Boing Boing 

Copyright extortion startup wants to hijack your browser until you pay

Rightscorp, the extortion-based startup whose business-model is blackmailing Internet users over unproven accusations of infringement, made record revenues last quarter, thanks to cowardly ISPs who agreed to lock 75,000 users out of the Web until they sent Rightscorp $20-$500 in protection money.

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Weaseling about surveillance, Australian Attorney General attains bullshit Singularity

Michael writes, "Watching Australia's Attorney-General try to explain why tracking Australians' web histories is not such a big deal resembles listening to a dirty joke told by a ten-year-old, i.e. it leaves one with the distinct impression the speaker is trying to seem like they understand something they've only heard about secondhand."

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Mayor of Atlanta retaliates for unfavorable coverage by blocking journos on Twitter

Kasim Reed's list of blocked journalists is a who's whom of Atlanta city-beat reporters; it's become a badge of honor for local writers.

(Thanks, Ben!)

Infamous SF "eviction" lawfirm abuses DMCA to censor video of protest

The offices of Bornstein and Bornstein are notorious for running "boot camps" advising San Francisco landlords on legal loopholes for evicting long-term tenants so they can rent to the high-flying tech sector.

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North Korea threatens "merciless" war against the US over Seth Rogen movie

North Korea has threatened "merciless" war against the USA if a James Franco and Seth Rogen comedy called "The Interview" is released. The movie involves a plot to assassinate North Korean hereditary dictator Kim Jong-un. A North Korean state spokesman called the movie an "act of war" and a "blatant act of terrorism" and "reckless US provocative insanity." The spokesman called the film's director a "gangster filmmaker" and said that North Koreans had greeted the production with "a gust of hatred and rage."

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Cops bust cybercrook who sent heroin to Brian Krebs

Sergei "Fly" Vovnenko, a Russo-Ukrainian cybercrook who stalked and harassed security journalist Brian Krebs -- at one point conspiring to get him arrested by sending him heroin via the Silk Road -- has been arrested. According to Krebs, Vovnenko was a prolific credit-card crook, specializing in dumps of stolen Italian credit-card numbers, and faces charges in Italy and the USA. Krebs documents how Vovnenko's identity came to light because he installed a keylogger on his own wife's computer, which subsequently leaked her real name, which led to him.

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Alabama chief justice says First Amendment is only for Christians

The video of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore's address to the Pastors-for-Life in Mississippi conference last January has gained recent notoriety, thanks to the judge's amazing assertion that only Christianity is entitled to First Amendment protection under US law. The top jurist bases his assertion on some rather dubious history and theology, which Kyle Whitmore carefully debunks. But it seems unlikely that a Chief Justice wouldn't know about this stuff. A fairer assumption is that he simply chooses not to notice it.

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Top US patent judge resigns after ethics breach

Judge Randall Rader, the top US patent judge, has resigned from the bench after he sent a letter to a patent attorney praising his courtroom appearance, inviting him to share the letter publicly. Radar is one of the top ambassadors for the US patent system, touring the world giving speeches extolling its virtues. He's planning to spend the rest of his life teaching patent law in global universities.

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Texas school bans sunscreen because a child might drink it


A parent in San Antonio, TX is upset that her ten year old got sunburned on a school trip because the school district forbade bringing sunscreen to school, on the grounds that a child might drink the sunscreen and be poisoned by it. When called on this insanity, the Northeast Independent School District doubled down, calling sunscreen both a medication and a poison (it's neither).

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Small town sheriff buys tank: "the United States of America has become a war zone"

Rural counties across Indiana have been purchasing Afghanistan-surplus tanks with gunner turrets and heavy armour; most recently, it was Johnson County, whose Sheriff, Doug Cox, justified the purchase by saying, "The United States of America has become a war zone."

