Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Snopes' Field Guide to Fake News Sites and Hoax Purveyors, updated 7/9/2017

I'm not giving examples of fake news items, because research has shown that when this is done, many people will remember the debunked "news" but not remember that it is false.

It boggles my mind that so many people on Facebook will take seriously obviously satirical items.

Kim LaCapria
Jan 14, 2016

The sharp increase in popularity of social media networks (primarily Facebook) has created a predatory secondary market among online publishers seeking to profitably exploit the large reach of those networks and their huge customer bases by spreading fake news and outlandish rumors. Competition for social media’s large supply of willing eyeballs is fierce, and a number of frequent offenders regularly fabricate salacious and attention-grabbing tales simply to drive traffic (and revenue) to their sites.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Honest Reporting

For the list liberal fake news sites he warns against, see the preceding blog post "If You’re A Liberal, Stop Sharing Links From These Fake News Sites"

I point out that Modern Liberals itself does contain a clearly labeled humor/satire section.


If you want to subscribe to honest reporting on national issues in the United States, there are many reputable and mostly neutral sources like AP, Reuters, BBC out there.

Here are a few of the websites I go to for news or opinion articles.

If You’re A Liberal, Stop Sharing Links From These Fake News Sites, update 7/2/2017

I haven't looked at all of these web sites, but the ones I have I agree should be disregarded.

To avoid confustion, I'll list the sources he recommends is a separate post.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

10 Journalism Brands Where You Find Real Facts Rather Than Alternative Facts

I went ahead and went with their headline, although I disagree with their rosy view of WSJ editorials. I have found the WSJ editorials not trustworthy. They are often biased on behalf of the power elite. As this article says, it does provide info on what the non-batty right-wing is saying.

By Paul Glader
Paul Glader is an associate professor of journalism at The King's College in New York City, a media scholar at The Berlin School of Creative Leadership and is on Twitter @PaulGlader.
Feb 1, 2017

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Driverless car bill moves quickly to House floor

Driverless car bill moves quickly to House floor
By Melanie Zanona - 07/27/2017
A driverless car bill is quickly moving through the House, as Congress races to pass the first federal legislation to address the emerging technology.

The Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously approved a legislative package Thursday that would bar states from setting certain driverless car rules and allow manufacturers to deploy up to 100,000 self-driving vehicles per year without meeting existing auto safety standards.

The bill, which comes one week after it was approved by a subcommittee, was the product of bipartisan negotiations, which were reflected in the form of a substitute amendment that dropped late Wednesday night. It is sponsored by Reps. Bob Latta (R-Ohio), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) and Fred Upton (R-Mich.).


The Senate is also working on similar legislation, which could be released in the coming days.


The House bill would prohibit states from imposing laws related to the design, construction or performance of self-driving cars. But local governments would still maintain traditional auto responsibilities, such as licensing, registration, insurance and law enforcement.

Democrats had been concerned that the initial draft would step on states’ abilities to protect residents, but said they were pleased with the final text, which narrowed the pre-emption language. It also clarified that state motor vehicle dealer laws would not be pre-empted.

Democrats were also happy that the NHTSA will be required to do rulemakings and set a priority safety plan under the proposal, while the industry will be required to submit Safety Assessment Certifications.

Manufacturers are also required to consider cybersecurity and consumer privacy issues during development — a major priority for Democrats and some Republicans.


Democrats secured language in the measure that requires a phase-in period for the exemptions, so they don’t all hit the roads at once. The measure also requires all exempted vehicles to be made public and requires that any crash involving an exempted vehicle must be reported.

Lawmakers have hailed driverless cars for their power to save lives, reduce traffic and enhance mobility.

To help ensure that, the bill would create an advisory committee to focus on giving seniors and the disabled community access to autonomous vehicles.

The provision was particularly meaningful for Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.), who has a 28-year-old son with a disability who depends on others for rides.

“This opens up possibilities for those who have disabilities. ... This is probably the biggest challenge we have with our son,” Harper said. “We are excited about what this will do.”

Climate Change Means More Fuel for Toxic Algae Blooms

By Andrea Thompson
July 27, 2017

For two days in early August 2014, the 400,000 residents in and around Toledo, Ohio, were told not to drink, wash dishes with or bathe in the city’s water supply. A noxious, pea green algae bloom had formed over the city’s intake pipe in Lake Erie and levels of a toxin that could cause diarrhea and vomiting had reached unsafe levels.

