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15 Apr 20:31

Are Young People Getting the Education They Need to Engage in Political Life?

by Alex Robins

In this letter to the editor, a reader from California, Kathleen Streeter, questions whether or not young people are learning the skills they need through our public education system to become informed and engaged voters. To answer her, we reached out to Alex Robins, a social science high school teacher in San Rafael, California to get his perspective.

To the Editor,

I am a 75-year-old retired banker. I have always tried to be informed and have never failed to vote in an election, local or national. When I went to school there was something called the “Constitution test” that we had to pass in the eighth grade or you didn’t advance. I learned about our history and how our democracy was formed and how precious it is. It was made very clear to me that being informed and voting is critical to the survival of our our way of life and our country.

MORE ON Letters to the Editor

The Sleep of Reason

BY Bill Moyers and Bernard Weisberger | March 8, 2017

Last night I listened to Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) give a speech at the Brookings Institution, and he covered the whole current political “disaster” eloquently. One thing stood out for me: Schiff made the point that civics should be a part of our children’s education from kindergarten through high school.

How can we expect to be a population that lives up to the responsibility of living in a democracy if more than 70 percent of our population cannot name the three branches of government, to say nothing of what they are for?

We are in real trouble with Betsy DeVos in charge of education. If we are going to have an impact, we need to have a free and effective public education system that reaches all of our children and teaches them how critical it is to be an informed and consistent voter.

Kathleen Streeter, Livermore, California



Dear Kathleen:

The state of political and civic life in our country certainly feels quite tenuous at the moment. You bring up many cogent points about education, engagement and democratic norms.

Alex Robins

Alex Robins

I am a government, world history and English teacher in San Rafael, California, and I can tell you that despite this, the will and determination of much of our youth is strong. It may be hard to tell at times due to the little space they are given in the public sphere. Certainly there is some general apathy in young people today, but I would argue no more than in previous generations.

What can seem like inaction on the surface (voting numbers, political presence, government knowledge) doesn’t take into account the intellect, experience and bravery these kids show in understanding alternative perspectives, conversing about deeper political topics and standing up for injustice locally and around the country. Much of this engagement goes on in the classroom and in the wilds of the internet: on Reddit threads, Instagram posts and Twitter replies.

I watch students engage with politics and civic life every day. They constantly debate topics ranging from the relevance of the Electoral College (Lose it! Undemocratic!) to police brutality (Accountability? Body cameras?) and from constitutional slavery to the merits of originalism versus “living constitutionalism” for our Supreme Court justices. They use a variety of sources as well as personal experiences to relate these hefty concepts and topics to their own lives and the world around them.

In drafting an answer to your letter, I thought their input and reflection on the issues you present would be informative and help you understand some student perspectives on these pressing topics. I asked three students their thoughts on why young people might struggle to engage in civic life. Here are some of their responses:

  • “So many students feel that voters (and older people generally) only think of themselves and their interests rather than considering the impact their decisions have on others.”
  • “The larger systems in this country don’t seem to focus on young people’s issues as they have less monetary and political capital.”
  • “People of color don’t tend to vote or pay attention to civic life because the system has ignored and belittled their experiences throughout our country’s history.”

Along with my students’ concerns, I believe there are some important ways to engage with young people that can help our society become more empathetic, engaged and civil.

Democracy is slow but effective. By focusing on the means rather than the ends, we encourage student buy-in.

First, we can give all people the benefit of the doubt. Different voices are valuable in a democracy, yet our partisan politics have created an “us versus them” mentality. By giving legitimacy to differing perspectives (on both sides of the aisle), we can start to find empathy in the many different American experiences of our citizens.

Second, we can focus on positive change. As an educator, it can be easy to fall into a “doom and gloom” attitude about inaction in politics or the rigidity of history. However, there are so many ways in which grass-roots organizations and movements have created incremental change in our country. Democracy is slow but effective. By focusing on the means rather than the ends, we encourage student buy-in.

Finally, we can be more inclusive in our conversations about young people. They know that society thinks they don’t care; this doesn’t make them want to care. We need to talk about issues they are affected by. If we want them to engage in discussions on expanded Medicare and tax reform, we need to talk about student loans and Affirmative Action. By offering them a seat at the table, they will be willing to sit.

Regarding your point on the future of public education, it is certainly at a crossroads. Here in California, we have an immense teacher shortage. Yet teachers and critical thinking are essential parts of how we must look ahead to the future. With accessibility to information through new technology, there is a belief that teaching will become easier; just grab an iPad and learning is at your fingertips. However without a facilitator to guide students on their paths to learning, fake news and misinformation can seep into students’ answers and understanding of the world. We need great, highly valued teachers to take up the cause and fight for our students.

A more free-thinking, thoughtful and skeptical population will lead to a truer democracy and a more civil society.

Alex Robins, San Rafael, California

If you’re a serious reader of our website and have something you would like to say, Bill would like to hear from you. We’ll choose letters on an occasional basis as they seem relevant to an issue we have been following. Please keep your letter to a reasonable length. Email us at yourturn [at] billmoyers [dot] com.

The post Are Young People Getting the Education They Need to Engage in Political Life? appeared first on

24 Mar 05:23

Senate Republicans Just Sold You Out to Advertisers

by Sam Biddle

In a 50-to-48 vote along party lines, the U.S. Senate decided to kill FCC rules blocking your ISP from selling your browsing history to the advertising industry without permission. Should the change pass the House, as is expected, the likes of Comcast and Verizon will be able to make money disclosing what you buy, where you browse, and what you search from your own home, all without asking permission.

In an immediate signal that the vote will only benefit monied corporate interests and not the roughly 70 percent of Americans with a home broadband connection, the Internet & Television Association trade group gloated over their congressional victory:

“We appreciate today’s Senate action to repeal unwarranted FCC rules that deny consumers consistent privacy protection online and violate competitive neutrality. … Our industry remains committed to offering services that protect the privacy and security of the personal information of our customers. We support this step towards reversing the FCC’s misguided approach and look forward to restoring a consistent approach to online privacy protection that consumers want and deserve.”

It’s unclear how the broadband industry could be “committed” to user privacy while backing regulatory changes that would permit the sale of users’ private data. NCTA spokesperson Joy Sims returned a request for comment and explanation with a link to an unrelated section of the NCTA website. The Electronic Frontier Foundation decried the vote as putting “ISP profits over your privacy” and a potential “crushing loss for online privacy”:

ISPs act as gatekeepers to the Internet, giving them incredible access to records of what you do online. They shouldn’t be able to profit off of the information about what you search for, read about, purchase, and more without your consent.

The EFF further warned that without the FCC protections, ISPs would not only be able to commodify your browser history, but “[hijack] their customers’ search queries and [redirect] them to a place customers hadn’t asked for” and “inject ads into your traffic based on your browsing history.” Should Republicans succeed in dismantling the Obama-era rules through this action sponsored by Sen. Jeff Flake, the FCC would be barred from ever reestablishing such consumer protections in the future.

