I’m Being Followed: How Google—and 104 Other Companies—Are Tracking Me on the Web
Who are these companies and what do they want from me? A voyage into the invisible business that funds the web.
This morning, if you opened your browser and went to NYTimes.com, an amazing thing happened in the milliseconds between your click and when the news about North Korea and James Murdoch appeared on your screen. Data from this single visit was sent to 10 different companies, including Microsoft and Google subsidiaries, a gaggle of traffic-logging sites, and other, smaller ad firms. Nearly instantaneously, these companies can log your visit, place ads tailored for your eyes specifically, and add to the ever-growing online file about you.
There’s nothing necessarily sinister about this subterranean data exchange: this is, after all, the advertising ecosystem that supports free online content. All the data lets advertisers tune their ads, and the rest of the information logging lets them measure how well things are actually working. And I do not mean to pick on The New York Times. While visiting the Huffington Post or The Atlantic or Business Insider, the same process happens to a greater or lesser degree. Every move you make on the Internet is worth some tiny amount to someone, and a panoply of companies want to make sure that no step along your Internet journey goes unmonetized.
Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know
SINCE RICHARD NIXON launched the war on drugs five decades ago, it has ground on in the face of a mounting pile of evidence that many drug policies cause more harm than good at home and abroad. In this deceptively simple book, Mark A.R. Kleiman, Jonathan P. Caulkins, and Angela Hawken eviscerate many of the arguments behind the policies that have been the leading weapons in the war on drugs. But they also cast a skeptical eye on some shibboleths of the burgeoning drug reform movement. Sometimes snarky but seldom condescending, the authors’ penetrating and nuanced critique of the growing calls for legalization is one of the highlights of the book.
Calls for legalization or decriminalization might sound good on a bumper sticker or a T-shirt, but they obfuscate a messier political and policy reality. Ending the war on drugs is not simply a matter of bringing the troops home. It will entail some unsettling policy and political tradeoffs. We will have to accept certain policies and law enforcement strategies that foster considerably less harm, but at the cost of giving a wink and a nod to certain illegal behavior. Fans of the The Wire who recall police commander Bunny Colvin’s aborted experiment with “Hamsterdam” will recognize the dilemma.
U.S. stops minting unloved $1 coins
There’s a lot to like about $1 coins. They are more durable than paper money, and they’re easier and cheaper to handle. The only problem is, Americans hate using them.
Because of that, the Federal Reserve has literally entire warehouses full of unused $1 coins returned to them by banks because people don’t want them. From Robert Benincasa and David Kestenbaum at NPR’s Planet Money:
The federal government will stop minting unwanted $1 coins, the White House said Tuesday. The move will save an estimated $50 million a year.
Earlier this year, we reported on the mountain of $1 coins sitting unused in government vaults. The pile-up — an estimated 1.4 billion coins — was caused by a 2005 law that ordered the minting of coins honoring each U.S. president.
We calculated that the unwanted coins had cost taxpayers some $300 million dollars to make. There were so many coins piling up that the Federal Reserve was redesigning a vault in Texas to help hold them all.
We got to see a vault in Baltimore. It was the size of a soccer field, filled with bags of dollar coins.
When the crew of the Virginia scallop trawler Cinmar hauled a mastodon tusk onto the deck in 1970, another oddity dropped out of the net: a dark, tapered stone blade, nearly eight inches long and still sharp.
Forty years later, this rediscovered prehistoric slasher has reopened debate on a radical theory about who the first Americans were and when they got here.
Archaeologists have long held that North America remained unpopulated until about 15,000 years ago, when Siberian people walked or boated into Alaska and then moved down the West Coast.
But the mastodon relic found near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay turned out to be 22,000 years old, suggesting that the blade was just as ancient.
Whoever fashioned that blade was not supposed to be here.
Its makers probably paddled from Europe and arrived in America thousands of years ahead of the western migration, making them the first Americans, argues Smithsonian Institution anthropologist Dennis Stanford.
“I think it’s feasible,” said Tom Dillehay, a prominent archaeologist at Vanderbilt University. “The evidence is building up, and it certainly warrants discussion.”
At the height of the last ice age, Stanford says, mysterious Stone Age European people known as the Solutreans paddled along an ice cap jutting into the North Atlantic. They lived like Inuits, harvesting seals and seabirds.
The Solutreans eventually spread across North America, Stanford says, hauling their distinctive blades with them and giving birth to the later Clovis culture, which emerged some 13,000 years ago.
