Thursday, May 6, 2010

What Sites Future Employers Are Checking When Looking at You - Surveys - Lifehacker

What Sites Future Employers Are Checking When Looking at YouAs part of a Data Privacy Day report, Microsoft commissioned a study of over 1,200 hiring and recruitment managers. In one segment, they asked what kinds of sites they considered in researching applicants online. The short answer: almost everything.

As PC World put it—and as Jason detailed in his online identity primer—having a decent-looking personal web site, with blog-like material showing your grasp of topics and general up-to-date skills, is the best defense against anything and everything else a potential employer or contractor might find about you online.

Then again, take a look at how many online realms hiring managers peek into when peeking at you. It's reassuring, if you've put time into cleaning up your online image, and perhaps a wake-up call if you've still got LOLcats littering your photo service pages.

Have you hired someone, or turned someone down, based on their online presence? Been on the receiving end of that kind of judgement? Gripe or brag, as the case may be, in the comments.

Send an email to Kevin Purdy, the author of this post, at

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The Keyboard Shortcuts of Ubuntu 10.04 - Keyboard Shortcuts - Lifehacker

The Keyboard Shortcuts of Ubuntu 10.04The free Ubuntu Linux operating system finally has some decent, condensed, official documentation, but curiously missing are the changes to keyboard shortcuts that control the desktop. The Tombuntu blog helpfully lists the multi-desktop, window management, and accessibility key combos in Ubuntu 10.04.

Some of Ubuntu's keyboard shortcuts are built in, but others require the use of Compiz, the window effects manager that's activated when you enable desktop effects (and third-party drivers) in the Appearance options, under System/Preferences. When you do, you'll have a few handy keyboard shortcuts at the ready, including these basic window management standbys:

  • Super + A – "scale" effect, shows all windows
  • Alt + F10 – toggle maximize current window
  • Alt + F9 – minimize current window
  • Ctrl + Alt + D – toggle show desktop
  • Alt + Middle mouse button – resize window

It's also helpful to know that the "Me"/messaging window, one of the best improvements in Ubuntu 10.04, can be accessed from pressing the Windows key ("Super") + M. That combo used to invert the screen colors for the whole desktop, but now requires some tweaking in the Compiz settings, most likely. To invert the colors of the window that's open, hit Super + N.

Send an email to Kevin Purdy, the author of this post, at

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Ditch The Morning Drag by Creating a New Routine - Planning - Lifehacker

Ditch The Morning Drag by Creating a New RoutineIf you've been dragging yourself out of bed lately it might be time to reboot your morning routine and introduce a new morning ritual—or three!—to mix things up. Create your new morning routine with this simple list.

Photo by Voltphoto.

Most of us fall into a morning ritual more out of habit than as a result of conscientious planning. If your morning routine isn't helping you start off your day feeling energized and ready to tackle important tasks, it's time to reboot it. At Stepcase Lifehack they're challenging people to become an early riser in five days. Part of the challenge is to establish a planned out morning ritual. They offer the following steps:

  1. Draft a short list of the things you do each morning and what you'd like to add.
  2. Figure out how much time it'll realistically take to do everything on your list.
  3. Adjust your wake time to accommodate your new ritual.
  4. Go through your list each morning for at least 2 mornings before making adjustments.
  5. Once your adjustments are made, enjoy!

We'll definitely second the idea that you need to go through the list for two (or even more) mornings before tweaking it. It's easy, when you're excited about a new routine, to start tweaking it every day. Constant tweaking stops you from seeing if the routine works well across the whole week for you and continues to work after the excitement of tinkering with the routine wears off.

Check out the full article for more tips on tweaking your morning routine. Have a tip or trick of your own to share? Let's hear about it in the comments.

Send an email to Jason Fitzpatrick, the author of this post, at

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Apple's Website Circa 1993 - - Gizmodo

Apple's Website Circa 1993If you transported Apple's website back to 1993, I have no doubt it would end up looking exactly like this. Especially that beige menubar. HyperCard, anyone?

The mock-up is the work of RetroMacCast listener newtonpoetry, who's really nailed the details—as he did in his re-imagining of Apple's 1983 website. Just look at how magical and revolutionary that Newton is!

Of course, he also could have just Geocities-ized That works too. [RetroMacCast via Cult of Mac]

Send an email to Brian Barrett, the author of this post, at

Clever, and although it would've been more accurate to say this is what Apple's website would look like if you combine 00's web design sensibilities with 90's products, it wouldn't make a catchy headline.

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Redesigned Swatch Watch Concept Does Away With Scratched Faces - Allan george swatch concept - Gizmodo

Redesigned Swatch Watch Concept Does Away With Scratched FacesI grew up wearing Swatch watches, so completely understand the sentiment and reasoning behind this scratch-proof Swatch concept from designer Allan George. Those plastic faces are just too soft for their own good.

The Swatch concept looks pretty sporty with its plastic-rubber coating, but it's the redesigned watch face which really does the trick for me. Check out the details in the picture below:

Redesigned Swatch Watch Concept Does Away With Scratched Faces

There's something about it which is just calling to me. Make it happen, Allan George. [Allan George via Yanko Design]

Send an email to Kat Hannaford, the author of this post, at

I like.

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Gay people are disorders that MUST be cured. • HGN

My fellow graduate students and I each emailed the Turkish Minister of Women and Family who said she’d fight an EU directive requiring all Member States and aspiring member states to allow same-sex partners to adopt children. She actually does respond to emails.

