B12 Solipsism

Spreading confusion over the internet since 1994

Spain’s Google News Shutdown Is a Silly Victory for Publishers

Daily News
Daily News.

As we suspected, having traffic to Spanish news sites drop by 5%-15% is kind of a big deal…

We call it the “Google News bump.” When a story on WIRED.com gets a link on the front page of Google News, traffic skyrockets. Readers click. Ads are served.

But in Spain, at least, the Google News bump is no more. On Tuesday, Google shut down Google News in Spain in response to a law that requires news aggregators to pay a fee for the right to post snippets of stories. Big Spanish publishers pushed for the law, but their math is hard to fathom. Without Google News, they get no bump, nor do they get any fee. Trying to stick it to Google is an understandable impulse, a resentment fed by the company’s monolithic influence over the web. But all the shutdown really shows is how powerless traditional publishers really are.

But where I work, at least, a 5 percent traffic dip wouldn’t exactly be something to celebrate, much less lobby lawmakers to effectively codify. And as GigaOm’s Mathew Ingram says, the damage could be worse. The chief data scientist at Chartbeat, a web service many publishers use to monitor real-time reader traffic, told Ingram that the average falloff in the hours since the Google News shutdown was more like 10 to 15 percent.

(click here to continue reading Spain’s Google News Shutdown Is a Silly Victory for Publishers | WIRED.)

and as many people have noted: removing all Google News traffic benefits the larger media companies at the expense of the smaller media companies. Google News links to both: sites you’ve heard of, and sites you haven’t. If you don’t regularly visit the websites of smaller news organizations, you probably won’t.

Written by Seth Anderson

December 18th, 2014 at 11:14 am

Posted in Advertising,Business

Tagged with ,

Apple Easily Wins iPod Antitrust Trial

Tech Graveyard
Tech Graveyard.

Briefly, since we marveled at this ridiculous lawsuit recently, the iPod DRM Class Action litigation lost in front of a jury:

A jury ruled in favor of Apple Inc. on Tuesday in a class-action lawsuit that accused the technology giant of violating antitrust laws by suppressing competition for its iPod music players.

After deliberating for only a few hours, an eight-person jury in U.S. District Court in Oakland, Calif., found that Apple’s iTunes 7.0 was a genuine product improvement, and therefore not a violation of antitrust laws. The decision was unanimous.

The plaintiffs had said Apple made changes to its iTunes music service so that iPods wouldn’t operate with other companies’ products, driving up the cost of the devices. The plaintiffs, representing an alleged eight million harmed consumers, were seeking $350 million in damages, which could have been tripled under antitrust laws.

(click here to continue reading Apple Wins iPod Antitrust Trial – WSJ.)

Dead 4G iPod
4G iPod

Another amusing part of this trial was that the original plaintiffs were thrown out since they didn’t even own iPods during the time in question. Embarrassing for the plaintiffs’ legal team, and a ridiculous waste of the court’s docket…

The lawyers fighting Apple in a class-action lawsuit involving iPods have managed to do a few remarkable things: They persuaded a judge to bring a decade-old lawsuit to trial here last week, for one. They even managed to drag the famous Steve Jobs into giving a videotaped testimony shortly before he died three years ago.

But they have one big problem: Their case has no plaintiff.

A federal judge on Monday disqualified the only remaining plaintiff in the case, Marianna Rosen of New Jersey, after Apple’s lawyers successfully argued that she did not even buy any iPods for which she is seeking damages.

The judge appeared annoyed about the discrepancies with Ms. Rosen’s iPods and scolded the plaintiff lawyers for failing to do their homework. Another plaintiff in the case dropped out last week.

 …

Last week, Ms. Rosen testified that she had bought two iPods: an iPod Nano in the fall of 2007 and an iPod Touch in December 2008. Apple’s lawyer asked whether Ms. Rosen kept receipts for her purchases. Ms. Rosen said she probably did not have the paper receipts, but later said her iPod Touch was in her bag.

Apple’s lawyers looked up the serial number of Ms. Rosen’s iPod Touch and found records showing it was bought in July 2009. The class action seeks damages for iPods bought from September 2006 to March 2009. So this iPod Touch missed the cutoff.

Apple’s lawyers last Wednesday pointed out the discrepancy about Ms. Rosen’s iPod Touch in a letter to the judge. They also raised similar concerns about the second plaintiff’s iPod purchases. On Friday, the second plaintiff dropped out of the case, leaving Ms. Rosen as the lone plaintiff.

Ms. Rosen’s lawyers then provided Apple a receipt showing two iPod purchases made in September 2008. But Apple pulled up its copy of the receipt for those iPods, which indicated they were bought by the Rosen Law Firm, the firm owned by Ms. Rosen’s husband. Apple’s lawyers argued that these were not iPods bought directly by Ms. Rosen, and therefore she could not claim injury.