When Stanford proposed this “Solutrean hypothesis” in 1999, colleagues roundly rejected it. One prominent archaeologist suggested that Stanford was throwing his career away.
But now, 13 years later, Stanford and Bruce Bradley, an archaeologist at England’s University of Exeter, lay out a detailed case — bolstered by the curious blade and other stone tools recently found in the mid-Atlantic — in a new book, “Across Atlantic Ice.”
“I drank the Solutrean Kool-Aid,” said Steve Black, an archaeologist at Texas State University in San Marcos. “I had been very dubious. It’s something a lot of [archaeologists] have dismissed out of hand. But I came away from the book feeling like it’s an extremely credible idea that needs to be taken seriously.”
Other experts remain unconvinced. “Anyone advancing a radically different hypothesis must be willing to take his licks from skeptics,” said Gary Haynes, an archaeologist at the University of Nevada-Reno.
At the core of Stanford’s case are stone tools recovered from five mid-Atlantic sites. Two sites lie on Chesapeake Bay islands, suggesting that the Solutreans settled Delmarva early on. Smithsonian research associate Darrin Lowery found blades, anvils and other tools found stuck in soil at least 20,000 years old.
(CNN) – The billboard wars between atheists and believers have raged for years now, especially around New York City, and a national atheist group is poised to take the battle a step further with billboards in Muslim and Jewish enclaves bearing messages in Arabic and Hebrew.
American Atheists, a national organization, will unveil the billboards Monday on Broadway in heavily Muslim Paterson, New Jersey and in a heavily Jewish Brooklyn neighborhood, immediately after the Williamsburg Bridge.
“You know it’s a myth … and you have a choice,” the billboards say. The Patterson version is in English and Arabic, and the Brooklyn one in English and Hebrew. To the right of the text on the Arabic sign is the word for God, Allah. To the right of the text on the Hebrew sign is the word for God, Yahweh.
Dave Silverman, the president of American Atheists, said the signs are intended to reach atheists in the Muslim and Jewish enclaves who may feel isolated because they are surrounded by believers.
“Those communities are designed to keep atheists in the ranks,” he says. “If there are atheists in those communities, we are reaching out to them. We are letting them know that we see them, we acknowledge them and they don’t have to live that way if they don’t want to.”
(Politico) — White House press secretary Jay Carney said that the high number of presidential fundraising events may simply reflect the fact that President Obama is better at raising money than his predecessors.
Asked about the fact that Obama has done more than double the number of fundraisers as George W. Bush at the same point in his president, Carney said, “he just may be more successful at it than some of his predecessors.”
“The fact is that the president is engaging in political events because that is what is required to run for president and to run to be reelected as president,” Carney said. “There is an enormous amount of support for the president and a desire to participate in these political events.”
Carney’s statement came in response to a question about whether Obama’s blistering fundraising pace was the result of super PACs and corporate spending allowed under the Citizens United case — an issue that Carney demurred in answering.
Washington (CNN) — A major American Muslim group is embarking on a national campaign Friday to clarify a word it says has been given a bad name by recent global and domestic politics: Sharia.
The Islamic Circle of North America says its effort is aimed at “educating Americans” on what it says is the noble meaning of Sharia through conferences, billboards, and TV and radio PSAs.
The group is also launching a national hot line to answer questions about Sharia and Islam.
For more than a billion Muslims around the world, Sharia describes a way of life, from dietary laws to a code of moral life. For some conservative American critics, the word is sinister — connoting a draconian legal code that they contend threatens to subvert American law.
Sharia was politicized in the post-9/11 world as the U.S. paid more attention to perceived threats from the Muslim world, said Zahid Bukhari, president of Islamic Circle of North America.
More recently, Bukhari says Republican presidential candidates have used the word to foment Islamophobia.
(wow, a horribly barbaric type of law from the 7th century)
Control freaks assault the land of the free
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction,” warned the late PresidentReagan. It’s probably a good thing the Gipper hasn’t been forced to witness what the current generation of authoritarian rulers has done to the land of the free and home of the brave.
Public schools in San Antonio have installed video cameras, not to monitor for foul play or intruders, but to spy on kids’ eating habits. Federal food police in North Carolina have begun confiscating preschoolers’ homemade lunches because they didn’t meet U.S. Department of Agricultureguidelines. Aghast parents have noted that one 4-year-old’s confiscated lunch of a turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips and apple juice sounds more nutritious than the state-provided chicken nuggets. But that entirely misses the point. In America, parents are free to give their kids pizza and pudding with Twinkies and Twizzlers, and the government has no right to intrude.
