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Technology / Re: GAMERS THREAD
« on: January 19, 2022, 11:24:54 am »
Wednesday, 20th  January  ~Two Thousand & Twenty Two
Activision Blizzard Fired Nearly 40 Employees Accused Of Misconduct

by Jessica Howard

Since July 2021, Activision Blizzard has reportedly fired or pushed out more than three dozen employees and disciplined nearly 40 others as part of its efforts to address the company's allegations of sexual harassment and
unethical working conditions, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The terminations follow nearly 700 reports of employee concern over misconduct within the company, as well as "regulatory probes" into Activision blizzard's workplace culture from the Securities and Exchange Commission and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

Activision spokesperson Helaine Klasky confirmed the departures Monday, January 17, starting that, so far, "37 people have 'exited' and 44 have been disciplined as part of the company’s investigation."

Klasky also contested the figure that there have been 700 reports, claiming that "employee comments included statements on social media, and the issues raised ranged from what she described as benign workplace concerns to 'a small number' of potentially serious assertions, which the company has investigated."
According to the report, this was something Kotick intended to address prior to the holidays, however the CEO ultimately chose to withhold the information after determining it could "make the company’s workplace problems seem bigger than is already known."

This news comes in the midst of Microsoft announcing its intentions to purchase Activision blizzard for a staggering $68.7 billion.

While questions of what this acquisition means for consumers and Microsoft's competition have been circulating ever since, several larger questions still remain with perhaps even less clear answers--questions like what this will mean for Activision Blizzard's ongoing workplace turmoil and CEO Bobby

Kotick, and why Microsoft felt comfortable enough to buy the company in the midst of such unprecedented tension.

According to Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer, the answer to that last question largely came down to the changes Activision has made thus far.

“We see the progress that they’re making that was pretty fundamental to us deciding to go forward here,” Spencer said.

In addition to the terminations, Activision Blizzard has also seen a shift in management and a dramatic pay cut for Kotick.

However, one large point of contention remains: Kotick himself.

Despite Microsoft formerly condemning Kotick's handling of Activision blizzard's allegations, several claims that he actively covered up workplace harassment and threatened a female co-worker, and roughly 10,000 Activision

Blizzard employees signing a petition demanding his resignation, Microsoft has stated Kotick will remain in power throughout the acquisition.

According to Activision:

"Bobby Kotick will continue to serve as CEO of Activision Blizzard, and he

and his team will maintain their focus on driving efforts to further

strengthen the company's culture and accelerate business growth."

Ultimately, this decision doesn't come as too much of a surprise.

Considering the purchase involves regulatory approval, Microsoft can't make any decisions about Kotick's future yet.

However, following the sale, it is anticipated that Kotick will step down from the company. Whether this actually comes to fruition is yet to be determined.

Regardless, Kotick's departure from the company would reportedly come at great profit to the CEO and only scratch the surface of the demands made by several Activision Blizzard employees, many of whom are currently on strike following the sudden termination of 12 contracted Raven Software QA testers.

Since the strike first began on December 7th, 2021, Activision has remained silent regarding the worker's demands for a more transparent workplace, all while taking taking actions characterized as union-busting by critics.

Ultimately, what Microsoft's purchase of the company means for current Activision Blizzard employees remains largely unclear.

Vox Populi / Re: A Victory for Native Americans?
« on: December 30, 2021, 05:50:49 pm »
Thursday, 30th  December  ~Two Thousand & Twenty One
Māori journalist becomes first person with facial markings to present primetime news
by Jeevan Ravindran

A Māori journalist has made history in New Zealand by becoming the first person with traditional facial markings to host a primetime news program on national television.

Oriini Kaipara made headlines worldwide after hosting her first 6 p.m. bulletin for Newshub on the TV channel Three, with many lauding the milestone as a win for Māori representation.

"I was really elated. I was over the moon," Kaipara told CNN of the moment she found out she would cover the primetime slot.

"It's a huge honor. I don't know how to deal with the emotions."

Kaipara's Christmas Day presenting role was the first of six consecutive days covering for the primetime news show's permanent anchors, although her stint will continue into early January and she said she may be called again in the future.

The 38-year-old is already the permanent anchor of the 4:30 p.m. "Newshub Live" bulletin, and previously made history in 2019 while working at TVNZ, when she became the first person with Māori facial markings to present a mainstream TV news program.

In the tradition of the Māori people, who are the indigenous people of what is now New Zealand, facial markings are tattooed on the chin for women and known as moko kauae, while for men they cover most of the face and are known as mataora.

Kaipara got her "moko" in January 2019, which she says was a personal decision she made for grounding reasons, to remind her of her power and identity as a Māori woman.

"When I doubt myself, and I see my reflection in the mirror, I'm not just looking at myself," Kaipara told CNN.

"I'm looking at my grandmother and my mother, and my daughters, and hers to come after me, as well as all the other women, Māori girls out there and it empowers me."

Having begun her career in 2005, Kaipara said hosting the primetime news slot was the "pinnacle" of her journalistic dreams, although it was a "bittersweet moment" because her mother, who recently passed away, couldn't share the moment with her.

Despite all the positive comments, there have also been negative reactions to Kaipara's presenting, especially as she often uses Māori phrases such as "E haere ake nei" (still to come), "Ū tonu mai" (stay with us) and "Taihoa e haere" (don't go just yet).

The Māori language is hugely important to Kaipara.

Her ultimate goal, she said, is encouraging people to speak the language that was "beaten out of my grandmother's generation" and reclaim it for Māori people.

"We still haven't addressed a lot of intergenerational traumas and colonization and for Maori, that's very, very pertinent and poignant as well," Kaipara said.

