My hometown in the news! For lizards.
Deborah Netburn, at the L.A. Times, reports on the "complete" takeover of one part of town by a reptilian newcomer, the Italian wall lizard.
The wall lizards arrived in San Pedro in 1994, when a homeowner brought a few of them back from a trip to Sicily. He released four males and three females into his backyard, and they thrived and multiplied. Nearly 20 years later, the Italian wall lizards have almost entirely replaced native lizards in a five-block radius from where they were introduced. "Since I started studying this population, I've seen literally a thousand wall lizards in this area and just two native lizards," says Pauly, 36, who's decked out in a pair of Tevas and a pale blue T-shirt that says, "Newt and Improved." "The takeover feels pretty complete."
Only thing I’m worried about pulling off is my earrings ‘cause we’re fighting bitch
AFTER SIX YEARS OF GRAD SCHOOL:
When Barry showed up at Dunkin’ Donuts last Wednesday morning, a worker denied him the discount. An “irate” Barry--who was driving a Volkswagen minivan--then displayed a badge and firearm. “See I am a cop,” the 6’1’, 320-pound Barry reportedly declared."Floridian Masqueraded As Lawman To Secure 'Police Discount' At Dunkin’ Donuts" (The Smoking Gun)
A police surveillance operation netted Barry yesterday morning as he drove away from the Dunkin' Donuts. Deputies seized a fake law enforcement badge from his wallet and a .38 caliber revolver from his front pocket.
NASA astronaut Leland D Melvin with his dogs Jake and Scout
Fuck. All. Other. Photos.
Whoa. I just did a little research on this guy. Fact: he played in the NFL in the 80s, became an aerospace research engineer immediately thereafter, and then went into fucking space 20 years later. Where’s that sports movie, Hollywood?
I need to get Chompsky into all my author photos stat
Mike from Mother Jones writes, "Josh Harkinson profiles David Bronner, the 40-year-old, hallucinogen-dropping, Burning Man-attending scion of the Dr. Bronner's soap empire, who channels roughly half of the company's substantial profits into activism, including the Washington State GMO-labeling bill that voters will decide upon tomorrow. Bronner, who favors the labeling of foods with GMO ingredients, has been arrested for planting hemp seeds on the DEA's lawn and for a performance-art protest where he milled hemp seeds in a cage outside the White House. He also sued the DEA (and won), so that his company could legally obtain hemp oil as a soap ingredient. Since David took over, Dr. Bronner's sales have soared. It's on track to bring in $64 million in revenues this year. But in a strike against corporate greed, Bronner has capped the company's top salaries at five times that of the lowest-paid warehouse worker."
At first, David Bronner (Jim's son) wasn't sure he wanted to become the next standard-bearer for the soap-making clan. After graduating from Harvard in 1995 with a biology degree, he wound up in Amsterdam and immersed himself in its psychedelic drug culture. "I just had my life explode on many levels of identity," he recalls about a late-night ecstasy and LSD trip at a gay trance club. These experiences and a lot of reading eventually opened his eyes to the value of his grandfather's All-One philosophy, and the power of the soap company as a vehicle for change. In 1997, he let his dad know that he was ready to work for the family business, but only "on activist terms." A year later, his father died of lung cancer and Bronner, at the age of 25, became the new CEO.
Early on, Bronner decided that he'd rather feel good about his job than worry about making a ton of money. In 1999, he capped the company's top salary at five times that of the lowest-paid warehouse worker. He employs a lot of people he met at Burning Man, including Tim Clark (official title: Foam Maestro), a buff guy whose job mostly consists of driving a psychedelically painted foam-spewing fire truck to music festivals, which is about as close as the company gets to actual marketing. (Dr. Bronner's has run ads in Mother Jones.) Bronner also employs lots of grandmotherly ladies like office manager Nina Vujko, an intensely loyal, 32-year employee whose office is plastered with photos of her coworkers' babies.
Limiting executive pay and spending virtually nothing on advertising left a lot of extra cash for improving the products and funding social campaigns—which have often gone hand-in-hand. For years, the soap had included an undisclosed ingredient, caramel coloring. As the new CEO, Bronner wanted to remove it for the sake of purity, but feared that die-hard customers would assume the new guy was watering down the product. So he decided to incorporate hemp oil, which added a caramel color while also achieving a smoother lather. But there was a hitch: A few months after he'd acquired a huge stockpile of Canadian hemp oil, the Bush administration outlawed most hemp products. "Technically, we were sitting on tens of thousands of pounds of Schedule I narcotics," Bronner recalls.
