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Happy Mutant congressman: if Bitcoin should be banned, why not dollar bills?


Senator Joe Manchin delivered a grandstanding, technologically clueless, facepalm-inducing request to the Treasury Department to ban Bitcoin. In response, Rep Jared Polis (who proudly wears Boing Boing tee-shirts in his spare time, and rocks some snazzy duds on the floor of Congress) wrote a mock-serious request for dollar bills to be removed from circulation, pointing out that practically every objection that Manchin raised over Bitcoin applies equally well to paper money.

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Patriot Act's author to spooks: roll over or you get nothing

James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), the architect of the Patriot Act, has repudiated his Frankenstein's monster -- though it took the NSA mass-spying scandal to do it (yo, James, where were you for the 10-ish years of horrors before Snowden's leaks?). He's told American spooks that if they keep on blocking reform to their habits, he'll lead an effort to tank the Patriot Act's spying provisions when they come up for renewal this June, and he sounds serious: "Unless Section 215 is fixed, you, Mr. Cole, and the intelligence community will end up getting nothing because I am absolutely confident that there are not the votes in this Congress to reauthorize 215." (via Ars Technica) Cory 12

Congress's private health club spared from shutdown by Boehner: "essential"

Congress's private gym -- whose budget is a closely held secret for "security" reasons -- has remained open during the shutdown. It was deemed an essential service. By John Boehner himself. (Possibly because so many Tea Party Congressmen live in their lavish tax-funded/tax-free offices and use the fancy club as their personal showers, rather than renting DC lodgings)

The staffers' gym was closed, however.

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Let's Bring Digital Liberties into the Big Conversation


Photo: Shutterstock

We've been CISPA'd again.

For a second year the US House has passed the embarrassingly vague Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, a bill that could scatter your personal information like a tornado hitting a trailer park. Echoing last year, the Obama administration has threatened to veto CISPA if it fails to incorporate privacy controls, but we shouldn't have to rely on presidential intervention or the Senate's questionable wisdom to save us. Though Congress is gifted in the arts of incompetence and believes digital liberties only matter to basement-dwelling teens, we cannot entirely vilify the House, either. If there's one thing our representatives actually represent about us, it is our ignorance of technology.

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Cellphone unlocking is the first step toward post-SOPA copyright reform

Derek Khanna was a Professional Staffer for the Republican Study Committee in the House of Representatives. Khanna, 24, previously worked on Mitt Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign and in the office of Senator Scott Brown (R-MA).

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Mystery panties incinerated

Two weeks ago, Brazilian legislators rushing into congress left an unusual item in their wake: a pair of women's underwear. No-one has claimed them since, and they were subsequently incinerated. "We have a suspicion as to who the owner is," congressman and professional clown Francisco Everardo Oliveira Silva told Reuters' Brian Winter, "but we're not going to turn him in." Rob

Rep Tim Ryan (D-Ohio)

has come out against SOPA. He previously had no public position on it. Cory

SOPA dead until 2012 for real this time?

Tomorrow's special session of the House Judiciary Committee to finish markup on the Stop Online Piracy act have been summarily cancelled. Either they saw the mounting opposition and freaked out and decided to negotiate; or they saw the opposition and figured that they could wait it out; or something else altogether. (Thanks, Adam!) Cory

Congressional SOPA hearings: no opponents of the bill allowed

As the House of Representatives opens hearings on SOPA, the worst piece of Internet legislation in American history, it has rejected all submissions and testimony from public interest groups and others who oppose the bill.

Irony Alert: The House is holding hearings on sweeping Internet censorship legislation this week -- and it's censoring the opposition! The bill is backed by Hollywood, Big Pharma, and the Chamber of Commerce, and all of them are going to get to testify at the hearing.

But the bill's opponents -- tech companies, free speech and human rights activists, and hundreds of thousands of Internet users -- won't have a voice.

Don't Censor Censorship Opponents: Let Us Testify!

Slow Clap for Congress: Sarcastic YouTube meme

Micah sez, "Like a lot of people on Sunday afternoon, Baltimore-based software developer Chris Ashworth was frustrated with the way Congress had handled the important but often routine business of raising the nation's borrowing limit. 'When the debt deal goes through,' he mused on Twitter to what he describes as a fairly modest following, 'can we start a meme where we all make videos of ourselves slowly & sarcastically applauding our politicians?' That was the beginning of Slow Clap for Congress, what is at present a very basic website hosting Ashworth and a handful of other folks doing -- well, you get the idea. Slow Clap for Congress

The Internet is Getting Together to #SlowClapForCongress (TechPresident.com)