11/19/13 10:55 PM
ATT, Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile are run by morons - read on:
Samsung Electronics, the world's largest mobile phone manufacturer, has proposed installing a built-in anti-theft measure known as a "kill switch" that would render stolen or lost phones inoperable, but the nation's biggest carriers have rejected the idea District Attorney George Gascon said Monday that AT&T Inc., Verizon Wireless, United States Cellular Corp., Sprint Corp. and T-Mobile US Inc. rebuffed Samsung's proposal to preload its phones with Absolute LoJack anti-theft software as a standard feature...Gascon, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and other law enforcement officials have been demanding that manufacturers create kill switches to combat surging smartphone theft across the country. Almost 1 in 3 U.S. robberies involve phone theft, according to the Federal Communications Commission. Lost and stolen mobile devices — mostly smartphones — cost consumers more than $30 billion last year, according to a study cited by Schneiderman in June. Samsung officials told the San Francisco district attorney's office in July that carriers were resisting kill switches, and prosecutors have recently reviewed emails between a senior vice president at Samsung and a software developer about the issue. One email in August said Samsung had pre-installed kill switch software in some smartphones ready for shipment, but carriers ordered their removal as a standard feature.
10/27/13 12:31 PM
Why is Facebook now allowing pedophiles to stalk children on Facebook? That's the question asked by ABC News in a provocative story about the stupidest decision in Facebook history. (After you read this, you'll make your children remove their pages). Read the details below:
Why Facebook Shouldn't Let The World See Your Teens' Pictures
10/22/13 3:20 PM
There are very few times I will label a fellow judge and his staff as "reprehensible" but that is a deserved appellation here for some inexcusable conduct by a court:
Breastfeeding mom facing charges for taking baby to jury duty
LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo., Oct. 21 (UPI) -- A Missouri woman says she's facing contempt of court charges because she took her 7-month-old son, whom she breastfeeds, to jury duty. Laura Trickle, a stay-at-home mother from Lee's Summit, Mo., received a summons for jury duty but couldn't leave her son, Axel Graham, behind because she breast feeds, KCTV, Kansas City, Mo., reported.When she arrived at the Jackson County Courthouse, she was given two options. "I would be able to pump on breaks. Unfortunately Axel doesn't take a bottle, so that was not an option for us. The other option was to have someone stay with me all day and then be able to nurse on breaks. But since I'm a stay-at-home mom, we don't have childcare," Trickle said. So instead, Trickle was charged with contempt of court and is facing a $500 fine.
This was completely avoidable. People are excused all the time for young children and medical reasons, so the failure to do so here is inexcusable. And if the court wanted the person to serve eventually, you simply defer her service for a few months.
9/30/13 8:49 AM
Pretty soon, with all the extra fees, flying will be unaffordable. Airlines are charging for water, pillows, carry on bags, and probably before you know it, to smile and say thank you.
Airlines are introducing a new bevy of fees, but this time passengers might actually like them. Unlike the first generation of charges which dinged fliers for once-free services like checking a bag, these new fees promise a taste of the good life, or at least a more civil flight. Extra legroom, early boarding and access to quiet lounges were just the beginning. Airlines are now renting Apple iPads preloaded with movies, selling hot first class meals in coach and letting passengers pay to have an empty seat next to them. Once on the ground, they can skip baggage claim, having their luggage delivered directly to their home or office. In the near future, airlines plan to go one step further, using massive amounts of personal data to customize new offers for each flier...Carriers have struggled to raise airfares enough to cover costs. Fees bring in more than $15 billion a year and are the reason the airlines are profitable. But the amount of money coming in from older charges like baggage and reservation change fees has plateaued. So the airlines are selling new extras and copying marketing methods honed by retailers. Technological upgrades allow airlines to sell products directly to passengers at booking, in follow-up emails as trips approach, at check-in and on mobile phones minutes before boarding. Delta Air Lines recently gave its flight attendants wireless devices, allowing them to sell passengers last-second upgrades to seats with more legroom...
Read the rest of the ABC story for yet more marketing.
9/20/13 11:43 PM
You know you're REALLY a lawyer if...
You see a car with vanity license plates that read "1USCFAN", and you think to yourself, "Wow, the owner of that car must really love the United States Code!"
When someone is expressing their frustration or anger about something that is in any way related to the law, you can’t be sympathetic because you’re too busy figuring out in your head if they have a cause of action.
Your personal emails to family and friends have a disclaimer at the end.