The post Senate Republicans Just Sold You Out to Advertisers appeared first on The Intercept.

07 Mar 19:11

If Trump Tower Was Wiretapped, Trump Can Declassify That Right Now

by Jon Schwarz

If in fact Trump Tower was wiretapped during the 2016 presidential campaign, as President Trump claimed in several tweets Saturday morning, he can do much more than say so on twitter: Presidents have the power to declassify anything at any time, so Trump could immediately make public any government records of such surveillance.

What Trump is saying seems to be a garbled version of previous reporting by the BBC, among other news outlets.

According to a report in the BBC, citing unnamed sources, a joint government task force was formed in spring of 2016 to look into an intelligence report from a foreign government that Russian money was somehow coming into the U.S. presidential race. In June the Department of Justice, part of the task force, asked the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court for a warrant to intercept electronic communications by two Russian banks.

However, the BBC’s report says, the FISA court turned the application down.. The Justice Department then asked again in July with a more narrowly drawn request, which was again turned down. Justice then made a third request for a warrant on October 15, which was granted.

None of this involves wiretapping Trump Tower. However, it is possible that Trump picked that up from a Breitbart article that in turn relied on a Heat Street piece that claimed the warrant was issued because of evidence of links between a “private server in Donald Trump’s Trump Tower” and a Russian bank. In fact, the server in question, set up by a marketing company hired by Trump, was physically located in Philadelphia.

Barack Obama’s spokesman responded to Trump’s tweets by saying that “neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen.” Notably, this statement does not deny that someone in the Obama administration ordered surveillance of Trump Tower, simply that the White House did not – which isn’t meaningful, since in a properly functioning executive branch the Justice Department would make that decision on its own without White House interference.

So what does all this mean?

The most likely explanation is that there was never any wiretapping of Trump Tower – or as Trump put it in another tweet, “my phones” — but the FISA court did allow surveillance of the Philadelphia server and the Justice Department ultimately decided there was nothing to it.

Or perhaps the Justice Department decided there was something to it and is still investigating it.

Or perhaps there were FISA court warrants but for surveillance of people around Trump that had nothing to do with the Philadelphia server and the Russian bank.

Or perhaps Trump never read the Breitbart article but instead learned there was significant surveillance of Trump Tower in the way you’d expect a president would, from the massive intelligence apparatus he commands.

Or perhaps Trump has simply gotten all of this wrong.

Whatever the case, Trump has the power to clarify it and everything else about the Russia story right now by declassifying whatever surveillance records exist of contacts between people in his orbit and Russia. If he and his associates did nothing wrong, he has every incentive to do so as soon as possible.

The White House press office did not immediately respond to requests to comment on whether Trump will use his declassification power regarding his tweeted claims. It’s previously ignored repeated questions about whether he will use it regarding the general issue of contacts between Russia and his campaign.

Interestingly, there has in fact been significant government surveillance involving a presidential campaign in the past, although it’s unlikely Trump will want to remind America of it.

During the 1968 contest between Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon, President Lyndon Johnson was attempting to negotiate a peace deal to end the Vietnam War.

Nixon was worried that if this happened just before the election it would help Humphrey, who was Johnson’s vice president. Recently discovered notes by one of Nixon’s top campaign aides show that Nixon asked him to “monkey wrench” the peace talks. Via Anna Chennault, a top Republican fundraiser, the Nixon campaign sent messages to the government of South Vietnam not to go along with Johnson’s plans.

Johnson knew that this was happening at the time, and believed that it constituted “treason.” He ordered the FBI to wiretap the embassy of South Vietnam in Washington, which picked up Ambassador Bui Diem communicating with Chennault. (Presidents could and did directly order wiretaps prior to the establishment of the FISA court in 1978 to prevent executive branch abuses of its surveillance power.) The FBI also began conducting general surveillance of Chennault.

Johnson and several top officials, including Secretary of Defense Clark Clifford and Secretary of State Dean Rusk, struggled with what to do in a fascinating phone call on November 4, 1968, the day before the election.

Johnson speaks of not wanting to be “a McCarthy” and worries about the certainty that “we’ll be charged with trying to interfere with the election.”

Rusk also equivocates, telling Johnson that “I do not believe that any president can make any use of interceptions or telephone taps in any way that would involve politics. The moment we cross over that divide we are in a different kind of society. … We get a lot of information through these special channels that we don’t make public. For example, some of the malfeasances of senators and congressmen and other people. … I think that we must continue to respect the classification of that kind of material.”

Clifford chimes in with another concern: that Americans just couldn’t endure learning how the world actually works. “I think,” Clifford frets, “that some elements of the story are so shocking in their nature that I’m wondering whether it would be good for the country to disclose the story, and then possibly to have a certain individual elected. It could cast his whole administration under such doubts that I would think it would be inimical to our country’s interests.”

In the end, Johnson decided not to reveal what he knew about Nixon’s shocking subterfuge.

The next day Nixon narrowly beat Humphrey. During Nixon’s time in office, 20,000 more U.S. soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese died before the war finally ended.

The fact that Nixon did ally with a foreign government for advantage in a presidential election certainly doesn’t mean that Trump did the same. However, it does mean that U.S. politicians are capable of doing that – and that past presidents have used wiretaps to track the actions of their political adversaries.

Top photo: U.S. President Donald Trump waves as he walks on the South Lawn after he returned to the White House March 2, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Trump has returned from his trip to visit the USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier in Newport News, Virginia.

The post If Trump Tower Was Wiretapped, Trump Can Declassify That Right Now appeared first on The Intercept.

24 Feb 21:58

“Both of us are widowers. We met last year at a dance for...

“Both of us are widowers. We met last year at a dance for seniors. He treats me so much better than my husband ever did. My husband treated me like a stray dog. He used to beat me. He’d get angry, and yell, and break things. He’d always say that I’d never meet someone else. But this man is different. He always tells me that he loves me. He always wants to be with me. He makes me feel like a princess.”

(São Paulo, Brazil)

18 Jan 20:00

“My first tattoo said: “I Hate.” I tattooed over it a long...

“My first tattoo said: “I Hate.” I tattooed over it a long time ago. I was twenty-one when I got it. It was a very self-destructive period of my life. I’d dropped out of college. My girlfriend had just left me for an older guy. I’d gotten a Mohawk and was doing a lot of slam dancing. I felt like everyone in the family was disappointed with me. My dad was a very successful attorney. My brother was a diplomat. So I rebelled against everything and decided that I was going to live the whole ‘poetry lifestyle.’ I lived in the desert for a couple years. Then I came to New York and tried to survive as a poet. I ended up working as a freak in the Coney Island Side Show. But after fifteen years, even that became like any other job. It was the exact same thing every day. Only the audience changed. I still haven’t figured out what I was trying to escape. There’s no such thing as a true outsider. We all have to breathe. We all have to eat. We all have to work. I wanted to run away from everything but I ran into myself. I’m still a middle class, intellectual kid from the suburbs.”