Minister of Family and Women Selma Aliye Kavaf’s said in the interview that she believes “homosexuality is a biological disorder, an illness. For me, it is something to be cured/treated. Therefore, I do not have a positive stand for the same-sex relationships.”

So if you’d like to weigh in shoot her an email:

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Google Is Building a Secret Time Machine - Future - Gizmodo

Google Is Building a Secret Time MachineGoogle's time machine is called Recorded Future. It won't allow Sergei, Larry, and Eric to go back in time, but it will let them to search into your future. Nobody has any real details yet, but here's their about box:

Recorded Future allows financial analysts, intelligence analysts, and predictors to organize and aggregate future observations with ease.

Recorded Future organizes information about the future and makes it available to our users. Recorded Future's customers are some of the top government agencies and trading firms in the world.

Recorded Future is not part of Google, but one of the very few companies that Google Ventures is investing in so they don't lose the lead in future disruptive technologies. Their software crawls the internet collecting references to future events, adding them to a database. The user can then search this information using three boxes—What, Who/Where, and When—to get a timeline that goes back and forward in time.

Yes, it all sounds quite simple. But if you believe the hype, there's a lot more to it. A special sauce that nobody really knows about, like using specialized algorithms to interpret the underlying feelings in the writing of people.

Perhaps their technology is similar to IBM's own $12-billion future prediction machine, but for now, nobody is talking. [Recorded Future via via Media Memo]

Send an email to Jesus Diaz, the author of this post, at

Very interesting.

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Looks like good Metropolis Car Concept by Citroen

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Think Progress » Media Ignore The Fact That Man Who Alerted Police To Failed Times Square Bombing Is A Muslim Immigrant

The chief suspect in the case of the failed Times Square car bombing is Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad, who has confessed to the plot. Much of the media has latched onto Shahzad’s Muslim faith and his Pakistani identity, making inflammatory remarks and suggestions about Muslims and Pakistanis:

– CNN contributor and blogger Erick Erickson complained that the words “muslim” and “Islam” are “not mentioned” enough in stories about Shahzad. He wrote, “It really is pathetic that you’re more likely to see the words “racist” and “Republican” together in the newspaper these days than “terrorism” and “Islam.” [5/4/2010]

– Hate radio host Neal Boortz tweeted, “OMG! The Times Square Bomber is a Muslim! Shocker! Who would have believed it?” [5/4/2010]

– The cover of today’s Washington Post-published Express features a black-and-white photo of Shahzad with the sensationalist headline “MADE IN PAKISTAN” [5/5/2010]

Yet one fact being ignored in the American media’s sensationalist narrative about the failed bombing is that the man who was responsible for police finding the bomb was Muslim. The UK’s Times Online reports that Aliou Niasse, a Senagalese Muslim immigrant who works as a photograph vendor on Times Square, was the first to bring the smoking car to the police’s attention:

As the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights notes, “South Asian, and Muslim communities may yield useful information to those fighting terrorism. Arabs and Arab Americans also offer the government an important source of Arabic speakers and translators. The singling out of Arabs, South Asians, Muslims, and Sikhs for investigation regardless of whether any credible evidence links them to terrorism will simply alienate these individuals and compromise the anti-terrorism effort.”

Reflecting on Niasse’s good samaritanism Muslim-American author Sumbul Ali-Karamali writes, “It’s somewhat consoling to know that the man who first noticed the smoking Nissan Pathfinder and sought help is also Muslim, a Senegalese immigrant. … I grew up Muslim in this country, with Muslim friends and non-Muslim friends, and there was very little difference between the two groups. We were all American.”

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Choosing Between Abuse And Deportation - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Laura Tillman fears that the Arizona law will keep battered women from getting the help they need:

The law requires police officers to question those they suspect of being in the country illegally about their immigration status. A change to the law made late Friday specifies that these questions be asked only when an officer is stopping, detaining or arresting a person while enforcing another law or civil ordinance. This provision makes it unclear whether the perpetrator of the crime or both criminal and victim would be asked in the process of, say, responding to a complaint of domestic violence.

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Educating Congress on Marijuana - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

DC's medical marijuana bill passed yesterday:

The DC medical marijuana program would allow members of Congress to get a first-hand look at how such programs work and ease the passage of medical marijuana legislation at the federal level, [Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project] suggested. "A well-working medical marijuana program in the nation’s capital will also provide members of Congress who have never seen such programs up close with a unique opportunity to do so, she said. Once they see for themselves that these laws do nothing but provide compassionate care for seriously ill patients, hopefully they will understand the need to create a federal policy that no longer criminalizes patients in any state who could benefit from this legitimate treatment option."

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A Muslim Tried To Kill; Another Muslim Helped Stop Him - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

The complexities of the Times Square bomb plot escape many in the media. It's a story that does not fit into any easy pre-fabricated ideological narrative.

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Scenes From The Drug War - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Above is video from a February raid in Missouri. Balko captions:

SWAT team breaks into home, fires seven rounds at family's pit bull and corgi (?!) as a seven-year-old looks on. They found a "small amount" of marijuana, enough for a misdemeanor charge. The parents were then charged with child endangerment.