You never answer a question without saying "well, that depends on the specific facts of the case..."
The shortest sentence you have ever written was more than eighty words long.
You have considered naming your future children A, B and C to simplify conveyances of property...
You’ve argued over a semicolon…
You consider filing a constitutional challenge to your $10 parking ticket.
You think about offer and acceptance when you are shopping.
You cross-examine your wife when she says "I love you."
If you come home and something is broken, you place your child under oath before you ask him about it.
You have considered changing career paths to hot dog vendor, stilt walker, or used car salesman.
Sometimes during disagreements you are tempted to 12(6)(b) the offending friend or family member. (For our non-lawyers here: Rule 12b6 refers to a motion for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted)
You object when arguing with friends that their comments are irrelevant.
You yell at the TV screen when the DA on Law and Order misses an objection.
You can recite the Constitution verbatim but can't remember your own phone number.
If you could write a comic book, the superhero would be named "Ultra Vires."
You preface the answer to every question your friends ask with "It depends..."
You actually read all the terms and conditions on websites before you click "I agree."
Being in a jobless industry doesn't scare you because you have that valuable title "Esquire."
You read a 156 page opinion with great interest, only to find out on page 157 of the article that the opinion you just read was reversed on appeal.
9/19/13 8:13 PM
Suppose you had a classic book which won the 1953 National Book Award for fiction, beating out Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea and John Steinbeck's East of Eden. Suppose in 1995, writing for the New York Times, Roger Rosenblatt praised the novel as a masterpiece. Suppose that the classic book, instantly recognized as a masterpiece, a novel that captured the grim realities of racial discrimination as no book had (quoting Rosenblatt) made the list of 100 Best English Language Novels since 1923.
Suppose you get a group of obviously uneducated people elected to the school board of Randolph County in North Carolina and they get a few stray complaints from a few parents sadly unconcerned with their children receiving a well-rounded education about this book, by the renowned Ralph Ellison (it's "Invisible Man" if you haven't guessed). You'd guess that they would make the book required reading. You'd at least expect them to have it available in the school library.
So what did this group amazingly do, by a 5-2 vote? They banned the classic from all school libraries. It is no wonder American education is in so much trouble. With a school board that grossly ignorant of literature, students in that system are frankly doomed to failure.
A news story about this makes us wonder, when will the five who made such an anti-education vote, resign and apologize to the children?
'Invisible Man' ban is a failure to see
News & Observer
"The title of Ralph Ellison's masterpiece novel, “Invisible Man,” speaks to the irony of a narrator who feels he goes unseen because of what many immediately notice about him: He is black. That irony took another turn this week when the Randolph County school board voted to ban the novel from its school libraries. The novel, a classic that won the 1953 National Book Award for fiction, has drifted into the obscurity reserved for great books read mostly by assignment. But now Randolph County’s school board members, by a 5-2 vote, have made “Invisible Man” visible again, the subject of news reports that circulated around the nation. Committees at the school and district level in the central North Carolina county of 142,000 people had voted to keep the book, but the board approved its removal after the mother of a student in the town of Randleman complained that it was “too much for teenagers.” Ellison, who died in 1964, would likely be pleased by this burst of attention that adds his book to the ranks of other great works subject to school bans. Among the most commonly targeted, typically for their use of profanity, racial epithets or sexual references, are “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain, “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger and “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck..."
On this sad day for American schools, let me close with quotes from the classic novel:
- “I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allen Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie extoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids—and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination—indeed, everything and anything except me.”
- "I am not ashamed of my grandparents for having been slaves. I am only ashamed of myself for having at one time been ashamed. About eighty-five years ago they were told that they were free, united with others of our country in everything pertaining to the common good, and, in everything social, separate from the fingers of the hand. And they believed it. They exulted in it. They stayed in their place, worked hard, and brought up my father to do the same."
- “For, like almost everyone else in our country, I started out with my share of optimism. I believed in hard work and progress and action, but now, after first being 'for' society and then 'against' it, I assign myself no rank or any limit, and such an attitude is very much against the trend of the times. But my world has become one of infinite possibilities. What a phrase - still it's a good phrase and a good view of life, and a man shouldn't accept any other; that much I've learned underground."
So much for the poor, uneducated children of North Carolina's Randolph County schools.