(click here to continue reading Setback for iPod Class-Action Lawsuit as Sole Plaintiff Is Disqualified – NYTimes.com.)

iPod Classic Returned From The Dead
iPod Classic  

Just ridiculous from the beginning. Speaking as a consumer who owned an iPod during this time, and could prove it, the litigation is (was?) groundless – I played music from many sources on my iPod without issue. And it would be like suing a CD manufacturer because some moron bought an 8-track tape and stuck it in a CD player, and the 8-track didn’t play. Is it the responsibility of the CD manufacturer to play every kind of music format ever created? No, this case was a joke.

Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd should lose their license to practice law…

Bonney Sweeney, the antitrust attorney at Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd who claims to represent the interests of 8 million aggrieved Apple customers, now represents nobody but a roomful of lawyers.

On Monday, Sweeney lost her last plaintiff, a resident of New Jersey named Marianna Rosen. It turns out the “supracompetitive” price Rosen claims to have paid in 2008 for an iPod (“greater than she would have paid, but for the antitrust violations alleged herein”) was charged to her law firm’s credit card.

(click here to continue reading How dumb is this Apple iPod antitrust suit?.)

Nano gift

iPod Nano 

Especially since this is their second bite of the apple…

After a judge rejected Version 1.0 of the lawsuit, CNET says, lawyers changed their tune to accuse Apple of making software updates that kept rival music stores off the iTunes platform.

This is typical in class-action land. As with any repeated game, class-action lawyers are a well-defined group of players who must establish a reputation for fighting hard in every case and racking up as much expenses on the defense side as they can, in order to induce companies to come to the settlement table. That’s where they make their money, and the convenient fiction that they are suing on behalf of consumers collapses as they get down to the real negotiations, which are over the fee they will be paid without any objections from their supposed opponents across the table.

But for the whole process to work, they still need clients. And those clients must have a case. Defense lawyers have slowly but steadily woken up to the fact that those clients often come with baggage — Bill Lerach, the founder of the predecessor to Robbins Geller, went to jail for paying his clients to appear in securities class actions — and they are digging into their backgrounds to find out if they can even serve as plaintiffs. This must strike some plaintiff lawyers as strange, since everybody knows the “client” is just a vehicle for assembling a case that often is already loaded in their computer, ready to be filed. But it’s the law

(click here to continue reading Whoops! No Plaintiff! Apple Tells Court iPod Owner Isn’t In Class She Represents.)

Mirrored

The current case involving iPods is complex, having evolved significantly since the original January 2005 filing. The suit initially alleged that Apple broke the law by restricting owners of its iPod to songs purchased only through iTunes. A court deemed that legal, however, and the plaintiffs have since altered the suit, alleging instead that Apple made a series of software updates to iTunes specifically designed to shut out competing music stores’ ability to load their songs onto iPods.

The case will aim to determine what effect Apple’s FairPlay technology — a so-called digital rights management tool that acts like a watermark made of code — had on the market for MP3 players when it restricted iPod owners to iTunes and how to interpret Apple’s behavior in protecting FairPlay using software updates. Apple refused to license FairPlay to competing music stores and would not allow other MP3 players to connect to iTunes.

Apple’s Isaacson says the iTunes 7.0 and 7.4 updates were designed to improve security and purposefully keep third parties like RealNetworks, which Apple still considers a hacker, out of its system. “Harmony was outdated when FairPlay was updated. All Apple was doing was updating FairPlay,” he said. “That’s what happens when you reverse engineer the product and there’s an update of that architecture.”

Neither RealNetworks nor any of the retailers named in the suit, including Best Buy and Walmart, have filed suits of their own. RealNetworks executives will not appear as witnesses.

(click here to continue reading Apple misled iPod owners, plaintiffs allege at class action trial – CNET.)

Written by Seth Anderson

December 16th, 2014 at 2:17 pm

Tech and Media Companies Back Microsoft in Email Seizure Case

Over Under Sideways

Good for Microsoft, and good for the tech industry to rally behind Microsoft1

A broad array of organizations in technology, media and other fields rallied on Monday behind Microsoft’s effort to block American authorities from seizing a customer’s emails stored in Ireland.

The organizations filing supporting briefs in the Microsoft case included Apple, Amazon, Verizon, Fox News, National Public Radio, The Washington Post, CNN and almost two dozen other technology and media companies. A cross-section of trade associations and advocacy groups, from the American Civil Liberties Union to the United States Chamber of Commerce, and 35 computer scientists also signed briefs in the case, which is being considered in New York by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

“Seldom do you see the breadth and depth of legal involvement that we’re seeing today for a case that’s below the Supreme Court,” Bradford L. Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, said in an interview.

The case involves a decision by Microsoft to defy a domestic search warrant seeking emails stored in a Microsoft data center in Dublin. Microsoft has argued that the search warrant could provide a dangerous precedent that is already leading to privacy concerns among customers. The case is especially relevant, the company says, to customers who are considering conducting more of their electronic business in the cloud.

(click here to continue reading Tech and Media Companies Back Microsoft in Privacy Case – NYTimes.com.)

