"But slavery was so long ago"

Originally commissioned as a wrist tattoo, the simple and powerful chart showing how recent black freedom is in America is now also a t-shirt.

"...but slavery was sooo long ago."

We've heard this quote over and over throughout the course of modern American history. In an attempt to urge black people to "move on" and to recognize just how good they have it in America, this dismissive and tone deaf statement attempts to transform relatively recent history into ancient history or myth.

However, when looking at this graphic, it is very clear that American slavery and segregation was not so long ago. In fact, it is very possible to have conversations with many African Americans who have vivid memories of Jim Crow South and the racist and subversive practices in the North.

I like this black and white version:

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Meet the sheriff who threatened to arrest someone for anti-Trump sticker on their car

Troy E. Nehls is the sheriff in Fort Bend County, Texas. Troy here thinks that it's illegal to have a "Fuck Trump" sticker on your truck, and called on the public to track down the owner so they could be threatened with a disorderly conduct charge.

"I have received numerous calls regarding the offensive display on this truck as it is often seen along FM 359," he wrote on Facebook. "If you know who owns this truck or it is yours, I would like to discuss it with you. Our Prosecutor has informed us she would accept Disorderly Conduct charges regarding it, but I feel we could come to an agreement regarding a modification to it."

The easily-offended Nehls, himself reportedly considering a run for political office, has a problem: the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees the right to upset the delicate feelings of public officials like him and president Trump — even if the words are naughty.

Moroever, the truck belongs to a former employee, whose wife Karen has more words for her sweet summer sheriff, and for a cop who pulled the vehicle over in hopes of finding something to charge them with.

"It's just our freedom of speech and we're exercising it," she told the Houston Chronicle.

Worse for Nehls, the local district attorney, John Healey, publicly rejected his assertion a prosecution was on the cards.

Healey, a Republican not seeking re-election next year, said he wished the sheriff's office had contacted him earlier about the incendiary issue.

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To avoid honoring FOIA requests, some governments are suing requesters

Freedom of information requests for public records are getting harder to complete, especially now that some governments are suing requesters. Read the rest

India supreme court rules sexual orientation is a fundamental right

India, the world's largest democracy, declares freedom of sexual orientation of fundamental right.

India’s Supreme Court has given the country’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans community the freedom to safely express their sexual orientation. In a historic decision on Thursday, the nine-judge panel declared that an individual’s sexual orientation is protected under the country’s Right to Privacy law.

“Sexual orientation is an essential attribute of privacy,” the decision reads. “Discrimination against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation is deeply offensive to the dignity and self-worth of the individual. Equality demands that the sexual orientation of each individual in society must be protected on an even platform.”

The ruling does not obviate existing laws criminalizing or discriminating against queer folk but lays the groundwork for doing so, especially a pending court challenge to Section 377. Read the rest

Hate groups expose the cynicism of social media platforms

Those praising social media for turfing out white supremacists (and those demanding free speech from it), are missing a deeper problem, writes John Herrman: that these commercial simulations of liberal public discourse are broken replicas of it, ultimately ruled by fiat.

But what gave these trolls power on platforms wasn’t just their willingness to act in bad faith and to break the rules and norms of their environment. It was their understanding that the rules and norms of platforms were self-serving and cynical in the first place. After all, these platforms draw arbitrary boundaries constantly and with much less controversy — against spammers, concerning profanity or in response to government demands.

Believing that private companies must embody or guarantee constitutional rights is one of the internet's worst mistakes. It's not about whether they say yes or no; the plain fact is they can't, even if they want to. They are never free of outside pressure or internal cunning. When we yabber at them to do this or that, we're forgetting that we're just speechcropping. The fact a handful of tech companies are becoming the only public square is a growing problem. Read the rest

Cease and Desist pin

Kingdrippa makes and sells these fabulously trenchant mouse pins. It's $11. In fact, there's so many cool things in this store I might have to blog the lot.

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Man wanders London while dual-wielding potted marijuana plants

Welcome to the Dank of England, where appearances are stern but enforcement is lax. Read the rest

Beautiful short film celebrates the full LGBTQAlphabet

Equinox collaborated with New York City’s LGBT Community Center to create a video that embraces the limitless spectrum of the LGBTQ experience. 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

Facebook offering "vulnerable teens" to advertisers shows it is willing to be used as a weapon

Facebook was caught offering advertisers a direct line to psychologically vulnerable teens. Nitasha Tiku writes that this exposes the deeper danger of its insight into our lives: it's not the data that's the problem, it's how it could be "weaponized in ways those users cannot see, and would never knowingly allow."

The company had offered advertisers the opportunity to target 6.4 million younger users, some only 14 years old, during moments of psychological vulnerability, such as when they felt “worthless,” “insecure,” “stressed,” “defeated,” “anxious,” and like a “failure.” ...

If the users in question weren’t teenagers—or if the emotion wasn’t insecurity—Facebook’s public statement might have been sufficient; the uproar from privacy advocates may have been duly noted, then promptly forgotten.

Instead, as Kathryn Montgomery, a professor at American University and the director of the school’s communications studies division—who is married to Chester—tells WIRED, The Australian’s report served as “a flashpoint that enables you to glimpse Facebook’s inner workings, which in many ways is about monetization of moods.”

As Tiku points out: "It’s not a dystopian nightmare. It’s just a few clicks away from the status quo."

The fences you put up are meaningless if Facebook owns the land.

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EU court rules against seller of "preconfigured for piracy" media boxes

An EU court ruled against a seller of customized set-top boxes this week, with the judge saying that his preinstallation of certain Kodi Add-Ons makes the boxes illegal to offer.

