Cops have a secret, unaccountable system for tracking you by your cellphone, and they abuse it like crazy

Securus Technologies markets a product to law enforcement that taps into realtime cell-tower data from mobile carriers to produce fine-grained location tracking of anyone carrying a phone; it is nominally marketed to find parolees and wandering Alzheimer's patients, but because it has no checks or balances, cops can query it willy-nilly to find anyone's location. Read the rest

Cable operator Fidelity Communications admits it that secretly created the fake-grassroots "Stop City-Funded Internet" campaign to kill Missouri municipal net

Isaac Protiva wanted to know who was behind the "Stop City-Funded Internet" campaign that was pouring a fortune into scuttling the plan to build a fast, efficient, low-cost city network in his hometown of West Plains, Missouri; after a lot of digging, he discovered that (naturally), the "collection of fiscally conservative Missourians" who were nominally behind the site was actually the local cable-monopoly, Fidelity Communications, who came clean (but never apologized). Read the rest

Missouri GOP governor accused of blackmailing married lover with nude pics. His colleagues already hate his guts.

The short, weird political career of Eric Greitens -- a former Navy Seal and onetime Democrat turned secrecy-cloaked Republican and the youngest Governor ever elected in Missouri -- may be at its end.

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After a manager at a Dollar General asked about the unionization of a nearby store, the company fired her

Missouri, an overwhelmingly poor, GOP-dominated state, where a new "right-to-work" bill will face a referendum on the 2018 ballot, is at the heart of the battle over the nation's surging trade union movement. Read the rest

Missouri legislator responds to abortion controversy by slaughtering chicken. 'God gave man dominion over animals.'

Benjamin writes, "Missouri Governor Eric Greitens has called for a special session to basically make Saint Louis less of a 'sanctuary city' for those seeking abortion. This special session will lead to some pretty hefty taxpayer expense, of course, and has faced some opposition. In an inexplicable turn of events, this has lead to state Representative Mike Moon [R-Ash Grove] [@realmikemoon, +1 573-751-4077, Mike.Moon@house.mo.gov] a member of the Tea Party, to literally slaughter/Indiana Jones de-heart a live chicken, on video. Because, abortion." Read the rest

That time the TSA started screening all paper products separately

Akal Security Inc is the TSA contractor that screens passengers at Kansas City International Airport under a $108m/5 year contract; earlier this month they began abruptly scanning all paper products in carry on luggage, requiring passengers to pull out their books, papers, even post-it notes for secondary inspection. Read the rest

Freaky vigilantes of the 1880s Ozarks

As a child, writer Lisa Hix visited Silver Dollar City, a surreal theme park in the Ozark Mountains that I have been fortunate enough to experience myself. Like me, Lisa was enchanted with the nutty dark ride Fire In The Hole and its story of people in creepy devil-horned hoods who torched a town. No, they weren't KKK members but rather the Bald Knobbers, a 19th century vigilante group. Over at Collectors Weekly, Lisa explores the history of the Bald Knobbers:

Though they never lit a town on fire—that part of the ride is completely invented—the real story of their rise is a terrifying parable about what happens when government fails and violence reigns. It’s a lesson that’s perhaps more relevant in the political climate of 2017 than Americans would like it to be.

When I called Dr. Matthew J. Hernando, a professor at Ozark Technical College and author of Faces Like Devils: The Bald Knobber Vigilantes in the Ozarks, he told me that “Fire in the Hole”—which he has ridden many times—“is basically a bunch of nonsense.” For the real story of the Bald Knobbers, Hernando explained, you have to look at southwest Missouri’s peculiar history. In a region where the Civil War had laid waste to the rule of law, ne’er do wells like the notorious James-Younger Gang and vigilante groups like the Bald Knobbers emerged to fill the void of authority. Admirers saw them as righteous folk heroes; adversaries regarded them as murderous thugs.

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UPDATED: Ransomware creeps steal the entire St Louis library system

Update: The library system has recovered access to its computers.

The libraries of St Louis, MO have been crippled by a ransomware attack that has shut down the public terminals the library provides to the poor and vulnerable of St Louis, as well as the systems used to process book and material lending (the catalog is on a separate, uninfected system). Read the rest

How America abandoned the only policy that consistently closes the black-white educational gap

After 1954's landmark Brown v Board of Ed ruling, America's (largely racially segregated) cities began racially integrating their schools by busing black kids to white neighborhoods, a project that hit its stride at the start of the 1970s. It worked. Read the rest

After repeated budget cuts, Missouri's underfunded Public Defender drafts the Governor to work for him

Brother Phil writes, "The Public Defender's Office in Missouri is chronically underfunded by a governor who can always find money for his pet projects. However, they do have the power to draft any lawyer to serve as the defense in a case if they don't have one spare.Guess who just happens to be a lawyer..." Read the rest

My Kansas City World Science Fiction Convention schedule

I'm flying into Kansas City for part of Midamericon II, the 74th World Science Fiction Convention, and while there, I'll be on panels, give a reading, and sit down with fans for a kaffeeklatsch. Read the rest

Freshman Missouri Rep almost made it 3 months before introducing bill urging members to say "fiscal," not "physical"

Rep. Tracy McCreery [D] had served in the Missouri house of reps for nearly a whole quarter before she introduced H.R. 1220, which urges her fellow lawmakers to stop pronouncing "fiscal," as "physical." Read the rest

Hours after University of Missouri president resigns, Chancellor also steps down

“Hours after a wave of student and faculty protests over racial tensions led to the resignation of the president of the University of Missouri system on Monday, the chancellor of the campus here also stepped aside,” reports the New York Times. Read the rest

Terrorists torch five black Ferguson-area churches, nation yawns

St. Louis Fire Department captain Garon Mosby calls the fires "arson," but despite the shocking string of racist attacks, major media have hardly breathed a word about the fires. Read the rest

Teacher forced into retirement for showing archival queer-scare movie

Archivist Rick Prelinger sez, "Ken Simon, a high school teacher and coach for 47 years near Kansas City was retired early and ushered from the school after he showed showed Boys Beware, an infamous 1961 movie about homosexuality, to his class as a way of illuminating how attitudes toward gay and lesbian people have changed." Read the rest

Judge who invented Ferguson's debtor's prisons owes $170K in tax

Judge Ronald J Brockmeyer -- who filled Ferguson's coffers by fining its poorest residents and sent them to inhumane, overcrowded prisons when they couldn't pay a few hundred dollars -- stands accused of fixing fines for his cronies, and owes $170K in unpaid taxes. Read the rest

Family fake-kidnapped 6-year-old to teach him to mistrust strangers

The Troy, MO family of a six-year-old boy staged a kidnapping in which they terrorized him and made him believe that he would be sold into sex slavery, because they wanted to convince him not to be so "nice" to strangers. Read the rest

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