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December 12, 2009

Dr Peter Watts, Canadian science fiction writer, beaten and arrested at US border - Boing Boing

Dr Peter Watts, Canadian science fiction writer, beaten and arrested at US border Boing Boing
Peter's friends are raising money for his legal defense. I just sent him CAD$1,000, because this is absolutely my biggest nightmare: imprisoned in a foreign country for a trumped-up offense against untouchable border cops. I would want my friends to help me out if it ever happened to me. Update: Here's more from Peter, in his own words: "Along some other timeline, I did not get out of the car to ask what was going on. I did not repeat that question when refused an answer and told to get back into the vehicle. In that other timeline I was not punched in the face, pepper-sprayed, shit-kicked, handcuffed, thrown wet and half-naked into a holding cell for three fucking hours, thrown into an even colder jail cell overnight, arraigned, and charged with assaulting a federal officer, all without access to legal representation (although they did try to get me to waive my Miranda rights. Twice.). Nor was I finally dumped across the border in shirtsleeves: computer seized, flash drive confiscated, even my fucking paper notepad withheld until they could find someone among their number literate enough to distinguish between handwritten notes on story ideas and, I suppose, nefarious terrorist plots. I was not left without my jacket in the face of Ontario's first winter storm, after all buses and intercity shuttles had shut down for the night. "In some other universe I am warm and content and not looking at spending two years in jail for the crime of having been punched in the face."
In police-state America -- which extends 100 miles into the country from the border -- do not ask a border guard anything.

December 11, 2009

Facebook selling you to Bing, Twitter

3 Facebook Privacy Mistakes - Security - IT Channel News by CRN
What Facebook Isn't Telling You First and foremost, Facebook has its own best interest at heart -- not yours or your privacy. Facebook's privacy redesign was intended to make the social networking site more competitive with micro-blogging site Twitter, which touts simplicity and ease of use, along with openness and availability to all. Meanwhile, in recent weeks, Microsoft publicly announced that it would be forming deals with both Twitter and Facebook to funnel tweets and other user content onto its search pages. Since then, both Microsoft and Facebook have been rather tight lipped about how exactly Facebook posts and updates were to be incorporated into Bing. In light of Twitter's explosive growth, it's likely that all of Facebook's content, including personal status updates, could be subjected to search engine searches. Meanwhile, Facebook also said it responded to a firestorm of criticism regarding privacy settings by limiting visibility to users' Friend Lists. However Friend List restrictions, coupled with revamped privacy settings, also give Facebook a foot in the door in the professional networking arena, priming the site to compete toe to toe with LinkedIn, which is geared toward professional networking. By limiting access to Friend Lists, Facebook acknowledges that some users might be hesitant to post something online that might jeopardize their current or future job.

December 08, 2009

American man charged with helping plot the Mumbai terrorist attacks

U.S. Man Accused of Helping Plot Mumbai Attack - NYTimes.com
The suspect, David C. Headley of Chicago, is accused of helping identify targets for a Pakistan-based terrorist group called Lashkar-e-Taiba, whose two-day attack on luxury hotels, a popular restaurant, a Jewish community center and a crowded train station brought India’s financial capital to a halt and shocked the world. The complaint described Mr. Headley’s repeated scouting visits to the sites nearly two years before the attacks, which have reignited tensions between India and Pakistan. The authorities say that among his conspirators was Ilyas Kashmiri, regarded by Western officials as one of the most dangerous Islamic militants operating in Pakistan’s restive tribal areas. The charges, including six counts of conspiracy to bomb public places and to murder and maim, significantly expanded the government’s case against Mr. Headley, 49. And his profile — he has roots in the United States and links to high levels of the Pakistani government and military — makes him a highly unusual terror suspect.

December 05, 2009

Blue Cross Blue Shield lobbyists secretly working to declare health reform unconstitutional

Think Progress -- Blue Cross Blue Shield Lobbyists Quietly Helping Extreme Effort To Declare Health Reform Unconstitutional
Because the industry understands that the public views it in a largely negative light, the industry presents itself as proactively working hand-in-hand with legislators to produce reform. However, behind the scenes, the industry is coordinating a massive effort to kill all reform — employing attacks from front groups, allied politicians, think tanks, lobbyists, and right-wing media. The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, which is a lobbying group representing 39 independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans, is also engaged in this two-faced campaign. Like most of industry, the BCBS Association says it fully supports the concept of health reform, but continually demands drastic changes to the bills in Congress. Some have begun to question the BCBS Association’s claim of support given its new study attacking reform legislation in the Senate. The criticism of BCBS is bolstered by a new revelation that BCBS Association lobbyists are helping to orchestrate a right-wing movement to invalidate all of health reform.