A Self-Styled Abolitionist’s Orwellian Assault on Sex Workers

r2hox (CC BY 2.0)

r2hox (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Self-styled abolitionist Ryan Dalton’s new tech startup, Rescue Forensics, wants to change the way the police fight human trafficking sex work by dredging up that old spectre The Satanic Panic under a new guise: Human Trafficking Hysteria.

The reality is that Rescue Forensics preys on sex workers — by selling their online activity to Law Enforcement Agencies.

A Vice’s Melissa Gira Grant reports:

Big data” and “sex trafficking.” That it took so long for someone to combine these buzz terms into one money-making venture is just one of several mysteries surrounding Rescue Forensics, a new startup.

The “big” in the Memphis-based company? Rescue Forensics claims it “archives massive quantities of data from classified advertisement sites specializing in commercial sex ads.” It gathers a lot of text, and even more nude and semi-nude photos. Then it turns all that over to the cops.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

The Decline and Fall of the United States

Harold Navarro (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Harold Navarro (CC BY-ND 2.0)

At the end of his essay, David Swanson asks, “Can we be revived?”

David Swanson via Washington’s Blog:

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
–Robert Frost

After a speech I gave this past weekend, a young woman asked me whether a failure by the United States to properly surround and intimidate China might result in instability. I explained why I thought the opposite was true. Imagine if China had military bases along the Canadian and Mexican borders with the United States and ships in Bermuda and the Bahamas, Nova Scotia and Vancouver. Would you feel stabilized? Or might you feel something else?

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Kanye West on The Illuminati

In a very long monologue at Paper Magazine, Kanye West bares his soul and speaks about all sorts of things without much inhibition, including this on celebrities and the illuminati:

I heard a comment — a joke — about the Tidal press conference being an Illuminati moment. If there was actually an Illuminati, it would be more like the energy companies. Not celebrities that gave their life to music and who are pinpointed as decoys for people who really run the world. I’m tired of people pinpointing musicians as the Illuminati. That’s ridiculous. We don’t run anything; we’re celebrities.

Kanye West 03

Kanye West by rodrigoferrari (CC)

 

We’re the face of brands. We have to compromise what we say in lyrics so we don’t lose money on a contract. Madonna is in her 50s and gave everything she had to go up on an award show and get choked by her cape. She’s judged for who she adopts.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

FDA Ponders Putting Homeopathy To A Tougher Test

Homeopathic medicine.jpg

A recent negative post about homeopathy raised hackles amongst readers. They won’t welcome news (via NPR) that the FDA is taking a look at regulating homeopathic medicine:

It’s another busy morning at Dr. Anthony Aurigemma’s homeopathy practice in Bethesda, Md.

Wendy Resnick, 58, is here because she’s suffering from a nasty bout of laryngitis. “I don’t feel great,” she says. “I don’t feel myself.”

Resnick, who lives in Millersville, Md., has been seeing Aurigemma for years for a variety of health problems, including ankle and knee injuries and back problems. “I don’t know what I would do without him,” she says. “The traditional treatments just weren’t helping me at all.”

Aurigemma listens to Resnick’s lungs, checks her throat and then asks detailed questions about her symptoms and other things as well, such as whether she’s been having any unusual cravings for food.

Aurigemma went to medical school and practiced as a regular doctor before switching to homeopathy more than 30 years ago.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

You Watch Too Much TV- The Forensic “Sciences” Under Fire

West Midlands Police (CC BY-SA 2.0)

West Midlands Police (CC BY-SA 2.0)

There have been a spate of scandals recently concerning forensic science: poor methodology, faulty protocols, and an absolute disregard for the chain of evidence.

These scandals don’t even include the mess that is rape kit testing, namely that they aren’t testing anything. Rape kits sit on shelves for years sometimes.

Forensic Magazine states:

Another crime lab scandal was announced over the weekend, and this time it’s the federal government that has the explaining to do.

The Department of Justice along with the FBI have identified 2,500 cases for review after finding that experts on its microscopic hair comparison unit overstated evidence concerning pattern-based forensic techniques in 95 percent of the 268 cases reviewed so far, reports the Washington PostThe cases involve 46 states and include 32 defendants that were sentenced to death, according to the article, of which, 14 have already been executed or died behind bars.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Scientists Target New Painkillers From Spider Venom

Scientists may be excited about the prospect of a new class of painkillers derived from spider venom, but will Big Pharma go for them if they’re not highly addictive? From the Wall Street Journal:

Scientists in Australia, home to some of the most poisonous creatures on Earth, have made an important discovery about spider venom that eventually could lead to a new class of painkillers.

GBB.jpg

The greenbottle blue tarantula (Chromatopelma cyaneopubescens) is one of seven species of spiders whose venom Australian researchers found has potential painkilling properties. The creature is native to Venezuela and has some of the most dramatic coloring of any spider species.

Spiders use their venom to immobilize or kill their prey. Researchers from the University of Queensland isolated seven peptides—the building blocks of proteins—in spider venom that blocked the molecular pathway responsible for sending pain signals from the nerves to the brain. One peptide in particular, from a Borneo orange-fringed tarantula, had the right structure, stability and potency to potentially become a painkilling drug, the researchers said.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

The Epistemic Costs of Superintelligence

Minds and MachinesI have a new paper coming out in Minds and Machines. It deals with the debate about AI risk, and takes a particular look at the arguments presented in Nick Bostrom’s recent book Superintelligence. Fuller details are available below. The official version won’t be out for a few weeks but you can access the preprint versions below.

Title: The Epistemic Costs of Superintelligence: Bostrom’s Treacherous Turn and Sceptical Theism

Journal: Minds and Machines

Links: (Official; Academia; Philpapers)

Abstract: An advanced artificial intelligence (a “superintelligence”) could pose a significant existential risk to humanity. Several research institutes have been set-up to address those risks. And there is an increasing number of academic publications analysing and evaluating their seriousness. Nick Bostrom’sSuperintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies represents the apotheosis of this trend. In this article, I argue that in defending the credibility of AI risk, Bostrom makes an epistemic move that is analogous to one made by so-called sceptical theists in the debate about the existence of God.

Read the rest
Continue Reading