Friday, April 29, 2016

First FISC Phone Records Ruling Post-USA FREEDOM Exposes Shortcomings of Reforms

First FISC Phone Records Ruling Post-USA FREEDOM Exposes Shortcomings of Reforms

The secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) had its first opportunity to review a government request for telephone call records since the enactment in June 2015 of the USA FREEDOM Act, which placed some restrictions and oversight on the NSA’s surveillance powers. Unfortunately the results of this first post-USA FREEDOM FISC review are not pretty, and remind us all that there is still much work to be done.

In approving a request for “call detail records” by the FBI, Judge Thomas Hogan allowed the FBI to get people’s call records even in the absence of any belief that those records will be relevant to an investigation, and let the bureau keep records with no foreign intelligence value for 6 months or longer even though USA FREEDOM requires “prompt” destruction of such records. He also declined to take advantage of the new provisions that allow him to appoint an amicus to help sort through the new statute. The opinion, issued on December 31, 2015, was made public April 19, 2016.

We Pay Millions to “Ghost Teachers” Who Don’t Teach

We Pay Millions to “Ghost Teachers” Who Don’t Teach

The Philadelphia school district is in a near-constant state of financial crisis. There are many factors contributing to this sorry state — particularly its governance structure — but it is compounded by fiscal mismanagement. One particularly egregious example is paying six-figure salaries to the tune of $1.5 million a year to “ghost teachers” that do not teach.

Why Do We Believe These Pathological Liars?

Why Do We Believe These Pathological Liars?

How do you feel when someone lies to you?

It probably depends on who is doing the lying. A stranger’s fabrications may not phase you, but dishonesty from a friend or lover can end the relationship. The more you feel the liar is supposed to be “on your side,” the more his or her deceptions feel like betrayal — unless, it turns out, the lies come from a politician you support.

When I shared a link on Facebook to Rick Shenkman’s article “Why Are Trump Voters Not Bothered by His Lies?” someone immediately replied by asking, “Why are Hillary voters not bothered by her lies?” Why, in other words, focus on only one mendacious candidate when lying to voters seems like a prerequisite for running for office?

Shenkman, who is the editor of and the author of Political Animals: How Our Stone-Age Brain Gets in the Way of Smart Politics, might respond with his claim that Trump “has told more lies than any other leading political figure probably ever has.” But his article is in fact about neither Trump’s astonishing number of fibs nor his supporters’ astonishing tolerance for them; it is about how widespread both such lying and such tolerance are across party lines and throughout the era of mass-media mass democracy.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Space Coast Nerd Fest 2016 - Geekapella - John Williams Is The Man

Space Coast Nerd Fest 2016 - Geekapella - John Williams Is The Man

Geekapella perform a Star War/John Williams medley at the 2016 Space Coast Nerd Fest inMelbourne, Florida.

The Ugly Truth About A $15 Minimum Wage

The Ugly Truth About A $15 Minimum Wage

The Service Employees International Union spent 2015 expanding its campaign for a $15 minimum wage to other industries. In recent nationwide protests, the union focused again on its original target: Fast food companies, and McDonald’s  in particular.

I worked for the company for three decades, and served as its USA President for 13 years. I can assure you that a $15 minimum wage won’t spell the end of the brand. However it will mean wiping out thousands of entry-level opportunities for people without many other options.

The $15 minimum wage demand, which translates to $30,000 a year for a full-time employee, is built upon a fundamental misunderstanding of a restaurant business such as McDonald’s. “They’re making millions while millions can’t pay their bills,” argue the union groups, suggesting there’s plenty of profit left over in corporate coffers to fund a massive pay increase at the bottom.

In truth, nearly 90% of McDonald’s locations are independently-owned by franchisees who aren’t making “millions” in profit. Rather, they keep roughly six cents of each sales dollar after paying for food, staff costs, rent and other expenses.

Let’s do the math: A typical franchisee sells about $2.6 million worth of burgers, fries, shakes and Happy Meals each year, leaving them with $156,000 in profit. If that franchisee has 15 part-time employees on staff earning minimum wage, a $15 hourly pay requirement eats up three-quarters of their profitability. (In reality, the costs will be much higher, as the company will have to fund raises further up the pay scale.) For some locations, a $15 minimum wage wipes out their entire profit.