The 55,000lb "mine resistant ambush protected" tank (MRAP) was a steal at $5,000 (original price: $733,000), part of a bizarro-world peace dividend from the Afghanistan and Iraq drawdown, which sees the toolsuite of a military occupying force being flogged at knock-down rates to macho shithead sheriffs across the American heartland for deployment against American civilians.

For example, Johnson County SWAT used their MRAP to break up a fight between two drunks, and in Morgan County, the requisition for their MRAP said it was to be used for a variety of purposes, including "drug search warrants and felony arrest warrants." By and large, counties acquiring these tanks have no formal policy about when and how they can be used.

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Billionaire tech VC Vinod Khosla owns the very tides, sea, sands (or so he claims)

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Silicon Valley billionaire venture capitalist and Sun Microsystems co-founder Vinod Khosla wants everyone to stay off Martins Beach, a lovely stretch of oceanfront south of Half Moon Bay. To that end, he is invoking The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican-American War in 1848 and transformed California from being a chunk of Mexico to becoming part of the USA. Okay, Vinod. Whatever.

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Kleargear ruins customers' credit over online criticism, refuses to honor US judgment


The latest update in the saga of Kleargear (previously) is downright bizarre. Having invoiced unhappy customers for complaining online about their crappy service and then ruined those customers' credit rating, the company now refuses to acknowledge a judgment against them from a US court because they insist that they're located in France and weren't served there.

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Rob Ford: a night of drunk driving, racism, drugs, beating friends and demeaning his wife


In the Toronto Star, Kevin Donovan reports a night in the life of Rob Ford, mayor of Toronto, shortly after an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel: Ford drives drunk, says fantastically racist things, buys drugs, beats up a friend of his, and then comes home and presents his friends to his wife, offering to let them have sex with her, saying that she lets him "f--k girls in front of her all the time... It's okay, my kids are not home." Parts of this are transcribed from recordings, others appear to be taken from witnesses.

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Aussie politician calls rival a "c*nt" in Parliament, gets away with it

Juha writes, "Christopher Pyne, education minister for the ruling right-wing Coalition in Australia, calls the leader of the centre-left Labor, Bill Shorten, a "cunt." In Parliament. Pyne gets away with it too, as the Speaker doesn't intervene. Further audio here in case Youtube pulls the video."

16 year old Canadian arrested for over 30 "swattings"


A 16-year-old Canadian male has been arrested for calling in over 30 "swattings," bomb threats and other hoax calls to emergency services in North America. The young man is alleged to be the operator of @ProbablyOnion on Twitter, which had previously advertised swattings (sending SWAT teams to your enemies' homes by reporting phony hostage-takings there, advising police that someone matching your victim's description is on the scene, armed and out of control) as a service, and had bragged of swatting computer crime journalism Brian Krebs twice. Krebs had previously caught a kid who swatted him, and outed him to his father -- this may have made him a target for other swatters.

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Congressmen ask ad companies to pretend SOPA is law, break anti-trust

A murder of Congresscritters and Senators have told Internet ad-brokers that they expect them to behave as though SOPA passed into law (instead of suffering hideous, total defeat); they want the companies to establish a secret, unaccountable blacklist of "pirate" sites. The group comprises Congressmen Bob Goodlatte and Adam Schiff, and Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Orrin Hatch. This isn't just a terrible idea, it's also an obviously illegal antitrust violation, as Mitch Stoltz from the Electronic Frontier Foundation points out:

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Former NSA boss defends breaking computer security (in the name of national security)


For me, the most under-reported, under-appreciated element of the Snowden leaks is the BULLRUN/EDGEHILL program, through which the NSA and GCHQ spend $250,000,000/year sabotaging information security. In a great Wired story, Andy Greenberg analyzes former NSA chief Keith Alexander's defense of the stockpiling of vulnerabilities to attack "bad guys." There is no delusion more deadly than the idea that spies will make us more secure by weakening our computers' security to make it easier to spy on us.