And advocates:

I'd urge you to watch it, and to send it to the drug warriors in your life. This is the blunt-end result of all the war imagery and militaristic rhetoric politicians have been spewing for the last 30 years—cops dressed like soldiers, barreling through the front door middle of the night, slaughtering the family pets, filling the house with bullets in the presence of children, then having the audacity to charge the parents with endangering their own kid. There are 100-150 of these raids every day in America, the vast, vast majority like this one, to serve a warrant for a consensual crime. But they did prevent Jonathan Whitworth from smoking the pot they found in his possession. So I guess this mission was a success.

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The McCain-Lieberman Madness - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

This is what now consists of sanity on the right:

"He is a citizen of the United States, so I say we uphold the laws and the Constitution on citizens. If you are a citizen, you obey the law and follow the Constitution. [Shahzad] has all the rights under the Constitution. We don't shred the Constitution when it is popular. We do the right thing," - Glenn Beck, on "Fox and Friends."

The appalling behavior of John McCain and Joe Lieberman this past week underlines what a bullet this country missed by electing Barack Obama president. This, remember, was McCain's original dream-ticket - before a forty hour Google search unleashed brain-dead boobage across the land. Look at their instincts: find a citizen terror suspect and tear up the constitution to ... do what exactly? McCain won't say. Or: strip the guy of citizenship immediately and then get to work on him.

Megan has a simple question:

Can someone explain to me--hopefully using graphs, and small words--why Joe Lieberman is willing to share the precious blessing of American citizenship with Charles Manson, Gary Ridgeway, and David Berkowitz, but wants citizenship stripped from a guy who strapped some firecrackers to a bag of non-explosive fertilizer?

Now recall that McCain and Lieberman were celebrated in Washington for their alleged maturity, wisdom, and elder statesmen experience. They are in fact adolescent hysterics, whose terrorized Manichean view of the world sees nothing but an existential struggle and the imperative to win it. We would have been electing Cheney to a third term. And we barely knew it.

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Sanity On Shahzad - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Hard to beat Goldblog's assessment:

There are more than five million Muslims in America; a tiny handful of them have committed, or have tried to commit, terror attacks in recent years. Many more Muslims serve faithfully in the United States military than serve jihadist ideology. Still, ignoring the infiltration by jihadist ideologues of certain marginal circles in Muslim America serves no purpose, either, except to advance the argument that the Tea Party is worse than al Qaeda, which, I fear, is what some on the left actually believe. Blaming Islam, or the mass of law-abiding American Muslims, for the acts of men like Faisal Shahzad will only lead to segregation, prejudice, and radicalization; ignoring the problem entirely will lead to more terror attacks.

I am relieved by the incompetence of the attempt and the flawed but still successful work of law enforcement to get him. The potential for real intelligence is also enormous - since the bomb did not go off and the suspect is captured and is not being tortured. 

For me, the case offers several mysteries: why haven't there been far more of these attempts these past few years? How half-assed are these Taliban training camps? Does this act suggest that the aggressive war in Pakistan and Afghanistan might actually increase terrorism at home and in the region - or does it imply we should keep up the military pressure in Afghanistan?

I suspect at this point that so many of these things are inter-locking and figuring out what caused what is close to pointless. This is what war does. In the end, it sustains itself.

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Tweaking Arizona, Ctd - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Jacob Sullum looks at the revisions to Arizona's immigration law:

The law recognizes a driver's license from another state as proof that one is not "an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States," but only if that state "requires proof of legal residence in the United States before issuance." According to this fairly recent summary, about half a dozen states don't. So Latino drivers from, say, Michigan could be in for a real hassle if they happen to be pulled over in Arizona, even if they are native-born U.S. citizens. Considering that a perfectly legal visitor from Mexico was nabbed by Arpaio's deputies and detained for almost nine hours even though he presented several forms of ID, including a valid visa, Latinos from states that don't meet Arizona's criteria probably should carry a passport. Or just avoid Arizona.

Full article here.

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Visualizing The Spill - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

This infographic has also been making the rounds.

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Convicting Terrorists, Ctd - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Steve Coll's bottom line:

Whatever the narrative behind Shahzad’s case turns out to be, we can take solace that we will hear it in a court of law. Amidst the country’s often self-defeating search for a justice system to address terrorism, his is not a particularly hard case—a U.S. citizen arrested on U.S. soil for a crime against Americans carried out in New York. We can nonetheless look forward to “The Daily Show” clips showing cable television anchors railing about the Obama Administration’s failure to recognize him as a warrior. Fortunately, like one of those Eleven O’clock News bank robbers who tries to rob an A.T.M., only to topple it over on himself, Shahzad’s case may help to illuminate a truth larger than himself: Terrorists are criminals, and the great majority of criminals are prosaic.

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Saving Conservatism - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Saletan has some tips on how to avoid epistemic closure. Number ten:

Overcome your urges. Hogan [a blogger] refuses to analyze opposing arguments in detail, arguing that he lacks "the desire" to do so. Perhaps he should brush up on the tradition he purports to represent. Real conservatives understand that desire is a lousy way to run a society. You don't feel like working? Work. You don't feel like supporting the kids you fathered? Support them. You don't feel like challenging your biases? Challenge them. We're all vain and lazy. In the electronic echo chamber, it's easier than ever to shut out what you don't want to hear. Nobody will make you open the door and venture out. You'll have to do that yourself.

What not to do here.

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The Gulf Oil Spill, As Seen From the International Space Station - oil spill - Gizmodo

The Gulf Oil Spill, As Seen From the International Space StationIt's easy to lose your sense of scale when thinking about the massive oil spill spreading across the Gulf of Mexico, and I'm not sure this photo, taken from the ISS, will help.

