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Old 03-28-2012, 06:01 AM   #3301
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http://scienceblog.com/52883/holding...thers-are-too/

Wonder if this ever comes into play in real life? Via Science Blog:

Wielding a gun increases a person’s bias to see guns in the hands of others, new research from the University of Notre Dame shows. In five experiments, subjects were shown multiple images of people and determined whether the person was holding a gun or a neutral object such as a soda can or cell phone. Subjects did this while holding either a toy gun or a neutral object, such as a foam ball.

Simply showing observers a nearby gun did not influence their behavior; holding and using the gun was important. By virtue of affording the subject the opportunity to use a gun, he or she was more likely to classify objects in a scene as a gun and, as a result, to engage in threat-induced behavior, such as raising a firearm to shoot.

“Now we know that a person’s ability to act in certain ways can bias their recognition of objects as well, and in dramatic ways. It seems that people have a hard time separating their thoughts about what they perceive and their thoughts about how they can or should act.”
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Old 03-28-2012, 06:04 AM   #3302
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http://www.disinfo.com/2012/03/jpmor...rets-revealed/

Matt Taibbi writes in Rolling Stone:

In a story that should be getting lots of attention, American Banker has released an excellent and disturbing exposé of J.P. Morgan Chase’s credit card services division, relying on multiple current and former Chase employees. One of them, Linda Almonte, is a whistleblower whom I’ve known since last September; I’m working on a recount of her story for my next book.

One of the things we were promised by the lawmakers who passed the Dodd-Frank reform bill a few years back is that this would be a new era for whistleblowers who come forward to tell the world about problems in our financial infrastructure. This story now looms as a test case for that proposition. American Banker reporter Jeff Horwitz did an outstanding job in this story detailing the sweeping irregularities in-house at Chase, but his very thoroughness means the news may have ramifications for Linda, which is why I’m urging people to pay attention to this story in the upcoming weeks.

The Cliff’s Notes version of the story goes something like this: Late in 2009, Chase’s credit card services division sold a parcel of nearly $200 million worth of credit card judgments to a debt collector at a discount. This common practice in the credit-card industry is a little like a bookie selling the outstanding debts of his delinquent gamblers to a leg-breaker for 25 cents on the dollar. If the leg-breaker gets half the delinquents to pay, the deal works out for both sides — the bookie gets 25 percent of money he wasn’t going to collect, and the leg-breaker makes a 100 percent profit.

Read more: >Rolling Stone
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Old 03-28-2012, 06:10 AM   #3303
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http://www.disinfo.com/2012/03/minne...tar-prom-date/

What a little genius. USA Today says:

A Minnesota school district has quashed a high school’s senior plan to bring a porn star to his senior prom.

Mike Stone, 18, had tweeted hundreds of porn actresses with an invitation to the Tartan High School prom May 12 until adult film star Megan Piper accepted his proposal.

Piper tells KSTP-TV’s Mark Saxenmeyer that she missed her own prom and couldn’t turn down Stone’s invitation.

“It was a sweet gesture. It was so cute. I couldn’t say no,” she tells the Twin Cities TV station.

The adult film star adds that she had no intention of turning the evening into a sordid spectacle: “I don’t plan to show up butt naked or anything. I’m going to wear a pretty prom dress.”

Read More: USA Today
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Old 03-28-2012, 06:15 AM   #3304
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http://www.disinfo.com/2012/03/greec...rency-working/

Reports Jon Henley in the Guardian:

In recent weeks, Theodoros Mavridis has bought fresh eggs, tsipourou (the local brandy), fruit, olives, olive oil, jam, and soap. He has also had some legal advice, and enjoyed the services of an accountant to help fill in his tax return.

None of it has cost him a euro, because he had previously done a spot of electrical work – repairing a TV, sorting out a dodgy light – for some of the 800-odd members of a fast-growing exchange network in the port town of Volos, midway between Athens and Thessaloniki.