"Not much in terms of race relations here has changed in a very long time."

However, the "enormity" of the occasion was not lost on her and in many ways it was a full circle moment for Kaipara, who was inspired by Māori TV news presenter Tini Molyneux when she was a young girl.

"She was my idol," Kaipara told CNN.

"She had the same skin color as me... she sounded like me, she looked like me. And she comes from where I come from originally, my family, whakapapa (ancestors), where are ancestral ties are to our land."

Kaipara hopes young Māori girls will take inspiration from her story as a sign that times are changing.

"For a long time our people, our ancestors, our tipuna, and us now, have done so much work to get to where we are," Kaipara told CNN.

"As a young woman, as a young Māori, what you do today influences and affects what happens tomorrow. So all I ask is that they see the beauty in being Māori and they embrace it and acknowledge that and do what they can with it for positive change."

Vox Populi / Re: Disappearing Excellence: The Senate & Loretta Lynch
« on: December 30, 2021, 04:58:46 pm »
Thursday, 30th December ~Two Thousand & Twenty One
Yeah, No, That Study Doesn’t Debunk Police Racism
by Tim Wise

Some people will say anything to deny the problem of racism in policing.

These are people who would have found ways to defend Bull Connor in Birmingham too, or Jim Clark and his goons in Selma six decades ago.

One thing about their denials has changed though — they’ve become more sophisticated.

Increasingly, such folks wrap their denial in a patina of respectable “evidence,” whereas, back in the day, they would have just said something about how those n_____rs were asking for trouble and left it at that.

But bullsh!t, even when footnoted, is still bullsh!t.

My favorites are the white folks who send around the study from a few years ago by Roland Fryer, a Harvard academic, which concluded police were no more likely to use lethal force against Blacks than whites.

They love this one because Fryer is Black.

Apparently, if a Black guy says there’s no racism in policing — or if that’s what they think he’s saying — there must not be.

It’s funny — first, because conservative white people are so quick to latch on to any Black person who they think confirms their nonsense, and second, because they don’t understand what the Fryer study says, why much of it doesn’t support their view, and why the part that does is seriously flawed.

The Fryer study looked at four data sets, mainly focusing on three:

stop-and-frisk data from New York City, data from 12 large cities or counties in Texas, Florida, and California, and a special data set from Houston.

The racism deniers focus on the finding that there was no racial disparity in use of lethal force, but before examining the data used to reach that conclusion, it’s worth looking at what the deniers ignore.

Looking at non-lethal force, Fryer relied on stop-and-frisk data from New York for 2003–2013 and found that Black New Yorkers were 53 percent more likely than whites to be met with non-lethal force by the NYPD.

Interestingly, when he controlled for variables like civilian behavior during the stop — did they resist arrest, for instance — or the neighborhood crime rate, not only did this not reduce the disparity, it sometimes increased it.

Nonetheless, when Fryer controlled for 125 supposedly non-racial variables, the observed disparity in non-lethal force fell from 53 percent to 17 percent — still significant, albeit less so.

If the disparity remained huge even when suspect behavior and neighborhood crime rates were held constant, what variables could have had such a depressive effect on disparity?

We don’t know for sure.

The complete list wasn’t provided in Fryer’s paper.

But what we do know about them is methodologically troubling.

Consider his controls for “community dangerousness.”

As noted previously, Fryer examined the neighborhood crime rates and actual suspect behavior during encounters because these would predictably increase the likelihood of police use of force.

So, where did the reductions come from?

According to Fryer, three “precinct effects” cut racial disparities in the use of force by nearly 20 percentage points — more than a third below their initial level.

And what were those?

According to Fryer, they were socioeconomic variables often correlated with crime rates: median education levels, median income, and median levels of unemployment in a neighborhood.

As Fryer puts it, these are “proxies for dangerousness.”

At that point, Fryer has already controlled for dangerousness and by a more direct method than using socioeconomic proxies to estimate it.

If the crime rate in a neighborhood fails to explain the racial disparity, controlling for variables that are often correlated with a higher crime rate is superfluous.

And if actual encounter dynamics failed to explain the racial disparity, controlling for variables that might predict greater resistance by civilians is equally absurd.

Either the person who was stopped resisted or they didn’t.

If they had, Fryer would have already controlled for that.

If they didn’t, the fact that there are many unemployed high school dropouts living on the block can hardly justify cops throwing someone who isn’t resisting against a wall.

Ultimately, even though he artificially minimizes the problem, Fryer’s data shows Black folks are much more likely to be handled violently by police.

And this is so, even when they put up less resistance, comply with all demands, have no weapons, and have committed no crime.

Of course, this finding is ignored by those who point to Fryer’s research as vindication of their racism denial.

When we look at Fryer’s data on lethal force, his conclusions are dubious to the point of being laughable.

First, let’s look at the data set from Houston, which consisted of interactions where officers fired at suspects or specific high-risk arrest scenarios where lethal force would have been most likely.

Here, Fryer discovered no real racial difference in the likelihood that Blacks, as opposed to whites, were shot by police once subjected to a stop or arrest.

Although such a position may seem intuitive, it doesn’t hold up to scrutiny for two reasons:

1. Racism can influence who gets stopped in the first place — and thus, how many encounters there are between cops and Blacks versus cops and whites — and,

2. Police could be confronting Black folks for more subjective, less legitimate reasons.

If the latter is true, this would naturally reduce the likelihood of those Black people being shot because they weren’t doing anything serious.

Thus, there would be less likelihood of a violent reaction by the Black person stopped.

If I’m Black and you stop me because of racialized suspicion and bias, and our encounter doesn’t result in a shooting — which it shouldn’t since I hadn’t even done anything to justify the stop — you can’t use your lack of deadly force against me as proof of goodwill.

