Facebook Conducted Another Secret Experiment On Users

The Huffington Post   Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer and founder of Facebook Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images Facebook quietly tweaked the news feeds of 1.9 million users before the 2012 election so they would see more “hard news” shared by friends. That change may have boosted voter turnout by as much as 3 percent, according to a little-known study first disclosed Friday by Mother Jones. For the study, news articles that Facebook users’ friends had posted appeared higher in their feeds — the stream of status updates, photos and articles that show up when you first sign on to the site. The researchers wanted to see whether increasing your exposure to news stories shared by friends before an election would convince you to vote. Facebook said the news stories being shared were general in nature and not political. They came were from a list of 100 top media outlets from the New York Times to Fox News, according to the Mother Jones story, written by Micah Sifry, a democracy activist. Facebook shared the results with some academics, but said it did not publicly disclose the experiment until Mother Jones revealed its existence because the researchers are planning to publish an academic paper based on their findings. A Facebook spokesman told HuffPost that the company in 2012 had tested users’ news feeds “to see how some users engaged when general news stories shared by their friends were given slightly higher rankings.” The company then conducted a voluntary online survey to see if their experience “made them more likely to engage in civic affairs,” he said. “Voting is a core value of democracy and we believe that encouraging civic participation is an important contribution we can make to the community,” a Facebook spokesman said. Over the weekend, some Twitter users expressed concern that Facebook had conducted another experiment on its users without telling them. One Twitter user called for more “disclosure and transparency.” Facebook often allows data scientists to conduct studies on its users on various topics, like a recent Valentine’s Day study that analyzed whether a romantic relationship between two people on the social network would last. But the idea that Facebook has been manipulating what users see on the site has sparked controversy. The revelation of the voter experiment comes four months after the social network was criticized for conducting a separate psychological experiment on about 700,000 users. In that experiment, which also took place in 2012, Facebook tweaked many users’ feeds to omit positive or negative words, then tried to measure their emotional response — also without their knowledge. Facebook’s voter turnout experiments have not been limited to tweaking the appearance...

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Fireball Whisky Recalled In 3 Countries Over Antifreeze Ingredient
Nov01

Fireball Whisky Recalled In 3 Countries Over Antifreeze Ingredient

The Huffington Post Fireball Cinnamon Whisky is taking heat in Europe over a chemical ingredient that’s used in some forms of antifreeze. Norway, Sweden and Finland have recalled the popular cinnamon-flavored liqueur — a trendy favorite of sweet-toothed college students — after a batch of the North American recipe, which contains higher levels of propylene glycol, was shipped there, its manufacturer said on Tuesday. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says propylene glycol is “generally recognized as safe” for use in food, where it is used to enhance flavor by absorbing water. Sazerac, the New Orleans-based beverage company that owns Fireball, puts more propylene glycol in its drinks sold in America and Canada than in Europe. Propylene glycol can have toxic effects in some circumstances, including for people suffering with pre-existing skin or eye conditions, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry. In recent years, the substance has been used as a less-toxic alternative to ethylene glycol in antifreeze, which was killing pets who lapped up the sweet-tasting engine fluid. But the Humane Society warnsthat propylene glycol is “still toxic.” The European Union’s stricter guidelines on recommended levels of propylene glycol forced state-owned retailers to yank the drink from shelves in Sweden and Finland over the last week. Norway, which is not part of the European Union, also pulled the product. Europe generally enforces tighter regulations of ingredients used in food. Earlier this year, Subway said it would remove a chemical commonly used in yoga mats from its bread. The substance, azodicarbonamide, was banned in Australia and Europe. In May, PepsiCo and Coca-Cola vowed to axe brominated vegetable oil, prohibited for food use in Australia, Europe, India and Japan, from its soft drinks in North America. The coloring agents found in soda, candy and macaroni-and-cheese are banned in Norway and Austria, and require a warning label when used in products sold in the European Union. “Unfortunately, Fireball shipped its North American formula to Europe and found that one ingredient is out of compliance with European regulations,” the company said in a statement on its website. “Finland, Sweden and Norway have asked to recall those specific batches, which is what the brand is doing.” The company said it expects to be back on the shelves in those countries “within three weeks” without the chemical. “As I’m sure you are aware, Europe, as with many things, has different rules for product formulation,” Amy Preske, a spokeswoman for Sazerac, wrote in an email to The Huffington Post. “Hence we have a different formula for Europe.” Sazerac said it uses one-eighth of the FDA-approved amount of propylene glycol in its North American formula. Fireball, a syrupy liqueur that tastes like Red Hots candy or Wrigley’s...

