Boing Boing 

Pussy Riot, sentenced to two years in a penal colony, release new anti-Putin single

Pussy Riot, the Russian feminist punk trio who've been on trial for singing an anti-Putin song in an Orthodox cathedral, have been sentenced to two years' hard labor in a penal colony. The band released a new single to coincide with the verdict, for which the Guardian has created an accompanying video, above. Below, an excerpt from Miriam Elder's coverage:

Pussy Riot's supporters and opposition activists accused Putin of personally orchestrating the case against them. "They are in jail because it is Putin's personal revenge," said Alexey Navalny, the opposition's de facto leader. "The verdict was written by Vladimir Putin."

The three women were arrested in March after performing an anti-Putin "punk prayer" inside Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. The case against them is seen as serving two functions: a warning to other dissidents, and an appeal to Putin's conservative base. Russia's growing campaign against gay rights is seen as a part of that effort, and on Friday Moscow's main court upheld a 100-year ban on gay pride rallies.

Pussy Riot sentenced to two years in prison colony over anti-Putin protest

100 years of gay shame

The highest court in Moscow has upheld a 100 year ban on gay pride parades.

The Coming Civil War Over General Purpose Computers

Last month, I gave a talk called "The Coming Civil War Over General Purpose Computing" at DEFCON, the Long Now, and Google. We're going to have a transcript with the slides on Monday, but in the meantime, here's a video of the Long Now version of the talk. Stewart Brand summarized it thus:

Doctorow framed the question this way: "Computers are everywhere. They are now something we put our whole bodies into---airplanes, cars---and something we put into our bodies---pacemakers, cochlear implants. They HAVE to be trustworthy."

Sometimes humans are not so trustworthy, and programs may override you: "I can’t let you do that, Dave." (Reference to the self-protective insane computer Hal in Kubrick’s film "2001." That time the human was more trustworthy than the computer.) Who decides who can override whom?

The core issues for Doctorow come down to Human Rights versus Property Rights, Lockdown versus Certainty, and Owners versus mere Users.

Cory Doctorow: Coming War Against Your Computer Freedom

New reports of Tibetans burning themselves alive to protest Chinese opression

Multiple sources: Two (possibly three) more Tibetans self-immolated in protest of Chinese military rule in Tibet. The two confirmed cases involve men in their early twenties, monks in Tibet's Ngaba region.

As of August 8, 45 more Tibetans have resorted to self-immolation inside Tibet, 35 of whom have died, according to the International Campaign for Tibet. The incidents on Monday would bring the total number of self-immolations since February 2009 to 48. Tibetans in exile have also resorted to self-immolation.

CNN, VOA, Phayul, TCHRD.

How do we make web stuff that's secure enough for human rights workers?

Patrick Ball sez, "Lots of people in the world depend on electronic security. That means it has to be seriously strong, and I have been worrying that lots of folks -- esp media folks -- are eager for easy-to-use shortcuts, even if those shortcuts aren't actually secure. CryptoCat is one such shortcut, as was Hushmail, and I believe neither are adequate for the hard case of protecting human rights information. There are solid security solutions, though we have a long way to go to improve user interfaces and overall user experience."

Any host-based system that delivers the encryption engine to you each time you log in, and in which your keys reside on the server, you are never secure against the host (there’s new research on this called “host-proof hosting,” but it’s a long way from being ready to use in real applications). That means that if the host attacks you, or they fail to protect themselves, your encrypted data will be available to them. Remember that the host might attack you because someone evil has taken control of the host. If you are the hypothetical dissident in the Middle East, your government might contract a hacker to break into the CryptoCat server, Hushmail, or other host-based server, and thereby get access to all your data. Or they could bribe an employee at a host-based service. Again: in host-based security, all your security rests on your personal trust for the people at the host, and their ability to protect the server. There’s no real security in a technical sense.

