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Monday, Sep 23rd

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Poll shows Warren now leading in Iowa

Elizabeth Warren, the United States Senator from Massachusets, is shown as leading the Iowa Democratic primary field in the most recent Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Iowa poll. USA Today: Elizabeth Warren has surged in Iowa, narrowly overtaking Joe Biden and distancing herself from fellow progressive Bernie Sanders, the latest Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Iowa Poll shows. Warren, the U.S. senator from Massachusetts, now holds a 2-percentage-point lead, with 22% of likely Democratic caucusgoers saying she is their first choice for president. It is the first time she has led in the Register’s poll. Former Vice President Biden, who had led each of the Register’s three previous 2020 cycle polls, follows her at 20%. Sanders, the U.S. senator from Vermont, has fallen to third place with 11%. Read the rest

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Get skin-deep relief with these CBD lotions and creams

Studies have shown cannabidiol (more popularly known as CBD) to be effective in two main areas: Pain relief and stress relief. Both of those make the non-psychoactive, cannabis-derived compound a natural for topical creams. There's no shortage of CBD products out there, but here's eight of our favorites, all specifically designed for dermatological use - and most on deep discount this week. As with any medicinal product, make sure you ask your doctor before using and check the laws in your state regarding CBD before you buy. Medix 150 Mg CBD Topical Pain Relief Cream Get results right where you need them with this topical cream. Medix's 150 mg of CBD is derived from raw hemp oil and is mixed with a battery of natural ingredients to deliver fast-acting relief. A 1 oz container is now on sale for $24.99, a 58% discount. Curapure 500mg CBD Sports Cream This cream combines CBD with proven ingredients like menthol and eucalyptus leaf to form a fast-acting balm that's perfect for active lifestyles. No parabens, no mineral oil, just natural care that dispenses easily from an airless pump. Get a 500 mg bottle for $33.95, down 15% from the list price. CBD Moisturizing Lotion Here's a great addition to the morning beauty routine. This lotion packs a potent combo of CBD, Schisandra, Goji Berry and other herbs for a moisturizing effect like no other. It's fully vegan, compatible with any skin type, and you can get a 50 ml bottle now for $80. Read the rest

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The lost audiobooks of Roger Zelazny reading the Chronicles of Amber

When I was a kid, my whole circle of D&D-playing, science-fiction reading pals was really into Roger Zelazny's ten-volume Chronicles of Amber, but somehow I never read it; for years, I'd intended to correct this oversight, but I never seemed to find the time -- after all, there's more amazing new stuff than I can possibly read, how could I justify looking backwards, especially over the course of ten books? But I do have some time in my day to read older books: I swim every day for my chronic pain, and when I do, I use an underwater MP3 player to listen to audiobooks that I generally get from Libro.fm, Downpour, or Google's DRM-free audiobook store (the market-leading Audible, a division of Amazon, mandatorily wraps audiobooks in its proprietary DRM without allowing publishers to opt out, which has the dual deal-breaking effect of locking me into Amazon's ecosystem and not working on my underwater MP3 player). A couple of months ago, I decided to go looking for DRM-free versions of the Amber books, which is how I found Speaking Volumes' editions of Roger Zelazny's own readings of the books, long believed to have been accidentally erased and lost forever, but which were recovered and remastered in the mid-2000s. Speaking Volumes sells these as MP3 downloads and MP3 CDs, and I bought the complete set of the former and listened to them over a couple of months' worth of laps in the pool. Zelazny's reading is pretty much fantastic. Read the rest

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Authenticating a video showing hundreds of kneeling people in shackles and blindfolds on a Chinese railroad platform

