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Digitised Products: How about just giving up?

Posted on December 20th, 2014 at 2:56 by Sueyourdeveloper in category: News


In music, there are people who want to supply music and there are people who want to listen to it. The problem is that the competition for listener’s attention is intense. That’s the core of the economics of the industry. If there is a fundamental imbalance in competition — in this case, favouring listeners — you can’t assume that suppliers will get much. Unless, of course, the suppliers can supply something else that is scarce — for instance, connections through online communities or, mostly likely, through concerts. The Eagles — yes, The Eagles from the 1970s — earned $100 million last year. I don’t recall any Number One albums from them. It was all from other stuff.


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Life on the Edge review – the weird world of quantum biology explained

Posted on December 19th, 2014 at 22:04 by John Sinteur in category: News


While everything is made up of electrons, protons and other particles that obey the bizarre rules of quantum mechanics (among them, the possibility of particles existing in two places simultaneously), collisions, vibrations and so on within a material generally prevent such “trickery” affecting an object as a whole. As the authors point out: “The weird quantum stuff that happens at the level of the very small doesn’t usually make a difference to the big stuff like cars or toasters that we see and use every day.”

But life, it seems, is different. Indeed the internal compass that enables female robins to migrate in the winter relies on a curious capability that wouldn’t sound out of place in an X-Men line-up: magnetoreception. The theory goes that the eye of a robin contains a chemical that, when it absorbs light of the right energy, can shuffle its electrons around. This shuffling creates a system that exists, thanks to some quantum jiggery-pokery, in two forms at once – each of which leads to a different outcome in the reaction that follows. Which form predominates, and hence which outcome is more likely, is influenced by the angle of the Earth’s magnetic field, allowing the robin to detect if it is heading towards the equator or away from it.

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Good News You May Have Missed in 2014 | Bill Gates

Posted on December 19th, 2014 at 16:06 by John Sinteur in category: News


I ended 2013 by compiling something slightly unusual: a list of some of the good news you might have missed. I thought it was a pretty good note to end the year on, and people seemed to like reading about some of the ways the world is becoming a better place. This year, I thought I’d do it again.

Of course, we can’t ignore the fact that it’s been a turbulent year, in the United States and many other countries. But it’s worth taking a moment to celebrate some of the good news too. More children are surviving than ever before. We’re making progress against some of the world’s deadliest diseases. These are some of the most fundamental ways to measure the world’s progress—and by that measure, 2014 was definitely another good year.

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  1. Isn’t it great he stopped messing around with computers?

Congress Is Finally Going to Make Local Law Enforcement Report How Many People They Kill

Posted on December 18th, 2014 at 12:12 by John Sinteur in category: News


Last week, Congress passed the Death in Custody Reporting Act of 2013. Currently awaiting Obama’s signature, it mandates that states receiving federal criminal justice assistance grants report, by gender and race, all deaths that occur in law enforcement custody, including any while a person is being detained or arrested. This would include events like the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, says Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), a sponsor of the bill, in an interview with Mother Jones.

The bill also mandates that federal law enforcement agencies annually gather and report these deaths to the US attorney general, who in turn has two years to analyze the data, determine if and how it can be used to reduce the number of such deaths, and file a report to Congress.

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Televised medical talk shows—what they recommend and the evidence to support their recommendations: a prospective observational study

Posted on December 18th, 2014 at 11:51 by John Sinteur in category: News


Recommendations made on medical talk shows often lack adequate information on specific benefits or the magnitude of the effects of these benefits. Approximately half of the recommendations have either no evidence or are contradicted by the best available evidence. Potential conflicts of interest are rarely addressed. The public should be skeptical about recommendations made on medical talk shows.

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Groot dictee

Posted on December 17th, 2014 at 23:16 by John Sinteur in category: News


Tussen niemendalletje en blankebabybilletjesprivilege


Geef het Dictee terug aan de kijker, kopte De Telegraaf vorig jaar. Daar schrok het Dictee wel even van. De genuttigde zwezeriken lagen plotseling zwaar op de maag. Maar na een medoc te hebben gedronken, toog het Dictee alsnog welgemoed aan de slag.


Dames en heren thuis en in deze parlementariërsruimte, bij dezen proficiat: u hebt, onder toeziend oog van koning Willy de Tweede, nog steeds nul fouten in uw brossel!