The bloom, like the others that form in the lake each summer, was fed by the excessive amounts of fertilizer nutrients washed into local waterways from surrounding farmland by spring and summer rains. Efforts are underway around the Great Lakes ­— as well as other places plagued by blooms, like the Gulf of Mexico and Chesapeake Bay — to reduce nutrient amounts to control the blooms, which can wreak havoc on the local ecology and economy.

But new research shows that climate change is going to make those efforts more and more difficult. As warming temperatures lead to increases in precipitation, more nitrogen, one of those nutrients feeding the blooms, will be washed into the nation’s waterways, the work, detailed in the July 28 issue of the journal Science, finds.

The biggest increases in such nitrogen loading will likely come in the Midwest and Northeast, areas already seeing the biggest uptick in heavy downpours.


Solar-eclipse fever means counterfeit glasses are flooding Amazon’s market

I suggest reading the whole article.

Written by Elijah Wolfson
July 27, 2017


As August 21 nears, eclipse-chasers are realizing that if they want to see the sun disappear behind the moon, they can’t just wake up on the day of the astronomical event and step outside their homes. They’ll need solar eclipse glasses. And so, in the past few months, a cottage industry has sprung up to accommodate this market need. The problem is that many of these newly arrived sellers of solar eclipse glasses are fly-by-night manufacturers looking to turn a quick profit by selling subpar and potentially dangerous goods to unsuspecting Americans.


NASA, of course, has a website dedicated to the 2017 eclipse, and on it, they have a section dedicated to eclipse-viewing safety. The site says that eclipse-viewing glasses must meet a few basic criteria:

Have ISO 12312-2 certification (that is, having been certified as passing a particular set of tests set forth by the International Organization of Standardization)
Have the manufacturer’s name and address printed somewhere on the product
Not be older than three years, or have scratched or wrinkled lenses

NASA also names a few trustworthy lens brands: “Our partner the American Astronomical Society has verified that these five manufacturers are making eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers that meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard for such products: American Paper Optics, Baader Planetarium (AstroSolar Silver/Gold film only), Rainbow Symphony, Thousand Oaks Optical, and TSE 17.”


But if you search for “eclipse glasses” on Amazon, Lunt’s TSE17 lenses don’t show up anywhere near the first 100 results. Those are filled, almost entirely, with sellers like Summstar, which sells HDMI splitters and lightbulbs alongside supposedly sun-safe glasses, and Habibee, which sells a bewildering mix of things like brightly colored plastic hairclips, nail polish, and men’s suspenders.

All of the NASA-approved manufacturers are specialists, making only lenses or astronomical gear. Most have also been in business for decades, and are well-known within the astronomy community and among eclipse-chasers. You can go to their websites and see where they source their parts, what companies did their certifications, and where you can find their factories. The Amazon sellers, on the other hand, typically sell a handful of random products—often recent fad items like fidget-spinners—and provide neither sourcing nor contact information.


All this has made me suspicious about my own glasses. The ones I bought have all the right words printed on them: “meets the Transmission Requirements of ISO 12312-2” they say, before going on to list a slew of other standards allegedly met. Then at the end: “Mfg. by: American Paper Optics.”

But the Amazon listing didn’t actually say American Paper Optics manufactured the lenses; it just showed up with the Tennessee-based company’s stamp on it. I ask Lunt how I could tell if what I had was the real deal or a knock-off, and he tells me to look at the earpieces. There’s a design element that’s been generic among all of cardboard glasses for years (remember those red-and-blue lensed 3D glasses?): the part of the cardboard frame that hooks over the ears has a rounded end. APO recently changed their design to have a more squared-off earpiece.

No surprise, my 10-pack all have rounded ears, the scarlet letter of phoniness.


Stealthy Google Play apps recorded calls and stole e-mails and texts

Company expels 20 advanced surveillance apps installed on ~100 devices.

Dan Goodin - 7/27/2017

Google has expelled 20 Android apps from its Play marketplace after finding they contained code for monitoring and extracting users' e-mail, text messages, locations, voice calls, and other sensitive data.

