Category Archives: Security

“A simple solution for transportation equity: bike lanes.”

Back in 2011 I wrote about cycling being a superior route to transportation equity. I even cited Victorian England since women’s liberation evidently was tied to the advent of modern cycling (could ride to work and be independent of typically male-dominated transit such as horse or carriage).

Now I see a fascinating new report on cycling in Chicago that says police are issuing more tickets against Black riders to prevent them from having mobility on bikes, despite data showing the majority of accidents are white riders.

In Chicago, cyclists in Black neighborhoods are over-policed and under-protected.

A simple solution for transportation equity: bike lanes.

Tesla More Likely to Run Over Black People

Optical illusions using black lines are more likely to stop a “driverless” car than an actual human.

Recently I wrote about reckless public road tests by Tesla owners who are intentionally training their “driverless” system to disregard red lights.

“All Lives Matter” wants everyone to know that if a Tesla says it sees a red light he has not been able to force it to drive through anyway.

Keep in mind that “All Lives Matter” is a slogan of violent social media terror campaigns that have been trying to convince American drivers to drive through crowds, run over people to kill them and silence speech.

Here we see not only Tesla safety engineering failing, but that a YouTube discussion of failures is being linked to a domestic terror campaign that violates traffic laws, specifically ignoring orders to stop.

It’s kind of similar to the 2010 post I wrote how red light cameras increase the number of crashes), but also there clearly is a different ingredient — intent to use a vehicle as a weapon in racist violence.

This is a very significant change to me as it paints a fairly clear vision of a very dangerous future where cars are used to target and kill people, like any missile used for assassination, while trying to blame an “algorithm”.

So what if BOTH are to blame, racist algorithm AND driver?

In the past a cement truck would typically be used to run over someone outside the vehicle (because operational norms for large trucks are so wide they typically can get away with killing anyone nearby), or a vehicle itself would be tampered with to kill the occupants.

A journalist in Saudi Arabia was tucked into a typical small vehicle for a ride to a controversial site, for example, and was killed by a heavy truck. Did you hear about it? Of course not, because the whole point is killing innocent random people is what big heavy machinery is expected to do on a constant basis.

Perhaps that helps explain Saudi Arabia’s major involvement in funding Uber’s “driverless” program, which infamously ran red lights in San Francisco and then very predictably killed a woman crossing a road in Arizona?

Saudi Arabia’s wealth fund is Uber’s fifth-largest investor, having provided $3.5 billion to the rideshare company, not including whatever money the Saudis indirectly put into Uber through major investor Softbank’s Vision Fund. Yasir Othman Al-Rumayyan, the managing director of Saudi Arabia’s wealth fund, sits on Uber’s board. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is the fund’s chairman.

This post also could have been titled “Uber More Likely to Harm Women” except Uber backed off “driverless” after a very public disaster in 2018 (had they used a cement truck instead nobody would have blinked, if you see what I’m saying)… and tried to pin the whole thing on a woman “driving” a “driverless” car.

Compare that to Tesla. They had a pedestrian fatality the exact same month in 2018 and went the exact opposite way from Uber; CEO heavily ramping their troubled “driverless” program even more (causing far more deaths as a result, almost like they wanted high death rates to be a norm), cynically deleting their PR department.

Source: tesladeaths.com
Source: My presentation at MindTheSec 2021

Outrage does happen, even for the biggest trucks, so Tesla’s cruel campaign to normalize killing people shouldn’t be seen as an infinite one.

There are cases like when a driver in mountains was convicted of manslaughter for not using a formal off-ramp and instead choosing to plow into cars killing many people.

Hopefully that exception is self-explanatory for why trucks have been so effective for assassinations, let alone domestic terrorism, and how “driverless” will make targeted deaths far more commonplace by allowing a huge jump in untargeted ones without any accountability.

Source: tesladeaths.com

With that in mind, American cars have been documented widely as far more likely to drive into black people due to systemic racism and structural bias in transit planning. Operational norm for a car is to kill a person of “lower” or “lesser” standing — prioritizing property rights over human rights in America.

