FBI is investigating copyright trolls Prenda Law for fraud

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For more than four years, we've been writing about Prenda Law, a prolific copyright troll (that is, a company that sends dire legal threats and demands for money to people they accuse of copyright infringement, based on the flimsiest of evidence), whose conduct is so breathtakingly illegal that it feels like satire or performance art (but it's not). Read the rest

How a pharma company made billions off mass murder by faking the science on Oxycontin

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When Purdue Pharma's patent on the MS Contin was close to expiry, the Sackler family who owned the company spent millions trying to find a product that could replace the profits they'd lose from generic competition on MS Contin: the result was Oxycontin, a drug that went on to kill Americans at epidemic scale. Read the rest

If Donald Trump ever talks to a real journalist, these are the questions he should answer

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The questions posed by David Cay Johnston include some tough-to-avoid queries about Trump's involvement with the mafia, the regulatory findings against his company for unfair and unsafe employment practices, and times when Trump had admitted to shading the truth or lying outright about his affairs. Read the rest

Philippines' new "dictator" will give a hero's burial to Ferdinand Marcos

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Rodrigo Duterte is the new president of the Philippines: he ran on a promise to be a "dictator" and endorsed execution by vigilante death-squad as a way of combating crime; now he's announced that he will give a hero's burial to the embalmed corpse of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who committed mass-scale human rights abuses and embezzled $10B from the national treasury. Read the rest

Algorithmic risk-assessment: hiding racism behind "empirical" black boxes

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Courts around America and the world increasingly rely on software based risk-assessment software in determining bail and sentencing; the systems require the accused to answer more than a hundred questions which are fed into a secret model that spits out a single-digit "risk score" that courts use to decide who to lock up, and for how long. Read the rest

Lawsuit: Texas's largest jail is full of people who are locked up for being poor

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According the the filings in a lawsuit brought by Equal Justice Under Law against Harris County, Texas, 77% of the inmates in Harris County Jail -- largest in Texas, third largest in America -- are there because they couldn't make a bail payment of $5,000 or less. Read the rest

What the NSA's assault on whistleblowers taught Snowden

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Investigative journalist Mark Hertsgaard's new book Bravehearts: Whistle-Blowing in the Age of Snowden tells the story of modern intelligence community whistleblowing; in a fantastic longread excerpted from the book, he recounts how the US military's program of punishing whistleblowers, and the officials charged with protecting them, convinced Snowden that he should take a thumbdrive full of documents directly to the media.

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Airbnb stealth-updates terms of service, says it's not an insurer and requires binding arbitration

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The March 29 edition of Airbnb's terms of service requires that people who rent out their homes acknowledge that despite the company's widely advertised Host Protection Insurance program, "you understand and agree that Airbnb does not act as an insurer." Read the rest

Oculus breaks promise, uses DRM to kill app that let you switch VR systems

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As recently as 5 months ago, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey was promising his customers that they could play the software they bought from the Oculus store on "whatever they want," guaranteeing that the company wouldn't shut down apps that let customers move their purchased software to non-Oculus hardware. Read the rest

Big Vitamin bankrolls naturopaths' attempts to go legit and get public money

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Backed by huge donations from vitamin companies, the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians is pushing to get naturopathic medicine recognized and regulated in all 50 US states, paving the way to receiving public funds in the form of Medicare reimbursements. Read the rest

FBI Director: viral videos make cops afraid to do their jobs

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FBI Director James Comey told reporters that "viral video effect" (which is his latest term for what used to be called the "Ferguson effect") is responsible for increased violent crime in some US cities, in that police are scared to do their jobs because they might end up on Youtube in an unflattering video. Read the rest

Telcoms companies try to rescue TV by imposing Internet usage caps on cord-cutters

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What do you do if you're a giant corporation devoted to selling people huge, $100/month bundles of TV channels they don't want anymore, but you also have a monopoly on selling high-speed Internet access, which they want very badly? Read the rest

Chinese state-backed corporations beat US lawsuits with sovereign immunity

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Sovereign immunity prevents one government from using its courts to attack another, but Chinese state-backed industries are taking it to new places, arguing that sovereign immunity means that the US courts have no jurisdiction over Chinese companies whose products are harmful or whose conduct is negligent -- and US courts are buying that argument. Read the rest

Save Firefox: The W3C's plan for worldwide DRM would have killed Mozilla before it could start

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The World Wide Web Consortium has been co-opted into standardizing a DRM scheme for letting entertainment companies control your browser; what's more, they've rejected even basic safeguards for competition, changing the browser landscape in a way that threatens the kind of disruptive innovation that gave us the Mozilla project and the Firefox browser. Read the rest

DNC Host Committee composed of GOP megadonors, Net Neutrality haters, fracking boosters and anti-Obamacare lobbyists

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The Host Committee for this year's Democratic National Convention includes Finance Chair Daniel Hilferty, a health insurance industry lobbyist on the board of America’s Health Insurance Plan (which lead the FUD campaign against Obamacare and is backing the GOP's anti-Obamacare bills), who has donated thousands to PACs supporting GOP candidates like Orin Hatch, Pat Toomey, and Tim Scott. He also donated to the presidential campaigns of Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, and Hillary Clinton. Read the rest

NZ Prime Minister John Key ejected from Parliament over Panama Papers rant

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John Key, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, was ejected from the country's parliamentary debating chamber yesterday when he repeated ignored the Speaker of the House's calls to yield the floor, continuing to rant even after his microphone had been cut off. Read the rest

Sinaloa cartel flies more aircraft than Aeromexico

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Though most of the world's largest narcotics gang's aircraft are a lot smaller than the Mexican flagship carrier's planes, the Sinaloa have flown at least one Boeing 727; the planes fly drugs, gang members and bales of cash. Read the rest

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