The Null Device


An Iranian web programmer resident in Canada, who returned to Iran to visit family, has been sentenced to death after allegedly confessing to having worked on pornographic web sites in Canada. Saeed Malekpour's family are saying that the charges are false and that the confession was extracted under torture.

Why is the Iranian government allegedly torturing an innocent man with a view to executing him for a crime he did not commit? Well, one theory goes that it's to act as a deterrent to revived anti-government protests, with him being merely the unlucky soul who best fit the needs of doing so. The successful toppling of the Mubarak regime in Egypt, and, before that, Tunisia's authoritarian regime, by public protests has emboldened local resistance movements, and made other dictatorships nervous. (And it's not just in the Middle East; during the Egyptian protests, China configured its national firewall to censor all news or commentary mentioning Egypt, just in case it set off another Tienanmen.)

Human rights groups have expressed alarm over a sharp increase in the use of capital punishment in Iran. According to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI), 121 people have been hanged between 20 December 2010 and 31 January this year. An ICHRI report published in mid-January said that Iran has hanged an average of one person every eight hours since the beginning of the new year.

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Apple's interim CEO Tim Cook, who took over the reins when Steve Jobs went on medical leave, is under fire after unveiling the latest MacBook, a machine made of living flesh some have described as "grotesque":

"Oh, my sweet God," Apple employee Kurt Starfeldt said after viewing the MacBook up close. "It appeared to be discharging some sort of mucus-type substance from the headphone jack and making these weird murmuring sounds. And then it started quivering at one point when Tim was demonstrating how to use the touch pad. It was quite upsetting, actually."
"There's all this gelatinous webbing that you have to stick your hand in just to turn it on, and then once you do, it starts, like, yelling for 30 seconds or so," said Shane Brick, a 38-year-old beta tester in San Francisco, adding that he "actually felt kind of bad for it." "The maintenance is ridiculous, too: Once a month it sheds all of its skin, and you need to shave the USB ports every couple days."
"I watched Steve Jobs build the Apple brand from the ground up, and I know that the name of the game here is cutting-edge," Cook said. "Honestly, I felt like the next logical step would be a laptop that feels like an extension of your body. The design may not be perfect, but I'm hoping over time maybe people will learn to love it, just as it will learn to love them."

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