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YatPundit: MySpace as an agent of Social Darwinism. [Jun. 18th, 2007|09:52 am]

The implications and issues behind MySpace's decision to cooperate with law enforcement by identifying registered sex offenders who create MySpace profiles are interesting. My initial, knee-jerk-liberal reaction is that privacy wins out here. There are so many people who are listed on "registered sex offender" lists that have no business being there that wholesale cross-referencing scares me.

But then there's the notion of Social Darwinism. MySpace identifies sex offenders to Texas, and look what happens:

In Texas, a total of seven convicted sex offenders have been taken into custody. Six were registered sex offenders, arrested for parole violation. All six had MySpace profiles, despite the terms of their probation barring them from using the internet.

A seventh man was arrested for failing to register as an offender after his profile turned up on the social networking site.

None of the six men arrested has been charged with any new sexual offences, but between them have convictions ranging from aggravated sexual assault, to molestation of a child, and indecency with a child by exposure. The youngest victim was just four.

OK, if cross-referencing such as this produces lists of parole and probation violators, I can justify it as a way to help rid the world of Teh Stupid. We're not talking about prostitutes who end up "registered" because they were arrested plying their trade; these people have no business trolling through a teen-rich site such as MySpace. Staying off the internets was part of their parole/probation and they still go out there. One of the issues victims' rights advocates push strongly is the extremely high rate of recividism amongst sexual predators. As a society, we have regularly debated the notion of trying to prevent this recividism, and ofttimes extreme measures (extending prison sentences, confining sex offenders for "mental health reasons," etc. If MySpace's cooperation removes the dumbest of this group from society, maybe I'm willing to relax my rigid privacy stance.

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YatPundit: Fundigelicals' concerns with the Mittster... [Jun. 17th, 2007|10:33 pm]

Radical Cleric Dobson has already come out against Giuliani, and the rank-and-file fundigelicals have their concerns about Romney:

ROCK HILL, S.C. — Here's the problem with electing a Mormon president, as Jason Thurman sees it: "I don't believe he would be guided by God."

Thurman, 26, is tidying the annotated Bibles in the Shepherd's Fold bookstore. Over by the rack of Christian CDs, his co-worker Marty Thomas raises a similar concern.

"When it comes right down to it," says Thomas, 40, "a Mormon's strength is human. A Christian person's strength is superhuman. I want [a president] who has that extra on his side."

Of course, there are some who are a bit more pragmatic:

This is not an arcane theological dispute; to some born-again Christians, it's at the very core of presidential leadership. If Romney does not understand what they take to be God's true nature, can he still receive divine guidance? If he doesn't accept the Trinity as they conceptualize it, can he still be filled with the strength of the Holy Spirit?

Some evangelicals answer "yes" to such questions: "Just because he's Mormon doesn't mean God can't bless the country through him," says Carissa James, 36, a pastor's wife in this suburban community of 50,000.

I wonder if this woman's husband realizes she's this far off the reservation?

The article is an interesting read. Were the Mittster to become the front-runner, the GOP could form a circular firing squad that has only been rivalled by Democrats. Romney talks the talk, but he walks a strict Mormon walk. His moral values are in line with rank-and-file fundigelicals, but his theology is out the box as far as their pastors are concerned. With the radical clerics calling Romney's church a cult and the average redneck/racist/homophobe Republican voter wanting to maintain control of the white house, Romney presents an even greater dilemma than Rudy.

If Romney starts winning primaries, we could see some neat Republican fratricide. Pass the popcorn.

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YatPundit: Lessons to be learned from practical jokes [Jun. 17th, 2007|08:09 pm]

In February, it was the "Lite Brite" scare in Boston. Last week, it was 150 alarm clocks planted in a high school in Westchester County, NY:

It's senior prank season, and this was the plan for the last day of classes Monday at Hendrick Hudson High School, not far from the Indian Point nuclear plant in Westchester County, north of New York City:

Seniors went to three dollar stores and bought about 150 alarm clocks in the shape of houses or butterflies, which would be scattered throughout the school.

They would be wrapped in duct tape, so teachers could not shut them off by removing their batteries, and set for 9:15. And when they went off, the seniors would rise and march triumphantly outside to acknowledge that the fat lady - or at least her alarm clock - had sung. They had made it through high school.

During and after both incidents, the powers-that-be have over-reacted. In Boston, the toy light-up boards were thought to be bombs. Police and the mayor's office came off looking very foolish when they turned out to be items easily purchased at Toys R Us. At Hudson High School, the administration also made fools of themselves:

But there were two big differences. First, the students broke into the school Sunday night to deposit the clocks, using a key that officials knew had been missing for a year. Second, when the police responded to an alarm and found the clocks wrapped in duct tape, state troopers and bomb-sniffing dogs descended on the school, worried that the devices might be explosives.

