MoJo Blogs and Articles | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en Bundys Found Not Guilty in Armed Standoff in Oregon <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>A defense attorney was tackled to the ground, a juror was dismissed at the last minute, and all seven defendants were found not guilty in the theatrical trial of seven leaders of the armed takeover of a wildlife refuge in Oregon. Ammon and Ryan Bundy, along with five of their followers, faced a slew of conspiracy and weapons charges related to the armed occupation of the government-run refuge. The trial was expected to be a crucial chapter in the ongoing struggle between federal land authorities and the anti-government patriot movement, which has challenged federal control over Western land.</p> <p>Less than a year ago, Ammon Bundy, the son of a Nevada rancher who has a history of clashing with the federal government, urged demonstrators to gather in a small town in Eastern Oregon to protest the imprisonment of two ranchers who had been found guilty of committing arson on federal land. Bundy and his followers then moved the protest from the town to the remote Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, taking control of the facility and leading an armed standoff that would last for a total of 41 days. It finally came to an end when law enforcement arrested the leaders of the occupation, in the process killing one of the occupiers Lavoy Finnicum after he reached for a gun.</p> <p>Finnicum's death became a flashpoint for members of the so-called <a href="" target="_blank">patriot movement</a>, and the ensuing trial&mdash;which lasted about six weeks&mdash;was expected to have wide ramifications for future anti-government protesters. The defendants, some of whom chose to forgo legal representation and presented their own cases, argued that they were peaceful demonstrators exercising their right to protest government overreach. Ammon Bundy gave a full 10 hours of testimony laying out his political philosophy and describing his family and his Mormon faith.</p> <p>Federal prosecutors, on the other hand, painted the occupiers as outlaws who threatened violence and prevented Bureau of Land Management and US Fish and Wildlife employees from doing their jobs. Much of the standoff was captured on video and live-streamed across the internet, so the prosecution had a mountain of evidence to work with. They showed the jury videos of the occupiers and Facebook conversations in which Ammon Bundy discussed plans for the takeover. They also the presented the court with 34 guns and 18,331 pieces of ammunition that were found at the refuge.</p> <p>After less than six hours of deliberations&mdash;and the last-minute dismissal of one juror who had worked for the federal Bureau of Land Management and declared himself "very biased"&mdash;the defendants were found not guilty on all counts. The only exception was one charge levied against Ryan Bundy for theft of government property, on which the jury never came to a decision. Defense lawyer Lisa Ludwig, who was standby counsel for Ryan Bundy, called the verdict "<a href="" target="_blank">stunning</a>."</p> <p>However, this isn't the end of the Bundy brothers' showdown with the government. They also face federal charges in connection with another armed standoff which took place at their father's Nevada ranch two years ago. In 2014, hundreds of armed protesters had gathered to protest the confiscation of cattle belonging to Cliven Bundy, who had racked up over $1 million in unpaid grazing fees. The Bundy sons are supposed to be transferred to Nevada where they will face trial once again.</p> <p>The Oregon trial came to a dramatic end when Ammon&rsquo;s lawyer&nbsp;Marcus Mumford insisted that his client should be set free, while US District Judge Anna Brown argued that Ammon would have to be taken into custody pending the outcome of the Nevada case. A struggle ensued and Bundy&rsquo;s lawyer was tackled to the floor by US marshalls and hit with a stun gun&mdash;a fitting end to an unusual trial. At one point, early in the proceedings, the Bundys and Judge Brown even clashed over whether the defendants should be able to wear belt buckles and ties&mdash;"cowboy bling" as Anna Griffin of Oregon Public Broadcasting <a href="" target="_blank">put it</a>.</p> <p>Even though these seven ringleaders are off the hook, they were only a handful of 26 occcupiers who were charged with conspiracy. Eleven have already pleaded guilty and seven more will be tried in February 2017.</p> <p><em>For more on the militia movement, read </em>MoJo<em> reporter Shane Bauer's undercover expos&eacute;, and my piece detailing <a href="" target="_blank">why the law often turns a blind eye to militias</a>.</em></p></body></html> Politics Crime and Justice Guns Fri, 28 Oct 2016 03:48:18 +0000 Sara Rathod 317662 at Sen. Mark Kirk Questions Military Service of Opponent’s Family <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) offered a bizarre and offensive quip Thursday night when he decided to deride the military service of his opponent's family rather than respond to a question about war.