Bernie Sanders playing the bongos at the Democratic presidential debate


Bernie Sanders hit the skins for a perfect rendition of Ben Harper's "Burn one Down." The other candidates approve and the audience goes wild.

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How the White House is celebrating Back to the Future Day!


Our man in the White House, Tom Kalil, Deputy Director for Policy for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, alerts us to the Administration's celebration of Back To The Future Day that includes:

* The release of President Obama's updated Strategy for American Innovation

* Tom's post on the White House blog about the power of imagination, titled "Science Fiction to Science Fact"

* A series of online conversations with scientists and innovators about the future! Read the rest

FBI investigating ‘teen stoner hack’ of CIA Director John Brennan

John Brennan. Photo: Reuters

A pair of self-described teen stoner hackers say they breached an AOL account used by CIA Director John Brennan, the New York Post reported today.

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Gentleman is suing a lot of people because a 16-pound pine cone fell on his head


A 16-pound pine cone fell on Sean Mace's head in San Francisco, and crushed his skull.

He is suing the U.S. government, the National Park Service, the Department of the Interior, and the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park for $5 million.

(Image: Rodmunch99/Wikimedia. Bunya cone from Cumberland State Forest, Sydney, NSW, Australia on 28th January 2012)

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We're suing the Justice Department over FBI’s secret rules for using National Security Letters on journalists


Freedom of the Press Foundation this week filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Justice Department over their unpublished rules for using National Security Letters and so-called informal “exigent letters” to conduct surveillance of journalists. Read the rest

With faked degrees, U.S. tech official ran law enforcement data systems for years. Then he resigned, got a new gov job.

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“A key Interior technology official who had access to sensitive systems for over five years had lied about his education, submitting falsified college transcripts produced by an online service.”

US says hackers stole Social Security numbers from 21.5 million people in OPM data breach

The new number is a lot higher than the 14 million figure investigators offered last month.

Mexican artists ride abandoned passenger rails in an Earthbound "spacecraft"

Calling themselves Los Ferronautas (or "railanauts"), Ivan Puig and Andrés Padilla Domene documented the impacts of the privatization — and subsequent immediate closure — of Mexico's passenger rail lines. Their home-built vehicle could travel on the rails or on the ground, from Mexico City to the Atlantic.

[Video Link] Read the rest

US to airlines: disclose all fees hidden in ticket prices to customers

The US Transportation Department today proposed air travelers be given detailed information on the fees they're being charged for each checked bag, advance seat assignments, and carry-on luggage. Read the rest

Guilty plea in Fox News leak case shows why Espionage Act prosecutions are unfair to reporters' sources

Stephen Jin-Woo Kim. Image: Stephen Kim Legal Defense Trust.

Former State Department official Stephen Kim announced today he will plead guilty to leaking classified information to Fox News journalist James Rosen and will serve 13 months in jail.

The case sparked controversy last year when it was revealed the Justice Department named Rosen a “co-conspirator” in court documents for essentially doing his job as a journalist. But a largely ignored ruling in Kim’s case may have far broader impact on how sources interact with journalists in the future. Read the rest

Regulating a new technology

E-cigarettes are different enough from cigarettes that it's hard for regulators to figure out how to monitor their safety and use. There's nicotine, but no tobacco. There's heating, but not combustion. Theoretically, they should be safer to use than cigarettes, but nobody really knows for sure. This piece at InsideScience is an interesting look at how we manage new technologies that don't quite fit into any previously defined regulatory boxes ... and why we'd want to regulate them, to begin with. Read the rest

Intensely dramatic commercial for city council show on public access cable

The Whitehorse City Council meeting will be the most dramatic, tension-filled television you'll experience all week. It airs every Monday evening on Whitehorse Community Cable in Yukon, Canada. (Thanks, FP!) Read the rest

UK government online disability benefits signup requires IE6

Robin sez,

I'm one of the campaigns managers at 38 Degrees (the UK's largest online campaign organisation). One of our members has recently started a petition calling on the UK government to update their web technology. When I saw it I immediately thought of boing boing and wondered if you could help spread the word.

To claim Disability Living Allowance or Attendance Allowance in the UK people are being asked to use Internet Explorer 5 or 6 and other systems that are so out of date they are available on less than 2% of computers. If you want to claim online you will need to take a step back to the 1990s and hunt through second hand shops for an old PC that you can power up.

It's a crazy situation.

Update Online DLA Claim System (Thanks, Robin!) Read the rest

Poop transplants meet FDA bureaucracy

The good news: Fecal transplants work well enough as a treatment for patients with Clostridium difficile infections that the Food and Drug Administration has decided to take them out of the grey area of legality in which they were previously being performed. Poop transplants for C. difficile will be legal, and the doctors doing the transplants will have to be approved by the FDA, to make sure they're getting the donor poop through safe means and not prescribing poop transplants for things that poop transplants don't help. The bad news: The approval process turns out to be ridiculously arcane and time-consuming — featuring a 30-day waiting period and requirements that are apparently secret. Read the rest

Hackers prepare for first "national holiday" in their honor

“The future of technology will be largely determined by citizens who will design, build, and hack their own”

Play a forecasting game about the future of civic engagement

My Institute for the Future colleague Jake Dunagan is hosting a 24-hour online forecasting game to imagine the future of government services and civic engagement. It's called Connected Citizens and there are still a few hours left to play!

The near future holds epic opportunities for rapid innovation in government services. New civic technologies will be built with open data, ubiquitous cloud connectivity, and real-time sensing. Connected Citizens is a global conversation about how connectedness will change the relationship between citizens and governments, and how government services will be designed and delivered in the future.
Connected Citizens Read the rest

Tax returns for 6,461,326 tax-exempt organizations now indexable by search engines and available for free downloads, thanks to

Rogue archivist Carl Malamud sez,

If you want access to all the tax filings of US nonprofit corporations, the IRS will sell you sets of DVDs for $2580 per year of data. We acquired all of these filings from 2002 to the present, a set of DVDs weighing 98.7 pounds. I'm pleased to report that all 6,461,326 of those returns are now successfully extracted and available on our new bulk data feed.

This data really should be available directly from the IRS at no charge. Accordingly, we've drafted a deed of gift offering the system back to the government.

Until the .gov people do take it over, we're offering access to all 5 TBytes of data using the http, ftp, and rsync protocols. Our hope is that developers will come up with lots of new uses for this information. In order to make the database even more useful, we've started working with Captricity to extract data from the forms and make it available as computable data (e.g., CVS files instead of TIFF images!).

Once search engines such as Google finish indexing the data, the tax filings of nonprofits will show up in the search results. When you search for a nonprofit, the first thing you see ought to be their home page. But, the next thing you ought to see are things like how much they pay their CEO, how much revenue goes for fundraising, and if they spend money to lobby public officials.

Nonprofits in the US had $1.87 trillion in 2009 revenues and it is these periodic filings that make the nonprofit marketplace work properly, just like SEC EDGAR filings help make the corporate markets work properly.

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