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Submission + - What non-geeks hate about the Big Bang Theory (

v3rgEz writes: There's a lot to dislike about the Big Bang Theory, from the typical geek's point of view: It plays in stereotypes of geekdom for cheap laughs, makes non-sensical gags, and has a laugh track in 2015. But what does the rest of America (well, the part of America not making it the number one show on television) think? FCC complaints recently released accuse the show of everything from animal cruelty to subliminal messaging, demanding that the sitcom be ripped from the airwaves lest it ruin America. The full complaints for your reading pleasure

Submission + - In Afghanistan, billions spent on flightless planes & melting buildings (

v3rgEz writes: MuckRock takes a look at the latest report from SIGAR, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, and the findings are rough: In a scathing critique that finds U.S. officials "operate in a world where personal accountability is nonexistent," they uncovered billions of dollars wasted on buildings that simply melted during rain, planes that were never able to take off, and other boondoggles, even as cold weather clothing ordered in 2013 still has not been actually shipped over. Read the full story on MuckRock.

Submission + - FBI files show Walt Disney imagining FBI of tomorrow (

v3rgEz writes: Union-busting Walt Disney became cozy with J. Edgar Hoover, the iconic animator's FBI files show, helping shut down dissident workers while infusing Disney programming with fond portrayals of federal enforcement. Disney even wanted to dedicate a special section of Tomorrowland to highlighting the Bureau of tomorrow â" which ended up being a step too far for America's head investigative agency.

Submission + - Private colleges, public safety: few disclosure requirements for campus police (

v3rgEz writes: Want some transparency from your local police? Then public records law is probably on your side if you're in the US â" unless you happen to be a college student. MuckRock's Shawn Musgrave looks at the broad exemptions that give campus police almost all the rights and powers of regular cops, without any of the public accountability.

Submission + - The labor professor the FBI trailed, blackballed, but ultimately couldn't stop (

v3rgEz writes: Philip S. Foner was one of the 20th centuries pre-eminent labor scholars, publishing over 100 times, including a massive 10-part history of the American Labor Movement which he published between 1947 and 1994. But close ties with labor in the 40s meant one audience was sure to hang on every word: The FBI. Recently released files show the Bureau's long history tracking labor's historian.

Submission + - FBI: Burning Man testing ground for free speech, drugs ... & new spy gear (

v3rgEz writes: The 29th annual Burning Man festival kicks off this week in Nevada's Black Rock Desert. Among those paying close attention to the festivities will be the FBI's Special Events Management unit, who have kept files on "burners" since at least 2010. One of the more interesting things in those, files, however, is a lengthy, heavily redacted paragraph detailing that the FBI's Special Events Management Unit gave Las Vegas Police Department some specialized equipment for monitoring the week-long event, as long as LVPD provided follow up reports.

Submission + - Docs: Responding to Katrina, FBI made cell phone surveillance its priority (

v3rgEz writes: There's a lot of lessons that the federal government should have learned in the aftermath of Katrina. Increased domestic surveillance, however, appears to be the one the FBI took to heart, using the natural disaster as a justification for ramping up its use of Stingray cell phone tracking throughout Louisiana after the storm, according to documents released under FOIA to MuckRock.

Submission + - "Sensationalized cruelty": FCC complaints regarding Game of Thrones ( 1

v3rgEz writes: As a cable channel, the FCC has little to no jurisdiction over HBO's content. That doesn't stop people from complaining to them about them, however, and after a FOIA request, the FCC released numerous complaints regarding the network's Game of Thrones. While there were the usual and expected lamentations about "open homosexual sex acts," other users saw Game of Thrones as a flashpoint in the war of Net Neutrality.

Submission + - FBI informant: Ray Bradbury's sci-fi written to induce communistic mass hysteria (

v3rgEz writes: The FBI followed Ray Bradbury's career very closely, in part because an informant warned them that his writing was not enjoyable fantasy, but rather tantamount to psychological warfare. "The general aim of these science fiction writers is to frighten the people into a state of paralysis or psychological incompetence bordering on hysteria," the informant warned. "Which would make it very possible to conduct a Third World War in which the American people would believe could not be won since their morale had seriously been destroyed."

Submission + - After jokes about Hoover, George Carlin earn himself an FBI file (

v3rgEz writes: After George Carlin satirized FBI and J. Edgar Hoover in a bit "considered to be in very poor taste" (but which was incredibly tame by Carlin standards), the Bureau took a special interest in the famed comedian, starting a file and sending out queries across the country as to Carlin's loyalties and background. Read Carlin's full file on MuckRock.

Submission + - EFF and MuckRock need your help tracking biometric surveillance (

v3rgEz writes: Police departments are increasingly tracking your face, your fingerprints, your tattoos — and even your DNA. The Electronic Frontier Foundation and MuckRock are working to uncover how local agencies are tracking you and bring some much-needed transparency to the murky world of biometric surveillance through a free public records audit: Just put in some basic information about an agency near you, and they'll publicly file a request to see what vendors your city is using, how they protect your privacy, and more.

Submission + - Check whether Hacking Team demoed cyberweapons for your local cops (

v3rgEz writes: Turns out death squads aren't the only agencies buying Hacking Squad's controversial spyware. Town from Miami Shores, FL to Eugene, OR appeared on a list of US agencies that received demonstrations from the hacked surveillance vendor. MuckRock has mapped out who was on the lists, and is working to FOIA what these towns actually bought, if anything. Check and see if your city is on the map.

Submission + - FBI releases Erdos files after MuckRock FOIA request (

v3rgEz writes: A Hungarian born in the early 20th century, Paul (Pal) Erdos, mathematician, was well-known and well-liked, the sort of eccentric scientist from the Soviet sphere that made Feds’ ears perk up in mid-century America. His lifetime generated over five hundred scholarly papers and a cult of collaborators. The Erdos number has become a mathy merit badge, and for those that don’t hold a coveted Erdos number of 1, there are resources to determine just how many degrees of celebrity separation exist between the man himself and other technical paper bylines.

And like almost all smart individuals of his era, Erdos had a lengthy FBI file — which ultimately concluded no nefarious intent, but rather "nothing to indicate the subject had any interest in any matter than Mathematics." Read on for highlights, or read Erdos' full FBI file.

Submission + - J. Edgar Hoover trusted Ben Bradlee "as much as I would a rattlesnake." (

v3rgEz writes: Former Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee's role in covering some of the biggest stories of the 20th century — most notably Watergate — has made him a legend in the industry. But after initially close government ties â" including Bradlee bring considered to head up Voice of America â" the legendary Washington Post editor was completely blackballed by the FBI after running a piece critical of J. Edgar Hoover, who took the piece personally, calling Bradlee "a colossal liar" and forbidding bureau employees from speaking with him. Read the full history of editor vs. FBI at MuckRock.

Submission + - Police call logs from the Sun City llama drama (

v3rgEz writes: Wonder what it is like to be an officer charged with apprehending two llamas on the loose? Wonder no more: Sun City, AZ, has released the call logs from the tense, hours-long standoff between man and adorable beast. "They're heading into Thunderbird. It's gonna get ugly," the dispatcher warned, right before stifling a laugh. Listen to the full call logs over at MuckRock.

To communicate is the beginning of understanding. -- AT&T