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Crime

Submission + - DOJ, MIT, JSTOR Seek Anonymity in Swartz Case

theodp writes: Responding to an earlier request by the estate of Aaron Swartz to disclose the names of those involved in the events leading to Aaron's suicide, counsel for MIT snippily told the Court, "The Swartz Estate was not a party to the criminal case, and therefore it is unclear how it has standing, or any legally cognizable interest, to petition for the modification of the Protective Order concerning others' documents." In motions filed on slow-news-day Good Friday (MIT's on spring break), the DOJ, MIT, and JSTOR all insisted on anonymity for those involved in the Swartz case, arguing that redacting of names was a must, citing threats posed by Anonymous and LulzSec, a badly-photoshopped postcard sent to Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Heymann and another sent to his Harvard Prof father, cake frosting, a gun hoax, and e-mail sent to MIT. From the DOJ filing: 'I also informed him [Swartz estate lawyer] that whatever additional public benefit might exist by disclosing certain names was, in this case, outweighed by the risk to those individuals of becoming targets of threats, harassment and abuse.' From the MIT filing: 'The publication of MIT's documents in unredacted form could lead to further, more targeted, and more dangerous threats and attacks...The death of Mr. Swartz has created a very volatile atmosphere.' From the JSTOR filing: 'The supercharged nature of the public debate about this case, including hacking incidents, gun hoaxes and threatening messages, gives JSTOR and its employees legitimate concern for their safety and privacy.'
Education

Submission + - Code.org Documentary Serving Multiple Agendas?

theodp writes: 'Someday, and that day may never come,' Don Corleone says famously in The Godfather, 'I'll call upon you to do a service for me.' Back in 2010, filmmaker Lesley Chilcott produced Waiting for "Superman", a controversial 2010 documentary film that analyzed the failures of the American public education system, and presented charter schools as a glimmer of hope, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-backed KIPP Los Angeles Prep. Gates himself was a "Superman" cast member, show here in a clip that laments how U.S. public schools are producing 'American Idiots' of no use to high tech firms like Microsoft, forcing them to 'go half-way around the world to recruit the engineers and programmers they needed.' So some found it strange that when Chilcott teamed up with Gates again three years later to make Code.org's documentary short What Most Schools Don't Teach, kids from KIPP Empower Academy were called upon to demonstrate that U.S. schoolchildren are still clueless about what computer programmers do. In a nice coincidence, the film went viral just as leaders of Google, Microsoft, and Facebook pressed President Obama and Congress on immigration reform, citing a dearth of U.S. programming talent. And speaking of coincidences, the lone teacher in the Code.org film (James, Teacher@Mount View Elementary), whose classroom was tapped by Code.org as a model for the nation's schools, is Seattle teacher Jamie Ewing, who took top honors in Microsoft’s Partners in Learning (PiL) U.S. Forum last summer, earning him a spot on PiL's 'Team USA' and the chance to showcase his project at the Microsoft PiL Global Forum in Prague in November (82-page Conference Guide). Ironically, had Ewing stuck to teaching the kids Scratch programming, as he's shown doing in the Code.org documentary, Microsoft wouldn't have seen fit to send him to its blowout at 'absolutely amazingly beautiful' Prague Castle. Innovative teaching, at least according to Microsoft's rules, 'must include the use of one or more Microsoft technologies.' Fortunately, Ewing's project — described in his MSDN guest blog post — called for using PowerPoint and Skype. For the curious, here's Microsoft PiL's vision of what a classroom should be.
Education

Submission + - Meet the Other Cast Member of Code.org

theodp writes: Oddly, the only named cast member of Code.org's viral documentary film What Most Schools Don't Teach who didn't earn a spot on the site's Meet the Film Cast page was its lone teacher. It turns out that James, Teacher@Mount View Elementary, whose classroom was touted as a model for the nation's schools, is Mt. View's Jamie Ewing, a Seattle teacher who took top honors in Microsoft’s Partners in Learning (PiL) U.S. Forum last summer, earning him a spot on PiL's 'Team USA' and the chance to show his project to peers at the Microsoft PiL Global Forum in Prague in November (82-page Conference Guide). Ironically, had Ewing stuck to teaching the kids Scratch programming, as he's shown doing in the Code.org documentary, Microsoft wouldn't have sent him to its blowout at 'absolutely amazingly beautiful' Prague Castle. Innovative teaching, at least according to Microsoft's rules, 'must include the use of one or more Microsoft technologies.' Ewing's project, described in his MSDN guest blog post, called for using PowerPoint and Skype to fulfill this requirement. For the curious, here's Microsoft PiL's vision of what a classroom should be. Now that's what RMS calls a scary movie, kids!
Crime

Submission + - Why Did a Bankster Defense Attorney Represent JSTOR?

