Chinese government decrees that it is always legal to video-record the police

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Chinese state corruption is so weird and manifest that it has its own literary movement, and the use of the internet to uncover corruption has become a political football that has spilled over into the Chinese press, and into street-brawls. Read the rest

Woman judge discovers that female arrestees are frequently denied pants, feminine hygiene products

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When a woman who'd been arrested for failing to complete a diversion course stemming from a shoplifting charge was brought before Louisville, KY judge Amber Wolf with no pants on, the judge was horrified to learn that the arrestee had been held in custody for three days without a shower, without access to feminine hygiene products, and without pants. Read the rest

North Carolina's voter suppression law struck down as "racist"

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The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has invalidated parts of North Carolina's voter suppression laws, ruling that the requirement to show photo ID was enacted "with racially discriminatory intent." Read the rest

Patent fighters attack the crown jewels of three of America's worst patent trolls

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Unified Patents raises money from companies that are the target of patent-trolling and then uses it to challenge the most widely used patents in each of its members' sectors: now it's going for the gold. Read the rest

Mall cop fired after bringing gun to work and accidentally shooting other guard in arse

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A security guard at Pittsburgh's fancy Ross Park Mall was fired this week after bringing a gun to work, fooling around with it in the security office, and accidentally shooting a colleague in the arse.

The guard was in the mall's security office at the end of his shift at 11 p.m. and was loading a personal firearm when the gun discharged, Ross police said.

The bullet went through a wooden stand and struck another guard, who was treated and released from a local hospital.

The mall was closed when the incident occurred.

The guards there don't carry firearms. I live in the region and the most threatening things in Ross Park Mall are the tween shoplifters lurking around Claires. That and the inexplicable sense of coldness and despair that envelops oneself as one approaches Sears.

Previously: The Legend of Mall Ninja Read the rest

John Hinckley, who attempted to assassinate Ronald Reagan, will go free

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On March 30, 1981 in Washington DC, John Hinckley fired six bullets at President Ronald Reagan in an effort to impress the actress Jodie Foster. Reagan fully recovered but his press secretary, James Brady, who was also hit, lived the rest of his life in a wheelchair. The courts found Hinckley not guilty by reason of insanity. As soon as next week, Hinckley will be released from the mental hospital where relives to stay with his elderly mother in Williamsburg, Virgina. From NPR:

Under the terms of the order, Hinckley is not allowed to contact his victims, their relatives or actress Jodie Foster, with whom he was obsessed. Hinckley also will not be permitted to "knowingly travel" to areas where the current president or members of Congress are present. The judge said Hinckley could be allowed to live on his own or in a group home after one year.

"Mr. Hinckley shall abide by all laws, shall not consume alcohol, illegal drugs... shall not possess any firearm, weapon, or ammunition and shall not be arrested for cause," Senior U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman ordered...

In a prepared statement, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute said, "Contrary to the judge's decision, we believe John Hinckley is still a threat to others and we strongly oppose his release."

"John Hinckley, Who Tried To Kill A President, Wins His Freedom" Read the rest

Tor Project says accusations against Jake Appelbaum are accurate

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The Tor Project announced Wednesday that an investigation had confirmed sexual misconduct allegations against Jake Appelbaum, describing them as accurate and him as having humiliated, intimidated and bullied others inside and outside the project. Appelbaum left Tor in May, after public accusations forced the organization to act; The New York Times reports that the circumstances raised questions about the management of the project.

Shari Steele, the executive director of the Tor Project, said in a statement that the investigation found that “many people inside and outside the Tor Project have reported incidents of being humiliated, intimidated, bullied and frightened by Jacob, and several experienced unwanted sexually aggressive behavior from him.”

The investigation was conducted by a private investigator hired by the nonprofit group. Ms. Steele added that new allegations were made over the course of its investigation, and that two members of the larger Tor community had also been involved in the incidents. The two individuals were not named and Ms. Steele said they were no longer part of the Tor community.

Appelbaum (who contributed an article to Boing Boing in 2011) denied the allegations and, the NYT's Nicole Perlroth adds, is planning to respond to the investigator's report. Read the rest

Photographer sues Getty Images for $1B because they're charging for pix she donated to LoC

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Jamie writes, "A photographer filed on Monday a $1 billion copyright infringement suit in New York against Getty Images' American arm, alleging that the company is sending out letters demanding licensing fees for her photos that were donated to the Library of Congress." Read the rest

Abortion conviction quashed, but woman who miscarried still faces time for "neglect"

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Purvi Patel was the first woman in America to be convicted of "feticide"—a euphemism for abortion—and jailed 20 years after suffering a miscarriage that prosecutors claim was induced by illegally-procured drugs. The feticide conviction was quashed today by an appeals court, but it affirmed the felony conviction for "neglect of a dependent."

The appeals court ruled that the state Legislature didn't intend for the feticide law "to be used to prosecute women for their own abortions."

As for the neglect conviction, we hold that the State presented sufficient evidence for a jury to find that Patel was subjectively aware that the baby was born alive and that she knowingly endangered the baby by failing to provide medical care, but that the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the baby would not have died but for Patel’s failure to provide medical care. Therefore, we vacate Patel’s class A felony conviction and remand to the trial court with instructions to enter judgment of conviction for class D felony neglect of a dependent and resentence her accordingly.