A hypothetical can demonstrate the point.

Imagine a community where the white-to-black population ratio is 5 to 1 (similar to the U.S.), with 120,000 people: 100,000 whites and 20,000 Blacks.

And imagine that in a given year, police stopped 10,000 Black people (half the Black population) and 5,000 whites (5 percent of white folks).

And of the 10,000 Blacks stopped, 100 were shot by police, and of the 5,000 whites stopped, 50 were.

In both cases, the odds of being shot once stopped would be one percent, but 1 in 200 Blacks would have been shot, compared to 1 in 2000 whites.

The question isn’t,

“Once whites are stopped, are they as likely as Black people who’ve been stopped to be shot?”

The question is:

“Are white people, walking down the street, driving their vehicle, or just living their lives, as likely to be stopped in the first place and then shot as Black people?”

The answer to that is no, and nothing in the Fryer study suggests otherwise.

In addition to the special data set culled for him by the Houston PD, Fryer examined a 10-city data set from Florida, Texas, and Los Angeles involving interactions where officers had discharged their weapons.

Since everyone in the data set had been shot at by police, Fryer wasn’t seeking to determine the relative risk of whites or Blacks being shot by cops, but rather, how quickly officers had discharged their weapons.

Did police shoot before or after being attacked by the civilian?

Ultimately, Fryer found there was no significant difference based on race.

Perhaps the question of how quickly an officer decided to shoot is an interesting one to explore.

Still, it seems far more important to determine the relative risk of being shot as an unarmed Black person compared to an unarmed white person than to narrowly focus on a cop’s reaction time.

Although Fryer suggests it would have been impossible to answer this larger question, other researchers have been more ambitious.

« on: December 30, 2021, 04:25:01 pm »
Thursday, 30th December  ~Two Thousand & Twenty One
Kardashian manager Angela Kukawski found dead near Los Angeles; boyfriend charged with murder & torture
by Joseph Wilkinson

A Los Angeles woman who worked as a business manager for the Kardashians and other celebrities was brutally murdered by her boyfriend last week, police said.

Angela Kukawski, 55, was found dead in a car in Simi Valley, just northwest of Los Angeles, on December 23rd, Los Angeles police said Wednesday in a press release.

Her boyfriend Jason Barker, 49, was arrested the same day and charged with her murder.

Los Angeles police said Angela Kukawski was killed by her boyfriend in their house in Sherman Oaks.

Cops also charged Barker with torture, saying he caused “cruel and extreme pain and suffering for the purpose of revenge, extortion, persuasion and for a sadistic purpose, (to) inflict great bodily injury,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

Police said Barker used a knife and a gun in the attack, according to the LA Times.

Kukawski died from blunt force injuries to her head and from strangulation, a local coroner determined.

Kukawski was first reported missing on December 22nd from her home in the Sherman Oaks neighborhood of Los Angeles, about 20 miles southeast of where her body was found in Simi Valley.

Cops said Barker killed her at the Sherman Oaks home and then put her body in the car and drove to Simi Valley, where he parked the vehicle on a street.

Barker was being held on $3 million bail as of Wednesday night.

Kukawski worked with several high-profile clients, including the Kardashians, Nicki Minaj, Kanye West and Offset, according to Variety.

She also worked with Tupac’s estate.

In an Instagram post, Minaj described her as the “Hardest working, most reliable, sweetest person you could ever know. You didn’t deserve this, Angela. My heart is breaking for your children. Rest In Peace.”

« on: December 30, 2021, 03:55:11 pm »
Thursday, 30th December  ~Two Thousand & Twenty One
Trucker Rogel Aguilera-Mederos' sentence reduced from 110 to 10 years
by Zoe Christen Jones

Colorado Governor Jared Polis has commuted the sentence of truck driver Rogel Aguilera-Mederos to 10 years with eligibility for parole in five.

The 26-year-old was originally given a 110 year sentence for a 2019 crash that killed four people, but had his sentence reduced after public outcry over Colorado's mandatory sentencing laws.

Polis announced the news Thursday along with two other commutations, fifteen individual pardons, and an executive order granting 1,351 pardons for those convicted of possessing two ounces or less of marijuana.

In Aguilera-Menderos' commutation letter, Polis said he granted the commutation because the sentencing was disproportionate for a "tragic but unintentional act."

"The length of your 110-year sentence is simply not commensurate with your actions, nor with penalties handed down to others for similar crimes," Polis said in the letter.

"There is an urgency to remedy this unjust sentence and restore confidence in the uniformity and fairness of our criminal justice system, and consequently I have chosen to commute your sentence now."

Aguilera-Mederos said the crash occurred after his brakes malfunctioned while he was driving on Colorado's Interstate 70.

But prosecutors argued that the trucker missed a runaway truck ramp that could have prevented the crash.

Dozens were injured, and four — Miguel Angel Lamas Arellano, 24; Doyle Harrison, 61; Stanley Politano, 69;  and William Bailey, 67 — were killed leading to Aguilera-Mederos' 27 charges.

Local police said no alcohol or drugs were involved in the crash, according to CBS Denver.

During sentencing, Aguilera-Mederos said that he regretted the crash and that he wished he had died instead of the other victims.

"My life is not a happy life," Aguilera-Mederos told CBS Denver.

"It is a very sad life because four people died."

Because of minimum sentencing laws in Colorado, Aguilera-Mederos was sentenced to 110 years in prison for the charges, which included vehicular homicide.

But his sentencing received national attention, with over three million people signing a petition asking for him to receive clemency.