theodp writes: Mary Jo White, the White House nominee tapped to head the SEC, appears before a Senate committee for her confirmation hearing on Tuesday. White, the Washington Post notes, built a lucrative career representing high-profile clients (pdf) such as JPMorgan Chase, UBS AG and Morgan Stanley. Kenneth Lewis, BofA’s former CEO, and Rajat Gupta, the former Goldman Sachs board member convicted of insider trading, were also clients. So, as long as White is expected to face questioning, why not ask a few about how the "bankster" super lawyer came to represent JSTOR — and by extension the late Aaron Swartz — in failed negotiations with U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz's office to drop the DOJ's prosecution of Swartz? After all, the Senate is also busy at work trying to shed light on the Swartz case. Monday, by the way, marks the two-month anniversary of Swartz's tragic suicide; still waiting for that report from MIT.
Education

Submission + - Harvard Secretly Searched Deans' Email

theodp writes: Taking a page from HP's playbook, Harvard University administrators secretly searched the emails of 16 deans last fall, looking for a leak to reporters about a case of cheating. The deans were not warned about the email access and only one was told of the search afterward. Dean and CS prof Michael Smith said in an email Sunday that Harvard will not comment on personnel matters or provide additional information about the board cases that were concluded during the fall term. Smith's office and the Harvard general counsel's office authorized the search, according to a Boston Globe report. Smith's Harvard bio notes that his entrepreneurial experience included co-founding and selling Liquid Machines, where Smith coincidentally invented a software technique designed to keep unauthorized people from reading electronic documents.
Education

Submission + - Should Techies Trump Latinos in Immigration Reform?

theodp writes: In an open letter on TechCrunch, Vivek Wadhwa calls on Congressman Luis Gutierrez to lift his 'hold on Silicon Valley' and stop tying immigration reform for highly-skilled STEM immigrants to the plight of undocumented immigrants. So, why should the STEM set get first dibs? 'The issues of high-skilled and undocumented immigrants are both equally important,' says Wadhwa, but 'the difference is that the skilled workers have mobility and are in great demand all over the world. They are getting frustrated and are leaving in droves.' Commenting on Gutierrez's voting record, Wadhwa adds, 'I would have voted for visas for 50,000 smart foreign students graduating with STEM degrees from U.S. universities over bringing in 55,000 randomly selected high-school graduates from abroad. The STEM graduates would have created jobs and boosted our economy. The lottery winners will come to the U.S. with high hopes, but will face certain unemployment and misery because of our weak economy.' So, should Gutierrez cede to Wadhwa's techies-before-Latinos proposal, or would this be an example of the paradox of virtuous meritocracy undermining equality of opportunity?
Crime

Submission + - Why Couldn't Obama's SEC Chief Save Aaron Swartz?

theodp writes: 'You don't want to mess with Mary Jo,' President Obama quipped on Jan. 24th as he introduced Mary Jo White, his pick to head the Securities and Exchange Commission. White, Obama emphasized, was a nominee who could be counted on to 'fight for the American People.' Unfortunately, while White — acting as JSTOR's attorney — tried to fight for Internet activist Aaron Swartz, his Boston prosecutors apparently weren't afraid to mess with Mary Jo, and declined to drop the ridiculous charges. Swartz committed suicide on Jan. 11th. So, should the President be concerned that his pick for SEC Chief — touted as one of the nation's best lawyers — was given the metaphorical middle finger by his Dept. of Justice? If it's any consolation, there are reports that White and her law firm seem to be having better luck fighting for Wall Street than Swartz.
Education

Submission + - Tech Companies That Pay Interns Boatloads Of Money

theodp writes: For those students for whom it's all about the Benjamins, BusinessInsider's Alyson Shontell has compiled a nice list of 20 Tech Companies That Pay Interns Boatloads Of Money. 'If you intern for a high-profile tech company,' notes Shontell, 'you can make more money than the average US citizen. Facebook, for example, pays its average intern $6,056 per month. That ends up being a base salary of about $72,000 per year.' Sure beats making a 'measly' $5,808 per month at LinkedIn, where you might find yourself having to participate in embarrassing sing-a-longs ("Get A Pro Account Tonight") and Flash Mobs!
Education

Submission + - Internet-Deprived Kids Turning to 'McLibraries'

theodp writes: After the school computer lab and public library close for the night in many communities, the local McDonald's is often the only place to turn for students without internet access at home. 'Cheap smartphones and tablets have put Web-ready technology into more hands than ever,' reports the WSJ's Anton Troianovski. 'But the price of Internet connectivity hasn't come down nearly as quickly. And in many rural areas, high-speed Internet through traditional phone lines simply isn't available at any price. The result is a divide between families that have broadband constantly available on their home computers and phones, and those that have to plan their days around visits to free sources of Internet access.' The FCC says it can make broadband available to all Americans by spending $45 billion over 10 years, but until then the U.S. will have to rely on Mickey D's, Starbucks, and others to help address its digital divide. Time to update that iconic McDonald's sign?
Crime