In return for his expert labour, Mavridis received a number of Local Alternative Units (known as tems in Greek) in his online network account. In return for the eggs, olive oil, tax advice and the rest, he transferred tems into other people’s accounts. “It’s an easier, more direct way of exchanging goods and services,” said Bernhardt Koppold, a German-born homeopathist and acupuncturist in Volos who is an active member of the network. “It’s also a way of showing practical solidarity – of building relationships.”…

Read More: Guardian
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Old 03-28-2012, 06:20 AM   #3305
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http://www.disinfo.com/2012/03/femal...n-in-zimbabwe/

A bizarre new crime wave. Via the Telegraph, in Zimbabwe’s underworld, gangs of women have been kidnapping and raping men traveling alone, for the purpose of harvesting their sperm:

Local media have reported victims of the highway prowlers being drugged, subdued at gun or knife point – even with a live snake in one case – given a sexual stimulant and forced into repeated sex before being dumped on the roadside.

The sperm’s exact use is not clear but is thought to be intended for “juju” or traditional rituals to bring luck – enhancing good fortune, boosting business or preventing a criminal from being detected. It is also not known why the semen is taken forcibly from strangers.

“It’s really an issue which is mind boggling,” said University of Zimbabwe sociologist Watch Ruparanganda, who believes it is a lucrative business. Ruparanganda said he was astonished to discover [the matter] seven years ago, while doing research for his doctoral thesis among Harare street youth.

“Now, men fear women. They said: ‘we can’t go with you because we don’t trust you’,” says 19-year-old Miss Dhliwayo.
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Old 03-28-2012, 06:21 AM   #3306
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http://www.disinfo.com/2012/03/on-ou...rror-of-death/

Via New Humanist, Steve Cave on how an obsession with immortality shapes everything we do, believe, and create:

A group of American psychologists have discovered a simple way of turning ordinary people into fundamentalists and ideologues. It can be done anywhere and in a matter of minutes. It is just this: the researchers remind these ordinary folks that they will one day die.

The researchers behind this work were testing the hypothesis that most of what we do we do in order to protect us from the terror of death; what they call “Terror Management Theory”. Our sophisticated worldviews, they believe, exist primarily to convince us that we can defeat the Reaper.

Atheists and agnostics should not think that they are free from such comforting illusions of eternity. The psychologists, psychiatrists and anthropologists who developed Terror Management Theory have shown that almost all ideologies, from patriotism to communism to celebrity culture, function similarly in shielding us from death’s approach. Even the most enlightened of rationalists tend to have some solace-giving views that shape their action.

Read the rest at New Humanist
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Old 03-28-2012, 06:23 AM   #3307
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Old 03-28-2012, 08:23 AM   #3308
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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17472580

HP Lovecraft: The man who haunted horror fans

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Old 03-28-2012, 08:24 AM   #3309
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http://www.dailytech.com/Baffling+Il...ticle24276.htm

Baffling Illness Strikes Africa, Turns Children Into Mindless "Zombies"
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Old 03-28-2012, 12:05 PM   #3310
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Old 03-29-2012, 07:17 AM   #3311
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http://feeds.boingboing.net/~r/boing...-agencies.html

Nested layers of temp agencies allow WalMart's supply chain to shave pennies through terrible, illegal working conditions


Dave Jamieson has a long investigative feature in the Huffington Post about the lives of subcontracted temps in the American warehouse supply-chain. Jamieson describes a world of nested layers of temps -- "temp agencies that supervise temp agencies that deal with temp agencies" -- providing layers of plausible deniability for the titanic corporations on whose behalf all the work is conducted. The agencies are "fly-by-night," operating from "garages, convenience store parking lots and, in one case, a Super 8 motel room," which means that it's nearly impossible for workers to get redress for illegal treatment.

Combined with the economic downturn and the cuts to employment benefits and the social safety net, this creates a perfect storm for horrific working conditions in the warehouses that serve the largest companies in America, such as WalMart. Workers are illegally docked pay, denied access to toilet facilities (one worker interviewed for the story describes how she got a bladder infection because she wasn't allowed to use the toilet while working), paid less than minimum wage, and billed for their own pre-hire background checks.

