Links for 3-31-2015

  • Hans Fiene describes his generation's manufactured outrage at Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act:

    But we still misrepresented the bill, lied about it, shared articles on social media that labeled the legislation as intentionally, undeniably anti-gay, and dismissingly enclosed the phrase “religious liberty” in scare quotes. Just as we did with such success in Arizona, we screamed that this bill would unlock the gates of hell and allow a horde of bigoted devils to deny Hoosier homosexuals a chicken salad sandwich, all while knowing that, because sexual orientation isn’t a protected class in Indiana, these beasts have already been free to do so this entire time and yet, annoyingly, chose not to. But we had already laced up our boots for the march on New Selma and we’re weren’t going to take them off just because the modern-day segregationists wouldn’t do us the courtesy of existing.

    Just as our desire to believe that we really were as holy as the civil-rights saints was so strong that we willingly slandered the opposition and lied about the legislation, so we made ourselves impervious to shame and irony in defense of our newfound righteousness. We looked to the icon of racial equality, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a man whose greatest accomplishments included spearheading nationwide non-violent protests, preaching peace, giving speeches, and writing letters that will live forever in the annals of American history, and we felt not an ounce of humiliation when the best prophet we could place beside him was George Takei, a man whose greatest accomplishments include pretending to fly a spaceship on TV and sharing funny pictures of cats on the Internet.

    And what form of protest did Takei threaten as Pence prepared to sign the accursed bill into law? Sit-ins? Bus boycotts? No, he threatened that a gaming convention would move out of Indianapolis. Our leader didn’t say, “I have a dream,” he said, “If you sign this bill that we’re all pretending says something it doesn’t, a bunch of grown men who pretend to be fictional characters will pretend to be fictional characters in another state that we’re pretending won’t almost certainly have an identical law already on the books.” How can any self-respecting person not explode in a ball of humiliation when comparing Selma with Gen Con, you ask? We don’t need self-respect anymore. We sacrificed it to keep the cause and our moral superiority.

  • Andrew McCarthy can't understand why Congressman Trey Gowdy wants to privately interview Hillary Clinton instead of subpoenaing her to testify in public and under oath: “A good investigator is not indulgent of a recalcitrant witness who is making a mockery of the investigative process. He uses the tools the law gives him to make it crystal clear that that he is not running a kangaroo court. He makes certain that witnesses and the public understand that the law requires compliance with congressional-committee demands for information. This shouldn’t be a case of Gowdy asking Clinton to please do him a favor.”

  • A Travis County, Texas grand jury failed to indict University of Texas Regent Wallace Hall, but it did write a poison pen letter suggesting he be removed from his position and that the University of Texas make it more difficult for regents to file requests for public records (in the name of transparency, of course). Hall responded with his own letter attacking the instigators of this entire controversy: “The campaign by Speaker Straus, Representative Flynn and Senator Seliger to criminalize my service as a Regent constitutes abuse of office. Their use of the levers of political power to cover up wrongdoing by legislators should now be investigated, and those exposed for their abuses should be driven from office.”

  • The web site GitHub is normally used for collaborative software development, but it has also been used to circumvent the Great Firewall of China by hosting content that would otherwise be blocked. The Chinese government doesn't take kindly to this, so they staged a distributed denial of service attack that worked in a nefarious way. Requests sent by people's web browsers to innocuous Chinese web sites would be intercepted by the Great Firewall, and malicious JavaScript software would be returned and would execute in the browser. That malicious software hammered on GitHub – people were unknowingly complicit in the Chinese government's effort to take the site down.

  • A study commissioned by the Belgian government showed that Facebook is violating European Union privacy laws. Facebook tracks people who visit the site even if they don't have a Facebook account, and does so without asking the visitor's consent. They also track people who have a Facebook account but explicitly opt out of tracking.

  • HP sued the former CEO and CFO of Autonomy, a British software company that HP acquired in 2011 for $11.7 billion. HP claims Mike Lynch and Sushovan Hussain engaged in fraudulent activity at Autonomy, and they're seeking $5.1 billion in compensation.

  • Russia conducted another test of its nuclear-capable RS-26 missile at a range that puts it in violation of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty. Russia claims the RS-26 is an intercontinental ballistic missile, but they've been testing it at intermediate ranges.

  • A group called Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) took an Istanbul prosecutor, Mehmet Selim Kiraz, hostage. Turkish special forces attacked the courthouse where Kiraz was being held. Kiraz was killed in the resulting melee, as were two DHKP-C members.