O, als gisteren herinner ik me het eerste Dictee: na aankomst in een havelock met andere BN’ers bij de Eerste Kamer der Staten-Generaal bekroop me het rodelopergevoel. Een halfuurtje later kwam een kokospalm voorbij, en zee-egels uit het Middellandse Zeegebied en een kasuaris en nochtans; en apensoort, apenrots en apekool: een taalkundig houtenjassenpark, en kookte ik vanbinnen want ik kende de Van Dale niet vanbuiten.


De oe’s en a’s waren niet van de lucht tijdens dat gillendekeukenmeidenvertoon van het Nederlands.


Sindsdien hebben we ongelooflijk veel geleerd: aanwensel, bespioneren, ge-sms’t en kippenragout kennen voor ons bollebozen geen trubbels meer, en ook uitentreuren, hawaïshirt of gestrest en een rock-‘n-rolllegende in goeden doen spellen wij foutloos.


Ooit mocht ik het Kinderdictee schrijven en vergastte de bollewangenhapsnoeten op de oeioeimachine, een perubalsempopulier en een tafa of West-Australische penseelstaartbuidelmuis; een gribbelgrabbel van woorden, alle uit de Dikke Van Dale, de toverballenautomaat van onze taal.


Sla de Dikke willekeurig open en ontdek de geheimenissen van de brougham, een gesloten rijtuig voor twee personen getrokken door één paard; blader door die Ali Babataalschatkamer en ontdek dat een turbe een menigte is, en een turco een Noord-Afrikaanse inlandse tirailleur in Franse krijgsdienst.


Dat was het jubileumdictee. Rest de vraag: wilt u de komende jaren meer of minder dicteeën? Het antwoord moet wel luiden: ‘Meer! Meer! Meer!’

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  1. I thought the Great Dictator was a movie about Hitler.

Andrew Hawkins Has Some Remarkable Thoughts On Protest

Posted on December 17th, 2014 at 18:37 by John Sinteur in category: News


“I was taught that justice is a right that every American should have. Also justice should be the goal of every American. I think that’s what makes this country. To me, justice means the innocent should be found innocent. It means that those who do wrong should get their due punishment. Ultimately, it means fair treatment. So a call for justice shouldn’t offend or disrespect anybody. A call for justice shouldn’t warrant an apology.

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Voyager Buffeted by Interstellar ‘Tsunami Waves’

Posted on December 16th, 2014 at 19:38 by John Sinteur in category: News


Since 2012, NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft has experienced three ‘tsunami waves’ in interstellar space. The most recent, which reached the spacecraft earlier this year, is still propagating outward according to new data. It is the longest-lasting shock wave that researchers have seen in interstellar space.

“Most people would have thought the interstellar medium would have been smooth and quiet. But these shock waves seem to be more common than we thought,” said Don Gurnett, professor of physics at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. Gurnett presented the new data Monday, Dec. 15 at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.

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Rebecca Gordon, The Torture Wars

Posted on December 16th, 2014 at 11:26 by John Sinteur in category: News


Recently, Republican hawks in Washington protested loudly against the release of that Senate report, suggesting that it should be suppressed lest it “inflame” our enemies. The real question isn’t, however, about them at all, it’s about us. Why won’t the release of this report inflame Americans, given what their government has done in their names?

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Police asked university for list of attendees at fracking debate

Posted on December 16th, 2014 at 11:18 by John Sinteur in category: News


Police asked a university to hand over a list of members of the public who were due to attend a public debate on its campus.Canterbury Christ Church University, which had invited experts to debate the merits of fracking in an open forum, refused to hand over the list, and the police request has drawn sharp criticism, with one of the panellists branding it deplorable.

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Keurig Hack

Posted on December 15th, 2014 at 11:47 by John Sinteur in category: News

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  1. Is it me, or is the Internet fabulous?

  2. You both are, Sue.

  3. and porpentine makes three. Thanks, John, for this blog. It has character.

  4. I hope it’s a disreputable character, Jan!

Rosetta Reignites Debate on Earth’s Oceans

Posted on December 14th, 2014 at 20:47 by John Sinteur in category: News


The new findings of the Rosetta mission make it more likely that Earth got its water from asteroid-like bodies closer to our orbit and/or that Earth could actually preserve at least some of its original water in minerals and at the poles.

