Facebook attacks Apple’s tougher privacy standards


This is what pisses off FACEBOOK honcho, Mark Zuckerberg.

Facebook has…attacked Apple in a series of full-page newspaper ads, asserting that iOS 14’s privacy changes regarding data gathering and targeted advertising are bad for small businesses (via Bloomberg).

The ads are running in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post, feature the headline “We’re standing up to Apple for small businesses everywhere.”

I feel like I’m standing up to my ankles in cowshit when I read this press release from Zuckerberg.

Earlier this year, Apple introduced a number of privacy changes that curb the ability of companies like Facebook to gather data on users and target adverts. In ‌‌iOS 14‌‌, Apple has made the “Identifier for Advertisers,” used by Facebook and its advertising partners for ad targeting, an opt-in feature, providing more transparency for users who would prefer not to be tracked in apps and on websites. The update simply asks users if they want to agree to ad tracking or prevent cross-app and cross-site tracking to provide targeted ads.

Personally, I love Apple’s changes. What I’d like to see – and Zuckerberg fears – is more software and site developers take the same stand.

Economics of our crap government


Charles RettigAnna Moneymaker/Getty

❝ The IRS audits the working poor at about the same rate as the wealthiest 1%. Now, in response to questions from a U.S. senator, the IRS has acknowledged that’s true but professes it can’t change anything unless it is given more money.

❝ ProPublica reported the disproportionate audit focus on lower-income families in April. Lawmakers confronted IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig about the emphasis, citing our stories, and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., asked Rettig for a plan to fix the imbalance. Rettig readily agreed.

Last month, Rettig replied with a report, but it said the IRS has no plan and won’t have one until Congress agrees to restore the funding it slashed from the agency over the past nine years — something lawmakers have shown little inclination to do.

❝ On the one hand, the IRS said, auditing poor taxpayers is a lot easier: The agency uses relatively low-level employees to audit returns for low-income taxpayers who claim the earned income tax credit. The audits…are done by mail and don’t take too much staff time, either.

❝ On the other hand, auditing the rich is hard. It takes senior auditors hours upon hours to complete an exam. What’s more, the letter says, “the rate of attrition is significantly higher among these more experienced examiners.”…

With a White House, Senate, committed to kissing wealthy corporate butt, not much change in sight until Republicans are kicked out of power altogether. There will still be no shortage of battles with “centrist” who count on supplanting Republicans…offering the same services. Tweedledee and Tweedledum are still hard to tell apart.

Abortion Bans Based on So-Called “Science” Are Fraudulent

❝ We are scientists, and we believe that evidence, not ideology, should inform health care decisions. The wave of anti-abortion laws across the U.S. is the latest in a long string of attempts to falsely use the language and authority of science to justify denying people their basic human rights and inflict lasting harm. Although abortion is still legal in every state, recent legislation in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio threatens the future of abortion rights in the country. Scientists should, first and foremost, value evidence, and the evidence is clear: abortion bans cause harm. They make abortions less safe and especially harm historically marginalized communities…

❝ So-called heartbeat bills, which ban abortion as early as after six weeks of pregnancy, are not based on science. In fact, no heart yet exists in an embryo at six weeks. Yet six states and counting enacted such bills in 2019, in addition to Alabama’s near-total ban. Equally unscientific “abortion reversal” laws are also gaining traction. These laws, now on the books in eight states, require doctors to tell patients receiving a medication abortion, a safe and effective way to end an early pregnancy, that it can be reversed halfway through to save their pregnancy.

Not only is this law bad science, it is actively dangerous. The idea of abortion reversal is based on a single study of six participants that was (poorly) conducted without an ethics review board. The so-called abortion reversal procedure is experimental and has neither been clinically tested nor approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

❝ Both heartbeat bills and abortion reversal laws have been opposed by leading medical groups, including the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Real doctors, real scientists, don’t rely on ancient myths and legends to advance the health and welfare of our species. A primary reason they have success rate scores enormously higher than superstitious mumbo-jumbo.

Facebook busted for bigoted adverts

❝ The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said it’s charging Facebook Inc. with allegedly violating the Fair Housing Act by restricting who can view housing-related ads.

❝ “Facebook is discriminating against people based upon who they are and where they live,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson said. “Using a computer to limit a person’s housing choices can be just as discriminatory as slamming a door in someone’s face.”

The social network allowed those advertising housing to exclude people it classified as parents; non-American-born; non-Christian; interested in accessibility and Hispanic culture; as well as other group’s deemed protected classes, according to HUD.

Facebook responded by saying, “Gee-whiz. We’re trying to reduce the bigotry in our ads. We’re just too busy counting our money to catch up with stuff like that.”

OK. That really isn’t what they said; but, it might as well be. Self-pitying whining about cost and time constraints from a company that rolls in money faster than they can stack it into boxcars ain’t cutting much ice with the few honorable folks remaining in federal government.

Ireland – “A quiet revolution has taken place”

❝ Ireland’s prime minister on Saturday hailed the culmination of “a quiet revolution” in what was once one of Europe’s most socially conservative countries after a landslide referendum vote to liberalize highly restrictive laws on abortion.

Voters in the once deeply Catholic nation backed the change by two-to-one, a far higher margin than any opinion poll in the run up to the vote had predicted, and allows the government to bring in legislation by the end of the year…

❝ No social issue had divided Ireland’s 4.8 million people as sharply as abortion, which was pushed up the political agenda by the death in 2012 of a 31-year-old Indian immigrant from a septic miscarriage after she was refused a termination.

