Entries Tagged as 'Legal'

Report Fraud

Each and every time you encounter someone trying to defraud you make sure you report it.

Phishing scams, money scams, premium SMS message, suspicious phone calls, un-authorized phone charges, un-authorized credit card charges, etc — go ahead and visit the IC3 (Internet Crime Complaint Center; a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI], the National White Collar Crime Center [NW3C], and the Bureau of Justice Assistance [BJA]) and file a report.

Take action and let the law enforcement community decide what’s a threat and what’s not – but DO NOT remain silent or these problems will continue.

http://www.ic3.gov/

 

NOTE:  If you have an un-authorized charge on any of your bills you will also want to contact your billing company and dispute the charge with them; the IC3 will not do this for you.

Originally posted 2008-10-24 13:00:38.

For the good of the many…

BART shutdown power to cellular antennas in and around BART stations in order to prevent individuals from using social media to organize a protest.

BART said basically it weighed the rights and freedoms all American expect against the potential threat to public safety.

How many times have autocrats and dictators used a similar statement to defend their actions in the past.

Freedom has costs associated with it; and unfortunately the right to protest is a fundamental tenant of American society… suppressing that right, even if there is a perceived threat of something possibly going wrong, does harm to all of us.

Since 9/11 this country has been headed down a dangerous road — essential freedoms have been compromised, and now public entities are taking action without any judicial review that severely impact public freedoms.

I say it’s time this stops before we find that “we” didn’t win the Cold War, we simply became the enemy.


Cell Service Shutdown Raises Free Speech Questions by Carrie Johnson NPR.org

Originally posted 2011-08-16 02:00:36.

Spring Forward – Fall Back

Today Daylight Savings Time ends in every state of the US except Hawaii — that’s the only US state (in it’s entirety) that does not observe Daylight Savings Time; the time zone, HAST (Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time; UTC-10) — of course the Aleutian Islands (Alaska) were on HADT until just a bit ago…

If you’re thinking I’m wrong because you believe Arizona doesn’t observe Daylight Saving Time you’d be partially correct… but since the Navajo Nation does observe Daylight Savings Time, and it’s located within the boundaries of the state of Arizona, the state in it’s entirety wouldn’t meet the condition of my assertion.

Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa also do not observe Daylight Savings Time, but they aren’t states (they’re possessions) so they also fail to me the conditions of my assertion.

And fortunately for everyone the wacky system Indiana used for a very long time vanished in 2005 when the entire state began observing Daylight Saving Time.

Generally Benjamin Franklin is credited with the idea of Daylight Savings Time… but his plan technically called for the shifting of working hours, not the changing of the clocks — the actual concept of changing the clocks is generally attributed to William Willett (England) in 1907 — but the plan wasn’t adopted until World War I.

While the US observed daylight savings time during World War I, the law was quickly repealed after the end of the war (1919); it was re-established during World War II, used year round in 1973-1974 (Energy Crisis), and finally fixed by law in 1987 to insure consistency among states, then expanded in duration in 2005 (it’s not mandatory that a state observe Daylight Savings Time, only the start / end dates are set by Federal law if a state so chooses to observe Daylight Savings Time).

Personally, I think Daylight Savings Time, and Time Zones are an albatross that we simply do not need any longer; you’d have though with the redefining of measurements by the Metric System we’d have addressed the bizarre way in which humans measure the passage of time, and reference it by the calendar.

Originally posted 2010-11-07 02:00:06.

“Honest Services” Law

Last Thursday the Supreme Court greatly narrowed the scope of a federal fraud law frequently used to prosecute white-collar criminals.

And guess who might benefit from the decision…

Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling among a host of others.

The Supreme Court ruling was the result of an appeal Jeffery Skilling brought before the court.  Skilling actually ask that the “honest services” law be struck down as unconstitutional as well as asking for a new trial since he claimed he didn’t get a fair trial in Houston (I personally don’t recall him requesting a change of venue — so apparently he felt he’d fair better there than most other places people felt he’d defrauded them out of their life savings).

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s written option stated that prosecutors could continue to seek honest services fraud conviction in cases where their is sufficient evidence to show defendants accepted bribes or kickbacks.  Of course Jeffery Skillings isn’t accused of accepting bribes or kickbacks, just filling his pockets with money at the expense of his investors and customers by knowingly manipulating the energy market.

The court did not specifically throw out any of the nineteen counts against Skilling, nor did they agree to a new trial.

I’m sure former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, and ex-HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy, former newspaper magnate Conrad Black, former Alaska lawmaker Bruce Weyhrauch as well as other will be quick to see what this new ruling might do to help them.

Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, and John Paul Stevens were the dissenters; and I once again have to ask what box of cereal Justice Ginsberg clipped her law degree from.

I know, this is America, land of the free; but where the more cash you have, the more “equitable” the law.