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The Speech That Could Make Elizabeth Warren the Next President of the United States

Posted on December 14th, 2014 at 16:05 by John Sinteur in category: News


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  1. Subtle assertions that she’s a nut job have already been implanted into the people’s psyche. It’s really not very hard when you control the media. Resistance if futile.

  2. Amen sister!

Statsministeren og Stortinget overvåkes med spionutstyr

Posted on December 13th, 2014 at 16:19 by John Sinteur in category: News


De falske basestasjonene kan overvåke bevegelsene til statsråder, politikere, embetsmenn og vanlige mennesker som går inn, ut og rundt sentrale bygninger i Oslo. Om det er kriminelle, utenlandsk etterretning eller andre som står bak, er ukjent.

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The Economic Consequences of Drug Resistance

Posted on December 12th, 2014 at 1:13 by Sueyourdeveloper in category: News


Already, 60,000 people die every year from causes related to antimicrobial resistance in the United States and Europe – some ten times the worldwide death toll from the ongoing Ebola crisis. By 2050, if the problem is allowed to continue to grow, antimicrobial resistance will kill more than ten million people per year. That is more than the number of people who currently die of cancer, diabetes, lung cancer, road traffic accidents, diarrhoeal disease, and HIV/AIDS combined. The economic costs from the resulting panic, including a collapse of travel and trade, could be devastating.

We just got a time machine back to the 1920’s.

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  1. This is a direct result of doctors and the drug industry forgetting one important axiom: what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. This is as true for bacteria and viruses as it is for the rest of us. Instead of only using drug regimes when absolutely necessarily, they have been used as a panacea, with the expected results, and we are reaping the consequences of that.

  2. Doctors have been warning of this for years. “Superbugs” developing because of drug misuse, but nature has a way of re-balancing the accounts. The bacteria have been here on earth for billions of years and there are trillions and trillions of bacteria for each human. Long after humans are gone, bacteria will still be here. The only thing constant about the earth is that it is constantly changing.

  3. As I was driving back to Canada after a 2 hour shopping trip to the U.S., the Canadian border guard asked:

    “Have you come back from a trip to West Africa in the last 21 days? Do you know anyone who has come back from West Africa in the last 21 days?”

    I’d have felt safer if he asked me if I’d washed my hands :-)

  4. This assumes, of course, that medical science doesn’t come up with an alternate way of fighting these bacteria by then. There are some ideas that, although still early in the research prices, show promise.

  5. @Mudak: And we have antisepsis (1920’s). Also probiotics and fecal transplants*.

    * I can see it now: celebrity colonic biome capsules :-)

5 Awful Things Congress Snuck Into the Omnibus Budget Deal

Posted on December 11th, 2014 at 10:50 by John Sinteur in category: News


If you’re a Congressperson looking to sneak through something shady, the omnibus budget bill is the perfect opportunity since 1.) It’s 1600 pages long and very easy to hide things in, and 2.) Congress kind of has to pass it or the government shuts down. Again.

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  1. I give these people full marks for consistency and persistence. They never lose sight of their values.

  2. It seems Congress and the President are perfectly capable and willing to screw everyone, except the rich.

  3. It would have been a political victory if the Democrats hadn’t supported the bill and let the Republican House shutdown the government again, but the Dems were too smart for that. I doubt these Democrats will win either House or the Presidency for the next 12 years.

UN Officials Demand Prosecutions for US Torture

Posted on December 11th, 2014 at 0:09 by John Sinteur in category: News


All senior U.S. officials and CIA agents who authorized or carried out torture like waterboarding as part of former President George W. Bush’s national security policy must be prosecuted, top U.N. officials said Wednesday.

It’s not clear, however, how human rights officials think these prosecutions will take place, since the Justice Department has declined to prosecute and the U.S. is not a member of the International Criminal Court.

Simple – the moment any of them travel outside the US, whatever country they arrive in arrests them and prosecutes. The crimes are serious to make that possible. Or even go ahead and do it in absentia, that’s been done before. It’s no use waiting for the US, they can’t even prosecute a simple cop with overwhelming video evidence against him.

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  1. And, of course, the fellow travellers should be prosecuted too. Ex ambassador Craig Murray on his blog – https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2014/12/jack-straw-the-guilty-man-lies/ explains why he was sacked for reporting the rendition/torture programme and protests at not being able to talk on this matter, now that the redacted report has been issued, in spite of contacting the major UK news services, while Jack Straw, UK Foreign Secretary at the time has been interviewed by everyone and allowed to make statements protesting his innocence, Craig had to resort to RT to air his side of the matter.

