Trump likened to mob boss, called ‘unethical and untethered to truth’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE USA TODAY NEWSPAPER)

 

James Comey book: Trump likened to mob boss, called ‘unethical and untethered to truth’

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Police are investigating a “prior relationship” between the gunman who wounded two students inside his Maryland high school Tuesday morning and a female victim. The shooter died during a confrontation with a school resource officer. (March 20)AP, AP

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James Comey’s tell-all book details his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation and private interactions he had with President Trump, a man he blasts as “untethered to truth,” according to multiple reports.

Comey’s book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership, is set to hit shelves on Tuesday but copies were obtained by several media outlets, including the Associated Press, The Washington Post and New York Times. 

Comey likens Trump to a mob boss while writing about his career as a prosecutor and highlights “loyalty oaths,” one of which he claims Trump asked of him. The former FBI director describes Trump as creating a “cocoon of alternative reality that he was busily wrapping around all of us,” according to The Washington Post.

The book is filled with vivid details of his encounters with many of Washington, D.C,’s elite — both Democrats and Republicans, including members of Trump’s Cabinet. It details Comey’s career and “the forest fire that is the Trump presidency” that he says led to the end of it.

“This president is unethical, and untethered to truth and institutional values,” Comey writes in the book, according to The New York Times. “His leadership is transactional, ego driven and about personal loyalty.”

In one of the more salacious tidbits, the book alleges Trump asked Comey for an investigation of the alleged “golden shower” tape to reassure his wife that it was fake, according to a report by the New York Post.

The unsubstantiated allegations, which were described in a dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, say that Trump hired prostitutes to urinate in front of him in a hotel room in Moscow.

“He brought up what he called the ‘golden showers thing’ … adding that it bothered him if there was ‘even a one percent chance’ his wife, Melania, thought it was true,” Comey wrote, according to the Post.

Trump continued unprompted, Comey said, “explaining why it couldn’t possibly be true, ending by saying he was thinking of asking me to investigate the allegation to prove it was a lie. I said it was up to him.”

More: Comey’s book promises ‘truth’ about troubled FBI tenure

Related: Comey: ‘Mr. President, the American people will hear my story very soon’

Comey cautioned the president that any probe might “create a narrative” that the FBI was investigating him, the Post reported.

Privately, Comey wrote, he wondered why there would even be a 1 percent chance Melania Trump would believe the allegations.

“In what kind of marriage, to what kind of man, does a spouse conclude there is only a 99 percent chance her husband didn’t do that?” he wrote in the book.

Comey also talks about his inner battle with how he handled the Clinton email investigation, even talks he had with President Obama and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

“I picked you to be FBI director because of your integrity and your ability. I want you to know that nothing — nothing — has happened in the last year to change my view,” Obama told Comey in a private Oval Office meeting, according to The Washington Post. 

Comey describes Lynch as having a “tortured half-out, half-in approach” to the Clinton investigation and that she had asked him to refer to the probe as a “matter” instead of an “investigation.”

FTC Warns Companies ‘Warranty Void if Removed’ Stickers Are Flatly Illegal

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘EXTREMETECH’)

 

FTC Warns Companies ‘Warranty Void if Removed’ Stickers Are Flatly Illegal

If you’ve ever purchased a game console or other piece of electronics gear, chances are you’ve seen a “Warranty Void if Removed” sticker stuck somewhere on the device. There’s typically a peel-away tape used to confirm whether a device has been opened. If it has, companies will often attempt to deny warranty claims.

What many people don’t realize is that this is illegal. The 1975 Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act made it illegal for companies to force users to only repair hardware using specific components or via “authorized” resellers. While companies are not required to offer warranties, if they do offer a warranty, they aren’t allowed to void it simply because the customer has the device repaired elsewhere. Companies are allowed to require you to ship the device to them for warranty service or to return it to the store you purchased it from, but they can’t void your warranty just because you repaired an unrelated problem yourself. The Mag-Moss Act states:

No warrantor of a consumer product may condition his written or implied warranty of such product on the consumer’s using, in connection with such product, any article or service (other than article or service provided without charge under the terms of the warranty) which is identified by brand, trade, or corporate name.

