Monday, December 05, 2016

The gun violence ad that’s leaving everyone gob smacked

A still image from "Evan," ad by BBDO New York for Sandy Hook Promise.

An ad released by relatives of those lost in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting uses story and misdirection to make an all-too-real point: You can stop gun violence, if you know what to look for.
The spot, titled “Evan,” engrosses viewers over a one-minute-and-40-second love story with a chilling twist. Since releasing on YouTube Friday, it’s garnered 2.5 million views and countless floored reactions:
Using selective framing and focus, the ad shows the subtle signals that potential shooters often reveal and casts viewers as those close to them who can easily miss such red flags. A sentimental folk song sets the tone for a budding romance that unfolds with expert pacing. Then it all comes to shattering halt.
The ad, made by BBDO New York, comes from the Sandy Hook Promise, a nonpartisan nonprofit launched by families who lost loved ones at the attack in Newtown, Conn. four years ago this month.
The ad promotes “Know The Signs,” a campaign raising awareness about the warning signs that can precede gun violence. According to Sandy Hook Promise, 80% of school shooters told someone of their plans to commit violence before taking action. Too often, no one intervenes.


Sunday, December 04, 2016

Web archive plans storing Trump-proof back-up in Canada

Donald Trump website
Donald Trump's old website, from 2000, is stored in the archive

The Internet Archive, which stores copies of billions of websites, says it will keep a back-up in Canada following Donald Trump's US election victory.
The US-based organization said the Trump administration was a "firm reminder" that it needed to adapt.
The organization archives 300 million websites every week, but said it was preparing for "a web that may face greater restrictions". But it has admitted that storing a copy in Canada would cost "millions".
The Internet Archive is a huge record of websites, books, audio and software that can be browsed free of charge online. It lets anybody look up material that was posted online, and see how a website has changed over the past 20 years.
The non-profit organization said it wanted to keep its "cultural materials safe, private and perpetually accessible". It said storing a copy of the data outside the US would mean "no-one will ever be able to change the past", although the Internet Archive does let website owners have their pages removed from the database.

A copy of the data stored in Canada would not be subject to new data or censorship legislation introduced in the US, if the Trump administration decided to introduce any.
Mr Trump has previously suggested areas of the internet should be "closed off" to tackle extremism. But it has been suggested such a move would violate the First Amendment of the US Constitution.
"Any attempt to filter out the online activities of extremist groups would inevitably infringe on the First Amendment rights of Americans," David Greene, of the civil liberties group Electronic Frontier Foundation, said in 2015.
"Even if you would accept the proposition that some of this speech is illegal, it's impossible to block just that out."
"Given the surveillance capabilities of the US government, this is a sensible and practical move to preserve the Internet Archive."
North America is gearing up to protect itself from an onslaught of  oppressive, suppressive Trump legislation.

Saturday, December 03, 2016


Related image
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Canadian journalist barred entry to US for no legitimate reason

Ed Ou, Canadian journalist.