</p> <p>The comment came after Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth, who is challenging Kirk for his Senate seat, noted that her family had served in the military since the American Revolution. Duckworth is a veteran who lost both her legs in the War in Iraq and received the Purple Heart for her service. After she had noted that she is a "daughter of the American Revolution," Kirk was given 30 seconds to respond. Instead, he opted for a one-line response: "I had forgotten that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington."</p> <p>Duckworth was born in Bangkok to a mother of Chinese descent and an American father of British descent.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee quickly condemned the comment as racist. "Senator Mark Kirk&rsquo;s attack on Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth&rsquo;s family tonight was offensive, wrong, and racist," spokeswoman&nbsp;Lara Sisselman said in a statement. "Senator Kirk has been caught lying about his military record over ten times, but he was quick to launch false attacks questioning Congresswoman Duckworth&rsquo;s family&rsquo;s long history of serving our country. A struggling political campaign is no excuse for baseless and despicable attacks, and Senator Kirk owes Congresswoman Duckworth and her family an apology.&rdquo;</p></body></html> Politics 2016 Elections Fri, 28 Oct 2016 02:52:44 +0000 Pema Levy 317667 at Gary Johnson Has a Meltdown When Asked Something Every Candidate Should Know <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Since August, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson <a href="" target="_blank">has been plummeting</a> in national polls. A new interview with <a href="" target="_blank">the <em>Guardian</em></a> isn't going to do him any favors.</p> <p>When reporter Lewis asked Johnson about his tax policy, specifically his intention to abolish income tax altogether, Johnson at first demurred: "Look, I don't want to argue." But when Lewis challenged him again, Johnson snapped: "Look, I came out for the legalization of marijuana."&nbsp;</p> <p>"What's that got to do with your tax policy?" Lewis asked.</p> <p>"It's leadership."</p> <p>Watch the entire cringe-inducing five-minute video&mdash;featuring lines like "I'm not a dummy. I'm not."&mdash;above.</p></body></html> Politics Video 2016 Elections Elections Thu, 27 Oct 2016 23:45:46 +0000 Edwin Rios 317657 at Health Update <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Short version: I'm fine. Longer version: I just saw my oncologist, and he's pretty satisfied with everything. My M-protein level&mdash;the primary measure of cancerous plasma cells in my bone marrow&mdash;has been sneaking upward for the past few months, but in October it plateaued at the same level as September. Here's a special expanded version of my usual M-protein chart:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_m_protein_2016_10_27.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 30px;"></p> <p>I started out at 4.38 when I was first diagnosed with multiple myeloma, and the initial chemotherapy got that down to about 1.0. The maintenance meds got it down to 0.3, but after we halted the evil dex<sup>1</sup> it drifted up to 0.58. Higher is worse, but as you can tell from the chart, the entire past year has been fairly stable, and the minor ups and downs don't mean a lot. An M-protein level of 0.58 grams is roughly equivalent to a cancer load of about 3-4 percent, and my body can tolerate that basically forever. Eventually my M-protein level will rise above 1.0 or so, and then it will be time to switch to a second-line med.</p> <p>However, my oncologist's satisfaction was mostly based on other stuff that I don't usually write about. There are three types of plasma cells: G, A, and M.<sup>2</sup> My cancer happens to be of the G cells. However, my A-type cells have increased quite a bit over the past few months, and apparently that's an indication that my immune system is returning to normal. So that's good. Also, my Kappa light chains are pretty low, and my Kappa/Lambda ratio is nice and stable.<sup>3</sup> That's also good. Put it all together and I'm in pretty stable shape.</p> <p>However, the med I'm taking now can produce rashes in some people. It turns out I'm one of them. In my case, they're little red dots that showed up on my lower legs last week, then spread to my upper legs, and are now invading my stomach. How far will they go? Beats me. But if they go much further, they'll invade my face and I'll look like I have a permanent case of the measles. Oh well.</p> <p><sup>1</sup>That's dexamethasone, a corticosteroid that helps fight multiple myeloma. However, it has bad long-term side effects, so it can only be used for a few months at a time.</p> <p><sup>2</sup>This is not precisely the right terminology, but it's close enough.</p> <p><sup>3</sup>For the record, I have IgG Kappa light chain multiple myeloma.