Recouping those costs isn’t as simple as raising prices. If it were easy to add big price increases to a meal, it would have already been done without a wage hike to trigger it. In the real world, our industry customers are notoriously sensitive to price increases. (If you’re a McDonald’s regular, there’s a reason you gravitate towards an extra-value meal or the dollar menu.) Instead, franchisees can absorb the cost with a change that customers don’t mind: The substitution of a self-service computer kiosk for a a full-service employee.

In higher-cost European countries, these kiosks are already the norm. In 2011, the company ordered more than 7,000 of them to replace entry-level employees. They’ve been tested successfully in a number of markets in the U.S., and now the company is even testing self-serve McCafe kiosks where a customer can prepare and customize their own coffee beverage.

Hoggetowne Medival Faire 2016 - The New Minstrel Revue - Step It Out Mary

Hoggetowne Medival Faire 2016 - The New Minstrel Revue - Step It Out Mary

The New Minstrel Revue performs 'Step It Out Mary' at the 2016 Hoggetowne Medieval Faire in Gainesville, Florida.

Protecto Enterprizes

Protecto Enterprizes

Monday, April 25, 2016

Secret Court Takes Another Bite Out of the Fourth Amendment

Secret Court Takes Another Bite Out of the Fourth Amendment

Defenders of the NSA’s mass spying have lost an important talking point: that the erosion of our privacy and associational rights is justified given the focus of surveillance efforts on combating terrorism and protecting the national security. That argument has always been dubious for a number of reasons. But after a November 2015 ruling by the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) was unsealed this week, it’s lost another chunk of its credibility. The ruling confirms that NSA’s warrantless spying has been formally approved for use in general criminal investigations. The national security justification has been entirely blown.

EFF and ACLU Expose Government’s Secret Stingray Use in Wisconsin Case

EFF and ACLU Expose Government’s Secret Stingray Use in Wisconsin Case

Thanks to EFF and the ACLU, the government has finally admitted it secretly used a Stingray to locate a defendant in a Wisconsin criminal case, United States v. Damian Patrick. Amazingly, the government didn’t disclose this fact to the defendant—or the court—until we raised it in an amicus brief we filed in the case. In the government’s brief, filed late last week, it not only fails to acknowledge the impact of hiding this fact from the defendant but also claims its warrantless real-time location tracking didn’t violate the Fourth Amendment.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Minimum Wage Makes Teens Unemployable, So Taxpayers Are Paying $5.5 Billion to Find Them Jobs

The Minimum Wage Makes Teens Unemployable, So Taxpayers Are Paying $5.5 Billion to Find Them Jobs 

In February, the Obama administration proposed a “First Job” initiative. The main goal of the aptly titled initiative is to help unemployed young people obtain their first job by spending $5.5 billion on grants, training, and direct wages. Unfortunately – but unsurprisingly – the press release failed to acknowledge the most significant factor impeding employment in this age group: the minimum wage.

App Store Censorship and FBI Hacking Proposed at Congressional Crypto Hearing

App Store Censorship and FBI Hacking Proposed at Congressional Crypto Hearing

Tech experts and industry representatives squared off against law enforcement officials in two sessions of lively testimony today in front of the House Energy and Commerce committee. Today’s hearing is the latest in the ongoing battle in the courts and legislature commonly called the second “Crypto Wars,” after a similar national debate in the 1990s.

UnitedHealthcare Is the Canary in the Obamacare Coal Mine

UnitedHealthcare Is the Canary in the Obamacare Coal Mine

With Congress limiting the bailouts of insurance companies for two years in a row, business is not looking good for the industry that lobbied for Obamacare. The latest casualty is UnitedHealthcare, which announced that it is withdrawing from most of its 34 Obamacare exchanges next year.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Microsoft sues U.S. government over data requests

Microsoft sues U.S. government over data requests

Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) has sued the U.S. government for the right to tell its customers when a federal agency is looking at their emails, the latest in a series of clashes over privacy between the technology industry and Washington.

The lawsuit, filed on Thursday in federal court in Seattle, argues that the government is violating the U.S. Constitution by preventing Microsoft from notifying thousands of customers about government requests for their emails and other documents.

