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Archive for December 17th, 2011|Daily archive page

Vladimir Putin calls John McCain ‘nuts’ in outspoken attack

In Americas, World News on December 17, 2011 at 12:17 am

By Alex Spillius

The Russian prime minister called the former presidential candidate “nuts” in response to Twitter comment about Russia’s parliamentary elections that drew allegations of fraud and triggered large protests.

Mr McCain’s tweet read: “Dear Vlad, The Arab Spring is coming to a neighbourhood near you.”

Mr Putin turned stony faced when asked about the tweet on his annual televised phone-in.

“Mr McCain fought in Vietnam. I think that he has enough blood of peaceful citizens on his hands. It must be impossible for him to live without these disgusting scenes anymore.

“Mr McCain was captured and they kept him not just in prison, but in a pit for several years,” he said. “Anyone [in his place] would go nuts.”

Referring to Col Gaddafi’s capture and killing, he said: “Who did this? Drones, including American ones. They attacked his column. Then using the radio – through the special forces, who should not have been there – they brought in the so-called opposition and fighters, and killed him without court or investigation.”

The Pentagon immediately dismissed the charge as “ludicrous”.

“The assertion that US special operations forces were involved in the killing of Colonel Gaddafi is ludicrous,” spokesman Capt John Kirby told AFP as of US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta visited…

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‘Man of Mass Destruction’? RT challenges Iraq War architect

In Americas, World News on December 17, 2011 at 12:13 am

By RT

As the day draws closer for the US to withdraw its troops from Iraq, many question how Iraq will fare on its own. RT spoke to one of the chief architects of this campaign, who shared his views on the justifications and failings behind the invasion. ¬A former assistant to the US Secretary of Defense under President Ronald Reagan and a chairman of the Defense Policy Board under George W. Bush, Richard Perle is considered one of the most controversial figures in US politics.

Hidden industry dupes social media users

In Big Brother on December 17, 2011 at 12:11 am

By Tom Simonite

Paying people to influence discussions in social media is big business in China and the U.S.

A trawl of Chinese crowdsourcing websites—where people can earn a few pennies for small jobs such as labeling images—has uncovered a multimillion-dollar industry that pays hundreds of thousands of people to distort interactions in social networks and to post spam.

The report’s authors, at the University of California, Santa Barbara, also found evidence that crowdsourcing sites in the U.S. are similarly dominated by ethically questionable jobs. They conclude that the rapid growth of this way of making money will make paid shills a serious security problem for websites and those who use them around the world. A paper describing their results is available on the Arxiv pre-print server.

Ben Zhao, an associate professor of computer science at UCSB (and a TR35 winner in 2006), started looking into the largely uncharted crowdsourcing industry in China after working closely with RenRen, a social network that is sometimes called the “Facebook of China,” to track malicious activity on the site. Zhao was intrigued to see a lot of relatively sophisticated attempts to send spam and promote brands by users that appeared to be working with specific agendas.

When he and colleagues investigated the source of that activity, the team was surprised by what it found, says Zhao: “Evil crowdsourcing on a very large scale.” Influencing public opinion with fake “grassroots” activity is known as astroturfing, leading Zhao to coin the term “crowdturfing,” since it is done via large crowdsourcing sites.

The researchers discovered that a large amount of the suspect activity in China originated from two crowdsourcing sites: Zhubajie, the largest in China, and Sandaha. There, people are openly offered the equivalent…

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