The neglect charge (Patel claimed stillbirth, prosecutors argued that the fetus was alive for a period of seconds after birth) is still serious; the statute book allows for six months to three years, though news reports suggest lenience is not unheard of.

From the original story:

According to Sue Ellen Braunlin, doctor and co-president of the Indiana Religious Coalition for Reproductive Justice, Purvi was most likely 23-24 weeks pregnant, although prosecutors argued Patel was 25 weeks along in the state's opening argument.

Read the rest

Courtroom smackdown! Judge and defendant get nasty

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Dramatis personae: Denver Fenton Allen, a murder defendant. Bryan Durham, a Superior Court judge. And everyone watching in the peanut gallery-cum-courthouse in Rome, Ga., when things got fiery in Floyd County. Read the rest

Brexit is a victory for mass surveillance; EU rules Snoopers Charter is illegal

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Before Theresa May became Prime Minister of the UK, she was the Pry Minister of the UK, the principle proponent of the Snoopers Charter, a sweeping domestic surveillance bill that the European Court of Justice's Advocate General has just found to be excessive under EU law. Read the rest

More Perfect: Radiolab's genius podcast about the Supreme Court

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When I first heard that Radiolab (previously), the wonderful podcast that combines deep dives into technical subjects with masterful storytelling, was going to start a new podcast about the Supreme Court, it sounded like a weird fit. Read the rest

The ACLU has a roadmap for defeating President Donald Trump's signature initiatives

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In The Trump Memos, a new 27-page document published by the American Civil Liberties Union, the nonprofit, nonpartisan organization lays out its constitutional analysis of Trump's signature campaign promises, from mass deportations to a religious test for passing America's borders to torture to mass surveillance to abortion to "opening up libel laws." Read the rest

North Carolina adopts the nation's worst police bodycam law

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House Bill 972, signed into law by NC governor Pat McCrory [R] on Tuesday, makes police dashcam and bodycam footage off-limits to public records requests, off-limits to anyone who isn't personally pictured in the footage, and then only by request, which can be turned down, forcing subjects to appeal to the state Supreme Court. Read the rest

For the first time, a federal judge has thrown out police surveillance evidence from a "Stingray" device

Stingrays -- the trade name for an "IMSI catcher," a fake cellphone tower that tricks cellphones into emitting their unique ID numbers and sometimes harvests SMSes, calls, and other data -- are the most controversial and secretive law-enforcement tools in modern American policing. Harris, the company that manufactures the devices, swears police departments to silence about their use, a situation that's led to cops lying to judges and even a federal raid on a Florida police department to steal stingray records before they could be introduced in open court. Read the rest

Road rage attacker could avoid jail by proving she is an "expert knitter"

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A road-raging Scotswoman who tailed her victim for miles before hauling open her door and punching her in the face could avoid imprisonment if she can prove she can knit.

Amanda McCabe told the judge that her apparent pursuit was "a simple coincidence, as she was a “keen knitter” and planned to visit a specialist wool shop," reports Mark Mackay of The Courier.

On hearing that, Sheriff Rafferty laid down a challenge – one that he said could be the difference between liberty and prison.

He told McCabe she would return to court on December 14 with “multiple knitted items” capable of being sold in a charity shop and raising money for good causes.

Put on the spot, she claimed she could knit a jumper in two-to-three-days at a cost of £6 to £7.

It seems odd that having a legitimate reason to be in the area would make any difference as to sentencing over boxing in and physically attacking another driver. But the Courier is quite clear: "sentence was deferred until December for her to be of good behaviour and to produce the knitted items requested by the court" and she will avoid prison if she can "prove she is an expert knitter." Read the rest

Famous artist says a painting isn't by him, gets sued for ruining its value

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This garage sale-worthy painting would be worth millions if it were by famed artist Peter Doig. But it isn't, says Doig. So its owners are suing him for interfering with their ability to sell it.

The owner, a former corrections officer who said he knew Doig while working in a Canadian detention facility, said the famous painter created the work as a youthful inmate there. His suit contends that Doig is either confused or lying and that his denials blew up a plan to sell the work for millions of dollars.

Doig says he was never anywhere near the detention facility in Thunder Bay, would have been only 16 at the time, and that his lawyers tracked down the real artist, Peter Doige ( with an 'e') who died recently. Doige signed the work—with an 'e'—and his family reports that he served time in Thunder Bay.

He died in 2012, but his sister said he had attended Lakehead University, served time in Thunder Bay and painted. “I believe that Mr. Fletcher is mistaken and that he actually met my brother, Peter, who I believe did this painting,” the sister, Marilyn Doige Bovard, said in a court declaration.

The prison’s former art teacher recognized a photograph of Bovard’s brother as a man who had been in his class and said he had watched him paint the painting, according to the teacher’s affidavit.

The plaintiff got the judge to bring it to trial, though, meaning it'll be very expensive for Doig (without an e) irrespective of who gets paid. Read the rest

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