The government’s actions contravene the Fourth Amendment, which establishes the right for people and businesses to know if the government searches or seizes their property, the suit argues, and Microsoft’s First Amendment right to free speech.

The Department of Justice is reviewing the filing, spokeswoman Emily Pierce said.

Microsoft’s suit focuses on the storage of data on remote servers, rather than locally on people’s computers, which Microsoft says has provided a new opening for the government to access electronic data.

Using the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), the government is increasingly directing investigations at the parties that store data in the so-called cloud, Microsoft says in the lawsuit. The 30-year-old law has long drawn scrutiny from technology companies and privacy advocates who say it was written before the rise of the commercial Internet and is therefore outdated.

“People do not give up their rights when they move their private information from physical storage to the cloud,” Microsoft says in the lawsuit. It adds that the government “has exploited the transition to cloud computing as a means of expanding its power to conduct secret investigations.”

The lawsuit represents the newest front in the battle between technology companies and the U.S. government over how much private businesses should assist government surveillance.

By filing the suit, Microsoft is taking a more prominent role in that battle, dominated by Apple Inc (AAPL.O) in recent months due to the government’s efforts to get the company to write software to unlock an iPhone used by one of the shooters in a December massacre in San Bernardino, California.

Apple, backed by big technology companies including Microsoft, had complained that cooperating would turn businesses into arms of the state.

“Just as Apple was the company in the last case and we stood with Apple, we expect other tech companies to stand with us,” Microsoft’s Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith said in a phone interview after the suit was filed.

One security expert questioned Microsoft’s motivation and timing. Its lawsuit was “one hundred percent motivated by business interests” and timed to capitalize on new interest in customer privacy issues spurred in part by Apple’s dispute, said D.J. Rosenthal, a former White House cyber security official in the Obama administration.

As Microsoft’s Windows and other legacy software products are losing some traction in an increasingly mobile and Internet-centric computing environment, the company’s cloud-based business is taking on more importance. Chief Executive Satya Nadella’s describes Microsoft’s efforts as “mobile first, cloud first.”

Its customers have been asking the company about government surveillance, Smith said, suggesting that the issue could hurt Microsoft’s ability to win or keep cloud customers.

In its complaint, Microsoft says over the past 18 months it has received 5,624 legal orders under the ECPA, of which 2,576 prevented Microsoft from disclosing that the government is seeking customer data through warrants, subpoenas and other requests. Most of the ECPA requests apply to individuals, not companies, and provide no fixed end date to the secrecy provision, Microsoft said.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Mom Arrested for Letting Kids Walk to McDonald’s Around the Corner

Mom Arrested for Letting Kids Walk to McDonald’s Around the Corner

A South Carolina mom who let her 9-year-old nephew walk her 3-year-old son to the McDonald’s less than a quarter mile away has been—I’m sure you can finish this sentence in your sleep by now—arrested and charged with child neglect.

The reason? According to WSPA News 7:

The officer says the boys had to cross a street and pass several businesses and homes to get to the eatery, putting their safety at risk.

The mom, Tiesha Mesha Hillstock, 24, told the police the unthinkable: She had trusted the older boy to “take care of his cousin.”

Which, apparently, he was doing. Nonetheless, when the kids were spotted without an adult, or drone, or armored tank to keep them safe, the cops swooped in and accompanied them back to their home. Then the Spartanburg police department then issued an arrest warrant for mom.

Because anytime a child is unsupervised, a parent must be arrested.

Hoggetowne Medieval Faire 2016 - The New Minstrel Revue - The Blackwater and the Lee

Hoggetowne Medieval Faire 2016 - The New Minstrel Revue - The Blackwater and the Lee

The New Minstrel Revue performs 'The Blackwater and the Lee' at the 2016 Hoggetowne Medieval Faire in Gainesville, Florida.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Whatsapp adds end-to-end encryption

Whatsapp adds end-to-end encryption

With end-to-end encryption, messages are scrambled as they leave the sender’s device and can only be decrypted by the recipient’s device.

It renders messages unreadable if they are intercepted, for example by criminals or law enforcement.

