The most recent story in ProPublica's Living Apart: Examining America's Racial Divide
series is "Segregation Now
," which focuses on the Tuscaloosa, Alabama, city school district "and its fleeting experience with the challenges and virtues of integration." But beyond Tuscaloosa, "almost everywhere in the United States, the gains of integration have been eroded. And nowhere has that been more powerfully and disturbingly true than in the South – once home to both the worst of segregation and the greatest triumphs of integration. Freed from the federal oversight that produced integration, schools districts across the 11 former states of the Confederacy have effectively re-instituted segregation for large numbers of black students, in practical terms if not in law.
" [more inside]
During their Freedom Hosting
investigation and malware attack last year, the FBI unintentionally obtained the entire e-mail database of popular anonymous webmail service Tor Mail. And now, they've used it in an unrelated investigation to bust a Florida man accused of stealing credit card numbers
. [more inside]
In Conversation: Antonin Scalia "On the eve of a new Supreme Court session, the firebrand justice discusses gay rights and media echo chambers, Seinfeld and the Devil, and how much he cares about his intellectual legacy ("I don’t")." [more inside]
After a decade or so of legal back-and-forth between Utah-based Myriad Genetics and medical researchers, the ACLU, and the Public Patent Forum, the US Supreme Court will hear a case next week
which attempts to address whether genes — isolated (derivative) or original — can be patented
. The stakes are high on both sides: opponents use Myriad's actions to argue that giving short-term monopoly control over humanity's genetic constituency is not in the public interest, while proponents defend the use of patents to spur private research in biotech, alternative energy and other nascent industries.
Sexual Assault In The U.S. Military
is the focus of a serious contender for Best Documentary Feature at this year's Academy Awards. The Invisible War
is a groundbreaking investigative doc that sheds light on the under-reported epidemic of sexual abuse against female members of the military
, as well as the lack of punitive action in these crimes: of the 8 percent of sexual assault cases that are prosecuted in the military, only 2 percent result in convictions. A female soldier in a combat zone is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire.
By official estimates
from The Department of Defense, 19,000 violent sexual crimes occurred in the military in 2011 alone
. Sexual assault is grossly under-reported
in the military. In 2011, 3,191 assaults were reported when its likely that somewhere between 19,000 and 22,000 assaults occurred.
The women in the film speak about the physical and mental abuse they underwent while serving in the military - and about the the lawsuit they joined and the verdict in which their experiences were labeled "occupational hazards".
The film is already garnering much attention, especially as front-running Oscar Nominee - and lawmakers are taking notice. [more inside]
Gospel of Intolerance
- Excerpts of "God Loves Uganda"
, a feature documentary directed and produced by filmmaker Roger Ross Williams
is having its premiere at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. The film explains how money donated by American evangelicals directly finances the violent antigay movement
Earlier this month, British Petroleum agreed to plead guilty
to 14 violations of law, including negligence causing death and the Clean Water Act. [more inside]
is the Republican Majority Leader of the Georgia State Senate, and Treasurer of ALEC (previously 1 2)
. On October 11th he hosted a four-hour briefing for his fellow senators, regarding Obama's mind-control techniques which are forcing the US into a United Nations-led Communist dictatorship in which suburbanites are forcibly relocated to cities
. The theory is based on Agenda 21
, the non-binding 1992 UN treaty on sustainable development. Rogers narrowly failed to pass a resolution
against Agenda 21, but other states have done so, and Alabama has even forbidden its implementation in law
Last year, The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU's Law School released a report
) detailing new, more restrictive state laws that affect voting rights and are likely to impact the outcome of the 2012 elections. The restrictions "fall most heavily on young, minority, and low-income voters, as well as on voters with disabilities." On August 3rd, 2012, they updated their analysis
with a pdf
of passed and pending State government legislation. Their conclusion: after a century in which the United States "expanded the franchise and knocked down myriad barriers to full electoral participation... that momentum [has] abruptly shifted." [more inside]
"The truth about the Fast and Furious scandal
: A Fortune investigation reveals that the ATF never intentionally allowed guns to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. How the world came to believe just the opposite is a tale of rivalry, murder, and political bloodlust." [more inside]
The GOP’s woman problem is that it has a serious problem with women.
Frank Rich on George Stephanopoulos's unanswered question, how the Republicans have shifted to being the party of misogyny since the 70s, and why Mitt Romney would be just as bad as Rick Santorum.