The apps, which made their way onto about 100 phones, exploited known vulnerabilities to "root" devices running older versions of Android. Root status allowed the apps to bypass security protections built into the mobile operating system. As a result, the apps were capable of surreptitiously accessing sensitive data stored, sent, or received by at least a dozen other apps, including Gmail, Hangouts, LinkedIn, and Messenger. The now-ejected apps also collected messages sent and received by Whatsapp, Telegram, and Viber, which all encrypt data in an attempt to make it harder for attackers to intercept messages while in transit.

The apps also contained functions allowing for:


To conceal their surveillance capabilities, the apps posed as utilities for cleaning unwanted files or backing up data. Google said the apps contained evidence they were developed by a cyber arms company called Equus Technologies. In April, Google officials warned of a different family of Android surveillance apps developed by a different provider of intercept tools called NSO Group Technologies. Those apps were related to the advanced iOS spyware known as Pegasus, which was used against a political dissident located in the United Arab Emirates. In that case, however, the Pegasus-related Android apps never made their way into Google Play.

Google has dubbed the new batch of surveillance apps Lipizzan.


Google's disclosure came about 12 hours before researchers from antivirus provider Sophos documented two apps on Google Play that also steal text messages. One app poses as an app store shortcut feature, and the other masquerades as an app for a "Skin Care Magazine." They worked by downloading a plug-in. Together, they had received from 100,000 to 500,000 downloads.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Informative links

American Muslims growing more liberal, survey shows

Mac malware caught silently spying on computer users

We are all made of stars: half our bodies' atoms may be 'formed beyond the Milky Way'

The health care problem Republicans didn't anticipate

So long, Flash: Adobe will kill plug-in by 2020

Britain bans gasoline and diesel cars starting in 2040

Location of libraries offering free solar eclipse glasses
Found this on

According to Harvard Psychologists, Parents Who Raise "Good" Kids do these Five Things

When Health Law Isn’t Enough, the Desperate Line Up at Tents

Got Chest Pain? This Insurer May Not Cover Your Emergency Room Visit

The White House is only telling you half of the sad story of what happened to American jobs

An Intriguing Link Between Police Shootings and Black Voter Registration

The reality of being poor and sick in America.

Number of Large Fires Rising in the West

July 26, 2017

Wildfires have burned more than 4.5 million acres in the U.S. so far in 2017. That’s 38 percent more than the average acreage burned for the year-to-date over the past decade. And it is the third largest area burned by wildfires in the last decade through late July.

The bulk of U.S. wildfires burn in the western half of the country because soils and vegetation are generally drier there in summer than in the East. As temperatures rise from the increase of greenhouse gases, evaporation rates from soils increase, which can worsen drought and dry out vegetation, creating ample fuel for fires. Hotter and drier conditions also allow wildfires to spread over large areas. Overall, the West is seeing trends toward more large wildfires burning more acres with longer fire seasons. In fact, the most active wildfire seasons are often those that are hotter and drier than average.

Wildfires can be very costly. Of the 17 years since 2000, the U.S. Forest Service has spent more than $1 billion in 12 of them to suppress fires, whereas in the last 15 years of the 1900s, the annual cost only exceeded $500 million dollars twice.


Like Exxon, Utilities Knew about Climate Change Risks Decades Ago

By John H. Cushman Jr.
July 25, 2017


Forty years ago, the documents show, industry officials told Congress that the looming problem of climate change might require the world to back away from coal-fired power—something that is only now beginning to happen.

The research presents a distinct echo of an investigation of Exxon's climate record published by InsideClimate News almost two years ago, and casts significant new light on the duration and depth of industry's climate research—and how electric companies that use fossil fuels responded to the emerging science from the 1960's onward.

The 66-page report unearths research documents and testimony published but then largely forgotten decades before the climate crisis emerged as a key public issue.

And in this episode of the nation's climate history, once again, the same industry that foresaw the ultimate end of coal as a main fuel for power generation later supported actions to cast doubt on the science and to stave off policies to address the problem, funding groups that deny the scientific consensus and joining the main industry group that opposed participation in the first climate treaty. To this day, there are few federal limits on emissions of carbon dioxide by utilities, one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gases.

"It's a story with striking parallels to the investigations into ExxonMobil's early knowledge of climate change and later efforts to deceive investors, policymakers and the public on the issue," EPI said.


By 1988, the EPI report said, the Electric Power Research Institute, supported by the industry, acknowledged "a growing consensus in the scientific community that the greenhouse effect is real."