Whatsapp, which has a billion users worldwide, said file transfers and voice calls would be encrypted too.

The Facebook-owned company said protecting private communication was one of its “core beliefs”.

Encryption was thrown under the spotlight after the FBI asked Apple to help it access data on an iPhone used by California gunman Syed Farook.

Whatsapp said: “The idea is simple: when you send a message, the only person who can read it is the person or group chat that you send that message to. No one can see inside that message. Not cybercriminals. Not hackers. Not oppressive regimes. Not even us.”

Users with the latest version of the app were notified about the change when sending messages on Tuesday. The setting is enabled by default.

Amnesty International called the move a “huge victory” for free speech.

“Whatsapp’s roll out of the Signal Protocol, providing end to end encryption for its one billion users worldwide, is a major boost for people’s ability to express themselves and communicate without fear,” the organisation said in a statement.

“This is a huge victory for privacy and free speech, especially for activists and journalists who depend on strong and trustworthy communications to carry out their work without putting their lives at greater risk.”

Whatsapp’s decision was also welcomed by security professionals.

“Wire-tappers lament, law-abiding citizens rejoice, for WhatsApp’s latest update is a victory for communications privacy,” said Lee Munson, a security researcher for Comparitech.

“With the ability to access data removed even from the company behind the app, only ill-informed law enforcement agencies are likely to mutter ‘terrorists’ as the masses enjoy the encrypted text messages, photos, video and phone calls they’ve been demanding ever since Edward Snowden blew the lid on government surveillance.”

The move is likely to irk law enforcement agencies, particularly the US Department of Justice which has recently expressed concern over “unreachable” information contained in devices. The DoJ did not respond to the BBC’s request for comment on Tuesday.

Indeed, FBI attorney James Baker has reportedly criticised the move saying encryption threatens the work of law enforcement.

“It has public safety costs. Folks have to understand that, and figure out how they are going to deal with that,” he said, according to the US News and World Report news site.

Panama Papers Are About Government Corruption, Not ‘Tax Evasion’

Panama Papers Are About Government Corruption, Not ‘Tax Evasion’

The “Panama Papers” are the largest leak in world history, revealing millions of documents related to the offshore accounts of politicians, former politicians, and billionaires around the world.

Despite much of the media’s focus on tax evasion as the primary theme of the Panama Papers story, which embarrassed governments are happy to adopt as the primary theme as well, the question is one of official corruption.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) itself, which first published the data, says it reveals the holdings of “drug dealers, Mafia members, corrupt politicians and tax evaders–and wrongdoing galore.”

Yet the numbers they offer tell a different story. According to ICIJ, 214,000 entities are described in the Panama Papers. They include the off-shore assets of 140 politicians and other public figures (including 12 current or former heads of state or government), as well as 33 people and companies that were “blacklisted by the U.S. government because of evidence that they’d been involved in wrongdoing, such as doing business with Mexican drug lords, terrorist organizations like Hezbollah or rogue nations like North Korea and Iran.” Yet The Economist counts 33 Forbes list billionaires to the 140 politicians in the Panama Papers.

The prime minister of Iceland, for example, resigned earlier today over revelations that he owned a shell company in the British Virgin Islands. Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson insists he’s paid his taxes and done nothing wrong. Yet his shell company, according to CBS News, “held interests in failed Icelandic banks that his government was responsible for overseeing.”

In general, this is why politicians have off-shore accounts, to hide wrong-doing, and not just to “evade taxes.” Iceland has instituted capital controls, under Prime Minister Gunnlaugsson, so the prime minister appears to have run afoul of that. But the insinuation that anyone who decided to move their money oversees is “evading” an obligation is tired and backwards. A person’s money belongs to them, not the government, just as their bodies and their freedoms do.