Even the Faux Walls have eyes
Even the Faux Walls have eyes

You know who isn’t mentioned here or at Microsoft’s public blog page for this case? Google. I wonder why? Seems like a pretty high profile case to be siding with the US DOJ instead of privacy advocates.

Today represents an important milestone in our litigation concerning the U.S. Government’s attempt to use a search warrant to compel Microsoft to obtain and turn over email of a customer stored in Ireland. That’s because 10 groups are filing their “friend of the court” briefs in New York today.

Seldom has a case below the Supreme Court attracted the breadth and depth of legal involvement we’re seeing today. Today’s ten briefs are signed by 28 leading technology and media companies, 35 leading computer scientists, and 23 trade associations and advocacy organizations that together represent millions of members on both sides of the Atlantic.

We believe that when one government wants to obtain email that is stored in another country, it needs to do so in a manner that respects existing domestic and international laws. In contrast, the U.S. Government’s unilateral use of a search warrant to reach email in another country puts both fundamental privacy rights and cordial international relations at risk.  And as today’s briefs demonstrate, the impacts of this step are far-reaching.

Today’s briefs come from:

Leading technology companies such as Verizon, Apple, Amazon, Cisco, Salesforce, HP, eBay, Infor, AT&T, and Rackspace. They’re joined by five major technology trade associations that collectively represent most of the country’s technology sector, including the BSA | The Software Alliance and the Application Developers Alliance. These groups raise a range of concerns about the significant impact this case could have both on the willingness of foreign customers to trust American technology and on the privacy rights of their customers, including U.S. customers if other governments adopt the approach to U.S. datacenters that the U.S. Government is advocating here.

Seventeen major and diverse news and media companies, including CNN, ABC, Fox News, Forbes, the Guardian, Gannett, McClatchy, the Washington Post, the New York Daily News, and The Seattle Times. They’re joined by ten news and media associations that collectively represent thousands of publications and journalists. These include the Newspaper Association of America, the National Press Club, the European Publishers Council, and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. These organizations are concerned that the lower court’s decision, if upheld, will erode the legal protections that have long restricted the government’s ability to search reporters’ email for information without the knowledge of news organizations.

(click here to continue reading Business, Media and Civil Society Speak Up in Key Privacy Case – The Official Microsoft Blog.)

Footnotes:
  1. not a sentence I’d thought I’d type []

Written by Seth Anderson

December 15th, 2014 at 3:16 pm

Dick Cheney Makes a Great Case for Prosecuting Torturers Like Himself

A Couple of Jokers
A Couple of Jokers…

Can someone please start a Kickstarter campaign to snatch up Dick Cheney and fly him to The Hague for a War Crimes trial? I know a lot of people that would donate money for that…

In a disturbing interview on “Meet the Press” on Sunday, former vice president Dick Cheney basically taunted ambitious lawyers at the Hague to come after him.

The host of the show, Chuck Todd, read horrific details from the Senate report on “enhanced interrogation” and asked Mr. Cheney if he thought they amounted to torture. Rectal feeding? Keeping a man in a coffin-sized box? Handcuffing another man’s wrists to an overhead bar for 22 hours per day, for two consecutive days?

No.

Mr. Cheney was bullishly nonsensical — refusing to acknowledge a difference between mass murder and torture. Worse, he was unrepentant.

Did any of the details from the report “plant any seed of doubt?” asked Mr. Todd. “Absolutely not,” Mr. Cheney answered.

What about the fact that “25 percent of the detainees” turned out to be innocent?

“I have no problem as long as we achieve our objective” answered Mr. Cheney

(click here to continue reading Dick Cheney Makes a Great Case for Prosecuting Torturers – NYTimes.com.)

I find it really hard to make jokes about how evil Dick Cheney is, but without jokes, he’s a sociopathic monster, and sadly a monster that the rest of the world assumes speaks for America.1 No remorse for torturing innocent people, sometimes to death, no remorse at all. Torture doesn’t provide actionable intelligence in the first place, but torturing people just the heck of it? 

As Digby writes:

This went all the way back to the 70s when Cheney was working in the Nixon and Ford White Houses and thought that the USA was becoming soft and the presidency was losing its juice. He was ready to fix that when he got the chance and he has no regrets. He does not care one bit that he’s considered by millions of people to be a war criminal and a sadist. He got what he wanted.

There are Godwinesque restrictions on certain things we can say about Dick Cheney in public. But I don’t think it’s too much to point out that having him on television saying what he said yesterday is the very definition of the banality of evil. Yesterday morning Dick Cheney, torturer, unrepentant war criminal was presented as just another government bureaucrat doing his job. He will be welcomed into the homes of the political elite like any other former VP, as will the man he went to great lengths to say approved it all: George W. Bush.  In fact, Jeb Bush is widely hailed as the best man to carry on the “Bush tradition” and cognoscenti of all political stripes are cheering on his candidacy.

Think about that: the political establishment believes that the brother of the president who ordered torture and invaded a country on false pretenses — and who has never shown the slightest daylight between his brother’s policies and decision and his own beliefs — is an excellent candidate for the presidency. It’s not even a question as far as I can tell.