Therefore self-driving cars are easily predicted to make this killer “privilege” far worse by amplifying racist drivers with inherently racist tools. And Tesla is without question the worst engineered vehicle the road today (capabilities far below what is advertised) coupled with overtly irresponsible drivers.

I’ve even posted on this blog videos of the most recent (version 10) Tesla “driverless” technology nearly running over pedestrians in crosswalks.

All that being said, a new report shows exactly how the latest “driverless” engineers may be delivering just another easily predictable chapter in a long history of societal racism of American transit… by making their products inherently unsafe for Blacks.

We give evidence that standard models for the task of object detection, trained on standard datasets, appear to exhibit higher precision on lower Fitzpatrick skin types than higher skin types. This behavior appears on large images of pedestrians, and even grows when we remove occluded pedestrians. Both of these cases (small pedestrians and occluded pedestrians) are known difficult cases for object detectors, so even on the relatively “easy” subset of pedestrian examples, we observe this predictive inequity.

It’s interesting to note in the study just how significant a small difference of shades are for decisions about “safe” paths.

Anyone familiar with cows might see how this relates to a science of painting dark and light lines to control movements, as I hinted at the start of this post.

Cows see white lines (fake grids) as an obstacle in their path, begging the question why ranchers ever installed expensive metal grids in the first place.

Or my improved crosswalk design, meant to stop cars from killing so many children in the streets, could easily be adapted to a similar message of “Black Lives Matter”: just mix painted lines with retractable physical bollards.

Based on the Quebec initiative. my draft for the kind of mechanical pop-up drivers need to see when they approach any pedestrian crossing area.

Related posts:

“Racism at Tesla Might Explain Why Their ‘Autopilot’ Crashes So Often”

American Pedestrians Killed Disproportionately by Race

Pedestrian Kill Bills Are Racist

Jaywalking is a Fantasy Crime

and one even from 2013

American Fear of a Non-Motorized Planet

Is the Extremist Anti-Immigrant “NumbersUSA” a Hate Group?

When I wrote a recent blog post, asking why Peter Thiel never formally renounces Nazism, I received a bizarre response almost immediately.

Andrew Good from NumbersUSA (“Media Standards” Director based in Arlington, Virginia) fired off an email to me with the following opener:

Davi,

I just read your piece from Friday: Why Doesn’t Peter Thiel Denounce Nazism?

You quoted an NPR story that mischaracterized us here: …NumbersUSA, which is a very, very hard-right immigration group. You know, it’s – the idea is reducing the amount of immigration drastically…

How wonderful to hear feedback from Andrew. I was very excited, as I love correcting mistakes, patching code vulnerabilities and the like.

Brewing a hot cup of tea I rolled up my sleeves and sat down to get to work on his message.

Unfortunately, things immediately went awry: Instead of explaining why this group is not hard-right, Andrew wrote something to me that seems very obviously hard-right.

NumbersUSA is nonpartisan, not conservative, and certainly not “extreme right.”

We were founded in response to two commissions: a bipartisan one chaired by Democrat Barbara Jordan, and a Task Force chosen entirely by Democrat President Bill Clinton.

There’s an overemphasis on them declaring themselves “not conservative”, which itself is just lazy and sloppy (calling yourself superhero doesn’t make you a superhero). But it was his DEMOCRAT, DEMOCRAT button pushing that threw more red flags than a military parade in China.

This guy writes me an email to declare NumbersUSA was founded in response to Democrats, and that therefore in his mind they are nonpartisan?

Immediately I lost all excitement.

This is such a brain-dead hard-right thing to say that a partisan response means they are nonpartisan because they said so.

Reminds me very much of how Peter Thiel being an immigrant funds this hard-right anti-immigrant group because he says immigration is bad. Peter, you’re an immigrant. What are you doing?

Ugh, the dissonance. I forced myself to keep reading.

Our members, employees, and board members span the political spectrum.

At least he didn’t say some of his best friends are immigrants.

What does “span” mean? Is he inadvertently admitting board members are Nazis? Where’s the data on which part of the spectrum are where? I certainly don’t see such transparency of this “political spectrum” anywhere. The NumbersUSA site lists the following executives.

