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  1. In Norway, the Norwegian bank DNB has taken the lead. And since politicians in general are trained to do as financial capitalism bids, we can say with almost total certainty that legislation banning cash will be passed. If cash payment is banned by law, we will no longer have money. Or rather: we will no longer have any control over our own money. Whether we’ll be able to use them or not, will be decided by the banks and the authorities. We can no longer withdraw money from the bank and hide them under the mattress, even if the banks should introduce a five percent negative interest rate. And if the authorities decide that a certain person should be blocked from their account, they cannot buy as much as a bus ticket or a piece of bread. The totalitarian society on steroids.

    This neo-fascism, or this post-democratic society – or whatever we should name this nightmare – is matched by the draconic legislations against so-called “fake news” and the introduction of public-private censorship bodies. As noted before, a militarization of opinion formers worthy that of a dictatorship, is taking place. And it is happening without the slightest protest from those who supposedly support the freedom of the press and free speech.
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  2. “For power generation, there are alternatives to fossil fuels,” says Barry Jones, a general manager of the Global CCS Institute. (The institute, an Australia-based association of international governments and energy companies, helped me make contacts in China but provided no financial assistance or editorial supervision.) “But for some industrial processes, there are no alternatives.” Examples include steel and cement, essential building blocks for all modern societies. Most steel is smelted in large blast furnaces. The furnaces require coke, a solid fuel made by burning coal in a low-oxygen environment. Not only an energy source, coke literally supports the iron ore in the furnace and participates in the chemical reactions that transform pig iron into steel. According to Vaclav Smil, an energy researcher and prolific author on the subject, producing a ton of steel requires almost half a ton of coke. Coal is also the primary fuel for cement manufacturers. “In theory, coal could be replaced,” Jones says. “But that would involve rebuilding every cement plant in the world.”
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  3. Around the world, police are discovering a disturbing new trend towards an increase in the use of novel 3D printed firearms.

    This week a US court sentenced a man to three and a half years prison for creating and selling 3D printed parts for AR-15 rifles.

    Specifically, he had been using a CNC machine to in order to build the ‘lower receiver’ of an AR-15, a critical component whose sale would normally require a government license.

    Advertising himself as Dr Death on gun forums, he had built many such lower receivers free from government-mandated serial numbers.

    He was eventually caught however in an undercover operation, and in court, the sentencing judge declared that it was a “brazen attempt to circumvent the law”.

    Elsewhere in the world, 3D printed guns are being illegally manufactured in countries with strict existing controls on firearms.

    In December last year in Melbourne, Australia, local police raided a house containing a number of 3D printed firearms, as well as a printer which had allegedly been used to fabricate the seized weapons.

    The weapons bust, which was the first in the state, followed a similar raid on a house containing an illicit “weapons factory” in the northern state of Queensland earlier that month. This raid uncovered a 3D printer among other machinery used to make guns.
    3D printed guns enter the mainstream

    Currently, 3D printed guns are very rudimentary. The most popular designs, such as the ‘Liberator’ handgun, are made from thermoplastic and can only safely fire a few shots before they destroy themselves.

    Nonetheless, 3D printed plastic guns pose a threat as they cannot be easily detected by metal detectors.

    In 2016, for the first time ever, TSA agents at an airport in the US confiscated a 3D printed ‘replica’ gun, as well as a number of real .22 bullets.

    The real problems with 3D printed guns, however, will begin when devices working with metal begin to reduce in price. Right now a device which can 3D print metal parts costs over $500,000, outside the budget of most criminals.

    Should this price fall, we can expect to see an explosion in underground 3D-printing weapons factories, especially in countries with tough gun laws.
    Tags: , , by M. Fioretti (2017-02-28)
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  4. Di Maio fa una gaffe dietro all'altra, ma qui fa quasi tenerezza o forse proprio pena. Non si capisce come si permetta un politico che ha ambizioni come lui ad andare in televisione così assurdamente impreparato: è una mancanza di rispetto verso chi ascolta. Le Torri dell'Eur avevano i lavori in corso quando Virginia Raggi è arrivata al Campidoglio, per fare - ancora una volta - un favore a dei palazzinari che non gradivano quell'operazione che avrebbe visto la TIM trovare sede nelle torri, la Giunta Raggi con una operazione spregiudicata che speriamo sarà oggetto di approfondimento da parte della magistratura, ha consentito alla TIM (che nel frattempo aveva cambiato management) di sfilarsi dall'affare addirittura senza pagare neppure le penali. Una operazione inqualificabile che lascerà questi ruderi per altri anni in mezzo all'Eur e pregiudicherà anche lo sviluppo della Nuvola di Fuksas e del relativo albergo. Se le Torri dell'Eur sono vuote, come giustamente dice Di Maio, è dunque esclusivamente colpa del Movimento 5 Stelle. Una colpa che secondo noi prefigura reati peraltro. Purtroppo nessuno, anche qui, ha fatto notare a Di Maio la contraddizione patetica nella quale è caduto.

