To its chagrin, the Kansas City area has become a hotbed for abusive online payday loan operations. A couple of dozen or more area businessmen have made quick fortunes by offering short-term cash to low-income consumers and then slamming them with ruinous interest rates and fees.
The amount of money to be made by trapping people into endless debt is mindboggling. One Johnson County businessman sold his internet payday loan business for $50 million in 2012. Scott Tucker of Leawood, the most notorious of the online lenders, used his earnings to finance a fleet of race cars, a private Learjet and an $8 million vacation home in Colorado.
Payday for at least some of these lenders may be coming to an end, however. A number of federal agencies are cracking down on unscrupulous practices. And none too soon.
The scientists experimented with an eight-megapixel camera from a Nokia N9, which like many smartphone cameras is sensitive enough to count the exact number of photons that strike each of its pixels. They illuminated the camera with a conventional LED. Due to quantum mechanics, the number of photons most light sources generate over any given time is random. Since the number of photons the camera’s pixels detects is random, it serves as the basis of the quantum random number generator.
The Nokia N9 can see true random numbers.
The Geneva-based scientists built a system consisting of the CMOS camera chip from a Nokia smartphone and a processor that used knowledge of the camera’s properties to turn the amount of charge at each pixel into a series of random numbers. (They looked into trying out an iPhone and some other models, but those did not have camera application programming interfaces that allowed access to the raw data from the pixels.)
The window for the public to weigh in on how federal rule-makers should treat Internet traffic is closed, after a record 3.7 million comments arrived at the FCC. The Sunlight Foundation analyzed the first 800,000 and found that fewer than 1 percent were opposed to net neutrality enforcement.
The principle of net neutrality generally means that all Internet traffic is treated equally.
But whether the weight of popular opinion can overcome the significant lobbying heft of Internet service providers fighting against stronger net neutrality rules is a huge question mark. An analysis by San Francisco-based data firm Quid found that Verizon alone spent $100 million to lobby Congress on net neutrality since 2009. (That kind of money could buy you 793 houses or 4 million bottles of Maker’s Mark.)
What’s On The Table
The proposal before the five-member Federal Communications Commission, led by Chairman Tom Wheeler, would allow broadband providers such as Time Warner and Verizon to engage in “commercially reasonable” traffic management. That means they could potentially charge content companies (like Netflix) to get their content to you faster — paid prioritization, or “fast lanes.”
San Francisco drag queens and a city lawmaker met with Facebook on Wednesday demanding the site change its policy banning users from using aliases online, but said they were rebuffed.
Facebook, the world’s largest social media network, has cracked down on users with fake names by locking scores of accounts in recent weeks, including hundreds owned by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, the company said in a statement.
San Francisco Board of Supervisors member David Campos and crossdressers from around the city said after the Wednesday meeting that the rule, which requires users to go by their legal names, endangers drag queen performers.
Confidence in the US news media is at an all-time low, a Gallup survey revealed Wednesday, with most Americans complaining the media is too conservative or too liberal.
The survey showed just 40 percent of respondents felt confident in the news media’s ability to report “fully, accurately, and fairly,” matching results of the 2012 questionnaire.
The latest poll shows bias is a key issue for Americans and the news media.
Some 44 percent said the media sector as a whole was “too liberal,” a slight decline from the 48 percent peak in 2010.
The fate of the United Kingdom was at stake Thursday as Scotland began voting in a referendum on becoming an independent state, deciding whether to unravel a marriage that helped build an empire but has increasingly been felt by many Scots as stifling and one-sided.
The question on the ballot paper is simplicity itself: “Should Scotland be an independent country?” Yet it has divided Scots during months of campaigning — and in 15 hours on Thursday the future of the 307-year old union with England hangs in the balance.
More than 2,600 polling places opened Thursday at 7 a.m. (0600GMT, 2 a.m. EDT) and will close at 10 p.m. (2100GMT, 5 p.m. EDT). Turnout is expected to be high, with more than 4.2 million people registered to vote — 97 percent of those eligible.