Soichi Noguchi, a JAXA astronaut currently floating around the ISS, has been raining down various photos of the Earth's surface for quite some time now, via his Twitter account. There's no context provided with the picture, so it's hard to be sure which part of the photo is oil, and which is water. Generally, oil has photographed as lighter than water from space, so I'm guessing it's the terrifying, overwhelming lower left section.

(Also, in case you were wondering, this shot was taken with a Nikon D3S. EXIF data, from SPACE!) —Thanks, Anthony!

Send an email to John Herrman, the author of this post, at

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A Race to the Bottom: The Best of the Worst in Recent Anti-Immigrant Proposals « Reform Immigration For America

race to bottom

Originally posted on Immigration Impact.

Just when you think you’ve heard it all—someone, somewhere, sets the bar even lower. It’s not an overstatement to say that the immigration debate is ripe with contention. It inspires commentary from a wide range of political spectra—from the libertarian no-border folks to the “don’t retreat, reload” tea partiers. But regardless of political leaning, nearly all groups agree that immigration is a problem that needs to be fixed, albeit with an even wider range of solutions. However, right and left aside, there are people who want to take the immigration debate in yet another direction—downward. Against the backdrop of Arizona’s harsh enforcement law, there have been a slew of anti-immigrant aftershocks posing as solutions to our immigration problems—aftershocks that are as ludicrous as they are alarming. And for the record, this is the part of ILLEGAL that people don’t understand.

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In Arizona, It’s Politics, Not Crime, Driving Border Insecurity « Reform Immigration For America

border security

Originally posted on the ImmPolitic blog.

In signing Arizona’s new “Papers Please” law, Governor Jan Brewer gave her reasons.

Border-related violence and crime due to illegal immigration are critically important issues to the people of our state…. There is no higher priority than protecting the citizens of Arizona.

As we noted last week, however, it appears that the law was more about politics and discomfort with demographic change than about protecting the citizens of Arizona. Property and violent crime rates in Arizona are lower than they’ve been in decades.

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In Arizona, It’s Politics, Not Crime, Driving Border Insecurity « Reform Immigration For America

border security

Originally posted on the ImmPolitic blog.

In signing Arizona’s new “Papers Please” law, Governor Jan Brewer gave her reasons.

Border-related violence and crime due to illegal immigration are critically important issues to the people of our state…. There is no higher priority than protecting the citizens of Arizona.

As we noted last week, however, it appears that the law was more about politics and discomfort with demographic change than about protecting the citizens of Arizona. Property and violent crime rates in Arizona are lower than they’ve been in decades.

CNN last week also noted declining crime in Arizona.

”…violent crimes reported in Arizona dropped by nearly 1,500 reported incidents between 2005 and 2008. Reported property crimes also fell, from about 287,000 reported incidents to 279,000 in the same period. These decreases are accentuated by the fact that Arizona’s population grew by 600,000 between 2005 and 2008.”

CNN also checked out illegal border crossing trends. In the Tucson Border Patrol sector, apprehensions of persons crossing illegally have fallen from 600,000 in 2000 to 241,000 in 2009.

The May 2nd Arizona Republic took a look at crime in some of Arizona’s border communities. Assistant Police Chief Roy Bermudez, of Nogales, Arizona, told the paper that he thinks “Nogales, Arizona, is one of the safest places to live in all of America.” The Republic didn’t take his word for it. They examined FBI statistics for border communities.

“In 2000, there were 23 rapes, robberies and murders in Nogales, Ariz. Last year, despite nearly a decade of population growth, there were 19 such crimes. Aggravated assaults dropped by one-third. No one has been murdered in two years.”

The Republic looked at statistics in other border towns.

”…crime rates in Nogales, Douglas, Yuma and other Arizona border towns have remained essentially flat for the past decade, even as drug-related violence has spiraled out of control on the other side of the international line.”

The Republic writes “politicians and the national press have fanned a perception that the border is inundated with bloodshed,” perception that helped push Arizona’s “Papers Please” legislation into law. The perception of law enforcement officers on the border, however, is very different.

Here is the perception of Clarence Dupnik, the sheriff of Pima County (which includes Tucson).

“This is a media-created event. I hear politicians on TV saying the border has gotten worse. Well, the fact of the matter is that the border has never been more secure.”

According to the Border Patrol, slain rancher Robert Krentz, whose death led to the latest round off politician demands to “secure the border,”

“…is the only American murdered by a suspected illegal immigrant in at least a decade within the agency’s Tucson sector, the busiest smuggling route among the Border Patrol’s nine coverage regions along the U.S.-Mexican border.”

Though politicians and the press were quick to spread the rumor that Krentz was killed by an “illegal alien,” according to the Arizona Daily Star police are looking at an American suspect.

Over the last 20 years, the border region has been flooded with law enforcement resources—the subject of this new Fact Sheet from the National Immigration Forum. As Assistant Chief Bermudez of Nogales noted,

“Everywhere you turn, there’s some kind of law enforcement looking at you. Per capita, we probably have the highest amount of any city in the United States.”

