Accessible, CC-licensed academic site comes to the US

Michael says, "'The Conversation' has been in Australia for a couple of years: writing by academics, for a lay audience, which aims to be readable and relevant. Their slogan is 'academic rigor, journalistic flair', and they've done pretty well at that so far."

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Ello, what's all this then? An ad-free social network

A new social micro-blogging network, Ello, is flooded with users during its beta. Ello is predicated on not selling its users out or selling them stuff. Glenn Fleishman suggests it already needs to be held to the fire.

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John Oliver and Cookie Monster, reporting for W-ORD

The video has a cavalcade of guest-stars, including Al Roker and Nick Offerman -- all trying to understand the mystery of the missing letter "C" and to understand why Oliver's tie is not an adequate cookie substitute: 5/5, would watch again!

(via Neatorama!)

Documenting the arrests of journalists in Ferguson

Getty Images photographer Scott Olson (center) is arrested by a highway patrol officer during a protest for the shooting death of Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri August 18, 2014. He was arrested because police required media to be within certain areas, media quoted another journalist as saying. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon lifted the curfew for the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson on Monday and began deploying National Guard troops to help quell days of rioting and looting spurred by the fatal shooting of the black unarmed teenager by a white policeman.    REUTERS/Joshua Lott.


Getty Images photographer Scott Olson (center) is arrested by a highway patrol officer during a protest for the shooting death of Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri August 18, 2014. Authorities say he was arrested because police required media to be within certain areas. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon lifted the curfew for the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson on Monday and began deploying National Guard troops to oversee protests sparked by the fatal shooting of the black unarmed teenager by a white policeman. REUTERS/Joshua Lott.

On Aug. 13, 2014, police in Ferguson, Missouri, assaulted and arrested two journalists for allegedly failing to exit a McDonald's quickly enough while on a break from covering the protests. Since then, police actions against journalists in Ferguson have escalated in severity and frequency. Many have been tear gassed and shot with rubber bullets and at least nine more have been arrested.

It should go without saying that these arrests are a gross violation of the reporters' First Amendment rights, and attempts to prevent journalists from lawfully doing their job on the streets of Ferguson are downright illegal. We will be documenting each journalist arrest below and are filing public records requests for the arrest records of the journalists who have been assaulted, detained, and arrested in Ferguson. All requests are publicly available on MuckRock.

August 19, 2014

August 18, 2014

August 17, 2014

August 13, 2014

We insist that the St. Louis County Police Department, Ferguson Police Department, and Missouri Highway Patrol cease and desist from violating the Constiutional rights of reporters covering the protests, and respect the court document they all signed agreeing that the media and members of the public have a right to record public events without abridgement. This document is not necessary, as the First Amendment provides that right to all members of the media and public, but it's an indication of how the police have decided to ignore the law.

Freedom of the Press Foundation is monitoring the situation and will be filing requests and updating this blog post for as long as necessary.

[Editor's note: Guest contributor Runa A. Sandvik is a privacy and security researcher, working at the intersection of technology, law and policy. She is a Forbes contributor, a technical advisor to the TrueCrypt Audit project, and a member of the review board for Black Hat Europe. Prior to joining the Freedom of the Press Foundation as a full-time technologist in June 2014, she worked with The Tor Project for four years.]

Brits trust Wikipedia more than the BBC, "serious" newspapers


According to a Yougov poll, 64% of Britons believe Wikipedia tells the truth "a great deal" or "a fair amount."

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FTC sues Amazon over in-game purchases by children

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Online retailer Amazon is accused of hooking millions of dollars from underage users making unauthorized in-app purchases. The Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit Thursday charging that the company willingly allowed kids to set up purchases without the consent of their parents.

Though most were for smaller ammounts, some of the charges ranged as high as $99, and typically were for game weapons, clothes and other virtual bullshit installed on its Kindle Fire gadget.

"Amazon’s in-app system allowed children to incur unlimited charges on their parents’ accounts without permission," FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez wrote in a press release issued by the comission. "Even Amazon's own employees recognized the serious problem its process created. We are seeking refunds for affected parents and a court order to ensure that Amazon gets parents' consent for in-app purchases."

Amazon's in-app purchase system, established in 2011 to help the firm catch up with competitors Apple and Google, was relatively rudimentary and lacked locks or passwords to prevent unuathorized users racking up huge bills. Within a month, internal emails show that Amazon was aware of "problems" that were "clearly causing problems for a large percentage of our customers," according to the FTC's lawsuit.

Amazon only added passwords months later, and did not apply them to purchases of less than $20 for a year. Even then, according to the suit, Amazon did not disclose that doing so once would enable further purchases for more than an hour.