Meanwhile, the companies at the top of the chain are thriving, turning over great profits even in the midst of recession, and claiming no responsibility for the working conditions that their subcontractors' subcontractors workers endure -- despite the deliberate creation of this many-arms'-length relationship for the purpose of dodging liability.

Quote:
Six lumpers at the warehouse filed a class-action lawsuit on the heels of the state investigation. Everardo Carrillo and his co-workers say they've been moving Walmart goods in a warehouse where the temperature regularly climbs to over 90 degrees, walking in and out of 53-foot-long steel containers that get even hotter baking in the Southern California sun. After working for a set hourly wage, the workers claim that a year and a half ago they were switched to a piece-rate pay plan -- an arrangement largely out of a bygone era. Their bosses told them they would earn "much more money" under the new scheme, which paid them according to the container, but their earnings actually fell, according to the lawsuit.

The workers claim it was never made clear how their pay was supposed to break down -- an allegation apparently bolstered by the state's investigation. They claim that when they complained about their confusing paychecks, their supervisors responded by sending them home without pay or refusing to give them work the following day. The lumpers were working on a temp basis. According to the lawsuit, the majority of workers were direct hires as recently as 2006; now, three out of every four workers are temps.

When asked if a Schneider executive could be interviewed about allegations from temp workers in its warehouses, a spokesperson sent HuffPost a statement, saying its labor suppliers are "separate corporate entities": "The only legal avenue which Schneider has to enforce their compliance would be to terminate the contract with these vendors. We have no plans to terminate the contracts with our vendors; our expectation is that they will comply with all applicable statutes, regulations and orders."

Walmart, whose products the workers were handling, also kept an arm's length from the charges. When HuffPost reported on the state investigation and lawsuit in October, a Walmart spokesman said the retailer is "not involved in this matter." When a similar lawsuit was filed in April in Illinois -- again, naming low-level companies contracted to move Walmart products -- the company asserted its distance from the allegations then as well, a spokesman noting that "the facility isn't operated by Walmart nor are the people who work in it employed by Walmart."
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/1...comm_ref=false
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Old 03-29-2012, 12:03 PM   #3312
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http://www.theatlantic.com/business/...bubble/254792/

Writing in The Atlantic, Jordan Weissmann describes the popping of the "law school bubble," which saw large numbers of law-school enrollees who hoped to graduate into six-figure salaries but instead are facing "six figures of crushing debt and murky career prospects."

These new statistics are the latest evidence that young Americans are getting the hint that the market for lawyers is perhaps not what it once was. It wouldn't matter that fewer people were taking the LSAT if the same number of young folks were ultimately showing up for their first year of law school each fall. But that total seems to be dropping, too. According to the LSAC, the number of students who accepted admission to a law school dropped 8 percent last year, from 49,700, to 45,617 -- the smallest incoming class since at least 2002. (Last year's number isn't published on the Council's website yet, but was provided to me by a spokeswoman). The number of applications also dropped dramatically, which could force law schools to ease up on their mind bogglingly expensive tuition.

One might argue that the drop-offs in test takers and applicants are just the result of an improving economy. After all, more people go to law school when the broader job market is weak. But America's slowly brightening employment picture doesn't seem like a likely cause in this instance. At the AmLaw Daily, Matt Leichter forecasts the size of this year's final applicant pool per law school, and compares it to the trend in the United States' employment to population ratio. When this few people are working, you be expecting to see an increase in law school applications.
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Old 03-29-2012, 12:14 PM   #3313
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http://hint.fm/wind/



Wind Map of the United States


Fernanda Viegas and Martin Wattenberg collaborated to create Wind Map, a visualization of the current wind flowing over the country right now, using data from the National Digital Forecast Database: Link - via Metafilter
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Old 04-02-2012, 05:26 AM   #3314
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http://arstechnica.com/science/news/...acroscopic.ars

Particle-wave duality demonstrated with largest molecules yet
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Old 04-02-2012, 06:04 AM   #3315
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http://www.disinfo.com/2012/04/world...-the-internet/

World War 3.0 – Control of the Internet



Internet, for Vanity Fair:

