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Daily Archives: January 20, 2020

All we owe to animals It is not enough to conserve species and ecosystems

Aeon – We have an ethical duty to care for each individual animal on earth: “…Australia [has been] on fire. The fires have killed at least 25 humans and more than a billion animals. Animals such as koalas are especially at risk, since their normal response to threats – climbing to the tops of trees – leaves them vulnerable in the case of fire. As a result, an estimated 25,000 koalas have died and many more will die in the coming weeks…More generally, changing weather conditions are causing animals to suffer and die all around the world. Aardvarks in the Kalahari are starving because of increasing drought. Black bears in the United States are unable to hibernate because warming temperatures are waking them up and preventing them from going to sleep. The Australian mosaic-tailed rat is now extinct because of rising sea levels. Countless aquatic animals are dying each year because of ocean acidification. Human-caused climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of such events. As global average temperatures rise, we can expect rising sea levels, an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, flooding coastal areas, and regional conflicts over land, water and food. And while some animals will adapt, many will not. If we stay on this path, we will subject quintillions of animals over the next century to the ravages of disease, weather and ecosystem collapse.

Human activity harms animals in many other ways, too. We breed and kill at least 100 billion animals per year for food and at least 115 million per year for research. Fishing kills 1-3 trillion animals per year. Deforestation destroys animal habitats. Leaf blowers and light pollution kill insects. Building and vehicle collisions kill at least a billion animals per year. This year, more than 300 birds were injured or killed in collisions with a building in North Carolina in a single night. These impacts raise the question: what do we – that is, humans in the global 1 per cent – owe animals in the context of human-caused ecological disaster? I think that the answer to this question is clear. If our actions are harming other animals, then we have a responsibility to try to reduce or repair these harms. Yet this will not be easy to do. It will take not only time, energy and money but also foundational social, political and economic change…”

The browser wars are back but it’s different this time

The Verge – It’s about privacy, not marketshare: “…First: there are new browser technologies and limits coming that could radically change how ads work and could make it easier for you to protect your privacy no matter what browser you use. Since this is the web, it’ll take time, but everybody seems committed. Second: the… Continue Reading

Banning facial recognition – it is not enough to ensure privacy

The New York Times Opinion – We’re Banning Facial Recognition. We’re Missing the Point. The whole point of modern surveillance is to treat people differently, and facial recognition technologies are only a small part of that. “…These efforts are well intentioned, but facial recognition bans are the wrong way to fight against modern surveillance. Focusing… Continue Reading

Election Hacks

Rolling Stone – Hackers Are Coming for the 2020 Election — And We’re Not Ready: “..Four years ago, for an embarrassingly modest price, Russia pulled off one of the more audacious acts of election interference in modern history. The Internet Research Agency, the team of Kremlin-backed online propagandists, spent $15 million to $20 million and… Continue Reading

Top Trends in State Criminal Justice Reform, 2019

“In Top Trends in State Criminal Justice Reform, 2019, Nicole D. Porter highlights key changes in criminal justice policy achieved in 2019. Highlights include: Sentencing: California repealed a one-year sentence enhancement for each prior prison or county jail felony term, impacting 10,000 people. Felony Disenfranchisement: Nevada and New Jersey expanded voting rights to people on… Continue Reading

Reporters Cmte and 57 news orgs urge Senate to reconsider impeachment trial press restrictions

Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press: “In a letter sent Thursday night, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, joined by 57 news organizations, asked the Senate to reconsider press restrictions during the impeachment trial that have been the subject of growing criticism over the past week. “Absent an articulable security rationale,” the… Continue Reading

How the Chinese government mobilizes students and media to burnish its image

Custer, S., Prakash, M., Solis, J., Knight, R., and J. Lin. (2019). Influencing the Narrative: How the Chinese government mobilizes students and media to burnish its image. Williamsburg, VA. AidData at William & Mary: “Chinese leaders have mobilized an impressive array of government agencies, media outlets, and educational institutions at home and abroad as a… Continue Reading

It’s Time to Stop Making Excuses for Amazon’s Disposable Tech

IFixit: “Amazon doesn’t repair their own products for customers outside their return or warranty periods. The company doesn’t make parts available. Need a new battery for your old but still functional Kindle Paperwhite? That’s too bad, Amazon doesn’t sell them directly (though you can roll the dice on a number of third-party vendors). The same… Continue Reading