Law enforcement officers in Washington state using cell tower simulator to sweep up data
Aug27

Law enforcement officers in Washington state using cell tower simulator to sweep up data

For the past six years, the Tacoma, WA Police Department has used “controversial surveillance equipment that can sweep up records of every cellphone call, text message and data transfer up to a half a mile away,” according to the Tacoma News Tribune. One of the more chilling aspects of this story: Tacoma has a nondisclosure agreement with the FBI. Given that agreement, I suppose this is not surprising: Earlier this month,...

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Dear MSM: this was no accident, it was incompetence
Aug25

Dear MSM: this was no accident, it was incompetence

“We got a complaint of a vehicle matching your description and your license plate, waving a gun out the window.” Here’s the problem. The car identified by dispatch: “It’s going to be a beige or tan colored Toyota…” The car the Forney TX cops pulled over: red Nissan Maxima. There’s more: Dispatch: “Do you have a license plate on the Toyota?” Caller: “We can’t catch up with it....

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Law enforcement actions against journalists in Ferguson
Aug19

Law enforcement actions against journalists in Ferguson

On Saturday, August 10 at 12:01 p.m., 28-year-old Darren Wilson confronted 18-year-old Michael Brown. According to press reports, Brown was walking down the middle of a street; Wilson was in his police car. Reports conflict as to what happened next, but three minutes later Brown was dead, his body riddled from at least six gun shots. At Storify, I’ve begun chronicling reports of law enforcement officers arresting and harassing...

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Making sense of Ferguson
Aug18

Making sense of Ferguson

We’re on day eight since Michael Brown, 18, was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, MO. Sunday, a former New York forensic examiner reported that Brown had been shot at least six times, twice in the head. “In my capacity as the forensic examiner for the New York State Police, I would say, ‘You’re not supposed to shoot so many times,’ ” said Dr. Baden, who retired from the state police in 2011. “Right now there is...

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The White House launches a digital consulting service for agencies, but what about culture change?
Aug12

The White House launches a digital consulting service for agencies, but what about culture change?

In announcing the new U.S. Digital Service (USDS), Chief Information Officer Steve VanRoekel told the Washington Post: “Think of this as [a team of] management consultants that helps you understand your gaps.” The Playbook is a next step for the digital president and a response to the HealthCare.gov disaster. There were gaping holes – not just gaps – related to both project management and testing in the...

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Comedy, substance abuse and depression: reflecting on Robin Williams’ life and death
Aug11

Comedy, substance abuse and depression: reflecting on Robin Williams’ life and death

I learned about Robin Williams, 63, the old-fashioned way. My husband walked in the house and announced, “The world is a sadder place today.” “Mom and dad just heard on the TV. Robin Williams has died.” From devastation to disbelief, colleagues and admirers of Robin Williams reflect on his death: http://t.co/zIRXOWMUqn — The Associated Press (@AP) August 12, 2014 A quick search of Twitter confirmed the...

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It’s not warming. It’s dying.
Aug08

It’s not warming. It’s dying.

According to Dezeen magazine, graphic designer Milton Glaser has launched an awareness campaign centered on global warming. Glaser created the iconic “I love NY” logo as well as a Smithsonian-featured ’60s image of Bob Dylan. “There is no more significant issue on earth than its survival,” Glaser told Dezeen. “The questions is, ‘how can anyone not be involved?’” In case you missed it:...

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Congress sides with consumers on cellphone unlocking bill
Jul28

Congress sides with consumers on cellphone unlocking bill

Almost eight years ago, the U.S. Copyright Office gave cellphone owners the right to unlock their cellphones. It had been illegal since the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which banned the “circumvention” of any copy protection mechanisms (Section 1201). This did not, however, mean that carriers honored the ruling. AT&T, for example, has been a notable laggard with regards to the iPhone. From April 2012 :...

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Political reporting and the statehouse: a disturbing report from Pew Research
Jul22

Political reporting and the statehouse: a disturbing report from Pew Research

It’s well-known that digital disruption has wrecked havoc on the nation’s newsrooms. What’s less documented is how that disruption has played out on specific types of news and in specific geographic areas. Pew Research Center has analyzed number of full-time reporters covering state politics in every state. Using population as the relational variable, they’ve identified which states have a high...

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White House press secretary criticizes anonymous sources, yet scheduled anonymous chat
Jul21

White House press secretary criticizes anonymous sources, yet scheduled anonymous chat

If you live in a glass house … be careful of the stones you throw .@PressSec condemns anonymous sources. Just arriving in email: White House invitation to reporters for call with anonymous admin officials. — Peter Baker (@peterbakernyt) July 21, 2014 In the daily briefing Monday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest criticized a story that relied on anonymous critics of the Administration. An unnamed female reporter...

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Microsoft layoffs extend to vendors
Jul19

Microsoft layoffs extend to vendors

Updated and re-ordered, Saturday 2:00 p.m. Pacific Blood-letting in Redmond On Thursday, Microsoft told us they were laying off 14% of their full-time (blue badge) global workforce. Then Friday, an oh-by-the-way. Our contractors and vendors? Effective July 1, those folks are  limited to 18 months of access to Microsoft buildings and network. Then they have to take a six month minimum break. Wouldn’t you like to be a vendor...

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The reality of sudden poverty
Jul09

The reality of sudden poverty

My boyfriend proposed, and we bought a house. Then, just three weeks after we closed, the market crashed. The house we’d paid $240,000 for was suddenly worth $150,000. It was okay, though — we were still making enough money to cover the exorbitant mortgage payments. Then we weren’t. This is the story of an educated, white, middle-class couple (both employed in journalism, but that’s a different story) and what happened to them...

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The BBC and science reporting: avoid “false balance”
Jul08

The BBC and science reporting: avoid “false balance”

Update 2: 10:55 am Pacific, 8 July 2014 BBC admonished for giving climate change deniers equal air time BBC staff told to stop inviting cranks on to science programmes Stop Giving Airtime to Crackpots BBC to Censor Scientists that Question Global Warming BBC’s “Crank-less” Science Policies May Lead To Censorship BBC strives for better science reporting by refusing airtime to climate deniers Monday’s headlines...

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A counter to scientific denialism: ASAP Science videos
Jun14

A counter to scientific denialism: ASAP Science videos

Science, technology, engineering and math, aka STEM, are key areas of knowledge for the 21st century. Heck, they were key in the 20th century, too! Remember JFK and the moon challenge as well as his tribute to science on the 100th anniversary of the National Academy of Sciences? Recent scientific advances have not only made international cooperation desirable, but they have made it essential. The ocean, the atmosphere, outer space,...

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Washington Post gives op-ed soap box to pseudo-academic rant
Jun11

Washington Post gives op-ed soap box to pseudo-academic rant

Call it the “Buzzfeed-ization” of headline writing, but this one from Tuesday’s Washington Post op-ed section is a doozy: One way to end violence against women? Stop taking lovers and get married. The data shows that #yessallwomen would be safer hitched to their baby daddies. WaPost – "One way to end violence against women? Stop taking lovers and get married" http://t.co/qQpEkVxrRt #shame...

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Then and now: the NSA on Snowden
May30

Then and now: the NSA on Snowden

I’m not going to try to persuade you of who is fibbing in this week’s skirmish between the establishment (represented by Sen. Diane Feinstein) and the upstart (Edward Snowden). Just two quotes: Asked about those conversations, NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines sent a prepared statement to The Post: “After extensive investigation, including interviews with his former NSA supervisors and co-workers, we have not found any evidence...

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“Open Internet” versus “Network Discrimination”: how the FCC could be like TSA
Apr25

“Open Internet” versus “Network Discrimination”: how the FCC could be like TSA

Using money to privilege convenience may be the American ethic. And it’s a far cry from the egalitarianism exemplified in “all men are created equal.” Look at the TSA and its “precheck” program, for example. With TSA precheck, you pay $85 and cough up your biometrics and an application for government review. If you don’t have a prison record, you can probably get your own ID, a Known Traveler Number...

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Android vulnerability: what you need to know about the Heartbleed bug
Apr11

Android vulnerability: what you need to know about the Heartbleed bug

The latest #Heartbleed news is that Android devices running version 4.1.1 – phones and tablets – are at risk. Google has sent the patch to partners (you know, the teleco you bought your phone from) … and customers wait for them to act. How to tell if your Android device is vulnerable to Heartbleed: @MrCippy shows you what you need to do http://t.co/SueWARezVF — CNET (@CNET) April 11, 2014 This is the latest...

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Change your passwords: the Heartbleed bug
Apr09

Change your passwords: the Heartbleed bug

UPDATED: About two-thirds of the Internet’s web servers are running software which may have exposed your passwords or other sensitive (read, encrypted) information. Make no mistake about it. The OpenSSL Heartbleed security hole is as serious for Internet security as a stage four cancer diagnosis would be for you. - Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols UPDATE 8:40 am Pacific “Catastrophic” is the right word [for Heartbleed]. On...

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Chart junk at its finest: Fox on ACA
Mar31

Chart junk at its finest: Fox on ACA

  I rarely give MediaMatters a first look, much less a second one. But today? Today’s different. This came across my Facebook news feed from an east coast journo. It is one of the most egregious pieces of chart junk — in this case, propaganda as well — that I have seen coming from a “news” organization. I know, I know. The folks here on the left are gonna scream one way and those on the right...

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