AT&T, Verizon join UK firms pulling ads from Google, YouTube over hate-group, terrorist content

❝ The U.K. advertising backlash against Google is spreading to the United States. Mobile carriers AT&T and Verizon, Enterprise car rental and pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline are among the major ad buyers acting to distance their brands from the offensive and extremist content that saturates YouTube.

Following an eruption of brand association concerns in the U.K. that prompted the Guardian newspaper, European mobile carrier O2, British Royal Mail, Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force, Transport For London, the BBC, Domino’s Pizza, Hyundai Kia, McDonald’s, L’Oreal, Toyota and Volkswagen to pull ads from Google and/or YouTube specifically, a series of global brands have also jumped to pull their ads in America.


Do your online shopping with Aryan purity

❝ AT&T is pulling all advertisement from Google apart from paid search placement, a move that affects not only YouTube but millions of other websites that participate in Google’s ad network…

A spokesperson for Verizon said it was also pulling ads, noting that “Verizon is one of the largest advertisers in the world, and one of the most respected brands. We…blah, blah, blah.”

❝ Google declined to comment on the pulled ads, but offered a statement “we’ve begun an extensive review of our advertising policies and have made a public commitment to put in place changes that give brands more control over where their ads appear…”…

❝ The original investigation by The Times detailed why brands are concerned, noting that Google’s algorithms placed ads for Mercedes E-Class “next to an ISIL video praising jihad that has been viewed more than 115,000 times.”…

Hey. Google’s coders are at least as talented as the geeks working for the Russian GRU and the US NSA. They can come up with algorithms that search folks out by the color of their pubic hair and how many toes they wish they had. I find it unlikely or even difficult for Google to be put-off by the size of the task needed to change the situation they’ve wandered into.

No doubt profit-optimization got them there. It had better work to motivate solutions, now.

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Google braces for questions while big-name firms pull advertising

❝ Google executives are bracing for a two-pronged inquisition from the advertising industry and the government over the company’s plans to stop ads being placed next to extremist material.

A slew of big-name companies, advertising firms and government departments have either pulled their adverts from Google and its YouTube video site or are considering whether to do so, with media giant Sky, telecoms group Vodafone and a trio of banks adding their names to a growing list over the weekend…

❝ The ads help fund payments to the people who post the videos, with every 1,000 clicks worth about £6. Experts estimate this could have been worth £250,000 to extremists.

❝ Leading advertising agencies have been quick to react, with French marketing firm Havas, whose clients include O2 and Royal Mail, pulling its adverts late last week. Publicis, the world’s third-largest advertising firm, said it was reviewing its relationship with Google and YouTube.

The world’s largest advertising firm WPP, via its media-buying division GroupM, has stopped short of cancelling ads but has written to major clients asking them how they wish to proceed…

❝ While Google is yet to reveal what it plans to do, it is understood that advertisers will be told that they may not be making enough use of existing tools and it will offer to provide advice on how companies can better use these.

However, Google is also expected to take a wider look at how ads are placed, including whether it has put enough checks and balances in place to avoid unfortunate juxtapositions.

Advertisers paying for primo placement certainly should be able to determine who shelters in their shadow.

Creepy drug company dumped opioids into Washington state black market

❝ After spending millions to combat the opioid epidemic ravaging its citizens, the working-class city of Everett, Washington, is taking the maker of opioid painkiller OxyContin to federal court. The city claims that the drug maker, Purdue Pharma, knowingly sold to black markets out of pure greed, enabling the devastating epidemic hitting Everett and the rest of the country.

❝ …Everett accuses Purdue Pharma of “knowingly, recklessly, and/or negligently supplying OxyContin to obviously suspicious physicians and pharmacies and enabling the illegal diversion of OxyContin into the black market, including to drug rings, pill mills, and other dealers for dispersal of the highly addictive pills in Everett.” Purdue’s goal, Everett alleges, was to “generate enormous profits” at the expense of the people of Everett.

❝ …In 2007, the infamous drug maker and three of its executives pled guilty in federal court and paid out $634.5 million in fines for purposefully misleading regulators, doctors, and patients about the addictiveness of their opioid painkiller. Around the same time, Purdue was also sued by several states, including Washington, over similar allegations. Purdue agreed to a $19.5 million multi-state settlement. And in 2015, Purdue settled a case with Kentucky, agreeing to pay $24 million…

In other words, criminal behavior ain’t anything new for these creeps.

