Samsung child labor allegations contradict recent audit

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The 2014 edition of Samsung’s annual Sustainability Report was issued a few days ago and enumerated a long list of improper employment practices among the Korean company’s Chinese suppliers. What it did not find, however, were any instances of child labor, giving the 100 suppliers that were audited in China a clean bill of health at least on that metric. Contradicting those Samsung inspections is a report today form China Labor Watch (CLW) that alleges multiple instances of child labor at the Shinyang Electronics factory in Dongguan.  CLW is scathing in its dismissal of Samsung’s social responsibility reports as mere advertisements that “don’t have any real value for the workers.”

Li Qiang, Executive Director at CLW, goes on to describe…

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Aereo says it’s not dead yet, despite Supreme Court ruling otherwise

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It may not be curtains for internet television broadcasting company Aereo, which shut down last month following a ruling by the US Supreme Court that it violated the Copyright Act. In a new court filing today, the company says it believes it can operate once again, and within the confines of the Supreme Court decision by existing legally as a cable system instead of an equipment provider. Under current law, that would protect any transmissions it’s picking up from being prohibited, the company wrote in a joint letter to US District Judge Alison Nathan.

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Google Maps can now tell you the exact distance between two points

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Google Maps is making it a whole lot easier to find out exactly how far apart any two (or more) points are on a map. As of yesterday, you can now right click anywhere on Google Maps on the web and choose “measure distance” to bring up a digital ruler that’ll tell you just how far away its final point is. You aren’t confined to the streets either: Maps can measure from any one point to another, be it in the ocean, on a building, or on the other side of the globe. Multiple points can be dropped down too, allowing the ruler to change directions.

Though Google Maps has always given distance measurements when routing directions, those have been confined to whatever paths are along the route. If you wanted to simply measure between two points…

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The Oculus Rift meat puppets are here

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Body swapping is a dream of both science fiction and present-day virtual reality. What would it be like to spend a day as a model, or a rock star, or a child? Designer Yifei Chai wants his Pretender Project to answer that very question. But in the process, he’s learning how hard it can be to condense a collective cultural dream into a real project.

Visit the Royal College of Art to see Chai’s project, and you might be asked to don a pair of Oculus Rift virtual reality goggles and stand in front of a Kinect. Suddenly, you’ll be seeing out of someone else’s eyes — the eyes of your “avatar,” probably Chai. Put your hand up, and an electric current will lift his too. Bend your elbow, and his will follow, clumsily. It’s not just imitation….

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These two guys think cutting things with spoons will be their next viral hit

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Spoons are meant for soup, yogurt, and other foods that, looked at another way, could be considered drinks. But did you know that the spoon can also be used to cut things? In fact, any relatively strong piece of material with a flat side can be used to cut things, and that discovery seems to be the inspiration for Cut Dat Commentary, a four-month-old YouTube channel starring a man in an apron who uses a spoon to cut various foods, such as a cucumber, ghost pepper, or American cheese, on a wooden cutting board.

We never see the man’s face, only his anonymous arms attacking the food. He approaches first with faux precision, then usually just starts hacking. Most of the short videos end with a mangled piece of fruit or vegetable (see the M…

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The leader behind Google’s wildest projects joins Zynga’s board of directors

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Ever since she left DARPA to lead Google’s ATAP group, Regina Dugan has focused on technologies that are both ambitious and impressive. She’s the leader behind the modular phones of Project Ara and the 3D-vision tablets of Project Tango. Now she’s adding another, unexpected line to her resume: member of Zynga’s board of directors.