Even so, EPI said, some in the industry joined oil and other industries in the climate-denial front group known as the Global Climate Coalition, which lobbied successfully to get the United States out of the Kyoto Protocol during the George W. Bush administration.

It is striking that specialists in the industry understood the risks of climate change early enough to expand research efforts into the problem substantially in the 1970's, about the same time Exxon launched cutting-edge research on its own.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Romans threatened with water rationing as Italy's heatwave drags on

Libertarians & conservatives would just let the water run out.

Angela Giuffrida in Rome and Matthew Taylor
Monday 24 July 2017 12.11 EDT

More than a million residents of Rome are facing water rationing for up to eight hours a day as the prolonged heatwave that has ravaged southern Europe takes its toll on the Italian capital.

Some businesses are already reporting sporadic disruption to their supply, while last month mayor Virginia Raggi turned off thousands of the city’s public drinking fountains in an effort to save water as the drought set in.

Officials from the Italian utility Acea, the Lazio region that contains Rome, and the environment ministry will meet this week to discuss the possibility of rationing the water supply to about half of the city’s 3 million residents.
Virginia Raggi, the mayor of Rome
Virginia Raggi, the mayor of Rome

Lazio’s governor, Nicola Zingaretti, has ordered that a ban on drawing water from drought-hit Lake Bracciano, which lies about 40km from the capital and supplies some of its water, will come into force on 28 July.


Blazes have broken out across southern Italy and Sicily, where temperatures have climbed well above 40C [104F]. Wildfires near the Calampiso seaside resort west of Palermo, the Sicilian capital, forced the evacuation by boat of more than 700 tourists earlier this month.

High temperatures compounded by strong winds have helped fires spread after months of below-average rainfall. Farm animals perished while several farms and more than 150 hectares of pine forest were destroyed in a blaze in Sicily this month.


The drought has ravaged two-thirds of agricultural land across the peninsula, causing an estimated €2bn (£1.8bn) worth of damage, according to Coldiretti, the farmers’ association.

Drought in the northern agricultural provinces of Italy prompted the government to declare states of emergency. Beppe Grillo, leader of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, has called for a similar response to the wildfires.

In southern Italy the heatwave has sparked at least 20 wildfires, including on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius near Naples.


Deadly salmonella outbreak linked to papayas

By Debra Goldschmidt, CNN
Updated 6:00 PM ET, Fri July 21, 2017

Forty-seven people in 12 states have become infected with salmonella believed to be linked to yellow Maradol papayas, federal health officials said Friday.
Twelve people have been hospitalized, and one death has been reported, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Investigators are working to learn where the contamination occurred in the supply chain," the CDC said.


Symptoms of salmonella begin 12 to 72 hours after a person is infected and include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramping. This can last about four to seven days, and most individuals recover without treatment. However, those who develop severe diarrhea may need to be hospitalized. Those who are very young, who are very old or who have compromised immune systems are most at risk for complications and severe cases of illness.

Those sickened in this outbreak range from 1 year old to 95.

The CDC has recommended that consumers not eat this type of papaya, restaurants should not serve it, and stores should not sell it. "If you aren't sure if the papaya you bought is a yellow Maradol papaya, ask the place where you bought it. When in doubt, throw it out," the CDC advised.

States reporting illnesses related to this outbreak are Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Maryland. The one death was in New York.


Informative links

The latest brain study examined 111 former NFL players. Only one didn’t have CTE.

Sperm count in the western world is half what it was in the 1970s, says new research
[Why don't they mention exposure to pollution in our food?]

A Nebraska-Sized Area of Forest Disappeared in 2015

Five Decades of Research Confirms: Spanking Produces Similar Outcomes in Children as Physical Abuse.

People who have been denied health care because they were uninsured.
Click on the View more Answers button below the first comment to see more.

Spike in calls to poison control centers over dietary supplements

Microsoft may be quietly retiring Paint after 32 years
It's just "deprecated" for most of us, but it's already disappeared in China and India.

New Zealand storm: states of emergency declared as flooding hits South Island

Why Republicans Cannot Replace the ACA, Or Accomplish Anything Else
Republicans cannot govern because Republicans lack any respect for facts. Tilting at windmills is much easier than constructing them.

Jeb Bush calls out Republicans who criticized Obama over Russia, but have been silent on the Trump-Russia probe
[I note : Democrats are also guilty of accepting behaviour in their own people they would condemn in others, as are people in general.]