But wait a minute. How did the teachers know the clocks were sealed with duct tape to keep the batteries in? Clearly they picked them up and tried to turn them off. If these were bombs, wouldn't that be a bit foolish of them? If the students did a "triumphant march," then it should have been easy for any teacher of more than two years' experience to spot a senior prank.

Still, school administrators called the cops, who brought in the bomb squad.

When I was a junior in high school, in the spring of 1975, the senior prank that spring was actually a bomb, specifically a very well-engineered fireworks display constructed in a school bookbag and controlled by an alarm clock. It was obviously a bit bigger than an alarm clock by itself.

The lesson to be learned by these incidents is that politicians, school administrators, and law enforcement don't like to be punk'd. When someone gets the better of them, either knowingly or unwittingly, they bring the full wrath of the system down on the miscreants:

But the damage was done. Officials filed felony charges of placing a false bomb against the 19 students identified as being in the school during the break-in. The lead headline in the local paper read: "19 face charges in bomb prank."

Felony charges for a senior prank? We're going to ruin the futures of 19 students because a principal and some cops were made to look the fool? That's extremism of the kind that should make all of us sit up and take notice.

What I don't see here is consequences for the school administrators. If a key to the school building had been missing for over a year, with their knowledge those administrators potentially endangered the lives of everyone entering and exiting those buildings. If the school system is prepared to prosecute the students behind this plot, what about disciplining the administrators who have mis-managed their school?

Revenge for not being able to recognize a prank is no reason to pursue federal prosecutions against high school students.

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YatPundit: Eloquent [Jun. 14th, 2007|01:56 pm]

What Blumenthal said:

No president has had a more disastrous European trip since President Reagan placed a wreath on the graves of SS soldiers in the Bitburg cemetery. Yet Reagan's mistake was unintentional and symbolic, a temporary and superficial setback, doing no real damage to U.S. foreign relations, while Bush's blunders not only reinforced counterproductive policies but also created a new one with Russia that has the potential of profoundly undermining U.S. national security interests for years to come.

I remember how Trudeau used the Bitburg incident to mock Reagan aid Michael Deaver, who planned that cemetery visit, showing Mike "Bitburg" Deaver trying to get a gig as a lobbyist after such a monumental screwup. That sort of humor isn't what it used to be, because mocking current and former BushCo hacks is so much shooting fish in a barrel.

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YatPundit: I agree totally with Signorile here... [Jun. 10th, 2007|08:09 am]

This is no time to play nice.  Keep kicking these people while they're down.  Hit them hard and in the balls at every opportunity. 

Holsinger's backers also have brought forth a lesbian who says Holsinger's a good guy even though he's a homo-hater -- in other words, he'll be fair to the gays even if he disapproves. I don't accept that kind of crap, and nor should any of us. It's hard to tell if the White House is leaving it to Holsinger and his backers to now defend him, or if they're orchestrating all of this and plan to stick by him to the end. Either way, the Dems should use this to their advantage and further debilitate a weak president. And we should use it to have national discussion about the damage done by "conversion therapy."

[via The Gist]
The White House is a powerful position in goverment, even when the occupant is a lame duck drunk. This was reinforced during the last Iraq funding fight. We've got to deal with these pigs for another year and a half; we need to continue to kick them down.

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YatPundit: Too Cool for Words! [Jun. 8th, 2007|04:26 pm]

Speed Racer's Mach 5 comes to life

Filed under: Transportation

Sorry K.I.T.T., you had a nice run there, but we're pretty certain the newly created Mach 5 could destroy you in the quarter mile. As the crew readies for the Speed Racer-inspired motion picture to land in May 2008, this blast from the animated past has finally become a reality, and it even parked for a photograph and an unveiling ceremony, too. The sparkly white ride sports a blinding red interior, stripped down dashboard, push button start, and a hint of nostalgia to boot. We know, next May is a long ways off, but feel free to click through and see the presentation of the tangible Mach 5 in all of its glory -- now go, Speed Racer, go.

[Via CNET]

Continue reading Speed Racer's Mach 5 comes to life


[via Engadget]

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YatPundit: Quote of the Day [Jun. 7th, 2007|05:08 pm]

--A neoconservative is a Bush administration official who has mugged reality and claims he's the victim. Neoconservatism has now been reduced to a clemency plea.

Sidney Blumenthal, commenting on a possible pardon for Scooter Libby in Salon.com today. Blumenthal does his usual splendid job of eviscerating the Bush administration, but this conclusion was just excellent.

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YatPundit: I see stupid people... [Jun. 7th, 2007|02:13 pm]

via Crooks and Liars and ScienceBlogs:

Society for the Practical Establishment and Perpetuation of the TEN COMMANDMENTS

From their Introduction:

Instead of a people seeking to govern themselves, the most nobleand civic thing they can do in establishing their nation or society,or in laying down laws by which the structure of their governmentsand their inhabitants must conform is to wholeheartedly embracethe moral laws of God as their constitutions, without ever seekingto amend such morality; and all proposed bills, laws, statutes,ordinances, judgments and customs be based on the moral laws ofGod while vigorously enforcing such morality. Any people thatfail to do that manifest themselves to be stark heathens indeeddespite their deceptive claims of being a great nation, a nobleand civilized people.

