As criminal justice reform looms, private prison companies get into immigration detention, halfway houses, electronic monitoring, mental health

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Nixon's War on Drugs, Reagan's three strikes rules, and Clinton's "superpredator" crime bill turned America into history's greatest imprisoner, a carceral state where a racially biased justice system was made worse with every passing day, thanks to the campaign contributions and lobbying by the private prison industry, led by Corrections Corporation of America. Read the rest

Doctors who get pharma money prescribe brand-name drugs instead of generics

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It's an open secret that the pharmaceutical industry spends billions marketing to doctors, deliberately misleading them about their products, raking in record profits that they shift into offshore tax-havens through legally questionable means, while lobbying for global treaties that benefit them at the expense of the sick. Read the rest

Starving pensioners in Japan responsible for shoplifting crime-wave

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Japan's recently expanded prisons are already at 70% occupancy, an incarceration epidemic blamed on hungry pensioners who account for 35% of the nation's shoplifting, with a high rate of re-offending. Read the rest

Instagram is a dialup BBS

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JWZ reminds us that all social media is some variation on the walled garden strategy, designed to lock you in and lock value away from the open, interoperable Web into a silo where it languishes and rots. You know, AOL. Read the rest

Ransomware hackers steal a hospital. Again.

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A month after a hospital in Hollywood was shut down by a ransomware infection that encrypted all the files on its computers and computer-controlled instruments and systems, another hospital, this one in Kentucky, has suffered a similar fate. Read the rest

Silverpush says it's not in the ultrasonic audio-tracker ad-beacons business anymore

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Silverpush, the company that pioneered covert ultrasonic audio beacons that let advertisers link your activity on phones, tablets and laptops, says it will no longer sell the technology and does not want to be associated with the idea any longer. Read the rest

Student loan garnisheeing topped $176M in three months

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The latest figures on government-backed student loans are in, and with them, the news that the US government took $176 million out of ex-students paychecks and Social Security in the last three months of 2015. Read the rest

Russia moots ban on discussions about VPNs, reverse proxies, and other anti-censorship techniques

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Russian law provides for a national censorwall that entertainment companies can populate with the URLs of websites they dislike, without much oversight or review (it's similar the system used in the UK in that regard). Read the rest

BART's twitter manager drops truth-bombs, world cheers

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On Wednesday night, the person who runs the Twitter feed for San Francisco's BART system began answering riders' frustrated tweets with frank, honest statements that eschewed the bland "thank you for your feedback" and the chipper "we're working on it!" norms of corporate social media in favor of brutally honest assessments of the sorry state of the system, starting with, "BART was built to transport far fewer people, and much of our system has reached the end of its useful life. This is our reality." Read the rest

Bloomberg reporter Dune Lawrence on being smeared online

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Bloomberg reporter Dune Lawrence relates her two-year online ordeal at the hands of Benjamin Wey, a disgraced financier and harasser who posts crudely libelous "news" stories about her (and other targets) on a fake tabloid news site established for that purpose.

In September 2015 the FBI arrested the man behind TheBlot, one Benjamin Wey. Not for smearing me or the other people he imagined were his enemies. He’s primarily a financier, and he was charged with securities fraud and other financial crimes involving Chinese companies he helped to list on U.S. stock markets. The U.S. Department of Justice alleges Wey pocketed tens of millions of dollars in illicit profits that he funneled through associates overseas and back into accounts in the U.S. Wey denies the charges. A trial has been set for March 2017.

Meanwhile, TheBlot’s lies about me still pop up online. The same is true for a young woman who won an $18 million judgment against Wey and his companies for sexual harassment and defamation, a journalist who wrote about her, a retired Nasdaq official, and a Georgetown University law professor. As Wey, 44, awaits trial, he regularly posts Blot articles calling all of us, and others, frauds, racists, and extortionists. He’s found a way to exact revenge with few consequences, and he’s milking it.

Wey seems to be a consummate internet creep. Here's how he reportedly responded to the official request for comment that Bloomberg insisted she send him:

“Howdy! Ni Hao! Hello! I am Benjamin Wey—your old friend.
Read the rest

McAfee shovelware emits tracking beacons

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Researchers at Duo Labs bought a "stack" of OEM laptops and audited the preinstalled shovelware they came with, looking specifically at the security implications of the default settings. Read the rest

From dingo babysitter to net neutrality hero: Tom Wheeler's legacy

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When Obama appointed Tom Wheeler, formerly the top lobbyist for both the cable industry and the mobile phone industry to run the FCC, many people (including me) were outraged at the idea of putting such an insider in charge of keeping his own former employers honest (it didn't help that AT&T and Comcast both issued triumphant press releases at the news). Read the rest

Barnes & Noble wipes out Nook ebook, replaces it with off-brand "study guide"

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Chris writes, "I bought my first e-book in 1998, before my e-reading hardware had even arrived yet. Yesterday I discovered that Barnes & Noble has effectively stolen that book from me, mistakenly replacing it it in my Nook library with another title I never bought." Read the rest

These 27 profitable S&P 500 companies paid no tax last year

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Two things are inevitable: death and taxes. Unless, of course, you are a transhuman, immortal artificial life form that uses humans as gut-flora (that is, a major corporation). Then they're both optional. hit thanks mostly to a tax break connected with General Motors Europe.

27 giant profitable companies paid no taxes [Matt Krantz/USA Today]

(via Barry Ritholtz) Read the rest

Shortly after her death, Harper Lee's heirs kill cheap paperback edition of To Kill a Mockingbird

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A court upheld the sealing away of Lee's will from public view, so it's impossible to say for sure what prompted the move, but this much is clear: schools that assign "To Kill a Mockingbird" -- one of the most commonly assigned books in US classrooms -- will have to pay a lot more for their books, and that money will not, and cannot, benefit the author. Read the rest

Web security company breached, client list (including KKK) dumped, hackers mock inept security

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Newport Beach based Staminus Communications offered DDoS protection and other security services to its clients; early this morning, their systems went down and a dump of their internal files were dumped to the Internet. Read the rest

Microsoft spams corporate users with messages denigrating their IT departments

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If your company hasn't "upgraded" your computer to Windows 10 -- a tendril of surveillance capitalism masquerading as a "free OS" -- you may start receiving messages from Microsoft telling you that your IT department is holding you back: "Your system administrator has blocked upgrades on this PC. Check with your system administrator about upgrading this PC to Windows 10." Read the rest

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