Homeland InSecurity shares details on border wall specifications

The Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection have released additional specifications for the proposed border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

Federal officials have supplemented the original notice posted late last month with details that prescribe 30-foot-tall sections of concrete with anti-climbing and anti-damage features…

The agency’s notice, posted online, also indicated that before the wall’s construction would begin, the winning bidder or bidders would build prototypes for evaluation. If and when the wall is built, construction is likely to begin in the West, near El Paso, TX, Tucson, AZ, and El Centro, CA…

Presumably there will be sufficient notice to encourage demonstrations of our own.

U.S. Customs’ preliminary notice about bidding procedures for the project drew more than 200 interested parties, although upon media investigation, many of those inquiries were determined to be less than serious inquiries from non-construction-related businesses…

There are still no details about how the government will pay for the wall, although an early Department of Homeland Security report gauged the cost of the three-year project at $22 billion.

Good thing we haven’t any other projects that could use that kind of geedus – maybe with a higher priority. Like schools.

If the EPA isn’t allowed to use science, what’s left? Witch doctors? Oil company pimps?

Note: This is part four of a four-part series about the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The agency, its policies, and the science that underpins those regulations have been under scrutiny in recent weeks. In fact, the agency is in danger of being drastically cut back or dismantled entirely. You can learn more about that by reading part one, part two, and part three, as well viewing a gallery of photos of what America looked like in the early days of the EPA. This week, we’ll focus on where the EPA stands right now.


Nothing in this photo Trump doesn’t approve of – except the kid isn’t blonde

The Environmental Protection Agency is supposed to make and enforce regulations that protect the environment. But as the scientific agency seems to throw science out the window, it’s worth asking: what happens when the EPA stops putting our health and wellbeing first?

On April 2, 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court made a decision that was easy to miss…The 2007 case dates back to an earlier lawsuit, where Massachusetts sued the EPA for failing to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, which are known to contribute to climate change. Whether the EPA has such an obligation depends on how you interpret a specific clause of the Clean Air Act. The clause states that the EPA Administrator must set an emissions standard for any air pollutant “from any class or classes of new motor vehicles or new motor vehicle engines, which in his judgment cause, or contribute to, air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.”…

In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that the EPA had to regulate greenhouse gas emissions unless it could prove that they did not endanger public welfare.

The EPA based its decision on more than 100 peer-reviewed studies and input from a public comment period. The summary reads, “The Administrator finds that the current and projected concentrations of the six key well-mixed greenhouse gases—carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)—in the atmosphere threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations.”

Greenhouse gases are putting us at risk. Luckily, the EPA is obligated to limit their emission. That is, as long as the agency chooses to accept the facts.

Earlier this week, current EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said the following on CNBC: “I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.”

It was an odd (and incorrect) statement from the Administrator of the EPA, an agency that — based on the best available scientific evidence — disagrees with Pruitt’s position, as does NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Center for Disease Control, the U.K.’s Met Office, and the Japan Meteorological Organization.

But, then, there’s nothing new about any of Trump’s appointed flunkies acting like anything other than pimps for the worst corporate barons in American capitalism. It may seem like he’s only carrying on the strongest traditions from previous Republican Administrations – but, that wouldn’t be true, either.

Trump is so confident of the backing of the chumps who voted him into office he has permission to skip over the soft rationales of most Big-C Conservatives and go straight into his repertoire of bald-faced lies, made-up data, alternative truth. Flunkies like Pruitt did this for years back in Oklahoma. Oil and gas companies would write rules and regulations allowing pollution for him to cut-and-paste into official government policy.

They deserve each other. So do the ignoranuses who voted them into national office. Trouble is – the rest of us are stuck with the results of their ignorance and corruption. Until and unless we fight back – and hard enough to win.

Bird flu found in Tennessee chicken breeder farm used by Tyson

A strain of bird flu has been detected in a chicken breeder flock on a Tennessee farm contracted to U.S. food giant Tyson Foods Inc, and the 73,500 birds will be culled to stop the virus from entering the food system…

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said this represented the first confirmed case of highly pathogenic H7 avian influenza in commercial poultry in the United States this year. It is the first time HPAI has been found in Tennessee, the state government said.

Tyson, the biggest chicken meat producer in the United States, said it was working with Tennessee and federal officials to contain the virus by euthanizing the birds on the contract farm.

