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New Senate Cybersecurity Bill Just Needs You to Trust the NSA

Posted on November 18th, 2015 at 10:33 by John Sinteur in category: News


​While nobody was watching, the Senate a couple of days ago passed something called the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), which passed at least partly because if you say “Cyber warfare, boogedy-boogedy!” around nervous legislators these days, they’ll pass a bill agreeing to have the NSA plant microchips in their spleens. The bill passed by one of those bipartisan majorities so beloved by Beltway pundits, 74-21. Now it goes to conference, and its final passage may be stalled because of the currently fluid state of the House Republican leadership.

In the Senate, Ron Wyden of Oregon really went to the mattresses over this bill, proposing a slew of privacy-related amendments that barely failed, but that failed nonetheless. To the surprise of absolutely nobody, Dianne Feinstein was the principal Democratic senator whipping support for the bill and, make no mistake, this is a truly awful law. In brief, it not only opens the door to increased trawling through the lives of American citizens by the intelligence community, in many cases, it mandates it.

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Posted on November 18th, 2015 at 9:31 by John Sinteur in category: News

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Health and safety “gone mad”: Blind Bristol girl banned from using walking cane in primary school

Posted on November 17th, 2015 at 12:24 by John Sinteur in category: News


A blind girl has been banned from bringing her walking cane to school because of “health and safety” reasons.

Lily-Grace Hooper, who is seven, suffered a stroke when she was just four days old, which left her virtually blind.

But her school, Hambrook Primary School, has now told the youngster she can no longer use her walking cane because it could trip up teachers and other pupils at the school.

They have fucking eyes. Use them.

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  1. Sheesh. What maroons! What would they do if she had a service/guide dog for the blind? Call animal control? I cannot believe that their actions are legal unless they assign a full time guide person for her use while in school, and they would have to be with her all day, even when she had to go to the loo!

  2. As you would expect, the media are all over the school authorities like a rash…and I predict the story will have a happy ending…

World leaders have taken to calling ISIS “Daesh,” a word the Islamic State hates.

Posted on November 17th, 2015 at 9:18 by John Sinteur in category: News


Since the attacks in Paris, both John Kerry and François Hollande have used it. The Kurdish militants battling ISIS in Iraq already use the term regularly, though they risk losing their tongues by uttering it.

Daesh is an acronym. It stands for the Arabic name of the Islamic State: al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham. When Jen Percy, a New Republic contributor, went to northern Iraq this year, the Assyrian Christians waging a war against ISIS were calling ISIS troops “Daesh.” In her article for our September issue, she called it “a pejorative term for ISIS in Arabic.”

Zeba Khan, writing for the Boston Globe, has explained why “Daesh” could be read as an insult: “Depending on how it is conjugated in Arabic, it can mean anything from ‘to trample down and crush’ to ‘a bigot who imposes his view on others.’”

In light of its more unsavory connotations, ISIS leaders threatened last June “to cut the tongue of anyone who publicly used the acronym Daesh, instead of referring to the group by its full name,” according to the Associated Press.

Buncha daeshbags if you ask me.. Syriasly!

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Shield used by the French police to enter the Bataclan

Posted on November 17th, 2015 at 9:03 by John Sinteur in category: News


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Bangkok half-marathon becomes world’s longest after wrong U-turn

Posted on November 17th, 2015 at 8:51 by John Sinteur in category: News


An error by race organisers has turned Bangkok into the home of the world’s longest half-marathon.

Instead of a 13-mile run through Thailand’s capital, the Standard Chartered Bangkok marathon on Sunday accidentally extended its annual half-marathon to almost 17 miles.

The bonus miles came as a surprise to runners, who unleashed a tirade of complaints on social media after the event.

Well, it worked out in the long run…

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Paris Attacks Blamed on Strong Cryptography and Edward Snowden

Posted on November 16th, 2015 at 23:54 by John Sinteur in category: News


Well, that didn’t take long:

As Paris reels from terrorist attacks that have claimed at least 128 lives, fierce blame for the carnage is being directed toward American whistleblower Edward Snowden and the spread of strong encryption catalyzed by his actions.

Now the Paris attacks are being used an excuse to demand back doors.

CIA Director John Brennan chimed in, too.

Of course, this was planned all along. From September:

Privately, law enforcement officials have acknowledged that prospects for congressional action this year are remote. Although “the legislative environment is very hostile today,” the intelligence community’s top lawyer, Robert S. Litt, said to colleagues in an August e-mail, which was obtained by The Post, “it could turn in the event of a terrorist attack or criminal event where strong encryption can be shown to have hindered law enforcement.”

There is value, he said, in “keeping our options open for such a situation.”

I was going to write a definitive refutation to the meme that it’s all Snowden’s fault, but Glenn Greenwald beat me to it.

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Posted on November 16th, 2015 at 15:32 by John Sinteur in category: News

Cats reaction when his owner comes home

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  1. And for the dog lovers…

Fellow Frenchmen, the world is with you today

Posted on November 14th, 2015 at 13:19 by John Sinteur in category: News

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  1. Wise words from Mr. Atassi.

User data plundering by Android and iOS apps is as rampant as you suspected

Posted on November 14th, 2015 at 12:19 by John Sinteur in category: News


The researchers analyzed 55 of the most popular apps from each market and found that a significant percentage of them regularly provided Google, Apple, and other third parties with user e-mail addresses, names, and physical locations. On average, Android apps sent potentially sensitive data to 3.1 third-party domains while the average iOS app sent it to 2.6 third-party domains. In some cases, health apps sent searches including words such as “herpes” and “interferon” to no fewer than five domains with no notification that it was happening.

“The results of this study point out that the current permissions systems on iOS and Android are limited in how comprehensively they inform users about the degree of data sharing that occurs,” the authors of the study, titled Who Knows What About Me? A Survey of Behind the Scenes Personal Data Sharing to Third Parties by Mobile Apps, wrote. “Apps on Android and iOS today do not need to have permission request notifications for user inputs like PII and behavioral data.”

The personal information most commonly transmitted by Android apps was a user’s e-mail address, with 73 percent of the apps studied sending that data. In total, 49 percent of Android apps sent users’ names, 33 percent transmitted users’ current GPS coordinates, 25 percent sent addresses, and 24 percent sent a phone’s IMEI or other details. An app from Drugs.com, meanwhile, sent the medical search terms “herpes” and “interferon” to five domains, including doubleclick.net, googlesyndication.com, intellitxt.com, quantserve.com, and scorecardresearch.com, although those domains didn’t receive other personal information.

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Beware of ads that use inaudible sound to link your phone, TV, tablet, and PC

Posted on November 14th, 2015 at 12:03 by John Sinteur in category: News


Cross-device tracking can also be performed through the use of ultrasonic inaudible sound beacons. Compared to probabilistic tracking through browser fingerprinting, the use of audio beacons is a more accurate way to track users across devices. The industry leader of cross-device tracking using audio beacons is SilverPush. When a user encounters a SilverPush advertiser on the web, the advertiser drops a cookie on the computer while also playing an ultrasonic audio through the use of the speakers on the computer or device. The inaudible code is recognized and received on the other smart device by the software development kit installed on it. SilverPush also embeds audio beacon signals into TV commercials which are “picked up silently by an app installed on a [device] (unknown to the user).” The audio beacon enables companies like SilverPush to know which ads the user saw, how long the user watched the ad before changing the channel, which kind of smart devices the individual uses, along with other information that adds to the profile of each user that is linked across devices.

The user is unaware of the audio beacon, but if a smart device has an app on it that uses the SilverPush software development kit, the software on the app will be listening for the audio beacon and once the beacon is detected, devices are immediately recognized as being used by the same individual. SilverPush states that the company is not listening in the background to all of the noises occurring in proximity to the device. The only factor that hinders the receipt of an audio beacon by a device is distance and there is no way for the user to opt-out of this form of cross-device tracking. SilverPush’s company policy is to not “divulge the names of the apps the technology is embedded,” meaning that users have no knowledge of which apps are using this technology and no way to opt-out of this practice. As of April of 2015, SilverPush’s software is used by 67 apps and the company monitors 18 million smartphones.

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  1. I think the app would need the ability to turn on the microphone. Simple solution may be turn off/unplug mic on PC and prevent internet access & sound recorder on mobile except for dialer and trusted apps. Not the simple of course.


Posted on November 13th, 2015 at 17:57 by John Sinteur in category: News


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  1. Excellent explanation for those who didn’t learn about floating point encoding in school…

  2. Nevertheless 0.299999999999999988897769753748434595763683319091796875 is pretty damn close and fantastically ellegant.

  3. @pete – I assume that is a long double value? :-) FWIW, one of my best friends was the chief architect for the 8087 math co-processor chip at Intel way back in the Dark Ages, and that was the first implementation of the IEEE 754 standard, at least in hardware. Because the 8087 did all computations in 80 bits, it was incredibly accurate for the time, suffering fewer rounding errors when converted back to a 64 bit double or 32 bit float.

  4. I suggest we covert all the people to binary thinking (partially complete) or change all the computers to decimal (tricky; too much legacy code).


