“We have not caved,” Sony CEO Michael Lynton said today, defending his company from President Obama’s comment that the studio had “made a mistake” in bowing to terrorist demands over the North Korea-skewering The Interview. “We have not caved. We have not given in. We have persevered, and we have not backed down. We have always had every desire to have the American public see this movie.”
So who let the terrorists win? Lynton shifted blame for The Interview’s cancelled release to exhibitors who shied away from showing the Seth Rogen-James Franco comedy after hackers threatened the safety of moviegoers. Sony left the decision to play The Interview - or not - to the theater chains, who started pulling out one by one this week.
Nebraska’s Legislature is supposedly unicameral & non-partisan, but looking at their Wiki page (which provides party affiliation “for informational purposes only”) it seems to be very red, This move to put a nativity scene in the Capitol Rotunda strikes me as very right-wing. It strikes me as such not only because of the religious aspect, but also because of the involvement of its very anti-choice stance. You can read more about them on Wikipedia, but visiting their website (donotlink.com) will give you a much better idea of just how far right they are.
Nebraska is not alone in this display—a nativity scene is also displayed in the Illinois Capitol Rotunda and has been since 2008 (the Thomas More Society was also involved in that one). That year, the nativity scene there was also joined by a menorah, a Festivus pole, and a sign containing an atheist message (which was stolen). I didn’t look into what has happened in the intervening years. The Illinois State Legislature is bicameral and has a Democratic majority.
Apparently, this has been framed as a free speech issue and there are several other states that allow it. A quick Google search indicates that Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin (where the FSM made an appearance) have followed suit—there may very well be others that I missed.
Naturally, the tolerance for free speech quickly evaporates when the requesting groups aren’t Christian or Jewish (I’m not going to say Judeo-Christian because given the history of antisemitism that term is misleading at best). For example: Last year, after Hindus, Satanists, and animal rights groups requested permission to add their displays, Oklahoma suddenly decided it had enough and stopped taking requests for more.
I don’t know how things panned out in Oklahoma, but last year Florida rejected a Satanic display as “grossly offensive.” Apparently, they failed to grasp the irony in that: free speech protections are in our Constitution precisely because some points of view are unpopular.
This year, when the Satanists brought along their lawyers, Florida relented. Last month, Slate published quite the snarky (but true) article about the kerfuffles, the title & subtitle of which caused me to LOL:
Thanks to conservative Supreme Court rulings, the government must support the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and the Satanic Temple.
By the way, the Michigan State Capitol will also be getting a Satanist display, presumably after having taken note of what happened in Florida. It looks like there might be a fight brewing in Texas (this is the first year they approved a display).
Anyway, back to Nebraska now, added emphasis mine:
Nebraska State Capitol DomeThe Chicago-based Thomas More Society has received permission to set up a Nativity scene in the Capitol Rotunda in Lincoln.
The display in the seat of state government represents constitutionally protected free speech and expression of religious faith by private citizens in a public forum, Tom Brejcha, Thomas More Society president and chief attorney, said in a press release. […]
Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers said the display was one of the worst things he has seen happen while a member of the Legislature. It is especially abhorrent because lawyers are doing it, he said. Not one of them could give a cogent argument justifying the placing of a Christian icon in the Rotunda, he said.
“Except for the fact that I am a man who believes in using legal processes to address inappropriate use of state facilities, I would dismantle it and remove it myself,” he said. […]
There is also a question of whether it will open the door to other religious displays in the building.
Um, NO. There is no question that it will open the doors to other religious displays. Precedent has already been set—it’s too late to close the barn door.
The religious right really needs to think things through more carefully. They should also stop wrapping themselves in the flag and claiming to be patriotic defenders of the First Amendment, then putting their hypocritical intolerance on display for all to see—freedom for me, but not for thee is not how it works.
You didn’t know that there are fundamentalist Buddhists who will imprison you for their equivalent to blasphemy?
A New Zealander and two Burmese men have pleaded not guilty to charges of insulting Buddhism in Myanmar.
The trio, who ran a bar in Yangon, are accused over a flyer promoting a drinks event depicting Buddha with headphones.
The image triggered an angry response online shortly after it appeared on the bar’s Facebook page.
Burmese law makes it illegal to insult or damage any religion. Myanmar, also known as Burma, has seen growing Buddhist nationalism in recent years.
The flyer from VGastro Bar showed Buddha with his eyes shut, wearing large headphones, and surrounded by lurid colours.
Today, the FBI would like to provide an update on the status of our investigation into the cyber attack targeting Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE). In late November, SPE confirmed that it was the victim of a cyber attack that destroyed systems and stole large quantities of personal and commercial data. A group calling itself the “Guardians of Peace” claimed responsibility for the attack and subsequently issued threats against SPE, its employees, and theaters that distribute its movies.