Last week, a drone video showing hundreds of people in China being shackled and blindfolded and made to kneel on a train platform went viral; a piece of amazing digital detective work by Nathan Ruser presents a compelling case that the video is real, and that it was recorded in August 2018 near the city of Korla in Xinjiang province, where the Chinese state has been prosecuting a vicious, genocidal ethnic cleansing campaign against the predominantly Muslim Uyghur people. Not only is this a vital piece of evidence for understanding the scope of crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, but it's also a masterclass in digital image forensics, combining mathematical techniques for reverse-engineering the time of day from the shadows cast by lamp-poles with comparisons of satellite photos and maps. 4 days ago a video showing 3-400 detainees handcuffed & blindfolded at a train station in Xinjiang was uploaded to YouTube (https://t.co/GpEaZ7YkIK)In this thread I'll share how I've verified that this video was filmed at 库尔勒西站 (41.8202, 86.0176) on or around August 18th. pic.twitter.com/hr5xd8nahM— Nathan Ruser (@Nrg8000) September 21, 2019 (via Super Punch) Read the rest

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Why do people believe the Earth is flat?

I have an op-ed in today's Globe and Mail, "Why do people believe the Earth is flat?" wherein I connect the rise of conspiratorial thinking to the rise in actual conspiracies, in which increasingly concentrated industries are able to come up with collective lobbying positions that result in everything from crashing 737s to toxic baby-bottle liners to the opioid epidemic. In a world where official processes are understood to be corruptible and thus increasingly unreliable, we don't just have a difference in what we believe to be true, but in how we believe we know whether something is true or not. Without an official, neutral, legitimate procedure for rooting out truth -- the rule of law -- we're left just trusting experts who "sound right to us." Big Tech has a role to play here, but it's not in automated brainwashing through machine learning: rather, it's in the ability for conspiracy peddlers to find people who are ripe for their version of the truth, and in the ability of converts to find one another and create communities that make them resilient against social pressure to abandon their conspiracies. Fighting conspiracies, then, is ultimately about fighting the corruption that makes them plausible -- not merely correcting the beliefs of people who have come under their sway. They say that ad-driven companies such as Google and Facebook threw so much R&D at using data-mining to persuade people to buy refrigerators, subprime loans and fidget-spinners that they accidentally figured out how to rob us of our free will. Read the rest

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Banksy celebrates the erasure of his Brexit mural: "I guess a big white flag says it just as well"

In 2017, Banksy painted a giant mural on a wall in Dover, England depicting a worker chiseling a star off the EU flag, by way of a comment on the Brexit vote; now, parties unknown have painted over that mural, whitewashing it. Banksy is philosophical about this development: "Oh. I had planned that on the day of Brexit I was going to change the piece in Dover to this. But seems they've painted over it. Nevermind. I guess a big white flag says it just as well." (via Naked Capitalism) (Image: Dunk, CC BY) Read the rest

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Ed Snowden says he'll stand trial and even go to prison in the USA if he can have a public trial and mount a public interest defense

On the occasion of the publication of Permanent Record, a memoir of Edward Snowden's journey from gung-ho would-be special forces sergeant to CIA and NSA spy to whistleblower -- a memoir that the US government is suing to repress -- Snowden has given an interview with CBS where he expresses his desire to return to the USA and stand trial for his actions, even if that means going to prison. Snowden's only condition is that this not be a secret military tribunal, and that he be allowed to explain to the jury what motivated him to take the extraordinary step of handing a trove of state secrets to journalists, mounting a "public interest defense" for his actions. I'm three quarters of the way through the Snowden memoir and I'm looking forward to reviewing it this coming week (watch this space). I'm not asking for a parade. I'm not asking for a pardon. I'm not asking for a pass. What I'm asking for is a fair trial. And this is the bottom line that any American should require. We don't want people thrown in prison without the jury being able to decide that what they did was right or wrong. The government wants to have a different kind of trial. They want to use special procedures. They want to be able to close the court room. They want the public not to be able to know what's going on. And essentially, the most important fact to the government, and this is the thing we have a point of contention on, is that they do not want the jury to be able to consider the motivations — why I did what I did. Read the rest

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