Mr Wullems sells, over the internet, various models of a multimedia player under the name ‘filmspeler’. That device acts as a medium between a source of audiovisual data and a television screen. On that player, Mr Wullems installed an open source software that enabled files to be played through a user-friendly interface, via structured menus. In addition, integrated into the player were add-ons available on the internet whose function is to retrieve the desired content from streaming websites and make it start playing, on a simple click, on the multimedia player connected to a television. Some of those internet sites give access to digital content with the consent of the right holders, whilst others give access without their consent. According to the advertising, the multimedia player made it possible, in particular, to watch on a television screen, easily and for free, audiovisual material available on the internet without the consent of the copyright holders

It might seem a 'technical' outcome: it's still fine to sell boxes with open streaming software, the end-user just has to set up arrmatey.plugin their own damned selves. But "Who, whom?" is always important. Read the rest

Report: Sausage Party animators threatened if they didn't work free overtime

The hit CG-animated movie opened to a strong $33m box office this weekend, but claims emerged that costs were kept low by firing people who refused to work without pay and that many animators were omitted from the film's credits in retaliation for leaving.

The production cost were kept low because Greg would demand people work overtime for free. If you wouldn't work late for free your work would be assigned to someone who would stay late or come in on the weekend. Some artist were even threatened with termination for not staying late to hit a deadline.

The animation department signed a petition for better treatment and paid overtime. When the letter got to Annapurna they stepped in and saw that artist were payed and fed when overtime was needed.

Over 30 animators left during the coarse of the production due to the stress and expectations. Most of them left before the paid overtime was implemented. This was met with animosity and was taken as a personal insult to the owners. Their names were omitted from the final credits despite working for over a year on this film.

No names are named (though the discrepancy between the VFX staff listed at IMDB and those on the movie itself is unusual) but this is a pervasive problem in animation. Sausage Fest is getting good reviews, so stands a reasonable chance of being a reputation-maker for many of those who can prove, one way or another, that they had a hand in it. Read the rest

Kickass Torrents returns after a whole day offline

A day after an expensive, multinational police effort to remove KickAssTorrents from the net culminated in the arrest of its founder and the confiscation of its domains, the inevitable happened. It's back online.

This morning the founder of kat.cr was arrested in Poland. It is another attack on freedom of rights of internet users globally. We think it's our duty not to stand aside but to fight back supporting our rights. In the world of regular terrorist attacks where global corporations are flooded with money while millions are dying of diseases and hunger, do you really think that torrents deserve so much attention? Do you really think this fight worth the money and resources spent on it? Do you really think it's the real issue to care of right now? We don’t!

You don't have to believe the rhetoric to understand how futile it is trying to push cybertoothpaste back in the cyberbottle. Effectively, all the attempt did here was turn an underground piracy site into a mainstream phenomenon, its mirrors linked to by every major news site on the internet. Read the rest

Google "deletes" artist's blog, erasing 12 years of work

Artist Dennis Cooper reports that Google shut down his website, without explanation, erasing 12 years of work.

Along with his blog, Google disabled Cooper’s email address, through which most of his correspondence was conducted, he told me via Facebook message. He got no communication from Google about why it decided to kill his email address and blog.

Cooper used the blog to post his fiction, research, and visual art, and as Artforum explains, it was also “a platform through which he engaged almost daily with a community of followers and fellow artists.” His latest GIF novel (as the term suggests, a novel constructed with animated GIFs) was also mostly saved to the blog.

“It seems that the only option I have left is to sue Google,” Cooper told Artforum. “This will not be easy for me for the obvious reasons, but I’m not going to just give up ten years of my and others’ work without doing everything possible.”

You're savvy, you know the drill. You don't have to blame the victim, a nontechnical person who had no idea how or why a data host could screw him. Just keep nagging everyone you know to keep multiple backups of everything and to be wary of becoming dependent on specific online services for reaching friends, colleagues, customers, and audiences.

Even people smart to these issues still get suckered, too. For example, consider your "cloud storage". Just as susceptible to Dennis Cooper's experience, which in the coming years many of us will also enjoy. Read the rest

How to kick Pokemon Go out of your Google account

A privacy trainwreck: Pokemon Go, the hit augmented reality game that's seeing kids and adults alike scouring the real world looking for monsters to nab, quietly gets "full access" to players' Google accounts. And check out the small print that goes with it. Read the rest

AMC threatens to sue fansite over Walking Dead spoilers

AMC claims that spoilers (and even predictions) of its show, The Walking Dead, infringe copyright. As spoilers are other people's descriptions of something they've seen, in their own words, this would put all unauthorized reviews and commentary in the same boat. But that hasn't stopped it issuing legal threats to fans.

AMC finally reached out to us! But it wasn’t a request not to post any info about the Lucille Victim or any type of friendly attempt at compromise, it was a cease and desist and a threat of a lawsuit by AMC Holdings, LLC’s attorney, Dennis Wilson. They say we can’t make any type of prediction about the Lucille Victim. Their stance is that making such a prediction would be considered copyright infringement. AMC tells us that we made some claim somewhere that says we received “copyright protected, trade secret information about the most critical plot information in the unreleased next season of The Walking Dead” and that we announced we were going to disclose this protected information. We still aren't sure where we supposedly made this claim because they did not identify where it was. ...

Basically what it all comes down to is if we post our Lucille Victim prediction and we're right, AMC says they will sue us. Whether there are grounds for it or not is not the issue, it still costs money to defend. That is the way our justice system works. Would we have defenses? Sure. But it also costs money to mount that defense.

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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

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