The FTC settled a similar lawsuit with Apple earlier this year, when the company agreed to institute stricter policies and paid $32.5m in restitution. Amazon, informed of the pending lawsuit, said that it had no plans to change its system as Apple had, and would fight the action.

"We have continuously improved our experience since launch, but even at launch, when customers told us their kids had made purchases they didn't want we refunded those purchases," Amazon's associate general counsel wrote in a response to the commission.

Part of the FTC's suit, however, alleges that the refund process itself is intentionally obscure and "rife with deterrents including statements that consumers cannot, in fact, get a refund for in-app charges."

Games aimed at youngsters are at the heart of the controversy, as they are typically free to download and play, only to bombard the user with enticements to pay for the virtual bullshit. The enticements are often clevery designed to "blur the lines between what costs virtual currency and what costs real money," writes the FTC, using visually similar icons and other psychological manipulations to generate unfair and unexpected charges.

Earlier this week, UK regulators ordered Electronic Arts to stop marketing its sleazy mobile game Dungeon Keeper as free-to-play after gamers complained that it was effectively unplayable without in-game paid upgrades.

@Cnnyourmom: inserting "your mom" into news headlines

@Cnnyourmom is admittedly immature, but works surprisingly well: "Your Mom Forms In Atlantic, Threatens North Carolina" (via JWZ)

News of the Weird: some of Chuck Shepherd's favorites

News of the Weird's Chuck Shepherd, celebrating 25 years yesterday of his wonderful column's weekly distribution deal, posted a few of his favorite stories from the archives:

NewImage(1989) In the mid 1980s, convicted South Carolina murderer Michael Godwin won his appeal to avoid the electric chair and serve only life imprisonment. In March, while sitting naked on a metal prison toilet, attempting to fix a TV set, the 28-year-old Godwin bit into a wire and was electrocuted. [Orlando Sentinel, 3-8-89]

(1991 and later) Gary Arthur Medrow, 47, was arrested in March in Milwaukee (the latest of his then-30-plus arrests over 23 years) for once again causing mischief by telephoning a woman and trying to persuade her to physically pick up another person and to carry her around a room. In the latest incident, after repeatedly calling, he told her another woman had been impersonating her, had been in an accident, and had been seen carrying someone away (and that Medrow needed evidence that she should could or could not do that). He had previously talked cheerleaders, motel workers, and business executives into lifting and carrying. [Milwaukee Sentinel, 3-18-91]

(1988) And finally, there was ol’ Hal Warden, the Tennessee 16-year-old who was married at 15 and granted a divorce from his wife, 13. Hal had previously been married at age 12 to a 14-year-old (and fathered children with both), but the first wife divorced Hal because, she told the judge, "He was acting like a 10-year-old." [The precise citation is inaccessible, but various marital reports on the Wardens are available, e.g., Associated Press, 2-21-1987]

News of the Weird (6/8/14)

NBC airs Edward Snowden's first US TV interview

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NBC released a preview clip from a widely-promoted Brian Williams interview with whistleblower Edward Snowden, which airs tonight, Wednesday May 28, at 10pm EDT. The hour-long interview is the former NSA contractor’s first US television interview since leaking NSA documents to reporters.

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Why did the 9/11 'falling man' image disappear?

fallingman

At Design Observer, a fascinating piece on how photographer Richard Drew's iconic, disturbing image of a man falling to his death from the World Trade Center on 911 has been erased from public view.

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Military-trained dolphins will not be killing Russians

Yes. The US Navy keeps and trains dolphins. No, they are not trained to murder. No, they will not be deployed to Ukraine.

US intel chief's insane new secrecy directive forbids intel employees from "unauthorized" contact with reporters


U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

The US Director of National Intelligence has issued a Directive [PDF] that forbids most intelligence community employees from talking to journalists about “intelligence-related information” unless they have explicit authorization to do so.

Intelligence community employees “must obtain authorization for contacts with the media” on any intel-related matters, and “must also report… unplanned or unintentional contact with the media on covered matters,” according to the Directive signed by James Clapper.

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Gabriel García Márquez, Nobel laureate novelist, 1927-2014

Novelist Gabriel García Márquez, whose One Hundred Years of Solitude "established him as a giant of 20th-century literature," died today at his home in Mexico City. He was 87.

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“I F*cking Hate @RuPaul”

Filmmaker, writer, and trans activist Andrea James on the current state of post-disruption journalism and its unhealthy addiction to Twitter, and LGBT brain drain.

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Amazing fire rescue

"Damn, I was gonna get an apartment over there, too. It'll be cheaper now!" [Video Link]