On the toxicity of USian gun culture.

I've been keeping quiet about the mass school shooting in Florida some weeks ago because it's such a hot-button topic, and many people speaking out are catching harrassment and death threats - even the students who survived the massacre.  Of course, the National Rifle Association went on the record as saying, quote, "The NRA doesn't back any ban."  Meaning, of course, they'll do their damndest to hamstring any new legislation that has to do with guns.  It's also worth noting that there were multiple law enforcement officers - trained and armed - at the school, and they did nothing.  Which isn't surprising to …

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Net Neutrality and you.

You may or may not have noticed amongst the blizzard of other stuff that's happened in the last two weeks that Donald Trump appointed Ajit Pai to the chairmanship of the Federal Communications Commission.  Pai has a history of being something of a contrarian; during his time as one of the five commissioners of the FCC, he repeatedly spoke against regulations that protected the consumer and was against diverse media ownership (since the 1980's, we went from 50 media companies to just six).  Time and again Pai's said that he was going to tear down regulation after regulation that the …

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Implementing the President's Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements Policies

Here's the original link to the memorandum, which is dated 25 January 2017.

Here's my local mirror of the same document.

Takeaways:

  • "It implements new policy designed to deter illegal immigration and facilitate the detection. apprehension. detention. and removal of aliens who have no lawful authority to enter or remain in the United States."
  • "Additional agents are needed to ensure operational control of the border. Accordingly, the Commissioner of CBP shall immediately begin the process of hiring 5,000 additional Border Patrol agents and to take all actions necessary to ensure that such agents enter on duty and are assigned …
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The OPM compromise and information dynamics.

If you pay attention to the news, you've undoubtedly heard that the US Office of Personnel Management, which coordinates the background investigations for every civil servant and contractor of the United States government was pwned so thoroughly that the intruders even got into E-QIP, the online web service that prospectives have to enter their life histories into (well, at most the last decade of it) so the process can begin. Say what you want about government, but this will probably go down as the most gigantic clusterfuck in history and it shows every sign of getting worse, not better. One …

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Potential side effects of SOPA.

Note: Updated January 4 2012 in response to a comment by Jamie Zawinski, proprietor of the DNA Lounge.

I haven't been writing about SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act) or PIPA (the PROTECT IP Act) because, frankly, I've been too busy trying to fight them. To keep abreast of them following the #SOPA hashtag on Twitter is really the best way to go about it because things are changing so rapidly. Between the people watching the live stream of the markup hearings and people who are actually attending the hearings and livetweeting (I'm looking at you, @EFFlive) things are changing …

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Internet censorship, net.warfare, and the balkanization of the Net.

It seems like every time we turn around, somebody else is trying to enact another scheme to make the Internet a little less open, a little less useful, and more of a surveillance tool for people who can't quite make out what the writing on the wall seems to say.

The latest, and possibly most frightening salvo in the as-yet undeclared War On the Internet is something called the PROTECT IP Act (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act). In a real sense, it's COICA v2.0 in that it still allows the US …

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Could getting a US passport get much more difficult in the near future?

Note: All links anonymized due to the possibility that Someone might subpoena web server logs.

Earlier today during my morning news crawl (Twitter has pretty much supplanted everything I used before due to how fast word travels on that service, even Google News) I ran across something that made me shiver while considering the implications: the US Department of State is considering implementing new paperwork that United States citizens would have to fill out to apply for a passport which includes a biographical questionnaire that asks some pretty outlandish things which are analyzed in depth here. The proposed form, called …

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A day late and a dollar short, but we're the ones who'll pay.

For nearly twenty years in the United States a law called CALEA (Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act of 1994) has been on the books. To summarize, CALEA set the federal requirement that telecommunications companies (phone companies, long distance companies, cellular carriers, and so forth) had to modify their infrastructures such that various forms of wiretapping of customers had to be possible upon presentation of a warrant. Contrary to popular belief, there are methods of surveillance other than recording a conversation. The simplest involves making a list of every phone number that a particular number calls, when the calls were …

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Remember when your mom said that asking the wrong questions would put you on someone's list?

As a child of the Cold War era I'd always been curious about politics and how things worked. My mom (and grandmother, for that matter) always warned me that asking those kinds of questions would mean that my name would wind up on a list someplace. They were never clear on what sort of list that was, or what effect being on one might have. The context was never a good one and it lead to no shortage of arguments, that was for sure. Those arguments mysteriously stopped when, in one of my high school civics classes (it's important to …

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US Legal System puts the kibosh on warrantless seizure of laptops at the border.

For a couple of years now the US Department of Homeland Security has reserved the right to confiscate the laptop computers of US citizens for forensic analysis upon re-entry to the country after traveling abroad. It didn't matter if you were on one of their watchlists (and who isn't these days?), it didn't matter if you'd mouthed off to a security guard, it didn't matter whether or not they had probable cause, they could do it and possibly never return it to you depending on when the got around to going through it and how they felt that morning. It's …

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