9/2/13 9:38 PM
Your medical records are, under federal law (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
or HIPAA), required to be private. Most drug chains do fairly well honoring those privacy laws. One chain has decided to make mincemeat of privacy, and can at any time sell information about your health to the highest bidder - and that is CVS Pharamacy. NEVER fill a prescription there. It is not a bargain at any price. Would you want your employer, the government, or marketing companies to know all about your health? Of course not. Yet CVS forces you to sign away all your rights under federal law when you fill a prescription. This is unconscionable, and although they claim they won't misuse your information, they can, and money will tempt them. Other pharmacy chains, such as Walgreens, Rite-Aid, Wal-Mart, etc do NOT require the same waiver.
Here are some scary news stories about this highly unethical chain:
CVS Caremark Corp. earned itself a legal headache recently when it rolled out a new prescription rewards program that requires participants to sign away their privacy rights for $50, a dubious idea that attorneys say was made worse by the company's failure to clearly tell consumers what it planned to do with their protected medical data.
Wilkes Barre Times-Leader-Aug 24, 2013
announced Feb. 4 that it was expanding its ExtraCare rewards
program to include prescription drug purchases. Since February, CVS Caremark has been pushing its pharmacists to enroll customers in a prescription-drug rewards program
. The benefit to customers is the opportunity to earn up to $50 a year in store credits that can be used to buy shampoo, toothpaste or other products. The benefit to CVS is persuading pharmacy customers, through questionable means, to give up federal privacy safeguards for their medical information
and permitting the company to share people’s drug purchases with others. “It’s very troubling,” said Paul Stephens, director of policy and advocacy for the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse in San Diego. “Your medical information is very sensitive,” he said. “Pharmaceutical companies obviously would want to know what you’re taking and get you to buy more expensive medicines.” Walgreens and Rite-Aid have their own rewards
programs for prescription drugs. But officials at each company said they don’t require customers to relinquish federal privacy protections
International Business Times Aug 27, 2013
A new drugstore loyalty program is offering sweet rewards
for prescription holders, but some privacy advocates are calling it a bitter pill.
WFTV Orlando-Aug 30, 2013
ORLANDO,Fla. — A new rewards card program offered by a major drugstore chain may be a sneaky way to sell your health care records. CVS claims its expanded program would never do that. But many privacy groups say it could be risky to you. The program is called Extra Care Pharmacy and Health Rewards. You can sign up at CVS and for every 10 prescriptions filled, you get $5 in store credits -- up to $50 a year. But some consumer groups warn, you also signed away your health care privacy. Some might call it fine print; CVS said it's clearly spelled out in the agreement. To join the program, you must sign a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act authorization. HIPAA is the federal law that gives you control over your medical records, in this case the prescriptions you bought. The document means you waive HIPAA safeguards, so CVS could choose to share with or sell your records to someone else...Despite CVS stating the company will not sell or share your information, some experts warn that by signing the document, someday it could do just that... Action 9 checked with other major chains like Walgreens and could not find another reward program that requires you to waive your privacy rights.
8/27/13 7:31 PM
Returning to the blog after a hiatus due to the passing of my mother, and other hectic real world events. And the best way to return is not with some deep legal thought, but simply a fun tale. It all started with some snuggling. And cuddling. What a tale. Or tail?
A really funny news story... The headline: "I had a real fox in my bed the other day.. and it wasn't the Mrs ..." Details: http://forums.delphiforums.com/perlaw/messages?msg=127827.1
8/12/13 12:02 AM
My daughter's wedding in 2012, with me presiding
I've been a municipal judge since 1988. Because of that, and also because of what I have seen other judges do in 33 years as a lawyer, I can answer a question I am sometimes asked: "What is the most rewarding part of being a judge?"
I could give a very generic and accurate answer and say that sometimes we solve problems and even change lives. We may encounter a young criminal defendant whose life can be changed for the better with some creativity. We can help families in crisis. We provide resolution (sometimes) of problems no one outside a court can resolve.
But I like to give a more personal answer than my success stories from criminal sentencing, which are not as frequent as I wish, but do change a small piece of the world for the better.
I suspect some judges who do adoptions, which I do as a lawyer, would say that is a highlight. It is almost like giving birth to a child - the start of a new family. As a lawyer I love that moment. I know the judges I have been before do too.
But for me, the answer is the many hundreds of people I have married. Many of those weddings are quick, and I sense some people may be less than as serious as they should be when they enter them, a fact that our nation's divorce rate would confirm. But I also see couples with a glow about the bride, a sparkle in their eyes, a look of true love. That is always a special moment.