    Wow, what a long sentence.

  2. Thanks for the link, pete.

How I Defeated the Tolkien Estate

Posted on December 9th, 2014 at 22:56 by John Sinteur in category: News


As anyone who’s read the appendices to The Lord of the Rings knows, both it and The Hobbit are Tolkien’s translations from the so-called “Red Book of Westmarch,” an ancient manuscript written in Late Vulgar Adûni. How Tolkien came to possess the Red Book is a mystery, and the Tolkien Estate has never allowed other scholars access to it.

Tolkien’s original translation is justly famous and beloved. He treeherds an unwieldy ancient text into lyrical modern English and captures the vast scope and romance of the epic.

It is also deeply flawed.

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The Torture Report, Part One: What It Says

Posted on December 9th, 2014 at 22:34 by John Sinteur in category: News


Kennedy had the right idea. Did it get him killed? I am still largely agnostic on it but, if it did, I wouldn’t be at all surprised, just as I was not surprised by what Senator Dianne Feinstein read aloud on the Senate floor today, even though, behind every syllable of every word, a death knell sounded for the American idea.†The concept of American exceptionalism based on anything as delicate as the rule of law — in fact, any concept of American exceptionalism based on anything but brutish force — has been rendered a sad and superannuated farce. Founding Fathers? Constitutional government? The bell has finally tolled for thee, motherfkers.

What was released was so breathtakingly awful, so transcendently wicked, that it’s hard to keep in mind that what was read in the Senate today was merely the introduction to a heavily redacted, 528-page summary of a 6000-page congressional report into American savagery overseas. What we are being presented with is the Readers Digest Condensed Version of what was done to people in our name and on our dime. “I Am Joe’s Frozen Corpse.” What is in the other 5000-odd pages must be beyond belief.

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  1. 1. The CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” were not effective.
    2. The CIA provided extensive inaccurate information about the operation of the program and its effectiveness to policymakers and the public.
    3. The CIA’s management of the program was inadequate and deeply flawed.
    4. The CIA program was far more brutal than the CIA represented to policymakers and the American public.

    I wonder if this has anything to do with the report on “harsh interrogation tactics” I’ve been hearing about on the news?

  2. This report (which we have been hearing about for years now) is the best evidence that the USA was being lead by worse people possible (I know there are people worse than G W Bush, but hopefully it is not possible for those people to become leaders of the US.)

    When G W Bush took office, the Neo-Cons that were his team wanted to fight the cold war some more, they saw the Russians as the biggest threat. If they had been doing their job, they would have seen what terror groups wanted to do and paid more attention to them and possibly prevented the 9-11 attack.

    The fact that the G W Bush CIA didn’t know how to interrogate someone effectively is just another indication that the people at the top let themselves be controlled by their emotions. They wanted revenge and to punish someone.

    If you are a US voter, think about this the next time you want to throw your vote away, if only a few thousand of the people that voted for Ralph Nader (in Florida) had voted for Gore, it is very likely that none of this would have happened. The people that voted for Nader knew he wouldn’t win, but they just couldn’t bring themselves to vote for the lesser evil. So instead of a continuation of Clinton-Gore we got what will probably go down in history as the worst years of the US (at least for modern times.)

  3. Didn’t the American people already approve torture? Both Democrats and Republican approved it in Congress. Feinstein knew it. This sudden attack of conscience is just politics.

    Religions like torture. Isn’t that what Hell is all about?

  4. @Chas – you are right. They do approve it by being totally apathetic.

    And although the headlines stay that congress and white was mislead, it is bullshit. America the beautiful, what a crock. If one reads history, oh, wait, Americans stopped reading, ok, then visit some of the torture museums in Vilnius or Riga someday, and then one will see the very high correlation of what the CIA did and what the Soviets did. (Of course there were other fine teachers of torture throughout history).

AT&T Sneaks Telecom Deregulation Amendment into Ohio’s Agriculture/Water Quality Bill

Posted on December 8th, 2014 at 19:57 by John Sinteur in category: News


AT&T’s lobbyists in Ohio have convinced state legislators to ignore a veto threat from the governor’s office and insert a deregulation amendment into an unrelated water quality and agriculture measure.