Two days ago
, U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act
), "with reservations about key provisions in the law — including a controversial component that would allow the military to indefinitely detain terror suspects, including American citizens arrested in the United States, without charge"
. [more inside]
Testing by Food Safety News has shown that more than 75% of the honey being sold in the United States does not qualify to be labeled for sale as "honey". [more inside]
In 1991, Troy Davis
was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1989 murder of policeman Mark MacPhail in a Savannah, Georgia parking lot. Since then, seven of the nine prosecution eyewitnesses have recanted
all or part of their testimony, with some citing pressure from the police to make false statements. An exception is Sylvester "Redd" Coles, who made the initial report of Davis’s guilt, and is regarded by the defense as the chief suspect. New witnesses have sworn affidavits that Coles confessed the crime to them. An array
of figures have called for a stay of execution, including death-penalty supporters Senator Bob Barr and former FBI director William S. Sessions. Today
, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles
denied clemency; barring action
from the District Attorney, Davis is set to be executed
by lethal injection tomorrow at 7pm. [Previously
The Hardest Cases: When Children Die, Justice Can Be Elusive
A joint investigation by PBS Frontline, ProPublica and NPR has found that medical examiners and coroners have repeatedly mishandled cases of infant and child deaths, helping to put innocent people behind bars. (Via. (Article contains descriptions of children that have been killed by abuse. May be disturbing / triggering to some readers.) [more inside]
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives deliberately allowed assault rifles to be smuggled into Mexico
, so they could be tracked. The weapons were then used in a spree of murders, including that of US Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry
. The operation was called "Fast and Furious". The Mexican government was apparently unaware
of the operation, and is investigating
. The ATF is going to have a review
of whether their strategy supports "the goals of ATF to stem the illegal flow of firearms to Mexico".
Sotomayor, Kagan shift Supreme Court debates to the left.
The liberal wing is no longer drowned out by Scalia and his fellow conservatives during oral arguments.
The Music-Copyright Enforcers “A few years back, we had Penn, Schoen and Berland, Hillary’s pollster guys, do a study. The idea was, go and find out what Americans really think about copyright. Do songwriters deserve to be paid? Absolutely! The numbers were enormously favorable — like, 85 percent. The poll asked, ‘If there was a party that wasn’t compensating songwriters, do you think that would be wrong?’ And the answer was, ‘Yes!’ So then, everything’s fine, right? Wrong. Because when it came time to ask people to part with their shekels, it was like: ‘Eww. You want me to pay?’ ” [more inside]
Though President Obama has signed no laws since taking office that prohibit gun purchases and ownership, that hasn't stopped permit applications and weapons sales in the United States from rising through the roof and worried state legislators from passing laws
they wouldn't otherwise pass, which greatly ease access and allow carrying weapons in, among other public areas, city, state and national parks
. Schools may have to get their kids prepared.
The Obama administration has repeatedly threatened to conceal future information of terrorist threats from the British government, unless the British government disobeys the High Court ruling requiring them to release information about the US government's acknowledged torture program. This may be a breach of the Convention Against Torture. Glenn Greenwald
has new evidence. Previously.
"Happy Birthday to You" is the best-known and most frequently sung song in the world. Many - including Justice Breyer in his dissent in Eldred v. Ashcroft - have portrayed it as an unoriginal work that is hardly worthy of copyright protection, but nonetheless remains under copyright. Yet close historical scrutiny reveals both of those assumptions to be false.
[Full pdf here
A very special 'This American Life
' about an administration with the endemic belief that laws only apply to the little people, and a limitless refusal to concede on even petty issues, no matter the costs. The highlight is about immigrant widows of US citizens (30:50). The program also discusses the constitutional beliefs of the presidential candidates. [more inside]
were heard today in District of Columbia v. Heller
, the first occasion in almost 70 years
for the Supreme Court to decide the question, "Just what does the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
, the US House passed the SAFE Act
. No, not that one
. Points of note:
- If signed into law, the SAFE Act will require people offering WiFi at their cafe, library, or even allowing their neighbours to use it, who notice that someone appears to have viewed certain dirty cartoons
, or pictures of fully-clothed children looking sexy, to immediately make a comprehensive report to John Walsh's CyberTipLine
, and retain the images, or face a fine of up to $150,000.