NSA Will Spy for Local Cops Under New Obama Administration Rules

NSA Will Spy for Local Cops Under New Obama Administration Rules

New rules under development by the Obama administration will make it even easier for federal agencies like the FBI and DEA to access troves of phone calls, emails and location data collected by the NSA on millions of people, including Americans, and pass it on to local cops for everyday investigations, or basically any other purpose that suits them.Proponents of federal spying inevitably defend any objection to mass warrantless surveillance by playing the terrorism card.The NSA must be able to sweep up virtually everybody’s electronic data to protect America from terrorist attacks, so the argument goes. This carries a great deal of weight, especially in the wake of tragic bombings in Paris and Brussels. Many Americans brush off the constitutional violations and invasion of privacy inherent in NSA spy programs because they honestly believe they only target terrorists.But in fact, the vast majority of information dredged up by the U.S. spy apparatus ends up in the hands of state and local law enforcement for use in routine criminal investigations. Instead of “fighting terrorism,” the American surveillance state primarily serves as a way to circumvent the Fourth Amendment and prosecute the unconstitutional “War on Drugs.”We’ve known for several years that a DEA Special Operations Division utilizes warrantless data collected by the NSA for routine drug investigations. Reuters revealed the extent of NSA data sharing with state and local law enforcement in an August 2013 article. According to documents obtained by the news agency, the NSA passes information to police through the SOD. These cases “rarely involve national security issues.”

Former NSA technical director William Binney said the feds share information gathered without a warrant and direct the local police force to make an arrest. Using a process known as “parallel construction,” investigators then build their case using normal policing techniques, getting warrants for information they’ve already obtained. The process serves to hide the illegally gathered information, creating the illusion of a legitimate case.

As Washington Post columnist Radley Balko put it, parallel construction is “a bureaucratically sterilized way of saying big stinking lie.”

Binney called this “the most threatening situation to our constitutional republic since the Civil War.”

A new policy quietly under development by the Obama administration will make it even easier for the NSA to share this information with no privacy screening. According to a New York Times report, “Robert S. Litt, the general counsel in the office of the Director of National Intelligence, said that the administration had developed and was fine-tuning what is now a 21-page draft set of procedures to permit the sharing.”

Under the proposed rule changes, federal agencies such as the FBI would gain direct access to streams of information gathered by the NSA, including emails, phone calls and location data. They would then be free to pass along this information to state and local law enforcement.

All of this can happen without any congressional or judicial oversight under a Reagan era executive order known as EO 12333.

Monday, April 4, 2016

What life is like after police ransack your house and take ‘every belonging’ — then the charges are dropped

What life is like after police ransack your house and take ‘every belonging’ — then the charges are dropped

A self-described Michigan “soccer mom” who had “every belonging” taken from her family in a 2014 drug raid has been cleared of all criminal charges, 19 months after heavily armed drug task force members ransacked her home and her business. But in many ways, her ordeal is only beginning.

Annette Shattuck and her husband, Dale, had been facing felony charges of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession with intent to manufacture marijuana and maintaining a drug house. But last month, Michigan Circuit Court Judge Daniel Kelly threw out all criminal complaints filed against the Shattucks “on the grounds of entrapment by estoppel,”according to court filings. Entrapment by estoppel occurs when a government official leads a defendant to believe that their conduct is permissible under the law.

In 2014, the Shattucks were starting up a marijuana dispensary under Michigan’s medical marijuana law. They worked to ensure every last detail was in full compliance with the law as they understood it: They obtained the permission of the landlord of the building where the dispensary, called the DNA Wellness Center, was to be housed. They went to local planning commission meetings to obtain the proper permits and licenses. They discussed business hours, security measures and even signage requirements with the planning commission.

The town building inspector checked the property and approved the signage. The chairman of the planning commission publicly thanked the Shattucks for working within the allowed legal framework. According to court documents, the Shattucks even went so far as to call the local sheriff’s Drug Task Force to invite them to inspect the property and verify their compliance with the law.

“We really went above and beyond,” Annette Shattuck said in an interview. “We asked for help. We went out of our way to make sure that everything was legit.”

But the Task Force never inspected the property. Instead, acting on an anonymous tip that marijuana was being sold at the location, agents of the St. Clair County Drug Task Force conducted a number of “controlled buys,” where informants with medical marijuana cards entered the dispensary and purchased marijuana under the guise of medical use. That gave them enough probable cause to execute a raid.

Michigan’s existing voter-approved medical marijuana law doesn’t address the legal status of dispensaries, leaving room for conflicting interpretations. The Shattucks’ case is an example of what some drug policy experts say are the shortcomings of writing drug policy via ballot initiative. A more carefully considered piece of legislation may have clarified the gray areas that led to the raid on the Shattucks’ home and business, for instance.