03 Jan 19:19

What You Should Reflect On When You Look Back at the Past Year

by Patrick Allan

The end of the year is a time for reflection. We all have ups and downs, but a recent study suggests you’ll be happier if you keep your walk down memory lane focused on a few specific types of memories.


07 Nov 16:01

Nine Ways the U.S. Voting System Is Rigged But Not Against Donald Trump

by Jon Schwarz

Donald Trump is right — the U.S. voting system is totally rigged!

It’s not rigged against him, though. It’s rigged against people without much money, and people who are members of any number of minority groups.

Some of the rigging is by design, and dates all the way back to the Founding Fathers. Some of it is simply a byproduct of an economic system where the top 0.1 percent have almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. Some falls somewhere in between.

Add it all up, and it constitutes a gigantic obstacle to regular people using their purported power to run our purported democracy.

Here are some of the ways in which the voting system is rigged, few of which are ever discussed in American elections — which some might say constitutes its own kind of rigging.

  1. You have to register to vote.

Between one-quarter and one-third of American adults, up to 50 million people, are eligible to vote but aren’t registered to vote.

That’s ridiculous. Why do American adults have to take a special, extra step to govern themselves?

Many other countries, including France, Italy, Chile, Israel, Sweden, Denmark and Finland, all register everyone to vote automatically. Not coincidentally, they have much higher voter turnout than we do.

The unregistered are younger, poorer and less white than registered voters. They’re also more likely to support progressive political policies, such as a higher minimum wage and a financial transactions tax.

The good news is that five states — Oregon, California, West Virginia, Vermont and Connecticut — now have near-automatic voter registration, and many other states are considering it. Hillary Clinton has called for the federal government to push all states to make it happen.

  1. Election Day is a work day

The less money and power you have, the harder it is to take time off from work to vote.

Many states now have early voting, but some do not. Even if you can vote early, the rules are different everywhere and often change. We should expand and standardize early voting but also, as Sen. Bernie Sanders has proposed, make election day a national holiday.

A man checks-in at the Activity Center at Bohrer Park during early voting on October 28, 2016 in Gaithersburg, Maryland. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski        (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

A man checks in during early voting in Gaithersburg, Md.

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

  1. Gerrymandering and geography

In 2012, a slight majority of Americans voted for a Democrat for their congressional representative. Nevertheless, 54 percent of the elected representatives were Republicans.

This was thanks to both gerrymandering and the tendency of Democratic voters to live in dense cities. Currently Republican state legislatures use computer software to pack Democratic voters into as few districts as possible, creating the characteristically bizarre gerrymandered shape. But computers can also be used to create districts that look “fair” — i.e., compact and contiguous — and these would still put Democrats at a disadvantage because Democrats have by choice packed themselves into a few small places.

This is a problem that may not have an easy answer. Gerrymandering is to some degree in the eye of the beholder. Cities are probably going to remain highly Democratic. Some people believe it would be best to turn states into “multimember districts,” so that if the state sends seven representatives to the House, everyone in the state would get seven votes and would choose their top seven candidates.

  1. Many felons can’t vote.

6.1 million Americans can’t vote this year because they’ve been convicted of a felony. 2.2 million of them are African American; in Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia more than 1 in 5 black adults can’t vote.

No other country works like this. The solution here is simple: As in France, Germany, Israel, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Peru, Poland and Romania, everyone should be eligible to vote, including those convicted of felonies and even those currently in prison.

  1. Voter suppression.

Paul Weyrich, one of the founders of today’s conservative movement, cheerfully explained in 1980 that “I don’t want everybody to vote. … Our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

Republicans have taken this perspective to heart for decades, and are doing their best again in 2016 to reduce the number of people voting. Popular methods include purging voter rolls of eligible votersreducing polling times and placesrequiring photo ID to vote and voter intimidation.

  1. No Instant Runoff

Instant runoff voting, which was recently used in the London mayoral election, lets third-party supporters vote for their first choice without fear they’ll act as spoilers and help elect their least favorite candidate.

Here’s how it works: Voters rank as many candidates as they like in the order of their preference, from first to last. If a candidate gets a majority of first choice ballots, he or she wins. If not, the last place candidate is eliminated – and his or her votes are distributed to the candidates who were the second choice of the eliminated candidate’s supporters. And so on. (If this sounds confusing, a Minnesota Public Radio video explains it in a clever way using post-its.)

In terms of this election, a Jill Stein voter who loathes Trump and lives in a swing state can’t vote for Stein without helping Trump. With instant runoff voting, such a Stein supporter could rank Stein as his or her first choice, Clinton as his or her second, and Trump last or not at all.

There is a built-in bipartisan consensus against any such move, however, since it would weaken the two-party duopoly that runs U.S. politics.

  1. The Senate

The Senate hugely magnifies the power of small states. Deep red Wyoming, population 582,000, has two senators. So does deep blue California, with a population of 38.8 million, 66 times greater than Wyoming’s.

That is so rigged!

The Senate’s ability to slow or stop change is why it was created in the first place. As James Madison, the main author of the Constitution, put it in 1787: “Our government ought to secure the permanent interests of the country against innovation” and “protect the minority of the opulent against the majority.” The Senate, Madison said, should be the part of the government designed to do this.

  1. You can’t vote for the Federal Reserve

The U.S. economy is like a car with two gas pedals and two brakes. Congress controls one of each, but the Federal Reserve controls the others.

Its seven governors are appointed by presidents to 14-year terms. Even worse, the Federal Open Market Committee, which controls interest rates, is made up of the seven governors plus five members who are presidents of the regional Federal Reserve Banks. The regional presidents are chosen in a process that’s largely controlled by banks.

  1. Corporate America is more powerful than politicians

As John Dewey, one of America’s most important pro-democracy philosophers, wrote in 1931, “politics is the shadow cast on society by big business.”

This could be seen most clearly in the 2008 Wall Street bailout. Not only did the biggest banks have the power to destroy the U.S. economy in a way no politicians ever could, they easily forced the entire political system to stop everything and give them what turned out to be trillions of dollars.

On a smaller scale, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump hope to slash the tax rate on multinational corporations even though I’m guessing this is not one of your top priorities.

A poll worker posts receipts from vote counting machines showing they have been properly prepared for the days voting at the Activity Center at Bohrer Park during early voting on October 28, 2016 in Gaithersburg, Maryland. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski        (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

A poll worker posts receipts from vote counting machines showing they have been properly prepared during early voting in Gaithersburg, Md.

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Whew, that’s a long and depressing list. But don’t give up: That list used to be much, much longer, yet regular people have been successfully fighting to shrink it for 240 years. There’s no reason to believe we can’t make it shorter still or eventually eliminate it altogether.

