Jobocalypse now: The impending social catastrophe Public enemy number one: Artificial Intelligence, the monster which has already undermined our collective existence, the fuel for social terrorism As school holidays end in Latin America and begin in Europe, as parents frantically scrabble to get their children into the best schools, as the world goes nuts on sanctions and hatred and sabre-rattling, let us all remember once and for all that our collective future is the next generation. That, along with the destruction of our planet and its inhabitants, are the burning issues of today and this is what we must concentrate on finding solutions to. And this is why I write this article to get people thinking of solutions, for all of us.
www.pravdareport.com | 8/7/18
Lauren Geoghegan and Jay Austin were living out their dream of traveling the world by bicycle.
Tragically, while out doing what they loved with five other cyclists, their quest was cut short when they were run over and stabbed to death by armed men in Tajikistan on Sunday.
Geoghegan’s parents confirmed in a statement to CBS News that the couple, who were both 29-years-old, were killed in the attack.
ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack. Two other tourists, Dutch and Swiss national, were killed while three riders survived, NPR reports.
Geoghegan and Austin started their journey in 2017. They first biked through Africa, Europe, and Central Asia before finding themselves in Tajikistan, using all of their life savings to fund their trip. The couple also documented their travels on their blog SimplyCycling.
“The yearlong bicycle adventure Lauren and her partner, Jay Austin, were enjoying was typical of her enthusiasm embrace of life’s opportunities, her openness to new people and places, and her quest for a better understanding of the world,” her parents, Robert and Elvira Geoghegan, said in a statement given to CBS.
Before setting off, Geoghegan worked in the admissions office at Georgetown University, where she was also a graduate.
Austin, who was originally from New York, was also a graduate of Georgetown University where he received his master’s degree, according to The Washington Post. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware.
He worked with the Department of Housing and Urban Development for seven years, his mother Jeanne Santovasco told The Post.
“He was a gentle soul who cared about the world and not leaving any footprint and leaving it a better place,” Santovasco said during an interview on Tuesday, The Washington Post reported.
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Austin’s blog entries reflected exactly that. In April, the 29-year-old dedicated a post to discussing how the people of this world are inherently good despite all the horror stories you hear on the news.
“You watch the news and you read the papers and you’re led to believe that the world is a big, scary place. People, the narrative goes, are not to be trusted. People are bad. People are evil. People are axe murderers and monsters and worse,” he wrote from Morrocco.
“Badness exists, sure, but even that’s quite rare. By and large, humans are kind. Self-interested sometimes, myopic sometimes, but kind. Generous and wonderful and kind. No greater revelation has come from our journey than this.”
Austin and Geoghegan wrote on their blog that they had plans to continue biking for, “maybe another year or two or three. But only if we’re enjoying it.”
people.com | 8/2/18
It’s been 40 years since the release of “National Lampoon’s Animal House.” That means “Animal House” is older now than the events of “Animal House” were when “Animal House” came out. It’s part of our history now, along with “National Lampoon’s Vacation” and “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” Each of these films are considered comedy classics, or at least extremely influential, because of their eagerness and skill at capturing an idea of America — both the country and its culture — that we think is real, but never existed, and possibly never should have.
But these are just the best-known “National Lampoon” movies. The brand has been used on many motion picture comedies over the years, including many theatrical releases and more straight-to-video schlock than most people realize. With the 40th anniversary of “Animal House” on the horizon, and the 35th anniversary of “Vacation” the same week, we’re counting down the best of the major “National Lampoon” movies (including a few sequels that didn’t technically wear the “National Lampoon” name tag) from worst to best.
13. “Movie Madness” (1982)
The second National Lampoon movie might not be their most immature, the most offensive or even the most amateurish, but that doesn’t make it funny. “Movie Madness” is a triptych of short films, satirizing baby-boomer dramas, hardboiled cop films and sexy prime-time soap operas (which, yes, invalidates the whole title). The story of a guy who can’t stop having powerful revelations, and a “good” cop who keeps falling on his face, and a world in which everyone you meet is a millionaire rushing into marriage are mildly amusing, but the film never takes them further than the premise, repeating the same obvious jokes over and over again.
12. “Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie’s Island Adventure” (2003)
The straight-to-video “Vacation” spinoff features Randy Quaid as the Griswold’s boorish and oafish Cousin Eddie, who loses his job testing nuclear radiation for side effects, but gets bitten by a monkey, so he’s compensated with a free tropical getaway. Naturally, Eddie and his family get shipwrecked. There may be a laugh in “Christmas Vacation 2,” somewhere, but good luck finding them beneath the cheap production values and tedious, uninspired gags.
11. “Class Reunion” (1982)
The slasher genre was still young when “Class Reunion” tried to lampoon the phenomenon, which is probably why the film has no meaningful observations and instead relies on a bunch of outlandish caricatures to steal whatever laughs it can get. It’s the story of a high school prank gone wrong, and then a class reunion a decade later, where characters — including a slimeball, a snob, a vampire and woman possessed a la “The Exorcist”) — are trapped in their old high school with a murderer. Gross humor abounds, but most of it falls completely flat. At least it’s fast-paced and bizarre.
10. “Senior Trip” (1995)
Jeremy Renner made his feature-film debut in “Senior Trip” as Dags, the cool stoner teen locked in a never-ending war with his principal, played by Matt Frewer. When the class’s letter to the president gets national attention, everyone winds up on a bus (driven by Tommy Chong) to Washington, D.C., where of course they party really hard and stick it to the man. The young cast brings some vibrancy to the otherwise flimsy and familiar tale, and Frewer is eager to humiliate himself as the stuck-up authority figure who suffers indignity after indignity. It’s not “good” per se, but compared to some of the other Lampoon films, it almost looks that way.
9. “European Vacation” (1985)
The worst theatrically-released film in the “Vacation” series is a tedious rehash of the original, in which the Griswolds win a European vacation and wreck the whole continent. Most of the set pieces are uncomfortably unfunny, and unlike the original, which had a perspective on America which was observant and satirical, “European Vacation” does little more than take cheap shots at other cultures, which in turn paints the Griswolds in a very ugly light, and makes us like them less than ever.
8. “Vacation” (2015)
The Griswolds’ oldest son Rusty, now played by Ed Helms, decides to take his own family on a cross-country vacation, and naturally it all goes horribly wrong in one outlandish comic set piece after another. The original “Vacation” was founded on false memories of idyllic American life, and telling the story from Rusty’s perspective, now warped by nostalgia, is clever, but the cleverness ends there. Instead of whimsical subversions of our expectations we get thudding sewage jokes aplenty. Still, the remake/reboot of “Vacation” has a few comic highlights, including the jurisdictional crisis at the Four Corners Monument, the ill-fated rafting expedition, and the wacky cameo by Chris Hemsworth.
7. “Van Wilder” (2002)
Ryan Reynolds stars in a cross between “PCU” and “Ferris Bueller,” as a college senior who’s been at the university for nearly a decade and now practically runs the place. Kal Penn plays his horny personal assistant and Tara Reid is the school reporter trying to get the inside scoop on a campus legend, and naturally she falls in love with him. The likable cast manages to overcome (most of) the film’s laziest jokes, but even so it’s a juvenile flick with a flimsy narrative throughline that barely drives the story forward, and it doesn’t earn any of its big emotional climaxes.
6. “Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj” (2006)
The sequel to “Van Wilder” brings back Kal Penn and Van Wilder’s dog, but trades everything else in for a mostly enjoyable but very familiar “Animal House” riff, set in a fictional university in England. Taj becomes the advisor to a fraternity full of outsiders, and together they combat a snobbish culture in a series of competitions. Taj also woos future “Walking Dead” star Lauren Cohan, whose obvious charisma shines through her underwritten character. It’s amazing what a difference even a simple storytelling structure makes, so even though “The Rise of Taj” isn’t as expensive or as star-studded as the original “Van Wilder,” it plays slightly better just by staying focused.
5. “Animal House” (1978)
“Animal House” is a frustrating paradox. On one hand it’s an incredibly influential comedy which spawned a whole genre of “Snobs vs. Slobs” movies and rocketed many great actors to stardom. On the other hand, it’s almost impossible to root for the so-called “heroes” of this movie. Not that the snobs are good people, by any stretch, but the allegedly heroic slobs are cruel, judgmental, sexist a-holes who commit crimes which would be unforgivable by modern standards (and don’t seem any better in historical context). It’s hard to deny the pioneering style or “Animal House,” or its talented cast and historical impact, but it’s not actually very funny anymore.
4. “Vegas Vacation” (1997)
Mostly overlooked but surprisingly amusing, “Vegas Vacation,” finds the Griswolds taking a trip to Las Vegas and getting snookered into a world of decadence, gambling, addiction, and celebrity. The in-jokes about Las Vegas are generally spot-on, and keeping the family in one place gives them an opportunity to interact with each other and to grow as characters, instead of just getting carted off to one funny locale after another. It may not be a comedy masterpiece, but there are a lot of laughs, and the story works.
3. “Loaded Weapon 1” (1993)
National Lampoon returned to the spoof genre with this consistently hilarious parody of macho action films, starring Emilio Estevez as the renegade cop and Samuel L. Jackson as the by-the-books officer, as well as a cavalcade of unexpected cameos in nearly every other role. The non-stop sight gags and puns are unusually clever and usually laugh-out-loud ridiculous. Of the many films to try to emulate the hyperactive laughs-per-minute ratio of “Airplane!,” this is one of the best.
2. “Christmas Vacation” (1989)
All Clark Griswold wants is to have the perfect family Christmas. That’s what makes “Christmas Vacation” so effective. Like the original “Vacation,” the third film in the series is about modest cultural expectations getting stymied at every turn by harsh realities and dumb, stupid luck. It’s hard not to sympathize with Clark’s plight, but he’s so danged unflappable that you can’t help but laugh every time something does go horribly wrong. And you’ll almost certainly howl when he finally loses it completely, in a yuletide outburst for the ages.
1. “Vacation” (1983)
The original “Vacation” is the best National Lampoon movie. It’s also one of the best comedies of the 1980s, featuring a cast at the top of their game, an insightful (albeit sporadically problematic) script by John Hughes, and spot-on, razor sharp direction by Harold Ramis. Clark Griswold just wants to take his family on a cross-country road trip to Wally World. America has other plans. The universally familiar frustrations of being stuck with people who love, but don’t always like, each other makes “Vacation” connect on a personal level. The cruel reversals of fortune they face at every turn, and Clark’s stalwart dedication to staying positive, are wickedly mischievous. And the subversive attitude towards nostalgia is just as insightful as ever. Chevy Chase has never been better, and Beverly D’Angelo matches him at every turn. It’s the perfect vacation movie, and an expertly crafted lampoon of the nation.
www.thewrap.com | 7/23/18
For someone so smart, how can Mark Zuckerberg be so very, very dumb?
Maybe it’s a lack of what we used to call a “liberal arts” education — a foundation in basic philosophy, history, ethics — although they used to teach that stuff at Harvard. Maybe it’s the moral confusion we sometimes see in very leftie liberals who are afraid to offend anyone at any time.
Zuckerberg clearly does not understand that free speech is the bedrock of a democratic society, but that it has its limits. This confusion is very concerning in someone who controls as large a platform as Facebook.
For example: Holocaust denial, which is banned in both Germany and France because of the evident danger to free society posed by spreading poisonous lies. Denying the Holocaust is not an academic point of view or the result of random confusion — it is a deliberate tactic used to sustain and justify anti-Semitism. Those kinds of lies once led to the near-extinction of Zuckerberg’s own ancestral group, European Jews.
But bizarrely, Zuckerberg this week used Holocaust denial as the example of free speech that he would not want to suppress on Facebook.
In an interview with Recode’s Kara Swisher (one of the only journalists whom he seems to grant interviews), Zuckerberg said when asked about regulating speech on Facebook:
Here Swisher correctly interjects that this is probably not the case.
Zuckerberg plows on:
That was a lot of words, and none of them very eloquent. Did Zuckerberg just compare Holocaust deniers to himself when he misspeaks in public?
For the record, Holocaust denial is usually the textbook example of why you sometimes need to regulate speech. (Yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater is another one.) Instead, Zuckerberg is using it as an example of why Facebook prefers to let everyone hash it out in public.
After thoughtful people criticized him on Wednesday, Zuckerberg followed up with a note to Swisher saying he was misunderstood — “I personally find Holocaust denial deeply offensive, and I absolutely didn’t intend to defend the intent of people who deny that.” But that explanation still did not reflect an understanding that this is not a subject of debate among people of good will or that Facebook should have a position on this.
Yesterday, Simon Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean Abraham Cooper said that Facebook officials told the Simon Wiesenthal Center in 2009 that Holocaust denial content would be removed from the platform.
“Holocaust denial is the quintessential ‘fake news,'” Cooper said in a statement. “The Nazi Holocaust is the most documented atrocity in history, allowing the canard of Holocaust denial to be posted on Facebook, or any other social media platform cannot be justified in the name of ‘free exchange of ideas’ when the idea itself is based on a falsehood.”
Get it, Mark? People who control mass communication platforms have a responsibility to think about the intent of the people using the platform. Uncomfortable as it may be, Facebook morally and ethically must make judgement calls about the content being posted. Those of us in news organizations do it every day.
The same goes for denying that the Sandy Hook massacre ever happened. It is immoral for Facebook to exercise no judgement around this content, aimed at spreading misinformation.
And yes, it’s complicated and sticky and a lot harder than coding Xs and Os.
The reality is that Zuckerbeg is winging it when it comes to making value judgements about the vast array of content on his platform. He doesn’t want to have to make decisions, dammit, that’s not why he started the thing.
Zuckerberg has demonstrated before his extreme discomfort with monitoring content, and his unwillingness to step in and make judgement calls. This moral abdication — this doing nothing — dovetails with Facebook’s profitable but questionable practice of mining the data of his users and then selling it to third parties even when he said he wasn’t doing so.
