USPS, Tyler Perry’s Madea, Facebook, More: Sunday ResearchBuzz, August 23, 2020


The Mail: Introducing The Mail, a Newsletter and Zine About the USPS. “A lot of people have been talking about the United States Postal Service lately, including us. It is a key link in a safe and fair election this November. It delivers bills, medication, packages, and other vital mail during a time when we need affordable, reliable delivery more than ever. It is also in a financial crisis, has a new boss who is changing all the rules, and its future is in jeopardy. The United States Postal Service is both critical infrastructure for a functioning democracy and society, and a potential election attack vector. That’s why Motherboard is launching The Mail, a weekly pop-up newsletter about the United States Postal Service, written by me, Aaron Gordon, senior staff writer at Motherboard, that will run from now until the end of November on Substack. Every week through the election, I will bring you a new story about the USPS that will give you the context you need to understand the news deluge about this agency.”

JaGurl: Tyler Perry Joins BET+ To Open ‘The Virtual Madea Museum’. “Tyler Perry is retiring the beloved matriarch and his alter ego, Mabel ‘Madea’ Earlene Simmons, after 20 years. With the help of BET+, the media mogul has created The Virtual Madea Museum to honor and celebrate Madea in style.”


Washington Post: Facebook removes page using image of LeBron James over ‘voter suppression tactics’. “Facebook on Friday deleted a page using an image of LeBron James, among other deceptive tactics, to spread false and misleading claims about mail-in voting, a day after The Washington Post raised questions about the online operation. A Facebook spokeswoman, Devon Kearns, said the company was enforcing its policy against ‘voter interference.’ She added, ‘We have removed this page for engaging in voter suppression tactics.'”


Insider: An artist colorizes black-and-white images, and they’ll make you see historical photos in a whole new light. “Mads Madsen has always been interested in old photos….He’s famous on Facebook, Reddit, and Instagram for his colorful takes on black-and-white images and has created books and shows for the History Channel with his work.”

Vice: Toronto Cops Promoted One of Canada’s Biggest Anti-Maskers on Instagram. “The photo, which was first reported on by CBC News, was posted on an Instagram page called @TPSNeighbourhoodWatch, an account affiliated with the force’s 51 Division. It shows two smiling officers flanking Chris Saccoccia, a well-known anti-mask crusader who was recently involved in a series of illegal raves at Toronto’s Cherry Beach in protest of physical distancing. Saccoccia goes by Chris Sky online but has been identified as Chris Saccoccia by the Toronto Sun and Newstalk.”

Gulf Today: Sharjah spearheads huge project to chronicle 17 centuries of Arabic. “Heralding a new era for the Arabic language lexicon, Sharjah has embarked on a landmark project to chronicle 17 centuries of development in the Arabic language spanning five distinct time periods. The Historical Corpus of the Arabic Language is a monumental undertaking that will offer unparalleled insight into the world’s fifth most widely spoken language and serve as a linguistic resource for researchers, academia, linguists and students worldwide.” Sharjah is a city in the United Arab Emirates.


FedTech: Mail-In Votes Require Special Cybersecurity Attention. “Cybersecurity was always top of mind in connection with the 2020 election season, but the focus has shifted to protecting a more low-tech method of casting votes: ballots filled out by hand and mailed in by voters. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has provided checklists of steps states can take to keep elections safe. Envelopes marked with special bar codes, extra protection for voter registration rolls and better security on websites that report election results are among the strategies being used.”

Daily Monitor (Uganda): Posting ‘rumours’ on social media could land you in Tanzania jail. “It is now illegal to post “rumours” or messages that ‘ridicule, abuse or harm the reputation, prestige or status of the United Republic of Tanzania’ on social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. Tanzanian Information Minister Harrison Mwakyembe signed into law the Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations 2020, which became operational on July 17. The new online content regulations effectively tighten state control over the internet and social media interactions.”

TechRadar: Google finally forced to patch serious Gmail bug after exploit published online. “The vulnerability could have allowed an attacker to send imitation emails posing as any Gmail or G Suite customer, opening the door to an array of spear phishing and spam-based attacks – which could also be used to smuggle malware onto the target system. Google had known about the flaw for 137 days prior to issuing the fix, but dragged its feet until security researcher Allison Husain published proof-of-concept exploit code to her blog.”


MedicalXpress: New tool calculates lives saved, policy implications of tobacco control. “The Tobacco Control Policy (TCP) tool is an interactive simulation modeling application developed by Jamie Tam, assistant professor at the Yale School of Public Health, Rafael Meza, associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, and the NCI-funded Cancer Intervention and Surveillance Modeling Network (CISNET) lung consortium. In addition to minimum age laws, the tool also simulates the potential state-by-state effects of smoke-free air laws, cigarette taxes and increasing state tobacco control expenditures.”

NOAA Climate Program Office: Alaska RISA launches Alaska Statewide Temperature Index Tool. “Built in collaboration with the Scenarios Network for Alaska and Arctic Planning, the new tool uses a statewide temperature index developed by ACCAP Climate Specialist Rick Thoman, and NOAA Climatologist Brian Brettschneider. The index uses daily temperature data from 25 Automated Surface Observation System stations maintained by the National Weather Service. Daily indices can then be compared to a baseline of average temperature data from 1981 to 2010. The project team hopes that this tool can help clarify the complex topic of Alaska temperature.”

BBC: The algorithms that make big decisions about your life. “Thousands of students in England are angry about the controversial use of an algorithm to determine this year’s GCSE and A-level results. They were unable to sit exams because of lockdown, so the algorithm used data about schools’ results in previous years to determine grades. It meant about 40% of this year’s A-level results came out lower than predicted, which has a huge impact on what students are able to do next. GCSE results are due out on Thursday.” Good morning, Internet…

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