8 In 10 App Developers Back Measure To Rein In Google and Apple, Poll Finds

Eighty-four percent of app developers support an antitrust bill aimed at curtailing the market power of Apple's and Google's app stores, according to a poll (PDF) from the Coalition for App Fairness released Monday. The Hill reports: The industry group for app developers is pushing Congress to pass the Open App Markets Act, a bipartisan Senate bill that would block app stores from favoring their own in-house apps in searches, requiring developers to use their payment systems and preventing users from downloading apps from third-party stores. Developers surveyed by the group complained about exorbitant fees charged by the largest app stores -- Apple charges a 30 percent commission on app store sales for large developers -- and expressed how they'd experienced difficulty getting their apps featured or accepted by app stores. Just 13 percent of app developers surveyed oppose the bill. [...] The poll, conducted by ClearPath Strategies, surveyed 190 app developers in 11 states between December 2021 and January 2022. The margin of error is plus or minus 7.11 percentage points. "The evidence is clear -- app developers want the Open App Markets Act to pass so that they can have the opportunity to compete in a fair digital marketplace," Meghan DiMuzio, executive director of the Coalition for App Fairness, said in a statement. "For too long, developers have been harmed by gatekeepers' monopolistic practices, and consumers have suffered from less choice and innovation."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

The New York Times Purchases Wordle

The New York Times says it has purchased the viral word-guessing game Wordle for "an undisclosed price in the low seven figures." The newspaper says it'll remain "free to play for new and existing players, and no changes will be made to its gameplay." From the report: Josh Wardle, a software engineer in Brooklyn, created the game as a gift for his partner. It was released to the public in October, and it exploded in popularity in a matter of months. Ninety people played the game on Nov. 1, Mr. Wardle said. Nearly two months later, 300,000 people played it. To play the game, people are required to guess a predetermined five-letter word in six tries. The yellow and green squares indicate that the Wordle player has guessed a correct letter, or a combined correct letter and placement. The buzz around the game can be attributed to the spoiler-free scoring grid that allows players to share their Wordle wins across social media, group chats and more. The game's creator, Josh Wardle, announced the sale in a tweet, writing: "If you've followed along with the story of Wordle, you'll know that NYT games play a big part in its origins and so this step feels very natural to me." He adds: "I've long admired the NYT's approach to their games and the respect with which they treat their players. Their values are aligned with mine on these matters and I'm thrilled that they will be stewards of the game moving forward."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

BlackBerry Sells Mobile and Messaging Patents For $600 Million

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: BlackBerry is adding another sad chapter to the downfall of its smartphone business. Today the company announced a sale of its prized patent portfolio for $600 million. The buyer is "Catapult IP Innovations Inc.," a new company BlackBerry describes as "a special purpose vehicle formed to acquire the BlackBerry patent assets." BlackBerry says the patents are for "mobile devices, messaging and wireless networking." These are going to be the patents surrounding BlackBerry's phones, QWERTY keyboards, and BlackBerry Messenger (BBM). BlackBerry most recently weaponized these patents against Facebook Messenger in 2018, which covered ideas like muting a message thread and displaying notifications as a numeric icon badge. BlackBerry -- back when it was called RIM -- was a veteran of the original smartphone patent wars, though, and went after companies like Handspring and Good Technology in the early 2000s. If the name "Catapult IP Innovations" didn't give it away, weaponizing BlackBerry's patents is the most obvious outcome of this deal. According to the press release, Catapult's funding for the $600 million deal is just a $450 million loan, which will immediately be given to BlackBerry in cash. The remaining $150 million is a promissory note with the first payment due in three years. That means Catapult is now a new company with a huge amount of debt, no products, and no cash flow. Assuming the plan isn't to instantly go bankrupt, Catapult needs to start monetizing BlackBerry's patents somehow, which presumably means suing everyone it believes is in violation of its newly acquired assets.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Is Ben Shapiro Smarter Than A Fifth Grader

Ben Shapiro is Ben Shapiro’s idea of a smart person, so it’s not surprising that while lecturing some innocent children about the government, they’d declare that the emperor has no clothes. In fact, he’s intellectually butt naked.

Someone apparently thought it was a good idea to subject children at a Florida public library to Shapiro’s particular brand of BS. He came armed with flash cards and tired-ass Ayn Rand rhetoric so juvenile even literal children didn’t buy it.