 Technically, Shattuck’s dispensary should not have been approved by the town planning commission, because the law does not provide for selling marijuana in dispensaries, Guilliat said. “I think the township probably thought they were doing the right thing, without knowing what the law says,” he added.

On July 28, 2014 — not long after the couple reached out to them to perform a compliance check — task force agents raided both the dispensary and the Shattucks’ home. In addition to charging the Shattucks with a variety of marijuana-related drug crimes, they took a lawnmower, a bicycle, their daughter’s birthday money, their marriage certificate and numerous other belongings, according to Annette Shattuck’s testimony before the Michigan House last year.

But Judge Daniel Kelly ruled last month that, because the town planning commission had signed off on the dispensary, and because the Shattucks “would not have called [the Drug Task Force] and invited law enforcement to their compassion center for an inspection unless [they] believed in good faith” that they were operating within the bounds of the law, “basic principles of due process preclude prosecution in this case.” In short, the government can’t prosecute you for operating an “illegal” business if another arm of government has given you the green light on it.

Annette Shattuck says “it’s beyond exciting” to have the criminal charges cleared. But the tough work of getting her forfeited property back has only just begun.

Under asset forfeiture laws, police are allowed to seize and keep property suspected of involvement in a crime, regardless of whether the property’s owners are ever convicted — or even charged, in many cases. Michigan’s laws are particularly skewed against property owners, according a 2015 report from the Institute for Justice. The nonprofit civil liberties law firm gave Michigan a D- on its forfeiture laws, citing “poor protections for innocent property owners” and policies that allow police to keep up to 100 percent of the proceeds from forfeited property, creating a profit motive for seizing belongings.

Annette Shattuck says that since the charges have been dismissed, the Drug Task Force has returned some of her property. But much of it is damaged. Electronic items are missing power cords and remotes. Her and her husband’s phones were smashed. They returned her husband’s guns and the safe he stored it in, but they didn’t return the key. Two of the kids’ insurance cards are missing. Shattuck says her marriage and birth certificates haven’t been returned, and since the Task Force does not itemize seized documents in its paperwork, it has no record of taking them in the first place.

“We had plans to get the property back and sell a lot of it to pay for legal fees,” she said. “But now we can’t.”

Sheriff Tim Donnellon, who oversees the drug task force involved in the raid, said his office has “no vendetta” against the Shattucks, and that if any items or components are missing from their returned property, it wasn’t intentional. He said the Shattucks should get in touch with the police supervisors overseeing the return. “We’ll make things right for her,” he added.

Donnellon agrees with Guilliat, the assistant prosecutor, that murky statute language has made things difficult, not only for medical marijuana patients and caregivers but for law enforcement officials as well. “Medical marijuana in Michigan is a nightmare,” he said in an interview. “It’s really shifting sand. It changes continually. It’s really an Achilles heel for law enforcement.”

The tension between strict federal prohibition and state-level legalization is likely only to grow as more states consider changing their marijuana laws this year. “Medical marijuana policy in the United States is putting Americans at risk,” the Brookings Institution’s John Hudak warned last week. Medical marijuana patients are often “victimized by an unjust, arbitrary, and downright harmful system that hinders access to a clinically proven medical benefit,” according to Hudak.

The Shattuck family has experienced this harm first-hand. Beyond the financial burden, the raids have left the family with considerable emotional trauma as well. When the task force raided her home, Shattuck’s mother was  babysitting her four children, who were all under age 10 at the time. “During the dynamic entry, armed DTF officers wearing ski masks separated the children from their grandmother at gunpoint, shouting at her to get the dog under control or they would shoot it,” a court briefing filed by the Shattucks’ lawyer alleges. “The deputies kept the children lined up on the couch at gunpoint, refusing even to remove their masks to help calm the kids.”

Donnellon called this a “misrepresentation of the incident.” During raids like this, he says, it’s standard for officers to enter with weapons drawn. “If you come in at a dynamic entry raid, you’re going to aim that gun at the parents. Children are going to be sat at a couch. There’s absolutely no way in hell would we point a gun at child on a couch,” he said in an interview.

