Issue XCVI

21 OCT 2016

National

01/12/2015

Obama Wants Stricter Data Privacy Laws (That Still Aren't So Strict)

Natl1

President Obama will announce two new pieces of legislation on Monday that are designed to protect consumers from the massive data breaches and students from greedy companies that want their data. Good idea! However, some think Obama's plan doesn't sound like it provides quite enough protection. But it's still a good idea!

The so-called Personal Data Notification and Protection Act is aimed at mitigating some of the impact of breaches like the Sony hack or the Target bonanza. It would establish several national standards for how companies must react to these incidents, including a requirement to notify customers within 30 days of the breach. That's great, because several states already have similar provisions in place. Actually, 48 out of the 50 states have some sort law like this protecting consumer data, so it seems likely that Congress will take on the challenge and hopefully unify the disparate policies with a national standard.

But is it the right standard? We still don't know all of the details of Obama's legislation, and Congress will obviously make changes if it takes the president's lead. Privacy advocates are already saying that the 30-day disclosure timeframe seemed a little lax—or at least more lax than some existing state laws. "The problem is that the effect will likely be to pre-empt the stronger state laws," Marc Rotenberg, the president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, told The New York Times. "We want a federal baseline, and leave the states with the freedom to establish stronger standards." The Times says that Rotenberg "favors disclosure faster than 30 days."

Indeed, some states have stricter laws. You can find a handy summary here—or a full list here—of state laws that shows much more aggressive approaches to data breaches that involve health care and insurance data. California and Connecticut, for instance, require notifications to be sent within five days of the breach for those types of hacks.

More data security is always better than less data security. Congress will hopefully hammer out the details of the Personal Data Notification and Protection Act in a way that please privacy advocates. Meanwhile, the president will continue his focus on privacy and cybersecurity with an additional piece of legislation that keep companies from selling data collected in schools: the Student Data Privacy Act. Obama's...


Obama Calls on Congress to Pass Data Privacy Laws

Natl2

 In the wake of the massive breaches of Target, Home Depot, and Sony, President Obama will urge Congress on Monday to pass a law to protect consumers when hackers steal their personal information.

The president's proposed Personal Data Notification and Protection Act would require companies to notify their customers within 30 days if their personal information has been exposed. The bill will likely have broad support from business groups, which would prefer to comply with a single national notification standard rather than the current patchwork of state laws.

Obama also plans to announce his support for a new bill to protect student privacy. The Student Digital Privacy Act, which is based on a California law, would prevent companies from selling student data to third parties for non-educational purposes or from targeting advertising to students based on data collected in schools.

The push comes amid growing concerns that new technologies may provide exciting educational tools—but may also give companies access to sensitive academic information of students.

Jim Steyer, the CEO of privacy group Common Sense Media, said he is "thrilled" with the student privacy bill. Students, he said, "deserve the opportunity to use educational websites and apps to enrich their learning without fear that their personal information will be exploited for commercial purposes or fall into the wrong hands."

Obama will announce the new initiatives in a speech Monday at the Federal Trade Commission. The announcements are part of a series of previews of his upcoming State of the Union address.

The president will also renew his push for a sweeping Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights. Within 45 days, the White House plans to release legislative language to enshrine the principles into law.

The White House first announced the series of online privacy rights in 2012 and urged Congress to take up the issue. But there was little movement on the Hill, and no legislation was introduced.

Marc Rotenberg, the executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said he supports the president's bills on student and consumer privacy. But he said he has some concerns with the data-breach notification bill. "It would preempt stronger state laws, and it lacks a private right of action," he explained.

In addition to the legislative proposals, Obama will announce several steps he is taking on his own to bolster privacy protections. The White...



12/12/2014

Liberals: Obama abandoned us

Natl1

The left revolts, saying Obama gave up too easily on spending bill.

As Democrats took sharp aim at the White House over a year-end spending bill, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden scrambled to stave off a revolt from congressional liberals over a deal that no one in the West Wing or the Democratic Party really wants.