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 27 Oct 2016 22:07:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 317647 at James O'Keefe's New Story About the 47 Percent Video Is Totally False <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>James O'Keefe is at it again. The conservative video maker often accused of selective editing and once <a href="" target="_blank">arrested and convicted</a> for an undercover caper at a senator's office, has released a new series of videos targeting a few Democratic and progressive organizers. His operatives pretended to be interested in funding Democratic political activities and secretly recorded the Democratic activists; the videos O'Keefe released have become a cause c&eacute;l&egrave;bre for conservatives, including Donald Trump, who claim they show Ds engaged in dirty tricks. Of course, there are <a href="" target="_blank">questions</a> about the editing of the tapes. And on Wednesday night, O'Keefe released another hidden-camera video showing one of these Democratic activists talking about the <a href="" target="_blank">Mitt Romney 47 percent story</a> I broke in 2012. The supposed scoop: The video of Romney dismissing half the nation as irresponsible freeloaders was somehow the result of covert Democratic machinations. The truth: It wasn't.</p> <p>This O'Keefe video featured Scott Foval, who was the national field director of Americans United For Change, a progressive organization, until an earlier O'Keefe video led to his firing. Talking about bird-dogging&mdash;a common practice in which political groups send people to campaign events for candidates they oppose to ask questions or protest&mdash;Foval noted that Democratic bird-doggers "negotiated to get that lawyer in in Florida who recorded the 47 percent." "Wait," the covert O'Keefe comrade said, "I thought that was a bartender." And <a href="" target="_blank">as the world knows now</a>, it was a bartender named Scott Prouty who had recorded that Romney fundraiser in Boca Raton and eventually shared the video with <em>Mother Jones</em> after I <a href="" target="_blank">tracked him down</a>.</p> <p>No, Foval said, "the lawyer took his phone and had the bartender walk around with it and set it up." He went on: "It was a whole coordinated operation to get the phone in because they had taken away all the cellphones from all the staff."</p> <p>Foval had it wrong. Prouty tells me this account is "nonsense" and "fiction." (After keeping his identity a secret for months after the 47 percent video came out, Prouty told his story <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>.) No lawyer or network of Democratic schemers were involved in sneaking in a recording device to the $50,000-a-plate fundraiser at hedge fund manager Marc Leder's house to obtain the footage. The video was not shot with a cellphone. Prouty, who was working for the caterer, used a camera he had brought to the event. He was flying solo and not part of any Democratic conspiracy to capture Romney saying what he actually said.</p> <p>Yet O'Keefe and other conservatives now claim they have the <em>real </em>story behind the story. What happened? I reached Foval, who I didn't know before, and spoke to him today. He had left his Wisconsin home after receiving numerous death threats. Referring to this latest video, he said, "What I said wasn't accurate." He explained that he had conflated two events. He noted that he had once heard a secondhand story from a donor about how some Democratic activists had infiltrated a campaign event by having a lawyer with an invitation bring in a cellphone&mdash;and he had mixed this up with the 47 percent episode. "I was being too confident" in talking about it, he said, remarking that he had been trying to impress the O'Keefe operatives. At the time of the 47 percent fundraiser, Foval noted, he was working for People For the American Way and would have had nothing to do with infiltrating a Romney fundraiser. (And there's this: Prouty first made the video somewhat public by anonymously placing a few snippets from it on various websites, months before I found him and persuaded him to share the full hour-plus footage with me&mdash;which is not how a political operation would have put the video into play.)</p> <p>Foval had said what he said. But did O'Keefe do anything to corroborate this assertion? I called him and asked. No, he said. In fact, O'Keefe insisted, he had no obligation to seek confirmation of Foval's statements. "I'm reporting what he said," O'Keefe told me. He added, Foval "sounded pretty sure of himself at the time." I asked if a reporter could accept something as true merely because someone had said it. "We did not lead him on," O'Keefe replied. He continued: "We just report what we hear and what we see." Of Foval, he said, "Of course, he's going to deny it."</p> <p>We then entered into a frustrating discussion about journalistic standards. Should reporters make public any assertion a person makes? I asked. O'Keefe pointed to the 47 percent video and the recent <em>Access Hollywood</em> tape that showed Donald Trump bragging about committing sexual assault. Where those videos corroborated? he asked. I explained there was a significant difference between a video capturing a public official talking about their own beliefs and actions and a video in which a person not directly connected to an event claims to have knowledge about it. O'Keefe kept insisting there was no difference. "He made a statement that was interesting," O'Keefe said. "I put it out to the world." His bottom line: "The video speaks for itself."