Barrel furniture from JC Penney, 1975.
David from Berlin's Atheist Shoe Company sends us, "a Kickstarter for Atheist Baby Shoes - super snuggly handmade shoes, the soles of which are screenprinted with homages to the only higher powers babies know... Our slightly peculiar video explains all - highlights are the 'Atheist Baby Experiment' at the 1:40 mark and the 'Booby' power-ballad at 5:37."
We're pretty sure all babies are born atheists and, rather than commit them to some religion before they're old enough to have a say (let alone control their pooping functions) we'd rather celebrate their undoubted belief in Mummy, Daddy and breasts.
The shoes are basically a mini version of our grown-up Atheist Shoes, handmade with a lot of love in Berlin.
We'll alo have them for same sex couples... with "I believe in Daddy & Daddy" and "I believe in Mummy & Mummy" sole pairings. And we'll have a vegan-friendly version.
These are the folks who determined that sealing their boxes with ATHEIST tape made them mysteriously disappear from the USPS before delivery.
Jesus Christ, Cory Doctorow, just play pretend with your kid like a normal person!
Christ, what an asshole.
Gygax Magazine has posted my article about playng D&D with your toddlers on their site; it describes how I came up with a stripped-down set of D&D-like rules for gaming with my then-four-year-old daughter, Poesy. We had a whale of a time!
I happened upon a set of factory-painted plastic D&D minis while looking for a toy to bring home in the dealer’s room at a regional science fiction convention in Chicago. After marveling at the astounding advances in robotic toy-painting, I had a brain-flash. A minute later, I’d bought a handsome dice-bag and filled it with a dozen assorted figs and a set of polyhedral dice.
After I got home to London, I performed the ancient ritual of unpacking the souvenirs I’d brought home for the kid. As I’d hoped, she was captivated by the intricate painting on the figs and the jewel-like facets of the dice, and demanded that we play right now.
Poesy has a piggy bank full of the small change she’s picked up or appropriated from us over the years, and I dumped it out and sorted out the different denominations. Once that was done, I used our Ikea playmat (which has a street-scape laid out on it), some cushions, a shoebox, and a cardboard doll-castle to set up a town, a cave, and a castle.
I put all the “bad-guy” minis on strategic spots on the castle, and stuck one of Poesy’s stuffed toys – a winged hamster she calls “Fairy Hamster” – in the middle of its courtyard. I gave her two minis to play, and set them down on the playmat’s ice-cream parlor, declaring this to be the “tavern.” I put two more bad-ass-looking figs next to them, and declared them to be my NPCs.
I improvised a very quick background. My NPCs are in the tavern, planning to rescue their friend the Fairy Hamster, who is being held hostage in Castle Doom. Did Poesy’s characters want to help? They sure did!
Actually LESS upset about this than everything else.
A leaked 2006 memo from the NSA to staffers in the White House, State and the Pentagon asked them to search their rolodexes for the personal numbers of world leaders so the Agency could spy on them. At least 35 world leaders were subsequently wiretapped by the NSA.
The memo, dated October 2006 and which was issued to staff in the agency's Signals Intelligence Directorate (SID), was titled "Customers Can Help SID Obtain Targetable Phone Numbers".
It begins by setting out an example of how US officials who mixed with world leaders and politicians could help agency surveillance.
"In one recent case," the memo notes, "a US official provided NSA with 200 phone numbers to 35 world leaders … Despite the fact that the majority is probably available via open source, the PCs [intelligence production centers] have noted 43 previously unknown phone numbers. These numbers plus several others have been tasked."
The document continues by saying the new phone numbers had helped the agency discover still more new contact details to add to their monitoring: "These numbers have provided lead information to other numbers that have subsequently been tasked."
But the memo acknowledges that eavesdropping on the numbers had produced "little reportable intelligence". In the wake of the Merkel row, the US is facing growing international criticism that any intelligence benefit from spying on friendly governments is far outweighed by the potential diplomatic damage.
NSA monitored calls of 35 world leaders after US official handed over contacts [James Ball/The Guardian]
A veteran Washington D.C. investigative journalist says the Department of Homeland Security confiscated a stack of her confidential files during a raid of her home in August — leading her to fear that a number of her sources inside the federal government have now been exposed.
A search warrant … indicates that the August raid allowed law enforcement to search for firearms inside her home.
The document notes that her husband, Paul Flanagan, pleaded guilty in 1986 to resisting arrest in Prince George’s County. The warrant called for police to search the residence they share and seize all weapons and ammunition because he is prohibited under the law from possessing firearms.