Retiring House Speaker Bill Batchelder (R-Medina) is shepherding AT&T’s latest attempt at total deregulation through the Ohio House of Representatives, claiming it will break down barriers for businesses in Ohio and give new businesses the infrastructure they need to make Ohio their home. Among Batchelder’s top donors is AT&T.

Critics contend the measure will disconnect up to 5% of rural Ohio from all telephone service because they live in “no signal bar” areas of the state.

The amendment, inserted into HB490 (at Sec. 4905.71), would end AT&T’s requirement to serve as a Provider of Last Resort, which has guaranteed that every Ohio resident seeking telephone service has had it for nearly 100 years. If the measure passes, AT&T can unilaterally disconnect service and leave unprofitable service areas, mostly in rural and poor sections of the state. Current Ohio law only permits a telephone company to end service if it can prove financial hardship and show that reasonable alternatives are available to affected residents. AT&T earned $128.75 billion in revenue in 2013 and is unlikely to meet any hardship test.

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  1. Telephone, folks. Not even internet. This attitude is why there are still farmer’s cooperative telephone companies in some places. It sounds like there should be more.

    (Disclaimer: One of my old employers got business from such companies, who basically said they wouldn’t give their business to big business because they were offended by the offering of bribes.)

Bottlenose Dolphin Rescue

Posted on December 8th, 2014 at 15:47 by John Sinteur in category: News

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How Al-qaeda is like boy scouts

Posted on December 7th, 2014 at 16:20 by John Sinteur in category: News


“His breakthrough insight was that the best terror cells work a lot like a big nonprofit group. Like the Boy Scouts of America.” From studying the scouts, he determined the best way to stop terrorists is to target their bureaucrats – not top leaders.

“The reason I like the Boy Scouts,” Atkins said in an interview, “is they face a lot of the same management challenges that al-Qaeda does.”
“Killing bin Laden was big, symbolically,” Atkins said. “But continually wiping out accountants and No. 3 guys and operations guys and public affairs guys is a lot more effective.”

Both groups have a lot of motivated but relatively unskilled volunteers, he writes in his paper, “Boy Scouts, Bureaucracy, and Counternetwork Targeting.” Their desired goals can be hard to quantify, especially in the eyes of their donors.

“Perhaps the most intriguing similarity,” he writes, “has been a shared dependence on a very complicated relationship with a variety of constituencies or stakeholders.”

As per the Harvard study linked above, the effects of leadership decapitation are time dependent. A terrorist group whose leader has been decapitated in the first year of the group’s existence is more than eight times as likely to end as a nondecapitated group. The effects diminish by 50 percent after ten years, and after twenty years, leadership decapitation may have no effect on the group’s mortality rate.

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  1. So the most difficult “management issues” that Al-Q has is keeping pedophiles out? Dealing with poor parents? Funding trips for boys to the big Jamboree in Yamaguchi by collecting beer bottles and cans? Dealing with peer pressure and bullying? Sigh.

  2. Seems like they have a lot in common with the US government. The head of our government has become irrelevant. Congress is irrelevant. It’s really all about business today.

What I’ve Learned from Two Years Collecting Data on Police Killings

Posted on December 7th, 2014 at 16:10 by John Sinteur in category: News


The biggest thing I’ve taken away from this project is something I’ll never be able to prove, but I’m convinced to my core: The lack of such a database is intentional. No government—not the federal government, and not the thousands of municipalities that give their police forces license to use deadly force—wants you to know how many people it kills and why.

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Pregnant? Avoid Alcohol, Caffeine, and Catholic Hospitals

Posted on December 7th, 2014 at 14:30 by John Sinteur in category: News


When Tamesha’s water broke at 18 weeks, long before her pregnancy was viable, she rushed to a Catholic hospital. Because of religiously based rules, the hospital told Tamesha it could do nothing for her, and didn’t tell Tamesha that terminating her pregnancy was the safest course for her. The hospital sent her home twice in excruciating pain. When she returned the third time, in extreme distress and with an infection, the hospital only began to care for her once she began to miscarry. We have filed a lawsuit against the Catholic bishops for setting hospital policy that allows religion to trump women’s health.

