Spain dismantles jihadist passport theft ring

December 1, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Your stolen passport may be a jihadi’s ticket into a Western country. “Spain Dismantles Passport Ring For Islamic Cells Abroad,” by David Roman for Dow Jones Newswires, December 1 (thanks to Twostellas):

MADRID -(Dow Jones)- Spanish police arrested seven men in Barcelona, suspected of stealing passports for radical Islamic cells in Thailand and Pakistan, and collaborating with the group that carried out the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, the country’s Interior ministry said Wednesday.

The suspects, six Pakistanis and one Nigerian, are believed to be part of a European network that allegedly obtained passports to be forged in Thailand. The passports were later distributed to cells including Al Qaeda, Pakistan’s Lashkar e Taiba-which carried out the Mumbai attacks, killing 175-and Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers, the ministry said in a statement….

According to Spanish police, the group allegedly stole large amounts of foreign passports from tourists in Spain-practically all in or around Barcelona-over the 18-month period during which the group was under surveillance. The thefts were allegedly requested by the Thailand-based head of the group, who asked for passports with specific nationalities and age brackets.

Jihad Watch

Today: National Day of Action to Stop Wage Theft

November 20, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

At a time when Congress is considering whether to give the nation’s wealthiest people a holiday gift by extending their Bush-era tax breaks, workers, religious leaders, public officials and others will come together in more than 35 cities across the country to fight for those who have been cheated and left behind.

A week before Thanksgiving, we’re taking part in a National Day of Action Against Wage Theft to highlight this ongoing crisis and ways that workers and communities are organizing to stop it.

Wage theft is a national epidemic that robs millions of workers of billions of dollars they’ve worked for but never see, says Kim Bobo, executive director of Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ), the coordinator of the National Day of Action. Speaking at a telephone press conference yesterday, Bobo, author of Wage Theft in America, put it this way:

A week before Thanksgiving, faith communities collect turkeys to give to poor families. Millions of poor families could buy their own turkeys if their wages had been paid as required by law. This Thanksgiving, as a nation we are struggling with how to boost the economy. What better way to stimulate the economy, put more money back into neighborhood businesses, than to assure that workers are paid all their wages?

As part of the National Day, Bobo said, workers in Houston will drive a  Justice Bus, stopping by workplaces where employers allegedly engage in wage theft. The mayor of Grand Rapids, Mich., will announce a new task force against wage theft. Workers seeking unpaid wages will file lawsuits in New York City and Austin, Texas. Dozens of groups will visit employers in other cities who allegedly have stolen wages and demand they pay workers what they have promised.

Rebecca Fuentes, the director of the Workers’ Center of Central New York in Syracuse, described state fair workers who were so badly abused by their employer that they were impoverished to the point of malnutrition. They had to go to the emergency room with burn blisters on their bodies from working without protection around hot machinery. For more on their story, click here. Fuentes told reporters:  

A carnival is a place for entertainment and celebration, but for these workers, it was a place of worry and despair, with their poverty and malnutrition uncomfortably coexisting with the abundance and happiness a carnival ought to represent. We are taking action.

One focus of the National Day of Action will be the need to strengthen the enforcement of wage and hour laws, support community wage theft prevention programs and prevent the misclassification of workers as independent contractors. State laws to stop wage theft have already passed in Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Mexico, and a first-ever county ordinance was passed in Miami-Dade County earlier this year.


Consultants accuse Huffington of concept theft

November 15, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Tonight’s story:

Two Democratic consultants are accusing Arianna Huffington and her business partner of stealing their idea for the powerhouse liberal website Huffington Post.

Peter Daou and James Boyce charge that Huffington and partner Ken Lerer designed the website from a plan they had presented them, and in doing so, violated a handshake agreement to work together, according to a lawsuit to be filed in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan.

The complaint is a direct challenge to the left’s most important media property from two stalwarts of the progressive movement. And it challenges Huffington’s own oft-told story of coming up with the idea in conversation with Lerer and other friends.

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Ben Smith’s Blog

Oklahoma bans stonings, amputations for theft, death for apostates, Muslims cry “Islamophobia”

November 2, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Oklahoma bans Sharia, Muslims plan lawsuit. Will Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani be available to testify?

“Voters ban judges from using international law,” from Associated Press, November 2:

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Oklahoma voters have approved a measure that would forbid judges from considering international law or Islamic law when deciding cases.

Republican Rex Duncan, the sponsor of the measure, called it a “pre-emptive strike” designed to close the door on activist judges “legislating from the bench or using international law or Sharia law.”

Members of the Muslim community called the question an attack on Islam and some of them said they are prepared to file a lawsuit challenging the measure.

(Video thanks to Pamela.)

Jihad Watch

Instapaper’s Business Model: Theft?

October 8, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

I’m seeing quite a bit of buzz over Instapaper, almost all of it good.   But there seems to be a wee problem with its business model.

A couple of years ago, Marco Arment, who was then the lead technologist of the social-blog platform Tumblr, became frustrated with the way the web made his ideal reading diet difficult.

He couldn’t read articles during his commute on the subway because there’s no Wifi in the tunnels. And when he was connected, either on a computer screen or a phone, it was taxing to browse through sites designed with seas of links, come-hither slideshow promotion-boxes and “interactive” advertisements and find the articles he actually wanted to read.