President, CEO
Roy Beck

Executive Vice President, Corporation Secretary
Anne Manetas

Vice President, Deputy Director
Chris Chmielenski

Vice President, Director of Government Relations
Rosemary Jenks

Vice President, Operations
Jim Robb

No political affiliations listed. Strange, since they apparently think their political affiliations would prove them to not have any political affiliations. Let’s give it a shot anyway.

Starting with Beck, he has been named by FAIR founder John Tanton as “heir apparent“.

John Tanton is an eye doctor who apparently can’t see very well — has turned his wealth into an evil “nativist” empire:

John Tanton, a retired Michigan ophthalmologist who operates a racist publishing company and has written that to maintain American culture, “a European-American majority” is required… Tanton has for decades been at the heart of the white nationalist scene. He has met with leading white supremacists, promoted anti-Semitic ideas, and associated closely with the leaders of a eugenicist foundation once described by a leading newspaper as a “neo-Nazi organization.”

Seems pretty obvious the CEO Beck is hard-right on the spectrum. It also seems like Roy Beck isn’t great at telling the truth.

Roy Beck has personally stated that NumbersUSA “doesn’t get a penny from any foundation or the government.” However, its research branch, which shares office space and a website with the foundation, has taken donations from at least two Scaife foundations: the Colcom Foundation in 2007 and the Sarah Scaife Foundation in 2008 [2012, 2013 and 2015]. The Sarah Scaife Foundation has donated millions to fund far-right groups such as the Center for Security Policy and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

I then went to the trouble of reading public commentary from Manetas, Chmielenski, and Jenks. Awful. I don’t recommend it. Here’s where Jenks’ voice is coming from, for example:

Jenks is not shy about her ties to former Representative Tom Tancredo (R-CO), who previously received support from white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups.

You may remember Tancredo as the unapologetic idiot who tried to argue “Obama Is A Greater Threat Than Al Queda” or (in even more obvious KKK fashion) said the Pope is a threat to America because immigrants are Catholic?

More to the point for Jenks, perhaps, is that she isn’t shy about being part of Tancredo’s operations, which included people like Marcus Epstein being arrested by the Secret Service and pleading guilty to violent racism.

So if all these NumbersUSA people peddle the same hard-right baseless anti-immigration drivel, where’s the “span”?

Nothing I found anywhere supported any kind of political variance at all, just the same racist talking points from all of them.

The leadership also seemed woefully unqualified to speak on the security or immigration issues at all.

For example, the Vice President, Operations was formerly an editor at an evangelical publication in Texas.

Previously Jim was the Executive Editor at The Good News Magazine. In this role, he helped to foster understanding about social trends, current events, and cultural questions through commentary seated in a biblical framework.

In case his moniker isn’t clear, evangelical is now just a byword for hard-right politics.

…“evangelical” has come to connote not a good news message of grace, but “cultural conservative”…

Let’s now get back to the letter. Here’s the next line, where the infamous “both-sides” messaging comes through as a strong theme.

We have supported bills introduced by members of both parties; we’ve praised and criticized presidents from both parties. We are non-partisan.

Here’s a thought. If they’re Nazis, it may not be a stretch to say that neither party wants to be affiliated with them. That doesn’t make them non-partisan, it makes them extremists, hard-right partisans. Praising and criticizing presidents from both parties likewise doesn’t make them non-partisan.

Probably a subtle difference here, but an important one.

Being a partisan of the hard-right and thus attacking everyone less extreme than they are is different from having no political affiliation. Of course they would praise someone moving closer towards them on the hard-right, and criticize anyone moving away from them on the hard-right — because they are partisans.

Important difference from being an actual non-partisan. And now onto the next line of the email:

Quoting NPR is obviously fair game. I see that you use links throughout your piece (a new trend in journalism that I strongly support).

Whaaaaat?! Fair game to quote NPR? This reads to me as yet more evidence of their partisan thinking. What makes quoting NPR participation in a “game”? What game are we playing?

And who in their right mind thinks using links or citations is “a new trend in journalism”? I’m not a journalist, obviously, and I really find it disingenuous to have someone tell me hyperlinks from the early 1990s are something “new”.

