NRA boss asked for luxury mansion as “protection” after Florida shooting


It takes lots of money to make me feel safeJose Luis Magana/AP

❝ The chief executive of the National Rifle Association asked the nonprofit organisation buy him a luxury mansion last year after a mass shooting at a Florida high school, according to multiple people familiar with the discussions…Wayne LaPierre told associates he was worried about being targeted and needed a more secure place to live after 17 people were gunned down last year in Parkland, Florida, sources said.

❝ Mr LaPierre and his wife, Susan, rejected an upscale high rise in Dallas with numerous security features in favour of a 10,000-square-foot French country-style estate with lakefront and golf course views in Westlake, Texas, on the market for about $6m, according to emails and text messages.

Obviously, it costs a great deal to make a miserable low-life creature like Wayne LaPierre feel “safe”.

Anti-Vaxxers defeated in New York

❝ Anti-vaccine advocates received a blow in New York Thursday as state lawmakers banned non-medical exemptions based on religious beliefs — and there may be more blows coming.

❝ Also on Thursday, the American Medical Association adopted a new policy to step up its fight against such non-medical exemptions. The AMA, the country’s largest physicians’ group and one of the largest spenders on lobbying, has always strongly support pediatric vaccination and opposed non-medical exemptions. But under the new policy changes, the association will now “actively advocate” for states to eliminate any laws that allow for non-medical exemptions.

Overdue. I don’t expect this to change folks who trust preachers over scientists; but, we all stand a better change of keeping children safer from preventable disease.

Record Number of Countries Sign Up to Protect Sharks and Rays


Shutterstock

❝ Momentum for international protections for sharks and rays continues to grow, with a record 67 governments co-sponsoring one or more listing proposals in the lead-up to this year’s Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora Conference of the Parties…Species listed under Appendix II can be traded internationally but only if the trade does not cause detriment to them in the wild.

24 December 2018 was the deadline for co-sponsorship of the Appendix II proposals, which would require all continuing trade of these species to be sustainable. The co-sponsors span the globe and include Sri Lanka, western and northern African governments, Dominican Republic, Palau—the first country to declare all of its national waters a shark sanctuary — and the 28 member states of the European Union.

Previous CITES listings have made significant advances in protection for endangered marine species. This is the first major attempt in this manner to protect species like sharks killed by the thousands just for their fins to make soup.

Good News for Sharks


Click to enlarge

❝ The waters surrounding the South Pacific island nation of Samoa are prime habitat for nearly 30 species of sharks and rays, and today the government took a critical step toward protecting them. At a forum to celebrate the region’s history of strong shark conservation, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi announced that the country is designating all of its national waters a shark sanctuary—the 17th such sanctuary in the world.

The regulations ban commercial fishing and the possession, trade, and sale of sharks and shark products throughout Samoa’s 128,000-square-kilometer exclusive economic zone, and prohibits the use of fishing gear typically used to target sharks, such as wire leaders. Sharks are important to Pacific heritage and healthy marine ecosystems. Yet, at least 63 million and as many as 273 million sharks are killed every year in commercial fisheries globally.

Overdue. And all credit to the nations who have made this decision. Healthy natural environments most often include predators as part of a wholistic balance. Why – in my case – I have long opposed any hunting of predators.

Black Cop doing his job, protecting KKK scum, speaks out

The officer stands calmly as a group of white supremacists act out behind him. One man’s outstretched right arm signals a Nazi salute. Another wears a red hood. A third rests a Confederate flag on his shoulder.

❝ The provocative scene that Saturday afternoon in Charlottesville, captured with an iPhone, was shared with a modest public following but would attract a wide audience. “Confederate flags, Nazi salutes, and Klansmen having their rights protected by a black police officer,” reads a tweet posted on Aug. 12 by Ubadah Sabbagh, a Ph.D. student at Virginia Tech. “This picture hurts.” James P. O’Neill, commissioner of the New York City Police Department, shared the image and commended law enforcement in Charlottesville “for handling today’s events with true professionalism. Much respect.” Tim Hogan, a former member of the Hillary for America communications team, tweeted it, too: “A picture worth a thousand words.” A writer, Yashar Ali, suggested the image be nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. “A black police officer protecting a group of men who wish him harm,” he wrote in a tweet. “Incredible.”

