Techdirt is being sued by the "I invented email" guy and needs money to fight the case

Indie news outlet Techdirt is being sued for $15M by Shiva Ayyadurai, who claims to have invented email in 1978, eight years after Ray Tomlinson sent an email over ARPANET; Ayyadurai is represented by Charles Harder, a key figure in the Gawker-killing legal campaign that Peter Thiel financed, and who is also representing Melania Trump in her $150m lawsuit against The Daily Mail. Read the rest

Customs officials refuse to allow passengers to debark a domestic flight unless they show ID

Two CBP officials boarded a Delta flight from New York to SFO after it landed on Wednesday and demanded that passengers show government-issued "documents" before they would be allowed to debark. Read the rest

A "travel mode" for social media - after all, you don't take all your other stuff with you on the road

As the US government ramps up its insistence that visitors (and US citizens) unlock their devices and provide their social media accounts, the solution have run the gamut from extreme technological caution, abandoning mobile devices while traveling, or asking the government to rethink its policy. But Maciej Cegłowski has another solution: a "travel mode" for our social media accounts. Read the rest

Milosevic, Berlusconi, Trump

I saw this coming, for the past ten years or more. I saw small Trumps, rising and tramping around, first timidly, then bravely, and finally boldly.

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Confronted by angry voters, GOP Senator Joni Ernst flees Iowa town hall through a side-door

Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, a "rising star" in the GOP, ran as an "independent" thinker, but has dutifully toed the GOP line since taking office -- that's why the town halls on her "99-county tour" of Iowa are packed with angry people who want to know about Trump's relationship to the Russian government, and the GOP's plan to destroy their health care without anything credible to replace it; it's also why most of the stops on Ernst's tours are planned photo-ops at factories instead of public events where voters can actually talk to their elected rep.

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Deliberate leaking is a time-honored government tactic that Trump doesn't understand

Governments have "official" unofficial leaking policies, releasing tons of confidential material to the press without any attribution or public acknowledgement: they leak stuff to maintain good press relations, to test out ideas, to hurt their in-government rivals, or to let information be generally known without having to answer difficult questions about it (for example, letting the press report on "secret" drone strike in Yemen without a press-conference where embarrassing questions about civilian casualties might come up). Read the rest

What's happening to Trump's popularity? Parsing the polls with Nate Silver

Silver's predictions of the election outcome took much of the shine off the statistician-pollster-guru, and no amount of statistical spin ("we were expressing our confidence that the unpredictable wouldn't happen, but we left open the possibility of the unpredictable!") can restore it to its former glory, but this Fivethirtyeight explainer on the polls that show a huge variance in Trump's approval and disapproval ratings is the kind of detailed analysis that is mostly light, with little heat. Read the rest

Human rights coalition to DHS: don't demand social media passwords from people entering the USA

A huge coalition of human rights groups, trade groups, civil liberties groups, and individual legal, technical and security experts have signed an open letter to the Department of Homeland Security in reaction to Secretary John Kelly's remarks to House Homeland Security Committee earlier this month, where he said the DHS might force visitors to America to divulge their social media logins as a condition of entry. Read the rest

"Europe's last dictator" finally finds the limits to power: taxing the unemployed during a recession

Belurusian leader Alexander Lukashenko calls himself "Europe's last dictator": he's a thug who steals elections and sends opposition politicians to forced labor camps, the kind of guy who can get away with arresting a one-armed man for clapping -- but when he imposed a "social parasite tax" on unemployed people in the recession-devastated country, it proved too much. Read the rest

Trump vs Leakers: the infographic

A handy guide from Chartlike Charts, whose return from its hiatus is both welcome and overdue. Read the rest

It's very hard to maintain an anonymous Twitter account that can withstand government-level attempts to de-anonymize it

It's one thing to set up an "anonymous" Twitter Hulk account whose anonymity your friends and colleagues can't pierce, because the combination of your care not to tweet identifying details, the stilted Hulk syntax, and your friends' inability to surveil the global internet and compel phone companies to give up their caller records suffice for that purpose. Read the rest

Trump supporter in a lynch-the-journalists tee, November 2016

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For the past 40 years, the presence of immigrants in US cities was correlated with a reduction in violent and property crime

In a new paper published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice, sociologists and criminologists from University at Buffalo (SUNY), the University of Alabama, Kennesaw State University, the State of Georgia, and Georgia State University review 40 years' worth of FBI data on violent crimes and property crimes, correlating this data series with Census data on the influx of immigrants to US cities. Read the rest

What America loses when the USDA nukes its taxpayer-funded records of animal cruelty

Immediately upon assuming office, the Trump administration directed the US Department of Agriculture to take down the extensive records of its publicly funded investigations of animal cruelty in America; now, Americans can only access their own data by paying for expensive, unweildy, and slow Freedom of Information Act requests to the USDA. Read the rest

How to find out what Trump's favorite big data machine knows about you

Cambridge Analytica is a dirty, Dementor-focused big data research outfit that provided the analysis and psych profiles that the Trump campaign used in its electioneering; because its parent company is in the UK, it is required (under EU law) to send you its dossier on you for £10. Read the rest

Almost everything Trump has done since taking office has been a meaningless publicity stunt

Though Steve Miller claims that Trump is "a president who has done more in three weeks than most presidents have done in an entire administration," the reality is that almost everything in his executive orders is either an inflammatory restatement of an existing policy; an unenforceable and meaningless intervention into domains where the administrative branch holds no sway; or (as in the case of the Muslim Ban), is an unconstitutional omnishambles destined to be swiftly undone by the courts. Read the rest

How to talk about shitgibbons with your high school English class

The introduction of "shitgibbon" into America's political discourse is a teachable moment for English classes studying the evolution of language. Read the rest

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