Obama’s base says he’s sold them out—and didn’t even wait to do it until Republicans officially expand their majority in the House and takeover the Senate come January. Some on the left are worried the wide range of policy riders in a spending bill is a worrisome sign as Republicans take over the Senate next year – and are already urging Obama to steel himself and ready his veto pen.

“We gave Democrats in the House multiple opportunities to negotiate the best deal they could get,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said late Thursday on MSNBC, explaining why the president and others were now whipping votes. “The good news is they got a pretty good deal.”

But the White House’s support for the measure sent liberals into an increasingly hot rage over the course of the day, including a very rare and blunt split between House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the president.

“I’m enormously disappointed the White House feels the only way they could get a bill is to go along with this,” Pelosi said Thursday afternoon, coming to the floor to declare that she wouldn’t be voting for the bill so long as it includes the Dodd-Frank rollback “blackmail.”

Earnest says that while Obama has his problems with what’s in the bill, he’s enthusiastic about the negotiations that led to the final deal, including several Democratic priorities.

“This is the kind of compromise the president’s been seeking from Republicans for years now. They’re finally starting to do it, at a time when they seem to have maximum leverage,” Earnest said.

A year ago, Republicans were willing to shut down the government over trying to defund Obamacare. But by taking the shutdown off the table this time around, Obama enabled Republicans to slip in several measures that liberals hate, including major campaign finance changes he opposes and an rollback of a Dodd-Frank financial regulation he fought so hard to get.

As the spending bill lurched unsteadily through Congress, the populist wing of the party has felt no hesitation about ripping a bill that the president wants to pass.

“A vote...


Please don’t Boehner us, Mr. Speaker

Natl2

ouse Speaker John Boehner of Ohio holds what may be his last news conference of the 113th Congress, though critical legislation is still pending, Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014, on Capitol Hill in Washington. With a midnight Thursday deadline to keep ...

The establishment Republicans are absolutely in shock that the grass roots and Tea Party types aren’t falling in line with $1.1 trillion spending bill.

Heck, I remember back in the olden days when a $500 billon bill was a lot of money , but today that and promises made by Democrats seem to be the same thing, chump change, and as usual, Republicans are the chumps.

It’s fascinating to watch how easily the Republican leadership is always played the fool by Democrats. From this week’s release  of the seriously flawed unintelligence report on the CIA to the new spending bill, Republicans, even before they assume power, are doing what we feared, playing nice and losing ground.

Let me give you a tip, House Speaker  John Boehner: Every time you think you’re being cute or clever, the president, Harry Reid or Nancy Pelousy runs circles around you and we, the American people, get stuck with the bill. Here’s what is frustrating: You never seem very upset about losing, and you fall for it every time.

The Charlie Brown and Lucy football analogy has gotten old, so let’s give it an updated  more applicable definition: “Boehnering” or “Being Boehnered.”
Webster’s Dictionary will define it as “the act of being fooled or outmaneuvered in clearly obvious ways.”

Examples would include:

“The con man, Boehnered the little old lady out of her retirement  money”;

“Watch how we Boehner the little baby’s candy  from him”;

“The people keep getting Boehnered by the Republicans and may seek a new party.”

The problem with the “Boehnering of America” is that we the people keep paying the price for your mistakes. Standing strong for jobs , the economy, and stopping Obamacare and amnesty all run off Mr. Boehner’s tongue like he’s the leader of the Tea Party. But when it comes down to passing a bill, or not spending money at a critical time, or standing up against President Obama, Mr. Boehner caves, like the master Boehnerer he is.

Please Mr. Speaker, learn from your past losses so the Republican can do what they were put back in power to; stop spending so much darn money, stop Obamacare, stop the IRS abuses and stop amnesty. Give the voters a reason to keep you there, we are already running out of patience with you.