- ISPs or email services have the same obligations, and must store all data relating to the user's account, to be handed over to the authorities.
- The Democrats rushed the legislation through using a mechanism intended for non-controversial legislation. There was no hearing or committee vote. The legislation changed significantly before the vote and was not available for public review.
- The bill passed 409-2
. Opposed were Paul Broun (R-Georgia) and Ron Paul (R-Texas). The Senate is next, so consider telling them what you think
New Hampshire approves same-sex unions
with bipartisan, if contentious support
, recognizing both in- and out-of-state unions and marriages. While New York's Eliot Spitzer follows up on a campaign promise
, higher courts in California
may make decisions on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage later this year, deciding if a civil union is an adequate legal substitution for marriage.
Gonzales pushes plan to criminalize copyright infringement,
making it punishable by life imprisonment; to increase wiretaps; and to require Homeland Security to notify the RIAA in certain circumstances. "To meet the global challenges of IP crime." I'd comment on this, but I'm afraid that someone might think I was copying someone else. The Intellectual Property Protection Act
(official press release
) appeared previously in a speech (2005)
and as a draft (2006)
- now the Justice department is pushing Congress to bring it forward. [newsfilter]
The Golden Age of Piracy
[video/audio] in the Atlantic peaked
as the War of Spanish Succession ended
. Piracy was a natural progression for the privateers
] and buccaneers
who had lost their sanctioned prey
, and faced little resistance due to a lack of strong government in the majority of the American Colonies. Meanwhile captured naval seamen and slaves often willingly joined with pirates
, or fled brutal treatment for the egalitarianism of piracy
. This motley crew of motives were united in pirate democracy
, laid down in a pirate code
, preparing the way for democracy
in the United States
. But as the popularity of pirate life
and pirate utopias
grew strong, they became a pest to be mercilessly crushed by colonial opposition and the British navy.
(pdf file) broadly states that in warfare it takes an N-square-fold increase in quality to make up for an N-square increase in quantity. In other words, gains in technological superiority do not multiply as fast as increases in in troop strength. When the warfare is asymmetrical, numerical superiority become even more important. With complaints that the US Army is understaffed
(there are 1/3 fewer troops now than in 1991
when the US fought the first Gulf war) Democrats in the House and Senate - led by Joseph Lieberman and Hillary Clinton - are proposing to increase the size of the US Army by 80,000 troops
- more than twice what the Army asked for and counter to the argument made by the the CATO institute
that troop strength should be decreased.
Seizure of land for the public good or unconstitutional cash grab?
Originally, the power of eminent domain
was used by government to condemn property for the public good, usually to build railroads or highways or bridges. This power has been expanded to redevelop dilapidated neighbourhoods
, and ultimately, "economic development"
(public good by way of jobs and taxes
). What will you do when Pfizer wants to build a research facility
*on* your backyard and your government helps them do it
? Hint: it's nothing new
, just wait for 2008
or 2012 (maybe)
Judge backs Guantanamo challenge
A US judge has ruled that special military tribunals being used to try hundreds of detainees at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba are illegal.
The War on Drugs
hasn't been working at all well. So let's make it even less sensible: harsher penalties, invasion of privacy, all that jazz. The proposal is surreal, but fits in with the rest of US Drug Policy: rapists aren't denied federal funds for post-secondary schooling, but pot-heads are; you can spend more time in jail for dealing weed than for murder; gonna deal pot, ya might as well deal speed, it's the same jailtime. And now... let's encourage dealers to sell pot with more carcinogenic tars! [link goes to NORML, possibly NSFW, danger: encourages political activism]
In a major policy reversal, the Justice Department has officially endorsed an individual right to bear arms
. In doing so, the Justice Department has abandoned its long-held position that the second amendment
is limited in scope to protecting militia activities
. Does this mean the Justice Department will stop enforcing federal laws
that it sees as violating the 2nd amendemnt? Should it? If there is a individual right to bear arms, how far
should it extend?
Charges dropped against Ruby Ridge FBI sniper
BONNER'S FERRY, Idaho (CNN) -- The FBI sharpshooter who killed a white separatist's wife in the 1992 Ruby Ridge standoff will not be tried for manslaughter, an Idaho prosecutor said Thursday.
Because nothing says "You Suck!" quite like a website.
"Sucks sites" and how to run them without getting sued...