He prefaced that remark with a question common during breaking news: “Who took this photo?”…

❝ The image spread further after a speeding car smashed into counterdemonstrators—sending bodies flying, killing one woman and injuring 19 others…As the retweets entered into the tens of thousands…A reverse image search on Google pointed…that the image was not from Aug. 12. Among the comments was a link…“This picture was taken at the KKK rally July 8th in Charlottesville, Virginia.”…

A school resource officer at Charlottesville High School, Darius Nash, confirmed to TIME on Aug. 14 that it was he in the photograph…

❝ “I don’t feel like I’m a hero for it,” Nash wrote…”I swore to protect my city and that’s what I was there to do. I don’t think it makes me a hero, just doing what I believe in.”…

Nice job of journalistic research. Even better job by the Black cop standing up for Constitutional principles – protecting the scum of the Earth from retribution outside the law. Doing his job.

Congressional-Creeps are so corrupt they believe everyone must be as crooked as they are


$50 worth of Post-Its and worth every penny!

❝ The Judiciary Committee of the United States House of Representatives is considering a major reform of the American With Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 — a federal law which prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in the public sphere (at work, in schools, riding public transit, and in all spaces open to the general public, including privately-owned businesses). For example, under the ADA, businesses open to the public, such as restaurants or pharmacies, need to be wheelchair accessible.

❝ The ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 (HR 620) seems like a rather innocuous bill at first glance — it compels the Department of Justice to formulate a program that educates state and local officials and business owners on “strategies for promoting access to public accommodations for persons with a disability.” A prime example of fatty, ostensibly meaningless Washington wonk-speak. But it goes further — the bill, if passed, would prohibit civil suits arising out of a failure to provide adequate access to public accommodations for the disabled unless the plaintiff provides offending property owners with a written notice…blah, blah, blah…Owners would then have 60 days to respond with a written plan for improvement, and an additional 120 days to correct the deficiency, or at least demonstrate sufficient progress towards a correction…

❝ Sponsored by Texas representative Ted Poe, a Republican, along with two Republican and three Democratic colleagues all from Texas and California, HR 620 aims to “curb frivolous lawsuits filed by cash-hungry attorneys and plaintiffs that abuse the ADA,”…

With a so-called president who likes to imitate disabled Americans, this may be the right time for “America’s leading criminal class” [thank you Sam Clemens] to take back some of the parking places they feel should be theirs for class loyalty or whatever.

Microsoft wins milestone appeal over US wanting to snoop offshore email

A federal appeals court…said the U.S. government cannot force Microsoft Corp and other companies to turn over customer emails stored on servers outside the United States.

The 3-0 decision by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan is a defeat for the U.S. Department of Justice and a victory for privacy advocates and for technology companies offering cloud computing and other services around the world.

Circuit Judge Susan Carney said communications held by U.S. service providers on servers outside the United States are beyond the reach of domestic search warrants issued under the Stored Communications Act, a 1986 federal law.

“Congress did not intend the SCA’s warrant provisions to apply extraterritorially,” she wrote. “The focus of those provisions is protection of a user’s privacy interests.”

The case has attracted strong interest from the technology and media sectors, amid concern that giving prosecutors expansive power to collect data outside the country could make it harder for U.S. companies to compete there.

Dozens of companies, organizations and individuals filed briefs supporting Microsoft’s appeal, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Amazon.com, Apple, Cisco Systems, CNN, Fox News Network, Gannett and Verizon…

Judge Carney said limiting the reach of warrants serves “the interest of comity” that normally governs cross-border criminal investigations.