</p> <p>I asked O'Keefe if he would release the raw footage he used for this video and the others he recently issued. His targets, claiming they are victims of biased editing, have <a href="" target="_blank">called on him</a> to do so. No, he said.</p> <p>O'Keefe's supposed expos&eacute;, which Bill O'Reilly promoted on Fox News, rests on a mistaken, jumbled, brief anecdote told by a fellow with no direct link to the 47 percent video&mdash;who admits he got it wrong. And there was no effort to substantiate this account. "A lot of reporting is what people say," O'Keefe told me. Not in this case.</p></body></html> Politics 2016 Elections Media Thu, 27 Oct 2016 20:49:16 +0000 David Corn 317637 at Lawyer Accuses Justice Clarence Thomas of Groping Her in 1999 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>On October 7, the <em>Washington Post</em> published a leaked <em><a href="" target="_blank">Access Hollywood</a></em> tape of Donald Trump boasting of groping and kissing women without their consent. As the fallout from the tapes began, Moira Smith, a 41-year-old attorney, took to Facebook to recount her own allegation of being groped by a powerful man&mdash;Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who was accused of sexual harassment by Anita Hill during his Supreme Court confirmation process in 1991.</p> <p>According to the <a href=";curindex=0&amp;curpage=ALL" target="_blank"><em>National Law Journal</em></a>, Smith posted the following on her Facebook page the night the Trump tape came out:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Screen%20Shot%202016-10-27%20at%202.55.33%20PM.png" style="height: 349px; width: 350px;"><div class="caption">National Law Journal/Facebook</div> </div> <p>Smith has deactivated her Facebook account since publishing this post. She recounted additional details of her alleged interaction with Justice Thomas to the <a href="" target="_blank"><em>National Law Journal</em></a>.</p> <p>A 1997 Truman Scholar&nbsp;studying at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, Smith stayed in Washington, DC, to work for the Truman Foundation as a resident scholar through August 1999, helping to coordinate various foundation projects. In that capacity, she helped her boss, Louis Blair, host a dinner party at his home in suburban Virginia, which was attended by Justice Thomas, according to Smith and several others who were there. The justice was set to present David Adkins, then a Kansas lawmaker, with an award the following day at the Supreme Court. While she helped to prepare appetizers and set the table, Smith says she approached the table where Justice Thomas was sitting.</p> <p>"I was setting the place to his right when he reached out, sort of cupped his hand around my butt and pulled me pretty close to him," Smith told the <em>National Law Journal</em>. "He said, 'Where are you sitting?' and gave me a squeeze. I said, 'I'm sitting down at the garden table.' He said, 'I think you should sit next to me,' giving me squeezes. I said, 'Well, Mr. Blair is pretty particular about his seating chart.' I tried to use the seating chart as a pretext for refusing. He one more time squeezed my butt and he said, 'Are you sure?' I said yes, and that was the end of it."</p> <p>Three former roommates of Smith's, as well as a former colleague from the Truman Scholar program, told the<em> National Law Journal</em> that they remembered Smith recounting this event to them shortly after it happened. Blair as well as Adkins said they had no memory of Smith telling them about the incident. The <em>National Law Journal </em>contacted Justice Thomas, who replied, through a Supreme Court spokeswoman, "This claim is preposterous and it never happened." When contacted by <em>Mother Jones</em>, Justice Thomas' office declined to offer further comment and referred to the <em>Journal</em>'s story.</p> <p>When contacted by <em>Mother Jones</em> to ask if the flurry of allegations against Trump affected her decision to come forward with her claim, Smith replied in an email, through a spokeswoman: "As the mother of a young daughter and son, I am coming forward to show that it is important to stand up for yourself and tell the truth. When powerful men commit sexual assault, they count on their victims keeping it a secret. When Justice Thomas touched me inappropriately and without my consent, I was 23 years old&mdash;and felt there was nothing I could do. Seventeen years later, it is clear that sexual harassment, misconduct and assault continue to be pervasive, having an impact on all women."