But without Hudson’s knowledge, the agents also confiscated a batch of documents that contained information about sources inside the Department of Homeland Security
After the search began … she was asked by an investigator with the Coast Guard Investigative Service [ under Homeland Security ] if she was the same Audrey Hudson who had written a series of critical stories about air marshals for The Washington Times over the last decade. The Coast Guard operates under the Department of Homeland Security.
I'll lead with the caveat that "we don't know the whole story yet".
Caveat aside, this sounds really really bad.
1) In 1986 a man committed a crime and was punished for it.
2) Today, a quarter of a century later, the man's house gets raided by a tactical team…and a Department of Homeland Security investigator.
3) …and the investigator asks if the woman has been criticizing the Department of Homeland Security in print
4) files relating to the Department of Homeland Security are seized, despite the warrant not specifying them.
The phrase "police state" gets thrown around a lot. I've got a long post on the topic of "what is a police state, and are we in one?" queued up. For now though I'll say two things:
1) police states aren't boolean: there are shades of corruption and danger in between "Stalinist hell" and "Libertarian Utopia".
2) whether this raid is what it looks like or not, I really don't like the direction this country has been going for the last ( 10 / 20 / 40 ) years.
Feds confiscate investigative reporter’s confidential files © 2007-2013 by the authors of Popehat. This feed is for personal, non-commercial use only. Using this feed on any other site is a copyright violation. No scraping.
The Internet Governance Forum, is a governmental multi-stakeholder policy dialogue buzzword compliant event. The forum reports to the UN Secretary-General. This week the forum was held in Indonesia.
Realising there is noticeably low numbers of women in all levels of internet governance, and even internet use, a group of altruistic businesses set out to increase women’s participation. How? They added a beauty pageant.
Miss Internet 2013.
Here, lemme quote the press release
The Association of Indonesian Internet Providers (APJII) Bali branch is organizing a Miss Internet 2013 competition, calling for young women to participate in the event.
Wahid Juniarto, chairman of the organizing committee, told journalists in a press conference yesterday that the competition was aimed at increasing Internet usage among girls and women.
“We encourage women to use Internet services to enhance their knowledge, information and skills. It is an appreciation of any woman who uses the Internet for good purposes,” Juniarto said.
Registration for the competition has opened and the grand final will be held in Denpasar on Sept. 14. Women aged between 17 and 25 years old, who have a Bali identity card, are eligible to register as contestants.
The pageant was announced in July, and the winner selected in September. The event was showcased at the IGF and the winner was at the conference, to be found beside the showroom-like booth.
This was so many levels of inappropriate.
The decision to run the programme in a format that is strongly reminiscent of beauty pageants positions women as passive objects of beauty rather than active, diverse and empowered citizens and users of the Internet who shape and define the world we live in. This can have the effect of perpetuating gender stereotypes that act to further marginalize and discriminate women instead of promoting their rights and concerns, which runs completely contrary to the stated objectives of your programme.
The approach of this programme also runs a great risk of reducing women’s contribution to the development and use of the internet into becoming simply a marketing ploy and further communicates the message of the commodification of women’s images and representation in the shaping information societies. This is discriminatory.
The Internet Governance Forum is a United Nations mandated space and as such, we expect and demand adherence to respectful and non-discriminatory standards of behavior. As participants of the Internet Governance Forum 2013 who are working to advance gender equality and the active participation of women in Internet governance policy dialogue and processes, we see this as a huge step back taken by organisers in this process.
Experian, the massive data-broker with far-reaching influence over your ability to get a mortgage, credit-card, or job, sold extensive consumer records to an identity thieves' service called Superget.info. Superget specialized in supplying identity thieves with "fullz" -- full records of their victims, useful for impersonating them and for knowing where their assets are. Experian sold the data through a third part called "Court Ventures" -- which they later acquired -- and the sales continued for about a year. Experian bills itself as a service for people worried about identity theft. It's not clear whether Experian will face any penalty for the wrongdoing.
These services specialized in selling “fullz” or “fulls,” a slang term that cybercrooks use to describe a package of personally identifiable information that typically includes the following information: an individual’s name, address, Social Security number, date of birth, place of work, duration of work, state driver’s license number, mother’s maiden name, bank account number(s), bank routing number(s), email account(s) and other account passwords. Fulls are most commonly used to take over the identity of a person in order to engage in other fraud, such as taking out loans in the victim’s name or filing fraudulent tax refund requests with the IRS.
All told, findget.me and superget.info acquired or sold fullz information on more than a half million people, the government alleges.