In 2014 and 2015, during a widespread outbreak of HPAI, the United States killed nearly 50 million birds, mostly egg-laying hens. The losses pushed U.S. egg prices to record highs and prompted trading partners to ban imports of American poultry, even though there was little infection then in the broiler industry…

The facility in Tennessee’s Lincoln County has been placed under quarantine, along with approximately 30 other poultry farms within a 6.2-mile (10 km) radius of the site, the state said. Other flocks in the quarantined area are being tested…

The USDA said it would inform the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and international trading partners of the outbreak.

Some strains of avian flu are guaranteed dangerous to humans and might be spread by humans. Most of the strains I’ve read about this year have endangered humans contaminated by blood from birds being slaughtered. The trouble with viruses of this type is that they can mutate easily and sometimes often.

Keep an eye on the topic.

Arms sales around the world are the highest they’ve been since the end of the Cold War


Noah Seelam/AFP

❝ Global arms sales over the last five years reached their highest level since 1990, with India continuing to top the charts as the world’s largest defense importer, a report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute has found.

Between 2012 and 2016, India accounted for 13 percent of global arms imports, followed by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, China and Algeria, said SIPRI, which tracks global arms purchases. Between 2007 and 2011, India accounted for 9.7 percent of global imports, still more than any other country…

❝ Despite rising threats, and a ‘Make in India’ program to encourage local arms production, India’s domestic defense sector is not capable of meeting New Delhi’s growing requirements…

“They spend a lot of time and also money trying to develop weapons in India and things just go hopelessly wrong,” Siemon Wezeman, a senior researcher with SIPRI, said, adding that leaves them relying on imports…

❝ …The shift under Modi to rely more on private Indian companies for defense procurement, could lead to success. India signed an $8.7 billion contract to buy 36 Rafale jets from Dassault Aviation SA…Analysts also warned that structural changes to India’s defense purchasing would take a long time, given the lengthy timelines involved in defense R&D and manufacturing, as well as the necessity of meeting the military’s pressing requirements for combat-ready equipment.

RTFA for the gory details. Getting caught in the same sort of military-industrial complex that only shares ownership of the US economy with fossil fuel barons doesn’t seem like forward-looking economic design or planning. India might have more of a chance at long-term economic success working at building a mutual relationship based on peace with neighbors in the region. After all, they all were shoved into the same trick bag by departing Imperial England back in the day.

Pregnant women + insecticide exposure = kids with behavioral problems

❝ Young children whose mothers were exposed to pyrethroid insecticides while pregnant showed increased rates of behavioral difficulties, a small retrospective French cohort study found.

❝ After adjusting for certain potential confounders, there was a positive association between high prenatal concentrations in maternal urine of certain neurotoxic chemicals found in insecticides, on one hand, and on the other, internalizing behavioral difficulties at age 6 in offspring, reported Jean-François Viel…and colleagues.

Moreover, there was a positive association between high concentrations of certain chemicals in children’s urine and externalizing behavioral difficulties at the same age…

❝ Pyrethroids are a class of insecticides that were designed because of concerns about organophosphate insecticides — with pyrethroids “purportedly a safer alternative for humans and the environment.”

The authors had previously used the PELAGIE mother-child cohort to examine prenatal and childhood exposure to pyrethroid insecticides and neurocognitive abilities. They found a link between childhood exposure and poorer neurocognitive abilities, but there was no association between prenatal exposure and neurocognitive abilities in objective testing…

❝ The pyrethroid metabolite trans-dimethylcyclopronane carboxylic acid was found in nearly all mothers (99.9%) and children (96.5%), followed by cis-dibromonovinyl at 68.3% of mothers and 85.2% of children.

But it was high concentrations of prenatal cis-DCCA that were associated with internalizing difficulties in children, and high concentrations of 3-phenoxybenzoic acid in children that were linked with externalizing difficulties.

❝ The authors also found that there was a more than twofold increased risk of abnormal or borderline social behavior associated with children who had the highest 3-PBA levels…

They concluded that the results, along with the prior study that linked pyrethroid insecticides with cognitive disabilities, support a “potential risk to neurodevelopment from pyrethroid insecticides,” and that remediating the potential causes of these neurodevelopmental deficits is “of paramount public health importance.”

Yes, doctors aren’t always the most entertaining authors. Even when they discover that the latest solution to endangering human life and living – from chemicals that increase agricultural profits – seems to have produced a whole new batch of dangers.

After the fact, of course. Everything previously approved in tidy political fashion. Satisfying farmers and agri-chemical producers alike.