From their page "Against Homosexuality:"

The terrible influence of the crime of homosexuality also extendsitself in the societies by homosexuals being allowed to function in the societies, by them becoming prominent members of communities, and becoming leaders and serving in various positions of government. In this way, homosexuals seek to remove all rightful stigmatization ofhomosexuality from the societies by making laws in favor of homosexuality. Again, this is equivalent to murderers going unpunishedand being allowed to function in the societies as prominent leaders ofthe societies and being allowed to serve in government to make laws infavor of murder.

and becoming leaders and serving in various positions of government

see, it's all J. Edgar Hoover's fault...

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YatPundit: Julie Amero is free [Jun. 6th, 2007|03:49 pm]


So, Norwich, CT, substitute teacher Julie Amero has been granted a new trial:

NEW LONDON -- A Superior Court judge Wednesday granted a new trial for Julie Amero, 40, a Norwich substitute teacher whose faulty computer spewed pornographic images in her seventh grade classroom.

"I had a great team behind me,'' a tearful Amero said. "I feel very confident with the decision today.''

The new trial ordered by Superior Court Judge Hillary B. Strackbein comes after a campaign on Amero's behalf by computer security experts around the country, who offered evidence showing that Amero's computer was taken over by malicious "spyware" that caused a rapid fire sequence of pornographic "pop-up" windows to appear on the screen.

This has been a troublesome case from the start. So many people have been inundated with malware attacks, spam from porn providers, and web-based popup ads for porn sites that it was almost incomprehensible to me that someone would find something insidious about this incident. Still, Norwich had a cop with little-to-no computer training, much less computer forensic training, and allowed him to go after this poor woman.

Worse still, a criminal court judge allowed this detective to testify as an expert witness. Hell, I've been doing computer programming and support work for 36 years, and I don't think I could get certified to testify as an expert on web-based malware. Reporting by Steve Bass of PC World and Mark Rasch of SecurityFocus indicates that neither the prosecutor nor the "expert" witness really have a clue.

The rational for setting aside the verdict, frankly, scares the crap out of me:

In setting aside the guilty verdict, Strackbein ruled that the witness the state presented as a computer expert, a Norwich police detective, provided "erroneous" testimony about the classroom computer.

"The jury may have relied, at least in part, on that false information," said Strackbein.

The motion for a new trial was filed on Tuesday by Amero's attorney, William F. Dow. The motion said that evidence gathered after Amero was convicted in January of four counts of risk or injury to a minor casts serious doubt on her guilt.

The judge cited a forensic computer analysis conducted by the state police crime lab - conducted after the guilty verdict - to support the argument that the verdict should be set aside. She said the lab report "contradicts testimony of the state's computer witness."

They put this woman in the dock based on the affidavits and reports of an untrained police detective. A prosecutor ran with this knowledge and did his damnedest to ruin Amero's life. Now, the judge says this was "false information." Providing false information to a courtroom, under oath should have more consequences to this detective and prosecutor than a simple "oops, we fucked up." If the CT state police's lab and dozens of independent experts could present reasonable doubt in this case after the verdict why wasn't this evidence produced at trial? Would it have been so difficult to not simply take the word of an untrained police officer as gospel?

I don't know if Amero has any legal recourse against the detective in question and the Norwich PD, but I hope she can take them to the cleaners.

Another disturbing aspect of this case is reported by Andrew Kantor, a technology writer for USA Today. In his blog, he reports that the Norwich Bulletin, the paper of record for this case, is purging stories and blog entries where their support for convicting and punishing Amero was quite vocal. Of course, people who pull this sort of stunt are usually too dumb to realize that Teh Google has its neat "cache" feature, but still the "We are at war with Eastasia. We have always been at war with Eastasia" aspect of this is a concern.

In any case, the prosecutor will not re-try Amero, so hopefully she can put this ugly incident behind her.

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YatPundit: If Conyers is truly pissed off... [Jun. 5th, 2007|06:17 pm]

...and it sounds like he is here...will he advocate that the CBC withdraw its sponsorship of a Democratic Presidential Debate on Faux?

Yesterday, Fox News Channel broke the story of Rep. William Jefferson’s indictment with video of Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers greeting Attorney General Alberto Gonzales at a recent Judiciary Committee hearing. The network apologized on-air for airing the wrong video; however, they did not personally apologize to Mr. Conyers or describe the video they aired the previous day. Chairman Conyers responded today:

“Fox News has a history of inappropriate on-air mistakes that are neither fair, nor balanced. This type of disrespect for people of color should no longer be tolerated. I am personally offended by the network’s complete disregard for accuracy in reporting and lackluster on-air apology.”

(h/t Crooks and Liars)

What's the point of outrage if you're going to turn around and play ball with the same people that think you all look alike?

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