Polls suggest the result is too close to call, with the pro-independence Yes side gaining momentum in the final weeks of the campaign.
Jacobs tried to distance WCF from the Russian gathering, telling Buzzfeed earlier this month that it was not a WCF event and that WCF had provided no funding.
However, in July, the event’s Russian organizer Alexey Komov (who is WCF representative to Russia), claimed that the meeting was still linked to WCF. And indeed, the next big World Congress is numbered IX, not VIII, though VIII was supposedly “suspended.” Nevertheless, WCF also posted this press release on September 8, claiming that though the International Family Forum event was not affiliated with WCF, some WCF personnel would be in attendance.
And they were. Both Jacobs and Feder were on hand, as Right Wing Watch reports, careful to distance themselves from WCF while talking to reporters. Also in attendance was Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, who was apparently a speaker on one of the panels. Brown has been increasing his activity overseas since at least 2013, perhaps in the wake of increased acceptance of LGBT people at home and the growing number of states legalizing same-sex marriage.
Austin Ruse, president of the anti-LGBT hate group C-FAM (Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute) and part of the original WCF organizing committee, said he was going to attend the new Russian conference, and Janice Shaw Crouse, director of the Beverly LaHaye Institute of Concerned Women for America Tweeted in August that she, too, would be attending. Penny Nance, CWA president, pulled the group from the originally slated WCF conference in opposition to Putin’s policy toward Ukraine. Evan Hurst at TWOCARE noted that Crouse, who sits on the board of directors of WCF, hinted in another Tweet on September 5 that she appears to be looking for a job, though she is still listed at the LaHaye Institute (though no longer as an expert on the CWA website).
Pennsylvania authorities have identified the gunman as 31-year-old Eric Matthew Frein, a man, state police commissioner Frank Noonan said, who should be “considered armed and extremely dangerous.”
“He has been described as a survivalist,” Noonan told a Tuesday news conference. “He has made statements about wanting to kill law enforcement officers and also about wanting to commit mass acts of murder.”
At a news conference today, state police Lt. Col. George Bivens said Frein is a military re-enactor, who, “in his current state of mind” now “appears to have assumed that role in real life,” according to Scranton Times-Tribune.
Bivens also said Frein has a “long-standing grudge against law enforcement and government in general since at least 2006” and altered his appearance before the shooting, shaving the sides of his head with a “wider than a Mohawk” on top.
“I’d like to directly address Eric Frein again,” the police colonel said. “In the event you are listening to this broadcast on a radio, on a portable radio while cowering in some cool, damp hiding place, I want you to know one thing: Eric, we are coming for you. It’s only a matter of time we bring you to justice for committing this cowardly act.”
Although authorities described the suspect as having antigovernment views and survivalist skills, no further details were provided about any political affiliations or ideology.
We’re safer because we’re no longer poisoning our children in ways that turn them into hair-trigger thugs.
The less lead/less crime argument is something of a hobby horse for Drum but it is somewhat compelling. He doesn’t insist the link is causal but there does seem to be strong correlation.
Am I remembering wrong that there was something about this in Neil Degrasse Tyson’s Cosmos?
Anybody know if there is any strong evidence out there to back up this idea?
(Reuters) - The Ferguson, Missouri police officer whose fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager has ignited weeks of protests testified Tuesday before a St. Louis grand jury hearing evidence in the case, according to a report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Darren Wilson, who has been in hiding since the Aug. 9 shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, spent nearly four hours telling his version of events to the 12 members of the grand jury who are weighing possible charges against him, the newspaper said on Wednesday, citing a source.
The proceedings of a grand jury are closed to the public and the prosecutor’s office would not confirm the report.
I’m not surprised that the grand jury is looking at the case. I’m not surprised that Wilson is available to the grand jury.