Posted on November 13th, 2015 at 10:50 by John Sinteur in category: News

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“I would highly recommend it if you or a friend has a similar problem”

Translation: Why don’t you shove it up your ass.

“I’d like to ask you to return my high capacity enima, as I am again suffering from chronic bowel obstructions”

Translation: I am full of shit.

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  1. There are all kinds of clever labour-saving gadgets. In my day, we only had the “yard of ale” to make us sick… 😛

  2. @SueW – Whoa — you did those? My opinion of you just went up a few notches :-)

  3. @Mykolas: I once drank one for a bet in my stupid “hey fellas watch this” days. Very, very messy. Very :-)

  4. NURSE (noun. n3-rs): The first person you see after saying “here, hold my beer and watch this”


Posted on November 13th, 2015 at 9:38 by John Sinteur in category: News

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  1. Very enjoyable rant!

  2. Yep, that’s Lewis Black alright! His potty mouth reminds me of George Carlin in some ways, another of my favorite comics!

GOP senator demands Mizzou grad student stop studying effects of 72-hour abortion waiting period on women

Posted on November 13th, 2015 at 9:13 by John Sinteur in category: News


A conservative Missouri lawmaker is trying to stop a graduate student from researching the effects that state’s mandated 72-hour waiting period for an abortion is having on women, the Huffington Post reports.

State Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R) sent a letter to the University of Missouri chancellor accusing the student of “helping Planned Parenthood.” State law prohibits state employees from using taxpayer money to encourage a woman to have an abortion.

So he discounted the possibility the study might support his side instead? Is that because he:

a) already knows he’s wrong, because other studies show that

b) facts have a well-known liberal bias

c) he doesn’t want answers, and he sure doesn’t want his word to be questioned

d) all of the above


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  1. or, Females have no business in university?

Woman Cheated Out of Winnings After Posting Photo of Ticket

Posted on November 12th, 2015 at 23:53 by John Sinteur in category: News



A woman has lost $825 she won betting on the 2015 Melbourne Cup after she posted a photo of herself holding the winning ticket on Facebook

And for an extra dosage of fail the “clever” thief lacked the proper op-sec smarts to make sure he wasn’t on any surveillance tape when cashing the duplicated ticket.


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  1. Just goes to show you should be careful about your ‘friends’.

  2. Of course, she didn’t even need to alter the picture in order to stay safe. All she needed to do, was wait until after she’d cashed it in before posting it.

  3. Yeah, no-one said that gamblers were smart :-)

Senator Elizabeth Warren: Trade agreements should not benefit industry only

Posted on November 12th, 2015 at 18:49 by John Sinteur in category: News


But multinational corporations don’t have to plead with the government to enforce their claims. Instead, modern trade deals give corporations the right to go straight to an arbitration panel when a country passes new laws or applies existing laws in ways that the corporations believe will cost them money. Known as investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), these international arbitration panels can force countries to pony up billions of dollars in compensation. And these awards stick: No matter how crazy or outrageous the decision, no appeals are permitted. Once the arbitration panel rules, taxpayers must pay.

Because of how costly these awards can be, ISDS creates enormous pressure on governments to avoid actions that might offend corporate interests. Corporations have brought ISDS cases against countries that have raised their minimum wage, attempted to cut smoking rates, or prohibited dumping toxic chemicals. Just last month, a foreign corporation successfully challenged Canada’s decision to deny a blasting permit because of concerns about the environmental impact on nearby fishing grounds, and now the company could get up to $300 million from Canadian taxpayers. Will Canada’s environmental regulators hesitate before they say no to the next foreign corporation that wants to dump, blast, or drill?

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Posted on November 11th, 2015 at 23:46 by John Sinteur in category: News


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Belgium Tells Facebook to Stop Storing Data From Non-Users

Posted on November 9th, 2015 at 21:52 by John Sinteur in category: News


Facebook Inc. lost a fight with Belgium’s privacy watchdog after a court ordered it to stop storing personal data from people who don’t have an account with the social network.

Facebook faces a fine of 250,000 euros ($269,000) a day if it doesn’t comply with the ruling, the court said in an e-mailed statement Monday.

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A Freedom of Information request for UK Home Secretary Theresa May’s metadata

Posted on November 8th, 2015 at 18:22 by John Sinteur in category: News


When UK Home Secretary Theresa May introduced the new, sweeping UK spying bill this week, she reiterated her claim that metadata is like an “itemised phone bill” and does not contain anything harmful.

In response, Chris Gilmour has requested Theresa May’s personal metadata under the Freedom of Information Act.

