Trump’s dog

Trump Has Found His Roy Cohn in Matt Whitaker [Jonathan Chait/New York Magazine]

With Matt Whitaker, Trump has an attorney general that will allow Trump to place himself above the law and commit any crime with impunity.

The archconservative new acting attorney general has run for office and appears to see his future in Republican politics. As a candidate, he publicly declared that judges should be “people of faith” who had “a biblical view of justice.” In practical terms, he has interpreted the biblical view of justice the way most of his fellow Christian conservatives do: a combination of stern, Old Testament punishments meted out to Democrats combined with New Testament forgiveness toward any sin by a Republican.

Whitaker has publicly attacked the FBI for failing to indict Hillary Clinton for using a personal email. He defended Donald Trump Jr.’s decision to meet with a Russian operative promising dirt on Hillary Clinton. He opposed the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Russian election interference (“Hollow calls for independent prosecutors are just craven attempts to score cheap political points and serve the public in no measurable way.”) Whitaker has called on Rod Rosenstein to curb Mueller’s investigation, and specifically declared Trump’s finances (which include dealings with Russia) off-limits. He has urged Trump’s lawyers not to cooperate with Mueller’s “lynch mob”…

… having been installed in the Department of Justice, Whitaker has reportedly operated as a kind of White House spy to keep tabs on officials who might be suspiciously independent of Trump. Trump’s Chief of Staff John Kelly “has privately described [Whitaker] as the West Wing’s ‘eyes and ears”’ in a department the president has long considered at war with him”….

Internet death sentence

AT&T disconnects whole families from the internet because someone in their house is accused of copyright infringement

Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing:

The customers who are being disconnected have never been able to face their accusers or have a day in court. The people they live with are not accused of any wrongdoing. The internet they are losing is likely the only option they have for broadband — or one of two options, with the other one likely being a cable company like Comcast who may now join AT&T in a race to the bottom.

The internet is not a video-on-demand service, it’s the nervous system of the 21st century. Terminating someone from the internet terminates their access to family, education, employment, civic and political engagement, health care information, and virtually everything else we use to measure whether a society is functioning well for its citizens.

Defending the indefensible

Prop. 7 looks to change daylight saving time in California (CBS8.com)

I’ve become a convert to the Daylight Saving Time/Standard Time switch. Sure, it’s a problem for a couple of days – but it maximizes daylight for the maximum number of people. Year-round DST means kids going to school in the dark and getting hit by cars.

We should spend more of the year on standard time, though – six months of each, as used to be the case.

Myanmar sentences tourist to three months’ hard labor for pulling plug on Buddhist chants

Myanmar sentences tourist to three months’ hard labor for pulling plug on Buddhist chants

30-year-old Dutch tourist Klaas Haijtema says he thought the loudspeaker was a bunch of kids playing loud music and disturbing his sleep, so he unplugged it. He was sentenced to three months’ hard labor and fined $80. His lawyer says the Buddhist monks were the ones breaking the law by using loudspeakers after 9 pm. Even the Buddhist center’s neighbors say the place is too darn loud. (Saw Nang, The New York Times)

Kathy Sierra says she lost nothing by quitting social media after receiving numerous death threats

Kathy Sierra says she lost nothing by quitting social media after receiving numerous death threats

Sierra was the target of a flood of graphic death threats over her blog about web design. Yes, that’s right — web design.

Benjamen Walker’s Theory of Everything podcast:

In 2007 writer, programmer, and horse trainer Kathy Sierra quit the internet because of misogynist hate trolling. She stayed off the social web for 7 years but last year she came back to see what Twitter was like. She tells us why she only lasted a few weeks and her theory about why so many women are targets online. Plus Danielle Keats Citron explains how we could use the law to drain the cesspool.

Cory Doctorow on why science fiction is crap at predicting the future

Predicting the future isn’t what science fiction is for, says Cory. Science fiction reflects the aspirations and anxieties that people have about technology at the moment it was written.

It’s not just technology. It’s also politics and social change. And it applies to fantasy. H.P. Lovecraft in real life was a full-throated bigot who feared invading hordes of filthy mongrel immigrants; he turned that into some of the most powerful horror and fantasy written (enjoyed by legions, including the descendants of those same filthy mongrel immigrants). Star Trek has always been a reflection of whatever was going on in the news at the time the shows and movies aired.

Cory covers a lot of ground in this lively interview with Utah Public Radio’s Access Utah:

In a recent column, Doctorow says that “all the data collected in giant databases today will breach someday, and when it does, it will ruin peoples’ lives. They will have their houses stolen from under them by identity thieves who forge their deeds (this is already happening); they will end up with criminal records because identity thieves will use their personal information to commit crimes (this is already happening); … they will have their devices compromised using passwords and personal data that leaked from old accounts, and the hackers will spy on them through their baby monitors, cars, set-top boxes, and medical implants (this is already hap­pening)…” We’ll talk with Cory Doctorow about technology, privacy, and intellectual property.

Cory Doctorow is the co-editor of popular weblog Boing Boing and a contributor to The Guardian, Publishers Weekly, Wired, and many other newspapers, magazines and websites. He is a special consultant to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit civil liberties group that defends freedom in technology law, policy, standards and treaties. Doctorow is also an award-winning author of numerous novels, including “Little Brother,” “Homeland,” and “In Real Life.”

This American Life: Stories of people in over their heads

Deep End of the Pool, This American Life: “Host Ira Glass talks to Aaryn Zhou. When she was nine, her father threw her into the deep end of pool to teach her to swim. In this classic sink-or-swim scenario, she sank.”

Also, a flamboyant Louisiana lawyer with no criminal law experience is ordered by the court to take on the defense of a man facing 20 years to life for burglary. How is this not a movie?

The free software movement tries to hack the law

And open source what happens when advocates try to make free software business-friendly.

Benjamen Walker’s Theory of Everything podcast:

Anthropologist Gabriella Coleman tells us about her book Coding Freedom and the time she spent among the Hackers, “Chris” makes his TOE debut with a story about the alleged hacking of the New York Times by the Chinese, and your host wonders if it might be possible to hire a hacker to break into George RR Martin’s computer so that he can read the rest of the Game of Thrones story without having to wait 10 years like everyone else.

Melania Trump had work visa when she modeled in the 90s, former agency says

Melania Trump’s former modeling agent says she obtained a work visa before she modeled professionally in the United States in the mid-1990s. Those comments came in response to questions about Mrs. Trump’s own remarks that appeared inconsistent with U.S. immigration rules….

In interviews earlier this year with MSNBC and for a profile in Harper’s Bazaar, Mrs. Trump’s comments appeared to be inconsistent with holding a work visa.

“I never thought to stay here without papers. I had a visa. I traveled every few months back to the country to Slovenia to stamp the visa,” she said during the MSNBC interview.

U.S. immigration law did not require such trips that Mrs. Trump describes for work-visa holders at the time. People who hold visitor visas would be required to leave the country on or before the end date of their authorized stay. U.S. law does not allow someone to use a visitor visa to regularly live and work in the country.

Mrs. Trump published a statement on Twitter on Thursday, disputing that she violated immigration laws. “I have at all times been in full compliance with the immigration laws of this country. Period. Any allegation to the contrary is simply untrue,” she wrote.

Seems likely that she was here and working legally. Maybe back in the 90s she overcomplied with requirements because she misunderstood them. Or maybe now she is misremembering events of 20 years ago.

(The Associated Press/CBS News)

Sandra Bland died one year ago and since then at least 810 people lost their lives in jail

Dana Liebelson and Ryan J. Reilly investigate jailhouse suicides and other deaths for the Huffington Post:

Suicide has been the leading cause of death in jails in every year since 2000, according to the latest Justice Department data. This is not the case in prisons, where inmates are more likely to die of cancer, heart and liver disease. There’s a reason for this difference. People land in jail right after they’ve been arrested. They’re often angry, desperate or afraid. They may be intoxicated or have psychiatric conditions that officers have no way of knowing about.

The experts we spoke with emphasized that entering jail is an instantly dehumanizing process. “You get clothes that don’t fit you, you get strip-searched, you lose any semblance of privacy, you don’t get to make many decisions that we all take for granted,” said Jeffrey Metzner, a psychiatrist at the University of Colorado in Denver who specializes in inmate mental health. “I don’t think most of us realize just how frightening that experience is,” added Steve J. Martin, a corrections expert who is monitoring reforms at Rikers Island Correctional Facility in New York City. “You have a total and absolute loss—immediate loss—of control over your being, over your physical being.”

Under these circumstances, people can deteriorate at an alarming speed. About two weeks after Bland’s death, 20-year-old Brissa Lopez was arrested for allegedly fighting with her boyfriend, and arrived at a Texas jail around 4:47 a.m. She was “very cooperative” and “chuckled as she removed her tongue and lip ring,” according to a sergeant who admitted her. Staff checked on her at 6:15 a.m. Some 40 minutes later, she was found hanging from a fire alarm cage by a bedsheet.

Do we need new policy for cops using robots to kill criminals?

Use of police robot to kill Dallas shooting suspect believed to be first in US history:

[Elizabeth Joh, law professor at the University of California, Davis] said she was worried that the decision by police to use robots to end lives had been arrived at far too casually. “Lethally armed police robots raise all sorts of new legal, ethical, and technical questions we haven’t decided upon in any systematic way,” she said. “Under federal constitutional law, excessive-force claims against the police are governed by the fourth amendment. But we typically examine deadly force by the police in terms of an immediate threat to the officer or others. It’s not clear how we should apply that if the threat is to a robot – and the police may be far away.” That, Joh added, is only one condition for the use of lethal force. “In other words, I don’t think we have a framework for deciding objectively reasonable robotic force. And we need to develop regulations and policies now, because this surely won’t be the last instance we see police robots.”

How is this situation ethically or legally different from taking out a criminal with a sniper?

Federal Court Rules That Password Sharing Is Illegal Under Insane Ancient Law

There’s potential prison time for every millennial who shares his Netflix password and employee who asks a coworker to log in to his email. You can thank the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, passed before the Web was even a thing.

Brian Feldman reports for New York Magazine:

Punishment under the CFAA can be severe. Threatened with the prospect of years in jail for downloading millions of articles from JSTOR, the nonprofit digital library, cyberactivist Aaron Swartz committed suicide in 2013. This past spring, journalist Matthew Keys was sentenced to two years in prison for providing his Tribune Media log-in credentials to vandals who changed a Los Angeles Times headline for less than an hour.

Trump was refreshingly statesmanlike in his statements this morning

Greg Sargent at The Washington Post excerpts Trump’s statements:

We must restore law and order. We must restore the confidence of our people to be safe and secure in their homes and on the street.

The senseless, tragic deaths of two motorists in Louisiana and Minnesota reminds us how much more needs to be done….Our nation has become too divided. Too many Americans feel like they’ve lost hope. Crime is harming too many citizens. Racial tensions have gotten worse, not better. This isn’t the American Dream we all want for our children.

This is a time, perhaps more than ever, for strong leadership, love and compassion. We will pull through these tragedies.

 

Uber and Lyft learn to drive Sacramento

Uber, Lyft leave fingerprints on Sacramento ride-hailing bills

I’m curious about the requirement that drivers need to be fingerprinted. If it’s a good idea to require it for other drivers, why should Uber and Lyft be exempt?

And I’m encouraged to hear that Sacramento killed legislation that would have allowed ride share drivers to organize. We truly do have the best legislators money can buy.

[Carolyn Said/San Francisco Chronicle]

Supreme Court says “not yet” to taking the case on Texas voter ID law

They’ll intervene if a lower court doesn’t resolve the issue by midsummer.

There is no evidence of the kind of voter fraud that voter ID laws claim to be blocking. Also, voter ID laws are flagrantly un-Constitutional. Where in the Constitution does it say that you have a right to vote if the government says it’s OK?