We’ve covered this issue before, but the topic is back on the radar thanks to recent FTC action. The government agency announced it has sent warnings to six specific companies, notifying them that their continued use of “Warranty Void if Removed” stickers is in direct violation of federal law. They even wrote a song about it. I quote:

When the screen goes blue
And the car breaks down
And the smartphone keeps rebooting eternally
Consumers won’t be afraid
No, they won’t be afraid
Just as long as you stand by your warranty.

(The song appears in an accompanying blog post as opposed to being part of the letter. Thank God the author isn’t relying on his scansion skills for job security).

PS4Feature

This practice isn’t unique to Microsoft. Image by iFixit

The FTC didn’t name which companies it contacted, but notes that the firms in question sell “automobiles, cellular devices, and video gaming systems in the United States.” The FTC does give three examples of offending warranty language, however, which let us hone in on some of the targets by searching for the text strings directly:

“The use of [company name] parts is required to keep your… manufacturer’s warranties and any extended warranties intact.” = Hyundai.

“This warranty shall not apply if this product… is used with products not sold or licensed by” = Nintendo.

“This warranty does not apply if this product… has had the warranty seal on the [product] altered, defaced, or removed” = Sony.

The FTC continues:

FTC staff has requested that each company review its promotional and warranty materials to ensure that such materials do not state or imply that warranty coverage is conditioned on the use of specific parts of services. In addition, FTC staff requests that each company revise its practices to comply with the law. The letters state that FTC staff will review the companies’ websites after 30 days and that failure to correct any potential violations may result in law enforcement action.

Don’t put up with any BS from Nintendo, Sony, or Microsoft (Microsoft has used the same types of warnings on the Xbox One). Your warranty is not void simply because you opened a box. They’re not allowed to tell you differently, and neither are firms like Apple (another likely recipient of one of these letters). This consumer-hostile bullshit is illegal, period, full stop. For more information on this topic and a breakdown of what actions can or cannot void a warranty, see this article.

Interpol is using AI to hunt down child predators online

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘ENGADGET’ NEWS AND REUTERS NEWS AGENCY)

Interpol is using AI to hunt down child predators online

The iCOP machine learning system looks for kiddie porn so the police don’t have to.

 
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The FBI may have scored a big win with operation Playpen, which helped dismantle a ring of TOR-based pedophiles and prosecute its members (thanks, Rule 41), but that was just one battle in the ongoing war against the sexual exploitation of children. That fight is now a bit easier for European law enforcement, which as debuted a new machine learning AI system that hunts for child porn on P2P networks.

The system, known as iCOP (Identifying and Catching Originators in P2P Networks), works similarly to Microsoft’s Photo DNA, wherein images of child porn are tagged with a digital signature after being collected in the course of an investigation. These signatures are then shared as a global database for law enforcement. If the same images or videos resurface during other investigations, they’re automatically flagged. This saves law enforcement the stomach-turning drudgery of manually checking the images against the database. This saves time, manpower and accelerates investigations. What’s more, it automatically identifies new material (anything that doesn’t get flagged), which provides fresh leads on more recent crimes.

And given that, according to the UN, 16 percent of people who possess this sort of material have themselves abused children, reducing the amount of time between discovery and arrest can help save children from further exploitation. The iCOP system is designed for use on Gnutella and has been trained with tens of thousands of images ranging from adult porn and benign images of kids to the full-on sexual abuse of minors.

Interpol has already begun testing iCOP for its own use in the Lyon region of France. Once installed on the Interpol system and linked to other databases like Project Vic, iCOP returned false positives in less than 8 percent of images and in just over 4 percent of videos.

“It significantly reduces the overhead for investigators,” Awais Rashid, a professor at Lancaster University (which helped develop the system) told WIRED. “Instead of having to trawl through large numbers of images and videos to identify new child abuse material, investigators are provided with automated matches which are highly accurate. In practice, this means investigators having to look at a small number of images and videos rather than thousands.” Given its initial success with Interpol, the iCOP team hopes to expand the system out to TOR-obscured networks.

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