So go vote! There’s a reason this list exists, which is that democracy is powerful and dangerous and lots of people want to limit it. Don’t let them.

The post Nine Ways the U.S. Voting System Is Rigged But Not Against Donald Trump appeared first on The Intercept.

04 Nov 16:37

Watch: A Beginner's Guide to Using Lav Mics

by V Renée

Never used a lavalier mic before? This should help.

When it comes to filmmaking, sound is one of those things that you can't afford to get wrong. In situations where your boom mic needs some backup, or just won't cut it at all, lavalier microphones are effective tools for recording audio as close to a subject as possible without being visible in the shot. The first thing you should know is that they're also called lavs, neck mics, lapel mics and clip mics. In this video by RocketJump Film School, you get to learn all of the important basics of using lav mics, so when you need one you can use it like a pro.

The video shows you what a lav mic is (as well as transmitters and receivers), common placement and concealment techniques, and how to monitor your audio. However, if you're up for a bit of a challenge and want to learn some more advanced lav mic concepts and techniques, we've got you covered.

Read More

04 Sep 22:44

Leaked Catalogue Reveals a Vast Array of Military Spy Gear Offered to U.S. Police

by Sam Biddle

A confidential, 120-page catalogue of spy equipment, originating from British defense firm Cobham and circulated to U.S. law enforcement, touts gear that can intercept wireless calls and text messages, locate people via their mobile phones, and jam cellular communications in a particular area.

The catalogue was obtained by The Intercept as part of a large trove of documents originating within the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, where spokesperson Molly Best confirmed Cobham wares have been purchased but did not provide further information. The document provides a rare look at the wide range of electronic surveillance tactics used by police and militaries in the U.S. and abroad, offering equipment ranging from black boxes that can monitor an entire town’s cellular signals to microphones hidden in lighters and cameras hidden in trashcans. Markings date it to 2014.

Cobham, recently cited among several major British firms exporting surveillance technology to oppressive regimes, has counted police in the United States among its clients, Cobham spokesperson Greg Caires confirmed. The company spun off its “Tactical Communications and Surveillance” business into “Domo Tactical Communications” earlier this year, selling the entity to another company and presumably shifting many of those clients into it. Caires declined to comment further on the catalogue obtained by The Intercept or confirm its authenticity, but said it “looked authentic” to him.

“By design, these devices are indiscriminate and operate across a wide area where many people may be present,” said Richard Tynan, a technologist at Privacy International, of the gear in the Cobham catalogue. Such “indiscriminate surveillance systems that are not targeted in any way based on prior suspicion” are “the essence of mass surveillance,” he added.


The national controversy over military-grade spy gear trickling down to local police has largely focused on the “Stingray,” a single type of cellular spy box manufactured by a single company, Harris Corp. But the menu of options available to domestic law enforcement is enormous and poorly understood, mostly because of efforts by both manufacturers and their police clientele to suppress information about their functionality and use. What little we know about Stingrays has often been the result of hard-fought FOIA lawsuits or courtroom disclosures by the government. When the Wall Street Journal began reporting on the use of the Stingray in 2011, the FBI declined to comment on the grounds that even discussing the device’s existence could jeopardize its usefulness. The effort to pry out details about the tool is ongoing; just this past April, the American Civil Liberties Union and Electronic Frontier Foundation prevailed in a federal court case, getting the government to admit it used a Stingray in Wisconsin.

Unsurprisingly, the Cobham catalogue describes itself as “proprietary and confidential” and demands that it “must be returned upon request.” Information about Cobham’s own suite of Stingray-style boxes is almost nonexistent on the web. But starting far down on Page 105 of the catalogue is a section titled “Cellular Surveillance,” wherein the U.K.-based manufacturer of defense and intelligence-oriented hardware lays out all the small wonders it sells for spying on people’s private conversations, whether they’re in Baghdad or Baltimore:


The above page immediately stood out to ACLU attorney Nathan Wessler, who has made Stingray-like devices a major focus of his work for the civil liberties group. Wessler said “the note at the top of the page about the ability to intercept calls and text messages (in addition to the ability to geo-locate phones)” is of particular interest, because “domestic law enforcement agencies generally say they don’t use that capability.” Also remarkable to Wessler is the claim that cellphone users can be “tracked to less than 1 [meter] of accuracy.”

Tynan said Cobham’s cellular surveillance devices are, like the Stingray, standard “IMSI catchers,” deeply controversial equipment that can be used to create fake cellular networks and swallow up International Mobile Subscriber Identity fingerprints, calls, and texts. But he noted that such devices can operate on a vast scale:

The Cobham devices in this catalogue are standard interception devices with the ability to masquerade as 1-4 base stations simultaneously. This would allow it to pretend to be 4 different operators or 4 base stations from the same operator or any combination. These specifications allow for the interception of up to 4 calls at a time. The operational distance of these devices would be around 1-2 KM for 3G and significantly greater for 2G devices. Devices of this type can typically acquire the unique identifiers of handsets at a rate of 200 per minute.

Cobham also offers equipment capable of causing immense cellular blackouts and bulk data collection, including the “3G-N” — operated via laptop: 

The mammoth “GSM-XPZ PV,” meanwhile, has a maximum output power of 50W, which would make it comparable to cellular antennae constructed by the likes of AT&T or Verizon. Anyone inside its radius (potentially miles from the box itself) could be subject to invisible surveillance.

The slimmer “GSM-XPZ HP Plus,” which appears to be operated via a handheld device, can “take control of target phones” and “create [an] exclusion zone to deny GSM network coverage,” the catalogue states.  

Also noteworthy are two “direction finding units” — trackers used for following the location of someone’s smartphone (and presumably its user). One, named the “Evolve4-Hand Held Direction Finder,” actually allows a soldier or neighborhood police officer to carry a hidden antenna inside his clothing that he can use to track someone’s whereabouts:

Another, similar device uses a larger antenna that can be mounted onto any car — a design that raises an eyebrow for Wessler: “The low profile means that it is difficult to identify police use of the technology.”

This low-profile technology not only allows agents in a vehicle to track someone’s location via their mobile phone, but it is also “designed to work with any GSM manipulation,” presumably meaning cellular jamming and interception.

Tools for covert spying make up a large part of the catalogue, particularly in the audio and video surveillance sections, where sensors are hidden in everything from pocket knives and birdhouses to suspenders:


Elsewhere in the catalogue, Cobham boasts of a corporate history going back more than 70 years, brags about tripling in size since 1997, and talks about “clients and partners in over 100 countries.” Among the company’s stated goals are “to keep people safe and to improve communications.”

But the proliferation of spy tools like those sold by Cobham is actually eroding safety, according to Tynan. “As we move to a more connected world where cars, toys, fridges, and even implantable devices contain miniature cellphone technology, the capability to cause harm using one of these devices becomes ever greater,” he said. “It is unacceptable for our modern critical infrastructure to be so vulnerable to such interception,” and therefore “it is vital that the international standards that underpin our communications are built to the highest security standard possible.”

