Strip Mall

AI Fakes, Trump's Fraud, and Looking to the West (Bank)

Today’s lead story is emblematic of two pretty consistent tech trends. First, many of the things we create have an outsized (and often negative) impact on young people. Second, our laws are consistently behind our technologies. “Artificial intelligence is fueling an unprecedented boom this year in fake p-rnographic images and videos. It’s enabled by a rise in cheap and easy-to-use AI tools that can ‘undress’ people in photographs — analyzing what their naked bodies would look like and imposing it into an image — or seamlessly swap a face into a p-rnographic video.” WaPo (Gift Article): AI fake nudes are booming. It’s ruining real teens’ lives. “Victims have little recourse. There’s no federal law governing deepfake porn, and only a handful of states have enacted regulations. President Biden’s AI executive order issued Monday recommends, but does not require, companies to label AI-generated photos, videos and audio to indicate computer-generated work.”


Trump Show Off Broadway

Donald Trump is going full Trump Show as he takes the witness stand in his fraud trial. Of course, following his tradition of projection, Trump has called the judge and the trial a fraud. It may play well to his cult following, but it’s not playing well with the judge and the judge is the one who will decide the damages in this case. (As I’m writing this, the trial has taken a break for lunch which is a grilled cheese and chips that Trump Org valued at $1.4 million.) Here’s the latest from CNN, the Messenger, and NBC.

+ Trump seems to be betting it all on winning another presidential election and using the justice system to free himself of legal burdens and then go after his opponents. This is not a hidden strategy. WaPo (Gift Article): “Donald Trump and his allies have begun mapping out specific plans for using the federal government to punish critics and opponents should he win a second term, with the former president naming individuals he wants to investigate or prosecute and his associates drafting plans to potentially invoke the Insurrection Act on his first day in office to allow him to deploy the military against civil demonstrations … To facilitate Trump’s ability to direct Justice Department actions, his associates have been drafting plans to dispense with 50 years of policy and practice intended to shield criminal prosecutions from political considerations.”

+ And even with the court cases, the fraud, the crimes, January 6, the relentless lies, the dictator worship, the attempts to overturn the election, the stealing of classified material, the promise of authoritarian-style retribution, and the general crazy-ass shitheadedness, a recent Times/Sienna poll shows Trump leading Biden in key swing states.


Hand Over Fist

Obama sums up the situation in the Middle East: “All this is taking place against the backdrop of decades of failure to achieve a durable peace for both Israelis and Palestinians, one that is based on genuine security for Israel, a recognition of its right to exist, and a peace that is based on an end of the occupation and the creation of a viable state and self-determination for the Palestinian people.” (Yes, Hamas must be defanged. But, ultimately, peace is only path to security. If going after Hamas is an end in and of itself, the cycle will only continue.)

+ If you want to get an idea of how possible post-Hamas peace might be, look to the West. The West Bank. Fred Kaplan in Slate on settler violence and harassment that’s getting worse and that must be addressed by the Israeli government. Israel Must Loudly Arrest the Murderous West Bank Settlers. “This has been going on not in Gaza but in the West Bank—which is governed by the Palestinian Authority, not by Hamas. Some of those killed were members of militant groups, but most were attacked simply because they were Palestinians. In any case, they had nothing to do with Hamas’ attack on Israel from Gaza.”

+ As painful as the Oct 7 attack and its response has been to those in the neighborhood, it’s important to keep in mind that current crisis is part of a broader geopolitical struggle for who will be dominant in the 21st century. Putin, Xi, and Iran’s religious leaders are pushing for the American era of leadership to end. These efforts are taking place in wars (Ukraine), threatened wars (Taiwan), Proxy wars (Hamas, Hezbollah, Houthi rebels), and information wars. NYT (Gift Article): In a Worldwide War of Words, Russia, China and Iran Back Hamas. “The conflict between Israel and Hamas is fast becoming a world war online … In a Worldwide War of Words, Russia, China and Iran Back Hamas. “The deluge of online propaganda and disinformation is larger than anything seen before, according to government officials and independent researchers — a reflection of the world’s geopolitical division.”

+ “Casualties are likely to rise sharply as the war turns to close urban combat. Troops are expected to enter Gaza City soon, Israeli media reported, and Palestinian militants who have had years to prepare are likely to fight street by street, launching ambushes from a vast network of tunnels.” Israeli forces cut off north Gaza to isolate Hamas as Palestinian deaths surpass 10,000. Here’s the latest from CNN, NBC, BBC, and Times of Israel.


All Talk and No Trousers

“They work with creators on the platform (who primarily make adult content) to boost their profiles, connect with subscribers and ramp up their earnings. Their mission, as written on Wonderland’s Instagram, is to ‘maximize profits from every subscriber.'” Think You’re Messaging an OnlyFans Star? You’re Talking to These Guys. (You know what, scratch that. If you think you’re talking to an OnlyFans star, just enjoy the illusion…)


Extra, Extra

Delhi Case: “Vanraj is among thousands of schoolchildren in Delhi whose schedules have abruptly changed due to air pollution rising to alarming levels. Over the past few days, Delhi’s Air Quality Index (AQI) – which measures the level of PM 2.5 or fine particulate matter in the air – has consistently crossed the 450 mark, nearly 10 times the acceptable limit. Breathing this toxic air is akin to smoking 25-30 cigarettes a day, according to lung specialists.” Delhi pollution: No school, no play for city’s children.

+ Principals and Principles: “On the other side of the hardship, the principals promise, there can be healing. But the story must begin with the horror. Because the horror, unfortunately, is how you join the club.” The Club No School Principal Wants to Join.

+ No Foul No Arm: “While fury is Beijing’s default response to any military support for Taiwan, this time something was different.” The US is quietly arming Taiwan to the teeth.

+ That Ship Has Sailed: Seems like a pretty key forward-looking indicator: “Shipping giant Maersk is laying off thousands more workers as weak demand and lower freight prices pummel its revenues — a sign the pandemic-driven boom in shipping is turning to bust.”

+ Space Jammed: “Earth orbit is no longer the realm of innovation and discovery. It’s a resource up for grabs, and it is being grabbed with impunity.” NYT: Befouling the Final Frontier. “As humanity rushes back to space, we seem to be repeating some of the mistakes we’ve made on Earth.” (You can set your phasers because I’m stunned…)

+ Grand Pa: This 92-Year-Old Just Became the Oldest Person to Hike the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim. “At 24 miles in length and with more than 10,000 feet of climbing, it’s a challenge for anyone.”

+ Flag Waiving: Flag Football is set to debut in the Olympics in 2028. That seems weird. It could seem even more out of place if the field is filled with NFL players. (Even with five years warning, Taylor Swift watching Travis Kelce in the Olympics is not something the world can prepare for…)


Bottom of the News

“Sigrun Haraldsdottir knew something wasn’t right with her online order when she saw the delivered package fit inside her mailbox. Haraldsdottir, 57, had been looking to purchase a ramp for her 11-pound Yorkshire terrier, Emma, who needed some help hopping onto the sofa without hurting her joints.” WSJ (Gift Article): Your Online Order Has Been Delivered—and It’s Teeny Tiny. “Web shoppers accidentally order minuscule household items described in vague terms on retail sites.” Sadly, there is more than a small price to pay.

+ Britain’s ‘loneliest sheep’ rescued after two years at foot of cliff. Amazing.

+ ‘The Bear’ Renewed for Season 3 by FX. Yes, Chef!

Copied to Clipboard