Buck Rogers and the Copyright Trolls

Remember the Sherlock Holmes case where the Conan Doyle Estate was shaking everyone down for sub-litigation payoffs and asserting claims over Holmes (despite serious copyright scholars all saying they had no right to do so) until Les Klinger stuck to his guns?

Now it’s happening again, with some minor variations, only this time the weapon of choice is Buck Rogers.

Eric Holder: I didn't prosecute bankers for reasons unrelated to my $3M/year law firm salary


The Intercept's Dan Froomkin played turd-in-the-punchbowl at outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder's victory lap party at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press reception on Wednesday, asking why Holder had declined to put one single banker in jail for the monumental frauds that collapsed the world's economy in 2007-9. Read the rest

Snowden for drones: The Intercept's expose on US drone attacks, revealed by a new leaker

The Drone Papers is The Intercept's collection of eight blockbuster articles analyzing a leaked 2013 Pentagon study that evaluated the US drone assassination campaigns in Yemen and Somalia. The documents come from a US intelligence source who said, "This outrageous explosion of watchlisting — of monitoring people and racking and stacking them on lists, assigning them numbers, assigning them ‘baseball cards,’ assigning them death sentences without notice, on a worldwide battlefield — it was, from the very first instance, wrong."

UK MPs learn that GCHQ can spy on them, too, so now we may get a debate on surveillance


In 1966, UK Prime Minister Harold Wilson told MPs that the UK spy agencies weren't allowed to tap their phones and that if that changed, he'd tell them about it first. In 1997, Prime Minister Tony Blair asserted that this applied to electronic communications. This Monday, UK Home Secretary Theresa May asserted that the "Wilson Doctrine" still applied to MPs. Then, on Wednesday, the investigatory powers tribunal ruled that this was all rubbish. Read the rest

It's not enough that Apple and Google are bringing usable crypto to the world


An excellent essay by Penn law prof Jeffrey Vagle describes how the deployment of really easy-to-use, good crypto by Google and Apple is a game-changing shift in the ability of ordinary people to be secure from snooping by crooks, spies (and yes, cops), but how that isn't enough, by a long stretch. Read the rest

Information leakage shows DEA blew millions on the secret phone trackers it won't admit it bought


Michael from Muckrock says, "Over the past ten years, the Drug Enforcement Administration has spent millions of dollars on cell phone tracking. Federal purchasing documents that are already posted online indicate the make and model of the tracking device, and often even the DEA field office that bought it, according to federal payment records reviewed by MuckRock." Read the rest

CIA black-site torture survivors sue shrinks who made $85M overseeing CIA torture program


James Mitchell and John "Bruce" Jessen are psychologists who took in almost $85 million in CIA contracts to design and oversee torture programs used on CIA prisoners in Guantanamo Bay and around the world. The contracts ran from from 2001 to 2010. The ACLU is representing Suleiman Abdullah Salim, Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud, and Gul Rahman, three of the prisoners who were tortured at CIA black sites. Rahman was murdered by his torturers and the ACLU is representing his estate. Read the rest

Facebook UK made £105M in 2014, paid £35M in bonuses, and will pay £4,327 in tax

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Facebook UK made £105M in 2014, paid £35M in bonuses, and will pay £4,327 in tax.

This is a notable improvement on its tax bill for 2013, which was £0 on earnings of £223m. Read the rest

Leaked (final?) TPP Intellectual Property chapter spells doom for free speech online

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Wikileaks has published a leaked draft -- dated Oct, 5, and thus possibly the final text -- of the "Intellectual Property Chapter" of the Trans Pacific Partnership, and it's grim reading. Read the rest

Canadian Tories funneled $8M in tax money to US Republican Party's NGO


Under the Stephen Harper government, $8M was given to the John McCain-chaired International Republican Institute, a non-governmental organization started by the US Republican party to advocate for right-wing policies abroad. Read the rest

Volkswagen CEO: Dieselgate caused by Lynndie England "rogue engineers"; execs blameless


Remember Lynndie England, the 21-year-old low-ranking Army Specialist who, along with ten other low-ranking Army personnel, was determined to be responsible for years of systematic torture in Iraq's notorious Abu Ghraib prison, thus letting the entire Army chain of command off the hook for any wrongdoing in one of the worst scandals of the unbelievably scandalous Iraq War? Read the rest

States enjoy kickback from prison phone gougers


The families of prisoners in the U.S. often have to pay rates as high as $12.95 for 15 minutes of phone time to stay in touch with an incarcerated spouse, child, or parent.

Global Tel-Link Corp. and Securus Technologies are the two main prison phone service providers, and they make a fortune charging poor people over 100 times the typical rate for a phone call. They reason they can get away with it is that they give generous kick-backs to state and local governments for giving them contracts to be the exclusive phone service providers for prisons under their control.

Read the rest

Kim Davis isn't doing her job. Again.

Rowan County, KY Clerk Kim Davis [Reuters]

Kim Davis isn't doing her job again. Michael from Muckrock writes, "This time, she's falling short on responding to public records requests, particularly one relating to her controversial visit with Pope Francis." Read the rest

NYPD steal black woman banker's BMW, commit her when she asks for it back


Another Kevin writes, "Last September, the NYPD pulled Kamilah Brock, a black woman, over on suspicion of DUI marijuana. They found nothing but seized her BMW anyway. When she claimed it, they decided she was delusional, no black woman could be a banker and own a BMW, so they threw her in the psych ward for eight days. She's now out over $13k for the hospital bill. All for DWB. #blacklivesmatter" Read the rest

Bankers' "Vulnerability Index": scoring employees' desperation


Back in 2009, SF author Peter Watts had dinner with a retired investment banker from TD who described the bank's "vulnerability index" -- a numeric score that expresses how desperate you are for your paycheck and thus the extent to which you can be reliably expected to forego your dignity and principles to keep your check intact. Read the rest

NZ government leaks on TPP: copyright terms will go to life plus 70 years


An official New Zealand government bulletin on yesterday's conclusion of the still-secret Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement negotiations accidentally confirmed something we all believed was in there all along: an extension of copyright terms to match the USA's bizarre, evidence-free, century-plus terms. Read the rest

Now that the Trans-Pacific Partnership is finalized, the real fight starts


For most of a decade, government negotiators from around the Pacific Rim have met in utmost secrecy to negotiate a "trade deal" that was kept secret from legislatures, though executives from the world's biggest corporations were allowed in the room and even got to draft parts of the treaty. Read the rest

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