Kansas Attorney General apologizes for citing Dred Scott decision in abortion-ban brief

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Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt is very sorry that his office cited the 1857 Dred Scott case, which established that the descendants of enslaved black people were not US citizens, in response to an ACLU brief in a case challenging a judge's ruling that Kansas's constitution doesn't guarantee the right to have an abortion. Read the rest

Snowden's lawyer says he'll testify about German surveillance...if Germany gets him safe passage out of Russia

An official German government committee of inquiry investigating the illegal surveillance that Edward Snowden revealed has asked Snowden to testify before it, the German Federal Court of Justice has ordered the German government to offer Snowden safe passage to Germany to do so, or admit to illegal spying. Read the rest

Superstar academic economists charge $1000+/hr to defend disastrous corporate megamergers

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In 1977 Richard Posner (then a prof at the University of Chicago's notorious ultra-libertarian school; now a federal judge) teamed up with an economist and law student to form Lexecon, which has since grown to a firm worth more than $130,000,000, whose major business is to serve as intellectual guns-for-hire who will produce plausible-seeming economic models defending giant corporate mergers against anti-trust regulators. Read the rest

Electric cars must now emit engine-tones at low speeds

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My friend Gilbert was the first Prius owner I knew; a hacker, Gilbert was accustomed to eating at a drive-through at 3AM, but the first time he took his silent car through the lane, the order-taker curtly said that they didn't serve people on foot; when he insisted that he was in a car, she demanded to know why she couldn't hear the engine idling? Read the rest

High Court tells UK government that Brexit requires a vote in Parliament

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The lawsuit to force the UK government to call a Parliamentary vote before triggering Article 50 (the first and irrevocable step to pulling the UK out of the EU) has prevailed at the High Court. Read the rest

Why are license "agreements" so uniformly terrible?

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An excerpt from The End of Ownership: Personal Property in the Digital Economy, by Aaron Perzanowski and Jason Schultz, coming this Friday from MIT Press.

Warner Bros angry that someone other than the MPAA is running an illegal internal movie server

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Warner Bros has sued talent agency Innovative Artists for running an internal-use Google Drive folder that let its clients and staff review movies in the course of their duties. They say the company ripped "screeners" (DVDs sent for review purposes) and put them on the server, whence they leaked onto torrent sites. Read the rest

Lawsuit: mayor's social media blocklists are public records

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Miami Beach mayor Philip Levine has a history of blocking his critics on social media, including Grant Stern, who runs the Photography is Not a Crime group. Read the rest

EFF asks court to let American sue Ethiopia for hacking his computer and rounding up his friends

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Since 2014, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has been representing "Mr Kidane," an Ethiopian-born US citizen whose computer the Ethiopian government hacked while he was living in DC, in order to extract the identities of his contacts in Ethiopia and target them for violent human-rights-abusing reprisals over their democratic opposition to the country's ruling dictatorship. Read the rest

Al Franken and FCC commissioner Clyburn want limits on forced arbitration

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Arbitration was conceived of as a way to allow giant corporations to avoid costly court battles by meeting with a mediator and talking things out: but since the Supreme Court ruled (in a series of mid-1980s cases) that companies could force their customers and employees into arbitration by adding "binding arbitration" clauses to the fine print in take-it-or-leave contracts, the US justice system has gone dark, which an ever-larger proportion of legal action disappearing into the opaque bowels of the arbitration system, where the richest participant usually wins. Read the rest

Tory minister's filibuster kills Turing's law and pardons for 65,000 persecuted gay men

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Conservative justice minister Sam Gyimah staged a sucessful filibuster during the Parliamentary debate over "Turing's law", which would make the 65,000 men convicted of "gross indecency" under various UK anti-sodomy laws eligible for pardons, clearing their criminal records. Read the rest

At long last, America's racist, crazy tough-on-crime prosecutors are losing elections

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Historically, being an elected prosecutor was a sweet gig: operating with "unchecked power and no transparency," you generally got to run unopposed for re-election, and on the rare instances in which someone did dare to run against the incumbent, the incumbent usually won. Read the rest

ACLU asks court to reveal 23 secret surveillance laws

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The ACLU and the Yale Law School Media Freedom Clinic have filed a motion demanding the release of 23 judgments from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a secret, closed courtroom that evaluates surveillance requests from America's spy agencies. Read the rest

Turkish court fines bystander/tourist who sued police for shooting out his eye

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Shavkatbek Saipov was vacationing in Turkey in 2013 when he was hit in the eye by a teargas cannister fired by police during the brutal crackdown on the Occupy Gezi protests; he lost the eye and sued the Turkish police. Read the rest

Turing's law: UK to retroactively pardon thousands of men prosecuted for having sex with men

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When the Crown pardoned codebreaking war-hero and computer science pioneer Alan Turing in 2013, we noted that 50,000 other British men who were also convicted of "sodomy" remained criminals in the eyes of the law. Read the rest

Harry Shearer sues studio over Spinal Tap, says he's received $98 in royalties over 30 years

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Shearer's $125 million lawsuit against Studio Canal and Vivendi enumerates a parade of horribles that the entertainment companies have visited upon him, from ripping him off with crazy, corrupt accounting practices to allowing the Spinal Tap trademarks to lapse but still charging him royalties to perform as his character from Tap. Read the rest

UK's Investigatory Powers Tribunal says GHCQ illegally spied for 17 years

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The independent tribunal ruled on a case brought by Privacy International, concluding that the UK spy agency GCHQ was acting illegally for 17 years while it amassed huge databases of "bulk collection" data of cellphone location and call-data -- a practice revealed by the Edward Snowden docs. Read the rest

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