And yesterday we urged the state of Michigan to investigate another situation where a Catholic hospital is putting women at risk by abruptly refusing to provide tubal sterilization to women undergoing a C-section. A C-section is the best time to get your tubes tied, and women who are denied a tubal sterilization at this hospital will now have to undergo a separate procedure, carrying additional risks, after they heal from childbirth. But this Michigan hospital isn’t the only one that refuses to provide tubal sterilization during a C-section – all Catholic hospitals do, even though it is bad medicine.

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Rich nations ‘failing to help Syria refugees’

Posted on December 5th, 2014 at 17:08 by Sueyourdeveloper in category: News


Affluent nations have taken in a “pitiful” number of the million of Syrian refugees uprooted by the country’s civil war, placing the burden on Syria’s ill-equipped neighbours, according to Amnesty International…

“Around 3.8 million refugees from Syria are being hosted in five main countries within the region: Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt,” Amnesty International said in the statement.

For example, Canada promised to settle a mere 3500 Syrian refugees. At last count there were less than 200 actually arrived. On the other hand we’ll spend hundreds of millions sending 6(!) fighter planes to join the IS turkey shoot.

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Sony Kept Thousands of Passwords in a Folder Named “Password”

Posted on December 5th, 2014 at 3:04 by John Sinteur in category: News


It’s been a rough week for Sony execs (million-dollar salaries notwithstanding). And things are only going to get worse. Which would almost be enough to make you feel bad for the poor schmucks in IT—that is, until you realize that they hid their most sensitive password data under the label “Passwords.” Go ahead and slam your head against something hard. We’ll wait.

The second trove of data snuck out sometime yesterday, and it didn’t take long for Buzzfeed to stumble upon the Facebook, MySpace (an ancient form of Facebook), YouTube, and Twitter “usernames and passwords for major motion picture social accounts.” Likely due to the fact that they were saved in a huge file called “Password.” Which contained even more passwords called things like “Facebook login password.” So they would know that that was the password. Because who needs encryption or security or common sense or even the vaguest attempt at grade-school level online safety.

Yep, “Password” should do just fine. Maybe stick a “1” on the end. That’ll throw ‘em off.

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  1. Yeah, why write it on a piece of paper stuck to your monitor when you can have it in a handy, easy-to-access file?

Legal Experts Say Eric Garner Grand Jury Did Exactly What DA Wanted: Nothing

Posted on December 4th, 2014 at 14:05 by John Sinteur in category: News


“A grand jury would indict a ham sandwich,” the famous saying goes. But according to several legal experts, a Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict officer Daniel Pantaleo in the chokehold death of Eric Garner was likely prompted by the prosecutor, Richmond County District Attorney Daniel Donovan, Jr. “There is no question that a grand jury will do precisely what the prosecutor wants, virtually 100% of the time,” says James Cohen, a law professor at Fordham University who specializes in criminal procedure. “This was, as was the case in Missouri, orchestrated by the prosecutor.”

While most legal experts believed that the grand jury did not have enough evidence to prove a murder charge, the grand jury could have charged Pantaleo with manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide.

“In this case, you had videotape, and the videotape is pretty darn clear,” Cohen says. “The video showed that the officer engaged in a long-prohibited conduct, a chokehold, and it doesn’t seem to make any difference to the jury. And that’s because the prosecutor decided that there should be no indictment for any criminal behavior.”

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This Mistake Skewed The Law In Darren Wilson’s Favor

Posted on December 3rd, 2014 at 15:37 by John Sinteur in category: News


Presenting reams of evidence that could benefit the defense of Ferguson officer Darren Wilson wasn’t the only thing St. Louis County prosecutors did to bolster Wilson’s case for escaping trial.

Prosecutors also made a mistake in the grand jury instructions that gave jurors a false impression about the law and provided Wilson with significantly more legal cover for the deadly shooting of Michael Brown than the law actually provides, according to a review of the transcript by MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell.

Assistant District Attorney Kathi Alizadeh instructed grand jurors on how to decide the case based on a statute that was invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court two decades ago. As O’Donnell points out, that statute had not been valid for the entirety of Alizadeh’s legal career. That statute said that officers can use any force they deem necessary to achieve the arrest of a fleeing suspect. It does not preclude deadly force ,saying only that officers are “justified in the use of such physical force as he or she reasonably believes is immediately necessary to effect the arrest or to prevent the escape from custody.”

The U.S. Supreme Court nixed this law and others like it when it held in the 1985 case of Tennessee v. Garner that police officers could not use deadly force simply because a suspect was fleeing. They could only do so if that suspect also threatened the lives of others. A 1979 Missouri statute was never changed.