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Eric Schmidt, war crimes apologist and colossal hypocrite

Just a reminder that Google CEO Eric Schmidt is a colossal hypocrite and an apologist for war crimes:

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Mayor Rob Ford recording: drunken, sexist, racist, homophobic, abusive rant


The recording of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack (again) isn't the only recording to emerge of the mayor; he was also recorded making drunken, racist, homophobic, misogynist remarks at a bar where he was also abusive to the bartender and said rather revolting things about his wife.

Of note in the recording was the mayor's vulgar remarks about Karen Stintz, one of his electoral rivals. Ford previously called another female political rival a liar after she accused him of drunkenly grabbing her ass and propositioning her at a Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee.

In other news, the mayor also allegedly participated in an all-night, coke-fuelled drunken sex party at a nightclub where he vomited in the toilets in between verbally jousting with Justin Bieber and entertaining a group of "party girls" with his entourage.

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New Rob Ford crack-smoking video emerges, Ford takes "break" from re-election campaign


Rob Ford has announced a "break" from his re-election campaign for mayor of Toronto, after a video of him smoking crack last weekend surfaced, being offered for sale by a drug-dealer for seven figures:

In one of the clips shown to The Globe and Mail on Wednesday, the mayor rapidly shifts his weight back and forth on the spot, talking into his cellphone and his right arm swinging at his side. When the camera pans around the room, a man that looks like Alessandro “Sandro” Lisi, the mayor’s former driver and an accused drug-dealing extortionist, can be seen in the background. Mr. Ford’s sister, Kathy, who has admitted in media interviews to being a drug addict, is sitting in front of her brother. In the last of three clips, Mr. Ford is holding the pipe and speaking to his sister.

Rob Ford takes leave as new drug video emerges [Robyn Doolittle and Greg McArthur/The Globe and Mail]

Barack Obama will take a backseat to no one when it comes to (promising) Network Neutrality

Back before Barack Obama appointed a Net Neutrality-destroying cable lobbyist to run the FCC, he was clear: "I will take a backseat to no one when it comes to Network Neutrality."

President Obama and Big Telcoms: delivering high-speed fiber to the campaign promise every election cycle!

Rob Ford's mayoral career considered as a reality TV show - straining suspension of disbelief


If Rob Ford's mayoralty had been a scripted reality show, it would have strained credulity, as this trenchant Marcus Gee column reminds us. Gee rounds up some of Ford's greatest hits -- including a few I'd missed, like Ford's vote against naming a street after Nelson Mandela; his failed bid to distribute 10,000 Easter eggs at a parade where he wasn't welcome, his appointment of disgraced, drug abusing athlete Ben Johnson to his campaign team, and his profane rant against a security guard who denied him entry to a VIP lounge at a hockey game.

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WIPO sends criminal prosecution threats over publication of internal docs about its Director General's corruption


You may recall that the UN's World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has been haunted by scandal: first there was the matter of illegally funding computer purchases for North Korea and Iran, then a whistleblower came forward to claim that WIPO Director General Francis Gurry illegally harvested DNA samples from staffers to find out who had sent anonymous letters alleging his sexual misconduct.

But it gets worse.

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Gutting Net Neutrality also guts innovation, fairness and democracy


My latest Guardian column, Internet service providers charging for premium access hold us all to ransom, explains what's at stake now that the FCC is prepared to let ISPs charge services for "premium" access to its subscribers. It's pretty much the worst Internet policy imaginable, an anti-innovation, anti-democratic, anti-justice hand-grenade lobbed by telcos who shout "free market" while they are the beneficiaries of the most extreme industrial government handouts imaginable.

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UKIP candidate tells Lenny Henry to move to a "black country"; party says reporting this is a "smear campaign"

The UK Independence Party is a ultra-right-wing anti-immigration party with strong streaks of racism, homophobia, sexism and other unsavoury beliefs in both its rank-and-file and its leadership. Having made the transition to a mainstream party -- one that's sucking up disaffected Tory voters in bulk -- they've adopted and sometimes even enforced principles against outright racism and sexism, but the membership haven't quite got the message.