I. Time Bomb
In 1979 the Dubai World Trade Centre dominated the skyline of Dubai City, on the horn of the Arabian Peninsula. Today, the World Trade Centre looks quaint, like an old egg carton stuck into the ground amid a phantasma­goric forest of skyscrapers. But come December the World Trade Centre will once more be the most important place in Dubai City—and, for a couple of weeks, one of the more important places in the world. Diplomats from 193 countries will converge there to renegotiate a United Nations treaty called the International Telecommunications Regulations. The sprawling document, which governs telephone, television, and radio networks, may be extended to cover the Internet, raising questions about who should control it, and how. Arrayed on one side will be representatives from the United States and other major Western powers, advocating what many call “Internet freedom,” a plastic concept that has been defined by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the right to use the Internet to “express one’s views,” to “peacefully assemble,” and to “seek or share” information. The U.S. and most of its allies basically want to keep Internet governance the way it is: run by a small group of technical nonprofit and volunteer organizations, most of them based in the United States.

On the other side will be representatives from countries where governments want to place restrictions on how people use the Internet. These include Russia, China, Brazil, India, Iran, and a host of others. All of them have implemented or experimented with more intrusive monitoring of online activities than the U.S. is publicly known to practice. A number of countries have openly called for the creation of a “new global body” to oversee online policy. At the very least, they’d like to give the United Nations a great deal more control over the Internet.

Mediating these forces in Dubai will be a man named Hamadoun Touré. Charming and wily, he is a satellite engineer who was born in Mali, educated in the Soviet Union, and now lives in Geneva. He serves as secretary-general of the U.N.’s International Telecommunication Union (I.T.U.).

Touré abjures pallid diplomatic doublespeak, instead opting for full-on self-contradiction that nonetheless leaves little doubt where his sympathies lie. In one breath Touré says, “The people who are trying to say that I.T.U. has an intention of taking over the management of the Internet simply do not know how the I.T.U. is functioning.” In the next, noting that Internet users in America represent only a tenth of the total, he says, “When an invention becomes used by billions across the world, it no longer remains the sole property of one nation, however powerful that nation might be. There should be a mechanism where many countries have an opportunity to have a say. I think that’s democratic. Do you think that’s democratic?”

There is a war under way for control of the Internet, and every day brings word of new clashes on a shifting and widening battlefront. Governments, corporations, criminals, anarchists—they all have their own war aims…

[continues in Vanity Fair]
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Old 04-02-2012, 06:07 AM   #3316
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http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...0320142100.htm

Oil from Deepwater Horizon Disaster Entered Food Chain in the Gulf of Mexico

ScienceDaily (Mar. 20, 2012) — Since the explosion on the BP Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, scientists have been working to understand the impact that this disaster has had on the environment. For months, crude oil gushed into the water at a rate of approximately 53,000 barrels per day before the well was capped on July 15, 2010. A new study confirms that oil from the Macondo well made it into the ocean's food chain through the tiniest of organisms, zooplankton.
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Old 04-02-2012, 06:12 AM   #3317
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http://www.disinfo.com/2012/03/goldm...fficking-site/

Goldman Sachs Owns Top Sex Trafficking Site


So good it must be true! Nicholas Kristof unearths yet more dirt on the banksters at Goldman, in the New York Times:

The biggest forum for sex trafficking of under-age girls in the United States appears to be a Web site called Backpage.com.

This emporium for girls and women — some under age or forced into prostitution — is in turn owned by an opaque private company called Village Voice Media. Until now it has been unclear who the ultimate owners are.

That mystery is solved. The owners turn out to include private equity financiers, including Goldman Sachs with a 16 percent stake.

Goldman Sachs was mortified when I began inquiring last week about its stake in America’s leading Web site for prostitution ads. It began working frantically to unload its shares, and on Friday afternoon it called to say that it had just signed an agreement to sell its stake to management. “We had no influence over operations,” Andrea Raphael, a Goldman Sachs spokeswoman, told me.

