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29th October   

Update: Friends Again...

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Missouri law banning teachers from Facebook friendship with pupils has been repealed
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Full story: Facebook Friends...Missouri bans teachers from being Facebook friends with pupils

In July 2011 the state of Missouri enacted legislation making Facebook friendship between teachers and students, as well as any sort of social networking, illegal.

After teachers complained the ban was unconstitutional and interfered with education, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon altered the state policy in a new bill he just signed. The initial state senate bill, which has come to be known as the Facebook Law, is no longer in effect, reports The Kansas City Star.

Instead, all Missouri school districts will have until March 2012 to create their own social networking policies.

The Missouri State Teachers Association, concerned about First Amendment rights, had sued the state over the law, claiming it was too vague. They were awarded an injunction Aug. 26, two days before the law was supposed to go into effect.


24th October   

Illegal Legal Tender...

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Louisiana bans cash when used to buy second hand goods
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Cash. It's good everywhere you go, right? You can use it to pay for anything.

But that's not the case here in Louisiana now. It's a law that was passed during this year's legislative session.

House bill 195 basically says those who buy and sell second hand goods cannot use cash to make those transactions, and it flew so far under the radar most businesses don't even know about it.

The law states those who buy or sell second hand goods are prohibited from using cash. State representative Rickey Hardy co-authored the bill.


4th September   

Privacy Theft...

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Couple using stolen computer can sue for lost privacy over surveillance software used to pursue thieves
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An Ohio woman and her boyfriend can sue a laptop-tracking company that recorded their sexually explicit communications in an effort to identify thieves who stole the computer that the woman was using.

U.S. District Judge Walter Rice ruled against Absolute Software, which provides software and services for tracking stolen computers. Absolute sought a summary judgment in its favor, insisting that one of its theft recovery agents acted properly when he captured sexually explicit images of Susan Clements-Jeffrey communicating via webcam with her boyfriend and passed them to police in an effort to recover the stolen computer.

But the judge found that there were grounds to believe Absolute had gone too far, and that a jury might reasonably decide that it had violated the plaintiffs' privacy and broken the law. The case raises an important issue about the length that someone can legally go to recover stolen goods.

It is one thing to cause a stolen computer to report its IP address or its geographical location in an effort to track it down, Rice wrote in his decision (.pdf). It is something entirely different to violate federal wiretapping laws by intercepting the electronic communications of the person using the stolen laptop.

The woman using the computer said that she had bought the computer not knowing that it was stolen.


16th August   

Policing with No Apparent Value...

American photographer detained by police for taking photos with no apparent esthetic value
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Police Chief Jim McDonnell has confirmed that detaining photographers for taking pictures with no apparent esthetic value is within Long Beach Police Department policy.

McDonnell spoke of an incident in which Sander Roscoe Wolff, a Long Beach resident and regular contributor to Long Beach Post, was detained by Officer Asif Kahn for taking pictures of a local refinery.

McDonnell explained: If an officer sees someone taking pictures of something like a refinery , it is incumbent upon the officer to make contact with the individual.

McDonnell went on to say that whether said contact becomes detainment depends on the circumstances the officer encounters. McDonnell says that while there is no police training specific to determining whether a photographer's subject has apparent esthetic value, officers make such judgments based on their overall training and experience and will generally approach photographers not engaging in regular tourist behavior.

This policy apparently falls under the rubric of compiling Suspicious Activity Reports (SAR) as outlined in the Los Angeles Police Department's Special Order No. 11, a March 2008 statement of the LAPD's policy ... to make every effort to accurately and appropriately gather, record and analyze information, of a criminal or non-criminal nature, that could indicate activity or intentions related to either foreign or domestic terrorism.

Among the non-criminal behaviors which shall be reported on a SAR is taking pictures or video footage with no apparent esthetic value .


2nd August   

Teaching Repression...

Missouri criminalises student-teacher friendships on Facebook
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Full story: Facebook Friends...Missouri bans teachers from being Facebook friends with pupils

Teachers and students walk a dangerous line where they could become too personally involved, at least in cyberspace. And without constant outside supervision to ensure all interaction is proper, who knows what could happen?

At least, that appears to be the argument behind a new bill signed into law by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, that bans student-teacher friendships on social networks, like Facebook and twitter. The law is intended to keep personal interaction at an absolute minimum to ensure all relationships are entirely professional and public seemingly by trying to ban all relationships.

There are also complainst that the vagueness of the language of the law makes it unclear what actually counts as a violation. The law forbids any online interaction between teachers and current or former students on any system that allows private messages. But does students refer to anyone in your class? Or your school? Or anyone in any classroom at any school? Does former mean students you used to teach, and if so, for how long? And how does this apply to twitter, where often people aren't even sure totally sure of the names and identities of everyone who follows them?


22nd July   

Offsite: Colonial Repression...

Fake CIA vaccination programme proves that conspiracy theorists were right all along
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Last week it was claimed that the CIA had set up a fake vaccination programme in the town where Osama bin Laden was believed to be hiding in an attempt to obtain DNA evidence confirming the presence of family members. Genetic material retrieved from his infant relatives during vaccination would have been compared to a sample taken from Bin Laden's sister, who died in a US hospital in 2010.

Shakil Afridi, a senior Pakistani doctor allegedly recruited by the CIA to head the clandestine operation in March, has since been arrested by Pakistani intelligence for his collusion. The revelations mark a further decline in relations between the two countries, although the US is in talks with Pakistan officials to secure Afridi's release.

But the damage is likely to spread beyond diplomatic circles. By disguising its information-gathering exercise as a hepatitis B vaccination programme, the CIA threatens to erode trust in foreign-aid teams worldwide, undermining genuine efforts to eradicate life-threatening disease. It also plays into the hands of conspiracy theorists who think that medical aid is a new form of colonial repression.

...Read the full article


24th June   

Young Black Man with Dreads and Baggy Pants...

College student thrown off plane for wearing saggy pants
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A college student was removed from his U.S. Airways flight and arrested at San Francisco International Airport. The scholar-athlete, Deshon Marman, was attempting to return to the University of New Mexico after attending a childhood friend's funeral when he was arrested for trespassing after being removed from a plane that he had a ticket to be on.

Lots of people Deshon's age choose to wear their pants the way one airline employee described as below his buttocks but above the knees. The style hardly constitutes a threat to flight safety.

We are required to take off our belts and outer-layers of clothing going through airport security. And you'd be hard-pressed to tour a high school or college campus without seeing a great deal of exposed boxer shorts peeking out of sagging pants. So are we really to believe that the partial visibility of Deshon Marman's boxers is what made these airline employees uncomfortable to the point of calling the police? Or was Deshon's mother, Donna Doyle, closer to the truth when she guessed that the real impetus was the way he looks- young black man with dreads and baggy pants ?


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