The next time you're in California, you might not want to bring your cell phone with you. The California Supreme Court ruled Monday that police can search the cell phone of a person who's been arrested -- including text messages -- without obtaining a warrant, and use that data as evidence.
The ruling opens up disturbing possibilities, such as broad, warrantless searches of e-mails, documents, and contacts on smart phones, tablet computers, and perhaps even laptop computers, according to legal expert Mark Rasch.
. . . Rasch, former head of the Justice Department's computer crime unit, pulled no punches in his reaction to the ruling.
"This ruling isn't just wrong, it's dangerous," said Rasch, now director of cybersecurity and privacy at computer security firm CSC in Virginia. "It's remarkable, because it simply misunderstands the nature of these devices."
Legal scholar Jonathan Turley: "The Court has left the Fourth Amendment in tatters and this ruling is the natural extension of that trend." Other lawyers weigh in in the comments section. There's disagreement about whether this ruling will be overturned on appeal, and what will happen if it makes it to the Supremes.
SACRAMENTO, CA - An airline pilot is being disciplined by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for posting video on YouTube pointing out what he believes are serious flaws in airport security.
The 50-year-old pilot, who lives outside Sacramento, asked that neither he nor his airline be identified. He has worked for the airline for more than a decade and was deputized by the TSA to carry a gun in the cockpit.
He is also a helicopter test pilot in the Army Reserve and flew missions for the United Nations in Macedonia.
Three days after he posted a series of six video clips recorded with a cell phone camera at San Francisco International Airport, four federal air marshals and two sheriff's deputies arrived at his house to confiscate his federally-issued firearm. The pilot recorded that event as well and provided all the video to News10.
At the same time as the federal marshals took the pilot's gun, a deputy sheriff asked him to surrender his state-issued permit to carry a concealed weapon.
A follow-up letter from the sheriff's department said the CCW permit would be reevaluated following the outcome of the federal investigation.
The YouTube videos, posted Nov. 28, show what the pilot calls the irony of flight crews being forced to go through TSA screening while ground crew who service the aircraft are able to access secure areas simply by swiping a card.
"As you can see, airport security is kind of a farce. It's only smoke and mirrors so you people believe there is actually something going on here," the pilot narrates.
. . . The pilot's attorney, Don Werno of Santa Ana, said he believed the federal government sent six people to the house to send a message. "And the message was you've angered us by telling the truth and by showing America that there are major security problems despite the fact that we've spent billions of dollars allegedly to improve airline safety," Werno said . . . .
Contrary to the headline on this video (and sorry, there's a brief ad that prefaces it), this is not "Julian Assange Attacks Sarah Palin." A more bullshit blurb could not be written. It is, however, Julian Assange responding to the calls by people for his assassination.
It comes from this article by Glenn Greenwald on the decision by the UN to investigate the abusive treatment in detention of Bradley Manning.
In another article, Andrew Kreig investigates the possibility that Karl Rove's dirty fingerprints might be involved in the zeal to prosecute Assange as well.
From Al Franken's column in the Huffington Post:
This Tuesday [today] is an important day in the fight to save the Internet.
. . . The good news is that the Federal Communications Commission has the power to issue regulations that protect net neutrality. The bad news is that draft regulations written by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski don't do that at all. They're worse than nothing.
. . . Although Chairman Genachowski's draft Order has not been made public, early reports make clear that it falls far short of protecting net neutrality.
. . . Here's what's most troubling of all. Chairman Genachowski and President Obama -- who nominated him -- have argued convincingly that they support net neutrality.
But grassroots supporters of net neutrality are beginning to wonder if we've been had. Instead of proposing regulations that would truly protect net neutrality, reports indicate that Chairman Genachowski has been calling the CEOs of major Internet corporations seeking their public endorsement of this draft proposal, which would destroy it.
No chairman should be soliciting sign-off from the corporations that his agency is supposed to regulate -- and no true advocate of a free and open Internet should be seeking the permission of large media conglomerates before issuing new rules . . . .
In a perfect melding of the Keystone Kops Meet O'Brien, Janet Napolitano is coming to a Walmart near you. Her video, urging "If You See Something, Say Something," is rolling out at W emporia all across the country:
The message will be continuously looped on TV monitors at the 588 Walmarts in the U.S. One can only imagine the hilarity that will ensue when one gun-buying customer doesn't like the looks of another. But then maybe Napolitano doesn't really know the People of Walmart that well, after all.
"Report suspicious activity to your local police or sheriff. If you need help, ask a Walmart manager for assistance.” Ah, yes, ask a manager for assistance! Next time you get in a tug-of-war with another customer over the last Game Boy in the store, just report that sucker to management for "suspicious activity."
Okay. I've been wanting to do this for weeks but didn't quite know the appropriate time. Maybe it's never an appropriate time, or maybe it always is. And thus the perfect ambivalence with which to introduce this blog!