This means that Hushmail is no more secure than any other email service, like Gmail. In fact, Gmail might be more secure than Hushmail, if we think that Gmail has better personnel screening and more skillful engineers protecting their servers against malicious attacks than Hushmail does (many experts do believe this). By the same logic, CryptoCat is no more secure than Yahoo chat.

At Benentech, we’ve been working with human rights data for over twenty years, and providing secure software for ten. Martus has been downloaded by users in more than 100 countries. We’ve learned that, unfortunately, security is hard, and people who tell you that it’s easy or that there are shortcuts are probably fooling you — and maybe themselves. Our best efforts have all come from building security into the applications we already want to use, like Martus, which has security built into a database. For both email and chat, there are real security solutions (GPG and Pidgin/OTR). They’re a little harder to use, but their security is real.

When It Comes to Human Rights, There Are No Online Security Shortcuts (Thanks, Patrick!)

Scientology's "Hole" - alleged torture-camp for high-ranking execs who fell out of favor

The Village Voice has a haunting, well-sourced account of "The Hole," where upper echelon Scientologists who have fallen into bad odor with the group's leader are imprisoned under inhumane conditions and tortured.

Debbie Cook was in for only 7 weeks in 2007, but her experience was brutal. She testified that Miscavige had two hulking guards climb into her office through a window as she was talking to him on the phone. "Goodbye" he told her as she was hauled off to the gulag. Like Rinder, she described a place where dozens of men and women were confined to what had been a set of offices. Cook testified that the place was ant-infested, and during one two-week stretch in the summer with temperatures over 100 degrees, Miscavige had the air conditioning turned off as punishment. Food was brought up in a vat riding on a golf cart. Cook described it as a barely edible "slop" that was fed to them morning, noon, and night. Longtime residents of the Hole began to look gaunt.

They had to find places on the floor or on desks to sleep at night. Rinder said there were so many of them they slept only inches from each other, and having to get up in the middle of the night was a nightmare of stepping over sleeping figures in the dark.

In the morning, they were marched out of the offices and through a tunnel under Gilman Springs Road to a large building with communal showers. They were then marched back to the Hole, and during the day would be compelled to take part in mass confessions.

During these, Rinder says people he had considered friends would put on a show for the officials overseeing them, trying to outdo each other with vile accusations against each other. Cook testified that Miscavige wanted Marc Yager and Guillaume Lesevre, two of his longest-serving and highest-ranking officials, to confess to having a homosexual affair. The men were beaten until they made some forced admissions. When Cook objected to what was happening, she herself was made to stand in a trash can for twelve hours while insults were hurled at her, she was called a lesbian, and water was dumped on her head.

Scientology's Concentration Camp for Its Executives: The Prisoners, Past and Present

Norway's foreign minister on why Breivik didn't have a special, secret trial

Jonas Gahr Store, Norway's foreign minister, has written a NYT op-ed explaining why his country refused to treat the mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik any differently from other criminals -- because Breivik's cause is served by treating him as a sort of criminal superman whose crimes are so special that normal justice can't apply to them.

Confronting and undermining the narratives and ideas of extremism must therefore be one of our key tasks. To do this, we must retain the courage of our convictions in the face of extremism.

Virtually all modern forms of extremism accuse liberal Western democratic systems of being hypocritical and, ultimately, weak. Al Qaeda portrays the West as anti-Islamic imperialists masquerading as promoters of democracy. Right wing extremism suggests the West is committing cultural suicide through its lax judicial system and naïve multiculturalism.

Both have committed horrific acts designed to bait us into betraying our values and making them martyrs. In fact, it is remarkable to see the many similarities between these two sorts of extremism in their disdain for diversity and their indiscriminate violence against civilians.

In this context, it is a mistake to treat crimes committed by extremists as exceptions, subject to special processes. They must be held accountable in accordance with and to the full extent of the law. Hiding suspects from public view merely dehumanizes the perpetrators and undermines any moral or judicial lessons.

