Brooklyn Law Clinic students scare away patent trolls

The school's clinic is run like a law office and offers free counsel based both on need and on the interestingness of the cases for law students.

Read the rest

DOJ slams Riker's Island for horrific violence against young inmates

From the age of 16 on, children are integrated into the general population at Riker's Island, where the guards routinely engage in brutal, illegal beatings whose video evidence mysteriously disappears.

Read the rest

Profile of a NYC pickpocket


Wilfred Rose, a career NYC pickpocket now in prison, claims to be retired. In his decades as a "shotplayer," he became a legend.

Read the rest

NY DA says he won't prosecute minor drug possession; NYPD officers ordered to go on arresting

The memo -- requiring Brooklyn cops to continue their racist, brutal stop-and-frisk campaign to make minor drug busts -- is required reading for beat officers.

Last year, the NYPD made over 8,000 minor marijuana possession arrests. As Matt Taibbi documents in The Divide, these arrests are part of a racist, all-out war on young people of color. Even if the DA won't prosecute the people that Brooklyn cops take into custody, the busts will continue to beef up the department's arrest statistics.

DA Thompson's order really doesn't eliminate that many possession arrests. His memo stated that those smoking in public (especially around children), 16-17-year-old offenders (who will be placed into a diversion program) and people with existing criminal records will still be prosecuted. This just leaves mainly the truly harmless: recreational users.

But the War on Drugs is every bit as essential to the NYPD as the War on Terror, and the NYPD (with new chief Bill Bratton's blessing) will continue to make meaningless arrests -- arrests made even more meaningless by DA Thompson's announcement.

If nothing else, this ensures the sort of job security that's usually only touted in sarcastic tones by the deeply cynical. According to the New York Times, arresting recreational users is full-time work for Brooklyn cops.

NYPD Tells Brooklyn Officers To Continue Making Low-Level Drug Arrests DA Has Stated He Won't Prosecute [Tim Cushing/Techdirt]

(Image: NYPD Occupy Wall Street Eviction, Nick Gulotta, CC-BY)

Edward Snowden to speak at HOPE X NYC


As if there weren't enough reasons to attend HOPE X in NYC this month, now there's a series of killer whistleblower presentations.

Read the rest

Dainty feminine portraits (with assorted weapons)


Danny Galieote's series of vivid paintings of feminine figures with fists and weapons clenched behind their backs is extremely satisfying. Something about the savage strength and defensive might lurking beneath the pinafores and bows. He's currently exhibiting a one-man show of recent works (including these) at the Arcadia Contemporary in NYC.

NYC comics megasigning tonight with Pope, Haspiel, Bertozzi and Miskiewicz


Tonight at Forbidden Planet NYC, a megasigning with Paul Pope, Dean Haspiel, Nick Bertozzi and Chris Miskiewicz. Kicks off at 1830h -- what a lineup!

Tim Wu runs for New York State Lieutenant Governor, promising to clamp down on big business


Tim Wu, the Columbia law professor who coined the term "Net Neutrality," is running for Lieutenant Governor of New York State on a leftist, reform platform that starts with blocking the Comcast/Time-Warner merger. Wu wrote The Master Switch, a brilliant 2010 novel on the history of networks and competition in America, and his paper Copyright's Communications Policy is a classic.

I've known Tim for more than 30 years; we went to the same small alternative elementary school in Toronto together. I rate him as one of the best thinkers and activists on these issues around and wish him the best of luck. If I were a New York voter, he'd have my vote.

Read the rest

NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake to appear at HOPE NYC

2600's Emmanuel Goldstein writes, "This summer's HOPE X conference has added another major whistleblower to its schedule: Thomas Drake, who was charged under the Espionage Act in 2010 after revealing waste, fraud, and abuse at the NSA. The government would later drop these charges, after ruining Drake's career and dragging his name through the mud. Drake was one of the opponents of the NSA's Trailblazer program in 2002, which wound up costing billions of taxpayer dollars and would have been a huge violation of privacy, had it not been cancelled in 2006. It wouldn't be the last such program, and Drake wouldn't be the last whistleblower. HOPE X takes place July 18-20 at the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York City. More info at xxx.xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.xxx or x.hope.net."

Riis's "How the Other Half Lives": photos of NYC slumlife in the Gilded Age

The full text and images of Jacob Riis's 1890 classic How The Other Half Lives is online (previously), featuring striking photos of the dire state of NYC poverty during the "gilded age," when wealth disparity hit levels that are eerily reminiscent of the modern age. Reading this is probably good prep for our coming future (above, "Police Station lodgers in Elizabeth Street Station").

Read the rest

Singularity & Co: sf bookstore as Twilight Zone

Singularity and Co is the wonderful, Brooklyn-based used science fiction bookstore launched with a 2012 Kickstarter campaign that raised funds to buy the rights to beloved, out-of-print sf novels and release them as CC-licensed ebooks. Gabe, a fan of the store, has produced this great, Twilight Zone-themed commercial for the shop.

A day in the life of NYC's wonderful, endangered libraries

Christian writes, "A day in the life of libraries in New York City. Three massive systems that still have a human touch and are doing more with less every year. Look around the rest of the site for personal stories of librarians and patrons. Libraries are all about people and in a city as huge as New York City there are a million stories to be found in the libraries and not all of them are between the covers of books."

Libraries Now: A Day in the Life

Neil Gaiman knows how to get to Carnegie Hall


Neil Gaiman's playing the big room: on 27 June, he'll read his story "The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains" at Carnegie Hall, backed by the Fourplay String Quartet, with illustrations from Eddie "From Hell" Campbell.

Read the rest

Profile of Norman Bel Geddes, creator of the 1939 New York World's Fair Futurama


Writing in The Believer, B. Alexandra Szerlip offers a fascinating profile of Norman Bel Geddes, the man who built the Futurama at the 1939 New York Worlds' Fair. I didn't know that Bel Geddes had started out with elaborated electro-mechanical games and that these game him the skills and insights he needed to build the Futurama.

Read the rest

Smooth sales-patter from Union Square's Gentleman Peeler

Here's a 2008 video of NYC's legendary Union Square potato-peeler salesman, Manchester-born Joe Ades, the Gentleman Peeler, whose patter was as smooth as the carrot slices he produced with his sharp little gadgets. He died in 2009, the day after he was notified that he had attained American citizenship. He modelled himself after "the patterer," the well-dressed salesman that were written about in Henry Mayhew's classic London Labour and the London Poor (this book also inspired Terry Pratchett's brilliant standalone novel Dodger).

If you regret not buying a peeler from Joe when you had the chance, here's the same "machine", though the price has doubled since Joe's day.