General News


Op-Ed Contributor: Social Media Is Making Us Dumber. Here's Exhibit A.

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This week, a video surfaced of a Harvard professor, Steven Pinker, which appeared to show him lauding members of a racist movement. The clip, which was pulled from a November event at Harvard put on by Spiked magazine, showed Mr. Pinker referring to "the often highly literate, highly intelligent people who gravitate to the alt-right" and calling them "internet savvy" and "media savvy." The neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website ran an article headlined, in part, "Harvard Jew Professor Admits the Alt-Right Is Right About Everything." A tweet of the video published by the self-described "Right-Wing Rabble-Rouser" Alex Witoslawski got hundreds of retweets, including one from the white-nationalist leader Richard Spencer. "Steven Pinker has long been a darling of the white supremacist'alt-right,'" noted the lefty journalist Ben Norton.


Russia says DIY drones that attacked its base in Syria came from a rebel village

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Russia on Wednesday identified the village from which a swarm of drones attacked its main military base in Syria and released photographs of the crudely constructed aircraft that were used. The revelations only somewhat cleared up the mystery surrounding what amounts to the biggest concerted attack on Russia's main military base of Hmeimim since the Russian military intervention in Syria began in 2015. Russia said it held Turkey accountable for the drone attack, calling it a breach of their cease-fire agreement in northern Syria, while Turkey accused Russia and Iran of jeopardizing the entire peace process by launching an offensive to take control of an opposition-held air base in the area. The Russian Defense Ministry named the opposition-controlled village of Muwazarra in southern Idlib province as the location from which a swarm of at least a dozen drones armed with crude explosives was launched Saturday, attacking the Hmeimim air base and the nearby naval base of Tartus in northwestern Syria. Under the cease-fire deal, Turkey is supposed to restrain opposition forces in Idlib province.


Drones Invasion Of Pop Culture: Fact or Fiction?

Forbes Europe

Maybe you've read the statistics on how many drones are filling our skies: The FAA anticipates 7 million by 2020. Perhaps you've heard about how drones are revolutionizing commercial operations. It's possible you know someone who has a drone of their own, or seen a quadcopter hovering over your local park. The reality is there's no shortage of drones filling our homes, stores, skies, and seas. It should come as no surprise that the technology is steadily making its way into our media.


Justice Dept. scrambles to jam prison cellphones, stop drone deliveries to inmates

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The Justice Department will soon start trying to jam cellphones smuggled into federal prisons and used for criminal activity, part of a broader safety initiative that is also focused on preventing drones from airdropping contraband to inmates. Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein told the American Correctional Association's conference in Orlando on Monday that, while the law prohibits cellphone use by federal inmates, the Bureau of Prisons confiscated 5,116 such phones in 2016, and preliminary numbers for 2017 indicate a 28 percent increase. "That is a major safety issue," he said in his speech. "Cellphones are used to run criminal enterprises, facilitate the commission of violent crimes and thwart law enforcement." When he was the U.S. attorney in Maryland, Rosenstein prosecuted an inmate who used a smuggled cellphone to order the murder of a witness.


Amazon, Microsoft's Awkward Partnership Sees Alexa Come To PCs

Forbes Europe

Just as Apple's iOS is forever linked to the iPhone, Alexa has been synonymous with Amazon's Echo speaker. But Amazon's digital assistant is becoming increasingly independent -- integrating into speakers made by Sonos, the Nest thermostat or lights made by Philips. Now it's also finding its way onto computer towers and notebooks made by PC makers, a move that could simultaneously ratchet up tensions between Amazon and Microsoft. PC makers like HP, ASUS and Acer are announcing Alexa integrations at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, and in some cases the partnerships see hardware being upgraded to make Alexa more accessible, according to GeekWire. HP, for instance, plans to add a custom LED to its Pavillion Wave desktop computer tower that can glow when it hears Alexa's name, activating the digital assistant.