Polis added Thursday that he hoped Aguilera-Mederos' case would bring more attention to mandatory minimum and sentencing laws and encouraged the man to seek "restorative justice opportunities" for those families and the community he impacted.

"You have wondered why your life was spared when other lives were taken," Polis wrote to Aguilera-Mederos on Thursday.

"You will struggle with this burden of this event for the rest of your life, but never forget that because of this event, countless others will struggle with the loss of their loved ones or injuries as well. And you will serve your just sentence."

Books / Re: The 1619 Project
« on: December 30, 2021, 01:23:29 pm »
Thursday, 30th December ~Two Thousand & Twenty One
Nikole Hannah-Jones, The 1619 Project, and the uncertain future of American History
by Ice Blerd Ben

To many African-Americans, the kind of racist flex being unleashed against the Pulitzer Prize-winning, New York Times journalist, and creator of The 1619 Project, Nikole Hannah-Jones, is by no means our first rodeo.

Hannah-Jones’s numerous detractors, including notable historians and scholars, fellow journalists, news outlets, and a radicalized army of social media trolls and bots armed with keyboards and disinformation (many of whom, I suspect, have not even read The 1619 Project) have taken a well-worn page out of a centuries-old, white supremacist playbook in an attempt to put an “uppity Black woman” in her place.

Because make no mistake ladies and gentlemen, we are at WAR!

A not-so-civil war of rampant hyperbole, reckless conjecture that leads to ill-formed opinions, where well-documented facts and rigorous scholarship are routinely sacrificed on the altar of creative truth-telling.

The poison pens of dissent have been deployed on search and destroy missions in order to take down The New York Times Magazine’s bold and urgent project since its publication in August of 2019.

With itchy trigger fingers, they aim their fact-checking crosshairs not so much at the alleged historical inaccuracies of the project’s content, but at a brave Black woman who had the courage to spearhead a project using a powerful multimedia platform to openly and unapologetically challenge the crumbling, whitewashed narrative of American exceptionalism.

But thinly veiled racism is par for the course in a post-individual-1 America given the enormous threat that Nikole Hannah-Jones poses as an educated, highly intelligent Black woman, who has managed to rip one of many band-aids off of America’s gaping, racially inflicted, festering wounds and applied a balm of extensively researched academic truth in the hopes of changing how history is taught in this country amidst a growing racial divide.

Still, complete wastes of oxygen like George Will has recently condemned The 1619 Project as “malicious” and “historically illiterate.”

It is this type of white elitist gatekeeping and vitriolic jargon that not only attempts to discredit Nikole Hannah-Jones, a multiple award-winning fellow journalist but is also meant to disqualify her as a Black woman who should know better than to question the sacred cow of Amerikkka’s founding history, which, as I said before, is nothing new.

Thomas Jefferson used a similar racist gatekeeping tactic in his oft-quoted rebuke of the poet Phillis Wheatley — the “first African-American author of a published book of poetry” — as follows:

“Among the blacks is misery enough, God knows, but no poetry. Love is the peculiar œstrum of the poet. Their love is ardent, but it kindles the senses only, not the imagination. Religion indeed has produced a Phyllis Whately [sic]; but it could not produce a poet. The compositions published under her name are below the dignity of criticism.”

I firmly believe that Thomas Jefferson was speaking as a privileged white man who was heavily invested in peddling the illusion of Black inferiority and not just because he was profiting greatly from it — via the brutally violent and often deadly institution of chattel slavery.

But Jefferson’s anti-Black racist shade was typical of white slavers who desperately needed to uphold the myth of their self-proclaimed superiority for fear that the enslaved would not only see themselves as their equals but that they would be inspired to collectively seek retribution against their enslavers, which they often did regardless.

And that same fear — the fear of the truth, of replacement, of taking over, of revenge — remains just as potent today in America as it did back then.

Banning Critical Race Theory or removing certain books from public school curriculums across this nation will only serve to amplify the marginalized voices of the poets, the journalists, the writers, the historians, etc…who continue to pull back the curtain on a country that has squandered every opportunity to atone for its ongoing racist legacy.

In all honesty, Black women have essentially (and literally) birthed this nation into existence with their blood, sweat, and tears giving life to a vast, captive labor force without which there would be no America.

So centering chattel slavery as the main driver of generational wealth and economic dominance the world over, leading to opportunities including but not limited to expansion across Indigenous territories and military growth is a far more accurate version of American history than the one I was taught in public school.

The one I was taught (more or less) was a highly sanitized, soft-serve trivialization of slavery — a nothing-to-see-here, historical fender-bender offering travel and unpaid internships to Africans in an ambitious start-up that white men would ultimately take all the credit for, creating such a successful business model which would become the envy of the international community.

And I may have exaggerated a little to make a point.

Fortunately, Nikole Hannah-Jones and many others keep gathering the breadcrumbs left by our ancestors and converting them into important works so that we may be able to arm ourselves with knowledge, to have difficult conversations, to learn the uncomfortable truths, because the future of America’s history is at stake.

Thursday, 30th December  ~Two Thousand & Twenty One
New York Governor Declares Racism 'public health emergency'
by ABC News

New York Governor Kathy Hochul has declared racism a "public health crisis," signing an entire package of legislation December 23rd aimed at addressing discrimination and racial injustice in the state.

"For far too long, communities of color in New York have been held back by systemic racism and inequitable treatment," Hochul said in a statement last week.

"I am proud to sign legislation that addresses this crisis head-on, addressing racism, expanding equity, and improving access for all."

The new slate of laws address the need for comprehensive data collection on victims of violence and specifically Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders communities that have been ravaged by hate crimes throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

The legislation has been spearheaded by state assembly members Karines Reyes and Yuh-Line Niou, Senators Kevin S. Parker and Brad Hoylman, and more.