Let’s back up for a moment. There’s no doubt that many escort ads on Backpage are placed by consenting adults. But it’s equally clear that Backpage plays a major role in the trafficking of minors or women who are coerced. In one recent case in New York City, prosecutors say that a 15-year-old girl was drugged, tied up, raped and sold to johns through Backpage and other sites.

Backpage has 70 percent of the market for prostitution ads, according to AIM Group, a trade organization…

[continues in the New York Times]
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Old 04-02-2012, 06:16 AM   #3318
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http://www.disinfo.com/2012/03/penns...s-to-patients/

Pennsylvania Bans Doctors From Disclosing Fracking Dangers To Patients


Via The Atlantic:

Under a new law, doctors in Pennsylvania can access information about chemicals used in natural gas extraction — but they won’t be able to share it with their patients. A provision buried in a law passed last month is drawing scrutiny from the public health and environmental community, who argue that it will “gag” doctors who want to raise concerns related to oil and gas extraction with the people they treat and the general public.

Pennsylvania is at the forefront in the debate over “fracking,” the process by which a high-pressure mixture of chemicals, sand, and water are blasted into rock to tap into the gas. Recent discoveries of great reserves in the Marcellus Shale region of the state prompted a rush to development, as have advancements in fracking technologies. But with those changes have come a number of concerns from citizens about potential environmental and health impacts from natural gas drilling.

There is good reason to be curious about exactly what’s in those fluids…

[continues at The Atlantic]
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Old 04-02-2012, 10:40 AM   #3319
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http://www.disinfo.com/2012/04/collu...racked-online/

Warning, the results of this may scare you — it might be better if you didn’t know. From Mozilla:

Collusion is an experimental add-on for Firefox and allows you to see all the third parties that are tracking your movements across the Web. It will show, in real time, how that data creates a spider-web of interaction between companies and other trackers.

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Old 04-02-2012, 10:49 AM   #3320
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http://www.neatorama.com/2012/03/30/...s-illustrated/



David McCandless of Information is Beautiful (he wrote the wonderful book The Visual Miscellaneum - I highly recommend it), came up with this clever visualization and examples of common logical fallacies.

Why, some of them are my favorite techniques to obfuscate people I love, and since they still love me, these must be the greatest things ever.
Take a look and see if your cherished logical fallacies are featured: Link - via Metafilter

http://www.informationisbeautiful.ne...cal-fallacies/
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Old 04-02-2012, 10:59 AM   #3321
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Sometimes, the headlines just write themselves. Here's what happened when the kaBOOM bus actually did go kaboom:

The 45-seat kaBOOM party bus was on its way to collect schoolchildren for an excursion when a tyre burst, near Mallala on Adelaide's northern outskirts.

The driver managed to pull over safely and was attempting to change the tyre when fire erupted.

Country Fire Service crews took half an hour to put out the blaze, which destroyed the bus which had a KABOOM1 numberplate.
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Old 04-02-2012, 11:03 AM   #3322
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http://www.neatorama.com/2012/03/29/...-hand-in-hand/



Politicians always say that they listen to the voters, but if you want to find out how a certain population will vote, it's better to have a linguistics expert listen instead.

American linguist William Labov of the University of Pennsylvania, noted that voting patterns and political ideology are often demarcated by the "red versus blue" accents:

Labov points out that the residents of the Inland North [near the Great Lakes - ed.] have long-standing differences with their neighbors to the south, who speak what’s known as the Midland dialect. The two groups originated from distinct groups of settlers; the Inland Northerners migrated west from New England, while the Midlanders originated in Pennsylvania via the Appalachian region. Historically, the two settlement streams typically found themselves with sharply diverging political views and voting habits, with the northerners aligning much more closely with agenerally being more liberal ideology.

Labov suggests that it’s these deep-seated political disagreements that create an invisible borderline barring the encroachment of Northern Cities Vowels. When he looked at the relationship between voting patterns by county over the last three Presidential elections and the degree to which speakers in these counties shifted their vowels, he found a tight correlation between the two. And the states that have participated in the vowel shift have also tended to resist implementing the death penalty.