Correction, Sept. 2: The original version of this story misstated the relationship between Cobham and Domo Tactical Communications.

Sign up for The Intercept Newsletter here.

The post Leaked Catalogue Reveals a Vast Array of Military Spy Gear Offered to U.S. Police appeared first on The Intercept.

25 Aug 18:54

Jukedeck – Create unique music for your videos in seconds

by Cheesycam

If you want to add music to your projects (without getting flagged on YouTube and Facebook), check out Jukedeck. Instead of downloading random music that never seems to be a perfect fit, with JukeDeck you are able to customize the length, tempo, and set exact BPM to match your project perfectly. There's also an option for choosing when the music should Climax. So the music you create for sections of your project will have a proper intro and outro. Here's a quick demo.

Obviously, visit to register for your Free account and start creating your FREE music tracks.

03 Aug 17:13

Facebook’s new Page sections help small businesses actually make money

by Napier Lopez

Having a Facebook page is virtually essential for modern businesses, and now they might be able to reap some new benefits from it too. Facebook is rolling out two new sections to promote both goods and services that merchants sell on the platform. The Shop section lets businesses list products they’re selling, and allows customers to put in an offer through Messenger, while the Services lets them do the same for, well, services. You can list prices, along with a description and photos. The Shop section is only coming to Thailand, Brazil, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Philippines, India, Argentina, and Taiwan…

This story continues at The Next Web
22 Jul 20:59

Blockai uses the blockchain to protect your copyright and find those infringing on it

by Bryan Clark

The majority of artists in the United States can’t afford to register their copyright with the US Copyright Office. While the internet makes it easier than ever to create and share works of art, it’s done little-to-nothing to help protect copyright and what few strides its made have largely benefited huge companies rather than smaller artists. Blockai wants to change all that by using the power of the blockchain to help you register and protect your work online. While copyright laws are still rather vague and corporate-centric, it’s not necessary for artists to register with the US Copyright Office to…

This story continues at The Next Web
27 May 20:10

Self-Care Is Not Optional

by Marcia B

“Do you know the difference between indulgence and self care?”

I looked into her tear-stained face.

“No,” she said. “My whole life, it’s been about working my ass off, and then, when it gets to be too much, give myself a ‘treat,’ which I always regret later. No one ever taught me how to take care of myself. The only way I can do anything nice for myself is if I do it for someone else, or for my dog.”

My heart broke for her. Here was my brilliant, funny, smart, sarcastic, big-hearted, talented friend, who regularly gives joy  to more people than I can count, completely falling apart. For months, I’d watched her work and work and work, and today, she was about to throw the towel in on everything she had built.

By every measure, she was a “success:” Owner of a kooky, whackadoodle dream business, adored by thousands of people who frequently thanked her for her work and for changing their lives, doing the thing she loved most in a gorgeous city with a loving partner and an awesome dog. But no amount of talking about “self-care” could override the programming she got as a child that she was worthless, and didn’t deserve to be taken care of.

Especially by her own self.

We’ve all had moments of reaching for the sugar, the no-good lover, the trashy novel, the junk food, the new gadget, the porn, the expensive shoes or the chocolate. And we’ve all had times when what we needed was a nap, someone to feed us or touch us lovingly, a walk, some sunshine, or to get out of our own head.

Some of these are indulgence, and some of these are self-care. The messages we get about them are confusing. Marketing is full of women laughing while eating yogurt and chocolate being equated with sexual abandon and men stuffing themselves full beyond belief. We’re sold relaxation at hundreds or thousands of dollars a pop, as if taking a nap in your own bed is verboten.

How many ads for vacations, food or massage have you seen that include the phrase “sinful” or “indulgence” as if taking a break, eating food, or being taken care of wasn’t valuable in and of themselves?

We are encouraged to “work work work” and any deviance from that is labeled “selfish.” It can be nearly impossible to tell whether it’s okay to prioritize yourself, and if you do, how to actually take care of yourself instead of just having a “break” that leaves you feeling worse than you did before. So let’s break it down a bit.

What’s the difference between self-care and self-indulgence?

Self-care: Leaves you feeling nourished Associated with feelings of well-being May be hard to do at first Regular and consistent Addresses core needs Builds you up Self-Indulgence: May leave you feeling depleted or hung over Associated with feelings of guilt Often surrounded with language of shame, sinfulness or indulgence Happens inconsistently Doesn’t address underlying needs Costs you Can be fun

Now let’s be clear: there’s actually nothing wrong with indulging from time to time. Sometimes, being excessive can be fun. It can be a nice break from everyday reality to have too much wine or sugar, to chase after someone who’s not a good match for you, or to run away from your responsibilities for an afternoon. I am, in fact, unabashedly unapologetic about my enjoyment of the occasional hedonistic experience.

But as a substitute for self-nurturing, indulgence will always fall short. Because indulgence costs you, after you indulge, you may feel icky, tired, blown out or even more overwhelmed than when you started.

Self-care, on the other hand, helps you build your energy reserves. It leaves you feeling balanced, sated, clearer or more grounded. It’s listening to your body when you need a nap, or drinking a glass of water when the sugar cravings hit. It’s turning down a date with a needy-but-entertaining friend and exercising instead. Or Inviting that friend to go on a hike with you, so you can get your exercise in.

Self-care is not working for the sake of working, but working toward your goals, which are in alignment with your values. It’s knowing what your goals are in the first place, and how those goals support you as a person. It’s setting yourself up to win, not at the expense of other people, but by pro-actively creating an environment around you where you (and others) can rest, recharge, and evaluate.

Self-care is asking for help, letting others know your limitations, and picking your battles.

Self-care is not selfish.

When you’ve been taught that your job is to take care of everyone else around you, when you are expected to be responsible for other people’s emotions, when you’re the person in your family who is literally responsible for the survival of everyone else, taking care of yourself may seem selfish. It may seem like you are putting yourself before the family or the community.

But the thing is, self-care is what enables you to continue to be of service to others. It is the precise opposite of selfish. Without self-care, you are not able to continue caring for others. As Jada Pinkett Smith puts it, “You cannot be good to other people if your health is declining. You cannot be good to other people if you’re miserable. You cannot be good to your children if you have them, to your spouse if you have one, to your job and your career if you are not emotionally and mentally and physically healthy.”

What does self-care look like?

What's on your puppy checklist?The details of what self-care looks like will be different for each person, but it can be helpful to start with what my pal Q calls “The Puppy Checklist” — that is, doing for yourself the things that a puppy needs to be happy and healthy:

  • Eating appropriate amounts of healthy food on a reasonable schedule
  • Drinking enough water
  • Moving your body, even if it’s just a few walks a day
  • Spending time sniffing around your neighborhood and noticing things
  • Playing with toys and with others
  • Being petted
  • Getting to bed at a reasonable hour and getting as much sleep as you need.
  • Taking care of your basic health needs, going to the doctor and taking your meds on time
  • Listening to your body and doing what it tells you it needs

Other self-care approaches may be impacted by your health or what you do for a living. For example, someone who experiences frequent migraines may take steps to adjust the lighting in their workspace and home. At work, self-care may be about leaving your desk at 5:30 sharp, or setting clear boundaries with clients about when you’re available. (Boundaries in general are an important self-care tool.)