Under the sweeping powers of Obamacare, the state has forced Catholic institutions to choose between their God and their government by demanding that they violate their own beliefs and provide birth control to their employees. Their insulting rationalization? Most Catholic women are bad Catholics and don’t follow the teachings of the church anyway. What’s more, the government has deified itself to determine which organizations are Catholic enough to be exempt. What’s next, mandated pork-chop night at the synagogues? Bacon should be a right.
Brace yourself; I’m just getting warmed up.
Get the rest HERE
(CNSNews.com) — Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told a House panel Thursday that a reduction in the number of human beings born in the United States will compensate employers and insurers for the cost of complying with the new HHS mandate that will require all health-care plans to cover sterilizations and all FDA-approved contraceptives, including those that cause abortions.
“The reduction in the number of pregnancies compensates for the cost of contraception,” Sebelius said. She went on to say the estimated cost is “down not up.”
Sebelius took questions from the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health about President Barack Obama’s fiscal year 2013 budget proposal.
(this is too something! she needs to be replaced asap)
PUL-E-ALAM, Afghanistan – U.S. military investigators have concluded that five soldiers were involved in the incineration of a pile of Korans in Afghanistan last week, according to officials who have been briefed on the inquiry.
The burning of the Muslim holy books — which U.S. officials say was accidental — incited a week of protests that left 30 Afghans dead. The burnings also were cited as motivation for at least some of six fatal attacks on U.S. soldiers that have occurred in Afghanistan in the last week. [...]
U.S. military officials said that while the five soldiers will be reprimanded, it’s unlikely that their names will be released or that their punishment will approach the seriousness of what some Afghans are demanding.
“For the soldiers, it will be serious–they could lose rank. But you’re not going to see the kind of public trial that some here seem to want,” said another U.S. military official.
(and screw any liberal, any islamic, any false religion imam and the UN if they way more)
I agree with President Obama that he does not bluff, he prefers apologizing. Simply stated, talk is cheap when dealing with despots, dictators, autocrats, and theocrats. PM Netanyahu understands his neighborhood and we should defer to a former Israeli Commando on matters such as this instead of a community organizer.
I appreciate President Obama’s desire to seem tough but so far it has only resulted in the expansion of radical Islamist dominance in the middle east. And please stop with the Osama Bin Laden line, US Navy SEALS double-tapped that rascal.
A powerful House Republican wants the Obama administration to explain why it’s asking for an extra $111 billion to implement part of the healthcare reform law.
Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) is asking about a spike in the estimated costs of subsidies to help people buy private insurance — a central, and expensive, component of the new healthcare law.
The administration’s budget request this year included $111 billion more for subsidies than its request last year. The difference falls across the same seven-year window.
“This staggering increase in health insurance exchange subsidy spending cannot be explained by legislative changes or new economic assumptions, and therefore must reflect substantial changes in underlying assumptions regarding the program’s utilization and cost,” Camp wrote Friday in a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
(hey, it’s not his money!)
Newt just speaking the truth!
MACON, Ga. — As Newt Gingrich campaigns through the state he used to represent in Congress, he continues to suggest President Barack Obama is more sympathetic to Islam than Christianity.
The former House speaker uses the recent fights over whether Catholic institutions should pay for contraception and increased violence in Afghanistan to suggest the president does not place a priority on American interests.
“President Obama is very quick to apologize for Islam while he attacks the Catholic Church,” Mr. Gingrich said here Thursday night. “You’ll notice he’s very sensitive about problems involving Islam, but he has a willingness…” Mr. Gingrich said before changing topics. “This is the most anti-religious administration in American history.”
We need to leave these 7th century dumbasses alone! Just leave their freaking country and let them and the taliban and any other islamic idiot fight it out and kill each other.
(Reuters) – Senior Afghan clerics said on Friday the burning of Korans at a NATO base last month was an “evil act” that must be punished, a demand that could deepen widespread public anger over the incident.
“The council strongly condemns this crime and inhumane, savage act by American troops by desecrating holy Korans,” members of a council of clerics said after meeting President Hamid Karzai, according to a statement issued by his office.
“The council emphasized that the apology for this evil act can never be accepted. Those who committed this crime must be publicly tried and punished.”
Despite the apology from U.S. President Barack Obama, the desecration of the Korans at Bagram air base ignited a wave of anti-Western fury across the country. Muslims consider the Koran the literal word of God and treat each book with deep reverence.