</p></body></html> Politics 2016 Elections Supreme Court Thu, 27 Oct 2016 19:58:03 +0000 Hannah Levintova 317632 at Powerful Photos from the Dakota Access Pipeline Protest as Cops Prepare to Make Arrests <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Police in North Dakota Thursday are moving in on hundreds of demonstrators, including members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, who are challenging the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Protestors say the project threatens the <a href="" target="_blank">area's water supply</a> and destroys sacred Native American sites.</p> <p>Our reporter Wes Enzinna is live on the scene:</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en">&mdash; wes enzinna (@wesenzinna) <a href="">October 27, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="fr">A barricade on route 1806 <a href="">#NODAPL</a> <a href="">#DAPL</a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; wes enzinna (@wesenzinna) <a href="">October 27, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="und"><a href="">#DAPL</a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; wes enzinna (@wesenzinna) <a href="">October 27, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">"Go to the main camp, you will not be arrested if you go south to the main camp" --cop at barricade on 1806 <a href="">#DAPL</a> <a href="">#NoDAPL</a></p> &mdash; wes enzinna (@wesenzinna) <a href="">October 27, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">"We do what we want here, you have no authority here...shut the fuck up white man!" Youth on barricade to cop <a href="">#NODAPL</a> <a href="">#DAPL</a></p> &mdash; wes enzinna (@wesenzinna) <a href="">October 27, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en"><a href="">#DAPL</a> cop cars on hill above camp <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; wes enzinna (@wesenzinna) <a href="">October 27, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Police encroaching northern edge of 1806 right now <a href="">#standing</a> rock <a href="">#DAPL</a> <a href="">#NoDAPL</a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; wes enzinna (@wesenzinna) <a href="">October 27, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">"It's a state highway, we are going to clear this highway today" -cop <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; wes enzinna (@wesenzinna) <a href="">October 27, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="und"><a href="">#DAPL</a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; wes enzinna (@wesenzinna) <a href="">October 27, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Part of the police presence on 1806 right now. "If you do not walk south you will be arrested." #<a href="">#DAPL</a> <a href="">#NoDAPL</a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; wes enzinna (@wesenzinna) <a href="">October 27, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Police said they will defend themselves against horses if necessary <a href="">#DAPL</a> <a href="">#NoDAPL</a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; wes enzinna (@wesenzinna) <a href="">October 27, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">About to rush the camp <a href="">#DAPL</a> <a href="">#NoDAPL</a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; wes enzinna (@wesenzinna) <a href="">October 27, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">This is what cops are walking toward on 1806 <a href="">#NoDAPL</a> <a href="">#DAPL</a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; wes enzinna (@wesenzinna) <a href="">October 27, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">"Hands up, don't shoot," crowd chants. <a href="">#DAPL</a> <a href="">#NoDAPL</a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; wes enzinna (@wesenzinna) <a href="">October 27, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>&nbsp;</p> </center></body></html> Politics Climate Change Thu, 27 Oct 2016 18:17:16 +0000 Inae Oh 317627 at Meet America's Most Prolific Patent Troll <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Here's a weird&mdash;and yet totally unsurprising&mdash;story. <a href="" target="_blank">It starts like this:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Martin Kelly Jones, a co-owner of Shipping &amp; Transit, said the tracking of e-commerce packages relates to an idea he came up with in the 1980s to notify families of arriving school buses....Mr. Jones, who lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, said he came up with the idea for a &ldquo;vehicle notification system&rdquo; in 1985 in Atlanta, after seeing a young girl waiting for a school bus on a rainy morning. He later formed a company to develop <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_patent_troll_1.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">technology, involving hardware for buses, that could notify people their bus was arriving.</p> </blockquote> <p>Apparently this idea went nowhere. But that doesn't mean it was a waste of time. Not at all. Jones then started up a company called ArrivalStar, later renamed Shipping &amp; Transit:</p> <blockquote> <p>Claiming patents &ldquo;for providing status messages for cargo, shipments and people,&rdquo; the company or a predecessor have sued dozens of major retailers as well as delivery giants FedEx Corp. and United Parcel Service Inc., according to court records. The companies have extracted millions of dollars in payments, said people familiar with the legal actions.