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3 Ballot Measures Could Obliterate Abortion Rights For Millions Of Women
Oct31

3 Ballot Measures Could Obliterate Abortion Rights For Millions Of Women

  The Huffington Post U.S.- Voters in Tennessee, North Dakota and Colorado will consider sweeping ballot measures on Tuesday that would eliminate the right to abortion under their state constitutions and, in some cases, criminalize the procedure. The Tennessee measure, known as Amendment 1, would declare that Tennessee’s constitution does not protect women’s right to have to an abortion, even in cases of rape. The measure would effectively overrule a 2000 Tennessee Supreme Court decision that struck down a 36-hour mandatory waiting period before abortion, citing women’s right to privacy under the state constitution. “Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion,” the measure says. “The people retain the right through their elected state representatives and state senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother.” Tennessee already has several abortion restrictions on the books, including a requirement that doctors have admitting privileges at a local hospital. But the amendment would open the door for lawmakers to pass new anti-abortion laws without having to worry about being blocked by the courts. “What this does is open the floodgates for more and more extraordinary restrictions,” said Jennifer Dalven, director of the Reproductive Freedom Project at the American Civil Liberties Union. “One could not look to the Tennessee constitution for any legal protection.” The Yes on 1 campaign, run by Tennessee Right to Life, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But the campaign’s website says the measure would make the constitution “neutral on the question of abortion” and put “regulation of abortion back into the hands of the people through their elected representatives.” “Abortion would not be banned,” the website adds, because the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Roe v. Wade that women have a right to legal abortion until the fetus is viable, around 22 to 24 weeks. But Roe v. Wade has not stopped other states frompassing bans on abortions earlier than 22 weeks, in addition to other restrictions thatshut down abortion clinics and make it nearly impossible for women to access the procedure. “They want Tennessee to look more like Texas,” Dalven said of the amendment’s supporters. The measure has a good chance of passing. Recent polling shows that more Tennessee voters support the measure than oppose it, although it’s still too close to call. Meanwhile, voters in North Dakota and Colorado are considering fetal personhood measures, which would grant legal personhood rights to zygotes from the moment of fertilization. In addition to completely banning abortion without exceptions,...

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Doctors Without Borders Physician Tested For Ebola In NYC
Oct24

Doctors Without Borders Physician Tested For Ebola In NYC

CNN NEW YORK.- A Doctors Without Borders physician who recently returned from West Africa is at a New York hospital for isolation and testing for the Ebola virus, Authorities said. The 33-year-old physician, employed at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, developed a fever, nausea, pain and fatigue Wednesday night, a law enforcement official briefed on the matter told CNN. On Thursday morning he was taken to Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan for testing. An image of Craig Spencer taken from his LinkedIn profile. The doctor, who returned from West Africa about 10 days ago, has been identified as Craig Spencer, according to law enforcement officials. At a news conference Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio sought to allay public concerns about the spread of the deadly virus, saying that “careful protocols were followed every step of the way” in the city’s dealing with the case. The doctor has “worked closely” with health officials, the mayor said. Photos: The Ebola epidemic De Blasio told reporters that the doctor exhibited symptoms of Ebola virus for “a very brief period of time” and had direct contact with “very few people” in New York. “The important thing to remember here is, until we have full information, we can’t draw conclusions,” de Blasio said. “So we want to be careful not to make assumptions until all the testing is done.” The CDC had people packing up to go to New York on Thursday, and a specimen from the physician will be sent soon to Atlanta for testing, an official familiar with the situation told CNN’s Elizabeth Cohen. Investigators are taking the case seriously because it appears the doctor didn’t quarantine himself following his return, the law enforcement official said. In a statement Thursday, Doctors Without Borders confirmed that the physicians recently returned from West Africa and was “engaged in regular health monitoring.” The doctor contacted Doctors Without Borders Thursday to report having a fever, the statement said. Family: Infected nurse is Ebola-free The law enforcement official said the doctor was out in public. Authorities also quarantined his girlfriend, with whom he was spending time since his return from Africa. The doctor began feeling sluggish a couple of days ago, but it wasn’t until Thursday, when he developed 103-degree fever, that he contacted Doctors Without Borders, the official said. The case came to light after the New York Fire Department received a call shortly before noon Thursday about a sick person in Manhattan. The patient was taken to Bellevue. A statement from the New York Health Department said preliminary test results are expected in the next 12 hours. Get up to speed The health department said a special ambulance...