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  1. If she has nothing to fear then I am sure she will give a full reply. Somehow I think this will not happen, or, we will be presented with such a redacted document that it will be functionally useless.

  2. I wouldn’t mind as much if I knew I could redact MY metadata before the NSA got it so that it was functionally useless. Wonder if that’ll happen….

Snooper’s Charter: UK gov’t can demand backdoors, give prison sentences for disclosing them

Posted on November 8th, 2015 at 15:17 by John Sinteur in category: News


Buried in the 300 pages of the draft Investigatory Powers Bill (aka the Snooper’s Charter), published on Wednesday, is something called a “technical capability notice” (Section 189). Despite its neutral-sounding name, this gives the UK’s home secretary almost unlimited power to impose “an obligation on any relevant operators”—any obligation—subject to the requirement that “the Secretary of State considers it is reasonable to do so.”

There is also the proviso that “it is (and remains) practicable for those relevant operators to comply with those requirements,” which probably rules out breaking end-to-end encryption, but would still allow the home secretary to demand that companies add backdoors to their software and equipment.


The dismal picture painted above could just be tip of the iceberg, too. The draft Investigatory Powers Bill forbids anyone involved in interception from ever disclosing that fact, including during court proceedings (section 42). As Danezis writes: “Note that this section is absolute: it does not have exceptions, for example in relation to the public interest: such as the ability to discuss the benefit or downsides of part interception activities; no exception for talking about this to MPs, or other democratic representatives; or even to exculpate anyone who otherwise would be wrongfully found guilty.”

When confronted about the privacy implications of the proposed law, Theresa May revealed that MI5 has in fact been collecting telephone data from British citizens since 2001 without warrants.


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Decision Election 2016 All-Star Clusterfuck

Posted on November 8th, 2015 at 13:00 by John Sinteur in category: News

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  1. Art imitates real life in this case. Makes me cry more than laugh.

GTA 5 Wildlife Documentary | Onto The Land

Posted on November 8th, 2015 at 12:02 by John Sinteur in category: News


David Attenborough would be proud.

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US border officials cite cost, morale, and weather in rejecting body cameras

Posted on November 7th, 2015 at 22:35 by John Sinteur in category: News


Customs and Border Protection staff concluded after an internal review that agents and officers shouldn’t be required to wear body cameras, positioning the nation’s largest law enforcement agency as a counterweight to a growing number of police forces that use the devices to promote public trust and accountability.

The yearlong review cited cost and a host of other reasons to hold off, according to two people familiar with the findings who spoke on condition of anonymity because the findings have not been made public. It found operating cameras may distract agents while they’re performing their jobs, may hurt employee morale, and may be unsuited to the hot, dusty conditions in which Border Patrol agents often work.

Yeah – I’m sure stuff like this hurts morale:

Two marshals in the US state of Louisiana are to be charged with murder after the fatal shooting of a six-year-old boy.

Jeremy Mardis and his father, Chris Few, were in a car when they were shot in Marksville on Tuesday night.

Officers Norris Greenhouse and Derrick Stafford were arrested after a vehicle chase that left Mr Few, who was driving, critically injured.

Jeremy died at the scene and Mr Few remains in hospital.

The two officers were arrested on Friday after body-camera footage taken from them was assessed.


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Religious children are meaner than their secular counterparts, study finds

Posted on November 7th, 2015 at 18:02 by John Sinteur in category: News


“Overall, our findings … contradict the commonsense and popular assumption that children from religious households are more altruistic and kind towards others,” said the authors of The Negative Association Between Religiousness and Children’s Altruism Across the World, published this week in Current Biology.

“More generally, they call into question whether religion is vital for moral development, supporting the idea that secularisation of moral discourse will not reduce human kindness – in fact, it will do just the opposite.”

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  1. Personal observations confirmed this (…by the time I was 12yrs old)

  2. So…are we on course to proving religious education is a form of child abuse, then?

  3. @SueW: I think it is abuse – especially abuse of precious time. That time would be better used teaching them about physics, biology, math, art, literature … to name a few. Why fill their minds with voodoo?

  4. And Logic, teach them Logic. Something that religion and politicians abhor.

Prescription painkiller deaths fall in medical marijuana states

Posted on November 7th, 2015 at 14:40 by John Sinteur in category: News



NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Researchers aren’t sure why, but in the 23 U.S. states where medical marijuana has been legalized, deaths from opioid overdoses have decreased by almost 25 percent, according to a new analysis.

