Puppet Masters


CFAA 2013: Congress' new draft could incarcerate teenagers that read news online

Minors could become
© Reuters
Minors could become "criminals" by misrepresenting their age to access news sites, according to proposed changes to an anti-hacking law.
Reading the news should be an essential habit, especially for students and children, yet anyone under 18 found browsing through the news online could hypothetically face jail time under the latest draft of proposed changes to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which is supposed to be "rushed" to Congress during its "cyber week" in the middle of April.

You can read these proposed alterations to the bill in its entirety here.

According to the new proposal floated by the House Judiciary Committee, the CFAA, which was originally passed in 1984 as a measure to thwart hacking, would be amended to treat any violation of a website's Terms of Service - or an employer's Terms of Use policy - as a criminal act. Under the proposed changes, users could be punished and possibly even prosecuted for accessing a website in a way it wasn't meant to be used.
Heart - Black

The woman who wrecked Great Britain

Margaret Thatcher and Augusto Pinochet
© Reuters
Margaret Thatcher and Augusto Pinochet in March, 1994, during a private meeting in Santiago.
Margaret Thatcher earned every single cheer that greeted her death

Aging punk rockers, trade-unionists and decent people around the world greeted the news of the passing of Margaret Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, with something less than respectful restraint. Millions of people had been looking forward to yesterday for years

Despite their quaint maintenance of a monarchy, British politics are less respectful than ours, and the prime minister is afforded much less regal deference than our president - though by the end of her reign Thatcher was always using the royal "we" - so the death of Thatcher has and will be debated in the United Kingdom much more critically than the death of her comrade-in-arms against the postwar liberal consensus Ronald Reagan was in the United States. The more cowardly American press, though, calls her time in office "controversial" and then moves on to the much more comfortable territory of her extraordinary ambition, forceful personality and skill with a cutting remark. (Our weird class of privileged British expat media leeches have also guided the discussion of the Iron Lady along those lines.)

It would be a crime to allow hagiography and personality to distract from what made her so deeply despised: She ruined Britain.

Taping of farm cruelty is becoming the crime

© The Humane Society of the United States
Several states have placed restrictions on undercover investigations into cruelty.
On one covert video, farm workers illegally burn the ankles of Tennessee walking horses with chemicals. Another captures workers in Wyoming punching and kicking pigs and flinging piglets into the air. And at one of the country's largest egg suppliers, a video shows hens caged alongside rotting bird corpses, while workers burn and snap off the beaks of young chicks.

Each video - all shot in the last two years by undercover animal rights activists - drew a swift response: Federal prosecutors in Tennessee charged the horse trainer and other workers, who have pleaded guilty, with violating the Horse Protection Act. Local authorities in Wyoming charged nine farm employees with cruelty to animals. And the egg supplier, which operates in Iowa and other states, lost one of its biggest customers, McDonald's, which said the video played a part in its decision.

But a dozen or so state legislatures have had a different reaction: They proposed or enacted bills that would make it illegal to covertly videotape livestock farms, or apply for a job at one without disclosing ties to animal rights groups. They have also drafted measures to require such videos to be given to the authorities almost immediately, which activists say would thwart any meaningful undercover investigation of large factory farms.

Critics call them "Ag-Gag" bills.

Amazon secretly removes "1984" from the Kindle

© io9
Thousands of people last week discovered that Amazon had quietly removed electronic copies of George Orwell's 1984 from their Kindle e-book readers. In the process, Amazon revealed how easy censorship will be in the Kindle age.

In this case, the mass e-book removals were motivated by copyright . A company called MobileReference, who did not own the copyrights to the books 1984 and Animal Farm, uploaded both books to the Kindle store and started selling them. When the rights owner heard about this, they contacted Amazon and asked that the e-books be removed.

And Amazon decided to erase them not just from the store, but from all the Kindles where they'd been downloaded. Amazon operators used the Kindle wireless network, called WhisperNet, to quietly delete the books from people's devices and refund them the money they'd paid.

An uproar followed, with outraged customers pointing out the irony that Amazon was deleting copies of a novel about a fascist media state that constantly alters history by changing digital records of what has happened. Amazon's action flies in the face of what people expect when they purchase a book. Under the "right of first sale" in the U.S., people can do whatever they like with a book after purchasing it, including giving it to a friend or reselling it. There is no option for a bookseller to take that book back once it's sold.

Exxon Mobil must pay $236M in New Hampshire pollution case

Exxon Mobil Corp. was found liable Tuesday in a long-running lawsuit over groundwater contamination caused by the gasoline additive MTBE, and the jury ordered the oil giant to pay $236 million to New Hampshire to clean it up.

The jurors reached their verdicts in less than 90 minutes, after sitting through nearly three months of testimony in the longest state trial in New Hampshire history.

The panel awarded the state the $236 million it was seeking to monitor and remediate groundwater contaminated by MTBE. The chemical was added to gasoline to reduce smog but was found to travel farther and faster in groundwater than gasoline without the additive.

''We appreciate the jurors' service during this long trial, but erroneous rulings prevented them from hearing all the evidence and deprived us of a fair trial,'' said Exxon Mobil lawyer David Lender.

Jurors found that Exxon Mobil was negligent in adding MTBE to its gasoline and that it was a defective product. They also found Exxon Mobil liable for failing to warn distributors and consumers about its contaminating characteristics.
Bad Guys

Secret tape: McConnell and aides weighed using Judd's mental health and religion as political ammo

A recording of a private meeting between the Senate GOP leader and campaign aides reveals how far they were willing to go to defeat the actor/activist.