“The government takes all your money and gives you very little in return,” Shapiro said while sitting in a goddamn public library.

“That’s not true,” one young man immediately responded, because he is fully aware of his environment. He already meets more of the criteria for sentience than Shapiro.

“I mean, it’s kind of true,” Shapiro simpered. “It depends on the kind of government.”

Let’s pause for a moment to recognize that a child has dismantled Shapiro's argument in just a few seconds. Maybe all those "Ben Shapiro DESTROYS Random Liberal With Logic And Reason” YouTube videos are misleading.

REMEMBER?: Ben Shapiro Offers Woman $10,000 To Talk To Him

Undaunted, Shapiro added, “Taxes are theft,” which is the savvy observation you hear from a college freshman. It’s a libertarian’s bumper sticker, not an informed opinion.

Shapiro argued that the government spends people’s taxes on “useless stuff” when they should spend it on the police. Like Ayn Rand, Shapiro believes government should conveniently exist solely to protect his property from poor people. However, if you concede that taxes are appropriate to fund the police and military, you’ve conceded that they have a function. Everything else is just Reagan-brand nihilism. Don’t like how people spend government funds? Elect different people.

REMEMBER?: Ben Shapiro And 'Fox & Friends' Having Privileged White A-Hole Contest About Voter Suppression

He went on to deride California as a nightmare state where "monsters roam the streets and garbage is strewn everywhere.” Somehow, this grim dystopia is the nation’s largest economy with a $3 trillion gross state product. Maybe we should send those monsters to the Republican-run states with crushing poverty levels.


This all played out like a bad sitcom, which reminds me that Shapiro criticized the so-called “prime time propaganda” of the 1980s sitcom “Family Ties” with its “misguided conservative” character, Alex P. Keaton. Shapiro theorized with his fully functioning mind that because Alex would often see the error of his selfish ways, this demonstrated the show’s contempt for conservatives. As I recall, Alex’s liberal parents were supportive of his politics and didn’t try to change him. They just advised him against attending a restricted country club with a young Ginni Thomas clone or getting high on speed, which was the subject of many very special episodes.

Shapiro fails to appreciate that “Family Ties” didn’t turn people off conservatism. Alex P. Keaton was a young Reaganite who idolized Richard Nixon, but underneath his money-grubbing facade, he was kind and compassionate. That is mostly because of Michael J. Fox’s own inherent charm and niceness. A real-life Alex P. Keaton is more like Ben Shapiro.

And even Loki — the god of mischief himself — was better with small children.



[The Wrap]

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DeSantis Press Secretary Christina Pushaw Is Just Really Good At Her Job

How hard is it to say Nazis are bad? Exactly how much political acumen does it take for a public official to grok that, when Nazis show up your back yard, you shout "I'm not with them!" as fast and as loud as possible?

Apparently the answer is "more than Ron DeSantis has," since he took his sweet time responding to a demonstration by actual Nazis in Orlando.

It ain't rocket science! Like they said in Ghostbusters, "If someone asks if you hate Nazis, you say YES." Well, more or less.

And yet, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis's batshit loon press secretary Christina Pushaw managed to mess even that one up.

“Do we even know they’re Nazis?” she said in a now-deleted tweet. "Or is this a stunt like the 'white nationalists' who crashed the Youngkin rally in Charlottesville and turned out to be Dem staffers? I trust Florida law enforcement to investigate and am awaiting their conclusions."

Well, it's a lot.

First of all, yeah, they're Nazis. You can visit their grody website at nsm88 dot org if you want to give your browser fascist herpes.

Second of all, no Dem staffers crashed a Youngkin rally — that was some nitwits from the Lincoln Project.

And third, DeSantis needs law enforcement to tell him that a bunch of assholes with swastika armbands yelling "Heil Hitler" is bad? REALLY?

Finally, at 10:18 p.m., Pushaw managed to tap out an insistence that Governor DeSantis had "ALWAYS condemned antisemitic attacks & hatred, and he always will. To suggest otherwise is just plain wrong. I am confident that Florida law enforcement will respond appropriately and justice will be served to any protester who violates the law."

(Wait for it ...)

This isn't even the first time Pushaw has gotten in trouble for saying stupid, anti-Semitic shit recently. In November she dog whistled out a twitter ditty about the Rothschilds and the Republic of Georgia: “Georgia decided to enact a ‘Green Pass’ system (biomedical security state). Immediately after that, the Rothschilds show up to discuss the attractive investment environment in Georgia (lol). No weird conspiracy theory stuff here!”