So now we can add Holocaust Denial to the list of things that the man who controls a communications platform with 2 billion-plus users does not understand.
Related stories from TheWrap:
www.thewrap.com | 7/19/18
The majority of foreigners, who visited Russia during the FIFA 2018 World Cup, were thrilled with what they saw and experienced in the country. They were thrilled to see Russia that was so much different from what their media was making them to believe. The level of organization of the tournament in Russia was superb indeed: no incident was reported, not a single brawl occurred. Nikolskaya Street, where most fans gathered, became the street of global peace and the main street of the world. The goal of the organizing committee was to show foreigners Russia's best side, to make them remember their time in Russia and have unforgettable impressions. Today, one can say for certain: the goal has been achieved. The 2018 World Cup has changed Russia's imaged for the better in the whole world. The performance of the Russian football team at the tournament became an important addition to the organization of the whole event. Few in Russia could even think that the national football team could exit the group, reach the 1/8 finals and even leave Spain behind on the way. Even when Russia lost to Croatia in a series of penalty kicks, the whole nation was infinitely grateful to their footballers for their amazing achievement. Ratings of broadcasts of playoff matches with the participation of the Russian national team were comparable with the ratings of president's New Year speech. The World Cup has given Russia not only 12 stadiums that hosted the games, but also almost a hundred smaller arenas throughout the European territory of the country. They will be used for children's sports schools.New airport terminals, renovated roads and streets, the experience of thousands of people who were involved in the organization of the world's biggest event has become the precious legacy that football has given Russia. The whole world has finally got a chance to see Russia as an open and hospitable country, and we would like to hope that many foreign fans would like to come to Russia again and bring their families along. It is worthy of note that all foreigners having FAN IDs for the 2018 World Cup will not need to get the Russian visa if they wish to visit Russia again before the end of 2018. The 2018 World Cup cost Russia more than $14 billion. The financial results of the tournament have not been calculated yet, but one can already say that the income that Russia has received was a lot lower than the spending. However, profit is not the most important thing, and Russia did not have the goal to make as much as possible from football. Russian football fans bought the largest amount of tickets - 900,000 of 2.4 million. Surprisingly, American fans come next - they bought 89,000 tickets. The list continues with Brazil - 72,500 tickets, Colombia - 65,200, Germany - 62,500, Mexico - 60,300, Argentina - 54,000, Peru - 43,600, China - 40,300, Australia - 36,400, and England - 32,400.The number of European visitors was unexpectedly low. Having been zombified by the media, many British and French fans preferred to stay home and watch the games on TV. Yet, the number of American visitors was higher than expected. Financial results of the 2018 World Cup will follow soon, although experts say that the football tournament has contributed from 0.2 to 1 percent of GDP to the Russian economy. The infrastructure created for the competition and the subsequently growing tourist flow can bring an additional 120-180 billion rubles to Russia's GDP annually for the next five years.Given that Russia's GDP amounted to about 92 trillion rubles last year, these expected revenues will simply be invisible and fit within the error margin. The spending of 1.2 trillion rubles that Russia has incurred during seven years of preparations for the event is just as insignificant.
www.pravdareport.com | 7/16/18
www.itnewsafrica.com | 7/8/18
European activists protested Saturday against U.S. President Donald Trump's upcoming appearance at NATO, marching through Belgium's capital to plead for less military spending and more public money for schools and clean energy.
www.foxnews.com | 7/7/18
[New Times] 567 young Rwandans pursuing their studies from some 19 countries from Asia, Europe, America and Africa on Wednesday started a civic education programme (Itorero) that will last one month.
allafrica.com | 7/6/18
We have told G7 Leaders to Make Gender Inequality and Patriarchy History For most people, the annual G7 meeting may just seem like an expensive photo-op that doesn't connect with any concrete change in people's lives. But for us, appointed by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to sit on his G7 Gender Equality Advisory Council, it was a unique opportunity to push for strong commitments for girls' and women's rights. We had the opportunity to meet the seven leaders for breakfast and make a strong case for concrete commitments and accelerated action to achieve gender equality within a generation. There is unprecedented momentum and support for gender equality and women's rights. With the universal adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, which put gender equality at the center, and the global attention brought by #MeToo and related campaigns on ending sexual harassment and other forms of violence against women, support for improving outcomes for girls and women has never been so high. The explosion of discussions in our offices and shopfloors, our boardrooms and lockerooms, our dining rooms and bedrooms must come right to the G7 table. It is therefore significant that leaders spent two hours discussing gender equality and that it was also part of other discussions. As the richest economies in the world, G7 countries can bring about far reaching systemic changes envisaged in the global agenda for sustainable development. The impact of G7 countries goes well beyond their borders. We have told leaders that they must use this unique footprint for the benefit of women and girls. Together with the Gender Equality Advisory Council, we have put forward a comprehensive set of recommendations. As a foundation, it is critical to eliminate discriminatory legislation which persists in G7 countries and around the world. We also called for the removal of barriers to women's income's security and participation in the labour market. Concrete measures, such as legislation and implementation of pay equity can close the wage gap between men and women. And the jobs of the future, whether it is in the digital economy or artificial intelligence, must help close - not further widen - the gender gap. For most women, the challenge of balancing productive and reproductive lives creates a "motherhood penalty" that triggers major setbacks for women in the economy. G7 leaders can shape an economy that closes the gap between women and men through affordable childcare, paid parental leave, and greater incentives for men to do half of all care work. Addressing violence against women in the workplace is critical. Employers, shareholders, customers, trade unions, Boards, Ministers all have an obligation to make workplaces safe, hold perpetrators accountable and end impunity. The emerging International Labour Organization's standard to end violence and harassment at work should be supported to drive greater progress in this area. None of this will happen without the full participation and voice of women at all decision-making tables. We applaud the increasing numbers of countries with gender equal cabinets. We need more countries to follow suit, as well as the private sector. Because men still disproportionately control our political, economic, religious, and media institutions, they have a special responsibility to actively support policies and cultural change. Men's voices and actions, including those of our predominately male political leaders, are critical because they have such a big impact on the attitudes and behavior of other men. We welcome the announcement by Canada, the European Union, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the World Bank of an investment of nearly US$ 3 billion for girls' education, including the single largest investment in education for women and girls in crisis and conflict situations. This is a significant step forward to build a foundation for greater progress. In our own work, as the Executive Director of UN Women, and as a writer and activist focused on engaging men to promote gender equality and end violence against women, we've been witness to dramatic changes over the past few decades. The courage of individual women and the leadership of women's movements have meant that patriarchy is being dismantled in front of our eyes. But greater leadership is required. A strong commitment by G7 leaders to take this agenda forward beyond the Summit can push forward the most dramatic and far-reaching revolution in human history. The one that will make gender inequality history. UN Women
www.pravdareport.com | 7/5/18
Children from eastern Europe are being forced to hide their nationalities in Scotland's schools, say the front pages.
www.bbc.co.uk | 6/22/18
Early June 2018 the European Internet community traveled into the Caucasian Mountains to participate in EURODIG 11. On its way into the digital age, Europe is, as EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel said, at another crossroad. In cyberspace, Europe risks becoming sandwiched between US and Chinese Cyberpower policies. Social networks, search engines, smartphones, eTrade platforms — key sectors of today's digital economy — are dominated both by the US and Chinese giants: Alibaba and Amazon, Google and Baidu, Facebook and Weibo, Apple and Huawai. And it is also clear, that the 2020s global political agenda will be determined by issues like cyberwar and digital trade where the United States of America and the Peoples Republic of China will be the main competitors. Insofar EURODIG was a good opportunity to discuss the role of Europe in this forthcoming very complex cyber powerplay.
EURODIG is the European regional version of the UN based Internet Governance Forum (IGF). The 11th edition in Tbilisi, Georgia, saw 800 registrations from more than 50 countries, representing all stakeholder groups. And the agenda covered nearly everything: from cybersecurity and digital trade to artificial intelligence and human rights. EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel called EURODIG "the most successful and most relevant regional initiative on Internet Governance." And indeed, over the years, EURODIG has innovated the IGF processes with new ideas: interactive formats of sessions, tangible output in form of clear and short messages, a youth IGF, open calls for themes, decentralized and bottom-up management procedures.
However, the Tbilisi meeting also showed that the IGF community, which has grown substantially since the days of the 2005 UN World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), is now also partly the victim of its own success. There is a risk that the "usual suspects" of the global Internet Governance debate, who have been the drivers of discussions in the past, are sidelined and substituted by new communities which represent new powerhouses from governments and businesses. Those powerhouses have their own new agendas and tend to ignore widely what has been achieved over the last two decades in building a functioning Internet Governance ecosystem.
Reinventing the Wheel?
For years the message from EURODIG and the IGF was: Internet Governance is a big political issue and the multistakeholder approach is an innovation in global policymaking. 15 years after the WSIS I, world leaders have now recognized that the internet is indeed a big issue — they call it now "cyber" or "digital" — and they discuss it at summit meetings like BRICS, G7 or G20. But they have partly different ideas how to manage this network of networks. They pay lipservice to the multistakeholder approach, but the reality is that the majority of governments prefer to negotiate Internet-related issues behind closed doors.
This is the case if it comes to cybersecurity where a UN Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) tried to define rules of the road for the cyberspace. This is the case for digital trade, where the intergovernmental World Trade Organisation is negotiating behind closed doors frameworks for eCommerce. Both issues have been discussed since years both at the IGF and EURODIG. And agreements which have been achieved in this global Internet Governance debate are certainly also relevant for cybersecurity and digital trade.
The Tunis Agenda (2005) has defined what Internet Governance is and has invited both state and non-state actors to participate — in their respective roles — in the development of Internet-related public policies. The NetMundial Declaration (2014) has defined fundamental principles for good behaviour in cyberspace and has specified guidelines for multistakeholder cooperation as openness, transparency, bottom-up and inclusive. ICANN's IANA transition (2016) has demonstrated the feasibility of multistakeholder cross-community processes by transferring the responsibility for the management of key global Internet resources — domain names, IP addresses, and Internet protocols — to the empowered community (which include also governments in their respective role).
But the new intergovernmental negotiating bodies which are dealing now with cybersecurity and digital trade are rather dislinked from IGF and ICANN processes. What we see is that new intergovernmental silos are emerging and the risk is growing that in all those new closed silos the cyberwheel is reinvented.
This new intergovernmental silo approach could become a big problem. The Internet is a network of networks, everything is connected with everything via protocols and codes. This has consequences for Internet-related public policies. In the analog world, security issues had only little to do with trade, environment or freedom of expression. In the digital world, those issues are interconnected as the new EU data protection legislation (GDPR) is demonstrating. The regulation of a human rights issue — privacy — has far-reaching consequences for the business model of internet corporations and the security agenda of law enforcement agencies. And this is valid also the other way around. Any cybersecurity treaty will have economic implications and touches human rights. And agreements on digital trade will have a cybersecurity component and will also have consequences for human rights.
In other words, the big challenge with the Internet Governance Ecosystems and its growing complexity is not only to include all stakeholders in their respective roles in policy development and decision making but also to inter-link the new emerging intergovernmental silos and to pull them into a multistakeholder environment. What is needed is a holistic approach to global Internet negotiations as it was also recognized during the recent Bratislava meeting (May 2018) of the Global Commission on Stability in Cyberspace.
The Need for a Holistic Approach
How to organize such a holistic approach? The first step has to be to enhance communication among all governmental and non-governmental stakeholders. Decisions can be made only on an informed basis. No single stakeholder has all the knowledge and all the capacities which are needed to find sustainable solutions.
There is a need for something like a "global clearinghouse" which identifies the key components of an issue before decisions are made. But wait a minute, such a "clearinghouse" does already exist. If we would not have the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), there would be a need to invent it now. The IGF and its regional and national subsidiaries — like EURODIG — provide the needed framework for such a discussion across constituencies, stakeholders, state and nonstate organizations. The problem is that some governments and some business underestimate the potential of the IGF and are looking for alternative venues.
It is certainly true that the IGF has some weaknesses. The UNCSTD IGF Improvement Working Group has made some recommendations which have been reaffirmed by the UN General Assembly in its WSIS+10 Resolution in December 2015. Progress is slow but there is improvement: More intercessional work, more tangible output, more interlinkage with national and regional initiatives. And we see as EURDOG in Tbilissi has demonstrated, a more interactive cross-community debate, the involvement of more young people and the ability to send 62 short and concrete messages to all stakeholders which tell them what they could and should do in fields like cybersecurity, digital trade, artificial intelligence or human rights.
The new UN Internet Commission, which will be probably established under the guidance of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guiterres by the forthcoming UN General Assembly in fall 2018 would be very wise if it would push for a strengthening of the IGF process and to recommend to governmental and non-governmental stakeholders not only to deepen the multistakeholder cooperation but to argue also in favor of a holistic approach.
A new Round of Controversies?
However, recent meetings on the highest political level did send some contradicting and confusing messages to the global Internet community.
On the one hand, the leaders of the G7 — including US President Trump, French President Macron and the German Chancellor Merkel — during its meeting in June 2018 in Canada remained silent with regard to cybersecurity and digtal trade, but agreed on a "Commitment on Defending Democracy from Foreign Threats" which included the establishment of "a G7 Rapid Response Mechanism to strengthen our coordination to identify and respond to diverse and evolving threats to our democracies, including through sharing information and analysis, and identifying opportunities for coordinated response… in collaboration with governments, civil society and the private sector". The G7 wants to "engage directly with internet service providers and social media platforms regarding malicious misuse of information technology by foreign actors, with a particular focus on improving transparency regarding the use and seeking to prevent the illegal use of personal data and breaches of privacy."
On the other hand the leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) — including Chinese President Xi, Russian President Putin and India's President Modi — during its parallel meeting in China supported "the central role of the UN in developing universal international rules and principles as well as norms for countries' responsible behaviour in the information space." They advocated for "the establishment of a working mechanism within the framework of the UN". And they argued that "a governing organization established to manage key internet resources must be international, more representative and democratic."