The U.S. Secret Service declined to discuss the case, but a source familiar with the matter said undercover federal agents set up a phony business deal to lure Ngo out of Vietnam and into Guam, an unincorporated territory of the United States in the western Pacific Ocean. The source said that Ngo was arrested upon his arrival in Guam and transferred to New Hampshire. There he is currently facing 15 separate criminal charges, including conspiracy to commit identification fraud, aggravated identity theft, and wire fraud, among others.
Experian Sold Consumer Data to ID Theft Service [Brian Krebs/Krebs on Security]
...The Court actually failed to seal the unredacted brief, and they have published in full the leaked document. The document — as of yet still available to the public through the PACER court records system — is properly labeled as “sealed” by the clerk’s office, meaning they received and understood my instructions that the document was not to be public, but neglected to hide the attachment from public view.
The information revealed, which I may now comment on since a third party has made it publicly available, is devastating to the TSA’s argument that virtually strip-searching the public using its $1B nude body scanner fleet, as well as literally putting their hands in the pants of travelers during full-body pat-downs, is necessary to prevent airplanes from dropping out of the sky at the hands of terrorists. In 2011, the year after the scanners became primary screening, TSA intelligence officials concluded that “terrorist threat groups present in the Homeland are not known to be actively plotting against civil aviation targets or airports.”
The TSA has a lot of explaining to do, both to members of Congress and to the general public, all of whom were misled as to the threat we face and the justification for the most intrusive searches ever performed on the public at large in the United States in the history of this great nation. The terrorists that the TSA has made the country fear, it admits, do not actually exist.
The Oakland Police Department, notorious for its violent, out-of-control response to Occupy and its racist violence against the people of Oakland, is building a giant, NSA-style spy-center, using $7M originally gifted to OPD by the Feds to fight terror and other abstract nouns. They'll use it to monitor the Internet looking for criminals, and cross-reference that with CCTV footage, license-plate cameras, and other warrantless, infinitely retained surveillance data.
Libby Schaaf, an Oakland City Council member, said that because of the city’s high crime rate, “it’s our responsibility to take advantage of new tools that become available.” She added, though, that the center would be able to “paint a pretty detailed picture of someone’s personal life, someone who may be innocent.”
For example, if two men were caught on camera at the port stealing goods and driving off in a black Honda sedan, Oakland authorities could look up where in the city the car had been in the last several weeks. That could include stoplights it drove past each morning and whether it regularly went to see Oakland A’s baseball games.
For law enforcement, data mining is a big step toward more complete intelligence gathering. The police have traditionally made arrests based on small bits of data — witness testimony, logs of license plate readers, footage from a surveillance camera perched above a bank machine. The new capacity to collect and sift through all that information gives the authorities a much broader view of the people they are investigating.
Privacy Fears Grow as Cities Increase Surveillance [Somini Sengupta/NYT]
How is “schoolgirl” a possible Halloween costume for a school-aged girl? We are now at a point in our society where a child can dress up as the pornification of a child getting an education. (The fact that a child getting an education is a topic in porn is a problem to begin with, but I have neither the space nor the time to address that can of worms here.)
Not an actual National Security Agency agent. Or, you know, maybe it is.
At the Washington Post, Barton Gellman and Ashkan Soltani report on a new finding in the top secret documents provided by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden: The NSA is gathering "hundreds of millions of contact lists" from personal e-mail and IM accounts. Many of these accounts belong to Americans. Maybe one of them belongs to you.
The collection program had not previously been publicly revealed. According to the Washington Post story, here's how it works: the NSA intercepts e-mail address books and “buddy lists” from IM services as that data transits through the global network, for instance at session log-on and log-off. And all of this is made possible with help from compliant carriers.
Rather than targeting individual users, the NSA is gathering contact lists in large numbers that amount to a sizable fraction of the world’s e-mail and instant messaging accounts. Analysis of that data enables the agency to search for hidden connections and map relationships within a much smaller universe of foreign intelligence targets.
During a single day last year, the NSA’s Special Source Operations branch collected 444,743 e-mail address books from Yahoo, 105,068 from Hotmail, 82,857 from Facebook, 33,697 from Gmail and 22,881 from unspecified other providers, according to an internal NSA PowerPoint presentation. Those figures, described as a typical daily intake in the document, correspond to a rate of more than 250 million per year.
Each day, the presentation said, the NSA collects contacts from an estimated 500,000 buddy lists on live-chat services as well as from the “in-box” displays of Web-based e-mail accounts.
Frame from leaked NSA presentation, published by the Washington Post.