“Most of the discussion on medical marijuana has been about its effect on individuals in terms of reducing pain or other symptoms,” said lead author Dr. Marcus Bachhuber in an email to Reuters Health. “The unique contribution of our study is the finding that medical marijuana laws and policies may have a broader impact on public health.”


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  1. “Aren’t sure why?” lol

    (OK, I know that researchers understand “sure” differently than I do.)

  2. Reading this blog is a Turing Test for Poe’s Law: I frequently have to mouse over the link to see the source to determine if the article is real or satire.

Pastor Kevin Swanson Calls For Executing Gays At Event Attended By GOP Candidates

Posted on November 7th, 2015 at 14:27 by John Sinteur in category: News


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  1. Not much joy or love there, then.

  2. Speaking of open pussy sores, Kevin, is that what now passes for your brain?

  3. ..pussy as in pus, pustule — Pyogenic bacteria. (See video)

  4. There are more medical phrases the come to mind…

    “Cranial extractions from Alimentary Canal”
    “Treating Faecal Encephalopathy”
    “Vocational Rectal Inflammation”

Pentagon Paid Up To $6.8 Million Of Taxpayer Money To Pro Sports Teams For Military Tributes

Posted on November 6th, 2015 at 17:51 by John Sinteur in category: News



The 145-page report released Wednesday dives deeper, revealing that 72 of the 122 professional sports contracts analyzed contained items deemed “paid patriotism” — the payment of taxpayer or Defense funds to teams in exchange for tributes like NFL’s ‘Salute to Service”.  Honors paid for by the DOD were found not only in the NFL, but also the NBA, NHL, MLB and MLS. They included on-field color guard ceremonies, performances of the national anthem, and ceremonial first pitches and puck drops.

“Given the immense sacrifices made by our service members, it seems more appropriate that any organization with a genuine interest in honoring them, and deriving public credit as a result, should do so at its own expense and not at that of the American taxpayer,” the report states.

DOD spent $53 million on marketing and advertising contracts with sports teams from 2012 to 2015, the report found, but that also included legitimate ad campaigns such as stadium signs and social media mentions. However, it also included $6.8 million in contracts that contained activities the senators considered “inappropriate” patriotism for profit.

“Americans deserve the ability to assume that tributes for our men and women in military uniform are genuine displays of national pride, which many are, rather than taxpayer-funded DOD marketing gimmicks,” the report said.

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Bad Trade Deal ‘Worse Than I Thought,’ Sanders Says

Posted on November 6th, 2015 at 10:43 by John Sinteur in category: News


“Now that the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership has finally been released, it is even worse than I thought.  It is clear to me that the proposed agreement is not, nor has it ever been, the gold standard of trade agreements.

“This trade deal would make it easier for corporations to shut down more factories in the U.S. and ship more jobs to Vietnam and Malaysia where workers are paid pennies an hour. The TPP is a continuation of our disastrous trade policies that have devastated manufacturing cities and towns all over this country from Newton, Iowa, to Cleveland, Ohio. We need to rebuild the disappearing middle class, not tear it down.

“The TPP would allow foreign corporations to sue federal, state and local governments in an international tribunal for passing an increase in the minimum wage or any other law that could hurt expected future profits.

“The agreement would threaten American laws that protect the safety of the drugs we take, the seafood we feed our families and the toys our kids play with every day.

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  1. Why do people always get screwed when Republicans and Democrats cooperate?

  2. @will: because polishing a turd doesn’t change what it’s made of.

Public School Students Are the New Inmates in the American Police State

Posted on November 6th, 2015 at 0:07 by John Sinteur in category: News


Microcosms of the police state, America’s public schools contain almost every aspect of the militarized, intolerant, senseless, overcriminalized, legalistic, surveillance-riddled, totalitarian landscape that plagues those of us on the “outside.”

From the moment a child enters one of the nation’s 98,000 public schools to the moment she graduates, she will be exposed to a steady diet of draconian zero tolerance policies that criminalize childish behavior, overreaching anti-bullying statutes that criminalize speech, school resource officers (police) tasked with disciplining and/or arresting so-called “disorderly” students, standardized testing that emphasizes rote answers over critical thinking, politically correct mindsets that teach young people to censor themselves and those around them, and extensive biometric and surveillance systems that, coupled with the rest, acclimate young people to a world in which they have no freedom of thought, speech or movement.


By the time the average young person in America finishes their public school education, nearly one out of every three of them will have been arrested.

More than 3 million students are suspended or expelled from schools every year, often for minor misbehavior, such as “disruptive behavior” or “insubordination.” Black students are three times more likely than white students to face suspension and expulsion.

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  1. Hmm…Someone is terrified of We The People.

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