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Submission + - The Weird Story of the FBI and 'It's a Wonderful Life' (smithsonianmag.com) 1

Anonymous Cashews writes: That now classic 1946 Christmas movie, "It's a Wonderful Life," was regarded by the FBI as having "communist tendencies" for questioning the virtues of capitalism.

It’s A Wonderful Life bombed at the box office before becoming a Christmas classic. Along the way, it also caught the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The movie’s preview showing at New York’s Globe Theater took place on this day in 1946, a day before the movie opened to the public. “Though it has become a quintessential American classic, It’s a Wonderful Life was not an immediate hit with audiences,” writes Jennifer M. Wood for Mental Floss. The film’s producer and director, Frank Capra, ended up $25,000 in debt. In spite of this, Capra said he thought the tale of a suicidal man and his guardian angel was “the greatest film I ever made.” An unnamed FBI agent who watched the film as part of a larger FBI program aimed at detecting and neutralizing Commie influences in Hollywood (fathered by, yes, J. Edgar Hoover) said it was “very entertaining.” However, writes scholar John A. Noakes, the agent “also identified what they considered a malignant undercurrent in the film.” As a result of this report, the film underwent further industry probes that uncovered that “those responsible for making It’s a Wonderful Life had employed two common tricks used by Communists to inject propaganda into the film.” These two common “devices” or tricks, as applied by the Los Angeles branch of the Bureau, were smearing “values or institutions judged to be particularly American”–in this case, the capitalist banker, Mr. Potter, is portrayed as a Scroogey misanthrope–and glorifying “values or institutions judged to be particularly anti-American or pro-Communist”–in this case, depression and existential crisis, an issue that the FBI report characterized as a “subtle attempt to magnify the problems of the so-called ‘common man’ in society.”


Submission + - This Rub-on Male Hormonal Contraceptive Is About to Be Tested on People. (sciencealert.com)

Zorro writes: If you're a sperm-producer who doesn't want kids, your personal contribution to contraception is currently limited to condoms or the snip.

Needless to say, not everybody likes those choices. But now a topical treatment could add another simple, non-invasive option to the mix — it's a hormonal gel that reduces sperm count when applied to the skin.

The progesterone analogue, called nestorone, competes with the body's testosterone levels, reducing them in the testes just enough to prevent mature sperm from being made. The added boost of testosterone helps keep hormones balanced throughout the rest of the body.

By rubbing half a teaspoon of the quick-drying liquid each day onto a body part, such as the upper arms or shoulders (away from the family jewels is probably best), sperm levels will be kept down for the next couple of days.

*The Jokes just write themselves for this*

Submission + - US Says It Doesn't Need a Court Order to Compel Tech Companies to Build Backdoor (gizmodo.com) 2

schwit1 writes:

According to the documents, intelligence officials told members of the Senate Intelligence Committee that there’s no need for them to approach courts before requesting a tech company help willfully—though they can always resort to obtaining a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order if the company refuses. The documents show officials testified they had never needed to obtain such an FISC order, though they declined to tell the committee whether they had “ever asked a company to add an encryption backdoor,” per ZDNet. Other reporting has suggested the FISC has the power to authorize government personnel to compel such technical assistance without even notifying the FISC of what exactly is required.

Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act gives authorities additional powers to compel service providers to build backdoors into their products.

Nice product you have there. Be a shame if anything were to happen to it.

Submission + - R.I.P., Cape Wind. (bostonglobe.com)

schwit1 writes: What a long, slow death it has been for Massachusetts's first proposed offshore wind farm. But now, its proponents are finally pulling the plug.

While others in the energy industry considered the Cape Wind project dead, developer Jim Gordon didn't quit after losing power contracts he needed for financing in early 2015, or after state regulators yanked permission for a power line connection last year.

Another big blow came later in 2016 when Cape Wind foes worked their magic on Beacon Hill. They successfully lobbied lawmakers to prevent Cape Wind from benefitting from a major energy bill, one that requires utilities to buy large amounts of offshore wind. This was exactly the kind of legislation Gordon needed. But he wasn't being allowed at the party.