Take Action

Wherever you’re at in your self-care journey, I invite you to take a look at one thing you could do today to take better care of yourself. Think of one habit you’d like to build (the simpler the better) or one thing that you will say no to. What’s on your puppy checklist?

Remember that although you get to indulge and be selfish when you need to, that self-care is not selfish. It is vital and necessary for your wholeness and your ability to be a light shining into the world. Please take care of yourself like you’re someone you love.

Even if that someone is a puppy.

The post Self-Care Is Not Optional appeared first on asking for what you want.

18 May 14:57

Master Cutting Table

by Jeremiah Moss
I must have walked on 27th Street between Broadway and 6th Avenue a million times. But somehow never noticed Master Cutting Table. Maybe the shutters were always down when I went by. Maybe I was too distracted by the neon of the weird old Senton Hotel. In any case, recently, deep in the depths of a rather bad mood, I came upon the miracle that is Master Cutting Table.

It was the decapitated Charlie McCarthy doll heads that caught my eye. And the mannequin in the vest and Spartan helmet. I got closer and looked in through the plate-glass window.

It was like looking into one of those panoramic Easter eggs as a kid. A whole world opened up. And, seeing what I saw, my mood instantly lifted.

American flags. Antique clocks. JFK and RFK posters. A bigger than life-size bathing beauty cardboard cut-out. Pressed-tin ceiling above and wooden floorboards below. A long path leading to the back of the shop through dozens and dozens of old garment industry machines:

Gold Stampers, Wire Stitchers, Rossley Button Machines, Defiance Foot Presses, Schaefer Cementers, Clicker Blocks, Rubber Pads.

Had I tumbled back through time? How could something so pure, so untouched still be permitted in the homogenized, stultified Manhattan of today? What delightful madness was this?

The lights were on, but the door was locked.

"This is our flag, be proud of it!" reads a sign on the door, below a "Back In" notice that doesn't indicate how many minutes will pass before they'll be back in. I waited around a bit, not wanting to stop looking. Eventually, I had to go, but vowed to return.

When I went back a few weeks later, it was the same scene: lights on and no one in sight.

I pushed the door. It opened with the tinkling of a bell.

I walked inside, unsure that I should be there, and tried to commit as much as I could to memory. The place smelled of age, of sweetly rotting paper, like a library. I breathed it in.

A silver-haired man emerged from a back door and came directly towards me, dressed all in black, his spine stiffly upright, his shoes shuffling.

"The door was open?" he said, indicating that it was not meant to be. "What can I do for you?"

"I'm admiring your shop," I said.

"Why? It's a dirty stinkin' hole!"

"It's beautiful."

"You shoulda seen it 60 years ago. It was a machine shop."

He ushered me to the door, adding, "Now we don't do nothin'."


"Nothin'! When you're old, you'll understand. When you're married, you'll understand. In the morning, you kiss the wife goodbye and say, 'Seeya later, Sweetie, I'm off to work!'"

"So you don't do anything here? You don't sell anything, fix anything? You just do nothing?"

"Come back when you're 60 and I'll tell you all about it!"

He closed to the door behind me, locked it, and shuffled back down the long path to the back room where he does nothing all day. A man who just wants to be left alone in his dirty, stinkin', beautiful museum of a machine shop.

The site 14to42 says Master Cutting Table has been here since the early 1960s. It is run by a man named Arnold. A writer at Manhattan Sideways ventured in to the place one time. She reported:

"Asked what he does here, Arnold replied: 'nothing.' Asked why he comes in, then: 'I don’t want to stay at home. I love my wife of over sixty years, but sometimes you just have to get away.' Having invested in property in New York when it was not as astronomically expensive, Arnold now owns this building and has the luxury of using it as a 'day home.' He is holding out against selling to developers bent on transforming the space. 'I’ll let my kids make that mistake,' he says. 'You can walk with a straight backbone knowing you own property in New York. It’s a marvelous feeling.'"

23 Feb 08:13

Sigma Introduces Blazing-Fast 50-100mm f/1.8 Lens, 30mm f/1.4, & MC-11 E-Mount Lens Adapter

by Joe Marine

Sigma has once again redefined how fast and sharp a zoom lens can be.

The engineers over there have done some incredible things, first with the tack sharp APS-C 18-35mm f/1.8, and now with the new APS-C 50-100mm f/1.8. The new 50-100mm f/1.8 — which will come in Canon EF, Nikon F, and Sigma SA mounts — joins the rest of Sigma's high-performing Art lens lineup, and is listed at $1,100. In addition, they've announced another new APS-C lens for their mirrorless line, the 30mm F1.4 DC DN, which will be available in Sony E and MFT mounts, and is listed at $340. Lastly, the previously leaked E-Mount adapter, MC-11, has also been announced, and will cost $250. Unfortunately it seems that it will only work with Sigma lenses out of the gate.

All three of these will be available in the next month or two.

Read More

25 Aug 15:54

Charlie Mom

by Jeremiah Moss

Charlie Mom Chinese restaurant has been in the Village since 1983. This coming Wednesday, August 26, will be its last day.

Why is it closing? I called to ask. "Rent going too high."

photo via Mitch Broder's NY

In 2011, Eater paid a visit to Charlie Mom.

"It's the sort of Chinese restaurant that was once seen in abundance in New York," wrote Robert Simonson, "the kind that makes cocktails and offers choices from Column A and Column B, and a Peking Duck meal for $19.95."

He continued, "Who comes here? I asked my waiter. 'Old man. Old woman,' he said with halting English and stunning frankness. I looked around. My eyes confirmed his blunt assessment. Nearly everyone was old. Very old. They talked of ailments and pensions."

photo: Daniel Krieger, via Eater

So another place that caters to older folks is getting the boot. Once again, it's not a lack of business. It's not because "people" don't eat Chinese food anymore. It's the rent. It's the rent. It's the rent.

Have a last meal at Charlie Mom between now and Wednesday at 464 6th Avenue near 11th Street. And if you want to the city to put a stop to these insane rent increases, join #SaveNYC and support the Small Business Jobs Survival Act.