What does this mean? Is this the kick-start for a re-opening of the ICANN vs. ITU controversy? It could become a "hot fall" for Internet discussions.
In October 2018 there will be ICANN's High-Level GAC Meeting in Barcelona. The other week ITU's Plenipotentiary Conference starts in Dubai. Mid-November 2018 will see the IGF in Paris. And at the end of November 2018, the leaders of the G20 meet in Buenos Aires. Let's wait and see how the Internet world looks in December 2018.
A Chance for Europe
In this process, Europe has a chance to become a driver and pioneer.
1. Europe's strength is the rule of law. European institutions — from the Council of Europe with the European Court of Human Rights to the institutions of the European Union with the European Parliament, European Commission and European Court of Justice have produced instruments and offer procedures which make clear that cyberspace is not ruled by the "law of the jungle". GDPR is an interesting case and it remains to be seen how this European regulation contributes to more stability in cyberspace. It is a complicated issue and slippery territory but there is a need for rules-based frameworks also for issues like cybersecurity, taxation, fake news, hatespeech and others.
2. Europe's opportunity is industry 4.0, Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things. To link Europe's manufacturing industry to digitalization has a lot of potential. Europe has a highly developed educational system which is able to produce the skill sets needed for tomorrows digital economy.
3. But Europe's weakness is to translate good ideas into concrete policies and projects. The 28 member states of the EU have declared the establishment of a Digital Single Market as a high priority. Under the Estonian EU presidency (Fall 2017) there was a "Digital EU Summit". There is some progress, but progress is slow. And Europe has an implementation problem.
Looking into the coming months, there is a window of opportunity for a big European Cyber initiative which could include also proposals for a holistic approach to global Internet negotiations. When the French president Macron announced that Paris will host this year's IGF in Paris (November 2018) he also indicated that time is ripe to speed up Europe's journey into the digital age. After Paris, The Hague will host EURODIG 12 in June 2019. And the 14th IGF is scheduled for Berlin (November 2019). What is needed now on the road to Paris, The Hague and Berlin is more European steam.
Written by Wolfgang Kleinwächter, Professor Emeritus at the University of Aarhus
www.circleid.com | 6/18/18
"Lend a Hand" - Kit to promote the inclusion of migrant and refugee children in schools A team from the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences of the University of Coimbra (FPCEUC) developed and tested a set of materials to help teachers and other educational agents in the school and social inclusion of migrant and refugee children. The kit was developed within the framework of the study Lend a Hand - Social Inclusion Program in Schools for Migrant and Refugee Children, funded by the European Union through the ERASMUS + program. In addition to the University of Coimbra, the universities of Gazi (Turkey) and Florence (Italy) are participating in the research.
www.pravdareport.com | 6/11/18
Sweden and Iceland are the happiest countries in Europe, according to scientists at the University of Valencia in Spain, who have developed a new Happiness Index to rate countries' satisfaction.
www.dailymail.co.uk | 6/6/18
The study of 27 countries found in the UK and other European nations death rates 'declined steadily among people of high and low education levels throughout the period studied'.
www.dailymail.co.uk | 6/4/18
When it comes to experimental electro-pop, MNDR reigns supreme. Amanda Warner, the force behind the project alongside producer Peter Wade, has an impressive discography, to say the least. From her education in jazz to her background in experimental noise and IDM to collaborating and touring with Mark Ronson across Europe to designing a keyboard rig…
www.stereogum.com | 5/31/18
Researchers from the University of Liverpool revealed at the European Congress on Obesity that YouTube stars could be encouraging children to eat junk food by promoting it on their channels.
www.dailymail.co.uk | 5/29/18
For months now, Harvey Weinstein has been pretending that this whole #MeToo thing was going to blow over, that eventually he’d be back, somehow.
On Friday that fantasy came crashing in with the force of a thousand news cameras. It’s probably a day Harvey Weinstein thought would never come. But it did. He was marched into the New York criminal court like some low-level thug — like some mob operator, like some drug dealer, like some terrorism suspect — charged with three felonies, saddled with an ankle monitoring device and forced to hand over his passport.
And then marched out in handcuffs.
So after months at an Arizona spa where no one knew him, he is now confined to New York and Connecticut, where everyone, everywhere knows him. Where the media will stalk him like the click-bait he is, where restaurants won’t take his reservation, where people will hiss if he goes to the theater, where every corner holds the reminder of the power and glory he once had and that is now gone. It will be much harder to hide.
He entered Manhattan’s first precinct clutching a book about Elia Kazan, a famous director exiled from Hollywood for ratting on Communist colleagues, as a slim ray of hope that he might see a way through it all. Kazan eventually won an honorary Oscar in 1999 and we study his masterpieces like “On the Waterfront” in universities.
But this isn’t the Red Scare. It’s rape. And the victims are not one or two colleagues, but dozens of women. There isn’t a path forward for Weinstein anymore. It is stunning to say and believe this since he reigned as a force of nature for close to four decades.
One year ago, Weinstein was swanning around the Cannes Film Festival as he always did, his posse of minions and executives around him, talking up his movies, making deals, hanging on yachts with billionaire pals and movie stars.
He even stopped by a Wrap event with the director of “Bend It Like Beckham,” Gurinder Chadha. On this day last year he was at his favorite lair, the Hotel du Cap in Cap d’Antibes, for the AmFar AIDS gala, with Georgina Chapman, the fashion designer who is no longer his wife.
He knew then what the rest of us did not, that a storm was brewing in two investigative projects, at the New York Times and the New Yorker. I’m sure he believed then that he’d find a way through any thicket of accusations — because he always had in the past.
When I tried to write about Weinstein keeping on the Disney payroll a man who served essentially as his pimp (Weinstein was then a Miramax chief, owned by Disney), he tried everything from cajoling me with movie stars to paying a personal visit to the New York Times executive editor to legal threats to keep it out of print.
He didn’t kill my story, but it landed like a tree in the forest. Utter silence. So he bought more time. (He never tried buying me off with a book deal, and I still keep on a bulletin board in my office what he told one of his directors about me: “That dame won’t play ball.”)
He won that round like he won most rounds.
At this month’s Cannes Film Festival, Weinstein accuser Asia Argento correctly called the festival his “hunting ground.” (She and others who came forward on the record knew Fabrizio Lombardo, the aforesaid procurer, who was often by Weinstein’s side at parties in Europe.) And she stood at Cannes’ closing ceremony and swore Weinstein would never return.
But Weinstein probably didn’t believe it. For months I’ve been hearing from multiple sources that he was not standing down. You could tell this was true because he would insert himself into public debates when he should have been hiding in shame — apologizing to Meryl, defending himself from Lupita N’yongo.
If he ever planned to flee the country, he didn’t act like it. Now that he’s surrendered his passport it’s too late to try the Roman Polanski route — which can lead to its own set of heartbreaks.
Up until his arrest this week, I suspect he really believed that eventually he’d fight his way back into Hollywood’s good graces. Maybe not to his former status, but that he’d at least have a fighting shot at a comeback.
At this point, though, it’s hard to imagine Harvey Scissorhands cutting a happy ending for his own story.
Related stories from TheWrap:
www.thewrap.com | 5/25/18
Bold efforts to push academic publishing towards an open-access model are gaining steam. Negotiators from libraries and university consortia across Europe are sharing tactics on how to broker new kinds of contracts that could see more articles appear outside paywalls. And inspired by the results of a stand-off in Germany, they increasingly declare that if they donâ??t like what publishers offer, they will refuse to pay for journal access at all. On 16 May, a Swedish consortium became the latest to say that it wouldn't renew its contract, with publishing giant Elsevier. A lot of this research in partially or fully tax-funded, and as such, published articles must be freely available to the public. Good development.
osnews.com | 5/21/18
On my way back from Cannes I stopped in Paris and went to meet my old friend Marek Halter — writer, political activist, militant for peace — and found that he had moved on from old paradigms.
“Democracy is over,” he declared, which alarmed me a little. We were sitting near his house at a restaurant on the Place des Vosges, a very beautiful, very old square in Paris, where Victor Hugo once lived. “It does not work for everyone… We are entering a different world. We can’t be too tied to our past. The past is the past.”
Halter was referring to the resurgence of virulent nationalism across Europe, and the abject failure to bring democracy to a place like Iraq, despite all the blood and money expended by the United States. He was referring to the dizzying changes brought by Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, the strengthening of dictators around the world — the Philippine’s Rodrigo Duterte and South Korea’s Kim Jong Un — and of course the chaotic mess that the Trump presidency represents. What does it mean that the most powerful democracy on earth could elect someone of Trump’s level of inexperience and opacity — and that he continues to govern?
Halter said this not in a pessimistic or even sad way, but more as an observation. And his saying so gave me pause, not because I agree with him, but because I’d never considered this before.
Now 82, Halter has lived through the titanic clashes of Communism and fascism, and seen the results. He fled Poland under the Nazis as a child with his family and went to Russia, where at one point he was chosen to present flowers to Joseph Stalin. But Communism — no.
After the war he returned to Poland, then ended up in Paris. He lived in Argentina and militated on behalf of those who disappeared under the military junta. He has been deeply involved in trying to bring peace to Arabs and Israelis, and for decades has spoken on behalf of preserving the memory of the Holocaust and other genocides.
Halter also remains on good terms with Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader funded a university project that Halter established two decades ago after the fall of communism, and Halter will join French President Emmanuel Macron at an economic summit in Saint Petersburg this week. He is part of the French intellectual class, and his ideas carry weight.
“A human being is unable to live without hope,” Halter observed. And in the absence of a political ideology that inspires hope, religion is resurgent. (I pointed out to him that religion is not resurgent in the United States, where church-going remains in decline.) Technology, he said, does not offer hope, and it does not bode well for the future of democracy.
He seemed surprisingly unworried about this. I told Halter that I did not agree that democracy is an experiment that has run its course. It may be facing a difficult pass, but living in a free society is not something we outgrow. To me it is a system worth fighting for, one that requires investment in education to sustain and build it abroad, and vigilance to adapt to the sinister uses of technology at home.
The fact that Americans and Western Europeans has been fed fake news over the new tools of mass communication is not a reason to throw in the towel.
Halter said none of that mattered. History has moved on, and a new system — as yet undefined, needed to arise. “Today we have nothing to propose,” he said. “But we will find something. I believe in the genius of human beings.”
I ran this past a couple of journalist friends, and they were even less receptive than I was. That may be because France is in a good place for the first time in decades (despite crippling transit strikes that are nothing new in this town).
The just-turned-40-year-old Macron has brought an energy and optimism to France that is palpable. He created a political movement modeled on the template of a start-up — his party appeared virtually overnight. With the United States turning inward and England mired in Brexit, it has allowed France to take a leading global role.
In fact, Macron’s biggest misstep — according to the media class — was in failing to win concessions from Trump on issues like Iran or the environmental accord on his recent visit, while appearing to fall victim to Trump’s bromantic charm.
If the future is uncertain, this weekend Europe was on the whole a happy place. The sun shone down on Paris and London, and the world tuned in to watch Prince Harry marry his divorced, African-American former actress Meghan Markle.
Spike Lee won a big award in Cannes, as did a gentle movie about an impoverished Japanese family, “Shoplifters.”
The women in Cannes raised their voices, and Weinstein survivor Asia Argento declared from an official Cannes podium that the mogul who she has accused of raping her at this festival would never again darken its door.
While that doesn’t mean that democracy isn’t under assault, it does mean that unexpected moments of redemption do arise, moments of unity, of love, of common values.
And on a spring weekend in Europe, that does offer hope.
Related stories from TheWrap:
www.thewrap.com | 5/20/18
Photodynamic Therapy: the light for a new era in the treatment of dental infections A study led by researchers from the Dental Medicine Area and the Institute of Microbiology, Faculty of Medicine, and the Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology (CNC), University of Coimbra (UC), revealed that Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) is effective in the treatment of dental infections. One of the major current problems of endodontic treatment, commonly known as tooth devitalization, is to ensure the complete destruction of microbial biofilms - complex populations of microorganisms that form inside the root canal of the tooth and cause infection - in order to ensure the success of the intervention. Therefore, the study developed in the PhD work of Patrícia Diogo, already published in the magazines Frontiers in Microbiology and Photodiagnosis and Photodynamic Therapy, the official journal of the European Platform of Photodynamic Medicine, focused on exploring new therapeutic strategies and comparing them with conventional techniques.
www.pravdareport.com | 5/14/18
"Human Rights in a Digital Age" is the theme of this year's RightsCon conference in Toronto. An essential human right is access to safe, affordable prescription medications. The Internet makes this possible, our organization has proven it's achievable and sustainable over an extended period of time, and our proposed "Brussels Principles" provide the framework to take our proven success internationally. Across the Globe, to people everywhere.
Let me back up to RightsCon Brussels 2017. At that groundbreaking conference, the Canadian International Pharmacy Association (CIPA) participated in a workshop entitled: Online Access to Affordable Medication: Applying Human Rights Law to Cyber Rule-Making and Internet Governance. Together with Knowledge Ecology International, Public Citizen, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Prescription Justice, we jointly formulated the aforementioned Brussels Principles, which are best practices for licensed pharmacies that enable safe, reliable, and affordable medication sales over the Internet.
At RightsCon 2018 (Toronto, May 16-18) with our session: Making Safe Online Access to Affordable Medication Real, we will serve on a panel of distinguished international experts, addressing this urgent issue and discussing the proactive framework that will ensure its success.
Heading into the conference, it's important to give this critical discussion some historical context. Specifically, why this is such an important issue, how we're qualified to address it, and how the Brussels Principles will help negotiate the intersection of human rights and digital technology.