The FBI has determined that the intrusion into SPE’s network consisted of the deployment of destructive malware and the theft of proprietary information as well as employees’ personally identifiable information and confidential communications. The attacks also rendered thousands of SPE’s computers inoperable, forced SPE to take its entire computer network offline, and significantly disrupted the company’s business operations.
After discovering the intrusion into its network, SPE requested the FBI’s assistance. Since then, the FBI has been working closely with the company throughout the investigation. Sony has been a great partner in the investigation, and continues to work closely with the FBI. Sony reported this incident within hours, which is what the FBI hopes all companies will do when facing a cyber attack. Sony’s quick reporting facilitated the investigators’ ability to do their jobs, and ultimately to identify the source of these attacks.
As a result of our investigation, and in close collaboration with other U.S. government departments and agencies, the FBI now has enough information to conclude that the North Korean government is responsible for these actions. While the need to protect sensitive sources and methods precludes us from sharing all of this information, our conclusion is based, in part, on the following:
Technical analysis of the data deletion malware used in this attack revealed links to other malware that the FBI knows North Korean actors previously developed. For example, there were similarities in specific lines of code, encryption algorithms, data deletion methods, and compromised networks.
The FBI also observed significant overlap between the infrastructure used in this attack and other malicious cyber activity the U.S. government has previously linked directly to North Korea. For example, the FBI discovered that several Internet protocol (IP) addresses associated with known North Korean infrastructure communicated with IP addresses that were hardcoded into the data deletion malware used in this attack.
Separately, the tools used in the SPE attack have similarities to a cyber attack in March of last year against South Korean banks and media outlets, which was carried out by North Korea.
We are deeply concerned about the destructive nature of this attack on a private sector entity and the ordinary citizens who worked there. Further, North Korea’s attack on SPE reaffirms that cyber threats pose one of the gravest national security dangers to the United States. Though the FBI has seen a wide variety and increasing number of cyber intrusions, the destructive nature of this attack, coupled with its coercive nature, sets it apart. North Korea’s actions were intended to inflict significant harm on a U.S. business and suppress the right of American citizens to express themselves. Such acts of intimidation fall outside the bounds of acceptable state behavior. The FBI takes seriously any attempt—whether through cyber-enabled means, threats of violence, or otherwise—to undermine the economic and social prosperity of our citizens.
The FBI stands ready to assist any U.S. company that is the victim of a destructive cyber attack or breach of confidential business information. Further, the FBI will continue to work closely with multiple departments and agencies as well as with domestic, foreign, and private sector partners who have played a critical role in our ability to trace this and other cyber threats to their source. Working together, the FBI will identify, pursue, and impose costs and consequences on individuals, groups, or nation states who use cyber means to threaten the United States or U.S. interests.
Council members agreed with the Federal Medical Council (Bundesärztekammer) that doctors should not routinely be asked to help patients commit suicide.
But they argued that in “exceptional circumstances”, decisions of conscience by a doctor in the context of a “trusting doctor-patient relationship” should be respected.
The decision is a blow to a cross-party initiative to legalize the practice put forward by Bundestag vice-president Peter Hintze of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Social Democratic Party (SPD) deputy leader Carola Reimann.
“Terminally ill people must have the right to ask their doctor to help end their life in hopeless situations”, the politicians said on Friday.
The cyber terrorists move from terror threats to extortion in short order after Sony’s CEO caved. By demanding that Sony throw “The Interview” down the memory hole, they’ve guaranteed that it will become the most sought after digital property of this decade so far.
The hackers who attacked Sony Pictures are making more demands of the studio following their success in scrapping the release of The Interview, according to CNN. CNN reports that top Sony executives received an email from the hacking group last night with a message saying that it would withhold further data, but only if the studio never let anyone see The Interview or pretty much any sign that The Interview ever existed.
“NOW WE WANT YOU NEVER LET THE MOVIE RELEASED, DISTRIBUTED OR LEAKED IN ANY FORM.”
“It’s very wise that you have made the decision to cancel the release of The Interview. It will be very useful for you,” CNN reports the message as reading. The email concludes, “We will ensure the security of your data unless you make additional trouble.”
Unfortunately for Sony, that “trouble” includes a laundry list of perceived issues: “Now we want you never let the movie released, distributed or leaked in any form of, for instance, DVD or piracy,” the message reportedly says. It also says, “And we want everything related to the movie, including its trailers, as well as its full version down from any website hosting them immediately.”
