Court sides with cheerleader punished for writing "fuck cheer"

A cheerleader in Pennsylvania has won a free-speech case against her school, which tried to punish her for insulting it on social media.

The case involves a First Amendment challenge to the Mahanoy Area High School’s “Cheerleading Rules,” which prohibit cheerleaders from posting any “negative information” about cheerleading online. B.L. was kicked off the junior varsity cheerleading squad for posting a Snap to Snapchat on the weekend that school officials believed was “negative,” “disrespectful,” and “demeaning.” ... On March 21, 2019, the court granted the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, finding that the school did not have the authority to discipline her for her off-campus speech and that the school was in violation of the First Amendment..

"fuck school fuck softball fuck cheer fuck everything," to quote the magnificent B.L., but most of all fuck the Mahanoy Area High School for trying to silence its students off-campus.

Photo: Brook Robinson / Shutterstock Read the rest

Anti-gay protestors sue library over Drag Queen Story Hour

Anti-gay (and anti-fun) protestors have sued the Houston Public Library over the Drag Queen Storytime events. (Previously: different assholes, same bullshit in Louisiana.) From the Houston Chronicle:

The library director and Mayor Sylvester Turner are named as defendants, accused of being recklessly entangled in “LGBT doctrine.” The lawsuit says the storytelling sessions advertised as appropriate for patrons of all ages at the Freed-Montrose Neighborhood branch should not be funded with taxpayer dollars since the library would not host a “man-woman marriage storytelling hour.”

The group behind the lawsuit identify themselves as “Christ followers,” taxpayers and card-carrying library patrons.

Another plaintiff is Chris Sevier, who has filed a number of lawsuits across the country, including one in Houston for the right to marry his laptop. If men can marry men, he has argued, why can’t he marry a computer. The plaintiffs also include an evangelical minister and a woman who says she got into a custody battle with her husband after he left her for a transgender woman.

Check out the Drag Queen Story Hour Web site and organize your own event!

image: Drag Queen Story Hour at Santa Ana Public Library via Instagram Read the rest

2018 world freedom map shows "democracy in crisis"

In Freedom House's 2018 world freedom map, 71 countries registered declines while only 35 saw gains: "emboldened autocrats, beleaguered democracies, and the United States’ withdrawal from its leadership role" have created a crisis.

Among those slipping into "not free" status were Turkey and the Central African Republic, which each saw dramatic declines of more than 30 percent in the last year, according to Freedom House's criteria. Ukraine, Mali, Nigaragua and Honduras were among those countries slipping from freedom to "partial" freedom. In Europe, Hungary slipped 20 percent, to stand only 2 points within the range of free countries. Tunisia, though, the Arab world's only "free" country, clung to that status despite domestic strife.

Democracy faced its most serious crisis in decades in 2017 as its basic tenets—including guarantees of free and fair elections, the rights of minorities, freedom of the press, and the rule of law—came under attack around the world. ... Perhaps worst of all, and most worrisome for the future, young people, who have little memory of the long struggles against fascism and communism, may be losing faith and interest in the democratic project. The very idea of democracy and its promotion has been tarnished among many, contributing to a dangerous apathy.

Most alarming, though, is America's drop to 86/100. Though still well within the range of free countries, it has slipped noticeably behind all those Northern European democracies lurking in the 90s. It's turning into a big crap Italy.

The president’s behavior stems in part from a frustration with the country’s democratic checks and balances, including the independent courts, a coequal legislative branch, the free press, and an active civil society.

Read the rest

Pictures of dogs zooming around

r/zoomies is my new favorite subreddit, exclusively dedicated to pictures and videos of dogs zooming around. Pictured here is a recent repost of a zooming pup creating a path through morning dew, originally posted by babolattack. [via] Read the rest

Who enters the public domain in 2018?

The Public Domain class of 2018 — authors with significant works entering the public domain next year — includes Aleister Crowley, Rene Magritte, Siegfied Sassoon and the other Winston Churchill.

Winston Churchill was an American best-selling novelist of the early 20th century. He is nowadays overshadowed, even as a writer, by a certain cigar-toting British statesman of the same name, with whom he was acquainted, but not related.

Here's the CSPD list of works that should have entered the public domain this year, but didn't thanks to congressional servicing of Disney. Read the rest

Taiwan court rules for same-sex marriage

Taiwan will be the first place in Asia to legalize same-sex unions, reports the BBC, after a panel of judges in Taipei ruled(PDF) that equality rights guaranteed it. Legislators have two years to pass a bill that provides "equal protection of the freedom of marriage for two persons of the same sex" before the court extends current law to apply to same-sex unions. Two of the fourteen justices filed dissenting opinions, with a third recusing themselves.

BBC analyst Cindy Sui:

But it's still unclear how far parliament will go.

The LGBT community hopes legislators will simply amend the existing marriage laws to include same-sex couples, which would grant them the same rights enjoyed by opposite-sex couples, including in cases of adoption, parenting and inheritance - and making decisions for each other in medical emergencies.

However, they fear parliament won't do that and will instead pass a new law that recognises same-sex marriages but gives them only some rights, not equal treatment in all matters.

Photo: Reuters. Read the rest

Half of all U.S. adults are in face-recognition databases, and Black people more likely to be targeted

One in two American adults is in a law enforcement face recognition network.