Hottest day ever in Shanghai as heat wave bakes China

Satellite Snafu Masked True Sea Level Rise for Decades

Trump Is So Rich He Thinks Health Insurance Costs $12 Per Year
[Another thing to note is that after his May statement, we would expect that he was corrected, but he then makes an even bigger mistake.]

Final New Moon Sunday Starts the Countdown to the Great American Eclipse

Whistleblower Case Shows How Trump Tries to Silence Science

The Energy Industry Is Turning School Kids Into Climate Change Skeptics

Paying People to Not Cut Down Trees Pays Off, Study Finds

Monday, July 24, 2017

Spike in calls to poison control centers over dietary supplements

By Ashley Welch CBS News July 24, 2017, 5:02 PM

New research offers a reminder that dietary supplements don't come without risks — and the problems they can cause appear to be on the rise.

A study published in the Journal of Medical Toxicology finds that U.S. Poison Control Centers receive a call every 24 minutes, on average, regarding exposures to dietary supplements.

The rate of calls increased by almost 50 percent from 2005 to 2012, the researchers found. A total of 274,998 cases were reported from 2000 through 2012.

Seventy percent of the calls involved children younger than 6 years old. The majority of exposures were unintentional, occurring when children swallowed supplements they found at home.

About 4.5 percent of the time — more than 12,300 cases — serious medical complications occurred.

"Many consumers believe dietary supplements are held to the same safety and efficacy standards as over-the-counter medications," Dr. Gary Smith, senior author of the study and director of the Center of Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's, said in a statement. "However, dietary supplements are not considered drugs, thus they are not required to undergo clinical trials or obtain approval from the FDA prior to sale, unless the product is labeled as intended for therapeutic use."

In almost half of the cases, miscellaneous substances found in commonly used dietary supplements accounted for the calls.


Bush Beans announces product recall on 3 varieties sold in 28-ounce cans

July 24, 2017

Bush Beans has announced a voluntary recall of three of its brands of baked beans after concerns were raised about potentially defective seams on the cans.

The Bush Brothers & Company announced the recall for its 28-ounce cans of Bush's Brown Sugar Hickory Baked Beans, County Style Beans and Original Baked Beans.

The recall was announced Saturday.

According to a statement from the company, the recall was initiated by the company after internal quality-assurance checks identified an issue with potentially defective seams.


The statement notes that so far no illnesses have been associated with any of the Bush products in question.

The company is urging people who have any of the varieties of beans in question to dispose of them even if the beans do not look or smell spoiled. The company is also working with supplies to remove affected cans from the shelves.

Affected products are marked on the bottom of each with with the following codes:

BUSH'S(r) BEST BROWN SUGAR HICKORY BAKED BEANS Voluntary Recall - 28 ounce with UPC of 0 39400 01977 0 and Lot Codes 6097S GF and 6097P GF with Best By date of Jun 2019.
BUSH'S(r) BEST COUNTRY STYLE BAKED BEANS Voluntary Recall - 28 ounce with UPC of 0 39400 01974 9 and Lot Codes 6077S RR, 6077P RR, 6087S RR, 6087P RR with the Best By date of Jun 2019.
BUSH'S(r) BEST ORIGINAL BAKED BEANS Voluntary Recall - 28 ounce with UPC of 0 39400; 01614 4 and Lot Codes 6057S LC and 6057P LC with the Best By date of Jun 2019.

The company's Consumer Relations department has a switchboard open to available to answer any questions on the recall. The number is 1-800-590-3797 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Information may also be found on our website at

Rising temperatures can kill Texas prisoners. Corrections ignored that, says federal judge

BY Kamala Kelkar July 22, 2017 at 5:06 PM EDT

A federal judge in Houston ordered a geriatric prison in Texas to help inmates overcome extreme heat and rising summer temperatures, referencing climate change in a groundbreaking ruling this week.

U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison deemed it cruel and unusual that state corrections are aware of dangerous and lethal heat risks — at least 23 men in Texas prisons have died from the heat in the last 20 years — yet have failed to impose safeguards.

Ellison slammed the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for continuously violating the Eighth Amendment by subjecting inmates at the Wallace Pack Unit south of Navasota to heat indexes that regularly exceed 100 degrees in summer.


About one year ago, the court ordered corrections to provide safe drinking water for inmates at the Pack unit after tests revealed arsenic in the water at two-to-four times the standard level permitted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.