Learning From Norway’s Tragedy (via Making Light)

US stonewalling treaty that would help disabled people access copyrighted works

The World Intellectual Property Organization has been working on a treaty to protect the rights of disabled people with regard to copyright since 1985. Most of the world's rich countries and developing nations support this work. However, two key entities are stonewalling and holding up the treaty: the European Commission (despite strong support from the European Parliament); and the USA, whose trade negotiators are listening to big business lobby groups like the Association of American Publishers, who oppose any treaty that creates rights for information users instead of corporations.

The idea of the treaty is to harmonize the rights of disabled people in different countries. For example, in the USA, it's legal to make assistive editions of books -- audiobooks, ebooks, Braille and large type books -- without permission from the copyright holder. The same right exists in Canada. But Canadian groups like the Canadian National Institute for the Blind can't just import those assistive editions and offer them to their members -- they have to incur the substantial expense all over again. Some countries include people who have other disabilities (such as the inability to turn pages due to paralysis or arm injuries or other disabilities) in their disabled access laws. Some don't. Some don't have any such laws at all. It's a mess, and the cash-strapped, volunteer-run organizations that serve some of the most vulnerable people on Earth are unable to cooperate across borders to assist one another.

The USA's stonewalling has put the treaty into a kind of limbo. Most of us, if we live long enough, will be visually disabled to some extent. That means that most of us would someday benefit from a treaty that provides access to disabled people. And that means that we are all being held hostage by the US Trade Representative's sucking up to a few special interest lobbies.

What's up with the White House? To understand the position of the United States, listen to last week's interview with Alan Adler of the Association of American Publishers (here). What Adler is saying is that his membership opposes a treaty, not because of what the treaty would do in the context of persons with disabilities, but because it would set a precedent that a copyright treaty could focus on the rights of users rather than copyright owners, and that precedent can spread to other areas, where publishers have a real economic interest, such as the education and library markets. This is basically the Obama position for the past three years -- to push disabilities groups to accept some lesser non-binding recommendation, rather than a treaty.

Right now the United States delegate will only say that the issue is being reviewed within the government. The three major decision makers on this issue are Maria Pallante of the United States Copyright Office, Ambassador Ron Kirk who serves as head of USTR in the White House, and David Kappos at USPTO. Most people believe USTR has been a problem, and we are told that Pallante (who earlier supported PIPA/SOPA) has yet to support a treaty. David Kappos is the lead agency on this, and if he wanted a treaty, we would have an agreement at WIPO by Wednesday to recommend a diplomatic conference for to take place 2013.

In the United States Congress, there have been no hearings and little interest in the issue. Senator Harkin, who Chairs the Senate HELP Committee and has jurisdiction over disabilities issue wrote a strong letter in support of the treaty approach: http://keionline.org/node/1397. Senator Leahy chairs the Judiciary committee, which has jurisdiction over copyright law. Like Pallante, he supported PIPA/SOPA. When we meet with Senator Leahy's office, we were told he was opposed to a treaty -- because it would require the United States to amend its law, to permit the export of accessible copies of copyright works to blind people in other countries -- something now illegal under US law.

US position at WIPO on "the Nature of the Instrument" for copyright exceptions for disabilities (Thanks, Jamie!)

Border Patrol sadism and human rights abuses on the Mexican border

John Carlos Frey investigates the deliberate cruelty of the US Border Patrol agents who work on the US-Mexican border. A humanitarian relief group called No More Deaths used hidden cameras to record smiling Border Patrol agents destroying water-caches left in areas where migrants have died of exposure. A former senior agent who left after witnessing horrific acts of torture and cruelty describes the way that Border Patrol agents delight in sadistic brutalizing of captured migrants. These accounts have been corroborated by the Red Cross and Doctors of the World.