Originally posted 2010-06-25 02:00:00.

Free Speech

There’s a story coming out of Missouri about a man who exercised his right to express his views (peacefully)…

Personally, my feeling is his choice was less than tasteful, and certainly doesn’t represent my beliefs — but none the less I defend his right to make his views known, and I believe those who coerced him into removing his display represent a great evil that is swelling in this country.

We Americans pride ourselves on being the land of the free and the home of the brave… but in fact we’re the land of those who must acquiesce to what is politically correct and the home of those who are too ignorant to believe in the principals that truly used to set Americans apart from much of the world.

Racially-driven Halloween display removed at sheriff’s request
By Holly Brantley

NEAR SIKESTON, MO (KFVS) – At the request of sheriff Rick Walter, Scott County homeowner Rick Hoskins removed a Halloween display in front of his home Wednesday that’s the subject of much controversy in the Sikeston area.

The display, which featured a Ku Klux Klan figure alongside an effigy of a black man hanging from a noose, could be seen by drivers on Interstate 55.

Walter said his office had received several complaints about the display, so he contacted the office of prosecuting attorney Paul Boyd to see if it was within the sheriff’s department’s rights to remove it due to the problems it could cause.

Boyd encouraged Walter to discuss the matter with Hoskins and to ask Hoskins to take it down. Hoskins complied, but indicated he would contact his attorney with the intent of putting the decorations back up.

“There’s been a bunch of people that’s stopped by since I put them up,” said Hoskins. “Said they want to shake my hand. They said they’re glad to see a little white pride is still left in this country.”

Hoskins also flies a Confederate flag in his front yard, and says he has for years.

“They’re my Halloween decorations,” Hoskins said. “I think they speak for themselves.”

As for neighbors and others in the county, most found the decorations offensive and inappropriate.

“I thought we were passed that,” said a woman from Sikeston. “I thought we were all friends here.”

“I understand it’s freedom of speech,” said another woman. “But he needs to get over it.”

© 2010 KFVS. All rights reserved.

Originally posted 2010-10-25 02:00:56.

Stonewall

President Obama declared June 2009 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgenders Pride Month, citing the rights that began at Stonewall Inn, 51 &53 Christopher Street, Greenwich Village, New York City, New York, United States of America on 29 June 1969.

Forty years since the event that is generally considered to be the beginning of the gay civil rights movement (though there were previous efforts at gay civil rights) President Obama makes a token gesture of recognition of the inequity individuals who are not part of the heterosexual majority suffer on a daily basis, but fails to mention that their is still no protection of sexual orientation in the United States and that many states have on the books laws which effectively attempt to make illegal same sex relationships (or at least sexual activities between same sex — and some anything considered deviant sexual activities even between legally married individuals).

Simply put, it is time for the United States of America to recognize and provided equality to each and every American regardless of their age, sex, creed, national origin, ancestry, race, color, sexual orientation, political affiliations, religion, beliefs, physical limitations, or marital status.

Plain and simple, all Americans are Americans and they deserve to be treated equally.

NOTE: June 1999 the US Department of the Interior designated 51 and 53 Christopher Street, the street itself, and the surrounding streets as a National Historic Landmark.

Let it forever be remembered that here—on this spot—men and women stood proud, they stood fast, so that we may be who we are, we may work where we will, live where we choose and love whom our hearts desire.
· John Berry, Assistant Secretary of the Department of the Interior

Originally posted 2009-06-01 02:00:39.

US Drug Policy

I certainly don’t have a solution to the drug problem in the US; but clearly the US government doesn’t either.

History teaches us many lessons, and when we ignore those lessons we often find ourselves repeating the errors of the past.

Prohibition didn’t work.

We make arbitrary decisions about which drugs are acceptable are which ones are not (we have legalized alcohol, but not drug in social use for much longer).

The Criminal Justice Policy Foundation has some interesting views on US drug policy:

The United States is at a crossroads in its drug policy. In our effort to quell the drug trade, we have greatly increased patrol and inspection on our nation’s borders. We have increased arrests for violation of drug laws and lengthened sentences. We have stripped away the rights of drug offenders and introduced drug testing in our nation’s schools and workplaces. We have poured billions of dollars into overseas anti-drug paramilitary operations that commit violent human rights abuses. And in the process of trying to eradicate illicit coca crops, we have destroyed over a million acres of land in Colombia alone.

Since 1990, more than half of the federal prisoners in America are serving time for drug offenses. The availability and purity of drugs has steadily increased over the past twenty-five years. The violence in the drug trade remains excruciatingly high and surges from year to year and city to city. Meanwhile, there remain a myriad of social issues as a result of drug abuse.

The use of drugs, and the enforcement of the anti-drug laws, effects all subpopulations in the U.S., all sectors of the economy, and many aspects of the legal system. Whether we are talking about violence, poverty, race, health, education, community development, the environment, civil liberties or terrorism, the illegal drug market is an important factor in the conversation.