For me, it goes further. On two occasions I did very special weddings. The first was my sister's. The second was my daughter's. It is indescribable how special a moment it is for Dad to marry "daddy's little girl", especially when she picked such a great guy. My sister made a great pick too. Those two ceremonies will always be special to me.
As Judges, we have been given a lot of power. We can take away a man's liberty. We can fine someone. We can resolve a dispute. We can protect society. We literally can change lives. It's an awesome responsibility and a rewarding one. But to be able to start a couple in their journey together in the oldest institution in the world is simply a wonderful way to spend part of one's day. I'm thankful to be a part of that process.
8/1/13 5:43 PM
Today's piece is written by Fightforthefuture.org and deals with NSA spying on Americans:
In the past 24 hours we’ve learned more about the NSA’s intrusive spying programs -- and the revelations are the most shocking yet. New documents reported on by The Guardian prove that the NSA used tax dollars to build a simple interface called XKeyscore that allows even low level employees to instantly access -- in the NSA’s own words -- “nearly everything a typical user does on the internet.” (1)
Enough is enough. This Sunday, August 4th, people in cities across the U.S. will join rallies and protests to demand an end to illegal NSA spying. Will you join?
So many of us are piping mad about these NSA programs and the threat that they pose to freedom worldwide. If you’re around Sunday, now’s your chance to turn your anger into something productive and take to the streets to join the majority of people worldwide who want to see the NSA’s illegal programs shut down and de-funded.
Click here to get info about protests in other cities.
The leaked training presentation that whistleblower Edward Snowden provided to The Guardian shows that any NSA analyst could single you out via your email, IP address, Facebook username, etc. and then easily read the contents of your email, eavesdrop on your chats, watch the websites you visit, see what you bookmark, and recall your most embarrassing searches -- all without a warrant. They simply have to fill out an on-screen form to justify the search, and it’s never reviewed by a judge. (2)
Take a moment to think of the implications of a system like this. Regardless how you feel about Edward Snowden -- who received 1 year asylum in Russia this morning (3) -- it’s clear that he was able to do things with the NSA’s data that they didn’t know about and didn’t want him to do. Anyone with less noble intentions could easily use the XKeyscore system to blackmail judges or politicians, de-stabilize companies, target specific groups they are biased against, or worse.
No one should have that kind of power. It makes true democracy impossible. Join the protest this Sunday.
These latest revelations not only show that the U.S. Government’s surveillance programs are even more far reaching and less accountable than was already expected, but they make it clear that members of Congress have repeatedly lied to the public about the NSA’s programs.
Even if you trust the NSA and think they won’t abuse this power, what about all the other governments that will follow in their footsteps? Can you trust them? Are you sure you can trust every single NSA employee and the employees of the hundreds of private companies and foreign governments they contract with?
Just this morning, The Guardian revealed that the NSA had secretly paid over $150 Million to its British equivalent, the GCHQ, in exchange for direct influence over the British spy agency’s priorities, and access to transatlantic cables that carry Internet traffic. (4) The NSA also considered the looser regulations in the UK a “selling point” for funding GCHQ’s programs, which begs the question of whether the NSA was using the British intelligence agency to spy on Americans who they would otherwise be prevented from surveilling.
It’s more clear than ever before. The NSA is out of control. Join the protest THIS SUNDAY in your city.
The good news is that more people than ever before are ready to take action and demand their privacy. Public opinion has shifted drastically in our favor, and even Congress is divided on this issue. Each new leak leaves the politicians and companies scrambling to explain themselves while our numbers grow.
Don’t stop now. Keep the pressure on, and fight to win.
-Evan and Tiffiniy, Fight for the Future
P.S. If you need a reminder, you can get yourself a “Fight to Win” T-Shirt by supporting our IndieGoGo campaign for the funny and informative NSA video we’re making.
1) CNN, “New Snowden leak: NSA program taps all you do online” http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/31/tech/web/snowden-leak-xkeyscore/index.html?hpt=hp_t2
2) The Guardian, “XKeyscore: NSA tool collects ‘nearly everything a user does on the internet.” http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jul/31/nsa-top-secret-program-online-data
3) The New York Times, “Russia Grants Snowden 1-year Asylum.” http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/02/world/europe/edward-snowden-russia.html?_r=0
4) The Guardian, “Exclusive: NSA pays 100M in secret funding for GCHQ” http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/aug/01/nsa-paid-gchq-spying-edward-snowden