My grandparents -- Red Army deserters -- deliberately destroyed their papers after WWII in order to become "displaced people" so that they could make their way from a camp in Azerbaijan to the DP boats in Hamburg. I don't see any difference between that sort of "illegal" migration and the sort that the US BP is currently fighting. Back then, the US, UK and Canada used very similar rhetoric about the way that migrants would take badly needed jobs, bring criminality, and fail to assimilate. But as Elie Weisel said, "there is no such thing as an illegal human being."

In his nine years working the border near Tucson, Ariz., and earning the rank of senior agent, Cruz says he frequently saw agents physically abusing detainees and denying food and water to those who were in obvious need. He also saw “individuals being crammed into cells twice beyond the posted capacity. Standing room only. I mean, you couldn’t even lie down on the floor.” This was done, he says, even when empty cells were available nearby. In 2003, he began warning his supervisors of this pattern of abuse. When his spoken complaints didn’t elicit a response, he began to write letters. “I started at the unit level,” Cruz says. “I went to the sector chief, office of inspector general — via phone calls and faxes of those memorandums. Went on to the commissioner of the Customs and Border Protection, who’s over the U.S. Border Patrol Agency. And then felt the need to move on to Congress.” Cruz left the force in 2007 without ever hearing a response.

Cruelty on the border

G4S: the scandal-embroiled "private security" behemoth that will provide 10,000 "security contractors" to London 2012

Laurie Penny takes a look at G4S, the scandal-embroiled "private security firm" (they're not technical mercenaries because the "security" people who work from them are usually born in the same territories in which they operate) that is the world's second-largest private employer, after WalMart. The company is providing 10,000 "security contractors" to the London Olympics, like these people, who think that it's illegal to take pictures from public land. G4S has lots of juicy contracts around the world, like supplying security to private prisons in the West Bank where children are held. They're also the proud inventors of "carpet karaoke," a technique used at private asylum-seeker detention centres, which is a fancy way for "stuffing a deportee's face towards the floor to contain them."

What difference does it make if the men and women in uniform patrolling the world's streets and prison corridors are employed by nation states or private firms? It makes every difference. A for-profit company is not subject to the same processes of accountability and investigation as an army or police force which is meant, at least in theory, to serve the public. Impartial legality is still worth something as an assumed role of the state – and the notion of a private, for-profit police and security force poisons the very idea.

The state still has a legal monopoly on violence, but it is now prepared to auction that monopoly to anyone with a turnover of billions and a jolly branding strategy. The colossal surveillance and security operation turning London into a temporary fortress this summer is chilling enough without the knowledge that state powers are being outsourced to a company whose theme tune features the line: "The enemy prowls, wanting to attack, but we're on to the wall, we've got your back." If that made any sense at all, I doubt it would be more reassuring.

Laurie Penny: Don't listen to what G4S say. Look at what they do

Arrêtez-moi quelqu'un! Vowing to violate Quebec's anti-protest law


Arrêtez-moi quelqu'un! ("Someone stop me!") is a site where Quebeckers and their supporters around the world can post photos of themselves holding signs in which they state their intention to violate Special Law 78, which suspends the right to freedom of assembly in Quebec: "Nous nous engageons à continuer à lutter; à rester mobilisé·e·s, en vertu des libertés fondamentales. Si cela nous vaut des poursuites pénales en vertu de la loi 78, nous nous engageons à y faire face."

Arrêtez-moi quelqu’un! (Thanks, PaulR!)

More on Wikileaks, Assange, and the UK Supreme Court ruling

The highest court in the UK ruled yesterday on a 5-2 majority that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange can be extradited to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning on accusations of rape and sexual assault.

I spoke about the UK court ruling on The Madeleine Brand Show, and you can listen here.

Read the rest

In Tibet, a mother of 3 burns herself alive in protest of Chinese rule

A woman identified as Rikyo, said to be 33 years old and the mother of three young children, burned herself to death today in what is believed to have been another desperate act of protest against China’s repressive policies in Tibet. According to the Tibetan pro-sovereignty website Phayul, she set herself on fire near the Jonang Zamthang Gonchen monastery in Zamthang county, in Ngaba region, the epicenter of a continuing wave of Tibetan self-immolations.

