This is what happens when (the sallow shell) of one Evil Empire teams up with attorneys working for another (ain't what it used to be) Evil Empire. Microsoft, unwittingly or not, is helping Russian authorities crack down on dissident and protesters, really any non-state puppet group. The trick works like this: Russian authorities accuse people they don't like of using pirated software and seize their files; meanwhile, Microsoft signs legal forms calling itself a victim and urges prosecution. Here's Microsoft's official response. Some of the claims have been false, but who cares: In Russia, Moscow pirates you!

It could be you, someday. From 2007 to 2009, according to the federal government, the number of families in homeless shelters has risen to 170,000 from 131,000. That surge, driven by long-term unemployment and government cuts to benefits, is changing the face of homelessness. It's also bedeviling local officials working through plans to ease chronic homelessness in cities.

Tea Party populism, meet cold, hard reality. The Republican who could be speaker of the House of Representatives next year comes with a kitchen cabinet of big-industry lobbyists. John Boehner is so cozy with lobbyists, in fact, that he once was caught on the House floor handing out checks from tobacco lobbyists to his GOP mates. Why does all this matter? Food regulation, consumer safety, price fixing, tax policy, etc.

Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin made out furiously spoke at a rally in Anchorage, Alaska, to mark the Sept. 11 anniversary. Protesters gathered outside, calling the two a pair of inflammatory demagogues. Or maybe they couldn't afford to get a seat with the plain, hard-workin' folks inside. Tickets started at $73.75 but went for as much as $225.

Meanwhile, insane and belligerent rhetoric involving an idiotic "clash of civilizations" leads to more senseless death and violence.

This article about the trapped Chilean miners opens with a pun about getting a light—"in more ways than one!" It's kind of apt. Electricity and cigarettes, two essentials when you're stuck underground for a few months, have been sent down. Prison-style, the smokers will have to split up the two packs a day. Previously, they were subsisting on gum and patches.

The release of the American hiker held in Iran, on and then off, is back on again. As soon as $500,000 in bail money is deposited. The two men she was hiking with when they were arrested in July 2009—possibly still on Iraqi soil, according to new reporting—will remain in custody on espionage charges.

A newborn baby found inside a garbage bag
unloaded from an airplane arriving in Manila is healthy and will live.

Some of the hundreds of residents displaced by this week's tragic gas-line blast south of San Francisco, where the death toll could be as high as seven, will be allowed to visit their homes. The utility company whose gas line exploded, Pacific Gas & Electric, is coming under scrutiny for its troubling safety and inspection record.

Suicides, the literal warehousing of men, grueling work conditions. These are the hidden ingredients in our iPhones, CrackBerries, and laptop computers. The man behind the manufacture of these devices, Terry Gou of China's million-worker strong Foxconn, is finally introduced to the world. He "opens up" about how his company has tried to ease the horrors it visits upon its young, male, and poorly paid work force.

The good news is Apple nerds are pissed off. The bad news is this is the stupid shit they're pissed off about: