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May 8, 2013
This has definitely been our most well-received download. I don’t think any of us predicted it would be this much.
Defense Distributed-affiliated developer Haroon Khalid • Discussing the success of the controversial group’s 3D-printed gun blueprints, which have been downloaded 100,000 times since they were released over the weekend. The distribution method isn’t without controversy, either: The group’s files are being hosted on Kim Dotcom’s Mega service. One member of Congress, Rep. Steve Israel, wants to ban such devices.
19:25 // 11 months ago
October 5, 2012

Superintendent of the year expected to be sentenced today

  • what Lorenzo Garcia, the former superintendent of the El Paso, Texas Independent School District, will get sentenced today for his part in a scheme which fraudulently inflated test scores in his school district.
  • why The way the district did it was particularly messed-up — they held back numerous low-performing students in the ninth grade so they didn’t take part in the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test, which students take in the tenth grade. Some students were told to drop out. Even worse, Garcia benefitted financially, receiving $56,000 in bonuses for high test scores. source

» How students reacted: Hundreds of students were removed from the district during the period. “They took away my high school, my time,” explained one student, Cesar Diaz, who was kicked out of school on claims that he was living in Mexico. “I wanted to study in the U.S. because I’m a U.S. citizen. My future is in the United States.”

9:20 // 1 year ago
August 29, 2012
Anglo district boundaries were redrawn to include particular country clubs and, in one case, the school belonging to the incumbent’s grandchildren.
U.S. Circuit Judge Thomas Griffith • In his court’s recent decision to ditch Texas’ redistricting maps, which were in violation of the Voting Rights Act, the court found. Schools and hospitals, for example, were removed from districts with black incumbents. And, as Griffith notes above, country clubs were added to districts with white incumbents. On top of that, a lawyer used the phrase “no bueno” when emphasizing that the plans used shouldn’t leave a paper trail. The Texas Attorney General plans to appeal the ruling, which comes as part of a recent history of redistricting in the state that led to jail time for Tom Delay.
10:11 // 1 year ago
August 27, 2012

Todd Akin: Not polling quite so hot in Missouri after rape comments

  • pre-gaffe Todd Akin, newly picked to be the Republican nominee in the Missouri Senate race, had been leading incumbent Claire McCaskill in the polls for months. Then he made a comment about rape, pregnancy and abortion.
  • post-gaffe Akin, who was once expected to have a shot at taking out McCaskill, is now nine points down on the Democrat in one poll, and ten points down in the other. Sometimes a single comment can change the entire race. source

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10:02 // 1 year ago
July 9, 2012

Mohammed Morsi’s first big battle: Egypt’s fight over parliament

  • cause A few weeks ago, the Egyptian Supreme Court ruled that parliament had to be dissolved because a number of members ran as independents, despite being members of a political party.
  • reaction This decision, which happened just before Mohammed Morsi won his election, was controversial. Morsi’s response? He told parliament to go back to work on Tuesday.
  • rebuttal Egypt’s high court wasn’t happy about this; after a meeting on Monday, emphasized that their decision was “final and not subject to appeal” and that new elections must take place. source

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9:45 // 1 year ago
July 2, 2012

nickdivers says: Does anyone actually think Tom Cruise would send Suri, his very cute and very public daughter, to Sea Org? Wouldn't that be a huge PR disaster for both Cruise and COS?

» SFB says: Whether or not the Church actually would (the reports suggest that, even if they did, that was a concern of Holmes), they’re formally denying it, saying you have to be 16 to go to Sea Org. Don’t doubt you though; it’d be bad optics. — Ernie @ SFB

18:52 // 1 year ago
June 25, 2012
The phone call the night before he left [Turkey for Syria], there was screaming and slamming on the phone in discussions with editors. It was at this time that he called his wife and gave his last haunting directive that if anything happens to me I want the world to know the New York Times killed me.
Ed Shadid • Speaking at the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee’s convention on Sunday about the fate of his cousin, storied New York Times reporter Anthony Shadid, who died not long after he allegedly made this statement. The New York Times disputes the report, with a spokesperson saying this: “With respect, we disagree with Ed Shadid’s version of the facts. The Times does not pressure reporters to go into combat zones.” (His widow has chosen to stay silent on the matter.) No matter who’s telling the truth here, Anthony Shadid’s work meant a lot to many people, and it goes without saying that we’d rather Anthony was still with us.
21:12 // 1 year ago
June 21, 2012

Uruguay’s clever plan to limit cocaine use: Sell pot. Wait, what?

  • cocaine Uruguay, like many countries in Latin America, is struggling to fight against black-market drug dealers that are selling drugs like cocaine and the crack-like pasta basica, and in recent years has seen an uptick in crime as a result.
  • marijuana In an effort to push drug users away from the harder stuff, the country is currently debating whether to start selling marijuana to adults, tax it, and use the taxes to pay for drug rehabilitation. Think this would work, guys? source
20:43 // 1 year ago
June 19, 2012

So here’s one of the more depressing things you’ll see today. It’s a scene outside of a NYC elementary school, in which a congressman (and Senate hopeful looking to win a primary next week) tries to lead a group of grade-schoolers in the singing of an uber-patriotic song — not the National Anthem, but that Lee Greenwood hit from the 1980s. The scene is sad at best and makes everyone look bad. So how did we get here? Read up below:

  • cause A NYC elementary school, for its kindergarten graduation ceremony, decided to pass on singing Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.,” and instead decided to go with something a little more up-to-date: Justin Bieber’s “Baby.” The school district initially drew no complaints over the change.
  • reaction Days later, Rep. Bob Turner, a Senate hopeful, held a protest over the change, singing the patriotic tune with a group of kids outside of the school — a scene riddled by hecklers and saved for posterity in this depressing video, with hecklers upset that Turner is exploiting kids for political purposes. source

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11:22 // 1 year ago
By taking detailed pictures of individuals in intimate locations such as around a pool, or in their backyard, or even through their windows, these programs have the potential to put private images on public display. We need to hit the pause button here and figure out what is happening and how we can best protect peoples’ privacy, without unduly impeding technological advancement.
Sen. Charles Schumer • Arguing that Google and Apple’s separate, upcoming 3D aerial maps raise major privacy concerns. He even wrote an open letter to the companies on the matter, which features this all-caps scare message: “TECHNOLOGY STRONG ENOUGH TO SEE THROUGH WINDOWS AND EVEN CATCH SUN BATHERS IN BACK YARDS” Problem is, Schumer appears to be citing a Daily Mail report on the matter that suggested that “military grade” spy planes were used to get this data, despite the fact that appears to not be the case. Google, in fact, responded, suggesting Schumer misunderstood the technology. “We currently don’t blur aerial imagery because the resolution isn’t sharp enough for it to be a concern,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
10:59 // 1 year ago