Black professor harrassed by cops – in his own home – with ID – because they suspected he broke in!


The Cambridge Police Department view of a Black scholar

Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., one of the nation’s pre-eminent African-American scholars, was arrested Thursday afternoon at his home by Cambridge police investigating a possible break-in. The incident raised concerns among some Harvard faculty that Gates was a victim of racial profiling.

Police arrived at Gates’ Ware Street home near Harvard Square at 12:44 p.m. to question him. Gates, director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard, had trouble unlocking his door after it became jammed.

He was booked for disorderly conduct after “exhibiting loud and tumultuous behavior,” according to a police report. Gates accused the investigating officer of being a racist.

Friends of Gates said he was already in his home when police arrived. He showed his driver’s license and Harvard identification card, but was handcuffed and taken into police custody…

The arrest of such a prominent scholar under what some described as dubious circumstances shook some members of the black Harvard community.

“He and I both raised the question of if he had been a white professor, whether this kind of thing would have happened to him, that they arrested him without any corroborating evidence,” said S. Allen Counter, a Harvard Medical School professor who spoke with Gates about the incident Friday. “I am deeply concerned about the way he was treated, and called him to express my deepest sadness and sympathy…”

Counter has faced a similar situation himself. The well-known neuroscience professor, who is also black, was stopped by two Harvard police officers in 2004 after being mistaken for a robbery suspect as he crossed Harvard Yard. They threatened to arrest him when he could not produce identification.

The Cambridge Police will no doubt come up with whatever they feel is justification for arresting a man standing on his own property – telling the coppers to get off that property – when it’s already been established there is no crime in progress. Other than good old all-American racism.

High Court rules that Google is not liable for defamation in search


Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Google is not liable for defamatory comments that appear in news articles, blogs and forums displayed in its search results, a high court judge in London has concluded in a landmark ruling for UK defamation law.

The case, against Google’s US and UK operations, had been brought by London-based Metropolitan International Schools.

MIS runs distance learning courses in games development under the name Train2Game. MIS launched legal action over comments on the forum of a website that it claimed were defamatory and that appeared in Google’s search results.

The company claimed that Google was liable as a publisher of defamatory comments. Google responded that it has no responsibility for the words and comments.

Mr Justice Eady ruled in a judgment in the high court..that Google was a “facilitator” and not a publisher of the content.

“When a snippet is thrown up on the user’s screen in response to his search, it points him in the direction of an entry somewhere on the web that corresponds, to a greater or lesser extent, to the search terms he has typed in,” Eady said. “It is for him to access or not, as he chooses. [Google] has merely, by the provision of its search service, played the role of a facilitator.”

The court made it clear if you feel you’ve been defamed – address your complaint to the person who actually wrote and published the material. Makes sense to me; but, then, I’m not a lawyer.

259-car chain collision in Germany

In Germany, in general, people are better trained drivers. Skills that help accident avoidance are emphasized.

Both sides of the pond, technology has developed safer structures in the event of a crash or collision. We all benefit from those.

This side of the pond – we need all the help we can get.

New FCC chairman makes broadband highest priority


Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

Genachowski and the agency are charged by President Obama and Congress with helping to ensure that all Americans can participate in the ongoing technological revolution that is integrating broadband with television and other devices beyond the computer…

The 46-year-old lawyer has extensive experience in Washington and the technology industry. And it helps that he’s a friend and former classmate of Obama’s…

But the stimulus law puts the FCC in charge of developing a national strategy by February for improving broadband access nationwide. It’s a daunting task for the historically slow-moving FCC, which was criticized during the tenure of former Chairman Kevin J. Martin for infighting, questionable research and general bureaucratic dysfunction.

Questions and answers:

What’s your top priority for the FCC? One is broadband. And the other is revitalizing and retooling the FCC.

What’s the FCC’s involvement in getting out that $7.2 billion in broadband money? At the same time, in the same law, Congress and the president required the FCC to develop a national broadband strategy, the goal of which is to make sure the country has the communications infrastructure it needs for the 21st century.