On February 2, Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the US Senate, opened up his 2014 reelection campaign headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky, and in front of several dozen supporters vowed to "point out" the weaknesses of any opponent fielded by the Democrats. "They want to fight? We're ready," he declared. McConnell was serious: Later that day, he was huddling with aides in a private meeting to discuss how to attack his possible Democratic foes, including actor/activist Ashley Judd, who was then contemplating challenging the minority leader. During this strategy session - a recording of which was obtained by Mother Jones - McConnell and his aides considered assaulting Judd for her past struggles with depression and for her religious views.

Last month, Judd announced she wouldn't challenge McConnell, whose reelection campaign could become one of the most watched races of the 2014 cycle (if a serious Democratic opponent emerges). But at the February 2 meeting, McConnell and his team were fixated on Judd. McConnell told his aides that at the early stage of the campaign they had to clobber any potential challenger:
I assume most of you have played the, the game Whac-A-Mole?" (Laughter.) This is the Whac-A-Mole period of the campaign...when anybody sticks their head up, do them out.
Bizarro Earth

Beyond missionary work: The porn that's watched in Vatican City

© @tiffanystarrxxx @DirtySheenShaw via Twitter
Transsexual porn star Tiffany Starr, left, and female star Sheena Shaw, right, starred in an XXX-rated video downloaded by someone in Vatican City.
Thou shalt not steal porn off the Internet seems to be a commandment some residents of Vatican City choose to ignore.

The tiny city-state within Rome that houses around 800 people doesn't exactly have the highest downloading levels in the world, but that hasn't stopped some of its residents from swiping files starring the likes of female porn stars Sheena Shaw, Lea Lexis and Krissy Lynn, according to TorrentFreak.com.

Additionally, someone within the Catholic Church's headquarters also likes the work transsexual superstar Tiffany Starr.

A list of torrent files downloaded from Vatican City.
Gold Coins

Trust in gold not Bernanke as U.S. states promote bullion

google gold coins
Distrust of the Federal Reserve and concern that U.S. dollars may become worthless are fueling a push in more than a dozen states to recognize gold and silver coins as legal tender.

Arizona is poised to follow Utah, which authorized bullion for currency in 2011. Similar bills are advancing in Kansas, South Carolina and other states.

The measures backed by the limited-government Tea Party movement are mostly symbolic -- you still can't pay for groceries with gold in Utah. They reflect lingering dollar concerns, amplified by the Fed's unconventional moves in recent years to stabilize the economy, said Loren Gatch, who teaches politics at the University of Central Oklahoma.

"The legislation is about signaling discontent with monetary policy and about what Ben Bernanke is doing," said Gatch, who studies alternative currencies at the Edmond, Oklahoma-based school. "There is a fear that the government, or Bernanke in particular and the Federal Reserve, is pursuing a policy that will lead to the collapse of the dollar. That's what is behind it."

Bernanke has pushed interest rates to near zero since the 18-month recession that began in December 2007. The Fed said in March it would continue buying $85 billion in securities each month in a program known as quantitative easing that has ballooned its assets beyond $3 trillion and is aimed at keeping long-term borrowing costs low to support economic growth.
Penis Pump

Bemused Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel confronted by topless Femen protester in Hanover

Vladimir Putin appears to have at last found a form of anti-government protest that he can support.
Putin, Femen, Angela Merkel
© EPA/Jochen Luebke
Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are confronted by a topless demonstrator during a tour of the Hanover Fair, Hanover
The Russian president was confronted by a topless protester with an obscene slogan insulting Mr Putin painted on her back - and, he admitted, he "liked" it.

Mr Putin was with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at at a trade fair in Hanover when the woman tried to push her way through to an amused-looking Mr Putin, but was blocked by aides. Her back was painted with an obscene slogan in Cyrillic script directed against the Russian president.

The activist was with two other women who also stripped to the waist and shouted slogans calling the Russian leader a "dictator".

The women appeared to be members of the feminist group Femen, which has staged topless protests against the sex industry and religious institutions.

Speaking at a press conference afterwards, Mr Putin said: "As for the protest, I liked it. In principle, we knew that such a protest was being prepared."
Eye 2

Margaret Thatcher 'had psychopathic tendencies', actress Andrea Riseborough claims

Tendencies only? More likely is that she IS a psychopath
An actress who played Lady Thatcher has claimed the former Prime Minister had "psychopathic tendencies".

Andrea Riseborough played the young Margaret Thatcher in The Long Walk To Finchley, based on the former prime minister's early years in politics.

The 31-year-old Never Let Me Go and Made In Dagenham actress told the Radio Times: "Mrs Thatcher had oversights when it came to thousands of people. No, millions. She is still untouchable for many because she didn't operate in the way others did.

"Her connection with humanity was a very loose thread. Emotionally, she was not in touch with herself or anybody else. As well as being such an intelligent woman, I would say she had psychopathic tendencies."

She added: "As I understand it, the term implies a tendency not to feel as much guilt about one's actions as perhaps one ought to."

Riseborough, who starred in Madonna's WE, is up for an EE Bafta Rising Star award, which recognises new talent in the film industry.

Source: Press Association

"As I understand it, the term implies a tendency not to feel as much guilt about one's actions as perhaps one ought to."
Not quite, but close enough for horseshoes. Ms. Riseborough's formulation implies that there is a moral dimension to the problem. At root, the problem with psychopaths in power is not that they are doing things they ought not to be doing; it's that, as psychopaths, they cannot do differently because they have no conscience.