This prompted me to look up Andrew Good’s background and discover he was a trial associate and a bank teller before being appointed to “Media Standards” Director of NumbersUSA. Perhaps even journalism is very new to him, or even media standards?

Like everyone else at NumbersUSA he seems completely unqualified for the role he is in. Begs the question whether the only qualification to become staff is espousing a hard-right perspective on immigration?

Speaking of someone who likes to claim they support journalism “use links throughout your piece” I did a check on MediaMatters and found Andrew Good is doing a terrible job using links at NumbersUSA.

Despite these well-documented ties to racist white nationalism, however, Media Matters found 203 articles published between January 1, 2019, and July 8, 2021, by The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, or The Associated Press that cited FAIR, CIS, or NumbersUSA as supposed authorities on immigration policy. Worse, of those 203 articles that cited these organizations, only 15% provided sufficient context of their extremist ties…

Ok, time for the final line of the email. Here is the closer:

Would you be willing to add a link to our “About Us” page so your readers can decide for themselves whether NumbersUSA was portrayed accurately?

Accurately? That seems deeply ironic to push nonsense and then ask for people to be led to even more of it as a form of accuracy.

Absolutely not. In no way do I support someone taking anything NumbersUSA writes directly without this kind of careful external analysis and fact-checking. I hadn’t given them much thought at all before they dumped this stinking pile of nonsense into my inbox.

The email sent to me is an absolute disgrace to logic and reason. In reverse order:

  • It claims to support links while providing exactly zero links for any of its disinformation. That alone is reason to send it straight to the bin.
  • It claims nonpartisan status while instead giving many egregious examples of being the exact opposite. “Founded in opposition to Democrats” is the dumbest claim to nonpartisan status I’ve ever heard.
  • It claims to be not conservative or even extremist, while failing the most basic hard-right sniff test. Their “span” claims are laughably empty. Let’s face it, they’re closely affiliated with Nazis, which explained how I ended up running into them.
  • It claims to have been characterized incorrectly, when the characterization was spot on. In fact, I’d say NPR was being easy on them, let alone SPLC, given what I’ve found with just a quick glance at deep roots in an extremist partisan agenda.

It all comes back to whether NumbersUSA has been given far too much leeway, given it walks and talks like a disinformation front for immigrant hate groups.

Why not call it a hate group? I’ll let you, dear reader, decide for yourself how and why they get away with it.

Cars Get Banned from Sidewalks, Yet Only Scooters Try to Comply

Bird says they have been developing a geofence solution for scooters, to solve a problem with sidewalks that literally zero cars have worked on let alone fixed.

Car Parked Illegally on Sidewalk | October 30, 2016

It’s crazy to me that cars never innovated on this, yet scooters feel the heat.

I mean it’s fairly easy to throw a scooter into a van and dump them all somewhere else. Cities could easily run scooter sweepers.

Cars on the other hand need an actual fix. They have been a long-time sidewalk hazard around the country, where apparently nobody came up with a single technology suggestion let alone solution.

A neighbor recently sent us some photos of problem areas. “I see lots of mothers pushing babies in strollers that consistently get forced into the street.”

Car manufacturers wouldn’t even do it for mothers and babies. So what’s up with these scooter companies innovating?

To put it another way, who will drive the car that advertises it has a control to prohibit driving or parking on sidewalks?

Jefferson and Franklin fought against anti-vaccination

The Smithsonian tells us America’s “founding fathers” promoted and spread early forms of vaccines very widely.

Jefferson had given 200 members of his extended family and neighbors the vaccine by August of 1800

When they didn’t, they experienced a devastation of regret for not having vaccinated more.

Both Jefferson and Franklin had to argue with the early anti-vaccination movement. For Franklin, some of the discussion veered from the scientific into the personal: One of his sons died of smallpox at age 4, six years before Jenner discovered cowpox’s use. Some thought that little Franky had died after his father inoculated him with smallpox. But those were just ugly rumors. Franklin wrote in his autobiography: “In 1736 I lost one of my sons, a fine boy of four years old, by the small-pox, taken in the common way. I long regretted bitterly, and still regret that I had not given it to him by inoculation.”