As the Executive Director of the Canadian International Pharmacy Association, every day I receive emails and speak to people who are trying to find a safe source of medications from a pharmacy online. Why? Because they can't afford or don't have access to their prescribed medication where they live. In fact, CIPA has served more than one million patients annually, providing safe and affordable daily medications (but not controlled substances). The high cost of medications in the U.S. is something already on the radar at both the federal and state levels; witness repeated comments by the U.S. president, as well as a recent, overwhelming (141 to 2!) vote by the Vermont House of Representatives in support of a bill to reduce the cost of prescription medications through importation.
Senator Rand Paul also clearly voiced the general feeling of the average American during Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar's confirmation hearing. Mr. Azar noted that "Importation must be reliable and safe, in the mind of the president." Senator Paul interrupted him: "You would have to sit there and say the drugs from the European Union or Canada or Australia are not safe… It is frankly just not true… It's a canard that has been going on year after year after year… It's just BS! ... to serve the pharmaceutical companies..."
But access and affordability to safe medications is not just a U.S. problem, and we have seen a growing number of patients from countries around the world seeking to have their prescriptions filled from Canadian and international licensed pharmacies.
Can medications be ordered safely on the Internet? Yes, with proper regulation and vigilance.
The Canadian International Pharmacy Association is visible proof this can be done. Remember the one million patients a year I mentioned above? We've been serving that many for more than 15 years, and we have a 100% perfect safety record.
We achieve this perfect safety record through rigorous procedures and controls established and monitored by our organization, and adhered to by our pharmacy members. We also are fully engaged in the fight against "rogue" pharmacies illegitimately using our certification mark or otherwise trying to leverage our good Canadian name and reputation. CIPA works closely with both attorneys and law enforcement on an ongoing basis in this effort.
Based on our experiences and safety record selling medications online since 2002, we are pleased to work with so many other Internet and industry experts on the Brussels Principles.
Serving patients economically and safely, doing what is expected of industry leaders by assisting law enforcement, participating in the development of the Brussels Principles, active engagement in ICANN, all add up to a solution that is effective, practical, and easily within our reach.
We'll be discussing this topic in detail, and seeking feedback to the Brussels Principles, at our RightsCon 2018 session. I welcome you to participate with us in Toronto, on May 17 at 9 am (Session #636).
Our renowned panel of thought leaders includes Dr. Jillian Kohler, Professor, Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy and Munk School of Global Affairs, and Aria Ilyad Ahmand who is a Consultant to the World Health Organization on Substandard and Falsified Medical Products. Jillian pioneered the methodology on good governance in the pharmaceutical system for the World Bank, which was subsequently adopted by the WHO and has been applied in over 35 countries globally. Aria is a policy advisor at the Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research at York University, where he has also served since 2014 as a consultant to the WHO's Department of Essential Medicines and Health Products. A past Duke University Global Health Fellow and past faculty member of the Global Health Education Initiative at the University of Toronto, Aria is currently completing his PhD in Global Health Governance. Joining these two experts will be other industry representatives, including Gabriel Levitt (Prescription Justice); Tracy Cooley (Campaign for Personal Prescription Importation); Dr. Shivam Patel (PharmacyChecker); Robert Guerra (Privaterra); and myself.
I hope to see you there!
Written by Tim Smith, General Manager
www.circleid.com | 5/14/18
Taylor Swift returned to the stage Tuesday night at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona to kick off her massive Reputation Stadium Tour.
Camila Cabello and Charli XCX opened for Swift, who performed a total of 24 hits throughout the night. Her set list included nearly all the songs off her latest album reputation and fan favorites like “All Too Well” off her Red album and “Shake It Off” and “Style” off her 1989 album.
As teased by the Grammy winner, 28, over the last couple weeks, she had plenty of costume changes and surprises in store for her loyal Swifties.
“Taylor couldn’t be more excited about the tour. She has been rehearsing nonstop and perfecting everything. She can’t stop talking about it. It’s so fun to see her this happy and excited,” a source close to the entertainer tells PEOPLE exclusively, adding that Swift’s boyfriend Joe Alwyn will be attending shows when he can. (The actor was spotted by fans in the crowd, and Swift reportedly pointed at him while singing her hit “Gorgeous.”)
RELATED: Snakes, Rockets & Her Dad Scott! Everything to Know About Taylor Swift’s Reputation Stadium Tour
“The team that she hired for the tour is equally excited. It’s the best to work for Taylor. She is demanding and wants everyone to give 100 percent, but she is also very appreciative and takes amazing care of her team,” adds the source. “The tour will be a really fun experience for everyone.”Want to keep up with the latest from PEOPLE? Sign up for our daily newsletter to get our best stories of the day delivered straight to your inbox.
A record-breaking 59,157 fans made up the audience, and many excitedly shared photos and snippets of the superstar on stage:
Swift also opened up about the “low” point in her life “a couple of years ago” before singing “Long Live” and alluded to her feud with Kim Kardashian West, who leaked a phone call between the singer and her husband Kanye West in 2016.
“A couple of years ago, someone called me a snake on social media and it caught on. And then a lot of people called me a lot of names on social media,” Swift told her audience. “And I went through some really low times for a while because of it. I went through some times when I didn’t know if I was gonna get to do this anymore and I guess the snakes … I wanted to send a message to you guys that if someone uses name calling to bully you on social media and even if a lot of people jump on board with it, that doesn’t have to beat you. It can strengthen you instead.”
Hours before kicking off her first show, Swift revealed a surprising gift from fellow pop star Katy Perry, whom she’s had a complicated relationship with over the last several years.
“Hey Old Friend — I’ve been doing some reflecting on past miscommunications and hurt feelings between us,” Perry, 33, wrote in the partially obscured letter, in which she also wrote she was “deeply sorry” and wanted to “clear the air.” The note was accompanied by an olive branch.
And on Tuesday morning, Swift’s close friend and fellow singer Kelsea Ballerini shared a sweet message on her Instagram account wishing her good luck.
“Happy tour kickoff to my friend that is equally as inviting, warm, and entertaining drinking wine on the couch as she is on stage,” Ballerini, 24, captioned a seemingly recent image of her with Swift, barefoot on a sofa sipping vino. “That being said, I can’t wait to come fangirl and get inspired. Potentially with a sign. Potentially also with some kind of snake apparel. Go get em, sister.”
Swift’s Reputation Stadium Tour will see her play dates across North America, Europe and Oceania through November.
people.com | 5/9/18
I presented some of the work on teaching algorithms and data structures at the 2018 European Lisp Symposium
Given that I wanted to go to the symposium (and I'm glad I did!), the most economical method for going was if I presented research work - because then there was a reasonable chance that my employer would fund the expenses (spoiler: they did; thank you!). It might perhaps be surprising to hear that they don't usually directly fund attending events where one is not presenting; on the other hand, it's perhaps reasonable on the basis that part of an academic's job as a scholar and researcher is to be creating and disseminating new knowledge, and of course universities, like any organizations, need to prioritise spending money on things which bring value or further the organization's mission.
In any case, I found that I wanted to write about the teaching work that I have been doing, and in particular I chose to write about a small, Lisp-related aspect. Specifically, it is now fairly normal in technical subjects to perform a lot of automated testing of students; it relieves the burden on staff to assess things which can be mechanically assessed, and deliver feedback to individual students which can be delivered automatically; this frees up staff time to perform targeted interventions, give better feedback on more qualitative aspects of the curriculum, or work fewer weekends of the year. A large part of my teaching work for the last 18 months has been developing material for these automated tests, and working on the infrastructure underlying them, for my and colleagues' teaching.
So, the more that we can test automatically and meaningfully, the more time we have to spend on other things. The main novelty here, and the lisp-related hook for the paper I submitted to ELS, was being able to give meaningful feedback on numerical answer questions which probed whether students were developing a good mental model of the meaning of pseudocode. That's a bit vague; let's be specific and consider the break and continue keywords:x ← 0 for 0 ≤ i < 9 x ← x + i if x > 17 continue end if x ← x + 1 end for return x
The above pseudocode is typical of what a student might see; the question would be "what does the above block of pseudocode return?", which is mildly arithmetically challenging, particularly under time pressure, but the conceptual aspect that was being tested here was whether the student understood the effect of continue. Therefore, it is important to give the student specific feedback; the more specific, the better. So if a student answered 20 to this question (as if the continue acted as a break), they would receive a specific feedback message reminding them about the difference between the two operators; if they answered 45, they received a message reminding them that continue has a particular meaning in loops; and any other answers received generic feedback.
Having just one of these questions does no good, though. Students will go to almost any lengths to avoid learning things, and it is easy to communicate answers to multiple-choice and short-answer questions among a cohort. So, I needed hundreds of these questions: at least one per student, but in fact by design the students could take these multiple-chocie quizzes multiple times, as they are primarily an aid for the students themselves, to help them discover what they know.
Now of course I could treat the above pseudocode fragment as a template, parameterise it (initial value, loop bounds, increment) and compute the values needing the specific feedback in terms of the values of the parameters. But this generalizes badly: what happens when I decide that I want to vary the operators (say to introduce multiplication) or modify the structure somewhat (e.g. by swapping the two increments before and after the continue)? The parametrization gets more and more complicated, the chances of (my) error increase, and perhaps most importantly it's not any fun.
Instead, what did I do? With some sense of grim inevitability, I evolved (or maybe accreted) an interpreter (in emacs lisp) for a sexp-based representation of this pseudocode. At the start of the year, it's pretty simple; towards the end it has developed into an almost reasonable mini-language. Writing the interpreter is straightforward, though the way it evolved into one gigantic case statement for supported operators rather than having reasonable semantics is a bit of a shame; as a bonus, implementing a pretty-printer for the sexp-based pseudocode, with correct indentation and keyword highlighting, is straightforward. Then armed with the pseudocode I will ask the students to interpret, I can mutate it in ways that I anticipate students might think like (replacing continue with break or progn) and interpret that form to see which wrong answer should generate what feedback.
Anyway, that was the hook. There's some evidence in the paper that the general approach of repeated micro-assessment, and also the the consideration of likely student mistakes and giving specific feedback, actually works. And now that the (provisional) results are in, how does this term compare with last term? We can look at the relationship between this term's marks and last term's. What should we be looking for? Generally, I would expect marks in the second term's coursework to be broadly similar to the marks in the first term - all else being equal, students who put in a lot of effort and are confident with the material in term 1 are likely to have an easier time integrating the slightly more advanced material in term 2. That's not a deterministic rule, though; some students will have been given a wake-up call by the term 1 marks, and equally some students might decide to coast.
I've asked R to draw the regression line in the above picture; a straight line fit seems reasonable based on the plot. What are the statistics of that line?R> summary(lm(Term2~Term1, data=d)) Call: lm(formula = Term2 ~ Term1, data = d) Residuals: Min 1Q Median 3Q Max -41.752 -6.032 1.138 6.107 31.155 Coefficients: Estimate Std. Error t value Pr(>|t|) (Intercept) 3.18414 4.09773 0.777 0.439 Term1 0.82056 0.05485 14.961 <2e-16 *** --- Signif. codes: 0 '***' 0.001 '**' 0.01 '*' 0.05 '.' 0.1 ' ' 1 Residual standard error: 10.46 on 107 degrees of freedom (32 observations deleted due to missingness) Multiple R-squared: 0.6766, Adjusted R-squared: 0.6736 F-statistic: 223.8 on 1 and 107 DF, p-value: < 2.2e-16
Looking at the summary above, we have a strong positive relationship between term 1 and term 2 marks. The intercept is approximately zero (if you got no marks in term 1, you should expect no marks in term 2), and the slope is less than one: on average, each mark a student got in term 1 tended to convert to 0.8 marks in term 2 - this is plausibly explained by the material being slightly harder in term 2, and by the fact that some of the assessments were more explicitly designed to allow finer discrimination at the top end - marks in the 90s. (A note for international readers: in the UK system, the pass mark is 40%, excellent work is typically awarded a mark in the 70% range - marks of 90% should be reserved for exceptional work). The average case is, however, only that: there was significant variation from that average line, and indeed (looking at the quartiles) over 50% of the cohort was more than half a degree class (5 percentage points) away from their term 2 mark as "predicted" from their mark for term 1.
All of this seems reasonable, and it was a privilege to work with this cohort of students, and to present the sum of their interactions on this course to the audience I had. I got the largest round of applause, I think, for revealing that as part of the peer-assessment I had required that students run each others' code. I also had to present some of the context for the work; not only because this was an international gathering, with people in various university systems and from industry, but also because of the large-scale disruption caused by industrial action over the Universities Superannuation Scheme (the collective, defined benefit pension fund for academics at about 68 Universities and ~300 other bodies associated with Higher Education). Perhaps most gratifyingly, students were able to continue learning despite being deprived of their tuition for three consecutive weeks; judging by their performance on the various assessments so far,
And now? The students will sit an exam, after which I and colleagues will look in detail at those results and the relationship with the students' coursework marks (as I did last year). I will continue developing this material (my board for this module currently lists 33 todo items), and adapt it for next year and for new cohorts. And maybe you will join me? The Computing department at Goldsmiths is hiring lecturers and senior lecturers to come and participate in research, scholarship and teaching in computing: a lecturer in creative computing, a lecturer in computer games, a lecturer in data science, a lecturer in physical and creative computing, a lecturer in computer science and a senior lecturer in computer science. Anyone reading this is welcome to contact me to find out more!
christophe.rhodes.io | 5/8/18
Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, who plays Ser Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane in “Game of Thrones,” has been named the strongest man in the world.
Björnsson won the annual World’s Strongest Man competition in the Philippines on Saturday after competing in various tests of strength over two days. According to Entertainment Weekly, events included pulling a bus, in which he came second. Ultimately, he racked up enough points to score the title.
Björnsson took to Instagram to post a picture of himself on the podium, holding the gold trophy.