Politicians calling for more border security are doing so more to further their own political carriers than out of concern for public safety. They appeal to voters not in border communities who can witness the reality, but to others whose perception is shaped by the hysteria the politicians themselves are generating (and unthinkingly fanned by the press). They are not doing border communities any favors. The conclusion of the Republic’s story sums up the situation well:

Leo Federico, 61, a retired teacher, said he has been amazed to hear members of Congress call for National Guard troops in the area.

“That’s politics,” he said, shrugging. “It’s all about votes. . . . We have plenty of law enforcement.”

Photo by Flickr user Threaded Thoughts.

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New GOP TV Spot Calls For Racial Profiling | Race in America

GOP candidate Dan Fanelli is hoping to take on Democrat Representative Alan Grayson for Florida's 8th District. And his apparent plan of attack is to launch television ads calling for racial profiling of people with darker skin color.

"Does this look like a terrorist?" Fanelli asks in the political ad featured below, gesturing towards an older white man. Then, pointing to the darker-skinned young man, he adds: "Or this?"

I don't know who looks like a terrorist, but Fanelli does appear to be pretty smarmy. Funny, isn't Fanelli an Italian name, and not long ago, weren't Italian-Americans getting put in concentration camps in the name of national security?

Not only does the GOP candidate promote the use of racial profiling as public policy, Fanelli actually declared in an interview that people from countries like Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Syria should be happy to submit to extra U.S. scrutiny for their own safety.

Yes, Fanelli, we tried that already. It was called the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), a special registration post-9-11 program that required male visitors from 24 Arab and Muslim countries and North Korea to register with local immigration offices. Over 83,000 people registered and 1,200 were arbitrarily detained without due process. And it did not result in a single terrorism conviction.

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Hard Road for Exiled FLDS Boys | Poverty in America

If you're familiar with the Mormon offshoot Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), perhaps from John Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven, then you are probably familiar with its litany of controversies. The polygamous social structure and the incidents of domestic violence, the rape convictions of sect leader Warren Jeffs and his systematic excommunication of male rivals.

What you may not be familiar with is the economic hardship facing the community's hundreds of under-aged exiles.

Last week, during the Tribeca Film Festival, I saw a documentary that put the plight of these teens into sharp focus. Sons of Perdition, which had its world premiere at the festival (watch the trailer here) follows a group of boys who leave "the Crick" (pictured), the nickname for the FLDS compounds of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona.

When FLDS teens are kicked out of or flee the Crick, typically for St. George, Utah, they are cut off completely from their parents and siblings. In addition to the psychological trauma of banishment, and the fear they hold for sisters who may be married off in their early teens, they are confronted with figuring out how to survive in mainstream society.

"It's like taking a kid from Somalia and putting him in downtown L.A. They don't know how to apply for jobs, don't know how to balance a checkbook," one person in the film's trailer points out. "They don't even know what a checking account is."

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An Arizona-Style Immigration Law in the Middle East | Human Rights

While there are obvious differences between the situation in Arizona and in Israel-Palestine — not the least of which is the fact that Arizona is not an illegally occupied territory of the United States — the similarities are nonetheless striking. Both policies represent an open invitation to sweeping racial profiling, exclusion, and arbitrary detention. Both laws pander to the far right-wing of the domestic political spectrum. Both are rooted in a racist understanding of nationhood that views outsiders as the inferior "Other." And, most importantly, both are illegal under national and international law.

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Are Marriage Equality Opponents Bigots? | Gay Rights

Nobody likes to be called a bigot. That includes people who oppose same-sex marriage, who went a little ballistic on newly-minted Washington Post blogger David Weigel this week, after Weigel delivered them a stinging blow in less than 140 characters.

"I can empathize with everyone I cover except for the anti-gay marriage bigots. In 20 years no one will admit they were part of that," Weigel tweeted over the weekend.

While Weigel is right that in twenty years, nobody is going to want to admit that they once opposed same-sex marriage, is he right about calling same-sex marriage opponents bigots? Are the folks who yell "Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!" or those who make the case that gay marriage threatens children bigoted?

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Openly Gay Bishop Gene Robinson Has Some Lessons for Pope Benedict XVI | Gay Rights

The subject of the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal is a pretty thorny issue. (Religious pun intended.) Witness the conflicted polls about how American Catholics view the Church's response to what's become a truly global epidemic of abuse, stretching from Chile to Brazil to the U.S. to Spain to Germany and to the halls of the Vatican. Most Catholics in the pews are unhappy with how the Vatican has handled the situation, while withholding judgment on their own local priests and bishops.

Perhaps that's not altogether surprising, given the Vatican's massive public relations FAIL when it comes to handling the sex abuse scandal. First they blamed the gays. Then they suggested that Catholic priests were being persecuted much like Jewish people were under the Nazi regime in Germany. Then they went back to blaming the gays. Then they started to blame the New York Times. And then they went back to blaming the gays.

That's an awful lot of blame, without an awful lot of apologizing to parishioners who were victims of priestly abuse.

And therein lies some sage advice given (unsolicited) to Pope Benedict XVI by openly gay Episcopalian Bishop V. Gene Robinson. Bishop Robinson, writing in the Washington Post, drew on some lessons that his own denomination learned the hard way, after a clergy sex abuse scandal threatened to consume the Episcopal Church. Here's the Cliff's Notes version, in three easy steps:

Step One: Say you're sorry. Period.

Step Two: Institute a bunch of reforms that focus on transparency.

Step Three: Stop scapegoating gay people, particularly priests, when they have nothing to do with the sex abuse scandal.