That tweet has also been deleted.

Today she retweeted a picture of Magic Johnson standing next to California Governor Gavin Newsom at a football game, captioned "HIV positive guy can be around 80,000 people unmasked while hugging @GavinNewsom, but six year olds must be masked in school. Evil tyrants." She also retweeted someone calling Slate writer Mark Joseph Stern a "Stasi bastard" because Georgetown put that racist hack Ilya Shapiro on leave. Plus every other nasty, disingenuous culture war attack issue, because what else are Florida tax dollars for if not to pay a public servant to shout mean shit on the internet?

This is a woman who got put in Twitter jail for instructing her followers to harass an AP reporter. "Drag them," she tweeted. And then deleted, of course.

But while Twitter may cancel Pushaw, Ron DeSantis never will. Because the Republican Party has no platform. It's all shitposting, all the time, and preferably on the taxpayer dime.

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Anti-Vaxx ‘Freedom Convoy’ Truckers Harass Ottawa Soup Kitchen For Freedom, Eh

A rag-tag group of anti-vaccine Canadian truckers have been roaming the country, undermining their nation's reputation for politeness, and protesting a new law that would require truckers driving between Canada and the USA to either be vaccinated or to quarantine for several days after returning from the US. The United States has implemented the same mandate for truckers here.

While 80 percent of Canadians are vaccinated and the vast majority are supportive of mandates meant to keep them from dying of COVID-19, these truckers — calling themselves the Freedom Convoy — are demanding that this mandate and others be eliminated, on account of how they don't like them. They've garnered support from some conservative Canadian politicians, along with many of the worst people in the States, such as Elon Musk, Donald Trump Jr., Joe Rogan, Greg Gutfield, and Donald Trump himself.

The truckers pulled into Ottawa this weekend, where they attempted to convey that message by trashing the city and assaulting nice people who were just trying to take care of the unhoused.

Via The Washington Post:

There were reports of urination on the National War Memorial and desecration of other monuments, including the statue of Terry Fox, a Canadian athlete and cancer research activist, who died in 1981 after dedicating his life to raising funds to cure the disease. [...]

Some demonstrators held signs featuring swastikas. Others angrily called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to quit, chanting in unison on Parliament Hill.

Canada’s minister of defense, Anita Anand, called some of the scenes from Parliament Hill and the National War Memorial “beyond reprehensible,” as footage emerged of protesters dancing on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and screaming “freedom.”

Well ... that oughta show 'em. Funny how these conservative types are always such great monument-loving, troop-supporting, back-the-blue, follow-the-rule-of-law patriots until they find themselves inconvenienced in some way.

In addition to the chaos they caused downtown, the truckers also decided to stop by Shepherd of Good Hope, a local Ottawa soup kitchen, to harass and assault staff and demand to be fed, despite clearly not being in need themselves.

The shelter described the harassment in a statement published to Twitter:

Trucks were parked in our ambulance drop off zone for nearly 12 hours until they were removed and towed with the support of Ottawa Police Services. The incessant honking and noise from trucks caused significant anxiety and stress to our staff and shelter residents. The Salvation Army Outreach van was not able to run in the downtown core. All shelters in the sector had to figure out contingency plans for client transportation.

The staff and volunteers at our soup kitchen experienced verbal harassment and pressure from protestors seeking meals. While we are not certain of exact numbers, the demands for meals and verbal altercations continued for several hours over the dinner period. One member of our shelter community was assaulted by protestors. A security guard went to his aid and was threatened and called racial slurs.

“It’s been super challenging for the staff," Deirdre Freiheit, the president and CEO of Shepherd of Good Hope, told Global News. "They’re exhausted, they’re tired. And when they see people coming in and taking services from people who need them the most …It’s very discouraging,”

It's sickening, is what it is.

I would just like to be clear here — this kind of behavior is not just obnoxious, it's not just a stunningly unsurprising action from people we already know to be terrible, it is extremely dangerous in this kind of weather. This is the kind of weather where people die of hypothermia, so they really need to be able to get into these shelters. If someone calls 311 because they see an unhoused person who is on the verge of freezing to death or is otherwise in an unsafe situation, the Salvation Army Outreach van is who they send to help get them to a warming center or a drop-off center. Hell, that's who these people can call themselves to come get them almost any hour of the day.