12/04/2014

Blame only the man who tragically decided to resist

Natl1

Eric Garner suffered a heart attack during his arrest by the NYPD and died soon after.

Eric Garner and Michael Brown had much in common, not the least of which was this: On the last day of their lives, they made bad decisions. Epically bad decisions.

Each broke the law — petty offenses, to be sure, but sufficient to attract the attention of the police.

And then — tragically, stupidly, fatally, inexplicably — each fought the law.

The law won, of course, as it almost always does.

This was underscored yet again Wednesday when a Staten Island grand jury chose not to indict any of the arresting officers in the death in police custody of Garner last July.

Just as a grand jury last week declined to indict the police officer who shot a violently resisting Michael Brown to death in Ferguson, Mo., in August.

Demagoguery rises to an art form in such cases — because, again, the police generally win. (Though not always, as a moment’s reflection before the Police Memorial in lower Manhattan will underscore.) And because those who advocate for cop-fighters are so often such accomplished beguilers.

They cast these tragedies as, if not outright murder, then invincible evidence of an enduringly racist society.

No such thing, as a matter of fact. Virtually always, these cases represent sad, low-impact collisions of cops and criminals — routine in every respect except for an outlier conclusion.

The Garner case is textbook.

Eric Garner was a career petty criminal who’d experienced dozens of arrests, but had learned nothing from them. He was on the street July 17, selling untaxed cigarettes one at a time — which, as inconsequential as it seems, happens to be a crime.

Yet another arrest was under way when, suddenly, Garner balked. “This ends here,” he shouted — as it turned out, tragically prophetic words — as he began struggling with the arresting officer.

Again, this was a bad decision. Garner suffered from a range of medical ailments — advanced diabetes, plus heart disease and asthma so severe that either malady might have killed him, it was said at the time.

Still, he fought — and at one point during the struggle, a cop wrapped his arm around Garner’s neck.

That image was captured on bystander video and later presented as irrefutable evidence of an “illegal” chokehold and, therefore, grounds for a criminal indictment against the cop.

That charge fails, and here’s why.

First, while “chokeholds” are banned by NYPD...


The Only Person Indicted In The Eric Garner Case Was The Man Who Filmed It

Natl2

One person involved in the chokehold death of unarmed Eric Garner has been charged, but it wasn't the officer who killed him — it was the man who filmed it happening. Yesterday, a grand jury decided not to indict police officer Daniel Pantaleo for the death of Garner, igniting nationwide protests. Garner, a 43-year-old black man, died after Pantaleo put him in a chokehold. The encounter was caught on tape and the New York City medical examiner's report listed Garner's death as a homicide. But, the only person involved in this case who has been indicted isRamsey Orta. 

Three weeks after Garner's death, Orta was arrested on gun possession charges. Police claimed they observed Orta outside a hotel with 17-year-old Alba Lekaj on August 2, where he allegedly slipped a handgun into Lekaj's waistband. They approached and arrested both Orta and Lekaj.

But, Orta claims the allegations are false and his arrest was a retaliatory move by the police to punish him for the Garner video. "When they searched me, they didn't find nothing on me," Orta told the Staten Island Advance. After his arrest, Orta claims, the arresting officer said, "Karma's a bitch." 

Though Lekaj was found to have the gun on her person, she was not charged for possession. The weapon was found to have no fingerprints. Orta's indictment includes two felony counts of third-degree criminal weapon possession and criminal firearm possession. 

Orta maintains the arrest was a setup. "I had nothing to do with this," he claims. And, after witnessing Garner's death, he said, "I would be stupid to walk around with a gun." His wife, Chrissie Ortiz, added, "It's obvious what they're doing. They're trying to shut him up...They're bringing up his past, when they should be bringing up the officer's past, who committed this murder." 



