binarstu writes: Research recently published in Psychological Science quantifies how easy it is to convince innocent, "normal" adults that they commited a crime. The Association for Psychological Science (APS) has posted a nice summary of the research. From the APS summary: 'Evidence from some wrongful-conviction cases suggests that suspects can be questioned in ways that lead them to falsely believe in and confess to committing crimes they didn’t actually commit. New research provides lab-based evidence for this phenomenon, showing that innocent adult participants can be convinced, over the course of a few hours, that they had perpetrated crimes as serious as assault with a weapon in their teenage years.'
binarstu writes: Suzanne Nossel, writing for cnn.com, reports that 'a survey of American writers done in October revealed that nearly one in four has self-censored for fear of government surveillance. They fessed up to curbing their research, not accepting certain assignments, even not discussing certain topics on the phone or via e-mail for fear of being targeted. The subjects they are avoiding are no surprise — mostly matters to do with the Middle East, the military and terrorism.' Yet ordinary Americans, for the most part, seem not to care: 'Surveillance so intrusive it is putting certain subjects out of bounds would seem like cause for alarm in a country that prides itself as the world's most free. Americans have long protested the persecution and constraints on journalists and writers living under repressive regimes abroad, yet many seem ready to accept these new encroachments on their freedom at home.'
binarstu writes: According to a recent report by Tom Gjelten of NPR, 'NSA officials are bracing for more surveillance disclosures from the documents taken by former contractor Edward Snowden — and they want to get out in front of the story.... With respect to other information held by Snowden and his allies but not yet publicized, the NSA is now considering a proactive release of some of the less sensitive material, to better manage the debate over its surveillance program.'
binarstu writes: The New York Times reports that 'The C.I.A. is paying AT&T more than $10 million a year to assist with overseas counterterrorism investigations by exploiting the company’s vast database of phone records, which includes Americans’ international calls, according to government officials. The cooperation is conducted under a voluntary contract, not under subpoenas or court orders compelling the company to participate, according to the officials.'
binarstu writes: A recent article on cnn.com tells the story of a U.S. programmer who hired software developers in China to do his job so that he could spend his days surfing Ebay and browsing cat videos on Youtube. From the article: "Bob had hired a programming firm in the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang to do his work. His helpers half a world away worked overnight on a schedule imitating an average 9-to-5 workday in the United States. He paid them one-fifth of his six-figure salary, according to Verizon."
binarstu writes: Mitt Romney's secretly-recorded comments about the "47%" of Americans who he believes are government dependents that "pay no income tax" have fueled new debate about U.S. tax policies. His claims don't hold up so well, however, when confronted with the data. First, as reported in the New York Times, a 2008 study by Cornell University reveals that "nearly all Americans — 96 percent — have relied on the federal government to assist them." And a recent piece in the Washington Post explains why the "47%" analysis is fundamentally flawed. From the latter: "At the heart of the debate over “the 47 percent” is an awful abuse of tax data. This entire conversation is the result of a (largely successful) effort to redefine the debate over taxes from “how much in taxes do you pay” to “how much in federal income taxes do you pay?” This is good framing if you want to cut taxes on the rich. It’s bad framing if you want to have even a basic understanding of who pays how much in taxes."
binarstu writes: From a recent article on the Huffington Post: "Newly-released internal training documents from several for-profit colleges illustrate a culture that encourages recruiters to increase enrollment by focusing on emotions such as "pain" and "fear" to attract low-income students who are struggling with adverse personal and financial circumstances.... The internal training guides shed light on recruitment methods that have long been criticized by student-advocacy groups as preying on uninformed, uneducated students who may have little chance of success once admitted to the schools."