Rikyo’s body is currently being kept at the Jonang Monastery, although Chinese security personnel have reportedly demanded the body to be removed. Rikyo is survived by her husband and three children, the eldest, a 9-year old son and two daughters aged 7 and 5.

Just three days ago, two ethnic Tibetan men self-immolated in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, at what is considered to be the ancient city's most important temple. Chinese police and firefighters arrived at Jokhang, extinguished flames, and removed the men. Their whereabouts and conditions are unknown.

Read the rest

YouTube launches new Human Rights channel with Witness.org and Storyful

This week, YouTube announced the launch of a new Human Rights channel in partnership with advocacy nonprofit WITNESS, and social news-gathering service Storyful.

The new channel is "dedicated to curating hours of raw citizen-video documenting human rights stories that are uploaded daily and distributing that to audiences hungry to learn and take action," and "aims to shed light on and contextualize under-reported stories, to record otherwise undocumented abuses, and to amplify previously unheard voices."

Read the official launch announcement. And here's more at the NYT blog The Lede.

Sign a petition for a "guilt-free Eurovision" -- keep the pressure up on Azerbaijan

Robert sez, "Azerbaijan is hosting the final of this Saturday's Eurovision song contest. Amidst the absurdity and kitsch, human rights groups are worried that Azerbaijan's autocratic government will use the occasion to airbrush its appalling treatment of journalists and activists. Index on Censorship is asking Boing Boing readers to make the President of Azerbaijan face the music during #Eurovision, by signing a petition demanding he end the persecution of writers and artists who speak truth to power."

My father was born in a refugee camp in Azerbaijan -- to Russian/Polish/Belarusian parents -- and I've always felt a distant kinship to the place, enough so that I take this sort of thing more personally than I would if it were in another post-Soviet Asian dictatorship. I signed.

The Eurovision Song Contest is a guilty pleasure for millions across Europe. But this year the competition has a dark side – it’s being hosted by Azerbaijan, a country whose people face violence, prison and persecution for exercising their right to free speech. On 18 April, Idrak Abbasov, an investigative reporter who won the Guardian/Index Award, was beaten unconscious by private security guards while the police looked on.

Other journalists have been attacked, abducted and tortured. In November 2011, writer Rafiq Tagi was attacked outside his home and later died. No one has been brought to justice for his murder. In fact, in the last seven years, there have been no arrests or prosecutions related to violence against journalists.

But it’s not just journalists – musicians, gay rights campaigners and political activists are also under attack.

Raise your voice for free speech in Azerbaijan (Thanks, Robert!)

NATO protests in Chicago: Police van drives into protesters, web video reporters detained, held at gunpoint (photos+video)

Photo: C.S. Muncy

"Occupy" movement participants and an array of protest groups are among those gathering in Chicago this wekeend to demonstrate outside the NATO summit. Sunday, protesters are ramping up for the largest demonstration of the weekend. So are police and Homeland Security agents. Today, thousands of demonstrators are marching to the convention center where President Obama and other world leaders are meeting. Four men have been arrested on terror charges. Lawyers for the men now referred to by some protesters as the "NATO 4" claim undercover agents set up a bomb plot, and entrapped the suspects.

Photo: C.S. Muncy

Saturday night, at about 10:40PM local time, a Chicago Police van "drove into a crowd of demonstrators who were attempting to cross westbound over the Jackson Street bridge at the Chicago River," according to this video report and testimony from people who were present.

Read the rest

What we teach children about police

"Someone is causing a lot of trouble."


Josh Stearns, a reporter who has covered the Occupy movement extensively, asks, "Why is this children's book teaching my kid about SWAT vehicles and Riot Control practices?" From his blog post:

Visiting the local library yesterday my son picked out a book all about police. I was stunned when, after pages and pages of info about police cars and police offices, there were these two pages about Riot Control Trucks and SWAT Vans.