Bob Somerby has been writing The Daily Howler for cyber-eons. Fair disclosure: he roomed with Al Gore at Harvard. As I recall, he started howling right about the time people started claiming Gore had said he "invented" the internet. Somerby knew that claim was bullshit, and he kept saying so. Anyway, he's firmly on the Left but he's definitely not, as he would put it, tribal. And that's why I like reading him.
I'll be curious to see the reaction here. I think y'all will find a lot to love and to hate in Bob's writing, especially this post called "Return of the Teach-In!" This should be fun.
Ballgame just brought this column by Naomi Wolf to our attention in another thread, but I think it deserves its own post. Excerpt (bolds mine):
. . . These two Senators, and the rest of the Congressional and White House leadership who are coming forward in support of this appalling development, are cynically counting on Americans' ignorance of their own history -- an ignorance that is stoked and manipulated by those who wish to strip rights and freedoms from the American people. They are manipulatively counting on Americans to have no knowledge or memory of the dark history of the Espionage Act -- a history that should alert us all at once to the fact that this Act has only ever been used -- was designed deliberately to be used -- specifically and viciously to silence people like you and me.
The Espionage Act was crafted in 1917 -- because President Woodrow Wilson wanted a war and, faced with the troublesome First Amendment, wished to criminalize speech critical of his war. In the run-up to World War One, there were many ordinary citizens -- educators, journalists, publishers, civil rights leaders, union activists -- who were speaking out against US involvement in the war. The Espionage Act was used to round these citizens by the thousands for the newly minted 'crime' of their exercising their First Amendment Rights. A movie producer who showed British cruelty in a film about the Revolutionary War (since the British were our allies in World War I) got a ten-year sentence under the Espionage act in 1917, and the film was seized; poet E.E. Cummings spent three and a half months in a military detention camp under the Espionage Act for the 'crime' of saying that he did not hate Germans. Esteemed Judge Learned Hand wrote that the wording of the Espionage Act was so vague that it would threaten the American tradition of freedom itself. Many were held in prison for weeks in brutal conditions without due process; some, in Connecticut -- Lieberman's home state -- were severely beaten while they were held in prison. The arrests and beatings were widely publicized and had a profound effect, terrorizing those who would otherwise speak out.
. . . I call on all American citizens to rise up and insist on repeal of the Espionage Act immediately. We have little time to waste. The Assange assault is theater of a particularly deadly kind, and America will not recover from the use of the Espionage Act as a cudgel to threaten journalists, editors and news outlets with. I call on major funders of Feinstein's and Lieberman's campaigns to put their donations in escrow accounts and notify the staffers of those Senators that the funds willonly be released if they drop their traitorous invocation of the Espionage Act. I call on all Americans to understand once for all: this is not about Julian Assange. This, my fellow citizens, is about you . . . .
According to this press release from the State Department, the U.S. will host next year's UNESCO World Press Freedom Day:
The United States places technology and innovation at the forefront of its diplomatic and development efforts. New media has empowered citizens around the world to report on their circumstances, express opinions on world events, and exchange information in environments sometimes hostile to such exercises of individuals’ right to freedom of expression. At the same time, we are concerned about the determination of some governments to censor and silence individuals, and to restrict the free flow of information. We mark events such as World Press Freedom Day in the context of our enduring commitment to support and expand press freedom and the free flow of information in this digital age.
The mind, it reels.
It's been almost three months since I wrote about my friend David Rector, and since then little has changed. The judge threw Roz a bone by allowing her to care for David for a few months, with all kinds of hand-tying restrictions applied. Roz did succeed, after jumping through more hoops than you would have the patience to read about, in taking David to a movie. The nursing home tried to prevent that, too, at the last minute, even after receiving the reams of required documentation. David chose the movie himself (though the hired guns don't, of course, acknowledge that he can choose anything for himself). He's an Anne Hathaway fan, so he chose her latest film.
I'll copy and paste one of Roz's recent updates after the jump. I only remind folks that this fate is potentially that of any of us, no matter how carefully we plan or how much we'd rather not think about it.
Periodically I've suggested that readers wander on over to Crispin Sartwell's blog, Eye of the Storm, for thoughtful, provocative, sometimes infuriating posts. Crispin teaches philosophy at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa. He's an anarchist, though of which variety I can't say as I can't keep all the nuances straight; you can ask him if you want to go there. Crispin has also (rarely) commented here at the Cogblog. In my opinion, he can be quite contrarian, whether out of genuine principle or just plain cussedness. In any case, he writes thought-provoking, even poetic, stuff, such as this op-ed style piece on environmentalism.
The only Senator to vote against the Patriot Act:
“Some have said rather cavalierly that in these difficult times we must accept some reduction in our civil liberties in order to be secure.
“Of course, there is no doubt that if we lived in a police state, it would be easier to catch terrorists. If we lived in a country that allowed the police to search your home at any time for any reason; if we lived in a country that allowed the government to open your mail, eavesdrop on your phone conversations, or intercept your email communications; if we lived in a country that allowed the government to hold people in jail indefinitely based on what they write or think, or based on mere suspicion that they are up to no good, then the government would no doubt discover and arrest more terrorists.
“But that probably would not be a country in which we would want to live. And that would not be a country for which we could, in good conscience, ask our young people to fight and die. In short, that would not be America.”
Thank you, Russ Feingold, and thank you, Kelly Vlahos.
Well, I've been saying it from the beginning. But what the hell.
I just got back from a business trip requiring me to fly through BWI (Baltimore-Washington International). BWI was one of the first airports in the country to implement the TSA strip-search scanners, but it's the most convenient airport for me. Besides, as the TSA itself tells us in several different places on its website, "advanced imaging technology screening is optional to all passengers."
Many of us on this blog have already discussed the bullshit-o-rama that is airport security, especially the pointless and invasive strip-search scanners. Costing taxpayers billions of dollars, they are the biggest boondoggle to come down the pike in a long time. Like so many of the other procedures we go through at airport checkpoints, they don't make us any safer, they just provide a showy bit of theater in which we all play our parts: we pretend we're actually doing something to protect ourselves from The Terrorists. Because The Terrorists are always On The Verge of Getting Us.
So of course I was prepared to step into my starring role along with everyone else, except that I knew I was going to decline the strip-search scanner.
The bloggers here have been so kind as to let me join Cogitamus as the latest addition to its roster, and I am suitably pleased. I've long followed and commented on this blog, and it was really the only blog I wanted to move to!
I hope to add to the eclectic mix of scrupulous wonkery, political passion and whimsical digression that's characterised Cogitamus with my own random mix of interests. They pretty much follow the same lines, except, as a European, I'll throw in a fair share of stuff on the political and peculiar this side of the ocean as well.
For the past four or five months I've been doing that on observationalism.com, which was my first venture into blogging. (I long derided the idea of blogging for myself, so the fact that I do so enthusiastically now after all raises the frightening spectre that one day I'll end up Twittering too.)
As for my background, I'm Dutch; I moved to Hungary a few years ago, where I work for an international NGO; I'm a news addict with a special weakness for anything that involves graphs and charts; and I like photographing, having tea and cake in coffeehouses, and old punk music. So I've got the eclectic covered, anyway.
Among thousands of websites around the world celebrating, along with us, the triumph of Barack Obama, is this one from Italy with a charming translation that I do hope nobody corrects. It's so sweet, and you can feel their joy. They're asking Americans to post their thoughts -- don't worry, no Italian required (just click on "Commenti" -- it all works the same as here). The name of the blog, Polvere di Luna, means "Moon Dust."
This is a smaller-than-life-size image of one of the pages in the book The Affected Provincial's Companion, a compendium of -- how to describe it? -- aesthetic musings, sartorial suggestions, historical anecdotes, philosophical levity, personal tidbits, political implications, botanical info, witty illustrations, helpful diagrams, and general silliness. It's the work of the sweetly twisted mind of Lord Whimsy (not to be confused with the fictional Lord Peter Wimsey of Dorothy L. Sayers fame), one of whose blogs is listed on the Cogblogroll to the left, but whose work I've long wanted to highlight yet didn't dare do during the deadly serious election season.
Lord Whimsy is actually Victor Allen Crawford who, with his wife Susan, runs the graphic design firm Plankton Art Co. If you want to engage him professionally, you can get him there. But if you just want to drink in his perfumed peculiarities, you're better off going to his alter ego's website, where you can find, among other things, his manifesto, pictures of strange lichens and fungi, colors, textures, and other images of beauty, and even political statements such as this:
This article will appear in the NYT Magazine on Sunday. Being, like litbrit, a linguaphile, I love a good turn of phrase. So hats off to the copywriter who came up with "malwebolence" to describe that particular brand of immaturity, cowardice, cruelty, and outright viciousness that has come to define a certain cadre of sad sacks on the web. Not able to shove somebody on the playground, and too stupid to do anything productive with their lives, they turn to tormenting strangers, sometimes to the point of criminality. One wonders what Socrates, Aristotle, Rousseau, Kant, Hume, et. al. would've made of this development? Maybe nothing. Maybe, they would say, the technology's changed, but human nature hasn't.
Sabotabby posted this terrific graphic* at Punkassblog last year, yes. But it would seem that no-one has given the rabid Randians a heads-up about their dire need for some fresh, as-yet-undebunked talking points (and especially, some talking points that don't immediately inspire howls of derisive laughter among thinking people).
Thus, Libertarian Troll Bingo can be as much fun as it ever was. I mean, take the comments on Ezra's latest health care post--it's uncanny! I'm on my way to WIN, I tell you.
*Unless you're blessed with a Super Best Friend's laserscope eyesight, I'd recommend clicking the image to enlarge it.
Also at litbrit.
Okay, in deference to my friend and colleague Crispin Sartwell, with whom I often disagree on matters political and social (such as his fondness for anarchism and love of rap, to name but two), I'm posting his challenge. He's still a brilliant guy with often compelling arguments, and I'm as happy to throw down the philosophical gauntlet as the next person. So here's his manifesto and challenge to you, gentle readers (he also has a video challenge up on YouTube, and if I could remember how to embed it I would):