Archive for the ‘US News’ Category

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beauty and the beast 2017Russian officials are coming under pressure to check if Disney’s new film Beauty and the Beast breaches the country’s discriminatory law against gay propaganda .Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky said action would be taken after the checks while an MP described the film as shameless propaganda of sin .

The live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast features Disney’s first ever gay character and love scene. Director Bill Condon has spoken of an exclusively gay moment in Beauty and the Beast.  It involves LeFou, who is a sidekick of the film’s main antagonist Gaston. LeFou, played by US actor Josh Gad, tries to come to terms with feelings for Gaston that swing between lust and admiration, as a side-plot to the main story.

In another groundbreaking moment, the film is to feature the first interracial kiss in a Disney live-action film.

Vitaly Milonov, an MP of the governing United Russia party, urged the culture minister to hold a screening of the film before it was released to see if it complied with the law and to take measures to totally ban it if he found elements of propaganda of homosexuality . Vitaly Milonov is one of the main supporter of the Russian law of 2013

But don’t think that Russia is singularly homophobic country who is whingeing at the film. A cinema in the USA is also refusing to show the films for homophobic reasons. The owners of the Henagar Drive-In in Alabama explained:

It is with great sorrow that I have to tell our customers that we will not be showing ‘Beauty and the Beast’ at the Henagar Drive-In when it comes out, When companies continually force their views on us we need to take a stand. We all make choices and I am making mine.

For those that do not know ‘Beauty and the Beast’ is ‘premiering’ their first homosexual character 206 If we can not take our 11 year old grand daughter and 8 year old grandson to see a movie we have no business watching it. If I can’t sit through a movie with God or Jesus sitting by me then we have no business showing it.

I know there will be some that do not agree with this decision. That’s fine. We are first and foremost Christians. We will not compromise on what the Bible teaches.

US police seem to think so and are trying to demand that Amazon hands over the recordings

Amazon Echo, Black Police in the US believe an Amazon Echo overheard the murder of a man found dead in a hot tub. They want a copy of any audio recorded by the Echo personal assistant, conveniently stored in Amazon’s cloud.The cops think the Alexa-powered Echo, which was found in the kitchen, may have recorded what went on that night, even though you supposedly need to say a wake up word to activate Alexa.

Presumably worried about sales, Amazon is refusing to hand over said recordings, and has gone to court to fight their corner.

Amazon refused to fully comply with the search warrant, and has now filed a motion to the Circuit Court of Benton County, Arkansas, to quash the order. The tech giant says any conversation a customer has with their Echo is covered by the First Amendment. Amazon argued:

Given the important First Amendment and privacy implications at stake, the warrant should be quashed unless the Court finds that the State has met its heightened burden for compelled production of such materials.

Leaving aside the legal arguments, Amazon is keen to ensure that the police can’t use its devices as perpetual bugs in the homes of their owners. If legal precedent is established for that, sales will go off the side of a cliff.

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facebook loginSecretary of Homeland Security John Kelly told Congress this week that the Department of Homeland Security is exploring the possibility of asking visa applicants not only for an accounting of what they do online, but for full access to their online accounts. In a hearing in the House of Representatives, Kelly said:

We want to say for instance, What sites do you visit? And give us your passwords. So that we can see what they do on the internet. And this might be a week, might be a month. They may wait some time for us to vet. If they don’t want to give us that information then they don’t come. We may look at their204we want to get on their social media with passwords. What do you do? What do you say? If they don’t want to cooperate, then they don’t come in.

TechCrunch’ s Devin Coldewey pointed out, asking people to surrender passwords would raise “obvious” privacy and security problems. But beyond privacy and security, the proposed probing of online accounts204including social media and other communications platforms204would, if implemented, be a major threat to free expression.

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The Walking Dead The Walking Dead producers toned down some of the violence in the first half of season seven after a backlash to a gruesome killing scene in the season opener.Executive producer Gale Anne Hurd acknowledged that the negative response to the bludgeon slayings of two key characters in the premiere prompted producers to make adjustments in episodes that were still in production. She said:

We were able to look at the feedback on the level of violence. We did tone it down for episodes we were still filming for later on in the season.

Hurd made it clear that the response made an impact on the production team. This is not a show that is torture porn, she said. After the response to the finale, she said they gave strong consideration to making sure we don’t cross that line.

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todd weilerUtah’s most prominent anti-porn lawmaker wants to give people the ability to sue pornographers in the hope that someone, somewhere will be able to prove that watching their product causes emotional and psychological damage.State Senator Todd Weiler received national attention for penning a 2016 resolution declaring a public health crisis caused by pornography. He not only wants to limit access to sexually explicit material to children and teens, but he believes pornographers should be held liable for the impacts their products have on adults. He said:

Right now porn is available without any warnings and labeling, without any protections online. This would just open the valve for a cause of action. Let these attorneys go after these cases.

If the Legislature passes his proposal, he said, he expects courts to initially reject claims that pornography causes real harm: But I think, eventually, the tide will turn.

Weiler is pinning his hopes on some sort of ludicrous analogy with tobacco use, where court challenges broke through big business defence of their deadly trade. But of course there simply aren’t millions of porn users dropping dead, and even anti porn campaigners haven’t really come up with many harms beyond instilling bad attitudes to women.

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Amazon Echo - BlackAmazon has refused to hand over recordings from an Echo smart speaker to US police investigating a murder in Arkansas. Police issued a warrant to Amazon to turn over recordings and other information associated with the device.Amazon twice declined to provide the police with the information they requested from the device, although it did provide account information and purchase history.

Although the Echo is known for having always-on microphones to enable its voice-controlled features, the vast majority of the recordings it makes are not saved for longer than the few seconds it takes to determine if a pre-set wake word (usually Alexa ) has been said. Only if that wake word has been heard does the device’s full complement of microphones come on and begin transmitting audio to Amazon.

However the police pursuit of the data suggests there is more of interest up for grabs than Amazon is admitting.

Amazon’s reluctance to part with user information fits a familiar pattern. Tech companies often see law enforcement requests for data as invasive and damaging to an industry. It is clearly an issue for sales of a home microphone system if it is easy for the authorities to grab recordings.

Other devices have also been good data sources for police investigations.  Wristwatch-style Fitbit activity trackers have cropped up in a few cases eg for checking alibis against sleep patterns or activity.

A smart water meter has also been used in a murder case as evidence of a blood clean up operation,

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Colorado state sealOnline retailers in America will soon be required by law to disclose to state governments what purchases their customers have made.The law seems to have been made up in US courts during a long-running legal case based around the jurisdiction of sales tax. An appeals court decision now requires out-of-state retailers to report to the Colorado state government the details of all purchases, including what that purchase was and who bought it.

The US Supreme Court has refused to hear the case so the appeal court decision stands.

Colorado is not the only state pushing the requirement. Vermont will also make the same requirement three months after Colorado starts imposing the law. And other states including Alabama, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wyoming have approved similar rules.

The exec director of the American Catalog Mailers Association (ACMA), Hamilton Davison, is extremely concerned He said:

Consumers, particularly those who buy from catalogs and e-commerce merchants, put considerable trust in the businesses from which they make the most personal of purchases, he noted. This decision undermines this trust by requiring remote sellers to report to state tax collectors on the buying habits of their customers, including health care products, apparel or other sensitive items.