The Metadata+ app which tracks U.S. military drone strikes by was created by Josh Begley, research editor for The Intercept. Begley changed its name from Drones+ after it was rejected as "objectionable" by Apple five times. Read the rest
I cheered the news that the Federal Trade Commission was suing Roca Labs, the sleazy "weight-loss" company that sold people industrial food thickeners as "non-surgical gastric bypasses" and made them sign contracts promising not to post about any negative experiences they after trying the scammy, high-priced "treatment." Read the rest
Banned Books Week is just around the corner and to help prepare readers for this event, the folks at Humble Bundle have put together a collection of challenged and banned comics.
A portion of the proceeds goes towards benefitting The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, who helped curate this limited time bundle. Many notable creators are represented here including Alan Moore, Scott Snyder, Jeff Smith, Jeff Lemire, Garth Ennis, the Hernandez brothers, and even Cory Doctorow himself.
The Humble Comics Bundle: Forbidden Comics Supporting Banned Books Week runs for two weeks and ends Wednesday, October 7, 2015 at 11 a.m. Pacific time.
For such a unique bundle about controversial comics, it only felt fitting to call upon an individual just as unique to provide the very first Humble Bundle intro; enter comics historian Craig Yoe, no stranger to the most salacious corners of comicdom.
Take it away, Craig!
Mother was horrified.
She discovered my gaily-painted childhood wooden toy box now had a big steel padlock on it that I had got from Miller's Hardware Store. And it had a hand scrawled sign defiantly affixed: KEEP OUT! THIS MEANS YOU!
Mom became hysterical when I refused her demands to open the box to reveal its hidden contents. She could only imagine what dark secrets it contained.
It WAS filled with terribly embarrassing stuff that I didn’t want anyone to see because it would reveal emblematic objects of my conflicted, tormented adolescence: “men’s magazines” and “children’s comic books.” Both types of opposing fare were dishonorable possessions for a 13 year-old. Read the rest
Peter from the National Coalition Against Censorship writes, "A California official removed an artwork by skateboarding icon Scott Olson from a public building because he said it was 'obscene.' Sorry, the First Amendment exists to prevent this kind of thing. Read the rest
Calyx is a privacy-oriented ISP. In 2004, the FBI brought its owner, Nicholas Merrill, a National Security Letter -- one of the USA Patriot Act's secret search warrants, which comes with a gag order prohibiting the recipient from ever disclosing its existence.
Merrill has fought the gag order for 11 years, refusing to give up despite government attempts to get the case booted and to run up the court costs beyond Merrill's ability to pay.
He had a partial victory in 2010, when he and the ACLU won a court victory that allowed him to disclose some elements of the NSL, but left important details -- including the categories of information the FBI believes it can request under an NSL -- still secret. This latest victory overturns that restriction.
The judge in this case, Judge Victor Marrero, also presided over a 2007 case that overturned part of the Patriot Act, requiring investigators to go through the courts in order to get NSLs. In his Calyx decision, he condemned the government's secrecy as "extreme and overly broad."
Read the rest
U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero’s decision invalidated the gag order in full, finding no “good reason” to prevent Merrill from speaking about any aspect of the NSL, particularly an attachment to the NSL that lists the specific types of “electronic communication transactional records” (“ECTR”) that the FBI believed it was authorized to demand. The FBI has long refused to clarify what kinds of information it sweeps up under the rubric of ECTR, a phrase that appears in the NSL statute but is not publicly defined anywhere.
Into the River by New Zealand author Ted Dawe is an award-winning young adult novel about a teenage boy who moves from the sticks in New Zealand to a posh boarding school in Aukland. A kooky right-wing group called Family First freaked out about the sex, drugs, and language in the book and convinced New Zealand’s Film and Literature Board to ban the sale and distribution of the novel. It's the first book they've banned in 22 years. The previous banned book was How to Build a Bazooka.
Taryn Hillin of Fusion posted parts from the novel that caused it to become forbidden to New Zealanders:
Back at boarding school Devon’s friend Steph, another roommate, sneaks in some pot:
At last, Steph revealed the reason he had brought them there. He had a joint. “Where’d you get it?” Wingnut asked in a hushed whisper.
Devon and Tania embark on a sexual relationship — Devon’s first:
Tania had Devon’s jeans off much faster than he managed to clear the hooks on her bra. The urgency now bordered on panic. Then she had his cock in her wet hand. He gasped. The next thing was he felt a fluttering convulsion and came immediately, draping the wall of the bathroom with a ribbon of sperm.
Fairly normal stuff for a young adult novel, if you ask me. And nothing outside a typical teenager's life (at least in the US, and I presume NZ, though I've only spent a couple of months there). I didn't know that New Zealand had a department that decides what its citizens were allowed to read. Read the rest
The indispensable Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has announced the 2015 edition of its always-brilliant Liberty Annual ("ridiculous adult humor for adults"), featuring an all-star comix cast from Art Spiegelman to Vanesa Del Rey. Read the rest
Emmanuel Goldstein writes, "2600 Magazine is being threatened with legal action for using bits of ink splatter on the Spring 2012 cover that Trunk Archive Images claims it has the rights to. That's right, ink splatter. The sophistication of the tracking software in actually being able to detect specific splotches of ink throughout the entire Internet is as astounding as it is scary. But it also happens to be dead wrong as the ink splatter in question actually belongs to an artist in Finland." Read the rest
Today in Betteridge headlines: "Should Facebook Block Offensive Videos Before They Post?" Read the rest
Peter writes, "Is a public library's board of trustees any place for a would-be book censor? The town of Downers Grove, Illinois is about to find out." Read the rest
The company is shotgunning DMCA notices against journalists and others who reproduce even the tiniest fraction of the dump of users who signed up to find partners with whom to cheat on their spouses -- included in the dump are thousands of people who paid $15 to have their data permanently deleted from the service. Read the rest
Japan is famous for its penis parades, where people carry around giant wooden dicks and buy penis candy and souvenirs. So why is manga artist Rokudenashiko likely to be imprisoned for making whimsical sculptures based on plaster castings of her vulva? (See Japanese artist goes on trial over "vagina selfies and Manga cartoonist arrested for her whimsical vagina sculptures.) Vice's Broadly has a video interview with this brave artist who is getting a raw deal from the Japanese government. Read the rest