“The Perpetual Lineup” report out today from a Georgetown University thinktank makes a compelling case for greater oversight of police facial-recognition software that “makes the images of more than 117 million Americans — a disproportionate number of whom are black — searchable by law enforcement agencies across the nation,” as the New York Times account reads. Read the rest

Apple CEO Tim Cook demands Obama White House formally defend Americans' right to strong encryption

Jenna McLaughlin at The Intercept writes that Apple CEO Tim Cook “lashed out at the high-level delegation of Obama administration officials who came calling on tech leaders in San Jose last week.”  Read the rest

We're suing the Justice Department over FBI’s secret rules for using National Security Letters on journalists

Freedom of the Press Foundation this week filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Justice Department over their unpublished rules for using National Security Letters and so-called informal “exigent letters” to conduct surveillance of journalists. Read the rest

Against the instrumental argument for surveillance

In my latest Guardian column, 'Cybersecurity' begins with integrity, not surveillance, I try to make sense of the argument against surveillance. Is mass surveillance bad because it doesn't catch "bad guys" or because it is immoral? There's a parallel to torture -- even if you can find places where torture would work to get you some useful information, it would still be immoral. Likewise, I've come to realize that the "it doesn't work" argument isn't one that I want to support anymore, because even if mass surveillance did work, it would still be bad.

One thing that parenting has taught me is that surveillance and experimentation are hard to reconcile. My daughter is learning, and learning often consists of making mistakes constructively. There are times when she is working right at the limits of her abilities – drawing or dancing or writing or singing or building – and she catches me watching her and gets this look of mingled embarrassment and exasperation, and then she changes back to some task where she has more mastery. No one – not even a small child – likes to look foolish in front of other people.

Putting whole populations – the whole human species – under continuous, total surveillance is a profoundly immoral act, no matter whether it works or not. There no longer is a meaningful distinction between the digital world and the physical world. Your public transit rides, your love notes, your working notes and your letters home from your journeys are now part of the global mesh of electronic communications.

Read the rest

US federal judges resisting law enforcement demands for electronic evidence

"Judges at the lowest levels of the federal judiciary are balking at sweeping requests by law enforcement officials for cellphone and other sensitive personal data, declaring the demands overly broad and at odds with basic constitutional rights," reports the Washington Post.

"This rising assertiveness by magistrate judges — the worker bees of the federal court system — has produced rulings that elate civil libertarians and frustrate investigators, forcing them to meet or challenge tighter rules for collecting electronic evidence."

An interesting footnote observed by Freedom of the Press Foundation's Trevor Timm: "All federal magistrate judges are on a giant email list where they ask each other legal questions." 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

No new public domain works for US until 2019

At The Economist, Glenn Fleishman laments the freezing of the public domain in America under relentless entertainment-industry lobbying, even as Europeans enjoy an annual movement of cultural history to it: "While much of the rest of the world may take cheer from mass migration of material to the public domain each year, America has not seen one since the 1970s, nor will it until 2019." Read the rest

EFF Power Up fundraiser: every dollar you give is matched 2-to-1

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is running a fundraising challenge called "Power Up Your Donation," where every dollar donated is matched two-to-one by a group of major donors. My family has put up part of the $140,000 matching fund, because we're living in a world where technology could go either way: it might end up continuing to empower us and improve our lives, or become the agent of an unimaginably invasive corporate surveillance state. Without EFF and groups like it, we don't stand a chance. I worked for EFF for many years, and I've never seen an organization watch the pennies more closely and make a dollar go further.

Power Up Your Donation | Electronic Frontier Foundation Read the rest

The coming civil war over general purpose computing

Even if we win the right to own and control our computers, a dilemma remains: what rights do owners owe users?

Internet freedom fighters listed

The Guardian picks its "Open 20" fighters for internet freedom. Included are Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Jacob Appelbaum, and anonymous. Read the rest

Leaked DHS internet watchlist lists msthirteen.com, skeevy German site about 13yo girls as MS-13 gang news

So I'm going to be charitable here and presume that whoever compiled that internet monitoring watchlist at the Department of Homeland Security thought that "Miss Thirteen," at www.msthirteen.com, was a site about the ultraviolent Mara Salvatrucha or MS-13 gang, which originated in El Salvador and now operates in a number of US cities.

It's not.

Quote, mangle-translated from the original German by Google: "Change in our lives, accompanying us from our childhood into adult life. The hormones go crazy and actually everything is always much too confusing."

Perhaps this was the source for the bad link. And perhaps the fact that this site was included in the watchlist tells us something about how the watchlist was compiled, or how reliable its contents are as a disclosure of what the agency's monitoring.

(thanks, Elizabeth Gettelman!)

Previously: Homeland Security Internet Watch List leaked; Boing Boing sadly omitted from list of must-read sites for domestic spying

Update: Probably a more simple explanation -- the content of the site changed over time. The version of the document at Cryptome was published in 2011. The Reuters article that made the rounds today appears to be based on a new version of the document for 2012, which we haven't seen. BB reader Todd Towles says, "According to DNS Stuff, the current msthirteen.com domain was created in Sep 2011. According to the WayBackMachine, the site was about MS-13 on Feb 2010.

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