So these yahoos are not only fighting for their "right" to make people unsafe by trekking back and forth between countries without being vaccinated or taking other precautions, but they are putting homeless people in harm's way while protesting for that "right." It's almost like they don't give a damn about anyone else at all.

[Global News]

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Sony Buys ‘Destiny’ Game Developer Bungie for $3.6 Billion

Sony Group is purchasing Bungie, the U.S. video game developer behind the popular Destiny franchise, for $3.6 billion to bolster its stable of game-making studios. From a report: The deal announced on Monday is the third significant video-game acquisition announced this month, following Microsoft's purchase of Activision Blizzard for $69 billion two weeks ago and Take Two Interactive snagging mobile game leader Zynga on Jan. 10. Buying Bungie will give Sony one of the most popular first-person shooter games to compete with the massive Call of Duty series, which Sony's main rival now owns through Activision.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Mystery Solved (Open Thread)

Folks in comments (including me) were wondering recently why the U.S. hasn’t put an ambassador in place in Ukraine. Here’s why, according to CNN:

President Joe Biden is close to publicly naming his ambassador to Ukraine, but his administration is still waiting on formal approval from the Ukrainian government, CNN has learned.

Biden has selected Bridget Brink, the current US ambassador to Slovakia, but hasn’t officially nominated her yet because the Ukrainian government hasn’t signed off, according to a source familiar.

Getting approval from the foreign government is part of the standard process in selecting ambassadors and can usually take anywhere from days to weeks. A source close to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told CNN on Monday that the Ukrainian government is still vetting Brink.

The report doesn’t say when Brink was nominated, but as least we know someone is in the pipeline. Also on the topic of Ukraine, representatives from Russia and the U.S. had an angry exchange at the U.N. today, with the Russians accusing the U.S. of whipping up hysteria and U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield accusing Russia of “attempting, without any factual basis, to paint Ukraine and Western countries as the aggressors to fabricate a pretext for attack.”

WaPo’s report says Russia and China joined forces to try to keep the U.S.-called Security Council meeting closed to the public, but the other members forced an open meeting. Biden said in a statement that the meeting is “a critical step in rallying the world to speak out in one voice.” It sounds like the admin is on the same page with Fiona Hill [NYT link], which is probably a good place to be.

In other overseas news, BoJo got keelhauled in Parliament earlier over a Partygate report. A snippet from the CNN analysis:

Government advisors are seriously worried that Johnson’s non-apology will not come across to the public as a man who understands what has gone wrong, but a callous man who is more interested in clinging to power than being held responsible.

Ya think? Open thread!

The post Mystery Solved (Open Thread) appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Governors Asked To Sign Compact Committing To K-12 CS Expansion

theodp writes: At the 2022 Winter meeting of the National Governors Association (NGA), Arkansas Governor and NGA Chair ASA Hutchinson called on attendees to rally together to advance K-12 computer science education across the country. The pitch was part of Hutchinson's year-long CS evangelism initiative, which the NGA notes enjoys the support of Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. In video from the event, Hutchinson gives kudos to tech-bankrolled Code.org for pushing the national expansion of K-12 CS, and calls on 35 of his fellow Governors to join their 15 peers who are already members of the Code.org-led advocacy group Govs for CS. In closing, Hutchinson informs the Governors they'll be asked to sign a compact committing to expanding access to CS education in their states (to be unveiled at NGA's Summer meeting), and plays a short video that challenges the audience with a question: "Will it be American students who learn to code," Hutchinson asks, "or will industry be required to go overseas to find the talent that we need here in the United States of America?"

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

XCKD’s Randall Munroe Announces What If? 2

XKCD creator Randall Munroe has announced his latest science book: What If? 2: Additional Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions, which will delve into new out-of-the-box questions that Munroe attempts to answer with hard scientific facts and research. From a report: What If? 2 follows 2014's original What If? book -- which itself was borne out of an XKCD spinoff blog -- that saw Munroe examine absurd questions (like whether you could build a jetpack that ran off downward-facing machine guns or if there's enough paint to cover the entire surface of the earth) with rigorous scientific accuracy, accompanied by Munroe's signature stick figure comics. The new volume will continue in What If?'s absurd scientific footsteps, attempting to answer new questions from readers like how you'd ride a fire pole from the moon to Earth, or what would happen if you tried to build a billion-story-high building or solve global warming by having everyone on earth open their freezer doors.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.