(click here to continue reading Hullabaloo – How Cheney planned his move for decades.)

and an excerpt from a powerful post by Hunter of Daily Kos:

Let us suppose that every one of the assertions is true. Let us suppose that torture, by which we mean the simulated drownings, the broken bones, the medical injuries, the psychological torture, the death in a bitterly cold room—”worked.” It generated irreplaceable results. Valuable results. It was manifestly successful.

Then why are we not continuing it?

Why are we reserving it for suspected Muslim terrorists or collaborators or hangers-on or those named by another tortured suspect, and not, say, against arms smugglers? Against suspected drug importers? Against Swiss bankers who are suspected of laundering money gained in organized crime?

No, forget that—let us presume it to be not a weapon for fighting crime, but a weapon meant only for war. Does that mean that America shall henceforth be torturing wartime prisoners, if we feel they have information we require?

Set aside the relevant laws and treaties—does only America get to torture prisoners? Are we declaring that wartime torture of prisoners work, and therefore should be used, as international policy statement or as statement that America alone ought to benefit from the manifestly successful tool of torture? We are comfortable, then, with the notion that our own soldiers will be similarly interrogated by opposing forces or groups, and due to our understanding of the military significance of the irreplaceable results to be gleaned, we will acquiesce to the treatment, and will not seek to prosecute those that torture our own citizens?

Or are we, indeed, the declared exception to this rule? We may torture to the point of broken bones, blood clots, mental incapacitation or—oops—the occasional death, but only us, due to our manifest and unique need to do so?

That is where I am stumped, and where, over a decade of debate, we continue to make no progress whatsoever in the conversation. Sen. John McCain can ask the question or I can ask the question; it makes no difference. Whether it be the past vice president or any of the various pundits of the punditry litter, the declaration that our torture of prisoners has been manifestly successful is always where the debate abruptly trails off, like the author has suddenly remembered they have somewhere else to be. There is never an answer on why we have used international law to put torturers to death for past interrogations considered similarly manifestly successful by their nations’ advocates, and no opinion given on whether we shall be withdrawing from those treaties in the future or merely ignoring them if we feel it would be manifestly successful to do so. There is no citation as to what ought to be done against those that treat our soldiers similarly in the future. We are simply told that we will torture, perhaps under euphemism if the wordsmiths object to the older word, because it generates “results.” Full stop. The rest is just left hanging in the wind like a noose from a tree.

(click here to continue reading Of all the torture defenses, ‘because it works’ is the most troubling.)

Footnotes:
  1. He doesn’t, for the record []

Written by Seth Anderson

December 15th, 2014 at 2:56 pm

Posted in politics

Tagged with , , , ,

iPod Classic Returned From The Dead was uploaded to Flickr

What a pleasant surprise! Left it plugged in overnight on an underutilized iMac, and after it charged up the iPod Classic, went into recovery mode. Yayy, I have a working iPod Classic again…


previously: http://ift.tt/1wARac2…

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/qoczbu

I took iPod Classic Returned From The Dead on December 15, 2014 at 12:12PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on December 15, 2014 at 06:13PM

Written by eggplant

December 15th, 2014 at 12:34 pm

How Brownback Is Relying On Obamacare To Close Kansas’ Huge Budget Hole

Don't Fool With Fools Who'll Run Away
Don’t Fool With Fools Who’ll Run Away.

Oh, Kansas, you so crazy – you elected this clown twice!

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) is calling all hands on deck to fix his state’s huge self-imposed budget crisis, which nearly cost him re-election this year, and the staunch conservative is now receiving an assist from an unlikely source: Obamacare.

The state’s well-documented budget troubles came after Brownback’s dramatic reductions in taxes since taking office in 2011. With its revenue drying up and cash reserves depleted, Kansas is staring at a $280 million hole in its $6.4 billion FY 2015 budget, which ends in June.

Brownback offered his proposal for closing that hole last week, a mixture of spending cuts and transferring funds from other parts of the budget to fill it. And second biggest of those transfers is $55 million in revenue from a Medicaid drug rebate program that was bolstered under the Affordable Care Act.

The short version then is this: Obamacare is helping Kansas address its fiscal crisis — even if Brownback’s administration seems loath to admit it.

(click here to continue reading How Brownback Is Relying On O-Care To Close Kansas’ Huge Budget Hole.)

I'm With Stupid
I’m With Stupid

No worries, Kansas will turn into Somalia soon enough, Governor Brownback has 4 more years of wrecking the state’s economy to prove Republican talking points about economics are faith-based. As long as you don’t live in Kansas, or near Kansas, or have any dealings with Kansas, or live in the same country as Kansas, you should be ok…

Two years ago Kansas embarked on a remarkable fiscal experiment: It sharply slashed income taxes without any clear idea of what would replace the lost revenue. Sam Brownback, the governor, proposed the legislation — in percentage terms, the largest tax cut in one year any state has ever enacted — in close consultation with the economist Arthur Laffer. And Mr. Brownback predicted that the cuts would jump-start an economic boom — “Look out, Texas,” he proclaimed.