Even after months of tracking conflicts between police and the press I still have a profound respect for much of law enforcement and the jobs they do in our communities. However, the descriptions of water cannons being turned on protesters and the taunting opening on the SWAT page, “Someone’s causing a lot of trouble…,” all seemed out of place. Given the increasingly militarized response we have seen to citizen protests, seeing Riot and SWAT teams portrayed this way in a children’s book was troubling.

More scans here.

If you'd like to pick up a copy as a gag gift for your favorite police-beaten Occupier, the book is "Police Cars." Google Books has a few scanned pages here.

Germany: Riot police clear Occupy Frankfurt (photo)

REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

German riot police carry a demonstrator fully covered in paint as police clears the camp of occupy protestors in front of the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt, May 16, 2012.

In the NYT, a judge who has cancer argues for the legalization of medical marijuana

Admittedly, I am biased, but New York state supreme court judge Gustin L. Reichbach speaks for me when he writes in a New York Times op-ed today that medical marijuana "is not a law-and-order issue; it is a medical and a human rights issue."

Like me, justice Reichbach has cancer. He has pancreatic cancer, and a prognosis that involves a short window of survival, and great pain and suffering during treatment.

"Medical science has not yet found a cure," he writes, "but it is barbaric to deny us access to one substance that has proved to ameliorate our suffering."

Read it and demand change: A Judge’s Plea for Medical Marijuana.

(NYT, via Clayton Cubitt)

Reflections on the acquittal of Byron Sonne

Yesterday, Byron Sonne was acquitted of all charges against him. Sonne is the Toronto-area security researcher who pointedly demonstrated the inadequacy and incoherence of the heavy-handed, $1.2B security arrangements for the G20 summit in 2010. Denise Balkissoon has done some of the best reporting on the bizarre trial that followed (after Sonne spent nearly a year in jail), and now she's got good commentary on the acquittal:

“Byron Sonne, you’re a free man,” said one of his lawyers, Joe DiLuca, as Sonne stood outside the courthouse.

“I can be a moron again on the internet,” Sonne said, as he ripped up court documents that listed the bail conditions—including a curfew and not using a cellphone—that he has lived with since May 2011...

Later on the day of the verdict, in Kensington Market, Sonne stood having a cigarette and discussing Anonymous and Gandhi with Alex Hundert, who pled guilty to counselling to commit mischief during the G20. “They took a somewhat radical person like me and said, ‘Let’s put the guy in jail with real radicals,'” said Sonne, who was not involved with organized activists in advance of the summit. “I’m not interested in playing by the rules anymore.”

Sonne said he intends to help non-technologically savvy activists learn to encrypt their computers and online communications. Police were unable to unencrypt one of Sonne’s hard drives, which led the Crown to argue that it must contain nefarious plans. “There’s nothing on there that wasn’t on my other computers,” said Sonne, who said he encrypted it for travelling over the U.S. border. “But it’s good to know that the technology works.”

Sonne aims to get back the computer security certification that was suspended during his arrest, and wants to start rebuilding his professional network.

Sounds like he needs a job. Toronto-area readers, take note!

Here's our previous Sonne posts.

Byron Sonne, found not guilty on all charges, has plans for the future (Thanks, Denise!)

War Crimes trial for Ratko Mladic begins in The Hague

Photo: Jasmina in a former prison. "Despite the scale of the facility, it was densely crowded once." Shot by Bruce Sterling.


This morning, The Hague tribunal commenced the trial of Ratko Mladic, ex commander of the army of the Serbian republic in Bosnia. Mothers of the slain gathered in front of the court.

Twenty years ago, Mladic started his criminal activities, while still an officer of the army of disintegrating Yugoslavia. A year ago, Mladic was arrested, after years of concealment, mostly within Belgrade. Today Mladic, aged 70, is sitting in the court neatly dressed as a civilian, without his legendary military cap.