He added that his officers typically don’t wear ski masks, either. “These guys on the SWAT teams are dads, too,” he said.

After the raid, the officers left devastation in their wake, according to the family’s account.

“They had Annette’s lingerie strewn everywhere,” Annette Shattuck’s mother said in the briefing. “From the ceiling fan… Boxes and bags of food had been pulled from the cabinets and stepped on with their big boots.“

The description goes on: “They took everything, the birth certificates, the adoption papers. There was nothing that they didn’t destroy, they ripped off facings of the cabinets, every picture was off the wall.”

Sheriff Donnellon has previously disputed the Shattucks’ characterization of the raid, saying that it wasn’t as confrontational or disruptive as the Shattucks or their lawyer presented it.

Now, “if my kids are outside in my yard, they run into my house if they see a police officer,” Shattuck said. “They’re petrified.” Her 10-year-old daughter has been in counseling for a year and a half.

The pending charges had made it difficult for the Shattucks to find work. Annette’s husband Dale had worked in construction before starting up the dispensary. But since the police seized all his tools, he had difficulty returning to his old line of work. They turned to borrowing money from friends and family. “We owe a lot of people a lot of money,” Shattuck said. “We depended on the kindness of relatives. If we didn’t have them, we wouldn’t have been able to do anything.”

Video Surfaces of Bernie Sanders Praising Breadlines and Food Rationing

Video Surfaces of Bernie Sanders Praising Breadlines and Food Rationing

Vermont’s Democratic socialist presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has sought to separate his views from those of tyrannical socialist regimes throughout history. The problem is that back in the 1980’s Sanders was outspoken in his support of communist dictator Fidel Castro as well as the Soviet-aligned Sandinista government in Nicaragua.

In fact, recently discovered video shows Sanders praising food lines as a good thing. Sanders asserts that countries where people don’t line up for food that the poor are starving to death because “the rich get all the food.”

The lack of logic here is astounding. In America and individual can buy a meal for under $2 if you’re not picky, and everywhere we go we are surrounded by stores stocked full of food.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Hoggetowne Medieval Faire 2016 - The New Minstrel Revue - That Was The Day

Hoggetowne Medieval Faire 2016 - The New Minstrel Revue - That Was The Day

The New Minstrel Revue performs 'That Was The Day' at the 2016 Hoggetowne Medieval Faire in Gainesville, Florida.

Game Players – February 1993

Game Players – February 1993

Japan’s lost black hole satellite is back online, still tumbling through space

Japan’s lost black hole satellite is back online, still tumbling through space

In late February, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXA, launched its next-generation X-ray observatory. This satellite, Hitomi, was designed to be the sixth in a series X-ray satellites whose operational histories stretch back to 1979. Hitomi could measure objects an order of magnitude fainter than its predecessor. The initial February 17 launch went smoothly, but Japan announced on March 27 that communication with the satellite had failed just as it was scheduled to begin its operational cycle. Initial attempts to reestablish communication with the satellite failed, but scientists were able to make brief contact with the craft as of Wednesday, March 30.

Hitomi (originally referred to as Astro-H pre-launch) is designed to explore how matter behaves when falling into black holes, the distribution of dark matter across galactic clusters, and to keep an eye on supernovae if and when they are detected. X-ray astronomy is one of the types of astronomy that can’t be performed on Earth, since our atmosphere absorbs X-rays before they reach the surface. Since no one has figured out a way to lift Mauna Kea into geosynchronous orbit, we have to do this kind of observation with specialized satellites, and Hitomi was meant to be a critical next-generation observatory. After the satellite went dark three days ago, it was thought to have been destroyed — except now it’s making intermittent contact with JAXA.

The current thinking is that the satellite is now spinning wildly — an opinion lent credence by a video shot by astronomer Paul Maley and reported by Gizmodo. That video shows the satellite moving at fairly high speed, but with wildly irregular brightness, as though it were caught in a tumble. The irregularity in its brightness is caused by light reflecting off different areas of the observatory, possibly including its solar panels. According to Maley, the damaged [satellite] appears to undergo one full rotation every 23.5 seconds.