We have tried to use force, prohibition and incarceration to control the drug market, but our efforts have actually led to a more efficient drug trade and a hugely profitable drug market. It is time to rethink our strategy and redefine our goals.

This section holds articles and speeches given by CJPF that address drug policy in all of its forms and effects. In this, we strive to provide a comprehensive framework for rethinking the war on drugs.

You can read the complete statement and peruse their web site at

Criminal Justice Policy Foundation

And if you’re wondering, I found their site through an article from NPR on taxing cocaine rather than (or in addition to) marijuana.

NPR

Originally posted 2010-03-28 02:00:43.

Fair Use

The fact that the US Copyright Laws are in a major need of an overhaul isn’t something that only the masses of ordinary users understand; but to some extent John McCain is also painfully aware.

A little back ground.

During the 2008 Presidential Campaign, John McCain launched a number of political advertisements on YouTube, many of those advertisements used copyrighted material (for which he had not obtained a use license for).  Those advertisements were pulled from YouTube to comply with US Copyright Law (not the McCain had much choice — YouTube was required to pull the advertisements under the DMCA — an act which McCain supported).

In mid October 2008 McCain suggested to YouTube in a letter that “VIPs” shouldn’t be bound by the same fair use rules as others.

What can you expect from an elitist… he only sees the problem for himself, not for the general public.  A man with eleven homes and thirteen cars and uncounted wealth simply doesn’t feel he can afford to pay for the use of copyrighted material when the use of that material has obvious and substantial personal gains for himself, but it’s fine that a minimum wage mother should have to pay for the use of an old tune in the background of her child’s birthday video.

When put like that it’s easy to understand why member of Congress have one of the best health care plans in the world (for life) but they don’t feel the average American should have much choice.

Or perhaps we should consider TSA treatment of the average American who is subjected to searches and harassment and humiliation while members of Congress bypass the entire process.

Wait I digress.

Maybe, though, on copyright, we’ll have a little more luck holding politicians to the exact same standards that you and I must be accountable to.

Something more akin to one of the results of the confirmation hearing for Judge Robert Bork.  It resulted in the passage of the 1988 Video Privacy Protection Act (because our member of Congress were afraid their video rental records might be revealed to the public — not because they were worried about you and me).

There are permitted uses of copyright material which do not require any license payments; it may not be required to completely scrape the existing laws; all we may well need is the statement added that when an individual is not likely to substantially profit through the use of the material, it is covered under fair use.

US Copyright Office – Fair Use

Originally posted 2010-01-20 01:00:37.

Florida Ban On Gay Adoption — ILLEGAL

The Third District Court of Appeals three judge panel has ruled that a Florida law prohibiting gays from adopting children is unconstitutional.

The rational is based on the fact that Florida is the only state which has a law that forbids gays from adopting children; and is the only class of individual forbidden in Florida from adopting — convicted criminals, those with a past history of substance or child abuse are considered on a case-by-case basis.

For thirty three years this Florida law stood on the books; almost from the time of Anita Bryant’s anti-gay stand.

For me it’s hard to believe that lies propagated by the religious right have been enforced as laws to enforce a morality that has not basis in fact.

I don’t consider it progress; I just consider it a mile stone in bigotry.

Originally posted 2010-09-22 02:00:07.

Retail Transactions and Privacy

I purchased a couple pairs of shorts the other day (Wednesday before Thanksgiving) and to my surprise the retailer ask me if I’d like them to record my driver’s license number to make any return easier (by swiping the information into the terminal).

WTF?

Last time I checked retailers were not entitled to the information on my driver’s license.

And this was particularly eerie to me because a group of my friends and I had been discussing an issue concerning the collection of personal data on consumers as part of the return process.

Of course, there’s not federal law that limits the amount of information a retail establishment can request (well — unless that transaction has to do with health care, and the HIPAA would require that you be provided with a privacy policy covering how the information could be used — but they can still ask).

To me, the moment the Patriot Act was signed American freedoms and privacy quickly started to spiral down the toilet; and I said it a decade ago and I’m still saying it — the law needs to be repealed.

I personally do not feel that retail stores are entitled to any personal information; that they should be required to honor their return policies as clearly posted; and that in order or collected and store personal information they must obtain a signed release at time of sale, and understand that they and their agents are fully and completely liable for any misuse of that information not explicitly contained in the signed release.

And while I don’t generally jump up and down about federal laws we need — we definitely need uniform consumer protection across this country.

Some states have a patchwork of laws that partially protect consumer privacy; but even in those states business have abused the laws because consumers don’t have a clear, consistent understanding of them — and I’ll point out that with more and more consumer transactions involving interstate commerce, only a federal law would really be able to insure consumer privacy.

Originally posted 2012-11-24 12:00:45.