A Canadian reporter was barred from entering the US. Is this the beginning of the end of press freedom? Ed Ou is used to crossing borders frequently and without a hassle.
The award-winning Canadian photojournalist has spent the past decade travelling to the kinds of places where being in the media can be a hazard to your health: Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Egypt and Turkey, to name a few.
So when he booked a flight last October to the US from Canada to cover the Standing Rock pipeline protests in North Dakota for the Canadian Broadcasting Company, he was relieved to be somewhere with well known, press freedom.
"In my mind I had nothing to hide, (America) is actually one of the few places in the world where you can just say you're a journalist," he said.
But when he told US border officials at the Vancouver airport he was travelling to North Dakota to cover Standing Rock, he says they pulled him aside and proceeded to interrogate him for six hours. When he refused to unlock his mobile on the grounds that it contained confidential information about sources, ( Journalists always keep their sources of information confidential. It's an accepted practice.) they forcibly took his SIM cards and made copies of his reporter's notebook and personal diary. Then they barred him from entering the US.
Legal experts and free speech advocates have spoken out against his treatment at the border, and say America's press freedom laws don't stand a chance against a government that has grown increasingly hostile towards the press.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing Mr Ou, and the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression have both condemned the incident. But according to the law, what happened at the US-Canada border is entirely legal.
Border officials have a right to search all property, including electronic devices, within 100 miles (or 165km) of any "external US boundary" without a warrant or reasonable grounds for suspicion.
According to a 2009 directive, sensitive materials such as "medical records and work-related information carried by journalists" receive no special-treatment outside of pre-existing federal laws and policies, which are weak at best, according to media law experts.
"Journalists in the US generally don't have to reveal their sources because the government doesn't seek them," says Floyd Abrams, who represented New York Times reporter Judith Miller in her efforts to keep a source confidential. But that's no guarantee. The Obama administration has pursued legal action against leakers such as Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning, and has subpoenaed many journalists to try and get them to testify against their sources.
In 2015, Attorney General Eric Holder promised not to prosecute journalists for doing their job. But the directive he laid out in a departmental memo is a guideline and not a law, and it remains to be seen what will come of it as a new administration takes hold.

Lucy Dalglish, a lawyer who served with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, says the treatment of Mr Ou at the border is "outrageous" and says it reminds her of some of the complaints she heard from journalists immediately following 9/11.
"People should be able to come into this country and cover stories. The most troubling thing would be if they targeted him because he was a journalist," she says.
The Customs and Border Protection agency said it cannot comment on individual cases, but that people who feel they have been treated unfairly can complain to the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees border security.

For his part, Mr Ou says the issue of privacy and government surveillance isn't limited to the US. The Canadian spy agency recently admitted to keeping a database with people's information, and Montreal police admitted to spying on journalists phones.
"This is what an authoritarian regime would do, and I should know, because I've spent the last ten years covering them," he says. 
What is happening to freedom of speech and freedom of the press in supposedly, a democratic North America?? Is this the harbinger of worse treatment we can expect in the future?? All of this fear, suspicion and stepping on constitutional rights traces it's beginnings, it's birth to 9/11. That tragedy and subsequent terrorist incidents have changed our whole way of life, our way of looking at each other and everything we stood for and were proud of.

Great economic news for the US

Student job fair

The US unemployment rate fell to a nine-year low in November, adding to expectations that US interest rates will rise later this month.
Figures from the Labor Department showed the US economy created 178,000 jobs in November, while the jobless rate fell to 4.6% from 4.9% in October.
The data adds to recent evidence of healthy growth in the economy, although wage growth was weaker than expected.
Most analysts think the Federal Reserve will raise rates at its next meeting.
"This was the last hurdle on the path to a December hike, and it has been cleared convincingly," said Luke Bartholomew, investment manager at Aberdeen Asset Management.
"It is now incredibly hard to imagine what would stop the Fed from going [for a rate rise]."
The Federal Reserve will hold its next two-day policy meeting on 13-14 December.
Last month, the chair of the Fed, Janet Yellen, indicated that the US central bank could raise interest rates "relatively soon", adding that the US economy was "making very good progress".
Recent figures indicated that the US economy grew at an annual pace of 3.2% in the third quarter of the year.
The US economy has been creating jobs at an average of 180,000 jobs a month this year, although that is down on the average of 229,000 recorded in 2015.
Despite November's robust jobs figures, earnings grew by less than expected. Average hourly earnings fell 0.1% from the month before, and that reduced the annual increase in wages to 2.5% from 2.8% in October.
The job creation figures for September and October were also revised, with the latest estimates indicating that 2,000 fewer jobs were added in the two months than previously thought.
Before these figures the markets were pretty clear about what they think the Federal Reserve will do when it meets later this month; it will raise interest rates. The jobs numbers have further reinforced that expectation.
It was a pretty robust figure for job creation, well ahead of economists' estimates of what is needed to keep up with a growing population.
 So you see folks, the economy is strong and growing. America is great.