Campaigners left flowers and candles at a large mural of the woman, Savita Halappanavar, in central Dublin. Her parents in India were quoted by the Irish Times newspaper as thanking their “brothers and sisters” in Ireland and requesting the new law be called “Savita’s law”.

Overdue, just. A profound beginning that shouldn’t be a surprise in a nation that set aside ideological crap-meisters a few years back to dedicate a disproportionate chunk of government funds to raising the educational level of the whole nation. Too bad we haven’t that kind of courage in Congress or the White House.

Ireland got expanded personal freedom. We got chump change.

Millennials are moving less than preceding generations


How can you tolerate missing out on this?

Americans are moving at the lowest rate on record, and recently released Census Bureau data show that a primary reason is that Millennials are moving significantly less than earlier generations of young adults.

In 2016, only 20% of Millennial 25- to 35-year-olds reported having lived at a different address one year earlier. One-year migration rates were much higher for older generations when they were the same age. For example, when members of the Silent Generation were ages 25 to 35 back in 1963, 26% reported moving within the prior year. And in 2000, when those in Generation X were the age that older Millennials are today, 26% of them reported having moved in the previous year…

It may seem counterintuitive that Millennials would be contributing to a trend toward less geographic mobility. After all, according to Pew Research Center analysis of Current Population Survey data, they are less likely than earlier generations to have three things that tend to be impediments to moving for a young adult:

A spouse…A house…A child…So, if Millennials are less hampered by spouses, houses and kids, why are they moving less than previous generations did at their age?

Labor market opportunities may be a factor. Millennials were hit hard by the Great Recession in terms of job-holding and wages. For many young adults who moved in the past year, job opportunities were a prime motivation for moving, and the modest jobs recovery may not be providing the impetus Millennials need.

RTFA. Interesting, provoking. To my mind – which still thinks it’s 26 years old and keys in on non-conformity to cultural traits and standards stuck into the past – all mostly positive developments.

French now have the right to ignore company emails on their own time

❝ France employees are getting the legal right to avoid work emails outside working hours…The new law, which has been dubbed the “right to disconnect”, comes into force on 1 January.

Companies with more than 50 workers will be obliged to draw up a charter of good conduct, setting out the hours when staff are not supposed to send or answer emails…

❝ The measure is part of a set of labour laws introduced in May…It was the only one of the laws – which also made it easier for firms to hire and fire employees – that did not generate widespread protest and strikes.

I’ll second that emotion. For most occupations, companies requiring email attention on your own time are folks I wouldn’t recommend working for.

Yes, there are exceptions. That’s not what this is about.

The Supreme Court rejects restrictions on women’s abortion rights

Reverberations from the U.S. Supreme Court’s major ruling backing abortion rights were felt on Tuesday as the justices rejected bids by Mississippi and Wisconsin to revive restrictions on abortion doctors matching those struck down in Texas on Monday.

The laws in Mississippi and Wisconsin required doctors to have “admitting privileges,” a type of difficult-to-obtain formal affiliation, with a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion clinic. Both were put on hold by lower courts.

The Mississippi law would have shut down the only clinic in the state if it had gone into effect…

In addition, Alabama’s attorney general said late on Monday that his state would abandon defense of its own “admitting privileges” requirement for abortion doctors, in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling.

The laws in Texas, Mississippi, Wisconsin and Alabama are among the numerous measures enacted in conservative U.S. states that impose a variety of restrictions on abortion. But the Supreme Court’s ruling on Monday in the Texas case, providing its most stout endorsement of abortion rights since 1992, could imperil a variety of these state laws.

Conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy joined the court’s four liberals in the 5-3 decision…

Once again, sensible modern jurisprudence matches a population moving beyond ignorance. What’s left behind? True Believers and hate-filled conservatives, Republican and otherwise.

Jennifer Dalven, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, said the action in Mississippi, Wisconsin and Alabama is just the start of the fallout from Monday’s ruling.

“States have passed more than 1,000 restrictions on a woman’s ability to get an abortion. This means for many women the constitutional right to an abortion is still more theoretical than real and there is much more work to be done to ensure that every woman who needs an abortion can actually get one,” Dalven added.

The justices decided that the Texas law placed an undue burden on women exercising their right under the U.S. Constitution to end a pregnancy, established in the court’s landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

Reactionary politicians, careerist time-wasters, are just as convinced that delaying opportunities for free choice will suffice when and where they fail at denying individual liberty altogether. It matters not what the rationale. Such politics deserve the contempt they receive from Americans who reject superstition and ignorance.

Colorado Planned Parenthood reopens after terrorist rampage

A Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic reopened on Monday, seeing patients nearly three months after a deadly shooting rampage at the facility left three people dead and nine wounded.

“Today, we opened our doors in Colorado Springs. We didn’t back down. We didn’t disappear. We returned, stronger and with more conviction than ever,” the clinic said in a statement.

The clinic was closed on Nov. 27 following a bloody five-hour siege that police said began when a gunman opened fire with a rifle outside the building and then stormed inside. He was taken into custody by law enforcement at the scene…

The facility was resuming its work providing a range of healthcare services, including abortion, to the community of Colorado Springs, Cowart said…

The gunman accused of carrying out the attack, Robert Lewis Dear, 57, faces 179 felony counts, including charges of first-degree murder, attempted murder and assault.

In a court appearance in December, he declared himself guilty and a “warrior for the babies.” He has also told a judge he distrusts his lawyers and wants to represent himself.

Like a tiny segment of Christians, Dear apparently feels he is doing the work of the God he believes in – by murdering people. Following the semantic logic of some Republican presidential candidates, that would make him a Christian terrorist.