</p> <p>....Anthony Dowell, a patent attorney who used to represent ArrivalStar, said he helped it win more than $15 million in license fees between 2009 and 2013 from over 200 parties, including municipalities and providers of shipping services. He said the patents he focused on expired in 2013.</p> </blockquote> <p>The success of this business is unclear. UPS decided to buy a license, and apparently FedEx did too. The Postal Service didn't. Local transportation agencies maybe did and maybe didn't. It's unclear. In any case, S&amp;T is currently focusing all its attention on tiny little companies that don't have the means to fight back:</p> <blockquote> <p>Spokesmen for UPS and the Postal Service said their agreements with ArrivalStar, Shipping &amp; Transit&rsquo;s predecessor, should cover their customers&rsquo; use of technology....[Jones] said using FedEx&rsquo;s or UPS&rsquo;s notification system would cover a shipper, <strong>but it might still need to buy a license if it provided any additional information, such as telling buyers an order has been filled.</strong></p> <p>&ldquo;The second you are using technology beyond what a licensee has, you need a license from us,&rdquo; he said.</p> </blockquote> <p>So if you send notifications telling customers that their orders have been filled, S&amp;T will sue you for $25,000. Why? Because they claim to have patented this idea <em>if it's done via some kind of computer network</em>. In all this time, however, the patent has never been tested in court. It's never been worth anyone's time.</p> <p>This. Is. Ridiculous. If you call your customer on the phone, it's fine. If you send them an email, you'll get sued. It's hard to conceive of anything stupider.</p> <p>Get rid of software patents. All of them. Right now.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 27 Oct 2016 17:06:32 +0000 Kevin Drum 317622 at Please, Hillary, Stay Out of Syria <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I basically have one foreign policy present that I'd like for Christmas:</p> <ul><li>Stay out of Syria. No troops. No "advisors." No weapons shipments to "friendly" rebels. No no-fly zones. Nothing. If Putin wants to waste his time there, let him.</li> </ul><p>Syria is a tragedy. If I could wave a magic wand and stop the killing and the refugees and everything else, I'd do it. But there's no magic wand, and there's nothing within reason that the United States can do to influence the outcome of the war. So just stay out. Period. That means you, Hillary.</p> <p>That said, we obviously have an interest in eliminating ISIS, and once they've been driven out of Iraq they'll have to be driven out of Syria too. I don't know what that will involve. Maybe drone attacks, maybe some super-secret special ops missions that everyone knows about. That's fine. But stay out of the civil war. Nothing but catastrophe will come to anyone who insists on getting involved.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 27 Oct 2016 15:26:18 +0000 Kevin Drum 317602 at The Trump Campaign Is Not Engaged in Voter Suppression <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>My Twitter feed is alive with the news that a "senior official" in the Trump campaign has admitted that they are engaged in voter suppression. <a href="" target="_blank">Let's go to the tape:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Instead of expanding the electorate, Bannon and his team are trying to shrink it. &ldquo;We have three major voter suppression operations under way,&rdquo; says a senior official. They&rsquo;re aimed at three groups Clinton needs <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_trump_plan_b.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">to win overwhelmingly: idealistic white liberals, young women, and African Americans. Trump&rsquo;s invocation at the debate of Clinton&rsquo;s WikiLeaks e-mails and support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership was designed to turn off Sanders supporters. The parade of women who say they were sexually assaulted by Bill Clinton and harassed or threatened by Hillary is meant to undermine her appeal to young women. And her 1996 suggestion that some African American males are &ldquo;super predators&rdquo; is the basis of a below-the-radar effort to discourage infrequent black voters from showing up at the polls&mdash;particularly in Florida.</p> </blockquote> <p>Ahem. For those of you new to American elections, allow me to blogsplain. This is called "negative campaigning." It is designed to make ones opponent look bad, and it has been a feature of every US election since&mdash;well, roughly forever. The fact that a "senior official" calls this voter suppression doesn't mean that it is. It just means that the Trump folks are amateurs who are laughably ignorant about what a "major" operation of any kind actually looks like in a modern presidential campaign.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 27 Oct 2016 15:10:05 +0000 Kevin Drum 317597 at