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Darren Wilson “no true bill”: Why cops are almost never indicted for shooting someone in the line of duty.

Posted on December 3rd, 2014 at 15:05 by John Sinteur in category: News


As we’ve all heard by now, any halfway-decent prosecutor can get a grand jury to “indict a ham sandwich” if that’s the outcome she wants. The most recent data back that up: According to the FBI’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. attorneys prosecuted 162,000 federal cases in 2010, with grand juries returning an indictment on all but 11 of them. The indictment rate in an individual state like Missouri is probably lower because—like many states—prosecutors there are allowed to bypass a grand jury in more routine cases. But the general point remains: When a prosecutor stands before a grand jury and asks for an indictment, the jurors almost always do what they’re told.

In Wilson’s case, though, St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch’s team didn’t ask the grand jury for an indictment. Instead, they bombarded jurors with all the available evidence and—depending on how you read the court transcripts—either crafted a defense of the officer or sat back and let the jury make up its own mind. Setting aside the unusual mechanics of these particular proceedings, there’s plenty of reason to believe that Wilson was never going to be punished by our criminal justice system. The reason? Nearly everyone involved in the system is willing—perhaps even eager—to believe that an on-duty officer who takes another citizen’s life was justified in doing so.

Police officers get that benefit of the doubt at every step along the way. It starts with the officers who decide how aggressively to investigate in the first place, then goes to the government attorneys who decide whether to prosecute, then to the citizens who make up the grand jury that decides whether to indict, and then (sometimes) to the regular jurors who decide whether to convict.

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Stanley Kutler: Pentagon unwilling to face the Vietnam truth: We lost

Posted on December 3rd, 2014 at 1:03 by John Sinteur in category: News


Historical revision is as inevitable as death and taxes. New documents and evidence might reveal previously ignored or overlooked facts. New viewpoints, supported by fresh evidence, deserve a respectful hearing at the bar of history. But the Pentagon now offers history reflecting its own interests and needs, ignoring contributions of numerous, acclaimed historians. Its efforts are an elaborate hoax as it rewrites history for its own convenience, dismissing salient, painful facts.

The Pentagon is not our Ministry of Propaganda. History is a potent weapon, dangerous weapon, especially when used to mold the minds of the young. The military is not simply providing materials for schoolchildren; instead it consciously seeks to scrub the real history of the Vietnam War. History should be a way of learning; it is not in this case.

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  1. From the great Charlie Pierce:

    The country never fully came to grips with the truth regarding the horror we visited upon the people of Southeast Asia. We turned the page in 1972, just in time to re-elect the treasonous thief who’d sabotaged a chance for peace to get elected in the first place in 1968. We ignored the veterans who came home, and then created imaginary spitting hippie strawmen to stand in for our own national neglect. In truth, it was the shattered remnants of the antiwar movement in which many returning veterans found comfort and support, and not in the traditional veterans organizations run by the aging members of what the Vietnam vets disdainfully referred to as the “Class of ’45.” It was the alternative press, born out of the political tumult of the 1960’s that owed its existence to the Vietnam war, who kept writing about the horrible effects of Agent Orange and the manifestations of what we now have come to know as PTSD. It was Ronald Reagan, who called their war a “noble cause,” who closed down all the Veterans Administration’s psychological outreach centers. If you want to see an honest modern re-enactment of what those days really were like, look at how the Republicans in the Senate filibustered to death Bernie Sanders’s carefully crafted, bipartisan bill to provide help to veterans of our most recent wars, and look how that had almost no impact nationally in a country that ooh’s and aah’s every time an F-15 flies over a stadium, or cheers a man in a uniform during the seventh-inning stretch. Come to think of it, in concocting an elaborate historical deceit to mark the 50th anniversary of the bloodiest foreign-policy blunder in the country’s history, and the most divisive period of domestic politics since the Civil War, the Pentagon is accidentally memorializing Vietnam much better than it realises.


  2. Interesting. Making myths and manufacturing consent, with most people too uninterested to look further than the surface.

    In a similar vein, I just read a very good new book by James Hawes; ‘Englanders and Huns’ which talks about the similar slow process of poisoning public opinion in Germany and Britain 50 years _before_ WWI. Worth getting out of the library :-)

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