Legislation S.70-A/A.2230 is intended to enact the "hate crimes analysis and review act," which will create guidelines for the collection and reporting of demographic data concerning hate crime victims and their alleged perpetrators.

"Our state is meant to be a beacon of diversity, equity, and inclusion, but without the tools to protect our marginalized communities these words carry little truth behind them," Reyes said in a press release.

"The Hate Crimes Analysis and Review Act ensures that we collect accurate demographic data of perpetrators and victims to better protect the communities being targeted. Without data, the plight of many will remain invisible."

Legislation S.6639-A/A.6896-A will require that the state collect specific demographic information to keep a "more accurate and relevant public record" of Asian-American populations in New York.

Senator Julia Salazar says data collection is important toward acknowledging the needs of certain communities and allowing proper resources to be allocated to them.

"As New York continues to face the devastation caused by the COVID-19 public health crisis, it is essential that the needs of all of our communities be understood and met," Salazar said in the press release.

"For the diverse Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities in New York this cannot be accomplished without detailed data that recognizes and respects the experiences of the numerous groups that make up the AAPI communities."

The legislation also requires the New York State Office of Technology Services to implement language translation technology across all state agencies to ensure that websites and services are translatable into the most common non-English languages spoken by New Yorkers.

"Asian-American communities are among the most impoverished in New York," Niou said.

"They also faced some of the toughest headwinds even before the pandemic began while also being unable to navigate critical government services due to a lack of language accessibility."

The long list of new efforts will also cover inclusivity in health care, expanding the list of conditions that newborns are screened for to include conditions found in newborns from the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia.

Vox Populi / Re: The Iran Nuclear Deal - A Primer
« on: December 30, 2021, 11:44:47 am »
Thursday, 30th December ~Two Thousand & Twenty One
Iran Sends Rocket Into Space

by Sune Engel Rasmussen & Aresu Eqbali

(Tehran) — Iran launched a rocket into space carrying what officials on Thursday said were three research devices, drawing attention to Tehran’s missile ambitions amid faltering international negotiations over its nuclear program.

The rocket, called the Simorgh, is designed to carry satellites; it was sent up about 290 miles, which an Iranian Defense Ministry spokesman told state television was a record for this type of rocket.

The ministry didn’t say when the launch was conducted or whether it had succeeded in putting the devices into orbit.

Iranian Defense Ministry spokesman didn’t give any details about the devices.

Iran has tested the Simorgh rocket at least five times previously.

Satellite carrier rockets aren’t part of Iran’s ballistic-missile program, but U.S. intelligence officials have said that many of the components in rockets such as the Simorgh can be repurposed for long-range ballistic missiles.

Iran says its rocket tests are for civilian purposes and aren’t linked to its military ambitions.

The announcement followed a test last week of 16 short- to medium-range ballistic missiles during a military drill in southern Iran.

It also comes as Iranian and Western diplomats are huddled in difficult talks over Iran’s nuclear program in Vienna.

Negotiators are expected to reconvene on Monday after breaking for New Year.

The U.S. left the deal in 2018 and imposed strict economic sanctions that have battered Iran’s economy.

In response, Tehran has violated most of the key tenets in the agreement, reducing the time it would need to produce enough nuclear fuel for one weapon to as little as a month.

It has increased uranium enrichment from the 3.67% level allowed under the agreement to 60%, a short technical step from 90% weapons grade, and curtailed access for international nuclear inspectors.

Wednesday, 29th December ~Two Thousand & Twenty One
Ghislaine Maxwell found guilty on 5 out of 6 counts in sex trafficking case
by Jasmine Garsd & Vanessa Romo

British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell was found guilty on Wednesday of facilitating the abuse of underage girls at the hands of wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein.

A federal jury deliberated for five full days before finding Maxwell guilty on five of the six counts she faced, including the sex trafficking of a minor.

The 60-year-old was acquitted of enticing a minor to travel with intent to engage in illegal sexual activity.

Epstein, a convicted sex offender, died in 2019 while in a Manhattan correctional facility.

Throughout the trial, jurors heard from four women who accused Maxwell of luring them into Epstein's lavish homes to have sex with him and other powerful men.

Over three weeks, the women described how Maxwell, who dated Epstein in the 1990s, presented herself as a friendly older sister, earning their trust with gifts and shopping sprees.

Two of the women testified they were 14 years old when Maxwell coaxed them into engaging in sexual acts with Epstein.

One woman testified that Maxwell was present and even participated in some of the encounters.

Maxwell, who vehemently denied playing a role in any of the abuse, faces up to 65 years behind bars, including a maximum of 40 years in prison for sex trafficking of minors — the most serious count on which she was convicted.

She was also convicted of conspiracy to entice a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, conspiracy to transport a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors.

A sentencing date has not yet been set.

Prosecutors said Maxwell's conviction was a long time coming.

"The road to justice has been far too long. But, today, justice has been done," U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement, moments after the verdict.

He added:

"A unanimous jury has found Ghislaine Maxwell guilty of one of the worst crimes imaginable — facilitating and participating in the sexual abuse of children. Crimes that she committed with her long-time partner and co-conspirator, Jeffrey Epstein."

It's a case that has captured international attention and sparked countless conspiracy theories.

And there's plenty of fodder:

Maxwell and Epstein, who were a couple in the 1990s and early 2000s, surrounded themselves with wealthy and powerful men, including Bill Gates and Bill Clinton.

Over the past few years, a steady stream of women have accused Maxwell and Epstein of abusing them when they were underage.

Some have also said the couple forced them to perform sex acts on famous men such as Prince Andrew and former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.

Both deny these accusations.