But Kansas isn’t booming — in fact, its economy is lagging both neighboring states and America as a whole. Meanwhile, the state’s budget has plunged deep into deficit, provoking a Moody’s downgrade of its debt.

There’s an important lesson here — but it’s not what you think. Yes, the Kansas debacle shows that tax cuts don’t have magical powers, but we already knew that. The real lesson from Kansas is the enduring power of bad ideas, as long as those ideas serve the interests of the right people.

Why, after all, should anyone believe at this late date in supply-side economics, which claims that tax cuts boost the economy so much that they largely if not entirely pay for themselves? The doctrine crashed and burned two decades ago, when just about everyone on the right — after claiming, speciously, that the economy’s performance under Ronald Reagan validated their doctrine — went on to predict that Bill Clinton’s tax hike on the wealthy would cause a recession if not an outright depression. What actually happened was a spectacular economic expansion.

(click here to continue reading Charlatans, Cranks and Kansas – NYTimes.com.)

Puzzle of Puzzles
Puzzle of Puzzles

and as long as the morons in Washington don’t follow Brownback’s lead:

Remember, as far as Brownback is concerned, he has a popular mandate from the Kansas electorate. He ruined the state’s finances, won a second term, and sees no need to change course. So, predictably, he’s keeping the tax breaks that didn’t work and slashing public investments even deeper, since this is entirely consistent with the agenda endorsed by voters.  

Shortly after the election, Brownback’s budget director said the administration “has no intention of revisiting the state’s tax policy.” Of course not. Why would failure need to be revisited?  

Postscript: Two years ago, incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said of Brownback’s radical economic experiment, “This is exactly the sort of thing we want to do here, in Washington.” Something to keep in mind.

(click here to continue reading Brownback scrambles to clean up his mess | MSNBC.)

Written by Seth Anderson

December 15th, 2014 at 9:47 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with , , ,

Shirts vs. Skins – Venice Beach was uploaded to Flickr

not sure who won

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/psBM8E

I took Shirts vs. Skins – Venice Beach on February 02, 2013 at 02:04PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on December 14, 2014 at 03:02PM

Written by eggplant

December 14th, 2014 at 6:56 pm

Evening Comes Early Enough For A Stroll was uploaded to Flickr

Division and Damen in a light rain

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/prjGmW

I took Evening Comes Early Enough For A Stroll on April 13, 2014 at 07:33PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on December 12, 2014 at 03:31PM

Written by eggplant

December 12th, 2014 at 10:06 am

Google Shutting Google News in Spain

Ride Smarter
Ride Smarter on the Google Train.

I wonder how this new development will play out. Will the traffic plummet for Spanish publications? Or will it not matter? And how exactly does Google News move past this trend of European countries1 demanding Google pay for fair use inclusion? Does this relate to blogging Fair Use?

Google Inc. said Wednesday it will shut its Google News service in Spain because a new law will require the company to pay publishers for displaying any portion of their work.

In a blog post, Google said it also will remove Spanish publishers from the service.

The legislation, which takes effect in January, requires Spanish publishers to charge services like Google News for showing excerpts or snippets from their publications, Google said.

“As Google News itself makes no money (we do not show any advertising on the site) this new approach is simply not sustainable,” Richard Gingras, head of Google News, wrote in a blog. He said the service will close Dec. 16.

(click here to continue reading Google Shutting Google News in Spain – WSJ.)

From Google’s Europe Blog:

[Google News is] a service that hundreds of millions of users love and trust, including many here in Spain. It’s free to use and includes everything from the world’s biggest newspapers to small, local publications and bloggers. Publishers can choose whether or not they want their articles to appear in Google News — and the vast majority choose to be included for very good reason. Google News creates real value for these publications by driving people to their websites, which in turn helps generate advertising revenues.

But sadly, as a result of a new Spanish law, we’ll shortly have to close Google News in Spain. Let me explain why. This new legislation requires every Spanish publication to charge services like Google News for showing even the smallest snippet from their publications, whether they want to or not. As Google News itself makes no money (we do not show any advertising on the site) this new approach is simply not sustainable. So it’s with real sadness that on 16 December (before the new law comes into effect in January) we’ll remove Spanish publishers from Google News, and close Google News in Spain.

For centuries publishers were limited in how widely they could distribute the printed page. The Internet changed all that — creating tremendous opportunities but also real challenges for publishers as competition both for readers’ attention and for advertising Euros increased. We’re committed to helping the news industry meet that challenge and look forward to continuing to work with our thousands of partners globally, as well as in Spain, to help them increase their online readership and revenues.

(click here to continue reading Google Europe Blog.)

Daily News
Daily News

Germany already has some data on how well it works, we’ll soon see if politicians are getting angry phone calls from media websites:

A German law now requires Google to secure the rights to publish any content other than links to articles and headlines. Google refused to pay for those rights, but gave publishers a choice: offer them free or face the removal of snippets and thumbnails from its services like Google News.

