Hardcore Cosby fans won't let it go

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Disgraced comedian Bill Cosby now faces criminal charges over sexual assault allegations, but despite a lifetime of reported abuse and his admission of drugging women, the man still has his defenders.

It is true that Cosby has been a philanthropic powerhouse over the years, particularly to historically black colleges. Among the donations he's made in the past are a $20 million gift to Spelman College in 1988, and $3 million to the Morehouse School of Medicine. (In July, Spelman ended a professorship named for Cosby and returned money associated with it to a foundation established by his wife, Camille.)

Many of Cosby's fans aren't weighing the good against the bad, however—they don't think the bad was all that bad to begin with.

Sourcing quotes to random social networking accounts is a hallmark of bad reporting, because you can search-'n'-quote your way to supporting almost any position in the quest for a balanced, dramatic story. These Cosby supporters and their wheedling, cautious, silencing denial, though, they're real. That's the first and last line of defense for celebrity rapists. Read the rest

TSA screener insists that full-body screening is mandatory

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Sai, who is seeking an injunction against the TSA's new mandatory full-body screening test (but only for people they don't like), flew out of SEA-TAC on Dec 31 and was told that the full-body scanner was mandatory. Read the rest

An org for left-wing US municipal politicians is transforming American politics

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Local Progress is a national coordinating organization for left-wing US city councillors that supports initiatives like higher minimum wages, bans on fracking and deportation detention centers, multilingual information for voters, guaranteed sick leave, predictable working hours for part-timers, restricting foreclosures, and improving access to voting. Read the rest

Understand: The esoteric criminal sentencing that mobilized Oregon's Cowliphate

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The domestic terrorists who occupied the Malheur National Widlife Refuge Building in Burns, Oregon were mobilized over the plight of ranchers Dwight and Steve Hammond who were convicted of arson, sentenced to a year in prison, released after time-served, and then re-sentenced after the fed prosecutors appealed the judge's sentence. Read the rest

Free Stanford course on surveillance law UPDATED

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Aw, crap, this was last year

Stanford is offering a free online course by computer scientist/law professor Jonathan Mayer that surveys the baroque, interleaved world of US surveillance law through the Coursera MOOC platform. Read the rest

TSA transparency activist seeks injunction against mandatory full-body scanners

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Ever since the TSA broke the law and abused him, Sai has been suing them over their illegal conduct, forcing them into court and then demonstrating to the court that the agency refuses to play by any rules, even its own. Read the rest

The evolution of anti-evolution bills

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In a new paper in Science (paywalled), Nicholas J. Matzke from the National University of Australia demonstrates the evolutionary connection between anti-evolution bills introduced into US state legislatures in a series of iterated attempts to ban or weaken the teaching of evolution by natural selection and to promote Biblical creationism in various guises in its stead. Read the rest

Martin Shkreli is right: fraud charges only arose because of pharma scumbaggery

Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli is led to a waiting police car by federal agents following his arrest in the Manhattan borough of New York December 17, 2015.     REUTERS/Nate Raymond

Martin Shkreli, the notorious, most-hated-man-on-the-Internet pharma douchebro who was arrested last week for securities fraud, told the FBI that the only reason they bothered busting him for financial corruption is that he had made a spectacle out of himself with his pharma shenanigans. Read the rest

Omnibus budget/spying bill is a corrupt, stupid mess

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The Omnibus Budget Bill passed this week, and Paul Ryan managed to cram the domestic mass surveillance law CISA into it, but that's just the appetizer in a banquet of corrupt DC horsetrading embodied in 2,000+ pages that indicts the entire US legislative system. Read the rest

Billionaire Sheldon Adelson secretly bought newspaper, ordered all hands to investigate judges he hated

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No one knew who the mystery buyer of the Las Vegas Review-Journal was, just that $140m had changed hands under mysterious circumstances. But every reporter on the paper was ordered to drop everything and try to dig up dirt on three Clark County judges. Read the rest

Cops have way more rights than you do

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When you get arrested, what happens next depends on the law and the Constitution, but when a cop arrests their co-worker, what happens next is determined by a cushy contract between the police union and the city that gives suspected crooked law enforcement officers every benefit of the doubt, and lots of ways to walk away free, regardless of the facts. Read the rest

Obama commutes sentences of 95 prisoners and pardons two

President Obama holds his end of 2015 news conference at the White House, Dec. 18, 2015.    REUTERS

President Barack Obama today announced he has commuted the sentences of 95 federal prisoners, and granted two prisoners pardons. Most of them are nonviolent drug offenders.

This is the most he has done at one time, and more than doubles the number of clemency orders he has granted since taking office. His signature today sets free 40 prisoners who are serving life sentences.

Read the rest

A win for copyright trolls: Cox must pay $25M for not disconnecting users

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BMG hired Rightscorp, a publicly traded blackmail company, to send threatening letters to Cox Cable subscribers it accused of infringing its copyrights, demanding cash payments to stay out of court. Read the rest

Lawsuit: California's county jails put inmates in solitary for cruel, arbitrary, illegal periods

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There have been plenty of lawsuits challenging America's prisons' use of solitary confinement as a form of torture; but the situation is no better in the jails where prisoners await arraignment, trial and sentencing, and can spend years in solitary. Read the rest

New EU rules would ban under-16s from social media

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A last-minute change to pending EU data-protection rules will ban under-16s from using social media without explicit parental consent -- the rules are up for a vote on Tuesday. Read the rest

CALL NOW: Paul Ryan is trying to sneak mass surveillance into the budget bill!

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Evan from Fight for the Future writes, "Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is trying to use a Congressional loophole to push through two attacks on our Internet freedom in the 'omnibus' must-pass budget bill that Congress is expected to file tonight. He wants to include the final version of CISA which has been completely stripped of privacy protections. And he wants to include a rider that would undermine the FCC's ability to enforce the net neutrality protections we fought so hard to win this year. There's still time to stop this sneak attack, go to BattleForTheNet.com or call 1-832-YOUR-NET to call Congress now! Read the rest

DEA ignored prosecutor's warning about illegal wiretap warrants, now it's losing big

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For years, the DEA relied on a Riverside, California magistrate judge, Helios Hernandez, to write illegal wiretap warrants, making Hernandez the national champion of wiretapping warrants, signing off on five times more than any other judge in America. Read the rest

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