One of my biggest beefs with the Catholic Church is it's continued refusal to own up to its responsibility for allowing the decades of abuse to continue and thus trying to scapegoat its way out of the morass. It makes me wonder, with all this energy spent trying to wash its hands of blame, pointing fingers, and painting itself as being persecuted unfairly, is it actually doing anything to prevent such abuses from happening now and in the future?

(My other beef is the fact that the Church valued its reputation over any sense of justice or morality-how does that square with an institution that is supposed to be a spiritual authority?)

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The Boy Scouts of America Are Paying for Their Discriminatory Ways | Gay Rights

When you've got a 100-year-old existence rooted in excluding gays and lesbians from leadership positions, you've got to figure that some bad karma will be coming your way. Such is the case with the Boy Scouts of America, which has had a pretty rough 2010 by most anyone's estimate.

It appears that many Scouting members and leaders are opposed to the headquarters’ narrow-minded stance of discrimination. A search of Scouting blogs reveal(s) numerous posts by leaders and Scouts, against the anti-LGBT policy," writes Thomson. "If the Boy Scouts wish to return to their standing as outstanding citizens then they need to be teaching tolerance and acceptance, not discrimination and shame.

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Gulf Spill Turns Tide Against Off-Shore Drilling | Environment

There's just no way to look at the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and say that "the glass is half full." As we all know, thanks to the 24-hour news coverage of the disaster assailing us like, well, an oil spill, the glass isn't half full or half empty: It's gushing over. And the Gulf's ecosystems, communities, and industries are, to put it in a nutshell, over a barrel.

But there may be one silver lining to this thoroughly depressing disaster, which is that the tide may be turning against offshore drilling. Even the most ardent backers of oil exploration seem to be reconsidering the wisdom of allowing more drilling in our nation's coastal waters, as "drill, baby, drill!" sounds a little too much like "spill, baby, spill!"

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Despite Oil Spill, Louisiana Seeks Ban on Enviro Law Mavericks | Environment

In theory, the massive oil spill off the Gulf Coast would inspire Louisiana lawmakers to get more serious about environmental regulation. In reality, the state's legislature is taking steps to withhold state funding from Tulane University's environmental law clinic unless it provides the state with currently confidential client information.

Proponents of law clinics say it gives law students real-world experience and empowers the "little guy" to take on giant corporations. Critics say that it's jam-packed with bleeding heart liberals who just want to stick it to "the man." And according to the bill's sponsor, state Sen. Robert Adley, that's not something the taxpayers should be a part of. "The intent is fairly simple," says Adley. "Philosophically, I'm opposed to taking taxpayer money and turning around to suing taxpayers. If you're going to take money from the taxpayers and the government, you out not to be able to sue the taxpayers and the government."

Faulty logic aside, Adley and his supporters are ignoring the achievements of Tulane's environmental law clinic. Last year, for example, it contributed to a major settlement from an oil and gas management company accused of causing a mercury leak. Before that, the clinic helped prevent a power plant's conversion to a petroleum burning facility. This isn't a clinic that's just blowing off steam. It's achieving tangible and important results for the environment.

In a letter to Tulane law Dean Stephen M. Griffin, leaders of the Society of American Law Teachers said the legislation could make law clinics less likely to pursue egregious environmental infringements against major polluters. "Legislative oversight of lawyer activities is an unacceptable government intrusion into the necessary and confidential lawyer-client relationship and an expansion of government regulation of the rights of private citizens," they wrote.

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Congress Fights Prostitution Near U.S. Military Bases in Korea | End Human Trafficking

The system of South Korean "juicy bars" — bars which cater to U.S. military bases in the country — has come under fire lately for links to prostitution and human trafficking. But Congress has introduced a bill to better monitor what prostitution or human trafficking, if any, is happening near U.S. military bases and figure out how best to reduce it.

Here's how the "juicy bar" system works: Filipina and other foreign women are brought to South Korea by brokers as "entertainers." The brokers then rent the women out to bars, priced depending on the girl's "talents" or attractiveness and the bar's needs. There, they flirt with and kiss soldiers and tourists, in an attempt to keep them buying the girls expensive juice drinks. If a girl sells her quota of juice drinks in the evening, all is usually well. But if she doesn't, she's expected to make up the difference. And her only means of doing that is prostitution.

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Modern Day Witchcraft Is Not Quite Like Harry Potter | End Human Trafficking

From brewing potions and watching pictures come alive before your eyes, to learning spells to protect yourself against all enemies, being a witch seems to be as exciting and enchanting as the Harry Potter books promise through the young hero's trials and tribulations as he saves the world from evil. But in reality, or at least the Muggle reality as we know it, witchcraft is far less glamorous, and those accused of dabbling in the occult are shunned from society and become extremely vulnerable to traffickers because of the demonic powers they supposedly possess.

The trafficking of children accused of being witches is a growing, but infrequently discussed, problem in Africa. When children are accused of being witches, they are beaten, abused, and sometimes even killed in exorcism rituals as family and community members try to force the demons out of their souls. In some instances, these children are forced to sit on open fires or have nails hammered into their skulls. They are pushed out onto the streets, away from their families, with no place to turn, and fall into the hands of traffickers looking to exploit their vulnerability.