Although this is the first time Björnsson has won the title of the world’s strongest man, he’s set strongman records before. Recently, he deadlifted more than 1,000 pounds. He is also the first person to have ever won the Arnold Strongman Classic, Europe’s Strongest Man and World’s Strongest Man in the same calendar year.
Björnsson will reprise his role as Ser Gregor in the final season of “Game of Thrones,” which will air on HBO in 2019.
See photos of Björnsson pulling a bus below.
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www.thewrap.com | 5/7/18
Last week, it was reported that the Central Bank of Turkey withdrew the national gold reserve from the US Federal Reserve System. Given the fact that the United States has been imposing whole packages of sanctions on Russia one after another since 2014, why does Russia still keep its gold and other assets in the USA? If it is not in the USA, then where does Russia keep her gold? Turkey's "American gold" was partly returned to Turkey and deposited to European banks, particularly in England and Switzerland. Ankara's gold reserve totals 564.6 tons.Accumulating physical gold by central banks has become a trend lately. Even such a small European country as Hungary returned three tons of its gold from London in early 2018. Venezuela, Holland, Austria and Germany did the same - the countries that feel pressure from the part of the Washington consensus. For example, both the European Union and the Western world have been criticizing Hungary heavily. The nation's gold reserve gives Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban a reason to feel more confident.What about Russia? She has been the main "whipping girl" in the eyes of the "civilized world" lately. Yevgeny Fedorov, a member of the State Duma Committee on Budget and Taxes, told Pravda.Ru, that the information about the location of Russia's gold is classified." "Some of Russia's gold used to be stored in the USA, but we do not know whether Russia has returned that gold," the MP said. According to Yevgeny Fedorov, the Central Bank of Russia "is a branch of the US Federal Reserve, so I would not be surprised if we still keep some of our gold in the United States," he said. "If we don't keep our gold in the USA, then we do keep some of our assets there - i.e. we support the US economy, which is a very bad phenomenon," Fedorov told Pravda.Ru. This policy, the MP added, is stipulated in Article 15 of the Constitution, the system of international treaties and the status of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation. To change such a state of affairs, Russia needs to conduct revolutionary reforms. "It is only now, when the law on counter-sentences raises the need to remove US managers from Russian ministries and the Central Bank. If Putin wins with his policy to end the subordination to the American unipolar world, then everything may work out well," Yevgeny Fedorov told Pravda.Ru. In turn, researcher Mikhail Khazin told Pravda.Ru that Russia does not keep its physical gold in the US. "We keep our assets in US government securities, but we have been recently reducing the share of these assets significantly. There is a probability that the Americans will not give them back, so we need to get rid of those bonds," the expert told Pravda.Ru. Pavel Salin, director of the Center for Policy Studies of the Finance University, also said that Russia does not keep its physical gold in the United States."The Russian gold reserve is stored in Russia, and the foreign exchange reserves are kept at US Treasuries. We tend to reduce their amount, but it is impossible to do it instantly, because it will look like an attempt to collapse the US debt market with all ensuing consequences. It could also trigger a major conflict with China that holds $1 trillion 200 million in these bonds and Japan - about one trillion dollars," the expert told Pravda.Ru.According to the US Treasury, the Central Bank of Russia sold US government bonds worth 11.9 billion dollars from December to February, having this reduced the volume of assets by 11.2 percent ($93.8 billion). It is worthy of note that immediately after the introduction of sanctions against Russia in March 2014, the Central Bank of Russia withdrew about $115 billion from the US Federal Reserve System (FRS). However, two weeks after the incident, the Russian Central Bank returned the funds to Fed accounts, Reuters says. Pravda.Ru Read article on the Russian version of Pravda.Ru
www.pravdareport.com | 4/23/18
Trump does not believe his assistants and hopes to have a personal meeting with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. Afterwards, Donald Trump should address the American people, Americanist Edward Lozansky believes. Even though US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said that the US would impose another package of sanctions on Russia already on April 16, White House spokespeople said that Haley either misspoke or incorrectly expressed her thoughts. However, Nikki Haley is known as a highly disciplined woman, who simply cannot say such things. American analysts have two versions to explain the situation. One of them says that Trump first gave the go-ahead for the new sanctions, and then changed his mind. It is also believed that Donald Trump could be in collusion with the Kremlin.President of the American University in Moscow, Eduard Lozansky, told Pravda.Ru, that Trump was furious about the fact that his assistants were deceiving him. For example, it was reported that Donald Trump was supposedly enraged after he was informed that European countries had expelled fewer Russian diplomats than the United States (60 people). There were other conflicts with the advisers, "who advised him not to congratulate Putin on his reelection, but Trump called Putin to congratulate him anyway. "It probably came to the boiling point, and Trump decided to rethink the situation that has reached a very dangerous point. A lot of people in the world thought that the USA was going to launch another world war on Friday at night when the Americans fired missiles at targets in Syria," Lozansky told Pravda.Ru. In his opinion, it is very important that Trump confirmed a meeting with Putin after he was "literally forced" to insult the Russian president. "If the two leaders meet and look each other in the eye, they will be able to find a common language," the political scientist said in an interview with Pravda.Ru. The expert is not sure whether Congress will support Trump after the meeting. "The president will then have to address the American people to ask them to choose between war and peace. Of course, people will choose peace, and Congress will have to listen. It is highly important Trump and Putin should meet as soon as possible," Eduard Lozansky told Pravda.Ru.Pravda.RuRead article on the Russian version of Pravda.Ru
www.pravdareport.com | 4/17/18
BERLIN — Strikes by German public sector workers and French airline staff forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights in Europe on Tuesday as unions demand better pay.
The planned walk-outs in German also affected public transport, nursery schools and municipal administrations.
German carrier Lufthansa cancelled some 800 flights at Germany's biggest airport in Frankfurt, as well as Munich, Cologne-Bonn and Bremen.
The ver.di union says Germany's healthy economy is filling public coffers with record tax income and public workers deserve a cut.
feedproxy.google.com | 4/10/18
Nicolle Rochelle, the former Cosby Show actress arrested after protesting topless at the actor’s retrial Monday, says she simply the disgraced comedian feel “uncomfortable.”
“He’s a man who’s disempowered women’s bodies for decades. It doesn’t seem to be recognized,” Rochelle, 39, tells PEOPLE. “The case is being publicized with this narrative of race. He’s being painted as the victim. I wanted to emphasize that this is about rape. I wanted to make him uncomfortable and to make people think about women’s bodies.”
Rochelle appeared on four episodes of The Cosby Show under the name Nicole Leach between 1990 and 1992. She was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct after protesting outside of the Pennsylvania courthouse where Cosby’s sexual assault retrial began on Monday.
The actress had the words “Women’s Lives Matter” as well as the names of some of the 80-year-old actor’s accusers written across her naked chest.
“People are like why is she naked? I hope this causes people to engage more,” Rochelle says. “Of course, I have no idea what Bill Cosby was thinking but I would hope that he stops for a minute and think about his own truth. At the moment, 61 women aren’t allowed to testify against him. That’s pretty appalling. The very least I could do is lend my body to this cause.”
As for whether she ever noticed anything strange or untoward on the set of The Cosby Show, Rochelle says it was always a very family friendly atmosphere.
RELATED: Cosby Show Actress Charged with Disorderly Conduct After Topless Protest at Bill Cosby Retrial
“The protest wasn’t about me knowing him, but there’s a part of me that feels betrayed because I can understand what the victims were feeling. Like, that could have been me, I could’ve undergone the abuse as well,” she says.
Rochelle said in an earlier statement to PEOPLE, “My action today was first and foremost an action lead by the group I joined in Europe about a year-and-half ago called Femen. Femen is an international Women’s movement of topless female activists painted with slogans and our mission is protesting the patriarchy and reclaiming our bodies.”Want to keep up on the latest from PEOPLE? Sign up for our daily newsletter to get our best stories of the day delivered straight to your inbox.
“Protesting Bill Cosby was important for us because he is a man who has been disempowering women’s bodies for decades and in being naked today, I was symbolically taking back the ownership of all the victims’ bodies and redefining it as a political tool as opposed to a sexual object,” she said.
More than 50 women have accused Cosby of drugging and/or sexually assaulting them decades ago, but he has denied all the allegations.
The comedian stood trial in 2017 after being accused of drugging and sexually assaulting former Temple University employee Andrea Constand at his Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, mansion in January 2004. In June, a Pennsylvania judge declared a mistrial after the jury announced that they were “hopelessly deadlocked” after deliberating for days.
people.com | 4/10/18
The verdict is in about the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia after four days of top -evel dinners, lunches, meetings and audiences in Hollywood: He’s smart, he’s charismatic, he’s charming — and we just hope nothing bad happens to him since he lives in a dangerous neighborhood.
On that thought, apparently the 32-year-old Mohammed bin Salman is surrounded by more security than any leader on the planet. A mogul I spoke to this week said: “I’ve met presidents and heads of state for decades, I’ve never seen this kind of security — you couldn’t get near him.”
Those who got to visit the potentate (monarch, dictator, benevolence) at his mansion up on Coldwater Canyon were non-plussed at the phalanxes of bodyguards, armed security, machines and body searches to which esteemed visitors were subjected.
Still, many were impressed at MbS’ vision for a more open and modern Saudi Arabia. “He’s a big believer in the spread of culture around the world,” said one power player who spoke to him for more than an hour. “He talked a lot about culture being brought to Saudi Arabia — with cinemas being opened, and women driving. Some people would define these as small steps, others would define them as bold steps. I would say some of the steps are pretty bold.”
Personally, I have to suppress every urge I have to ask: What took you guys so long? As a country, Saudi Arabia has wasted decades of precious time, billions of dollars and countless human resources in the service of super-luxury consumerism and rigid traditionalism (which most citizens were more than happy to cast off as soon as they were outside the borders of the kingdom).
And also this big plan to spend $80 billion to build entertainment infrastructure is no panacea. Driving change at lightning speed has its hazards. Trying to buy your country culture is not as easy as writing a check.
Real, authentic culture comes at a cost. Sure, money and bandwidth and determination helps. But by its nature, creating culture takes time. Roots have to be put down. They need to be watered and tended.
Authentic culture requires an ability to tolerate opposing opinions, differing perspectives and sometimes uncomfortable points of view. Saudi Arabia does not currently have that in its plans.
Sure, you can build cineplexes and show “Black Panther.” What other movies will Saudi Arabia be prepared to exhibit? And what movies will Saudi Arabia be prepared to make? One skeptical mogul who met MbS told me: “He wants to make ‘Lawrence of Arabia.'”
Great. But his young people will probably want to see “Fifty Shades of Grey.”
I’ve seen this movie before. A decade ago, Dubai and Abu Dhabi and Qatar were racing one another to build massive cultural and entertainment infrastructure. I visited the emirates a few months before launching TheWrap to see for myself: a branch of the Louvre, a Guggenheim, theme parks, universities, artificial islands (one of which was given to then-power couple Brad and Angelina).
When I landed at the Dubai airport and was handed a map, about half of the emirate was listed as “U/C”: under construction.
Then the economic downturn hit in 2008, and many of those planned projects never happened. Dubai and Abu Dhabi have pulled through the worst of the economic downturn, but they are not the cultural crossroads between Europe, Asia and Africa that they intended to be.
And let’s not even talk about the women issue. I’ve never visited Saudi Arabia, though I’ve spent time in nearly every other country in the Middle East. Why would I want to visit a country that advertises its disdain for women? For what it’s worth, I didn’t see a single Saudi woman at Wednesday’s Hollywood presentation at the Four Seasons, either on stage or in the working entourage.
Dear Crown Prince: Hollywood and the rest of the world is working toward 50/50 gender equity. Maybe you need to invite Lady Gaga to a big concert.
For me, I can’t ignore the deep cognitive dissonance between the big plans being dreamed by the Saudi crown prince, and what it takes to create a society amenable to change, embracing culture at all levels and with arms open to the world (including half its population).
www.thewrap.com | 4/6/18
This article was co-authored by Wiley Rein LLP partner Megan L. Brown and attorney Michael L. Diakiwski, who both practice in the firm's Telecom, Media & Technology and Privacy & Cybersecurity practices.
Security for Internet-connected devices, the "Internet of Things" (IoT), is critically important. Now, more than ever, it is top of mind for device manufacturers, network operators, consumer advocates, lawmakers, and government regulators — domestically and internationally. In the face of recent attacks, government authorities and consumer advocates have proposed legislation, frameworks, certifications, and labeling schemes.
A sense of urgency to act must not threaten the efficacy of IoT devices or stymie innovative applications with premature or oversimplified approaches. Below we explore some of the proposals to enhance IoT security and underscore key principles, which should be followed to ensure that the marketplace continues to produce innovation beneficial across the globe.
Greater Use, Greater Threat
In 2017, worldwide demand for IoT devices skyrocketed. Networked devices have become, to a large degree, essential in many respects. It is estimated that more than 8.4 billion devices were in use in 2017, which was more than a 30% increase from the year before.  Every hour, a million new IoT connections are made and future predictions are even more staggering.  Ericsson estimates that between 2015 and 2021, the number of IoT-connected devices will grow by 23% each year. 
"Smart" devices will have profound impacts on our daily lives, with medical devices identifying diseases earlier and enhancing patient treatment, sensors improving efficiencies in farming and agriculture, controls monitoring and conserving energy use, and consumer devices simplifying everything from seamless global communications to residential security and entertainment.
But this explosion of connected devices comes with security implications. Unsecured devices can become infected with malicious code and be redirected without the knowledge of end users. This type of infected network, called a "botnet," can be used to launch distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, which can overwhelm networks and systems, causing them to fail.
In 2016, the largest DDoS attack to date, called the Mirai botnet, was launched against a major domain name system provider. This global botnet targeted the service provider, leading some of the most popular destinations on the Internet to go down. Other attacks target specific "devices" — such as connected vehicles and medical devices — and can result in a "hijacking" of the device, with the user or operator losing control of device itself.