    12. "...costruire quando non serve..."
    Totalmente falso per quanto riguarda l'offerta di direzionale. A Roma praticamente non c'è direzionale di qualità (aziende serie, come BNL, sono costrette a costruirsi le proprie sedi da sole - vedi il bell'edificio dei 5+1AA a fianco alla Tiburtina - perché l'offerta di direzionale è profondamente scadente) e c'è un enorme tema di spostamento di funzioni direzionali dal centro, congestionato, alla periferia. Dunque c'è una enorme necessità di edificazioni di palazzi e grattacieli per uffici e per terziario avanzato. Ostacolare questo processo significa, come esattamente sta succedendo, invitare le aziende e le grandi società internazionali a prendere delle sedi fuori dalla città (a Milano o all'estero) danneggiando l'occupazione e le opportunità dei cittadini e condannando la città ad un inarrestabile declino economico.
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  5. NESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) have launched their Five Laws of Media and Information Literacy. Their strategy aims to being together the fields of information literacy and media literacy into a combined set of knowledge, skills and attitudes required for living and working in the 21st century.
    Media and Information Literacy recognizes the primary role of information and media in our everyday lives. It lies at the core of freedom of expression and information – since it empowers citizens to understand the functions of media and other information providers, to critically evaluate their content, and to make informed decisions as users and producer of information and media content.
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  6. Press freedom organizations have raised concerns about censorship after Members of the European Parliament approved extraordinary measures to combat hate speech.

    MEPs granted the parliament's president authority to pull the plug on live broadcasts of parliamentary debate in cases of racist speech or acts and to purge offending video or audio material from the online system.

    Critics say the rules are vaguely worded and could be manipulated or used as a tool of censorship.

    "This undermines the reliability of the Parliament's archives at a moment where the suspicion of 'fake news' and manipulation threatens the credibility of the media and the politicians," said Tom Weingaertner, president of the Brussels-based International Press Association.
    Tags: , by M. Fioretti (2017-02-27)
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  7. Mallach’s non-profit focused on revitalizing distressed neighborhoods, particularly in “legacy cities.” These are towns like St. Louis, Flint, Dayton, and Baltimore, that have experienced population loss and economic contraction in recent years, and suffer from property vacancies, blight, and unemployment. Mallach is interested in understanding which neighborhoods are likely to continue down that path, and which ones will do a 180-degree turn. Right now, he can intuitively make those predictions, based on his observations on neighborhood characteristics like housing stock, median income, and race. But an objective assessment can help confirm or deny his hypotheses.

    That’s where Steif comes in. Having consulted with cities and non-profits on place-based data analytics, Steif has developed a number of algorithms that predict the movement of housing markets using expensive private data from entities like Zillow. Mallach suggested he try his algorithms on Census data, which is free and standardized.

    The phenomenon he tested was ‘endogenous gentrification’—this idea that an increase in home prices moves from wealthy neighborhoods to less expensive ones in its vicinity, like a wave. In his blog post, Steif explains:
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  8. Based on the principle of assembly for which the Swedish company is famous, a basic tool box and some elbow grease is all you need to assemble the sheets of plywood in 17 steps, made to be cut with a CNC at your local fablab or makerspace.

    While they opted for Creative Commons distribution, the Space10 designers insist that each share and build of the Growroom must mention the original credits of Space10 and its two architects Mads-Ulrik Husum and Sine Lindholm. This approach, still rooted in proprietary thinking, is a far cry from community initiatives such as that of the farmer makers in the Aker network and their kits for hives, chicken coops and composting containers (which we wrote about here), or Open Desk, a collaborative site where designers offer their furniture files under an open licence precisely to short-circuit Ikea.
    Tags: , , , by M. Fioretti (2017-02-27)
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  9. Wikipedia –though not very well accepted in academic spheres- somehow gives a clear definition of what an echo chamber is in media terms: “the situation in which information, ideas, or beliefs are amplified or reinforced by transmission and repetition inside an “enclosed” system, where different or competing views are censored, disallowed or otherwise underrepresented”. It is the media effect caused by audiences seeking certain news sources online that are compatible with their world view or way of thinking. Psychologists have proved that people “generally prefer and are better at understanding information that accords with their existing schemas” 7 » , limiting their chance of encountering new or dramatically different ideas. This process of having the public divided into echo chambers seriously jeopardizes democratic citizenship. In an agonistic society where fragmented audiences have totally different ideas and thoughts, it’s of vital importance that they share them with each other, discuss, and debate, even if they don’t arrive to a conclusive solution or consensus. It’s part of the democratic life to be able to embrace different ideas and accept the critics that others have to make of ours.

    This “echo chambers” effect is not only produced by the mere consuming of certain news sources instead of others, but also because we usually share our ideas and make friends with people that think like us and that have our same values. In this way, our own ideas are replicated and even magnified by our closer social groups, reinforcing the ideas and making them more true and convincing to us than before.

    On the other hand, the “Filter Bubble” is another effect produced mainly by new digital media that adds up to the “echo chamber” problem and the lack of plurality in news online. Like Robin Foster explains in his report News Plurality in a Digital World, “through the filtering of stories via friends, or via the personalization of search, digital media encourages people to remain within their own comfort zone” 8 » . The term “Filter Bubble” describes the phenomenon by which social networks and search engines “use algorithms and personal data to select only content which matches existing tastes and preferences” 9 » . This process keeps on making hard for citizens to encounter opposing ideas that would trigger a debate or change their way of thinking. It also has a negative effect on democratic participation, closing the development of publics and exchanges that are vital to democracy.
    Tags: , by M. Fioretti (2017-02-24)
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  10. il documento in mano alla prima cittadina ricalca in larga parte quello già firmato dal presidente onorario della Corte di Cassazione Ferdinando Imposimato: senza correre alcun rischio, senza esporsi a pericolosi (e costosi) contenziosi con l'As Roma e il costruttore Luca Parnasi, il Comune può ancora rimodulare o annullare la delibera con cui l'amministrazione Marino nel 2014 ha dichiarato di interesse pubblico il progetto di Tor di Valle passando per il consiglio comunale. Vietata, invece, la revoca con un atto di giunta.
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