Submission + - Aaron Swartz Case: Deja Vu All Over Again for MIT

theodp writes: On Saturday, questions for MIT's Aaron Swartz investigation were posted on Slashdot with the hope that MIT'ers might repost some to the MIT Swartz Review site. So it's good to see that MIT's Hal Abelson, who is leading the analysis of MIT's involvement in the matter, is apparently open to this workaround to the ban on questions from outsiders. In fact, on Sunday Abelson himself reposted an interesting question posed by Boston College Law School Prof. Sharon Beckman: 'What, if anything, did MIT learn from its involvement in the federal prosecution of its student David LaMacchia back in 1994?' Not much, it would appear. LaMacchia, an apparent student of Abelson's whose defense team included Beckman, was indicted in 1994 and charged with the 'piracy of an estimated million dollars' in business and entertainment computer software after MIT gave LaMacchia up to the FBI. LaMacchia eventually walked from the charges, thanks to what became known as the LaMacchia Loophole, which lawmakers took pains to close. 'MIT collaborated with the FBI to wreck LaMacchia's life,' defense attorney Harvey Silverglate charged in 1995 after a judge dismissed the case. 'I hope that this case causes a lot of introspection on the part of MIT's administration. Unfortunately, I doubt it will.'
Crime

Submission + - Got Questions for MIT's Aaron Swartz Review?

theodp writes: Explaining that it believes 'the most important questions are the ones that will come from the MIT community,' MIT announced that it won't be accepting questions from outsiders for its President-ordered 'review' of the events that preceded the suicide of Aaron Swartz. But if you feel the 25 questions asked thus far don't cover all the bases, how about posting additional ones in the comments where MIT'ers can see them and perhaps repost to the MIT site some that they feel deserve answers? Do it soon — MIT President Rafael Reif will be returning any day now from Davos, where he sat on a panel with Bill Gates (video), who coincidentally once found himself in hot water over unauthorized computer access. 'They weren't sure how mad they should be about it,' Gates explained in a 2010 interview, 'because we hadn't really caused any damage, but it wasn't a good thing. Computer hacking was literally just being invented at the time, and so fortunately we got off with a bit of a warning.'
Crime

Submission + - MIT: Keep Your Swartz Questions to Yourselves 2

theodp writes: The good news is that MIT plans to release a report in a few weeks on its involvement in the events leading up to Aaron Swartz's suicide. The bad news is that the university won't be accepting any questions or comments on the matter from anyone outside of MIT. 'There have been dozens of questions about these events in the press and on the Net over the past week,' acknowledged MIT's Hal Abelson. 'But the most important questions are the ones that will come from the MIT community, because we are the ones who will be held to account.' Having charged Abelson with the review, which Abelson said he expects will show 'that every person acted in accordance with MIT policy', MIT President Rafael Reif was apparently off to Switzerland, where he's slated to appear on a Davos panel with Bill Gates, who coincidentally once snuck into buildings on the Univ. of Washington campus to grab some free computer time. Reif and his fellow 'RevolutiOnline.edu — Online Education Changing the World' panelists will be discussing strategies 'to give millions of people access to high level education and the chance to a better life.' Hey, didn't Aaron Swartz have some ideas on that?
Crime

Submission + - JSTOR an Entitlement for USDOJ's Ortiz & Holder

theodp writes: If Aaron Swartz downloaded JSTOR documents without paying for them, it would presumably be considered a crime by the USDOJ. But if U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz or U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder did the same? Rather than a crime, it would be considered their entitlement, a perk of an elite education that's paid for by their alma maters. Ironically and sadly, that's the kind of inequity Aaron railed against with the Guerilla Open Access Manifesto, a document the DOJ cited as evidence (pdf) that Swartz was a menace to society. On Thursday, Ortiz insisted Swartz — who she now characterizes as 'mentally ill' — received fair and reasonable treatment from the DOJ. But that wasn't good enough for Senator John Cornyn, who on Friday asked Eric Holder to explain the DOJ prosecution of Aaron Swartz.
Crime

Submission + - For U.S. Attorney Ortiz, JSTOR is an Entitlement 1

theodp writes: As a college dropout, Aaron Swartz was not entitled to freely download JSTOR documents, so his doing so would constitute "stealing". Got it? But as a George Washington University graduate, fair-and-reasonable U.S. Attorney General Carmen Ortiz is, in fact, entitled to freely download JSTOR documents (thanks to the 'generous support' of GWU alums and the GWU Libraries), so her doing so would NOT constitute "stealing." Capiche? And that, ironically, is a great example of the type of inequity Aaron railed against with the Guerilla Open Access Manifesto ('Information is power. But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves...'), a document Ortiz's office cited as evidence that Swartz was a knowledge-sharing menace to society.

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