Draft Legislation Aims to Tackle IoT Security
Some lawmakers feel the need to act. 2017 saw the introduction of a multitude of bills in Congress, aiming to enhance IoT security and end-user awareness.
For example, last October, the Cyber Shield Act of 2017 was introduced in the House and Senate.  The Act would direct the Department of Commerce to create a voluntary self-certification program that would independently identify, verify, and label compliant IoT devices with strong cybersecurity standards. Companies that meet the standards could display a compliance label on their products. The labels may be in the form of different "grades" that indicate the extent to which a product meets "industry-leading cybersecurity and data security benchmarks." The bill is discussed in more detail here.
Last summer, a group of U.S. Senators introduced the Internet of Things (IoT) Cybersecurity Improvement Act of 2017,  which would require companies selling connected products to the government to make commitments about security and expand device support. It would also create guidelines for each agency to impose vulnerability disclosure requirements. A description of the bill can be found here.
Another bill, the IoT Consumer TIPS Act,  would require the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to develop guidance to help consumers improve their cybersecurity practices with respect to connected devices. It is discussed further here.
Additionally, the FTC has confirmed that it will be vigilant about IoT security and released updated guidance about compliance with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA),  confirming that COPPA does apply to IoT devices.
Calls for IoT "Standards" and Labeling Persist
Domestically and internationally, efforts are underway to establish minimum standards, certifications, or labeling schemes related to IoT security. Privacy and consumer advocates are developing proposals to reshape the certification and labeling of consumer devices.
In March 2017, Consumer Reports announced its "Digital Standard,"  "an ambitious ... effort to shape the digital marketplace in a way that puts consumers' data security and privacy needs first."  The Digital Standard was developed by privacy and consumer rights advocates "to encourage industry to design and produce safer products for consumers." It is far from perfect, however. It has prescriptive security requirements and seeks to alter private industry security designs, without first getting industry feedback in the Standard's development. In March 2018, a year after its initial release, groups associated with the Digital Standard announced they would be seeking feedback from companies and other stakeholders to encourage broader adoption.  Yet the prescriptive nature of this standard may limit its broad application.
Consumer labels and disclosures about security are complex and should be carefully studied. Nuanced and variable information about technology attributes, security choices, end user behavior, updates, and third-party activity is not the sort of binary or objective data we are used to seeing on labels. Software lifecycle management is not like calorie information, and consumers may need more education about cyber hygiene than what fits on a label.
And the rest of the world is not sitting idly by.
In September 2017, the European Commission (EC) introduced a "Cybersecurity Package," which includes a stringent certification scheme for connected devices.  In the "Cybersecurity Act," the EC would establish rules to create certification schemes for particular Internet-connected devices and services. Presently, European Union member states may have varying requirements, and this framework seeks to coalesce around a more uniform certification. Under the proposal, the certification schemes would be voluntary, "unless otherwise provided in Union legislation laying down security requirements [for] products and services."
Among other proposals in the EC Cyber Package, a joint Commission and industry initiative would seek to define a "duty of care" principle to help reduce the risk of product and software vulnerabilities and promote "security by design."
In 2016, the Government of Japan released a "General Framework for Secure IoT Systems,"  which "aims to clarify the fundamental and essential security requirements for secure IoT systems." Japan's efforts to build upon this General Framework, enhance security more generally, and collaborate internationally remain ongoing.
Diffuse efforts around the world introduce additional complexity into the marketplace, with the prospect of compliance with multiple standards and regulatory requirements. Governments should support international standards work that harmonizes varied approaches to regulating technology.
Core Principles for IoT Security Policy
Flexible approaches to collaboration on shared threats have significant advantages over national regulation or labeling schemes, which can fragment the global economy and limit technological innovation. Manufacturers and vendors of connected devices should be encouraged to routinely evaluate and improve endpoint security. 
Security should be risk-based. The consequences for compromised or failed devices vary significantly based on the environments in which they operate. A television at home may not need to meet the same rigorous standards of a system control regulating the flow of water or electricity. Risk models differ, and so too should approaches to diverse devices.
Approaches to IoT security should be data-driven, based on empirical evidence of a specific harm. Security policy should be adaptable both over time and across borders. This counsels against ossifying technical requirements in regulation or law. And any government IoT strategy should promote technical compatibility and interoperability, here and abroad.
This is an international threat that no one nation or actor can solve alone; the international community must collectively condemn criminal activities that exploit the openness and connectivity of the Internet. Governments must work together to shut down the criminal networks that threaten the resilience of the Internet and IoT ecosystem.
Finally, public education about the threats and best practices in this space is essential. Because unsecured devices can threaten the broader ecosystem, end users need to be educated about their roles and responsibilities.
With so many ongoing and overlapping efforts, there is a danger of premature, ill-considered, and conflicting requirements and obligations.
Standardized requirements, certifications, and labeling schemes are not practical in an ecosystem of billions of devices, each with varying use-cases, risk profiles, and applications across industries. Indeed, labeling or security "ratings" can breed a false sense of security, contribute to over-warning, and generate needless consumer litigation.
Inflexible or prescriptive requirements, such as those proposed in the Digital Standard, do not serve to drive advancements related to security or innovation. The pace of change in technology is only mirrored, in some cases, by the threats and risks that develop. Security, as it relates to technology, is evolving constantly. For this vast ecosystem, in a rapidly developing and expanding marketplace, security must be a risk-based and non-prescriptive. This will allow the many opportunities and benefits that IoT devices bring to our society to be felt across the globe.
 Press Release, Gartner, Gartner Says 8.4 Billion Connected "Things" Will Be in Use in 2017, Up 31 Percent from 2016 (Feb. 7, 2017), https://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3598917.
Written by Megan L. Brown, Partner at Wiley Rein LLP
www.circleid.com | 3/29/18
Professor Alasdair Rae, who specialises in Urban Studies and Planning at the University of Sheffield and writing for The Conversation, reveals the truth about population densities in Europe.
www.dailymail.co.uk | 3/29/18
This post is speculative, but I think Cuba may use satellite for 3G backhaul and, when the technologies are ready, leapfrog over 4G to 5G mobile connectivity and next-generation satellite. ETECSA began rolling out 3G connectivity for Cubans about a year ago and a few things have led me to believe they will continue:
The following crowd-sourced maps show Cuba's mobile rollout. (Strong signal: received signal strength indicator (RSSI) > -85dB, Weak: RSSI < -99dB).
Given the choice, people would prefer the flexibility, convenience, and comfort of mobile or home access over access at a fixed location like a WiFi park or navigation room. Cuba cannot afford the infrastructure upgrade to make home DSL "available, accessible, and affordable for all" and if they could it would require an enormous investment in obsolete technology.
But, could they provide widespread 3G mobile? Doing so would require more base stations and more backhaul from those base stations to the Intenet. I have been told that O3b currently has a satellite-Internet gateway in Jarusco, near Havana, but my guess is that they will install others to provide 3G backhaul. This would not be unprecedented — for example, O3b provides mobile backhaul for Digicell, which has over 40,000 LTE accounts in Papua New Guinea (PNG).
Could Cuba employ a PNG-like strategy for a portion of their mobile backhaul?
Cuba is not identical to PNG. PNG's population is only about 72% of Cuba's, but Cuba has several advantages over PNG. The area of PNG is more than four times that of Cuba and Cuba has superior, universal education, a GDP per capita about 3.5 times that of PNG and more terrestrial Internet infrastructure.
But, shouldn't Cuba install modern 4G technology instead of 3G?
I have long advocated a strategy of relying on stopgap measures like home DSL, WiFi hotspots, navigation rooms, street nets, El Paquete Semanal and 3G mobile service while planning to leapfrog over current technology. Third generation mobile is significantly slower than 4G/LTE, which means much less backhaul and international bandwidth is required. Furthermore, Google, industrious Cubans and other are developing applications that are tailored to work on slow connections and offline on low-cost handsets. (There were 1,432 active, self-employed programmers in Cuba as of last April).
If 3G is a stopgap while waiting for 5G wireless technology to become available, what might the future look like?
As mentioned above O3b plans to deploy their next-generation mPOWER satellite constellation in 2021. MPOWER will be a major advance. Their current satellites can link to 10 edge terminals, but mPOWER satellites will be capable of over 4,000 links each, and O3b will offer several terminal models, ranging from very cheap and small (perhaps suitable for an individual cellular base station) to very large. While we may see a limited 5G rollout in advanced nations in 2019, it will not go mainstream for a year or more and will still be maturing and too expensive for either Cuba, PNG or other developing nations for some time after that, so mPOWER will be ready by the time Cuba is ready to "leap" to 5G.
It is noteworthy that 5G terrestrial wireless is expected to be used for fixed as well as mobile access, further reducing the need for investment in terrestrial infrastructure. When we speak of 5G connectivity to fixed locations, we are moving beyond the mobile phone as a user terminal. Handheld computers work well for conversation and consuming media but not for content creation. I could have written this blog post on a laptop with a 5G connection, but not on a mobile phone.
At an mPower press conference (video), Steve Collar, SES Networks CEO asked himself a rhetorical question — "If we wanted to deliver all of the capability that PNG would require for the next 15 years, could we do it on mPOWER without having to use any sort of meaningful terrestrial infrastructure?" and his answer to that was "yes." He went on to say that "If we can deliver the international and domestic traffic for a country on this system ... then we've got something that is genuinely unique." (Collar's comment is roughly 6 minutes before the end of the video).
Several years ago, I suggested that Cuba could use geostationary-orbit satellite Internet service as a stopgap measure until they could afford to leapfrog over today's technology to next-generation infrastructure. They did not go for that idea. Last month, I suggested that they consider low-Earth orbit satellite Internet service. This post splits the difference by suggesting medium-Earth orbit service from O3b. Since ETECSA is already an O3b customer and SES is a European company, this one may be closer to reality — I'll save those political considerations for a future post.
Written by Larry Press, Professor of Information Systems at California State University
www.circleid.com | 3/20/18
[Daily Trust] On Sunday and Monday, the community of scholars working on African related issues organised tributes and a major debate of the achievements of Professor Abdul Raufu Mustapha, who died on 8th August 2017. The Sunday event was a day of tributes by family, friends, colleagues and former students from across Europe. It was anchored by Professor Patricia Daley, a colleague and friend of his who announced the decision of Oxford University to launch a scholarship in his name for students coming to study M. Phil i
allafrica.com | 3/16/18
Abertay University's computer gaming courses are voted the best in Europe for the fourth consecutive year.
www.bbc.co.uk | 3/14/18
The Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) is a rights protection mechanism crafted by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and adopted by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) for trademark owners to challenge the lawfulness of domain name registrations. Cybersquatting or abusive registration is a lesser included tort of trademark infringement, and although the UDRP forum is not a trademark court, as such, in some ways it is since it empowers (assuming the right alignment of facts) to divest registrants of domain names that infringe a complainant's trademark rights.
The argument that any use of a domain name "inevitably entail[s] an infringement of the world-renowned [name of any] brand in the industry" is unavailing because regardless of future use (by a successor holder, for example), if the original registration is lawful, the complaint must be dismissed. Equipo IVI SL v. Domain Admin, WebMD, LLC, D2017-2240 (WIPO January 31, 2018) (). The complaint must also be dismissed if the substance of the claim is trademark infringement. Force Therapeutics, LLC v. Patricia Franklin, University of Massachusetts Medical School, D2017-2070 (WIPO December 12, 2017) (:
The term "infringed" in the domain name context refers to unlawful registration in breach of the warranties agreed to in the registration agreement and, by incorporation, Paragraph 2 of the UDRP. The evidentiary demands for proving cybersquatting under the UDRP are different and less demanding than proving trademark infringement, but nevertheless demanding in its way and if not properly understood will sink the party with the burden of proof or production, as it did in Equipo IVI SL.
If one has to look for an analogy for the UDRP it is to the commercial rules promulgated by arbitration providers, with this difference: the UDRP has its own special purpose law as expressly defined by the terms of the Policy and Rules, as construed by neutral panelists. I underscore this because while these neutrals are limited in their assessment of the facts to determine whether 1) domain names are identical or similar to trademarks, 2) registrants lack or have rights or legitimate interests, and/or 3) the domain names were registered in bad faith, they are not robotic. They apply this special purpose jurisprudence (consisting of a cabinet of principles) in a fair and balanced manner so that although the UDRP was crafted for trademark owners, it operates as a neutral forum.
But precisely where to draw the line separating cybersquatting and trademark infringement is not always so certain because they are both present in that area of the continuum that defines the outer limit of one and the beginning of the other. Where the facts support either or both cybersquatting and trademark infringement what is within and outside jurisdiction is in the eyes of the beholder. Some panelists will accept what others decline. There are several considerations that go into accepting jurisdiction, one of them is the residence of parties in different jurisdictions. If Panels are convinced, there is compelling proof of abusive registration (or convince themselves that there is!) they push the jurisprudential envelope to assure that "justice" is done.
Notable for accepting jurisdiction where the parties reside in different jurisdictions, and there is also potential (or alleged) trademark infringement are Boxador, Inc. v. Ruben Botn-Joergensen, D2017-2593 (WIPO February 27, 2018) ( and , U.S. Complainant, Norwegian Respondent) discussed further below in which the Panel awarded the domain names to Complainant, and Autobuses de Oriente ADO, S.A. de C.V. v. Private Registration / Francois Carrillo, D2017-1661 (WIPO February 1, 2018) (. Mexican Complainant, French Respondent) in which the Panel issued a Complainant's award that has already been challenged in an Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act filing. I discussed the ADO dispute in an earlier essay. (If Autobuses de Oriente has any claim at all, which I think dubious, it would be for trademark infringement and not cybersquatting. In other words, the dispute always belonged in a court of competent jurisdiction and should have been declined by the UDRP Panel).
