Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for January 31st, 2013

More on the Aaron Swartz story

Posted by Charles II on January 31, 2013

We previously covered the tragic story of Aaron Swartz, who was hounded to his death by a prosecution that seemed malicious and disproportionate, charging him with 13 felonies for downloading publicly-accessible files from MIT’s JSTOR account–even though JSTOR refused to say Swartz had stolen data. It is increasingly evident that the prosecution was completely wrong-headed. Scott Horton:

The flaw in Ortiz’s posture has been laid bare by Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In United States v. Nosal, he dismissed the theory Ortiz used to go after Swartz, saying it would potentially criminalize “everyone who uses a computer in violation of computer use restrictions — which may well include everyone who uses a computer.” Kozinski was born and raised in Communist Romania, and knows a thing or two about totalitarian states — and he knows that prosecutorial overbreadth is their leitmotif. If conduct can be charged so broadly as to cover virtually everyone, then prosecutorial discretion effectively becomes a license to persecute anyone who stands in the state’s way. Radley Balko and Clive Crook have each focused on this concern about the Swartz case. I share the essence of their analyses.

The Ninth Circuit is California, whereas Boston is First Circuit. So an opinion by Kozinski isn’t binding on whoever would have tried the case in Massachusetts District Court. But Ortiz would have done well to consider what he said, which is (in my layman’s interpretation) computers aren’t somehow special. Just because you do something using a computer does not automatically convert what would otherwise be a civil wrong (tort) or infraction of institutional rules into espionage, treason, or some other arcane crime. If you take confidential information from your employer, it shouldn’t matter whether it was in a filing cabinet or on a computer. It’s wrong, but probably not a felony.

Maybe someday enough prosecutors and judges will understand computers to get this simple idea: there’s nothing special about them.


Posted in abuse of power, computers and software | 3 Comments »

Guatemalan dictator on trial for genocide

Posted by Charles II on January 31, 2013

From NSArchive:

Guatemala achieved a breakthrough for justice today with the opening of the landmark criminal trial of Efraín Ríos Montt, former military dictator, for genocide and crimes against humanity. Ríos Montt, along with his chief of army intelligence José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez, is charged with ordering and overseeing a bloody counterinsurgency campaign during his 1982-83 regime that sought to wipe out guerrilla forces and anyone who supported them. The indictment accuses the two retired generals of responsibility for fifteen massacres in the Ixil region of the country’s northwestern Quiché department, resulting in the deaths of 1,771 unarmed men, women and children.

One of Rios Montt’s defense attorneys says that this is a “‘politucal lynching'” instigated by the current government which is “’full of ex-guerrillas.’”

Somehow I don’t think that “lynching” of the kind Rios Montt faces will be anywhere near as fatal as what happened to the 1,771 unarmed Ixils (Mayans) or the many innocent thousands more who died thanks to Rios Montt… those thousands being just a fraction of the 200,000 who died in the 36-year long dirty war run by right-wing dictators.

Posted in Latin America | Comments Off on Guatemalan dictator on trial for genocide

Invasion Of The Charter Schools

Posted by Phoenix Woman on January 31, 2013

In the name of profit, charter schools invade the Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg. The parents are fighting back.

Read about it here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Invasion Of The Charter Schools

%d bloggers like this: