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Litmus Test
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Would you still engage in a experience if you could tell no one about it?

Did digital detectives help or hinder the search for the Boston bombers?
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(Perth Now) In an era of digital interactivity, it also unfolded around the country from laptops and desk chairs filled with regular folks.

Fueled by Twitter, online forums like Reddit and 4Chan, smartphones and relays of police scanners, thousands of people played armchair detective as police searched for men who turned out to be suspects Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, ethnic Chechen brothers who had immigrated from southern Russia years ago.

But as amateur online sleuths began identifying possible culprits, caught in the virtual manhunt there were people who were wrongly accused or placed under suspicion by crowd-sourcing. It showed the damage that digital investigators can cause and raised a relevant question: In the social-media generation, what does law enforcement unleash when, by implication, it deputizes the public for help?
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Backpack Brothers an example of the drawbacks to Internet sleuthing
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(Washington Post) To the Web’s volunteer detectives, they were the “Backpack Brothers”: two slender men in track suits spotted in photos of the Boston Marathon crowd.

“Seen together with bags, one near possible bomb site,” one user wrote of the men in an online spreadsheet that the online sleuths used to keep track of clues. In the “race/ethnicity” column, the two were described as “ethnic.”

“Bag pointing downward. Probably heavy,” another user wrote at Reddit.com. That was accompanied by photos of the two and a diagram showing how one man’s backpack had a bulge that might have been a pressure cooker packed with explosives.

But the Internet had the wrong guys.
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Two Cautionary Tales of Gun Control
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By JOYCE LEE MALCOLM

(WSJ.COM) Americans are determined that massacres such as happened in Newtown, Conn., never happen again. But how? Many advocate more effective treatment of mentally-ill people or armed protection in so-called gun-free zones. Many others demand stricter control of firearms.

We aren't alone in facing this problem. Great Britain and Australia, for example, suffered mass shootings in the 1980s and 1990s. Both countries had very stringent gun laws when they occurred. Nevertheless, both decided that even stricter control of guns was the answer. Their experiences can be instructive.
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If I Were President...
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Part of collection of opinions on the topic: If I Were President... which appeared in the Sunday Review section. What follows is the unedited version of what was published


The question, “If I were President I’d…” implies that if you swap out one leader, put in another, then all will be well with America—as though our leaders are the cause of all ailments.

That must be why we’ve created a tradition of rampant attacks on our politicians. Are they too conservative for you? Too liberal? Too religious? Too atheist? Too gay? Too anti-gay? Too rich? Too dumb? Too smart? Too ethnic? Too philanderous? Curious behavior, given that we elect 88% of Congress every two years.

A second tradition-in-progress is the expectation that everyone else in our culturally pluralistic land should hold exactly your own outlook, on all issues.

When you’re scientifically literate, the world looks different to you. It’s a particular way of questioning what you see and hear. When empowered by this state of mind, objective realities matter. These are the truths of the world that exist outside of whatever your belief system tells you.

One objective reality is that our government doesn’t work, not because we have dysfunctional politicians, but because we have dysfunctional voters. As a scientist and educator, my goal, then, is not to become President and lead a dysfunctional electorate, but to enlighten the electorate so they might choose the right leaders in the first place.

Neil deGrasse Tyson
New York, Aug. 21, 2011


(no subject)
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If life doesn't suck sometimes it is hard to tell when life is being good to you.
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Venezuela bans private gun ownership
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(BBC) Venezuela has brought a new gun law into effect which bans the commercial sale of firearms and ammunition.

Until now, anyone with a gun permit could buy arms from a private company.

Under the new law, only the army, police and certain groups like security companies will be able to buy arms from the state-owned weapons manufacturer and importer.

The ban is the latest attempt by the government to improve security and cut crime ahead of elections in October

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Case Number: 11-05079.h1
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Handling Protected Information; Personal Conduct
02/21/2012

While on duty conducting threat vulnerability assessments for the United States military in June 2004, Applicant lost a notebook containing sensitive information, which he surmises may have been taken by a Russian woman, with whom he engaged in sexual activities in his hotel room. Applicant did not report the loss of the notebook until after he was administered a polygraph examination in January 2009. His exercise of extremely poor judgment is not fully mitigated despite the passage of time. Clearance denied. CASE NO: 11-05079.h1


Understanding Religious Trauma Syndrome: Trauma from Leaving Religion (Part 3 of 3)
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Religious Trauma Syndrome (RTS) is a function of both the chronic abuses of harmful religion and the impact of severing one’s connection with one’s faith and faith community. It can be compared to a combination of PTSD and Complex PTSD (C-PTSD). In the last article of this series, I explained some of the toxic aspects of authoritarian religions that cause long-term psychological damage (Bible-based ones in particular). In this writing, I will address the trauma of breaking away from this kind of religion.

With PTSD, a traumatic event is one in which a person experiences or witnesses actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others. Losing one’s faith, or leaving one’s religion, is an analogous event because it essentially means the death of one’s previous life – the end of reality as it was understood. It is a huge shock to the system, and one that needs to be recognized as trauma.

What it means to leave

Breaking out of a restrictive, mind-controlling religion is understandably a liberating experience. People report huge relief and some excitement about their new possibilities. Certain problems are over, such as trying to twist one’s thinking to believe irrational religious doctrines, handling enormous cognitive dissonance in order to get by in the ‘real world’ as well, and conforming to repressive codes of behavior. Finally leaving a restrictive religion can be a major personal accomplishment after trying to make it work and going through many cycles of guilt and confusion.

However, the challenges of leaving are daunting. For most people, the religious environment was a one-stop-shop for meeting all their major needs – social support, a coherent worldview, meaning and direction in life, structured activities, and emotional/spiritual satisfaction. Leaving the fold means multiple losses, including the loss of friends and family support at a crucial time of personal transition. Consequently, it is a very lonely “stressful life event.” For some people, depending on their personality and the details of their religious past, it may be possible to simply stop participating in religious services and activities and move on with life. But for many, leaving their religion means debilitating anxiety, depression, grief, and anger.

http://new.exchristian.net/2011/11/trauma-from-leaving-religion.html

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Wikileaks Stratfor Intelligence Glossary
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ATF - "Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms. Rednecks with a license to kill. Never, ever, ever ask for their help on anything."
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