Zynga has found itself needing some reinvention, and as it approaches the one-year anniversary of naming former Microsoft executive Don Mattrick as CEO, it’s hoping Dugan will help come up with product ideas. Appointments to corporate boards generally don’t make for big changes, but Zynga says that Dugan will be more involved in product decisions as a part of the “product committee.” “I believe we need to…

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Experience the shocking power of Britney Spears without Auto-Tune

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Auto-Tune has been embraced by the music industry for its ability to create polished, listenable recordings when an artist lacks the natural talent to hit every note. That’s the nice way of saying it. Engineers also turn to Auto-Tune when dealing with truly wretched “singers.” And they’re using it everywhere. All the time. Pop star Britney Spears became the latest showcase of all that Auto-Tune makes possible this month after an unaltered studio session voice track leaked online. It’s for a song called “Alien” from Spears’ 2013 album Britney Jean. The finished song (with copious amounts of pitch correction) can be heard here. This version sounds nothing like that. Spears, who by now should be a recording studio veteran in every sense, is…

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The second ‘Mockingjay’ trailer hints at revolution

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The first half of Mockingjay, the final installment in the Hunger Games series, won’t arrive until November. We’re over a year away from the conclusion. But the filmmakers are already seeding teasers that hint at its biggest idea: that a world exists outside the ruthless government of Panem. Like the first one, this is supposedly an address from President Snow, but something is about to go very wrong. It’s very simple — the video gives away very little about what we’ll actually see in the film. It also keeps up the pretense of being propaganda, sent straight from the sinister Capitol to your screen. Of course, if The Hunger Games has taught us anything, it’s that the line between entertainment, art, and propaganda is finer than we’d like…

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Yo app is being used to monitor missile strikes in Israel

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The premise of Yo — the app that just lets you say “yo” to other people — may be ridiculous, but it’s being put to some pretty complicated uses. According to The Times of Israel, a pair of developers are now using Yo as a way to alert people of terrorist attacks throughout the country. The simple notification will come through for any Yo user who subscribes to updates from Red Alert: Israel. Traditionally, Red Alert works as a standalone app that sends off more detailed push notifications about the same types of rocket, mortar, and missile attacks that Yo users will be notified about.

That may sound like a step backward, but it was actually a logical partnership, according to The Times of Israel. By tapping into Yo, it’ll be simple for…

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The best weather app for Android

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Is it going to rain today? Should I bring a jacket with me? Is it safe to plan a trip to the beach this weekend? Just a couple of years ago, answering any of those questions required watching your local news or tuning in to The Weather Channel to get a vague forecast that will probably change before you get where you’re going. But with smartphones, we can have insanely accurate weather reporting and predictions at our fingertips everywhere we go. Weather apps are a huge part of my daily…

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Germany investigates second possible spy as tension with the US grows

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Germany has just begun to peel back the layers of an arguably gratuitous spying campaign by its supposed ally, the United States.

Today German police raided the Berlin-area apartment and office of a man suspected of spying for the US, the second case in less than a week. The investigation is ongoing, but German authorities are taking it “very seriously,” a spokesperson told reporters.

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George R.R. Martin says ‘fuck you’ to anyone who thinks he’ll die before finishing ‘Game of Thrones’ series

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George R.R. Martin isn’t thrilled that some people are concerned he’ll die before completing work on his A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy novel series. “I find that question pretty offensive, people speculating about my death and my health,” said Martin, 65, in an interview with Swiss newspaper Tagesanzeiger. “So fuck you to those people.” Merely saying it apparently wasn’t enough; Martin also flipped the bird to make his feelings resoundingly clear. Martin has been slaving away on The Winds of Winter, the sixth novel, for some time now, but has refrained from offering fans a firm release date — or even a general window as to when they can expect it. He plans to wrap the series with the seventh novel.

There’s a lot more riding on Martin’s…

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Congress will vote on a controversial new cybersecurity bill

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There’s a new cybersecurity bill making its way through Congress, sponsored and written by Diane Feinstein (D-CA), and critics are already calling it a new backdoor for surveillance by the National Security Agency. The Cybersecurity Intelligence Sharing Act of 2014 (CISA) was approved by the Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday, putting it on track for a Senate vote this summer. But like its controversial predecessors, the bill is coming under fire as a step backwards in the fight for surveillance reform.

