Obama to schools: let transgendger kids use the bathroom matching their gender

Public schools should allow trandgender students to "use bathrooms matching their gender identity," reports CNN on guidance to be issued later today by the Obama administration.

The announcement comes amid heated debate over transgender rights in schools and public life, which includes a legal standoff between the administration and North Carolina over its controversial House Bill 2. The guidance goes beyond the bathroom issue, touching upon privacy rights, education records and sex-segregated athletics, all but guaranteeing transgender students the right to identify in school as they choose.

"There is no room in our schools for discrimination of any kind, including discrimination against transgender students on the basis of their sex," Attorney General Loretta Lynch said. "This guidance gives administrators, teachers and parents the tools they need to protect transgender students from peer harassment and to identify and address unjust school policies."

It's getting nasty out there, faster than I think anyone expected. Yesterday, one school district decided to permit students to carry weapons onto campus, with a school board member plainly suggesting they pepper spray transgender people who "follow" them into bathrooms.

The future, assumedly, seems to non-gendered bathrooms. It's an interesting architectural, legal and space-efficiency problem: not every venue can just peel off and throw away the stickers. Read the rest

Obama to declare Stonewall Inn the first national monument to LGBT rights

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The Associated Press reports that the Stonewall Inn, birthplace of America's most fabulous protest, will become the first national monument to LGBT rights in the U.S.

The gritty tavern, known colloquially as the Stonewall, became a catalyst for the gay rights movement after police raided it on June 28, 1969. Bar-goers fought back, and many more joined in street protests over the following days in an uprising widely credited as the start of large-scale gay activism in New York and around the word. Annual pride parades in hundreds of cities commemorate the rebellion.

The White House declined to comment. Yet Obama has paid tribute to the site before, most notably in his second inaugural address in 2013. In what's believed to be the first reference to gay rights in an inaugural address, Obama said the principle of equality still guides the U.S. "just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall."

Tweet tip! Things that Stonewall was not:

• The birthplace of gay rights. • A "gay" riot. • Cornfed straight-acting country boys fixing the city. Read the rest

Apple update unbricks phones disabled by Error 53

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Apple has apologized to users whose phones were bricked by a recent update that interpreted third-party repairs as attempts to hack the device. It also released a new update that revives the dead handsets through iTunes.

Some customers’ devices are showing ‘Connect to iTunes’ after attempting an iOS update or a restore from iTunes on a Mac or PC. This reports as an Error 53 in iTunes and appears when a device fails a security test. This test was designed to check whether Touch ID works properly before the device leaves the factory.

Today, Apple released a software update that allows customers who have encountered this error message to successfully restore their device using iTunes on a Mac or PC.

We apologize for any inconvenience, this was designed to be a factory test and was not intended to affect customers. Customers who paid for an out-of-warranty replacement of their device based on this issue should contact AppleCare about a reimbursement.

Previously. Read the rest

LISTEN: Cops harassed man filming them, cooked up charges to "cover our ass"

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This video depicts an angry cop lying about the law—"it's illegal to take photographs of me"—then, after he confiscates the camera but forgets to turn it off, his discussion with a fellow officer about now to "cover our ass." The Hartford Courant reports they're in some superficial degree of trouble over this, which is a start.

Michael Picard, 27, of East Hartford, was charged with creating a public disturbance and reckless use of the highway for the Sept. 11 incident in which a trooper can be heard saying on a recording of the encounter, "We gotta cover our asses."

Read the rest

Copyright troll Rightscorp must pay $450,000 over robocalls

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Copyright shakedown company Rightscorp, which threatens suspected music sharers with lawsuits unless they give Rightscorp money, has agreed to pay $450,000 to settle claims it illegally targeted thousands of people with recorded messages.

Morgan Pietz, an attorney who played a key role in bringing down Prenda Law, sued Rightscorp in 2014, saying that the company's efforts to get settlements from alleged pirates went too far. Rightscorp's illegal "robocalls" violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), a 1991 law that limits how automated calling devices are used. The class-action lawsuit claimed that some Rightscorp targets were receiving one robocall on their cell phone per day. It's generally illegal to have automated devices call cell phones.

Earlier this week, Pietz and his co-counsel filed court papers outlining the settlement. Rightscorp will pay $450,000 into a settlement fund, which will be paid out to the 2,059 identified class members who received the allegedly illegal calls. Each class member who fills out an "affidavit of noninfringement" will receive up to $100. The rest of the fund will pay for costs of notice and claim administration (about $25,000) and attorneys' fees and costs, which cannot exceed $330,000. Rightscorp will also "release any and all alleged claims" against the class members. The company had accused the 2,059 class members of committing 126,409 acts of copyright infringement.

Read the rest

WSJ: consumers should be allowed to repair their gadgets

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Wall Street Journal columnist Geoffrey A Fowler: "There’s a fight brewing between giant tech companies and tinkerers that could impact how we repair gadgets or choose the shop where we get it done by a pro. At issue: Who owns the knowledge required to take apart and repair TVs, phones and other electronics?" Read the rest

Think you have the right to demand police identify themselves? Look closer.

Police officers are required to display and provide their identification on request—except when they aren't.

"Stranger Danger" to children vastly overstated

Oft-cited stats about child abduction puts kidnappers behind every bush. But the numbers are old and frequently mangled, distorting our understanding of genuine risks to children.

Barrett Brown’s sentence is unjust, but it may become the norm for journalists

Jailed, in part, because he shared a link to a stolen document that he did not steal, and despite the fact that this is not a crime.

I survived an illegal abortion

Fran Moreland Johns sought an abortion in 1956 following a workplace rape. Now the author of Perilous Times: An Inside Look at Abortion Before and After Roe v. Wade, she survived a back-alley procedure in the days before legalization, and warns that with women's rights under renewed assault, those grim days are returning.

The Dummies' Guide To Cosplay Photography in 2014

Andy Ihnatko's golden rule about photographing cosplayers: You must never do anything that makes the cosplayer wish you hadn't taken that photo.

Misleading on Marriage: how gay marriage opponents twist history to suit their agenda

Much of what you hear about the purpose of marriage is ahistorical. Lisa L. Spangenberg on what the institution was traditionally fit for.

Bigot Fired

Technically, A&E merely "suspended indefinitely" Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson, following his remarks about gay people. But they know there'll be hell to pay should he be permitted to return.

Interesting, mind you, that they're more afraid of progressive-led criticism than the backlash they're going to get now instead from the bigot community. Progress! Entertainment Weekly's James Hibberd:

The network issued the following statement to EW: “We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty. His personal views in no way reflect those of A+E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely.”

This is where some Christian conservatives do that thing where the First Amendment is held to guarantee Freedom of Reality Show, isn't it?

P.S. This reminds me that Ender's Game really did end up bombing hard despite the promising opening weekend. Data points! Read the rest

The creationists' last stand

In Texas, the same old fight: conservative Christians desperately trying to excise evolution, reproductive health and much science in general from school textbooks. [Dallas Observer via Metafilter] Read the rest

Facebook "Likes" are protected speech, says court

Joe Palazzolo, at the WSJ: '“Liking” something on Facebook is a form of speech protected by the First Amendment, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday, reviving a closely watched case over the extent to which the Constitution shields what we say on social media.' Read the rest

The police, an open door, and probable cause

Seven things Maggie Koerth-Baker and Her Husband Learned at 4 am on a Tuesday

Three Friends, a Breakdown, and a Lawsuit

Two and a half years ago, James Siddle moved to London for a new job; in two weeks time, he'll be moving out to a small town in the country, defeated.

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