She said that comity is also reflected in treaties between the United States and all European Union countries, including Ireland, to assist each other in such probes.

It’s like the stupidity that passes for legal reason over most “religious freedoms”. You decide what you want for an outcome and then search till you can find articles or junk research to suit your convictions. Regardless of logic or science. This is what political lawyers do in so many cases involving privacy and free speech.

Constitutional protections be damned. If they can find some out-of-date regulation that can be torturously interpreted to validate the result they want – Bingo, make it so!

Who owns your fingerprints?

These days, many of us regularly feed pieces of ourselves into machines for convenience and security. Our fingerprints unlock our smartphones, and companies are experimenting with more novel biometric markers — voice, heartbeat, grip — as ID for banking and other transactions. But there are almost no laws in place to control how companies use such information. Nor is it clear what rights people have to protect scans of their retinas or the contours of their face from cataloging by the private sector.

There’s one place where people seeking privacy protections can turn: the courts. A series of plaintiffs are suing tech giants, including Facebook and Google, under a little-used Illinois law. The Biometric Information Privacy Act, passed in 2008, is one of the only statutes in the U.S. that sets limits on the ways companies can handle data such as fingerprints, voiceprints, and retinal scans. At least four of the suits filed under BIPA are moving forward. “These cases are important to scope out the existing law, perhaps point out places where the law could be improved, and set principles that other states might follow,” says Jeffrey Neuburger, a partner at law firm Proskauer Rose.

The bankruptcy of fingerprint-scanning company Pay By Touch spurred BIPA’s passage. Hundreds of Illinois grocery stores and gas stations used its technology, allowing customers to pay with the tap of a finger. As the bankrupt company proposed selling its database, the Illinois chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union drafted what became BIPA…

Under the Illinois law, companies must obtain written consent from customers before collecting their biometric data. They also must declare a point at which they’ll destroy the data, and they must not sell it. BIPA allows for damages of $5,000 per violation. “Social Security numbers, when compromised, can be changed,” the law reads.Biometrics, however, are biologically unique to the individual; therefore, once compromised, the individual has no recourse, [and] is at heightened risk for identity theft.”

National efforts to establish biometric guidelines haven’t gone well. In 2014 a Department of Commerce agency led an effort to develop a code of conduct for companies using facial-recognition technology, but consumer advocates withdrew from the group the following year, saying tech companies refused to consider the most modest of privacy protections…

..In May the Department of Justice proposed exempting the FBI’s facial-recognition program, called Next Generation Identification, from privacy protections. In June the Government Accountability Office reported that the FBI program failed tests of accuracy and privacy. So far the report hasn’t led to any action…

As it stands, one law in one state is all the protection Americans have against abuse or misuse of biometric data. I suggest you contact your elected officials, state and federal, nudge them off their rusty dusty.

Some parts of the world have a stronger tradition of protecting privacy than we do. Experience living under a truly fascist government can have that effect, eh? Given the long trend of attempts at a police state in the US – often under the banner of “protecting” individual liberty – I hope you don’t wait around until the question doesn’t stand a chance.

Progressive issues have an opportunity to influence the coming national election – this year. Don’t miss the opportunity.

AQUAFINA bottled water is tap water


Same as it ever was

The label on Aquafina water bottles will soon be changed to spell out that the drink comes from the same source as tap water, the brand’s owner PepsiCo said…

A group called Corporate Accountability International has been pressuring bottled water sellers to curb what it calls misleading marketing practices.

Aquafina is the single biggest bottled water brand, and its bottles are now labeled “P.W.S.” The new labels will spell out “public water source.”

See – there was nothing deceptive there. Doesn’t everybody know that “P.W.S.” stands for “public water source”?

Superb example of selling crap products, lying about the crap products, making profits out the wazoo — and absolutely no sanctions applied by any government body other than clarifying one of the lies.

Thanks, Ursarodinia