German media giant Axel Springer , a Google critic, demanded payment from Google for a time this fall. But Axel granted Google a free license when traffic from Google News and Google’s search engine plunged.

“I imagine the news outlets for which the law was designed will start to miss the traffic that Google sent their way,” said Colin Sebastian, an analyst at R.W. Baird.

I’ve long used Google News as a primary jumping off point to read news sites, for what it’s worth…

Footnotes:
  1. and Rupert Murdoch companies []

Written by Seth Anderson

December 10th, 2014 at 11:02 pm

Lawsuit accuses Maker’s Mark of false advertising

 Maker's Mark - a collectors edition?

Maker’s Mark – a collectors edition?

Ridiculous, and also truthy. What exactly does “homemade” mean in the context of a corporate beverage manufacturer? Is Beam Suntory expected to grind the grain with a team of oxen? What about making the bottles? Are they supposed to be hand-blown by crusty old dudes wearing overalls? Are there Revenue Agents a’coming through the piney woods?

Two California consumers sued one of Kentucky’s best-known distilleries, saying Maker’s Mark tries to spike demand and sticker prices by falsely promoting its bourbon as being handmade. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Diego, accused the distillery of deceptive advertising and business practices with its “handmade” promotion on the labels of its bottles, known for their distinctive red-wax seal. The potential class-action suit claims damages exceed $5 million.

A spokesman for Beam Suntory Inc., the parent of Maker’s, said the suit was meritless and the company will fight it. The suit was brought by Safora Nowrouzi and Travis Williams, who purchased Maker’s Mark bourbon last month.

“Defendant promotes its whisky as being ‘handmade’ when in fact defendant’s whisky is manufactured using mechanized and/or automated processes, which involves little to no human supervision, assistance or involvement,” the suit said.

(click here to continue reading Lawsuit accuses Maker’s Mark of false advertising – Bowling Green Daily News: State News.)

I have to laugh at the amount of money though, $5,000,000 is a lot of anguish over one’s cocktail. Like all class action suits, the lawyers are the real money makers.

The Good Stuff
The Good Stuff – Templeton Rye (not actually made in Iowa).

and this aside should be noted:

Executives at Templeton Rye said earlier this year they will change labels on bottles of their whiskey to clarify that the beverage is distilled in Indiana, not Iowa.

Also, obligatory YouTube clip of Bill Murray’s Suntory Time ad from Lost in Translation

Written by Seth Anderson

December 10th, 2014 at 12:37 pm

CPD Sued to Force Release Proof of Cell Phone Spying

 City of Chicago Emergency Management Surveillance Vehicle

City of Chicago Emergency Management Surveillance Vehicle, probably with a Stingray device (taken at a Haymarket Riot Demonstration).

Remember those quaint old days when the United States had a Bill of Rights? And civil liberties were commonly respected?1

Attorney Matt Topic of Loevy & Loevy filed a suit against the Chicago Police Department last week. 

The Chicago Police Department was sued Friday to force release of evidence that the department has purchased equipment that allows them to covertly scan people’s cell phones for detecting telephone numbers dialed and texted, tracking their location, and cell phones’ unique device identification numbers.

Cell site simulators, also known as IMSI catchers or stingrays, masquerade as cellphone towers to obtain data secretly from nearby cellular user devices.

“Many believe that Chicago Police have already deployed this kind of technology at protests,” said Matt Topic of Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law, which represents Chicago resident Freddy Martinez in the suit.  “Local police departments in other states have widely used the technology, and have kept it secret, even to the courts, and even when it has been used to obtain evidence in a criminal case.”

“If the Chicago Police aren’t running afoul of the Fourth Amendment, they should have nothing to hide,” said Mr. Martinez. “This information will allow the public to learn the extent to which Chicago Police have this technology, and once we have that, we’ll pursue more information about how it is being used and whether Chicago Police are routinely using it to violate the Constitution.”

Mr. Martinez filed a FOIA request with Chicago Police looking for records documenting the purchase of this equipment.  “FOIA and the Illinois Constitution are clear that all records related to the use of public funds are subject to disclosure,” said Topic, “yet Chicago Police have stonewalled Mr. Martinez for months.”

(click here to continue reading CPD Sued to Force Release Proof of Cell Phone Spying | Blog | Loevy & Loevy.)

and as Mr. Martinez says:

“Should federal, state, or local law enforcement be allowed to trick your cell phone into sharing information like your location, the numbers your called or texted, or your unique device ID without your consent?” asked Martinez. “Should they be deploying this kind of technology in secret? We don’t think so.”

Copies of the suit, No. 2014CH09565, are available here: Freddie Martinez v. Chicago Police Department.

Officer with Blackberry
CPD Officer with Blackberry

From the suit, some additional background material, some of which we’ve blogged about, some not.