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TAMIU Student Government Association Hosts Candidate Debate, Forum Thursday

Special to The Laredo Sun LAREDO, TEXAS – Learn more about the candidates and become an informed voter at the Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) Debate and Forum Thursday, Oct. 23 starting at 5:15 p.m. in the Student Center (STC) Theatre and Auditorium (STC 236). The forum is open to the public. The event, previously the week-long “Candidates Week,” is sponsored by the TAMIU Student Government Association (SGA) and the Next Generation Rotary Club. The debate and forum will be moderated by Joshua Llamas, SGA justice at-large and Political Action Committee chair, and Jackie Briseño, SGA president. Dr. Mark Menaldo, assistant professor and director, TAMIU College of Arts and Sciences Department of Public Affairs and Social Research Political Science Program, and Mario Peña, president, Next Generation Rotary Club, will join the students during the City Council District 8 candidates and mayoral candidates debates and forums. The schedule is as follows:             SGA welcomes Councilman Jorge Vera to answer questions during the forum at 5:15 p.m. regarding Proposition 3—recall for District 7 seat currently held by Jorge Vera.             SGA will continue their efforts in informing students by welcoming individuals to the Webb County Pct. 1 forum that will start at 6 p.m. with Green Party Candidate Erika Martinez and former Pct. 1 county Commissioner Frank Sciaraffa.            SGA and the Next Generation Rotary Club will co-host the City Council District 8 debate scheduled to start at 6:45 p.m. with two candidates—Roberto Balli and Virginia “Viky” Garcia. Candidates José Luís Maldonado and Rachel Ibarra said they are unavailable for this event. The mayoral candidates debate and forum will start at 7:45 p.m. with all seven candidates—Guadalupe (Lupe) Botello, Rolando S. Herrera, Jose S. Dorantes Jr., Pete Saenz, James Joel Newland, Cindy Liendo, and Jerry Garza. It will take place in the Student Center Ballroom. TAMIU will host early voting Tuesday, Oct. 28 and Wednesday, Oct. 29 from 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. in the TAMIU Western Hemispheric Trade Center foyer. For a sample ballot, visit...

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Times Square Bus Driver Goes From Suspect to Hero
Oct22

Times Square Bus Driver Goes From Suspect to Hero

ABC News NEW YORK.- An investigation into a New York bus driver who was arrested after he smashed into a lamp post in busy Times Square this summer has determined no charges will be filed because the driver was actually a hero. “We have concluded that a mechanical failure caused the bus to lurch forward, at which time the driver steered the bus away from a crowded sidewalk, thereby averting serious injury to those on the sidewalk,” the Manhattan prosecutor’s office said today. William Dalambert was at the wheel of a Gray Line bus in August when the bus slammed into a lamp post, knocking it down. Several people were injured. Dalambert was arrested and police initially said he had failed a sobriety test. A full drug and alcohol screen test was performed later which cleared Dalambert of being impaired. “As part of the two-month-long investigation, prosecutors interviewed numerous eyewitnesses, including the only witness on the bus, a tour guide riding with Dalambert at the time of the crash,” a statement from the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance said. “After obtaining phone records, video, and running tests on an identical bus, we have concluded that a mechanical failure caused the bus to lurch forward, at which time the driver steered the bus away from a crowded sidewalk, thereby averting serious injury to those on the sidewalk,” the statement said. The DA’s office said Dalambert “voluntarily submitted to sobriety and toxicology tests, which came back...

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