Rage Blogging and Drama: The Elan Gale Story

It has come to my attention that there are some members of the various internet skeptical and secular communities, not to mention members of the greater internet “blogosphere”, who evidently do not know what “blogging” actually IS. I am obligated, therefore, to explain, because I happen to be a “blogger” on occasion myself. It behooves me that everyone understand exactly what it is I’m doing here.
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Solidarity at #wiscfi

You might have seen this FtB solidarity photo from Women In Secularism 2 floating around, where the members who were on-hand after Maryam’s talk got a group photo taken with our signs expressing solidarity with the atheists in Muslim countries who are being persecuted for daring to think freely — whose lives are made miserable, and in some cases made forfeit, because they dare disagree with the majority.

Stephanie Zvan, Ophelia Benson, Brianne Bilyeu, Maryam Namazie, Jason Thibeault, Kate Donovan, Miriam Mogilevski, PZ Myers, Ashley Miller. Photo by Brian D. Engler.

Stephanie Zvan, Ophelia Benson, Brianne Bilyeu, Maryam Namazie, Jason Thibeault, Kate Donovan, Miriam Mogilevski, PZ Myers, Ashley Miller. Photo by Brian D. Engler.

Left to right, signs say:

Free
Happy
Defiant
Ateist
– Stephanie Zvan

WE ARE ATHEIST
WE
ARE
WITH
YOU
– Ophelia Benson

Recognize The
WORTH of
Non Believers –
– Respect The
RIGHTS of
Non Believers
I stand in SOLIDARITY with
ATHEISTS!
– Brianne Bilyeu

THOUGHT
IS
NOT
A CRIME
– Jason Thibeault

We stand
with you
– Kate Donovan

Secularism for
ALL women –
NOT just Western!
– Miriam Mogilevski

ATHEISM
IS A VIRTUE
NOT A CRIME
– PZ Myers

Together
We are
Stronger
– Ashley Miller

(You might also have seen a photoshopped version of this photo stripping it of its important message and making it all about a certain self-promoting asshole. That’s, I’m sure, SLIGHTLY more important than decrying the human rights violations perpetrated on fellow atheists, right?)

But you may not have seen the full scope of this effort.
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Anonymous hacks USSC.gov over Aaron Swartz’s death

Don’t get me wrong — I don’t advocate black-hat actions pretty much ever, even simple defacement. But the government’s pursuit of Aaron Swartz is one of those undeniably disproportionate responses to an internet activist for the crime of downloading too many PDFs at the same time. WITH AUTHORIZATION, no less.

What happened here, Anonymous hacking the USSC website to express their outrage at that travesty of justice — I’m fairly sympathetic to that cause. While it had already raised a public outcry, it certainly didn’t get enough of an outcry for the severity of the injustice perpetrated.

The Anonymous video, with text-to-speech of the USSC hack:

The most fascinating part of this is the “warhead” they included in the hack — links to an AES256 encrypted set of files with the names of the Chief Justices of the US as the filename. The files are intended to be spliced together — and Anonymous gave the command to do it, but also included “delete everything on your hard drive” at the end of the command in case you’re one of those types to blindly copy/paste commands into your command line.

The “warhead” will be “set off” by Anonymous releasing the decryption key for the encrypted file. Speculation abounds at what is in them, but Anonymous’ hack says:

The contents are various and we won’t ruin the speculation by revealing them. Suffice it to say, everyone has secrets, and some things are not meant to be public. At a regular interval commencing today, we will choose one media outlet and supply them with heavily redacted partial contents of the file. Any media outlets wishing to be eligible for this program must include within their reporting a means of secure communications.

Of course they won’t want to ruin speculation. That’s how things like this go viral.

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NYPD cop: we arrested people on false drug charges to meet quotas

This is what your drug war has wrought, America.

A former NYPD narcotics detective snared in a corruption scandal testified it was common practice to fabricate drug charges against innocent people to meet arrest quotas.

The bombshell testimony from Stephen Anderson is the first public account of the twisted culture behind the false arrests in the Brooklyn South and Queens narc squads, which led to the arrests of eight cops and a massive shakeup.

Anderson, testifying under a cooperation agreement with prosecutors, was busted for planting cocaine, a practice known as “flaking,” on four men in a Queens bar in 2008 to help out fellow cop Henry Tavarez, whose buy-and-bust activity had been low.

Waging war on recreational pharmaceuticals, and setting quotas for police to catch a set amount of criminals for certain classes of crimes (even when crime rates are low, no less!), all for what? To keep you safe? Or to keep the for-profit prison systems in the black?

This can only end in cruel and unusual punishment.

Via Mother Jones:

“We are not evacuating Rikers Island,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a news conference Friday. Bloomberg annouced a host of extreme measures being taken by New York City in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Irene, including a shutdown of the public transit system and the unprecedented mandatory evacuation of some 250,000 people from low-lying areas. But in response to a reporter’s question, the mayor stated in no uncertain terms (and with a hint of annoyance) that one group of New Yorkers on vulnerable ground will be staying put.

New York City is surrounded by small islands and barrier beaches, and a glance at the city’s evacuation map reveals all of them to be in Zone A (already under a mandatory evacuation order) or Zone B–all, that is, save one. Rikers Island, which lies in the waters between Queens and the Bronx, is not highlighted at all, meaning it is not to be evacuated under any circumstances.

According to the New York City Department of Correction’s website, more than three-quarters of Rikers Island’s 400 acres are built on landfill–which is generally thought to be more vulnerable to natural disasters. Its 10 jails have a capacity of close to 17,000 inmates, and normally house at least 12,000, including juveniles and large numbers of prisoners with mental illness—not to mention pretrial detainees who have yet to be convicted of any crime. There are also hundreds of corrections officers at work on the island.

Read more. And remember what happened at Orleans Parish during Katrina.

Update: Compounding this questionable decision is this warning regarding potential electrical shutdowns throughout New York.