"NSA collects millions of e-mail address books globally" [Washington Post]
Read the documents here.
Here is a conciliatory trek gif, of Uhura pulling off a textbook double-butt-pat.
There is nothing quite so destructive as the myth of the natural born programmer, the assumption that some magic genetic variation lets you write the most elegant web shops in lisp. In Is Math a Gift?, Dweck researches how this assumption undermines learning:We had found in our past research that viewing intellectual ability as a gift led students to question that ability and lose motivation when they encountered setbacks. In contrast, viewing intellectual ability as a quality that could be developed led them to seek active and effective remedies in the face of difficulties
This petulant belief that programming ability is a gift, rather than a skill, often surfaces as a flimsy rationale for the gender imbalance in technology, but actually serves to reinforce the problem.
Love the dig at PG (who, incidentally, is currently dropping some heavy fedora on this).
America imprisons more people than any other nation in the history of the Earth, and those prisoners' only lifeline to the outside world is the prison phone-system, from which they must make collect-calls. Those calls are billed by Global Tel Link and companies like it, companies that offers kickbacks to the prisons that use its services, which bill prisoners' families more than a dollar a minute, hundreds of times more than free-market carriers. GTL is making over $500M by exploiting the vulnerable families of the most emiserated people in America, and its competitors are making hundreds of millions more. 2.7M American children have to ration their calls to their incarcerated parents, undermining the cohesion of prisoners' families and their ability to support prisoners on release.
This point is made in a long and sad article on prison profiteering by Liliana Segura in The Nation. Worse than phone profiteering is the cruelty of the prison medical contractors, who ration vital treatments to prisoners, leaving them in agony and worse. For example, Correctional Medical Services "discourages treatment for hepatitis," leaving prisoners with hep. C to slide into permanent, profound disability.
These problems are much worse in private prisons, who are guaranteed occupancy by the states and counties that contract with them -- effectively, the government promises to lock up a minimum number of its citizens as a condition of doing business with private prisons. These prisons are not subject to freedom of information requests, are not inspected in the same way as public prisons, and have profit-taking built into their billion-dollar business, meaning that every dollar they spend on care and rehabilitation for prisoners is a dollar they don't return to their shareholders.
The ACLU is campaigning against prison profiteers and they deserve your support.
I dealt with Global Tel* Link for only a few months. But for Tim’s relatives, this had been their reality for years. GTL makes more than $500 million a year exploiting families like his, who face the choice between paying exorbitant phone rates to keep in touch with incarcerated loved ones—up to $1.13 per minute—or simply giving up on regular phone calls. Like many other telecommunications companies that enjoy profitable monopolies on prison and jail contracts across the country, GTL wins its contracts by offering a kickback—or “commission”—to the prison or jail systems it serves. As an exhaustive 2011 study in Prison Legal News explained, the kickback is “based on a percentage of the gross revenue generated by prisoners’ phone calls…. [The] commissions dwarf all other considerations and are a controlling factor when awarding prison phone contracts.”
The higher a kickback, in other words, the more likely a company is to win the contract. These high kickbacks translate into higher phone rates for family members—usually the very people who can least afford it. Like the vast majority of those who pass through the massive jail and court complex known as 201 Poplar in downtown Memphis, Tim’s family was not wealthy. When it came time for his trial last spring, his mother would be in court every day, only to leave straight for her night job, cleaning office buildings.
Global Tel* Link is one of five companies profiled in a new video series called “Prison Profiteers,” a collaboration between Beyond Bars—a Brave New Films project—the ACLU, and The Nation. With 2.3 million people incarcerated in the United States, prisons are big business; the goal of the series is to expose the myriad ways people enrich themselves off crime and punishment. Defenders of for-profit prison services pitch them as superior, efficient, money-saving options for cash-strapped states and localities that can ill-afford the costs of mass incarceration. (And indeed, historically, state-run services have often proven abysmal in themselves.) But not only do such privatized services often end up more expensive in reality, they can incur huge unseen costs to inmates and their families.
With 2.3 Million People Incarcerated in the US, Prisons Are Big Business [Liliana Segura/The Nation]
Avleen Bijral, one of the students here at TTIC, sent me a link to a pretty cool browser plugin for GMail called GMail TeX. Basically it lets you send LaTeX formatted emails via gmail. This can be quite a time saver for the reader (but maybe not the writer) if you’re remotely collaborating on some project (which I so often am these days, it seems). It’s supported on a wide variety of browsers and seems worth checking out!
Did you know that in 1988 they put out a STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION comic? It’s got a lot of cool necks in it.