plaintiff in the case is Kyle Zak, who bought a $350 pair of wireless Bose headphones last month. He registered the headphones, giving the company his name and email address, as well as the headphone serial number. And he download the Bose Connect app, which the company said would make the headphones more useful by adding functions such as the ability to customize the level of noise cancellation in the headphones.

But it turns out the app was also telling Bose a lot more about Zak than he bargained for.

According to the complaint, Bose collected information that was not covered by its privacy policy. This included the names of the audio files its customers were listening to.

Click on the title to know more.

Nicolas Collignon

Generation spite: is that really how we want our kids to remember us?

Wanting to leave a better world for future generations is a basic desire. Our struggles ought to be final, our political and social battles won, in order that our children will not have to fight them again. And yet the year 2017 sees both them and us agreed on one thing: the next generation will be worse off than their parents.

[...]

There used to be a material underpinning to the Protestant work ethic. Labour was how you obtained the means to survive, so the virtues of hard work and discipline were important because they would enable you to obtain these means. Now, work is the end in itself, a performance rather than a contract. Wages are a luxury, and the idea that they should be high enough to live on, let alone save for the future, is apparently hopelessly unrealistic socialism.

[...]

As our children grow up over the next couple of decades, do we really want their memory of us to be of a spiteful generation, spitting venom at young people we hold in contempt while systematically destroying the world our parents built for us simply so that they wouldn’t have a chance to live in it? Do we really want them to remember that we hated the idea of their happiness and comfort so much that we clubbed together to strip it away? What a miserable legacy that would be.