Case in point: William Henwood, a UKIP candidate in local elections for Enfield council, tweeted that comedian, actor and beloved British institution Lenny Henry should move to a "black country" if he was concerned about a lack of representation for people of colour in the media. (He had previously tweeted a comparison between Islam and the Third Reich).

So, what of UKIP and its much-vaunted anti-racist, anti-sectarian official programme? Don't hold your breath. A UKIP spokesman told the BBC that there are people who say things like this in all the parties in their social media streams, but only UKIP is singled out for scrutiny by the biased media, and called reporting on candidates who publicly tell Lenny Henry to move to a "black country" a "smear campaign."

UKIP are in the lead for EU elections next month.

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Radical press demands copyright takedown of Marx-Engels Collected Works

Lawrence and Wishart, a radical press founded in 1936 and formerly associated with the Communist Party of Great Britain, has asserted a copyright over "Marx-Engels Collected Works," a series of $25-50-ish hardcovers, and demanded that they be removed from the Marxist Internet Archive. As Scott McLemee notes, the editions in question were "prepared largely if not entirely with the support of old-fashioned, Soviet-era Moscow gold" and consist, in large part, of arguments about the moral bankruptcy and corrupting influence of claims of private property.

Marx-Engels Collected Works will be removed from Marxists.org on May Day. Here's a torrent of the full set.

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UK Tory MP who helped kill Legal Aid is wiped out by defending himself against sexual assault claim

Alan sez, "At least he's got the sense to own up and say he's sorry. Nigel Evans used to be in Parliament. While there he helped cut legal aid. As a result, people who are charged by the government but found innocent can't recover costs. Mr Evans is now looking at a (UKP) 130,000 legal bill (plus VAT) after defending successfully against an allegation of sexual assault. Of course, were he in the US he'd be in the same or worse shape."

He's been wiped out, and has pledged to try to undo the damage he's done to Legal Aid if he gets reelected. Meanwhile, the real victims of this are poor crime victims, especially women in abusive relationships, who are grappling with a system where only rich people get lawyers.

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Rob Ford excuses, uttered by a child

When Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was caught lying about smoking crack (and after months of smearing people who accused him of doing so as liars), he busted out the most weaselly, stupid excuse anyone had ever heard. To make it clear how unsuitable this level of discourse is in office, Central Fiction's produced this video in which a child deploys the Rob Ford defense about a cracked window.

Rob Ford's Words in the Mouth of a Child (Thanks, Emily!)

Houston family calls 911 when dad has psychotic episode; now sued by the deputy who killed him

When Marlene Yazar's husband Kemal experienced a psychotic episode, she was so scared for her safety and the safety of her children that she called 911. A paramedic arrived on the scene, but fled after Kemal threw a Bible at him. The paramedic called the police, and Harris County, TX Deputy Brady Pullen arrived on the scene. Ten minutes later, he and a colleague shot Kemal ten times, killing him. Then, he sued the Yazar family, naming Kemal's mother-in-law (who wasn't at home when the episode took place) because, according to him, the family were negligent in describing the threat the dead father, husband and breadwinner presented. Now, the family must not only mourn the passing of their dead loved one -- they have to defend themselves against a $100,000 lawsuit brought by the police officer who shot him dead.

Sen Lamar Alexander: if shills have to tell Congress who's paying them, it will "chill speech"

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) is one of many Republican legislators who've objected to a new policy at OSHA that requires experts to disclose when they have been funded by parties with an interest in the outcome of regulatory proceedings. According to Alexander, he and his colleagues are "very concerned about OSHA's attempt to have commenters disclose their financial backers," because "the chilling effect the financial disclosure could have seems counter to the idea of robust inclusion of a diverse set of ideas and views to inform the rule-making." The current proceeding is about whether silica in cement poses a health hazard, and OSHA wants to know if the experts it's hearing from have been paid to have an opinion one way or another.