Read the rest of this entry »

Footnotes:
  1. as long as you were a white property owner []

Written by Seth Anderson

December 9th, 2014 at 12:23 pm

Fraud from bots represents a loss of $6 billion in digital advertising

Spare Change

That’s a lot of fraudulent advertising.

Almost one-fourth of video ads and 11 percent of display ads are viewed by fake consumers created by cyber crime networks seeking to take a chunk of the billions of dollars spent on digital advertising, according to a new research report released on Tuesday.

The study, by digital security firm White Ops and the Association of National Advertisers, is one of the most comprehensive looks to date at the persistent criminal activity involving online advertising. Specifically, it addresses “bots,” automated entities that mimic the behavior of humans by clicking on ads and watching videos.

These bots siphon money away from brands by setting up fake websites or delivering fake audiences to websites that make use of third-party traffic. The report estimates that advertisers will lose $6.3 billion to bots next year.

The study included 36 ANA member companies, including Anheuser-Busch InBev SA, Ford Motor Co Verizon Communications Inc and Pfizer Inc.

 

(click here to continue reading Fraud from bots represents a loss of $6 billion in digital advertising – Yahoo News.)

If I were a corporation like Ford, Verizon or Pfizer, and I cared, I’d demand a meeting with my ad agency, and insist upon receiving a detailed audit of the last year of digital advertising. Well, maybe not, because then I’d discover that a lot of the annual budget was knowingly pissed away and my ad agency kept the commission anyway.

Bots are computers hijacked by viruses that are programmed to visit sites and mimic human behavior, creating the illusion of authentic Web traffic to lure in advertisers. Contrary to what many in the industry believe, that bot traffic doesn’t exist just in the dark corners of the Internet, White Ops found; it infects mainstream sites and services, too. A quarter of the bot traffic logged during the study was found across the top 1,000 sites on the Internet, according to White Ops Chief Executive Michael Tiffany.

“The most interesting part of this study to me is not the top-line numbers; it’s that fraud is happening in the well-lit parts of the Internet,” Mr. Tiffany said

Online display ads bought through automated or “programmatic” channels were 55% more likely to be served to bots than display ads purchased through other channels, according to the study. Some advertisers said they expected the discrepancy to be even higher.

“It was helpful for us to learn that this is a problem that affects everyone, and that the method of procurement didn’t make as much of a difference as we thought it might,” said Fernando Arriola, vice president of media and integration at ConAgra Foods .

Marketers say they hope the ANA research will force publishers, ad brokers, and agencies to police ad fraud more aggressively. For starters, they plan to begin including language in their agreements with online publishers and other suppliers to specifically address “nonhuman” traffic. The ANA recommends that all marketers take that step.

(click here to continue reading Advertisers Pay Billions for Bogus Web Traffic – WSJ.)

The thing is, savvy corporations already were aware of this problem:

Concerns over ad fraud, viewability and overall inventory murkiness are causing Kraft to reject up to 85% of all impressions offered via real-time ad marketplaces, Kraft’s Julie Fleischer said today at the Ad Age Data Conference in New York.

The massive number reveals that talk of digital advertising supply-chain corruption is indeed leading to action among top brands. Kraft, one of Ad Age’s 100 leading national advertisers, spent $35.9 million on digital advertising in 2013, according to Ad Age Datacenter.

“That 75% to 85% is either deemed to be fraudulent, unsafe or non-viewable or unknown,” Ms. Fleischer, the company’s director of data, content and media, said, referring to the rejected impressions. “Think about what this means for us as an industry. When we’re rejecting 75% to 85% of the impressions available, that’s a problem.”

(click here to continue reading Kraft Says It Rejects 75% to 85% of Digital Ad Impressions Due to Quality Concerns; Big Spending Advertiser Wants No Part of Fraud )

[Editor’s note – Full disclosure: a year or so ago, we met with a startup that purported to have invented tools and procedures that would ferret out this kind of digital advertising fraud, but nothing ever came of the meeting, we never used nor resold their services. I think a large advertising corporation ended up purchasing this startup]

Written by Seth Anderson

December 9th, 2014 at 9:22 am

Posted in Advertising

Tagged with

A Crisis of Confidence in Prosecutors Indicting Police

What Up, G

Something has to change, and soon.

It is a long-established and basic reality of law enforcement in America: Prosecutors who want an indictment get an indictment. In 2010 alone, federal prosecutors sought indictments in 162,000 cases. All but 11 times, they succeeded.

Yet the results are entirely different when police officers kill unarmed civilians. In those cases, the officers are almost never prosecuted either because district attorneys do not pursue charges in the first place or grand juries do not indict, as happened most recently in Ferguson, Mo., and Staten Island.

There are various explanations for this, but the most obvious is the inherent conflict of interest that exists for prosecutors, who rely heavily on the police every day. Cops arrest suspects; they investigate crimes; they gather evidence; and they testify in court, working essentially in partnership with prosecutors.

Whether or not bias can be proved in a given case, the public perception of it is real and must be addressed.

The best solution would be a law that automatically transfers to an independent prosecutor all cases in which a civilian is dead at the hands of the police. This would avoid the messy politics of singling out certain district attorneys and taking cases away from them.