As the judge reads the indictment, Mladic cheerily waving to the audience and even applauds certain parts of the recitation. "The wolf loses his hair but not his character," as the Serbian proverb puts it.

The indictment precisely proceeds as a short elementary lesson of the bloody fall of Yugoslavia.

Read the rest

Columbia Human Rights Law Review devotes entire issue to wrongfully executed Carlos DeLuna


The entire current issue of the Columbia Human Rights Law Review is given over to the tragic wrongful execution of Carlos DeLuna, an almost certainly innocent man who was murdered by the state of Texas on 8 December 1989. DeLuna's case is one where "everything that could go wrong did go wrong" in the words of Columbia law Professor James Liebman, who, with 12 students, wrote the 436-page issue. None of the evidence that would have exonerated DeLuna was considered by police or the prosecution, and the likely culprit, a man who was also named Carlos, and who was frequently mistaken for DeLuna, went free. It's a nightmarish account of a man whom the authorities "knew" to be guilty, who was killed despite his innocence. It's a chilling reminder where laws like the UK's stop-and-search rules (which allow police to stop and search without suspicion, if they "just know" there's something wrong) and the no-fly list (which allows for the arbitrary removal of the right to travel without any public airing of evidence or charge, when authorities "just know" you're not safe to fly) will inevitably end up.

From a Guardian story by Ed Pilkington:

From the moment of his arrest until the day of his death by lethal injection six years later, DeLuna consistently protested he was innocent. He went further – he said that though he hadn't committed the murder, he knew who had. He even named the culprit: a notoriously violent criminal called Carlos Hernandez.

The two Carloses were not just namesakes – or tocayos in Spanish, as referenced in the title of the Columbia book. They were the same height and weight, and looked so alike that they were sometimes mistaken for twins. When Carlos Hernandez's lawyer saw pictures of the two men, he confused one for the other, as did DeLuna's sister Rose.

At his 1983 trial, Carlos DeLuna told the jury that on the day of the murder he'd run into Hernandez, who he'd known for the previous five years. The two men, who both lived in the southern Texas town of Corpus Christi, stopped off at a bar. Hernandez went over to a gas station, the Shamrock, to buy something, and when he didn't return DeLuna went over to see what was going on.

DeLuna told the jury that he saw Hernandez inside the Shamrock wrestling with a woman behind the counter. DeLuna said he was afraid and started to run. He had his own police record for sexual assault – though he had never been known to possess or use a weapon – and he feared getting into trouble again.

The wrong Carlos: how Texas sent an innocent man to his death

Open thread: "Same sex couples should be able to get married"—Barack Obama, May 9, 2012

Photo: At a bar in San Francisco, Horst Linsen of Germany watches TV as President Obama voices support to same-sex marriage. (Reuters)

U.S. President Barack Obama said today he believes same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, taking a stand that is likely to please his political base and upset conservative voters. Your thoughts on the news, and what it means for the presidential election season in America, are welcome in the comments.

Where it is best to be LGBT in the United States (infographic)

The Guardian (UK) has published a nifty information graphic breaking down gay rights in the US, state by state. Issues like marriage, adoption, employment discrimination protection, hate crime laws, and whether schools have regulations to ban harassment based on gender and sexual orientation. Is the rainbow color scheme of this blatantly pro-homosexual infographic a coincidence? I think not. (via @janinegibson)

China wants to name Dalai Lama's successor. Dalai Lama: "LOL!"

Snip from a Globe and Mail article quoting HH the Dalai Lama: “It is quite strange – as non-believers, totally non-believers, atheists – showing interest about reincarnation. I jokingly tell them: In order to be involved in my reincarnation, firstly, they should accept Buddhism. Or religion. Or Buddhism. Then they should recognize Chairman Mao Zedong’s reincarnation. Deng Xiaopeng’s reincarnation. Then, they have reason to show some interest about the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation. Otherwise, nonsense!” (via @markkersten)

Student abandoned in cell for 5 days by DEA gets apology but wants $20 million

Mark blogged yesterday about Daniel Chong, a 23-year-old college student in San Diego who was detained by the Drug Enforcement Administration on "420 day" without charges, then abandoned in a holding cell for 5 days with no food or water. He drank his own urine in an effort to stave off fatal dehydration.