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Will Baltimore Make Walmart Pay a Living Wage? | End Human Trafficking

I think the real question isn't whether the people behind the idea of a living wage are pro- or anti-Walmart. It's why the living wage idea hasn't caught fire in more places. Advocates of a living wage have only pushed for it to be applied to those who can afford it, like corporations who make more money than most countries in the world. So maybe promoting a living wage is taking a stand on behalf of workers and trying to keep a company known for exploiting workers from opening another store.

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"Injustice Anywhere": The Parallels Between Homelessness and Immigration | End Homelessness

I live in Arizona, which these days is like saying one is from Germany circa 1939 or Mississippi in the 1960s. You're probably familiar with our draconian immigration laws, including the implications for racial profiling, expanded police powers and a general attitude of exclusion and intolerance. When we consider these trends, there are actually strong parallels with the treatment of homeless people in America. Whereas Arizona's anti-immigrant stance has yielded national outrage, and rightly so, far less attention has been paid to the fact that homeless people are treated this way every day in cities across the country. Here are a few similarities to consider:

"Show us you papers." Homeless people experience routine ID checks, police stops and profiling based on external criteria including physical appearance. In fact, they will often have their IDs taken or destroyed with the implicit intention of making their lives more difficult to navigate. One of the basic struggles of homelessness actually is possessing the proper credentials and identification in order to access services and potential opportunities for education, employment or housing; without the right papers, one can get caught in a self-perpetuating state of disempowerment, as immigrants often experience here.

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Do Homelessness Simulations Do Any Good? | End Homelessness

I imagine that people who are or have been homeless are somewhat baffled by the idea of a homelessness simulation, in which middle class individuals spend a night on the streets. I've never been homeless, and I still don't get it. The only purpose I can see is reassuring your ego that it's empathetic. Going unhoused is obviously terrifying — if you're lucky enough to have never been homeless, why subject yourself to even a one-night simulation of it?

Yet, people do. Every year, again and again. Last month, Mounds View High School in Arden Hills, Minnesota, held its annual homeless simulation for students. One hundred and fifty teenagers paid $30 apiece, which went to a local shelter, to spend the night in duct-taped cardboard boxes on the school's lawn and for commemorative t-shirts. It sounds like tragedy tourism. Since 1992, however, the school has raised more than $40,000 for local shelters through the simulation, and I can't argue with money like that.

I do object a bit to every simulation's portrayal of homelessness as a cardboard box existence, when in reality those "chronic homeless" who live on the streets represent about 20 percent of all those who experience homelessness in a given year. But I get that stereotypes make the most impact. To have a real homeless experience, one shelter resident said of the students, they should be ridiculed and harassed.

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More bad news about Arizona | Education

Arizona has a bad history. Over the last 100 years, it was home to schools to assimilate Native American children against their families' wishes, the site of Japanese internment camps, and was one of the last states to make Martin Luther King Day a holiday. Now Arizona has made its mark again with its new immigration law. As if that was not bad enough, now Arizona is trying to eliminate ethnic studies programs and is trying to fire teachers who speak English with an accent.

They are really on a roll. And it seems like there is a theme. Keep Arizona free of multiculturalism. The bill banning ethnic studies programs has passed in the legislature and is going onto the governor for a signature. If it passes, it will be "illegal for a school district to teach any courses that promote the overthrow of the U.S. government, promote resentment of a particular race or class of people, are designed primarily for students of a particular ethnic group or advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals."

How will they decide if a teacher is teaching courses that promote the overthrow of the U.S. government or the resentment of a particular race? Teachers will really need to watch their backs. What if a teacher wants to teach about the 1960's and the anti-war movement during Vietnam War? Or about the Civil Rights movement? Will they be fired for stirring up the pot of advocating for ethnic solidarity or anti-government sentiment?

If that was not bad enough, Arizona's state education department is asking teachers who have an accent to step down as teachers for students learning English. State auditors were especially upset by teachers pronouncing words such as violet as "biolet," think as "tink." Despite their qualifications as strong teachers, accents could force teachers out of classrooms. Really Arizona? Taken together these policies can only be called racist.  Governor Jan Brewer needs to hear from the rest of us on this set of policies aimed at containing people of color and immigrants. Please sign the petition that will go directly to Jan Brewer asking her not to sign these new bills into law.

Photo credit: Chicago2016

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Inside Norway's Idyllic Prisons | Criminal Justice

There's no doubt that the Norwegian correctional services sports one of the best agency names around: Kriminalomsorgen. And evidently, Norway's also home to the most superior, enlightened prisons in the world, as well.

That might not surprise you, given the privileged position Scandaniavian countries hold in the liberal imagination. But even so, some of the latest details out of the Norwegian prison system, as chronicled by a new TIME piece, are fairly startling.

For example: When Norway inaugurated its newest prison, Halden Fengsel, the King himself was present, and was accompanied by a choir of police belting out the chorus to "We Are the World." Norway's latest prison complex extends over fully 75 acres of "gently sloping forest," and is scattered with jogging trails, a sound studio and a two-bedroom house that's reserved for the families of prisoners to stay in during overnight visits. Meanwhile, the delicate scent of orange sorbet wafts through the corridors from the "kitchen laboratory," where prisoners are instructed in the culinary arts.

Perhaps the most striking fact of all? Among all of Norway's prisons, only 20% of those people leaving them will return again within two years. By contrast, in the U.S. and the U.K., that figure is as high as 60%.

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Medical Associations Say No to the Death Penalty | Criminal Justice

This week, one major American medical association took a stand against the death penalty.

