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Whitehouse Hosted A Session On The Hiring Of Incarcerated People


The White House hosted a roundtable comprising executives from such companies as Uber, Home Depot, and Johns Hopkins Health System, as well as officials like governors John Hickenlooper of Colorado and Matt Bevin of Kentucky, to discuss the challenges and benefits of hiring the group of people now referred to as formerly incarcerated.

Crime has long declined in the last decades. Roughly 70 million adults in this country have criminal records; and more than 10 million return to their communities from incarceration each year. For this group, more jobs equal lower recidivism equals better lives. Yet fresh starts are curtailed by cultural bias, skills deficits, and myriad regulatory barriers. Among the most common: state rules that deny professional licenses to people with criminal histories.

Roundtable participants said they would like to see such rules eased or eliminated. They also want more collaboration between governments and businesses to create pathways from incarceration to employment (primarily for nonviolent offenders). The idea of creating more job-training programs inside prisons was discussed. So was raising the profile of the Department of Labor’s 52-year-old federal bonding program, which guarantees for six months the honesty of hard-to-place job candidates, including people with criminal records.

The smallest business at the table was also the most experienced. For more than 30 years, Greyston Bakery, based in Yonkers, New York, has practiced “open hiring”–filling available positions with anyone who wants them, no questions asked. The $20 million company has employed thousands of ex-offenders. Around 65 percent of the current workforce has been incarcerated.

 Policymakers have been making some strides. For example, more than 150 cities and counties have adopted ban-the-box rules preventing employers from asking about criminal history on job applications. But there’s a distinction between making it harder for companies to not hire the formerly incarcerated and persuading them to actively seek out ex-offenders and help them become valued employees. 





CIA, FBI, and NSA Chiefs Say You Shouldn’t Use Huawei or ZTE phones


Top officials from major U.S. intelligence agencies including the CIA, the FBI, and the National Security Agency (NSA) have suggested people should not use phones made by Chinese manufacturers Huawei or ZTE. They have“Deep concerns,” over potential security risks claimed to come from using telecoms devices made by companies, “beholden to foreign governments.

There was a discussion at an annual meeting about various threats to the United States from around the world.  A wide range of subjects, including and primarily Russian influence on U.S. politics and North Korea’s nuclear program, right down to drugs entering the U.S. from Mexico. Cyber security and the use of technology in espionage, however, repeatedly permeated talks.

Director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, made the opening remarks. He said the United States is under attack from, “Entities using cyber to penetrate virtually every major action that takes place in the United States,” and called cyber threats one of his greatest concerns and top priorities. Coats singled out Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea as posing the greatest threats.


Huawei’s new flagship phone, the Mate 10 Pro, is available for pre-order in the US despite not having any deals with US carriers — so to get some attention, it seems the company has stooped to having fake reviews for the new phone planted online, as spotted by 9to5Google.

The fake reviews, are hosted on the Best Buy website, probably  the result of a contest Huawei ran on Facebook. On January 31st, the company posted to a Facebook group with over 60,000 members, asking for people to leave comments on the Best Buy pre-sale page in exchange for a chance to beta test a Mate 10 Pro. The original post has been deleted, but 9to5Google obtained a screenshot before it went down. “Tell us how to why (sic) you WANT to own the Mate 10 Pro in the review section of our pre-sale Best Buy retail page,” the post states.


Waymo vs Uber Revolves Around Allegations of Deceit, Betrayal, espionage & A High-Tech Heist


Waymo sued Uber, accusing it of ripping off key pieces of its self-driving car  technology in 2016. Uber paid $680 million for a startup run by Anthony Levandowski, one of the top engineers in a robotic vehicle project that Google began in 2009 and later became in Waymo.

Google was also an early investor in Uber, the relationship eventually soured. Its parent company Alphabet also owns Waymo.

Waymo has drawn a sordid picture, contending that Levandowski stole thousands of documents containing Google trade secrets before defecting to Uber. Waymo says Levandowski conspired with former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick to use the pilfered technology in Uber’s own fleet of self-driving cars.

Uber has boldly denied the allegations in the civil case, which has also triggered a criminal investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. It’s not clear whether that probe is focused on Uber or Levandowski, who has consistently exercised his right against self-incrimination and is expected to do so again if called to testify during the trial.

Levandowski’s refusal to relinquish his Fifth Amendment rights eventually led Uber to fire him last May, even though he had developed a close relationship with Kalanick.

The stakes in the trial are humongous. Waymo is demanding damages estimated at nearly $2 billion. It also wants a court order that would prevent Uber from using any of the technology that it says was stolen, a move that could hobble the ride-hailing service’s push to design self-driving cars.

The courtroom drama will feature an intriguing cast of characters. The list of expected witnesses includes both the combative Kalanick and Silicon Valley venture capitalist Bill Gurley, an early Uber backer who later helped engineer Kalanick’s departure as Uber’s CEO. (Kalanick resigned under pressure last June.)

Two of the world’s richest people, Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, may also be called to testify about the importance of Waymo’s self-driving project and Levandowski’s role in it.

Both Waymo and Uber each will have only have a total of 16 hours to make their case. That time restraint could prove more daunting for Waymo. It will have to educate a 10-person jury about the intricacies of the eight trade secrets that Uber is accused of stealing, then prove the ride-hailing service used the technology in its vehicles or improperly shared it with others.

The lawsuit has already established internal documents and sworn testimony that exposed spying programs and other shady tactics deployed by Uber to expand its business.