Today, he received an apology from the DEA. The Associated Press reports that "San Diego Acting Special Agent-In-Charge William R. Sherman said in a statement that he was troubled by the treatment of Daniel Chong and extended his 'deepest apologies' to him."

Chong's attorney says that's not enough. They intend to sue for $20 million. From the Los Angeles Times:

Read the rest

Screwed by the TSA? Now there's an app for that.

Via the BB Submitterator, BB reader rbrammer says:

The Sikh Coalition just released the FlyRights app. It’s a smart phone app that gives travelers who believe they’ve been the victim of discrimination by the TSA the ability to submit formal complaints directly from their smart phones. You should have this on your phone the next time you fly!

Available for both Android and iOS. Makes perfect sense to me that a Sikh organization would be the one to put this together, given all of the idiot-hate that community has received post-9/11.

10MM images from Guatemala's National Police go online: disappearances, STD experiments, more

Forensic human rights statistician Patrick Ball sez, "More than 10 million images from the Historical Archive of the Guatemalan National Police (AHPN in the Spanish acronym) are now online at the University of Texas. Documents from the Archive start in the late nineteenth century and continue until the Police were disbanded in 1996. Scholars using the documents have detailed the role of the National Police in illegal surveillance and attacks on dissidents during Guatemala's armed internal conflict, scientists have used sampling and statistics to find patterns in the Archive that illuminate how command works, and prosecutors have won convictions of former police officers for disappearances that were unsolved for decades. Several retired officers from the senior leadership of the Police, including the former Director, Col. Héctor Bol de la Cruz, have been charged with overseeing disappearances in the 1980s, and are likely to stand trial. Now the AHPN is putting the entire archive online, unredacted, so that the world can learn from Guatemala's example."

A product of broad international collaboration, these digitized documents from the Guatemalan National Police Historical Archive (AHPN) aim to facilitate scholarly and legal research into a vast cache of historical documentation. The discovery of the National Police Historical Archive in 2005 opened an extensive and timely resource for the study of Guatemalan history and human rights in the region, spanning a broad array of topics from Guatemala's armed conflict between 1960 and 1996 to the sexually transmitted disease experiments performed at the behest of the United States government in the 1940s. The Archive is presented online here for the first time.

This site currently includes over 10 million scanned images of documents from the National Police Historical Archive. This digital archive mirrors and extends the physical archive that remains preserved in Guatemala as an important historical patrimony of the Guatemalan people.

Digital Archive of the Guatemalan National Police Historical Archive (AHPN) (Thanks, Patrick!)

TSA agents harass 7-year-old girl with cerebral palsy and developmental disability

The Transportation Security Administration launched the “TSA Cares” program to assist disabled fliers just four months ago, but a story making the rounds today proves that the TSA definitely does not. The Frank family was traveling from New York City's JFK airport to Florida, and were abruptly pulled aside after a dispute over how their 7-year-old daughter Dina was screened. The child is developmentally disabled and has cerebral palsy. She walks with crutches and leg braces.

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TSA screeners in LA ran drug ring, took narco bribes


Photo: Reuters. A man is screened with a backscatter x-ray machine at an LAX TSA checkpoint.

Four present and past security screeners at LAX took 22 payments of up to $2400 each to let large shipments of coke, meth, and pot slip through baggage X-ray machines. Oh, we are so very, very shocked.

In one incident detailed in the 40-page indictment (Link), screeners plotted to allow eight pounds of crystal meth to get through—then one of them ducked into an airport men's room where he was handed $600, the second payment for that delivery.

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