Early attempts at prosecuting Epstein were riddled with accusations of the financier playing the system, judicial corruption and cover-ups.

His death in 2019 in custody at a Manhattan correctional facility was ruled a suicide, but there have been been many questions about the circumstances.

Some of his accusers said his death before facing justice left them with a feeling of emptiness.

"The fact I will never have a chance to face my predator in court eats away at my soul," Jennifer Araoz, who has accused Epstein of raping her when she was 15, said shortly after his death.

This feeling of unresolved justice is exactly what the defense capitalized on as part of its case in the trial against Maxwell.

Her lawyers have portrayed her as a scapegoat, being tried as a proxy for Epstein.

In their opening arguments, they drew a biblical comparison.

"Ever since Eve was accused of tempting Adam for the apple, women have been villainized," said Maxwell attorney Bobbi Sternheim, adding that Epstein is "the proverbial elephant in the room."

The defense has also tried to prove that although they were once a romantic couple, Maxwell and Epstein drifted apart over the years and by the early 2000s, were living separate lives.

Whatever he did in his personal life was not Maxwell's business, her attorneys said.

The prosecution painted a starkly different picture.

In her opening statement, Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Pomerantz alleged that Epstein and Maxwell ran a "pyramid scheme of abuse."

She described them as "partners in crime" and said "they had a playbook."

Four accusers took the stand, recounting Epstein's abuse and Maxwell's essential role in facilitating it.

The accusers said they were underage at the time and in vulnerable positions due to financially unstable homes and broken families.

They told the court that Maxwell and Epstein enticed them with promises of helping with their careers and education.

They described Maxwell as a fun, sophisticated older sister figure who "groomed" them — normalizing and even participating in the sexual abuse.

All women testified that although the alleged abuse happened about two decades ago, it has haunted them since.

Defense lawyers pushed back, saying 20 years is a long time to remember an incident clearly.

Maxwell's team brought in renowned memory expert Elizabeth Loftus, who spoke about research on how memory can fail, especially over time.

It can be contaminated and tampered with.

False memories can even be implanted. Maxwell's lawyers also questioned why the women who came forward against her chose to do so two decades later, suggesting that they were doing so for financial gain.

The trial was projected to last around six weeks, but arguments wrapped up in about half that time.

Maxwell did not testify.

"Your honor, the Government has not proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt so there is no need for me to testify," she said, according to Julie K. Brown of The Miami Herald.

Jury deliberations began last Monday.

Among other things, jurors were instructed to weigh whether Maxwell consciously ignored the abuse.

This made it harder for Maxwell's defense:

"Willful blindness" or "conscious avoidance" is a judicial doctrine that expands the definition of knowledge to include closing one's eyes to the high probability that a criminal activity is happening.

Would You Like To Know More?

Technology / Re: GAMERS THREAD
« on: December 29, 2021, 04:46:57 pm »
Wednesday, 29th December  ~Two Thousand & Twenty One
The story on how John Madden came to be involved with wildly popular EA Sports NFL video game
by Lorenzo Reyes

If the creators of the NFL video game so many millions of people have played had their way, the wildly popular franchise would not have been known simply as Madden.

According to a story ESPN published in 2016, legendary coach and analyst John Madden was the third choice of Trip Hawkins, the eventual founder of video game maker Electronic Arts (EA), to be the pitchman of the game that eventually became Madden NFL.

An avid football fan, Hawkins' first choice was legendary Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana and former Vikings and Patriots quarterback and Cal Bears coach Joe Kapp.

Madden, who passed away at the age of 85 Tuesday, continues to be one of the game's most prominent icons.

He was first a player, though a knee injury in his rookie season in 1958 with the Philadelphia Eagles cut his career short.

He went on to be the head coach of the Raiders, where he won a Super Bowl.

He became a television analyst during NFL games and made the game accessible for millions of viewers.

He was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the Class of 2006.

But it's his constant presence on the video game franchise, arguably, that serves as his strongest connection to new generations of football fans and gamers alike.

According to ESPN, Montana could not be involved because he had a conflicting endorsement deal with video game console maker Atari, while Kapp wanted royalties.

According to the article, Madden was so impressed with Hawkins' credentials — he went to Harvard and worked at Apple — that he agreed to sign on.

It proved to be a shrewd decision.

Despite slow production and years of releases before it became a household name, Madden NFL has generated more than $4 billion since its inception and has sold more than 130 million copies, according to EA.

Barron's estimates that Madden NFL generates around $600 million annually for EA.

Still, Madden lamented one major mistake that cost him millions more.

According to ESPN, after "John Madden Football" was released in 1988, Hawkins approached Madden and said EA was about to have an initial public offering and that Madden could "have as much stock" as he wanted, though he would have to pay the initial price of $7.50 per share.

"Hell, I'm just a football coach," Madden told ESPN.

"I pointed with my finger, all knowing, and said, 'I gave you my time. I'm not giving you my money.' I showed him!"

In only the 10 years from 1989 to 1999, the price soared to $70 per share, according to ESPN.

Said Madden: "That was the dumbest thing I ever did in my life."

Originally, the game was planned as being a seven-on-seven competition, due to the limitations of computing back when it was being initially programmed.

Madden, however, balked at that idea and wanted the game — if he was going to appear on its cover — to be as authentic as possible.

"If it wasn’t real football, I didn’t want my name on it," Madden told Grantland in January 2012.

"I wanted it to be real football — pro football — with the sideline, the numbers, the hash marks. Everything had to be pro football."

One other unique aspect of the game is how the plays and formations users can call and execute are taken directly from NFL playbooks.

Madden sent a 1980 Oakland Raiders playbook to Hawkins and former EA producer Joe Ybarra.