Let me quickly say, though, that the vast majority of disputes are easily pigeonholed as being in or out of jurisdiction, and mainly within. Those that are not within are respectfully declined as belonging in courts of competent jurisdiction. In some instances, complaints may be denied with permission to refile if the facts warrant further consideration. Of this kind Air Serbia a.d. Beograd Jurija v. Domains By Proxy, LLC / Meijun Lu, D2017-1986 (WIPO December 16, 2017) (, Serbian Complainant, Singapore Respondent) is notable in which the Panel accepted jurisdiction, denied the complaint, but agreed that Complainant could "at some point in the future" refile if "subsequent evidence come[s] to light which would demonstrate a bad faith intent on the Respondent's part."
Boxador is exemplary in a number of ways for the Panel accepting jurisdiction and granting the requested remedy. First, Complainant had to make a case for common law rights for the reason that it let lapse its USPTO trademark. However, the Panel explained that it found the Complainant's submission wanting:
"Reluctant to accept" is ordinarily fatal but Complainant was fortunate in two ways: first, in drawing a three-member Panel clearly appalled by Respondent's conduct; and second, a Panel prepared to order Complainant to supplement the record (in effect allowing it to make its case):
Respondent did not deny that it knew of Complainant's business and its marketplace moniker. In fact, it offered similar services as Complainant in Europe and Norway:
The final clause misstates the law; operating in different territories does not shield a party from abusive conduct. In any event, Respondent knew of Complainant because it conducted a trademark search:
Having learned that Complainant had allowed its trademark to lapse, Respondent applied for the BRAND BUCKET trademark in the U.S, which in the normal course (there being no opposition) advanced to registration. The contention that the parties operated in different national jurisdictions did not impress the Panel. It pointed out that the Internet is a global marketplace and "that for the most part websites connected to gTLDs are in general terms accessible from all jurisdictions."
While Respondent's trademark was lawful, the Panel concluded that its application was (although it put it more mildly) fraudulent:
The Panel gave no credence to Respondent's statements justifying its conduct and explained why:
On this basis, and because the Panel found "on the evidence before it and on the balance of probabilities that the Respondent's adoption of the name 'Brandbucket' for his business was an opportunistic move to take a free ride on the back of the goodwill associated with the Complainant's unregistered trade mark" it rejected Respondent's defenses entirely; although rejecting the validity of a U.S. trademark is extraordinary. In fact, to rule unenforceable a facially valid trademark is a decision that is ordinarily only within the jurisdiction of a court of competent jurisdiction.
I will posit (which most certainly will be denied as fanciful) that Panels are willing to accept disputes in the unclear area in which there is either or both cybersquatting and trademark infringement when the parties reside in different national jurisdictions and Panels have come to believe respondents have acted opportunistically. But granting a remedy under these circumstances is taking on a judge's role and setting aside the Panel's (which should be constrained by the jurisprudence of the UDRP). However, what may be acceptable when respondent's conduct is truly outrageous (as it was in Boxador) is not so acceptable when the conduct complained about is non-infringing (that is, within the scope of respondent's business) as was the case in Autobuses de Oriente.
Written by Gerald M. Levine, Intellectual Property, Arbitrator/Mediator at Levine Samuel LLP
www.circleid.com | 3/13/18
A report commissioned by European lawmakers has called for more transparency from online platforms to help combat the spread of false information online. Read More
techcrunch.com | 3/12/18
Jay-Z and Beyonce are once again hitting the road for a second go-round for their On the Run tour, performing in stadiums across Europe and the U.S. beginning this summer.
The new tour kicks off June 6 in Cardiff in the U.K. before jumping the Atlantic in late July for 21 North American gigs beginning in Cleveland, home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The pair are set to perform at the Rose Bowl in Los Angeles on Sept. 22.
In 2014, Jay-Z and Beyonce performed six weeks of sold-out stadium dates across North America as part of their original tour of the same name. The tour concluded with two international dates in Paris, that were filmed for an HBO special.
The tour is presented by Live Nation Global Touring in association with Parkwood Entertainment and Roc Nation. Tickets will go on sale to the general public starting Monday, March 19 at LiveNation.com and all usual outlets. On-sale dates and times vary.
Check out the full slate of dates below:
June 06 Cardiff, UK Principality Stadium
June 09 Glasgow, UK Hampden Park
June 13 Manchester, UK Etihad Stadium
June 15 London, UK London Stadium
June 19 Amsterdam, NL Amsterdam Arena
June 23 Copenhagen, DK Parken Stadium
June 25 Stockholm, SW Friends Arena
June 28 Berlin, DE Olympiastadion
June 30 Warsaw, PL Stadion Narodowy
July 03 Cologne, DE RheinEnergieStadion
July 06 Milan, IT San Siro
July 08 Rome, IT Stadio Olimpico
Also Read: Beyonce Shuts Down a Beer Named After Her
July 11 Barcelona, ES Olympic Stadium
July 14 Paris, FR Stade de France
July 17 Nice, FR Allianz Riviera
OTR II NORTH AMERICAN TOUR DATES:
July 25 Cleveland, OH FirstEnergy Stadium
July 28 Washington, DC FedEx Field
July 30 Philadelphia, PA Lincoln Financial Field
Aug. 02 E. Rutherford, NJ MetLife Stadium
Aug. 05 Boston, MA Gillette Stadium
Aug. 08 Minneapolis, MN US Bank Stadium
Aug. 10 Chicago, IL Soldier Field
Aug. 13 Detroit, MI Ford Field
Aug. 18 Buffalo, NY New Era Field
Aug. 23 Nashville, TN Vanderbilt Stadium
Aug. 25 Atlanta, GA Mercedes Benz Stadium
Aug. 29 Orlando, FL Camping World Stadium
Aug. 31 Miami, FL Hard Rock Stadium
Sept. 11 Arlington, TX AT&T Stadium
Sept. 13 New Orleans, LA Mercedes-Benz Superdome
Sept. 15 Houston, TX NRG Stadium
Sept. 19 Phoenix, AZ University of Phoenix Stadium
Sept. 22 Los Angeles, CA Rose Bowl
Sept. 27 San Diego, CA SDCCU Stadium
Sept. 29 Santa Clara, CA Levi’s Stadium
Oct. 02 Vancouver, BC BC Place
Related stories from TheWrap:
www.thewrap.com | 3/12/18
Russia has every opportunity to make a breakthrough in increasing labor productivity. To achieve this goal, Russia needs to pull out from the Washington Consensus, in particular from the American patent law, economist Vasily Koltashov believes.By 2060, Russia will lag behind the United States of America even more - experts at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said. Without reforms, per capita GDP in Russia will grow by only 0.7 percent in the next 12 years, economists predict. Labor productivity in Russia has not grown in recent years, and in 2018-2030 it will accelerate only to 0.5 percent. Experts advise Russia should increase labor productivity through the public administration reform, as well as by increasing the duration of school education and reducing trade tariffs.Vasily Koltashov, the head of the Centre for Economic Studies at the Institute of Globalisation and Social Movements, told Pravda.Ru that OECD economists say the following: the USA will be just fine, and Russia will be just bad. "This is a strange affirmation, because the Russian economy has been developing in recent years in conjunction with processes in the global economy.""In China, the economy is growing, an economic growth is possible in India, but in most countries there is stagnation. In the European Union, there is depressive stagnation. If we look at the United States, their GDP growth is actually equal to the growth of the USA's public debt and costs for its servicing. Strangely enough, no one says that the Americans have their salaries too high and their labor productivity too low in proportion to their wages, which makes their products completely uncompetitive," Vasily Koltashov told Pravda.Ru.According to the economist, Russia can ensure the economic growth if the country ensures the development of its own production capacities. This is what the import substitution policy is aimed at - to expand the export range. "Russia needs to import only what Russia needs. We should not import poultry from the USA as we did during Yeltsin's times. We should import, for example, equipment that we cannot make ourselves," the expert said. OECD experts give harmful recommendations, Vasily Koltashov said in an interview with Pravda.Ru. The era of free trade is over, and one needs to fight on the world market. Therefore, "trade duties must be kept high and it is necessary to fight smugglers mercilessly.""It is highly important Russia should no longer obey the rules of the Washington Consensus. Instead, Russia should start dismantling those rules. We should refuse to obey the American patent law. Having started the war of sanctions, the Americans violated all rules of free unlimited trade, because politics has no right to interfere with commerce. We must have complete freedom to use technology, and then we will quickly overcome the backlog in productivity," the expert told Pravda.Ru.Western experts always speak about the reduction of the role of state in economy. "Yet, they talk about our state, but not theirs. Their state can interfere in our economy as much as it wishes. Yet, even if we try to follow their pieces of advice, the Russian economy will collapse, just like the economy of any other country, because the time for such recipes has passed," Vasily Koltashov told Pravda.Ru. It is worthy of note that PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) published a report in 2017 titled "The World in 2050". PwC experts predicted that the Russian economy would become the strongest in Europe by this time. Reference: The Washington consensus is a type of macroeconomic policy that the IMF and the WB recommended at the end of the 20th century for application in the countries that experience financial and economic crises. Recommendations to such countries reflected the common position of the US administration, and major international financial organisations, such as the IMF and the World Bank, as well as leading American think tanks.Pravda.Ru Read article on the Russian version of Pravda.Ru
www.pravdareport.com | 3/7/18
The Central European University in Budapest became a target last year in the government’s broader campaign against the financier.
www.nytimes.com | 2/28/18
LONDON — The Latest on the wintry weather conditions across Europe (all times local):
Europe's cold snap has caused difficulties as far south as Spain, where heavy snow has fallen in northern regions and a man died after falling on ice.
In the northeastern Catalonia region, 272 schools cancelled classes. Also, Catalan authorities closed roads and placed restrictions on the movement of trucks weighing more than 7.5 metric tons (8.3 tons).
Across northern areas, train services and flights were delayed, causing travel chaos.
feedproxy.google.com | 2/28/18
The West likes to come across as squeaky clean, holier and more righteous than the rest. The reality is that the more the veneer cracks, the worse the stench. That the West interferes in sovereign countries is an undeniable fact. From the times of imperialism and colonialism we have seen countries invaded, entire populations massacred, sold into slavery, their societies turned upside down as one group was elevated into a false position of power to create a divide and rule mechanism, millions carted off in deplorable conditions to be forced to work as slaves on Western farms in the Americas or to serve in the kitchens of Western palaces.. Numerous attempts were tried before and after Westphalia to establish frontiers and create conditions for sustainable development, first inside Europe then in the territories overseas which it had contaminated through the Bible and the Bullet approach to shooting when you see the whites of their eyes. None of these policies worked because the West behaves like a slippery fry of eels, slithering in all directions spreading its slime far and wide. In recent history, we have seen the example of Afghanistan, where Mujaheddin fighters were trained and armed to destroy the progressive governments building schools and protecting women's rights, we saw what happened then they interfered in the Balkans, when they carved off a narco-quasi-state in Kosovo, when they invaded Afghanistan, when they destroyed Iraq, and Libya, two countries totally out of control, crawling with terrorists.
www.pravdareport.com | 2/26/18
They both became child stars by playing the same set of twins, albeit almost 40 years apart. For many, when they think of “The Parent Trap,” they may think of Lindsay Lohan. But for millions of Boomers, they likely recall the star of the original, Hayley Mills. Most would agree that Lohan’s career, and life, have derailed since: Recently, she was seen in a black hijab at a London fashion show. Before that, of course, there were drugs, rehabs, traffic incidents and more.
As for Hayley Mills, she managed to seemingly disappear for awhile, but it turns out she has led a relatively happy and crisis-free life. Lately, she has been appearing on a New York stage in the Off Broadway comedy “Party Face.” It is a pleasant, if not particularly trailblazing, endeavor and yet throngs of curious ticket buyers have been filling the venue at City Center. Many are curious women who grew up with “Pollyanna” and more importantly, “The Parent Trap.” How would their former idol look at, gulp, 71? Would she sound the same?
The accent and voice are intact, the body is petite, and well, the former child icon is looking very good, as we say these days, for her age.
“It has been absolutely wonderful to have so many people, after the show, saying how they grew up with me,” Mills said. “I think it takes them back to either a happier time, or to their adolescence, and all that meant to them.”
It is worth recalling that Hayley Mills was arguably the most popular child star since Shirley Temple. Though her first film was “Tiger Bay,” it was an English indie, made with her father, the legendary British actor John Mills. But she burst onto screens in 1960’s “Pollyanna,” as the sunny orphan who brought joy to those in an embittered town. The movie begat the new term for the goody-goody optimist — and launched the young star, including earning her an Oscar for a juvenile performance.
That was a Disney film and Walt had his biggest young star since Annette Funicello. His next gift, a year later, was “the Parent Trap,” in which Mills played two twins separated when their parents did the same. She officially became the idol of young girls everywhere, who ran to salons to get their hair cropped and grabbed guitars to sing “Let’s Get Together.” (Which became a hit single.)
They watched her grow up on screen for the next five or six years in movies like “That Darn Cat,” “The Moon Spinners” and “The Trouble With Angels.” She claims returning home to England in between films, as well as being part of a close-knit family, helped keep her on a relatively normal path.
“The whole thing was less crazy in Europe than it was in the States,” Mills said. “It was a great childhood in many respects. I loved the Disney studio, and Walt, and there was never any exploitation. Still, I had to forfeit friends, as I was always leaving my boarding school and struggling to catch up. I believe education is fundamental and mine definitely was impacted. There was a price to pay and that kind of fame can be very isolating. I am only grateful I didn’t become famous in the time of social media.”
Mills did experience at least one taste of nasty gossip. “The Family Way,” in 1966, was considered her first “adult” role and her devoted female followers — dealing with their own budding sexuality — were upset that it included a tiny nude scene, and that the actress, then 20, ended up marrying her 53-year director.