04 Jul 17:54

Brian Clark, Former Indiewire Publisher and Digital Media Producer, Dies

by Eric Kohn
Brian Clark, one of the original figures in the conceptualization of Indiewire and a major player in the transmedia and immersive storytelling communities, died today in New York surrounded by family and friends following a brief battle with cancer. He was 46.  Read More: Heartrending Tributes to Indiewire Co-Founder Brian Clark Clark co-founded the new media production company GMD Studios in 1995 and continued to run it for nearly 20 years. In 1997, he served as a producer and managing member of Indiewire during its initial iteration as a newsletter. "indieWIRE is a brand, dammit," he wrote in an internal memo to staffers during the late '90s, using the spelling that distinguished the site in its early days. "The independents are there, ready to be led together... and it's my belief that bringing them together will be at times explosive, at other times inspirational." While GMD Studios sold Indiewire to SnagFilms in 2008, Clark remained an active...
09 Jun 04:28

Watch the Google I/O 2015 Keynote Here

by Eric Ravenscraft

Today marks the beginning of Google I/O 2015. There are sure to be big announcements for Android, Chrome, and plenty more. You can watch the live stream at the video above, the link below, or follow our sister site Gizmodo’s liveblog here if you can’t tune into the video.


06 May 15:45

Really Rich New Yorkers Are Super Sad the de Blasios Don’t Want to Go to Their Boring Parties

by Kristin Iversen
This guy would never party with the Wall Street Journal set.

This guy would never party with the Wall Street Journal set.

As someone who routinely backs out of parties that I don’t want to go to (not yours, of course: I was really sick that time!), I couldn’t be more sympathetic to the fact that Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray didn’t attend last night’s Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I mean, sure, it sounds like it could be kind of fun, and being among the first people to see what Rihanna is wearing is a real privilege that shouldn’t be taken for granted. But, you know that Rihanna’s outfit will be all over the place online within seconds of her arrival, and if you stay home and hang out in your bed, occasionally checking the fashionable arrivals, complete with snarky commentary on Twitter, then you also get to avoid awkward conversations with whoever Anna Wintour deigned to seat next to you. Win-win-win-win-win infinity. But if you do the comfortable, relatable thing of skipping a gala? Well, then New York’s ultra-rich are going to whine about you to the Wall Street Journal just like the entitled babies they are.

In what might be the best PR move that he didn’t have to pay for, de Blasio was called out in the Journal for the fact that unlike his billionaire predecessor, Mike Bloomberg, the new mayor has literally no interest in attending most of the city’s high-profile society extravaganzas. This is the second year in a row that the de Blasios have declined to attend the Costume Institute Gala, and even though McCray had a conflict—she was being honored by the non-profit group, The Child Mind Institute—it is clearly impossible to some people that anyone would choose to go to some little non-profit event, rather than the society event of the year.

And as you can imagine, the super-wealthy are not taking this type of snub lightly. The Journal speaks to Peggy Siegal, “a New York City event publicist who orchestrates high-profile parties,” who says de Blasio clearly has “disdain for the striving, successful New Yorkers and I have been told by insiders that he always listens to his wife, who also has disdain for the accomplished… They obviously do not relate to New Yorkers who socially network to support charities. They have made themselves socially irrelevant. It is a major shortcoming not to mingle with all classes.”

Yes, those terrible, commie de Blasios need to reassess their priorities and spend more time at parties where they can rub elbows with billionaires. How dare they.

In fact, though, it’s gotten so bad that it isn’t just a case of the de Blasios not attending these parties—now, they’re sometimes not even invited:

Organizers for New Yorkers for Children, a charity that benefits the city’s Administration for Children’s Services, said it would include Ms. McCray on future event mailing lists. A spokeswoman for the New York Botanical Garden said public officials weren’t invited to its Conservatory Ball.

Joking aside, attendance by political figures at these types of events are usually centered around getting money from deep-pocketed potential donors, money which the city could obviously use. Base and gross as that might seem, it’s just politics as usual, and as a life-long politician, de Blasio knows that. However the fact that the city’s wealthiest are so miffed by the de Blasios lack of interest in their society parties that they would punish the city by not donating as much as they have in the past? The city that has become their virtual playground? Well, that’s a lot grosser than anything de Blasio has done so far.

Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen

05 May 17:53

Rep. Butterfield Teams With Big Broadband Providers to Kill the Internet

by akroin
May 1, 2015
When it comes to media and telecom issues, Rep. G.K. Butterfield is one of the most important voices in Congress.
22 Jan 19:34

Broadband Nation: Obama Calls for More Internet Options for Consumers

The goal is to increase competition among Internet providers and spur better prices and service.
18 Jan 01:42

6 Discoveries from Near and Far: Volume XXVIII

by Chris Guillebeau

I. Around the World

Things I found on long walks in foreign cities, or perhaps when someone posted them on Twitter.

II. On the Blog

A few posts you may have missed on the blog this week.

III. A Blast from the Past

Something from the AONC archives.


Image: Vicky Wasik

25 Dec 09:00

What "Farm Fresh," "Cage-Free," and Other Egg Terms Really Mean

by Patrick Allan

What "Farm Fresh," "Cage-Free," and Other Egg Terms Really Mean

When you're out doing your grocery shopping, you'll see a lot of fancy terms floating around that try and entice you to buy a product. Even a household staple like eggs are not immune to these bloated words. Here's an explanation of some of the most misleading terms.


23 Dec 20:01

smdxn: Off duty, black cops in New York feel threatened by...


Off duty, black cops in New York feel threatened by fellow police officers

Reuters interviewed 25 African American male officers on the NYPD, 15 of whom are retired and 10 of whom are still serving. All but one said that, when off duty and out of uniform, they had been victims of racial profiling, which refers to using race or ethnicity as grounds for suspecting someone of having committed a crime.

The officers said this included being pulled over for no reason, having their heads slammed against their cars, getting guns brandished in their faces, being thrown into prison vans and experiencing stop and frisks while shopping. The majority of the officers said they had been pulled over multiple times while driving. Five had had guns pulled on them.

Desmond Blaize, who retired two years ago as a sergeant in the 41st Precinct in the Bronx, said he once got stopped while taking a jog through Brooklyn’s upmarket Prospect Park. “I had my ID on me so it didn’t escalate,” said Blaize, who has sued the department alleging he was racially harassed on the job. “But what’s suspicious about a jogger? In jogging clothes?”

The NYPD and the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, the police officers’ union, declined requests for comment.

22 Dec 05:04

This explains white privilege. The entire world identifies with...

This explains white privilege. The entire world identifies with racist judicial system propped up by racist law enforcement. #ferguson #ericgarner

Yet police want to connect sociopath cop killer with average protesters.

Here’s the deal, people may be fucked up, but not all of us took oath to protect and serve the community.

15 Dec 08:53

The NYPD Was Sued an Average of 10 Times a Day Last Year 

by Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan on Factually, shared by Meg Neal to Gizmodo

The NYPD Was Sued an Average of 10 Times a Day Last Year 

Around ten lawsuits were filed against the NYPD every day, according to a new analysis by I Quant NY of a city report that also says most suits were "primarily of allegations of police misconduct, civil rights violations, and injury and/or damage from accidents involving police vehicles."


03 Dec 10:51

get-you-wet: bvsedjesus: KU JOURNALISM MAJOR SHREDS “CASE”...