Furthermore, Uber has acknowledged allowing rampant sexual harassment to occur within its ranks, a yearlong cover-up of a major computer break-in and a $100,000 ransom paid to the hackers, and the use of duplicitous software to thwart government regulators.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup has emphasized that Waymo faces the difficult challenge of proving that the ride-hailing service used stolen technology in its self-driving cars.


Free Vending Machines For The Homeless Coming To The U.S. February 2018


A charity in the United Kingdom is testing special vending machines that dispense essential items like water, food, and clothing to homeless people with nowhere to go at night. The free-to-use service is the work of Nottingham-based Action Hunger. Huzaifah Khaled is the founder of this organization.  Access to the machines is exclusively permitted to those in need. Items can only be vended with the use of a special key card issued by Action Hunger. The key cards are disseminated to their partner organizations in each city, which tend to have homeless shelters and local outreach centers.

The key cards can be used to get up to three items per day, and Action Hunger hopes it will enable people to get some help, without becoming too reliant on the vending machines. The non-perishable contents of the vending machine such as fresh fruit, energy bars, sandwiches, socks, gloves, sanitary towels, toothbrush and toothpaste combination packs, and foil blankets, come from donations, while most of the fresh food is being supplied by redistribution organizations. In order to keep the key cards active, individuals must check in with their regular homeless shelter on a weekly basis.

The free vending machines will be in the United States February 2018. New York will receive the first machine, and Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle will follow. Action Hunger has a special interest in a host of cities across America and would like to reach as many people as possible including more areas in Europe.

homeless vending machine action hunger




They’re Now Editing Embryos Here In America


MIT Technology Review has learned that the first known attempt at creating genetically modified human embryos in the United States has been carried out by a team of researchers in Portland, Oregon.

The experiment, led by Shoukhrat Mitalipov of Oregon Health and Science University, involved changing the DNA of a large number of one-cell embryos with the gene-editing technique CRISPR, according to people familiar with the scientific results.

To date, three previous reports of editing human embryos were all published by scientists in China. None of the embryos were allowed to develop for more than a few days—and they claim that there was never any intention of implanting them into a womb—

Scientists claim their objective is to show that they can eradicate or correct genes that cause inherited disease, like the blood condition beta-thalassemia. The process is termed “germline engineering” because any genetically modified child would then pass the changes on to subsequent generations via their own germ cells—the egg and sperm.

Some critics say germline experiments could open the floodgates to a brave new world of “designer babies” engineered with genetic enhancements—a prospect bitterly opposed by a range of religious organizations, civil society groups, and biotech companies.The U.S. intelligence community last year called CRISPR a potential “weapon of mass destruction.”

Shoukhrat Mitalipov is the first U.S.-based scientist known to have edited the DNA of human embryos.


A person familiar with the research says “many tens” of human IVF embryos were created for the experiment using the donated sperm of men carrying inherited disease mutations.

Mitalipov’s group appears to have overcome earlier difficulties by “getting in early” and injecting CRISPR into the eggs at the same time they were fertilized with sperm.

Tony Perry of Bath University, Successfully edited the mouse gene for coat color, changing the fur of the offspring from the expected brown to white.

Somewhat prophetically, Perry’s paper on the research, published at the end of 2014, said, “This or analogous approaches may one day enable human genome targeting or editing during very early development.”

Mitalipov was Born in Kazakhstan when it was part of the former Soviet Union. In 2007, he unveiled the world’s first cloned monkeys. Then, in 2013, he created human embryos through cloning, as a way of creating patient-specific stem cells.

His team’s move into embryo editing coincides with a report by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in February that was widely seen as providing a green light for lab research on germline modification.

The report also offered qualified support for the use of CRISPR for making gene-edited babies, but only if it were deployed for the elimination of serious diseases.

The advisory committee drew a red line at genetic enhancements—like higher intelligence. “Genome editing to enhance traits or abilities beyond ordinary health raises concerns about whether the benefits can outweigh the risks, and about fairness if available only to some people,” said Alta Charo, co-chair of the NAS’s study committee and professor of law and bioethics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

In the U.S., any effort to turn an edited IVF embryo into a baby has been blocked by Congress, which added language to the Department of Health and Human Services funding bill forbidding it from approving clinical trials of the concept.







Should There Be Another Constitutional Convention in New York?

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New Yorkers have the chance to vote whether they want to hold a constitutional convention to amend, tweak or otherwise improve the founding document of the state every twenty years. Voters have demuurred for the past 50 years. Come November, however, academics, good-government groups and others believe the outcome of the ballot question may be different. But before voters confront the ballot question, they will no doubt be barraged by aka “Con-Con”,  campaigns for and against a constitutional convention. Nonprofit groups interested in issues including campaign finance reform, redistricting, term limits and the legalization of marijuana have come out in favor of a convention. At the same time, unions like the United Federation of Teachers and state legislative leaders have argued against a convention, saying it could repeal hallowed protections.

Speakers waiting their turn at the opening session of the New York State Constitutional Convention in 1967 included, seated from left, Senator Jacob K. Javits, Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller, Chief Justice Earl Warren and Senator Robert F. Kennedy. Credit Bettmann, via Getty Images

Delegates assembled for the opening session of the 1938 constitutional convention in Albany. Credit The New York Times

If voters approve a convention, delegates would be elected in 2018, with the convention held the next year. It remains to be seen.



Wiki Leaks has dubbed it Code- “Vault 7” and it is the largest ever publication of confidential documents on the agency.

More on   VAULT 7

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