Do vowel-shifters sound more liberal to modern ears? Yes, at least to some extent. Labov had students in Bloomington, Indiana, listen to a vowel-shifting speaker from Detroit and a non-vowel-shifter from Indianapolis. The students rated both speakers as equal in probable intelligence, education and trustworthiness. They also didn’t think they would have different attitudes about abortion (both speakers were female). But they did think the vowel-shifting speaker was more likely to be in favor of gun control and affirmative action.


http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cr...lels-politics/
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Old 04-04-2012, 09:36 AM   #3323
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http://feeds.boingboing.net/~r/boing...uition-hi.html

Students protesting tuition hikes pepper-sprayed by police in Santa Monica, CA


Interesting points in the article:

Last night at Santa Monica College (about 20 blocks from the beach here in Los Angeles, CA), police pepper-sprayed some thirty students in a crowd of about 150 protesters. The students want affordable education. They gathered during a meeting of the college's board of trustees to voice opposition to planned tuition hikes that would raise the cost of bread-and-butter courses during the summer session by as much as 400%. I was close enough to the location last night to hear helicopters and sirens as it happened.

The LA Times reports that Santa Monica police are today "trying to sort out" who used pepper-spray on the peacefully assembled students. Reports I heard last night indicated that the person or persons responsible were campus police, not Santa Monica police, who were called in later to secure the site.

One student eyewitness tweeted:

Pepper sprayed a room full of students and two children. A poor lil five year old got it in the face.

— Sarah Belknap (@mary_menville) April 4, 2012


There is apparently money for 3 cop choppers, pepper spray, batons, five squad cars, 8 ambulances, but no money for education.

— Sarah Belknap (@mary_menville) April 4, 2012

More eyewitness video plus photos of two of the victims follow, at the end of this Boing Boing post.

Student blogger zunguzungu in Berkeley, who has been covering student protests and campus police brutality throughout California, rounds up news link and posts about the incident this morning. An excerpt:

I have seen no allegation that any of the students were violent or even used civil disobedience; the main problem seems to have been — in the college president’s words — that the small boardroom wasn’t able to accommodate all of the students who wanted to speak: ”We expected some students, but we didn’t expect that big of a crowd with such enthusiasm.”

When students demanded entrance to the room the meeting was being held — a tiny room, with room for only a handful of outsiders (by a great coincidence) — the police went wild.

(...) How does this happen? How does pepper spray become the act of first resort? Even the anodyne phrasing of the LA Times admits that pepper spray was used proactively (“Several were also overcome when pepper spray was released just outside the meeting room as officers tried to break up the crowd”) and not in response to some kind of clear and present danger.

Or, rather, it was. A crowd must be dispersed before it does something, goes the logic of the new preemptive policing; a crowd is, itself, a clear and present danger. If you wait until the crowd actually does something, you’ve waited too long. And so you preempt it by striking first.

If you doubt that this is the way these people think, I’d invite you to read Jeff Young — the current assistant police chief at UCLA — writing his “operational review” of UC Berkeley’s police actions against protesters from last November 9th, and note that his main takeaway was that campus police should have probably been allowed to use pepper spray. For more successful protest management, he decides, what the police need is more force options. Perhaps Tasers?

More coverage of the incident: Santa Monica Patch (who were first and best on this as it broke, notably!), KTLA, LA CBS, NBC LA, LA Times story with background on the fee hikes.

Below, photos from "Lady Libertine" on Twitter: Marioly Gomez and Jasmine Gomez, two of the students she identifies as having been pepper-sprayed and assaulted by campus police at Santa Monica College last night.


***that was from the Boing Boing piece -

Why is pepper spray & such used so quick these days by Law Enforcement?
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Old 04-04-2012, 09:40 AM   #3324
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http://www.neatorama.com/2012/04/03/...ed-dandelions/



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Old 04-04-2012, 09:44 AM   #3325
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http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/incre...es-near-dallas

Multiple tornadoes touched down across the Dallas/Fort Worth area causing extensive damage yesterday. These pictures are pretty insane, especially the ones of the hail and semi-trucks.




Those are semi-trucks.





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