To elaborate on that, the game's producers sought to mimic the playbooks of the teams featured in the game.

"For our playbooks, I would say to (former San Francisco Examiner beat writer and consultant) Frank (Cooney), 'Go find out what a team's five signature plays are,' " Hawkins told ESPN.

"He would go up to the assistant coaches, hand them paper. And they would draw up plays! We collected a huge amount of plays that way."

The video game franchise has evolved over the years to incorporate new game play modes and features, as well as tweaks to game play.

Its reach across the NFL is comprehensive.

Gamers within each locker room undoubtedly have their own copies and challenge each other during games.

Even one of the game's most reserved and self-controlled figures — and one of the greatest coaches in the history of the sport — has his own exposure to the video game.

“I haven't played it in quite a while," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Wednesday after he opened his press conference with a tribute to Madden.

"When my kids were growing up, they would play it and I would watch them. They would beat me."

Belichick grinned as he told that anecdote, likely thinking back on those memories with his children —two of whom, sons Steve (outside linebackers) and Brian (safeties), are assistants on New England's staff.

Perhaps that's the enduring legacy of the Madden NFL franchise.

Similar to the way he used charm and humor in the broadcast booth to make the sport appealing to all, the video game allows even those without expertise in the NFL or even in football to simulate the strategy behind it.

"It’s a way for people to learn the game and participate in the game at a pretty sophisticated level," Madden told Grantland.

Black Panther / Re: BLACK PANTHER MOVIES - Wakanda Forever!
« on: December 29, 2021, 08:44:37 am »
Wednesday, 29th December  ~Two Thousand & Twenty One
‘Black Panther 2’ proclaimed most-anticipated movie of 2022 is an understatement
by Karu F. Daniels

Bring on the Vibranium.

The people can’t wait to see the “Black Panther” sequel.

According to a new survey by Fandango, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is the most-anticipated blockbuster of 2022.

More than 6,000 moviegoers put the forthcoming Ryan Coogler-helmed superhero flick in the top spot, followed by the animated “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Part One)” at No. 2 and the Robert Pattinson-fronted “The Batman” at No. 3.

Other movies in the top 10 also include “Thor: Love and Thunder,” “Jurassic World: Dominion,” “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” and James Cameron’s long-awaited “Avatar 2.”

The Beverly Hills-headquartered ticketing company’s survey also found that 94% want to go to the theater more often in 2022 than they did in 2021.

“Audiences are looking for unforgettable experiences at the theater and 2022 promises to deliver a bounty of exciting new movies that you must see on the big screen,” Fandango managing editor Erik Davis.

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is due in theaters November 11th, 2022.

Intended to be the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the film will reportedly star Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, and Dominique Thorne.

Plot details have been kept under wraps as speculation grows in the aftermath of Chadwick Boseman’s passing.

Fandango’s top 10 most-anticipated blockbusters of 2022 are below:

1. “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”

2. “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Part One)”

3. “The Batman”

4. “Thor: Love and Thunder”

5. “Jurassic World: Dominion”

Health / Re: This is what happens to your brain when you stop eating sugar
« on: December 29, 2021, 08:33:53 am »
Wednesday, 29th December  ~Two Thousand & Twenty One
Why 10,000 People Are on the Waitlist for Kora’s Filipino Doughnuts
by Terri Ciccone and Eater Video

“You just have to be super confident when you approach this task,” says Kora founder Kimberly Camara.

She’s flipping a large tray of flan from one pan to another for the shop’s flan doughnut.

It’s because of unique flavors like this that the New York-based Filipino doughnut shop has a 10,000-person waitlist.

“Kora is my grandmother’s name,” says Camara.

“The leche flan recipe is from my grandmother’s cookbook that I found after she passed away.”

This doughnut begins with a brioche dough.

Once the doughnut is formed, Kevin Borja, Camara’s partner at the shop and in life, cuts a hole in it, and adds flan cream.

Next, an entire round piece of flan is added to the center.

“I don’t know how I came up with it, honestly. I think what it came down to is they wouldn’t be actually experiencing the flan unless there was an actual flan in it.”

The top of the doughnut is brushed with caramel and dusted with powdered sugar.

“We basically got two desserts here in one,” says Borja.

Another creative doughnut inspired by Camara’s heritage is a glossy purple ube doughnut.

“We had to have ube on our menu, I already knew this. You can’t pass that vibrant purple color,” says Camara.

After the brioche dough with ube extract is made, Camara creates an ube pastry cream with milk, cornstarch ube extract, and frozen ube imported from the Philippines.

The doughnut is fried, filled with the cream, rolled in sugar and topped with fried purple yam chips.

“I think when a lot of people make ube desserts, I feel like they don’t go hard, they don’t take it all the way home. Every component of our doughnut has ube somewhere in it”

“Kora is the coming together of my entire life. There is no way that my grandmother is looking down on us and isn’t so proud of all of the work that we’ve done,” says Camara.

“Wherever Kora takes us, behind all of it is my connection with her and my connection with my heritage.”

Vox Populi / Re: Trump to visit Phoenix AZ for rally
« on: December 29, 2021, 07:11:54 am »
Wednesday, 29th December ~Two Thousand & Twenty One
China's small Beijing-3 satellite can take high resolution images of US cities within seconds
by Matthew Loh

A small, one-ton Chinese satellite can quickly snap high-resolution images of US cities that are so detailed they can identify individual military vehicles and the weapons they carry, Chinese scientists involved in the Beijing-3 satellite project said Tuesday.

The commercial Beijing-3 satellite, launched by China in June, conducted an in-depth scan of a 1,470-square mile area in the San Francisco Bay.

The satellite captured the area within 42 seconds, The South China Morning Post first reported, citing results published this month in the Chinese peer-reviewed journal "Spacecraft Engineering."

Beijing-3 has a unique advantage up its sleeve:

It can pitch and yaw at up to 10 degrees per second while not compromising image quality as it orbits the Earth, said lead scientist Yang Fang, who headed the project run by DFH Satellite Company under the Chinese Academy of Space and Technology.

Normally, satellite cameras have to be kept still when they take high definition images, and thus can only observe straight strips of land as they orbit above the area.

So they sometimes have to fly over a region multiple times to scan the whole area, or work in tandem with other satellites.

The Beijing-3's maneuverability means it only needs a single sweep to observe entire regions, such as the 3,915 mile-long Yangtze River, the longest river in Asia that winds from China's east coast to the western Tibetan plateau, the researchers said in a CCTV-13 broadcast segment.

If the Beijing-3 is equipped with artificial intelligence, it can potentially observe up to 500 areas around the world with up to 100 revisits a day.

Vox Populi / Re: Disappearing Excellence: The Senate & Loretta Lynch
« on: December 29, 2021, 05:57:03 am »
Wednesday, 29th December ~Two Thousand & Twenty One
North Carolina Cop Shoots Teenage Son in the Head
by Natalie Colarossi

A North Carolina police officer accidentally shot his teen son in the head, according to authorities familiar with the matter Tuesday.

The Onslow County Sheriff's Office said deputies responded to the shooting at a residence around 4:30 p.m. on Monday and found the 15-year-old suffering from a single gunshot wound, WNCT reported.

The boy was immediately transported to a nearby hospital where he is currently being treated for a life-threatening injury, Onslow District Attorney Ernie Lee said in a statement Monday.

The alleged shooter has been identified as the boy's father, who is employed as an officer with the Jacksonville Police Department, according to Lee.

Neither the boy nor the father has been identified in media reports.

"This is a tragic event and this matter remains under investigation by the Onslow County Sheriff's Office. The reports, statements, and other evidence from the investigation will be provided to this office to determine what actions, if any, will be taken. I continue to remain in contact with the Onslow County Sheriff's Office in this on-going investigation," Lee said in a statement posted on fakebook.

Preliminary investigations have so far suggested that the firearm in use was a handgun, and that the shooting was accidental, according to WNCT.

However, it is not yet clear how the incident occurred.

The Jacksonville Police Department said Tuesday that they will work with Onslow deputies during the probe.

"The Onslow County Sheriff's Office is conducting an investigation into the incident and the Jacksonville Police Department is fully cooperating with their investigation. We ask that our community members keep our employee and their family in their thoughts and prayers at this time," Investigative Services Supervisor Lt. Christopher Funcke said in a statement, according to WNCT.

Newsweek contacted the Jacksonville Police Department for additional comment and will update this story as more information becomes available.

According to an investigation by the Associated Press, accidental shootings by law enforcement officers are not uncommon in the U.S. From 2012 to 2019, the AP uncovered 1,422 unintentional firearm discharges across more than 200 police agencies in the nation.

Reasons for accidental shootings can vary from improperly cleaning or loading a weapon, an involuntary muscle reflex, or even because an officer tripped.

Experts have said that accidental shootings often occur because officers don't receive sufficient firearms training.

"Ninety-nine out of 100 times, there is not something wrong with the gun," Paul Markel, a former police officer and firearms instructor in Mississippi, told the news outlet.

"It's the person holding it."

Vox Populi / Re: Counting the Winners and Losers From an Import-Based Tax
« on: December 29, 2021, 05:55:09 am »
Wednesday, 29th December ~Two Thousand & Twenty One
How Walmart prices the same items differently throughout departments
by Rachel Kiley

A TikToker is drawing attention to price discrepancies at Walmart in a series of videos comparing products in different sections of the store.

@georgia_bassmaster shared a video to the platform in late November, warning,

“Don’t let Walmart rip you off.”

This video received 3 million views.

In it, he shows a 16gb SanDisk SDHC card for sale in the camping department of Walmart for $10—something he says is more than it should be, “just ‘cause they put these things in camouflage casing.”

In comparison, he heads over to the electronics section, where a 32gb SanDisk SDHC card is being sold for just $7.28.

Viewers pointed out that there may be other differences between the cards that aren’t immediately apparent without examining the products more closely.

Still, @georgia_bassmaster seemed to be making the point that if you want to know what options are available to you at Walmart, you may have to check multiple departments for similar items.

In another video, the TikToker showed 50 feet of 550 paracord by Walmart brand Ozark Trail on display in the camping section for $5.20.

But another Walmart brand, Hyper Tough, also offers 50 feet of 550 paracord for $3.94 over in the hardware department.

Viewers suggested other items they knew were offered at different price points between departments in the store, leading to additional videos on cast iron skillets and lunch boxes.

They also shared frustrations that this type of practice seems to be common throughout companies and industries, and certainly isn’t limited to Walmart.

“This is exactly why you throw a big party and not a wedding,” @triajace wrote.

Another commenter pointed out that it’s similar to stores selling “salsa in the chip aisle vs the Spanish rice aisle.”

And women know this practice all too well.

“I’m a pink tax survivor,” commented @brittanystrauss, referencing the way basic products marketed towards women, such as razors and shampoo, often cost more.

“It’s so sad that guys get ripped off for their rope.”

The items @georgia_bassmaster are comparing may not be perfectly equivalent to one another, but it’s a good reminder that thinking outside of the box at a store like Walmart might lead you to more options if you’re looking to save a buck or two.

At the same time, having to go to this much effort just to compare similar items may explain why so many people just do their shopping online these days.

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