11/12/2014

The People Haven’t Spoken: Debunking Election Hyperbole

Natl1

Republicans did not win, and Democrats did not lose because that’s what America willed, or wanted, or wished. Stop using those phrases. Stop using that language. Instead, let’s look at the facts

Let’s get one thing straight before we look any further into last week’s election results: The American people did not speak last Tuesday. Republicans did not win, and Democrats did not lose because that’s what America willed, or wanted, or wished. Stop using those phrases. Stop using that language.

Instead, let’s look at the facts.

Almost every reputable news source agrees that voter turnout was miserable. In fact, there’s a fairly good chance that not even 38 percent of registered voters showed up to the polls. That’s not 38 percent of the population, that’s 38 percent of registered voters. And those numbers might not even be that high — the United States Elections Project says it might be as low as 36.3 percent.

If anything, last Tuesday’s turnout, in which the vast majority of registered voters didn’t even show up, most clearly speaks to voter fatigue, ennui, malaise and dismissal.

At least 38 states — New Jersey, Ohio, Hawaii, Indiana, California, South Carolina, Alabama, Michigan, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Texas, New Mexico, Massachusetts, etc. — reported below-average voter turnout. In fact, the last time the U.S. had such a poor turnout rate was in the middle of World War II, when a significant portion of the population was fighting overseas.

That alone tells you that the vote was not representative. At least, not for the Republicans, or against the Democrats. If anything, last Tuesday’s turnout, in which the vast majority of registered voters didn’t even show up, most clearly speaks to voter fatigue, ennui, malaise and dismissal. This is hardly surprising, given that a recent poll by the Pew Research Center shows that both the Republican and Democratic parties only have favorability rating percentages of 38 percent and 47 percent, respectively, and are viewed unfavorably by, again respectively, 54 percent and 46 percent of Americans.

But let’s look at it another way. The population of the United States is roughly 319 million, but only around 146 million of those people are actually registered to vote, at least as of July of this year. If only 36.3 percent of those registered voters showed up last week, that means somewhere around 53 million people — or roughly one-sixth of the population — actually voted.

Hardly the voice of the American people.

But it doesn’t just stop there. Again, since the...


President Flim-Flam Leads Democrats to Midterm Massacre

The White House has denied claims that the midterm elections were a referendum on Barack Obama, but the polling data shows that they were. According to a CBS News exit poll:

“Fifty-four percent of those surveyed said their opinion of the president influenced their vote… 34 percent said they wanted to make a statement in opposition to Mr. Obama, while 20 percent said they voted in support of him.”

Those differences were more stark among Republican voters “61 percent (of whom) said they cast ballots to take a stand against the current administration. (Only) Thirty-five percent of those who voted for GOP candidates said Mr. Obama didn’t play a role in their decisions at the polling places.” (2014 midterm elections look like a referendum on Obama, CBS News)

There’s no doubt that antipathy towards Obama played a significant role in Tuesday night’s bloodbath. Even so, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest insists that, “Most voters are deciding who to vote for based on the name that’s on the ballot, not the name that’s not….It’s up to those individual candidates, those Democratic candidates, to make decisions for themselves about how best the president and his support can be used to their benefit in the elections.”

In other words, the Democratic candidates that went down in flames on Tuesday, can only blame themselves. While that might be a good way to deflect responsibility, it certainly doesn’t square with the facts. Just get a load of these exit poll results from Forbes:

“45% of voters said the economy was the most important issue facing the country. It was the top issue of four listed on the exit poll ballot. Voters were generally pessimistic about it. Only 1% checked the box that said the economy’s condition was “excellent.” 70% said it was not so good or poor. 78% were worried about its direction in the next year. In another question, voters split pretty evenly: around a third of voters said it was getting better, getting worse, and staying about the same.

More voters expected the life for the next generation of Americans to be worse rather than better, 48 to 22%.” (Election Results From A To Z: An Exit Poll Report, Forbes)

What a damning survey. What a damning indictment of Obama. The vast majority of the people think the economy still stinks and that living standards for their kids are going to get a whole lot worse. And you...



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