The American Board of Anesthesiologists has informed its 40,000 members that they will lose their certification if they work with states to end a prisoner's life. While it's possible to get a medical license without certification, most hospitals require it. So this move should hopefully discourage doctors from participating in executions.

Though the Board's move is the most dramatic one I've yet seen, it's joined by other medical groups that have likewise voiced their disgust at the practice. The American Medical Association, for example, doesn’t mince words about its view: the AMA says that assisting in an execution violates the fundamental medical credo to “first, do no harm.”

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Obama calls on Congress to work on immigration reform -

President Obama addresses immigration reform Wednesday at a Cinco de Mayo reception in White House Rose Garden.
President Obama addresses immigration reform Wednesday at a Cinco de Mayo reception in White House Rose Garden.

Washington (CNN) -- President Obama on Wednesday called on Congress to work on comprehensive immigration reform this year, saying it would be the best way to fix the nation's broken immigration system.

Speaking at a Cinco de Mayo celebration at the White House, Obama again criticized the recently enacted Arizona immigration law as the wrong approach.

"The answer isn't to undermine fundamental principles that define us as a nation," Obama said to applause. He called instead for "common-sense comprehensive immigration reform."

In an apparent effort to clarify his comment last week that the political climate might be too difficult to take up immigration reform, Obama said Congress should begin work now on the issue.

"I was pleased to see a strong proposal for comprehensive reform presented in the Senate last week, and I was pleased it was based on a bipartisan framework," Obama said. "I want to begin work this year. And I want Democrats and Republicans to work with me."

Without a comprehensive federal approach, the president said, state and local authorities would continue to take "misconceived" steps at addressing the illegal immigration problem, such as the recently enacted Arizona law that allows police to ask anyone for proof of legal U.S. residency.

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How College Students Are Using Privilege to Protest - GOOD Education - GOOD

For some students, spring semester has meant a tad more than cramming for finals and thirsty Thursdays. When many have looked the other way, students groups have mobilized and advocated for those whose voices have gone unheard.

 On Yale’s campus, as Arizona Senate Bill 1070 became a reality, several students decided to stage a mock raid. During a seemingly normal lunch period, students dressed in uniforms, aggressively arrested students, and asked random witnesses to show their identification. The demonstration sparked awareness, and more organizations joined their initial coalition.

And last week, students organized a teach-in, which was devised in a similar fashion to the mock raid. The students set up the area to resemble the unjust treatment of illegal immigrants; a large canvas tent with mattresses as seats was surrounded by chicken wire. Unlike most student-run demonstrations, a series of high profile professors spoke and passionately emphasized the importance of protesting this bill. Alejandro Gutierrez, a freshman at Yale, and one of the organizers said, “I fear that dehumanizing migrants will become the norm, and I fear for the future of my family. That is why I feel the need to act, and educate others on what is going on in Arizona.”

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Groundhog Day for Oil - Opinionator Blog -

cleaning up Exxon Valdez oil
Agence France-Presse Cleanup workers scrubbed rocks on an oil-covered beach in Prince William Sound after the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.

If we learned anything from the 1989 Alaska oil spill, it’s that we won’t learn much from this one, either.

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Brain Scan Evidence Rejected by Brooklyn Court | Wired Science |


A judge in Brooklyn ruled to exclude fMRI evidence in an employer-retaliation case, delivering another blow to proponents of lie detection by brain scan.

The scans didn’t even make it to the hearing that normally is used to determine the admissibility of scientific evidence in New York state court.

Defense attorney Jessica Cortes of the firm Davis and Gilbert won her motion to exclude the evidence without getting into the science behind brain scans. Juries are supposed to decide the credibility of the witness, she argued, and fMRI lie detection, even if it could be proven completely accurate, infringes on that right.

“Juries are supposed to determine if a witness is credible and take from that witness what is true,” Cortes told “That’s how our system works.”

The plaintiff’s attorney, David Zevin, confirmed that his side lost the battle. “The issue is dead in this case, at least until a possible appeal,” he wrote in an e-mail to Zevin had sought to show that a witness he plans to call was telling the truth about the details of the case.

Much of the debate around fMRI lie detection techniques has centered on whether they will be reliable beyond the lab in real world conditions. But Cortes’ legal victory suggests that if and when the science is settled, the legal questions probably won’t be. has learned that more brain scans conducted by the company Cephos will be put to the legal test in a federal case in the western district of Tennessee. On May 13, that court will hear arguments over fMRI evidence in a Daubert hearing, the procedure used to assess the admissibility of scientific information in Federal court.

In that case, the U.S. attorney charges that Lorne Semrau, a psychiatrist, sought to defraud Medicare and Medicaid in the way he contracted and billed for his services. Semrau argues he had no intent to defraud the government and underwent a brain scan to prove it. His attorney, J. Houston Gordon, filed paperwork indicating that Stephen Laken, president of Cephos, would testify on the fMRI evidence the company obtained.

“Dr. Laken will further testify that Dr. Semrau was presented questions using fMRI technology and was instructed to respond to questions in either/both a truthful or deceitful manner, depending on the question posed,” Gordon wrote. “The fMRI screening demonstrated to a scientific certainty, that Defendant was truthful and possessed no intent to defraud or cheat the government.”

Both these cases demonstrate that the collision between fMRI technology and the legal system is likely to be long and messy. Wired Science will be tracking the Tennessee case as it develops.

Image: stephenhampshire/flickr

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