Sales still dropping in Mexico’s 2nd Year taxing soda — ¡Olé!

sugary-death

❝ In the first year of a big soda tax in Mexico, sales of sugary drinks fell. In the second year, they fell again…

The finding represents the best evidence to date of how sizable taxes on sugary drinks, increasingly favored by large American cities, may influence consumer behavior. The results could have consequences for public health. But they also matter for policy makers who hope to use the money raised by such taxes to fund other projects. Philadelphia, San Francisco, Oakland, Calif., and the Illinois county that contains Chicago have recently passed taxes similar in size to the tax in Mexico.

❝ Mexico’s soda tax took effect in 2014, and applied to all beverages that included added sugar, including carbonated soft drinks, fruit drinks and sweetened iced teas. The effort was pushed by public health advocates who argued that liquid sugar was contributing to the country’s high burden of obesity and diabetes.

❝ Studies on the first year of the tax found that sugary beverage consumption fell substantially, with the biggest decreases among low-income Mexicans — the group at highest risk of obesity-related diseases. But industry analysts and anti-tax advocates had argued that the one-year results could just be a blip that would reverse as companies retooled their products, or as consumers adjusted to higher prices for their favorite drinks.

❝ The new study, published online Wednesday in Health Affairs, shows that the results of such a tax may be far more long-lasting. The research, based on shopping data from a large sample of urban Mexican households, showed that the first year’s consumption declines continued during the second year. Over all, sugary drink sales fell by 5.5 percent in 2014 compared with the year before, and by 9.7 percent in 2015 — again compared with 2013…Once again, the largest reductions were among the poorest Mexicans…

The article ends with the All-American requirement for sophistry. Let’s present the obverse understanding as if it bears equal weight. Hogwash. I’ll waste time worrying about the profits of the beverage industry and sugar producers right after I decide to vote for politicians advocating for higher profits for the drugs and pharma corporate sluggos.

Which is never.

What Was Trump’s Pick for Air Force Secretary Doing for $20K a Month?


Wilson with her last presidential employerGetty Images/Paul J. Richards

❝ Donald Trump famously promised to “drain the swamp” in Washington—to rein in lobbyists, shut the revolving door and curb the influence of well-heeled special interests. But so far, he’s had a hard time keeping this promise, with Wall Street veterans headed to the Treasury Department, coal industry advocates appointed to safeguard the environment, and now a former nuclear weapons industry consultant named to a job overseeing the purchase of such weapons…

❝ …He’s designated as the new Air Force secretary a former New Mexico Congresswoman, Heather Wilson, who’s a veteran of wheeling and dealing in Washington on behalf of private defense industry clients that paid her lucrative consulting fees.

Just a day after she left Congress in 2009, Wilson went to work as a “strategic adviser” for Sandia Corporation in Albuquerque, which runs a laboratory that helps design and manufacture America’s nuclear weapons and is a subsidiary of defense giant Lockheed Martin. The contract to run Sandia was coming to an end, and Wilson’s assignment was to convince the government to extend it without competition. Soon after, she took on a similar advising role for contractors running Los Alamos National Lab, another designer and maker of nuclear bombs.

❝ But federal auditors at the Energy Department and one of its subsidiary agencies quickly grew alarmed because Wilson refused to account for how she was spending any of her time, even while accepting $20,000 monthly from the national labs. That prompted one auditor to call a fraud hotline operated by the Justice Department, which then kicked off an investigation of its own.

The Justice probe concluded that the payments to Wilson were part of an improper effort by the Lockheed subsidiary to bill the government for money spent lobbying the government for more business. The Lockheed Martin subsidiary settled those allegations in 2015 by paying the government $4.7 million, but denied any wrongdoing. So did Wilson.

❝ …Now…she’ll be responsible for overseeing the Air Force’s voluminous interactions with Lockheed — the same firm that paid her $226,378 for two years of “strategic advising.” And Lockheed is not just another contractor. As of 2015, the latest year available, Lockheed had 3,982 outstanding Air Force contracts worth $7.4 billion — making it the largest single contractor to the Air Force…

❝ Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, an anti-nuclear watchdog group in Wilson’s home state, was even more skeptical.

Wilson’s work for Lockheed Martin and other nuclear contractors “obviously raises very serious ethical questions,” Coghlan said. Coghlan conceded that the recent presidential election represented a vote for change, but added that “part of that change should be appointing ethical people to senior positions. And [Wilson has] failed that test.”

RTFA for all the juice. No cynics will be surprised. At either her resume or work/political history. She fits the Trumpkin opportunist mold perfectly.