So he created an application to fix his reading experience. It was a simple bookmarking tool, custom-made for Arment, that allowed him to save articles to read at a time and in a digital environment more conducive to reading. He called it Instapaper.

He could bookmark articles from The New York Times, The New Yorker, the tech blog Gizmodo; load the text form each piece into a simple, custom-made template that stripped away formatting and distractions; and queue the articles into an account so he could read the articles whenever he liked, online or off.


Instapaper is ad-supported (in the form of small, square ads on users’ account pages and at the bottom of the article pages). Although a basic form of the Iphone application is available for free, Arment gets a cut any time someone downloads the $ 4.99 version, which is Ipad-friendly and includes more features. This week, he announced his very first, albeit small, scheme for more direct funding: “subscriptions,” for three dollars for three months of service.

So, essentially, InstaPaper’s business model is stealing content created by others, stripping it of the ads that pay the creators, and running their own advertising on it?

The argument, apparently, is that these people already “viewed” the ad when they loaded the article the first time to save a copy to Instapaper.  Except that they haven’t:  The whole point is to save the piece for later reading.

To be sure, much the same argument has been made against bloggers:  Many of us profit from excerpting the work of mainstream media outlets.   The difference is that our value added is commentary and/or curation.   And we’re generally linking the original — not only driving traffic but increasing search engine ranking for the creating site — and excerpting only part of the content.

Additionally, most professional websites are designed to drive readers of a particular article to others that might interest them.  Those reading on an aggregator site obviously aren’t getting that.

A related lament about Instapaper and similar services is aesthetic:  They strip the graphic design from the original, leaving only a raw text experience.   That doesn’t strike me as a big deal in and of itself, although it might eventually drive down the design quality of sites.

Outside the Beltway

Signs of Hope and Gloom: Tweet theft, new heft, new judges, old mortgages, and OK Go with puppies!

September 22, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

The nation’s fourth-largest home lender halts evictions of homeowners in 23 states this week. Seems like someone forgot to actually read the paperwork!

In a related story, no one on the face of the earth has ever read an entire software licensing agreement before initialing. Ethicists and theologians speculate if engaging in the forced practice of initialing is actually immoral. Particularly when people would have read the whole document if they hadn’t been so busy at the time.

The tenth season of The Biggest Loser premiered this week (Sept. 21st). Fans of The Biggest Loser start their yearly cycle. The season premier of the show makes us feel thin, the season finale makes us feel fat!

Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler are the new “American Idol” judges. Fearing a drop in ratings, show producers are contemplating a change in last year’s format. Rumors are circulating that the judges will be forced to pick finalists based on their singing ability.

An unnamed source commented “it’s going to be rather difficult to find more than two or three people who can sing well. It’s just been so long since we’ve actually done that.”

A 17-year-old Australian schoolboy finds flaw in Twitter. Amy Coopes (AFP) reports that Pearce Delphin “admitted exposing a security flaw which was then pounced upon by hackers, affecting thousands of users and causing havoc on the microblogging site for about five hours.” Seems this little glitch helped hackers take over the White House press secretary’s feed.

In a similar story, @fairlyspiritual just tweeted he ate an egg salad sandwich from Starbucks. This was not a hackers prank, just a said truth.

OK Go White Knuckles video unites the world. A catchy song and cute dogs. Rumor has it a cat version is in the works.

The Moderate Voice

Two stories about theft

August 19, 2010 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comment 

A truly awful story emerged today from Israel, as there appears to be evidence that some IDF members stole and sold equipment from the flotilla ships a couple of months ago, including laptops.

“This matter is very problematic in terms of values, as the incident allegedly took place after it was clear that the flotilla was a serious international affair,” the source added. “An officer who under such circumstances steals equipment which does not belong to him, and then tries to sell it – it’s almost incomprehensible.”

The affair embarrassed the political arena as well, with Knesset members demanding that the army prevent such incidents from repeating themselves at almost all costs.

“This is an embarrassing, humiliating and infuriating act,” said MK Eitan Cabel (Labor). “The IDF must handle this affair according to the strict letter of the law.

Meretz Chairman Chaim Oron called on the army to utilize the investigation to the fullest, noting that “the multiple number of incidents, in which basic values are compromised, requires the army to hold a thorough investigation into the causes.”

There is no doubt that the citizens of Israel will not stand for this and will do whatever needs to be done to ensure that the guilty parties are punished and that the root causes are fixed. There is a deep, nationwide sense of embarrassment, anger and shame over the incident.

Contrast this with this story that received next to no coverage:

French aid group Help Doctors accused the Palestinian Hamas organisation on Wednesday of seizing equipment and files from one of its Gaza clinics which it closed in June.

“Four men from the (Hamas) interior ministry entered the clinic on Tuesday morning and seized computer equipment, telephones, chairs, office equipment and medical files,” the organisation said in a statement.

The men left the premises without saying why the equipment was being confiscated, it said.

Will Hamas open an investigation? Will people be prosecuted? Will the doctors have an opportunity to sue?

And - why are these questions laughable to a world that has no problem saying with a straight face that the IDF is less moral than Hamas?

There are, sadly, bad people everywhere. The best way to measure the morality of a society is by seeing how everyone else acts when their own people do bad things.

Elder of Ziyon

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