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March 6, 2014

In a serious embarrassment to the British government's vision of imposing Chinese-style internet filtering "to protect the children", a government aide who helped draw up plans for the filter has been arrested on suspicion of possessing child pornography. TechDirt has the dirt:

The UK government has spent years trying to impose its version of morality upon the Internet, demanding that ISPs impose mandatory opt-out porn filters, even if those filters have since been easily bypassed and often block entirely legitimate websites. Worse, the UK government has seemed intent on throwing itself face-first down the slippery slope of censorship, with plans to expand these filters to block arbitrarily-defined "extremist" content. Prime Minister David Cameron has repeatedly and loudly proclaimed to anyone who'll listen his sole mission is to "protect the children" from the beasts that dwell in the "darkest corners of the Internet." In the process he's blamed nearly everyone, including Google and Yahoo, for not doing enough to thwart child porn.

Apparently, people who live in glass houses should not throw thermonuclear warheads (I think that's how that saying goes). [TechDirt]

This would seem to be a classic case of the fox trying to get control of the hen house, and perhaps the UK government will move away from internet filtering and toward a more sensible and effective approach to protecting children from inappropriate material, like parental responsibility. John Aziz

10:21 a.m. ET

Writer Peter Manso was working on a story about Roy Cohn for Playboy in 1981 when the attorney invited him to a dinner party he was hosting. The guests included Estee and Joe Lauder, the Baron and Baroness Ricardo "Ricky" di Portanova of the Cullen oil fortune, and, of course, Donald Trump and his first wife, Ivana.

Writing for Politico Magazine, Manso recalled how he was seated beside the real estate mogul at dinner only to be given a Trump Tower sales pitch complete with forceful encouragement to buy a luxury apartment he couldn't possible afford:

I grinned. Years before I'd learned that the proper response to rich people who don't, or won't, appreciate that your situation isn't the same as theirs is to explode the fiction right off since there's always the possibility that what they're doing stems not from ignorance so much as they're trying to make you feel small and uncomfortable. It's a form of bullying.

It's also crass. Here Trump was at his pal lawyer's dinner table in this lovely house, sitting with at least two other couples who could have bought and sold him several times over yet he's desperately vying for top-dog status, flexing muscle by trying to sell a freelance writer real estate. It was the same smarmy narcissism that you find in used car salesmen and which, plainly, these past 35 years has fueled Trump's biz dealings, his TV forays, his penchant for compliant blonds and, now, his quest for the presidency. [Politico]

Much later, Manso met Trump again — only this time, he did more than uncomfortably grin when Trump decided to show off his wealth. Read the whole story at Politico. Jeva Lange

9:48 a.m. ET
Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

Drug test results stemming from the London 2012 Olympic Games may end up pushing as many as 23 athletes out of the upcoming Games in Rio, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced Friday. After retesting 265 doping samples from London using more advanced methods than were available at the time, the IOC says it has found athletes from five different sports and six different countries to possibly be guilty of doping.

The latest results come on the heels of last week's announcement that, after retesting 454 doping samples from the 2008 Games in Beijing, 31 athletes had tested positive. The IOC says there may be more results in coming weeks, too, as retests continue. "We want to keep the dopers away from the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro," IOC president Thomas Bach said. "This is why we are acting swiftly now." Becca Stanek

9:43 a.m. ET
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

A Wisconsin Christian school that receives federal funding is demanding to see all applicants' birth certificates to make sure none are transgender, reports Talking Point Memo. St. John's Lutheran officials admit they can't legally discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, but say they're letting students with a "sinful lifestyle" know "where we're coming from," to avoid having "to weed them out" after they're enrolled.

The school is now under federal investigation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the free lunch program St. John's Lutheran School participates in. The Week Staff

9:15 a.m. ET
Marc Piscotty/Getty Images

Maybe Bernie Sanders fans aren't so sick of hearing about Hillary Clinton's "damn emails" after all. As it appears more and more likely that Clinton will be the Democratic nominee for president, some Sanders supporters see an opportunity for their candidate to get ahead if only the F.B.I. would act, and quick.

"[Clinton] should be removed," Julie Cowell of Tustin, California, told The New York Times. "I don't know why she's not already been told, 'You can't run because you're being investigated.' I don't know how that's not a thing."

Sanders superfans are calling Clinton's use of a private email server while serving as secretary of state an unforgivable transgression that should disqualify her from running for president — an opinion also held by many of her opponents on the right. In fact, some polls have even indicated that as many as a third of Sanders supporters would ultimately pick Donald Trump if it came down to him and Clinton.

"I'm hoping that the F.B.I. sends a strong message to people like [Clinton], as well as other people in politics who are using their position of power to manipulate the system for their own personal advancement. She feels like she can do whatever she wants with absolute impunity, and that she somehow is above any type of repercussions," Jennifer Peters, 28, of Costa Mesa, California, said.

Earlier this week, an internal audit by the State Department sharply criticized Clinton for failing to request permission to use her personal server, permission that the Office of the Inspector General said "would not" have been approved due to "the security risks in doing so." Jeva Lange

8:54 a.m. ET
PEDRO UGARTE/AFP/Getty Images

As Kim Jong Un's aunt, Ko, tells it, the North Korean leader had a pretty "normal" childhood. The 60-year-old woman, who now lives in New York City, told The Washington Post that during her years living in Switzerland with her sister, Kim Jong Un's mother, she recalls their kids snacking on cake, playing with Legos, and shooting hoops. "He started playing basketball, and he became obsessed with it," Ko said of Kim Jong Un. "He used to sleep ... with his basketball."

But for all the normal childhood memories Ko has of Kim Jong Un, she also remembers spotting some inklings of the leader her nephew would someday become. "He wasn't a troublemaker but he was short-tempered and had a lack of tolerance," she said. "When his mother tried to tell him off for playing with these things too much and not studying enough, he wouldn't talk back but he would protest in other ways, like going on a hunger strike."

Read the full story on Kim Jong Un's childhood — and why his aunt decided to move to America — over at The Washington Post. Becca Stanek

8:24 a.m. ET

Often the moments that change the course of human history aren't understood until the consequences of such actions are already realized. That wasn't so with the atomic bomb — President Harry Truman knew the invention was going to change the world forever when he authorized the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II.

Truman recalled the moment he told Soviet Union leader Joseph Stalin about the plan to drop the bomb — a memory he scrawled on the back of a photograph rediscovered by presidential historian Michael Beschloss:

In which I tell Stalin we expect to drop the most powerful explosive ever made on the Japanese. He smiled and said he appreciated my telling him — but he did not know what I was talking about — the atomic bomb!

Around 140,000 people were killed or died within months of the August 6, 1945 attack. Three days later, 80,000 people were killed when a second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. On Friday, President Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit the site of the Hiroshima bombing since Truman's decision. Jeva Lange

7:56 a.m. ET
FREDERIC J BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

Facebook and Microsoft are taking their quest for faster internet to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. The two tech giants have announced that they're planning to start construction on a giant underwater fiber optic cable in August that will span from Virginia Beach to Balboa, Spain — a distance of more than 4,000 miles. The cable is set to be "the highest capacity link across the Atlantic," The Wall Street Journal reports.

In a joint statement Thursday, Microsoft and Facebook said the cable will make bandwidth rates faster and increase reliability of cloud services like Skype, Xbox Live, photo sharing, and live video broadcasting. The cable will handle up to 160 terabytes per second. That's roughly 8.5 million times the average home internet speed in the UK, The Independent reports.

Construction is set to be completed by October 2017. Becca Stanek

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