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The irresistible bliss of watching layers shaved from skulls and gadgets

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In keeping with the honored internet traditions of stop-motion videos and things cut in half, filmmaker Laurin Döpfner took an industrial sander to objects and recorded the results. Döpfner took layer after layer off a skull, a log, a walnut, and various electronics, taking a photo after each sanding. He then combined around 100 photos to create short but mesmerizing animations. Although it existed for two years before being spotted by This is Colossal, Döpfner recently uploaded a 4K version of the video, titled Verschleif, to YouTube.

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Edward Snowden has applied for extended asylum in Russia, his lawyer says

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Edward Snowden has applied for an extension of his year-long asylum in Russia, according to his lawyer. Anatoly Kucherena, who has represented the NSA whistleblower since last year, tells Russia Today that he and Snowden have “fulfilled the procedure to receive temporary asylum … We have submitted documents to prolong his stay in Russia.” The decision was widely expected, and Snowden said in a May interview with NBC that although he would like to return to the US, he would “of course” apply for an extension if the asylum looked like it was about to run out. Earlier this month, The Moscow Times cited a report by Russian news service Izvestia that he had submitted a petition before June 30th, the deadline for an asylum application. His…

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Xperia Z1 Compact on sale in the US six months after announcement

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One of our favorite phones of this year, the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact, has finally gone on sale in the United States half a year after it was initially unveiled. Making its debut at CES in Las Vegas this January, the Z1 Compact lived up to its name by compacting almost everything good and glorious about the Xperia Z1 into a smaller device with a 4.3-inch screen. Even the battery, while physically smaller, lasts almost as long as the Z1’s, and the entire 20-megapixel camera is also transported to the smaller device.

It’s not unusual for Sony to be releasing its smartphones later in the US than in other markets, however this much of a delay for the Z1 Compact represents a real missed opportunity for the Japanese company. No other Android…

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American Museum of Natural History is hosting its first adult sleepover

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For years, grown-ups could only watch jealously as their children gallivanted off to spend a night in the American Museum of Natural History. But, that will change on August 1st with the first adult-only sleepover program, which will see lucky participants camping out beneath a certain blue whale.

The overnight event is billed as a more sophisticated version of the kid-friendly “A Night at the Museum” program, and will cost $375 to attend. Participants will be treated to a live animal demonstration, a midnight viewing of the Dark Universe Space Show, and a special presentation in The Power of Poison exhibition. All visitors will also have the opportunity to roam the empty halls. Additionally, the package includes a champagne reception,…

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Watch Christian Bale as Moses in Ridley Scott’s ‘Exodus’ trailer

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The biblical epic of Moses has inspired generations of creatives, but Egypt has never looked as dour as in the first trailer for Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings. The movie will star Christian Bale as a mean and muscular Moses, and looks set to follow the events laid out in the book of the same name. Exodus tells the story of Moses attempting to free his people from enslavement in Egypt. Expect to see plagues, burning bushes, Breaking Bad‘s Aaron Paul as Moses’ sidekick Joshua, and of course the titular exodus, when Gods and Kings hits theaters this December.

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Next ‘Star Wars’ film being shot in IMAX

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After saying that Star Wars Episode VII would be shot on regular 35mm film instead of the larger, 70mm IMAX film, a new tweet from the production suggests the jumbo format has not been left out. A new post from Bad Robot’s (director J.J.Abrams’ production company) Twitter account shows an IMAX camera hoisted high above a sea of sand dunes, saying only “#bestformatever.” Slashfilm confirmed with IMAX that the production was using the format, though it remains unclear whether it’s only for certain parts of the film versus the entire feature.

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Taxi app will use Apple’s iBeacon and your iPhone to broadcast coupons to nearby users

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How would you feel being a walking advertisement? If you’re wearing a T-shirt with a company’s logo on it, that’s one thing. But your phone — in your pocket? That’s quite another, and it’s just what taxi hailing company Taxi Magic is doing with its iOS app. A new version being released this Thursday will let you beam out your referral code for the service to others, all using Apple’s iBeacon technology.

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