The police should be among the strongest supporters of this arrangement because both their authority and their safety are undermined when the communities they work in neither trust them nor believe that they are bound by the same laws as everyone else.

(click here to continue reading A Crisis of Confidence in Prosecutors – NYTimes.com.)

Written by Seth Anderson

December 8th, 2014 at 9:44 pm

Posted in government

Tagged with , ,

McLaren’s Barn was uploaded to Flickr

Eagle Lake Road. The McLaren’s might have sold this barn, actually, but they used to own it anyway.

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/q3UmR1

I took McLaren’s Barn on September 18, 2014 at 01:39PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on December 08, 2014 at 03:59AM

Written by eggplant

December 8th, 2014 at 9:13 am

A Pacific Isle, Radioactive and Forgotten

Marshall Islands On My Globe

The United States military and civilian government both really screwed over the Marshall Islands. Horrifying.

THERE is no consistent air service to the coral atoll of Enewetak in the Marshall Islands, where the United States tested 67 nuclear weapons between 1946 and 1958. On my first trip to the capital, Majuro, in 2010, to study the danger posed there by the rising ocean, I managed to get on a special flight taking dignitaries to Enewetak for the dedication of a school. From there, I boarded a small boat to visit a nuclear waste dump that the world had all but forgotten.

The Marshall Islands are only about six feet above sea level. Its survival and that of other island nations are on the minds of negotiators gathering this week in Lima, Peru, for a United Nations climate change conference.

This place stands out for its misfortunes: ravaged first by radioactivity from tests conducted after World War II and, now, by the rising seas that threaten to swallow it.

(click here to continue reading A Pacific Isle, Radioactive and Forgotten – NYTimes.com.)

All Your Dreams Won't Protect You
All Your Dreams Won’t Protect You

Detonated an insane amount of nuclear weaponry, then split the scene like a bad morning-after date…

Bikini was so radioactive that there was little hope of allowing its displaced population ever to return home. But the military studied how to clean up Enewetak so that at least some land could become habitable again. The Defense Department concluded that there was so much soil contaminated with cesium-137 and strontium-90 that the safest approach was to leave it alone and let it decay naturally. Both have half-lives of about 30 years.

But also left behind by the blasts was plutonium-239, which has a half-life of 24,000 years. With enough plutonium-239 in the right form, a bomb could be made. That is why the United States participated in a $150 million operation, completed in 2012, to secure and clean up the plutonium at a Soviet-era nuclear test site in Kazakhstan.

At Enewetak, the United States decided in the late 1970s to dump as much plutonium-contaminated soil as it could gather into a 33-foot-deep crater on Runit that had been carved out in 1958 by a bomb roughly the size of the one detonated over Hiroshima.

In addition to the contaminated soil, crews filled 437 plastic bags with plutonium chunks they had picked up from the ground, left behind when one bomb misfired. These also went into the crater, which was then covered with an 18-inch-thick concrete cap. Most of the rest of the radioactive waste, with too little plutonium to trouble with, was bulldozed into the lagoon, over the objections of the Environmental Protection Agency and the displaced people of Enewetak. American officials also chose to leave radiation on the land at levels far higher than would be allowed after a similar cleanup in the United States.

Northern Mariana Islands
Northern Mariana Islands

and with typical American nonchalance for the future, the US didn’t really plan for what would happen to the nuclear waste beyond a few years:

Longevity was not among the design criteria for the Runit dome (unlike Yucca Mountain in Nevada, where, until recently, the federal government planned to deposit its spent nuclear fuel deep underground in facilities designed to be safe for at least one million years). In fact the dome does not meet American standards for landfills for household trash.

A task force of the federal government’s National Research Council warned in 1982 that the dome might be breached by a severe typhoon. But a 2013 report sponsored by the Department of Energy saw no reason to worry. “Catastrophic failure of the concrete dome,” it said, “and instantaneous release of all its contents into the lagoon will not necessarily lead to any significant change in the radiation dose delivered to the local resident population.”

The reason, according to the report, was that the radiation inside the dome was “dwarfed” by the radiation in the sediments in the lagoon. Thus a leak from the dome would be no added threat because it is dirtier on the outside than the inside. Plutonium isotopes recently discovered in the South China Sea have been traced to the Marshall Islands, some 2,800 miles away.

An inspection last year found that the dome was deteriorating, and the radioactive groundwater below rises and falls with the tides. Storms wash sand onto the dome; vines grow in the cracks.

Oh, joy…

Wasted Youth - Guam 1998
Wasted Youth Wanna Make Fight – Guam 1998

You should click through and read the rest of Michael B. Gerrard’s article, you’ll be amazed and terrified. And as the Pacific Ocean rises, all of this nuclear waste is going to sent right into all of our food supplies. Guam may be a thousand miles away or so, but that’s too close for my comfort. We all still live on the same planet…

Written by Seth Anderson

December 7th, 2014 at 5:15 pm