Ted Kennedy’s dead, but he finally won his battle to protect his estate’s ocean view

Submission + - Canadian Ex-Defense Minister Claims Aliens Have Visited Earth Many Times (express.co.uk)

dryriver writes: The ex-minister of National Defence for Canada said at least four species of aliens have been visiting Earth for decades and claimed top authorities are constantly in discussions with extraterrestrial beings. Paul Hellyer, who was the Canadian Minister of National Defence in the 1960s during the Cold War, claims to have inside information that top governments are in cahoots with aliens. Mr Hellyer first spoke about his belief that aliens were on Earth in 1995, and since then has become an authoritative figure in the UFO community. “In one of the cases during the Cold War, 1961, there were about 50 UFOs in formation flying South from Russia across Europe. The supreme allied commander was very concerned and was about ready to press the panic button when they turned around and went back over the North Pole. They decided to do an investigation and they investigated for three years and they decided with absolute certainty that four different species, at least, have been visiting this planet for thousands of years.” He said: “Many are benign and benevolent, and a few are not. They come from various places, for a long while I only knew about ones that came from different star systems, the Pleiades. There are extraterrestrials that come from Andromeda, and ones that live on one of Saturn’s moons. There is a federation of these people, and they have rules, one of them is that they don’t interfere with our affairs unless they are invited.”

Submission + - California cities charge citizens massive prosecutions fees for minor violations (reason.com) 2

schwit1 writes:

The cities of Indio and Coachella partnered up with a private law firm, Silver & Wright, to prosecute citizens in criminal court for violations of city ordinances that call for nothing more than small fines—things like having a mess in your yard or selling food without a business license.

Those cited for these violations fix the problems and pay the fines, a typical code enforcement story. The kicker comes a few weeks or months later when citizens get a bill in the mail for thousands of dollars from the law firm that prosecuted them. They are forcing citizens to pay for the private lawyers used to take them to court in the first place. So a fine for a couple of hundred dollars suddenly becomes a bill for $3,000 or $20,000 or even more.

In Coachella, a man was fined $900 for expanding his living room without getting a permit. He paid his fine. Then more than a year later he got a bill in the mail from Silver & Wright for $26,000. They told him that he had to pay the cost of prosecuting him, and if he didn’t, they could put a lien on his house and the city could sell it against his will. When he appealed the bill they charged him even more for the cost of defending against the appeal. The bill went from $26,000 to $31,000.

When challenged it appeared that the officials of one of theses cities were actually proud of what they are doing.

Submission + - Apple's diversity chief resigns after remark about white diversity

Unhappy Windows User writes: A month ago, Apple's first diversity and inclusion officer, Denise Young Smith, who is black, while speaking at a conference in Bogota, commented about her frustration about diversity always being tagged to race, gender or sexual orientation, and remarked that “There can be 12 white, blue-eyed, blonde men in a room and they’re going to be diverse too because they’re going to bring a different life experience and life perspective to the conversation.” This quickly led to much criticism — as well as some support — on Twitter. The pressure has forced her to retract her comment and she has now stepped down.

Submission + - Spoiler Alert: AP CS Scores/Participation Vary Widely Across Ethnic/Gender Lines

theodp writes: The initial exuberance over skyrocketing AP Computer Science growth due to the new AP CS Principles exam (AP CSP) has given way to some bickering as educators and nonprofits — including tech-bankrolled Code.org — differ over how much weight exam scores should carry when it comes to choosing curriculum. That debate, which broke out after UTeach at the University of Texas Austin touted an 83% AP CSP exam pass rate for students using its curriculum compared to Code.org's 73%, is likely to get even more lively with the College Board's recent release of more granular assessment data on exam performance, which shows striking differences in score distributions, participation numbers, and representation (compared to US K-12 enrollment) across gender and ethnic group lines for both the new AP CSP and old AP CS A exams.

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