This to me is a very big deal. Broadband is our generation’s major infrastructure challenge. . . . It’s about whether we have in the U.S. a 21st-century infrastructure that’s an enduring engine for job creation, economic growth, innovation and investment.

Is it a problem if much of the broadband stimulus money is spent before the strategy is completed? I think that the Commerce Department and the Agriculture Department will be able to pick projects that fit into an overall plan, projects that will generate near-term jobs that will bring broadband to parts of the country that need it and that qualify under the statute. And that, I think and hope, will start quickly creating facts and evidence and data that will actually inform a national broadband strategy.

RTFA. It could do with a bit more detail; but, I think the new FCC head establishes reasonable priorities – and obviously knows where he’s going with the political battles facing the task of changing one of our least responsive bureaucracies.

Lawsuit links Apple to Mafia

A new lawsuit from a Beverly Hills, Calif., man alleges that Apple conspired with the Italian mafia to secretly track him, transmit threatening messages to his iPod, and insert the word “herpes” into the song “Still Tippin’” by Mike Jones.

Not just his iPod, Gregory McKenna is convinced that many things in his life were bugged, including his bedroom, living room, upstairs bathroom and Toyota Camry. McKenna alleges in his lawsuit that two iPods he owned – an iPod shuffle bought on eBay and an iPod mini purchased in an Apple Store – were affixed with receivers that allowed the Mafia to transmit threats to him…

“The recording of death threats and other evidence,” the suit reads, “prove that APPLE INC. conspired with the Mafia and other Defendants to manufacture, distribute, and sell illegally bugged iPods and other electronic equipment to Plaintiff to perpetuate the stalking, extortion, and torture.”

Filed Wednesday in a U.S. District Court in Missouri, the 124-page complaint lists Apple among a host of other defendants, including the St. Louis County Police Department, a local auto mechanic, and “unknown agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

He claims the Mafia wants to coerce him into working as a male model.

Christian Party wants public register for women who have abortions

Rival political parties in Sweden are split over the prospect of establishing a registry of women who have had abortions, party officials said.

Christian Democrats favor reporting the identities of women who have had abortions but the Moderate, Centre and Liberal parties oppose the move on integrity grounds, the Swedish News Agency reported.

Integrity would be the last thing in mind from the theocrats who came up with this proposal.

Anders Milton, who was commissioned by the government to investigate the issue, suggested inclusion of personal identification numbers of women who had an abortion because he said it would help in follow-up of complications and improve prevention.

The register always awakes feelings of unease, but I definitely think the idea is worth a try,” Chatrine Palsson Ahlgren, Christian Democrat Member of Parliament said to the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper.

Gee. They could even make it mandatory for these women to sew little patches on their coats. It worked before.

Nun busted driving 112mph to pray for the Pope

In a country where speeding is a national sport, Italian traffic police are used to hearing the most colourful of excuses from drivers.

But the patrol that pulled over a Ford Fiesta on Friday doing 112mph was surprised to find at the wheel a 56-year-old nun who claimed she needed to be at the pope’s side after the pontiff lost his balance in the bathroom and broke his wrist.

In the back were two fellow Salesian nuns, aged 65 and 78, who had jumped in the car in Turin when news broke of Pope Benedict’s fall near Aosta, where he is spending his summer holiday.

“The police were shocked to find three nuns of a certain age in the Fiesta,” confessed the nun, named only as AM. “But we were afraid of getting there late. I know you shouldn’t go so fast, but the news of his Holiness’s injury had made us truly anxious.”

The pope underwent surgery on Friday and was able to hold a blessing on Sunday with his right wrist in plaster.

The police chose not to forgive the nun, pointing out that she was 30mph over the limit. They suspended her licence for a month and issued a €375 fine.

But AM is a “determined sort”, said her lawyer, Anna Orecchioni. “She is planning to appeal and we think we can invoke the ‘state of necessity’ in the law that allows speeding.”

Religious types have an elaborate history of developing rationales and excuses for most anything. I wouldn’t be surprised if they got away with this one.