Mills briefly settled down, eventually gave birth to two sons, and tried to manage the juggling act faced by so many women. “I discovered I wasn’t good at just being at home, though I loved being a mother,” she said. “I thought I might give it up, but it was the family business my whole life. My father acted till he was 97. My mother was a playwright and my sister, Juliet, always acted. Both my sons were involved in the arts. It’s a difficult business to escape.”
She and Boulting later divorced, and Mills has been in a relationship — this time with a man 20 years her junior. Though she was largely invisible to us for decades, she has been performing, mostly on stage or in television in England. But she leaped at the opportunity to make her New York debut in Isabel Mahon’s play “Party Face.”
“The script made me laugh,” she said. “I loved that it is written by a woman and stars only women. And I jumped at playing this controlling, misguided, but relatable mother.” (The kind who says to her grown — and dressed to party — daughter, “I’ll tidy up while you go get ready.”) She lamented the fact there are not more such roles. “I’m very fortunate to be getting work at this age,” she said, “though the longer we live, the better we become as actors, as there is more to draw on. But we all know there is a shelf life for actresses.”
Looking back, was it hard to grow up in the public eye? “It’s hard to grow up anyway,” she said, laughing. The voice is the same, but she doesn’t sound like Pollyanna anymore.
Related stories from TheWrap:
www.thewrap.com | 2/22/18
There are many young men in Russia, who do not want to serve in the army. Some traditionally see army service as the worst experience of all that a man may have in his life. Others fear army hazing and coercive service in hotspots. Yet, all Russian men are happy to receive gifts and congratulations on February 23, which is celebrated in Russia nationwide as the Army Day, or Men's Day. According to the Russian Defence Ministry, the number of conflict situations and criminal offence against conscripts has been decreasing by 5-15 percent every year. At the same time, it is hard to either to confirm or disprove this information, because a decree from 2015 classifies army losses in peacetime.Needless to say that such secrecy gives ground for rumours and speculation. Not that long ago, the head of the Public Chamber Commission for National Security Affairs, Alexander Kanshin, requested the Main Military Prosecutor's Office to reinstate the practice of providing information about crimes, accidents and corruption in the army, including the data on non-combat personnel losses. Last time, such data was published on the website of the Defence Ministry in 2008: 471 people. In the next two years, one could talk about casualty rate in the Russian army on the basis of reports from Military Prosecutor Sergei Fridinsky and Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika. In 2009, 470 people died in the army, and 478 lost their lives during army service in 2010. Most of the deaths of servicemen of all ranks take place as a result of road accidents and violations of safety regulations.Chairman of the All-Russian Trade Union of Military Men, Oleg Shvedkov, says that the number of deaths among military personnel has significantly decreased during the recent years. "Roughly speaking, there were about 100 deaths for 800,000 people in the past. Presently, the number has dropped to 20 deaths per 400-500 thousand. The reduction is obvious," Mr. Shvedkov said. Ella Polyakova, member of the Presidential Council for Human Rights, believes that the Defence Ministry deliberately conceals the data on deaths and injuries among conscript soldiers. According to her, up to 500 servicemen die in the army every year. This figure nearly coincides with those mentioned above, and it is dramatically high. However, let's step outside a military unit to see how blissful civilian life can be for many Russian young men. Russia is ranked first in the world in terms of the number of suicides that occur among conscription age citizens. The head of the department of the Federal Medical Centre of Psychiatry named after Serbsky, Boris Polozhy, said that the number of teenage suicides in the Russian Federation nearly halved over the past five years. Still, Russia ranks high in terms of the "frequency" of teenage suicides per 100,000 citizens of the corresponding age group. Russian teenagers commit suicide 1.5 times more frequently than their peers in most European countries. This terrifying figure is much lower among girls aged 15-19. Fires in Russia kills about 20,000 people every year. In other words, fires destroy the population of a small town every year. As many as 50,000 students get crippled at Russian schools annually.Last year, Alexander Bastrykin, the head of the Investigation Committee, published statistics according to which, a year earlier, 888 Russians were recognised as victims of medical errors and negligence, and 712 of those people lost their lives. Counterfeit alcohol kills about 60,000 people every year. Heavy drugs claim the lives of 40,000 Russians. Once again: it goes about civilian people, not military personnel. The mortality rate on Russian roads is terrifying. In Russia, car accidents with lethal outcomes occur three or four times more frequently than in developed countries of Europe and Asia. The number of victims of car accidents reaches 30,000 people a year; a quarter of a million receive maiming injuries of varying degrees. For comparison, a decade-long war in Afghanistan claimed the lives of 15,000 Soviet soldiers. It is hard not to agree that such a massive scale of human destruction is reminiscent to genocide. However, no Russian parent has ever destroyed, burned or eaten the driving license of their adult children. Still, those parents will try to do their best not to let their sons go to serve in the army. In today's Russia, conscript soldiers serve for 12 months and, as a rule, not far from their home towns. They communicate with their families on the phone and Skype daily. They do not work on farms, nor do they peel potatoes at night. Representatives of the Chief Military Prosecutor's Office say that the number of draft dodgers decreases by 20 percent every year. This could be an optimistic number, if it wasn't for some others. Russian schools produce about 750,000 graduates every year, and about a half of them are young men. The autumn draft of 2017 conscripted 134,000 young Russians, 152,000 joined the army in 2016. Where are all others? Did they become parents, entered higher education institutions or were born physically challenged? According to public data, only 40 percent of conscripts are called up for military service, which is less than a half. For some strange reason, there are many individuals in Russia, who think of themselves as real men, but who fear the army subculture. Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said that Russia works to reform its armed forces into a fully professional army. Some others say, though, that Russia is doomed to have the mixed contractual and recruitment conscription. Mixed conscription is common practice in 18 countries of the world, such as Norway, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Greece, Turkey, Malta and Cyprus. Stanislav VarykhanovPravda.Ru Read article on the Russian version of Pravda.Ru
www.pravdareport.com | 2/22/18
by Guy SomersetIn this vein are collected some of the more heartfelt gestures of adoration and commitment which resound down the ages in the mediums of poetry, painting and drama.Mary ShelleyPercy Shelley published his first work in 1810 while a student at Eton in England; commencing a career of more than a dozen volumes in total. That modernity has this inheritance at all is largely due to the undaunted efforts of his second wife Mary.An heir to a fortune as well as a title, throughout his youth Shelley behaved in every way as l'enfant terrible. He was a spendthrift, libertine and avowed atheist. It should come as no surprise the last of these traits saw his eventual expulsion from Oxford University. Offered readmission on condition of renouncing such beliefs the youth demonstrated the courage of his convictions and flatly refused.The next several years witnessed Percy marry Harriett Westbrook and move to Scotland where he continued to compose. Yet it was during this juncture he became entranced by the sixteen-year-old daughter of his friend philosopher David Godwin. Mary evidently felt as bewitched for in 1814 the two eloped to Europe together, absent the seemingly requisite need for Percy to be divorced from his first wife. Nonetheless, while on a revisit later to England each of the women would become pregnant by him in the coming year.Out of wanderlust or mere necessity Percy and Mary soon returned to Europe together, specifically Lake Geneva where they spent many of their days in the company of Lord Byron and his cadre of admirers. Interestingly, it was Byron who one night suggested as entertainment each member of the party create a ghost story with the contribution of Mary later becoming known as Frankenstein.When in 1816 Harriett committed suicide the two lovers were able to officially wed, though Percy was denied custodial relations of any children by his first wife due to the heretical nature of his beliefs. Even so, thus commenced the most prolific period of his career.This abruptly ended on July 8, 1822, when Percy Shelley perished at sea in Lerici, Italy attempting to sail his schooner Don Juan as a sudden storm alighted. He was less than thirty years of age.In the years that followed the works of this great poet were slowly forgotten. To forestall such a calamity in 1824 his widow painstakingly began to collect these texts, some of which had become quite scarce, and collate them into a coherent volume eventually titled Posthumous Poems.Yet the difficulties which plagued the paramours in life appeared determined to thwart them even in death. Learning of the publication of the work, Percy's father Sir Timothy Shelley demanded it be withdrawn from circulation to avoid scandal owing to the social views of his son. He accomplished this by threatening to withhold the meager pension by which Mary fed and clothed herself and her children. At the time less than three hundred copies of the book had been sold.Only when Sir Timothy Shelley passed away twenty years later was Mary able to reintroduce these works to the world. By promoting her husband throughout another nearly three decades it was Mary who turned passing notoriety into an enduring fame.Johanna van Gogh-BongerMost of the world is familiar with the art of Vincent van Gogh. Of these acolytes many of them are also aware that it was his brother Theo van Gogh who provided the support, both emotional and economic, which enabled this talent to flourish. Yet relatively few know that it was Theo's wife Johanna van Gogh who ensured that the genius was enshrined for generations.Over the course of his life Vincent van Gogh created more than 2,000 works though he famously sold but a single one during his lifetime. In fact, the final months of his existence were so prolific that at the time of his demise several of his canvases were not yet dry. Even so, when Vincent passed on July 29, 1890, it was less than six months that his brother Theo followed him on January 25, 1891, leaving Johanna their legacy.While her husband had made nominal plans for a showing of the work of his brother and publishing his letters these were preliminary at best. Nonetheless, Theo had left one clear instruction to his wife before departing which was never to sell the paintings for mere lucre and never to anyone less than he who would be deserving of ownership of a masterpiece.Coming from a wealthy family in Amsterdam with connections to the avant-garde Johanna had the good sense to follow these instructions and expand upon them. A clever and resourceful person in her right, who later was co-founder of an organization to improve the lives of working-class women, she was a meticulous custodian.In fact, as late as 1906 it was possible for Johanna to show a complete retrospective of the entire works of Vincent van Gogh. She herself prepared his private letters for publication in 1914. By these means Johanna steadily increased the esteem to which the artist was entitled from the small cadre of collectors to encompass the entire world. When she passed away on September 2, 1925, the reputation of Vincent was secure.Anna DostoevskyTheodore Dostoevsky had been a force in Russian literature for a generation prior to encountering his second wife. Indeed, he was a literal generation older being her elder by twenty-five years. Despite this minor inconvenience, it is accurate to say that much of his later product was directly due to her influence in his life.Personal relations for Dostoevsky had always been dramatic. He met his first wife, married with a child at the time, shortly after being released from a work-camp in Siberia. Only when the premiere man in her life died was Dostoevsky given his chance, and a poor one at that since Isaeva proved a flirt and irritant upon his affections.Next the writer came upon Appolinaria at one of his readings. In retrospect he probably ought to have kept his mouth shut. While undoubtedly physically attractive the girl was emotionally abusive to say the least. Throughout their secretive affair she nonetheless took on other men given that Dostoevsky was then still wed. By the time this complication had remedied itself two years later, Appolinaria returned yet Theodore no longer wanted the wretched woman who replaced the fresh girl he had known before.Only with Anna Snitkina did Dostoevsky find a mate worthy of his soul. More than two decades younger, they began their courtship when she was a stenographer on his novel The Gambler. By the time the work was published in 1867 the two were married.Initially it is said the author saw only practicality in their match. Whether accurate or not, as so often happens a great need became a genuine passion. During the four years abroad which the couple considered as an extended honeymoon Dostoevsky began to increasingly rely upon this young woman. At times when in Baden the groom would resort to allowing her to choose his clothing and remind him to take money to the casino, which he often then lost.In truth, their life together was not always a happy one. The pair lost two children after birth, though blessed with two more. The writer was frequently irascible and often jealous. An addiction to gambling caused further dismay in their economics situation.A lifetime of intellectual toil had taken its toll and it was Anna who made his final fourteen years on earth bearable. Throughout she was the great protector of Dostoevsky and proved herself by remaining entirely faithful during many trying circumstances and refusing to remarry despite the fact she was but thirty-five years old at his death.Her acceptance of greatness with its attendance faults makes Anna the ideal prototype of the partner for an artist. Indeed, with her by his side Dostoevsky wrote The Brothers Karamazov.All too frequently a passing loneliness leads to a lasting mistake and weakness of the flesh extinguishes that spirit which might have survived.A more chilling thought is that of what hidden greatness lies undiscovered in the annals of history. To be sure there must have been minds or talents equal and even superior to those discussed herein which but for the want of a great abiding curator have been lost to posterity.Perhaps the most which can be said of such vicissitudes is one must choose wisely when selecting a partner as the most significant pairings are often those which outlast death - the only thing more mysterious than love being the enigma of romance. Guy SomersetGuy Somerset writes from somewhere in America.
www.pravdareport.com | 2/16/18
Andrea Riseborough (Death of Stalin ), Tahar Rahim (A Prophet ) and Zoe Kazan (The Big Sick) will star in writer and director Lone Scherfig 's modern-day fairy tale Secrets from the Russian Tea Room . Scherfig was responsible for An Education and Their Finest . The film tells the story of four people in New York City through the worst crises of their lives, the year they gradually become each other's closest allies and forever change one another's lives through compassion…
deadline.com | 2/16/18
Blowing whistles and horns, thousands of Slovenian teachers are rallying for higher wages in the latest in a string of strikes and protests by public sector workers in the small European Union country.
www.foxnews.com | 2/14/18
SAO PAULO — A drag queen is headlining the parade of one of Rio de Janeiro's most storied samba schools Monday night as Carnival celebrations across the country continue the tradition of ridiculing cultural icons and pushing social boundaries.
Pabllo Vittar will perform with Beija-Flor de Nilopolis, whose theme is promoting tolerance. Last year's champions, Portela, are to portray the story of Jews who fled persecution in Europe for Brazil.
feedproxy.google.com | 2/13/18
SAO PAULO — A drag queen is headlining the parade of one of Rio de Janeiro's most storied samba schools Monday night as Carnival celebrations across the country continue the tradition of ridiculing cultural icons and pushing social boundaries.
Pabllo Vittar will perform with Beija-Flor de Nilopolis, whose theme is promoting tolerance. Last year's champions, Portela, are to portray the story of Jews who fled persecution in Europe for Brazil.
feedproxy.google.com | 2/12/18