Shelby Lawson is a student at the University of Kansas, majoring in Journalism and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Lawson posted the following to her Facebook page: 

“Alright y’all. I’d like to clear a few things up. This is a general address to the long list of misconceptions and inconsistencies and abuses of power that exist surrounding the killing of Mike Brown. I have researched these points and provided sources in case you wish to do some reading of your own.

-The most common misconception I’m hearing is that Mike Brown was significantly larger than Officer Wilson. This is incorrect. On page 198 of the official grand jury transcript, you can see that Officer Wilson testifies he is 6 ft 4 and weighs 210 lbs,the same size as Mike Brown.


-Mike Brown was NOT stopped because he was a suspect in crime. He and his friend Dorian Johnson were stopped for jaywalking, as Darren Wilson testifies to on page 208 of his grand jury testimony.

-Mike Brown WAS fleeing from Officer Wilson when he was fatally shot. Wilson confirms this on page 281 of his grand jury testimony.

-Officer Wilson broke police self-defense protocol, which teaches to disarm and incapacitate rather than kill and teaches officers to go for body shots. Officer Wilson shot Mike Brown twice in the head, after he shot him four times in his arm and torso.


-Ferguson Police ignored protocol and refused to interview or take a statement from the eyewitness present from Officer Wilson’s initial contact with Mike Brown until his death.


-The forensic examiner broke protocol by failing to take crime scene photos. On page 95 of the grand jury transcript, she claims that this was because her camera had died, however, she goes on to describe how she immediately followed Wilson to the hospital in order to photograph his “injuries.”

-Forensic investigators broke protocol by failing to test Officer Wilson’s gun for fingerprints, since Wilson claims that Brown grabbed his gun and caused it to misfire. Page 39, grand jury transcript.

-Darren Wilson was then allowed to break protocol by washing the blood off of himself before it could be photographed, making it impossible to analyze blood spatter patterns and determine what position Mike Brown was in when Wilson first shot him. Wilson recounts this on page 10 of his official police interview.


-While Officer Wilson’s story of what happened that day has changed at least three times, six separate eyewitnesses, four of whom have never met each other, all have identical accounts of what happened. They were never interviewed by police.


-These eyewitnesses all agree that Darren Wilson was the aggressor and that Mike Brown was shot while surrendering, with his hands in the air and that his last words were “I don’t have a gun. Stop shooting.”

-This is backed up by Mike Brown’s autopsy, which suggests that Mike Brown would have had to be in the hands-up position for the bullets to enter his hand and arm the way they did.


-Furthermore, in a press conference, the coroner who performed Mike Brown’s autopsy relays that there was no trace of gun shot residue anywhere on his body, proving that Wilson’s claim that Mike Brown grabbed his gun, causing it to misfire, is impossible and untrue.


-Ferguson Police lied about the distance Mike Brown was from Officer Wilson when he was killed. They reported it was 35 ft. but it was in fact 148 ft.


-Owner of Ferguson Market states that he did not call police to report a theft of cigars, that the theft had nothing to do with Mike Brown, and that the man on the security footage is not Mike Brown.


-The prosecuting attorney for the case against Darren Wilson has helped raise $600,000 in donations for Darren Wilson, creating a clear conflict of interest.


-The police department that Officer Wilson worked for prior to coming to Ferguson was disbanded after multiple instances of racial profiling.”



please read this

29 Nov 20:42


by Jeremiah Moss

You've probably heard by now that, after 110 years in business, DeRobertis in the East Village will be gone as of December 5. It wasn't the rent this time. The family decided, with great pain, to sell the building.

This one hurts like hell.

I'd like to say something more eloquent, but that's all I've got right now.

That and who took the antique coin from the floor?

For a million years--or 193--a half-dollar from 1821 sat in the very center of the cafe, embedded in the tiles, in the middle of a flower, in the middle of a star. Some said that a mobster put it there, maybe Lucky Luciano, but it was likely just the guy who put in the floor.

photo from a few months ago by Kyle Supley

Today there's just an empty space, an imprint of an eagle in the cement where the coin used to be. Soon, that's all we'll have of DeRobertis, a ghostly remnant of something wonderful and real, something connected to history, something with a story to tell.

As John DeRobertis described the place to Bedford & Bowery, "When people came in here, they knew the people working behind the counter. We felt a closeness. That’s what I’m going to miss the most. You go into any of these chain coffee shops, you’re just a person and they’re robots. Everybody has a job to do. You give the order to this person, this person makes it, this person gives it to you, that person cashes you out. Here, I think people felt at home."

What will move in next? God help us if it's a fucking Starbucks. Of course, as Annie DeRobertis told me back in 2007, that's what today's stunad East Villagers want.

She said: “People come in and tell me I don’t know how to make cappuccino. They tell me, 'Starbucks makes it this way.' I tell them, 'I’m here before Starbucks.' They want flavors. I tell them, 'I got flavors. You want a flavor? I’ll put it in.' Put it in? They look at me. Do these people really think the coffee bean grows in flavors? Like it comes in hazelnut and mint? These are people with college educations. But they want Starbucks. So I tell them, very nicely I say, 'So go to Starbucks.'"

Eventually, that will be the only choice.

10 Nov 22:30

Just Released: New Blogging U. Ebooks

by Ben Huberman

Our recent Writing 101 and Writing 201 Blogging U. courses were a huge success — so we thought you should be able to enjoy them even if your schedule didn’t allow you to take them in real time.

We’re happy to announce that both courses are now offered as free ebooks, available for download in .pdf, .mobi (Kindle), and .epub (iBooks) formats. While conceived with nonfiction writers in mind, fiction writers (we know you’re out there, NaNoWriMo participants!) could find both courses just as useful.

Which ebook should you choose?

Writing 101: Build a Blogging Habit was initially designed as a four-week course. It includes 20 writing prompts, each with its own (optional) twist to push your writing in new directions, from improving your descriptions to thinking about voice and pace. In ebook form, now you can follow the course at your own rhythm and in any order you wish.

Writing 201: Finding Your Story, an intensive four-part course, focuses on editing your unpolished or unfinished drafts into compelling narratives. Loaded with advice and practical tips, this ebook will help you hone some fundamental storytelling skills, like creating powerful openings and writing engaging scenes.

Of course, you don’t actually need to choose — why not give both a try? (Did we mention they were free?)

While you’re ebook-browsing, don’t forget our other available titles365 Writing PromptsPhotography 101, and Grow Your Traffic, Build Your Blog.

Filed under: Better Blogging, Resources, Writing
14 Apr 21:39

A total lunar eclipse is happening tonight, and here's how you can watch

by Jon Fingas
You may have a good excuse to stay up late tonight. A rare total lunar eclipse, where the Earth casts a shadow over the entire Moon, is due to start at 12:53AM Eastern. Our celestial neighbor should be completely enshrouded by 3:06AM, producing an...