Here’s video shot showing a group of uniformed cops in the process of arresting a 12-year old boy. Then, out of nowhere, an undercover cop begins sucker punching the kid.
Let me repeat this: an undercover cop repeatedly sucker punches a 12-year old for resisting arrest while other cops are trying to cuff the kid. It’s the undercover cop who comes in out of nowhere as other uniformed cops are handling the kid. According to Think Progress:
In the video, the boy, who is identified as 12 years, and his friend repeatedly ask why they’re being arrested, as onlookers yell at the officers. According to an actress who uploaded the video to Facebook, Sarah Doneghy, the two were approached by police for allegedly pushing down a classmate. In the video, the boys are held against two separate vehicles for several minutes before they’re put in the cars in handcuffs.
“This is not a war, this is a 12-year-old kid,” said one woman who identified herself as a lawyer. “They’re animals right?”
The classmate allegedly said that the two boys were not the perpetrators. Officers allege the victims were actually 16 and 17-years-old, and that they were participating in a gang initiation.
The video alone should be a firing offense. Period. I’ve got zero tolerance for this kind of crap, and I can’t wait to listen to the PBA claim that this was somehow justified or that the cop was acting according to proper procedures, even though the video shows the absolute opposite. There was no justification for the punches. None.
Internal Affairs is currently investigating.
Even if the arrest of the two kids were justified, there’s absolutely no justification for the assault by the cop. That’s what is going on here. We’re witnessing an assault by the cop on a 12-year old.
Four month old security flaws are not an auspicious start for open Software Defined Networking….
The OpenDaylight Project Technical Steering Committee has set up an official security response team following disclosure of a serious vulnerability in the open source SDN controller that went unaddressed four months after it was initially disclosed.
The committee also approved Helium-SR1.1 (Service Release 1.1), which incorporates previously released patches for the security problem, according to an email from Colin Dixon, chair of the OpenDaylight Technical Steering Committee, who posted to the group’s mailing list.
The organization “established an official security response team charged with developing more formal internal processes for dealing with security,” Dixon stated in his email.
Like Hong Kong, the nearby former Portuguese colony of Macau is a Special Autonomous Region (SAR) within the People’s Republic of China. That means, on paper anyway, that Hong Kong and Macau operate autonomously from the national government in Beijing.
In practice, the autonomy is especially restricted by Beijing’s overwhelming desire to keep a tight control on every local government within the PRC.
In Hong Kong, students and other citizens occupied commercial districts for several weeks, demanding the right for the public to nominate candidates for the office of chief executive, as had been promised (on paper) when the British handed HK back to China in 1997. Full suffrage was promised for the chief executive election in 2017. That may yet happen, but the nominations will come from a special committee and the candidates will have to acceptable to Beijing.
Macau has now become another thorn in Beijing’s paw.
Macau’s gambling take, which makes up 80 percent of its revenues, has suffered the biggest decline since the industry was liberalized in 2001. This is partly because Xi’s sweeping crackdown on corruption has scared off high-rollers, including corrupt officials.
Xi is also helping inaugurate a second five-year term for Macau Chief Executive Fernando Chui, who was re-elected by a pro-Beijing panel in August amid unprecedented political protests.
Au Kam San, a pro-democracy Macau lawmaker, said Beijing still viewed Macau as more controllable than Hong Kong. But the protests from July to October by Ieong’s gambling union, in a city where casinos raked in $45 billion last year, troubled Beijing.
“The gambling union is much more important and it has a higher risk for Beijing because it’s mobilizing potential is much stronger,” Au said. “It’s seen as a threat to Beijing.”
The controversies that have become common in other parts of China, like academic freedom, universal suffrage, and abuses of the criminal justice system to quell dissent, are now surfacing in Macau.
The impregnation process may be a “ravishing” or seduction or some kind of titillating but nonsexual procreative penetration. The story may come from an Eastern or Western religious tradition, pagan or Christian. But these encounters between beautiful young women and gods have one thing in common. None of them has freely given female consent as a part of the narrative. ( Luke’s Mary assents after being not asked but told by a powerful supernatural being what is going to happen to her, “Behold the bond slave of the Lord: be it done to me …”)
Who needs consent, freely given? If he’s a god, she’s got to want it, right? That is how the stories play out.
This is the context for the miraculous conception stories, and in this context, the consent of a woman is irrelevant. Within a society that treats female sexuality as a male possession, the only consent that can be violated is the consent of a woman’s owner, the man with the rights to her reproductive capacity—typically her father, fiancé, or husband. Many Christians are surprised when told that nowhere in the Bible, either Old Testament or New, does any writer say that a woman’s consent is necessary or even desirable before sex.