THE OTHER SHOE DROPS: Updates To Previous Posts
† The TSA Emperor Wears No Clothes: Part II: After Transportation Security Administration screener Rolando Negrin, 44, and his co-workers had been training with new "whole body image" X-ray machines at Miami International Airport his co-workers began relentlessly teasing him about his small penis until he snapped and beat one of them with a police baton – which got him arrested for aggravated battery. But that beatdown may have struck a blow for the privacy rights of air travelers, according to Forbes technology writer Andy Greenberg:
Negrin's case draws attention to just the sort of violation that [millimeter-wave scan machines] represent: Exposing passengers' bodies to human TSA agents who are not above crude jokes at the scannee's expense. And that sort of publicity could make privacy violations that once seemed abstract far more real for the plane-flying public.
In its official privacy assessment of millimeter wave scans, the TSA explains that the officer viewing the scan will be in a separate room from passengers and will communicate with the officer present at the security gate with only a red/green signal. That safeguard could help prevent the demeaning jokes or sexual harassment that would be possible if the scan viewer had direct interaction with the passenger. …
So we're left with a fundamental question about the nature of privacy: Is it a violation to give someone full view of a stranger's most private of privates if the picture goes no further than a single room for a few seconds, and the two people never meet?
† The Media Love Obama, But He Doesn’t Love Them Back: Remember when the MSM was fawning over the Obama campaign being "the most technologically savvy in history"? Turns out he thinks the New Media world is spinning too fast, and he wants us to get off. Here’s what he told graduates of Hampton University on his Commencement address:
[Y]ou're coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don't rank all that high on the truth meter. With iPods and iPads; Xboxes and PlayStations With iPods and iPads and Xboxes and PlayStations - none of which I know how to work - information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment. All of this is not only putting new pressures on you; it is putting new pressures on our country and on our democracy.
Oh, and he’s changed his mind about change, reports Agence France-Presse:
Obama, who uses the handful of Commencement addresses that he delivers each year to meditate on societal developments broader than the minutiae of everyday politics, warned the world was at a moment of "breathtaking change."
"We can't stop these changes ... but we can adapt to them."
Of course Obama prefers that we get all our information from the fawning MSM – he knows how to “work” them. Thanks to alternative information sources, many of the voters who wanted change two years ago want different change now (see next item).
† Is Obama Already A Lame Duck?: Was it only 21 months ago that Barack Obama (he wasn’t using his middle name back then, only “racists” were) accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination for president at Denver’s Mile High Stadium, flanked by faux Roman columns? Dems thought they were invincible back then, but instead of CO being “a reliable stronghold” they are fighting to “hold on to the governor’s office, a United States Senate seat and at least three competitive House districts, along with both chambers of the state legislature, reports The New York Times:
Republicans are now well positioned for a statewide resurgence, threatening several Democratic seats in the midterm elections and raising questions about whether the opening chapter of the Obama administration has eroded gains that Democrats had been making here for the previous six years. …
The number of registered Democrats has dropped slightly since Mr. Obama’s 9-point victory here, becoming only the third presidential candidate of his party to carry Colorado since Harry S. Truman. …
The unstable situation facing Mr. Obama and his party is a stark contrast to the mood less than two years ago at the national convention. Democratic strategists believe their party’s popularity will rise as the health care law begins taking effect and the economy improves.
But registered Democrats have fallen by 30,000 since November 2008, a drop of about 4 percent, according to the Colorado secretary of state. And since April, when the state began allowing new voters to register online, more Republicans than Democrats have done so. As of May 1, the state had 849,572 Republicans, 813,126 Democrats and 752,503 voters not affiliated with either party.
† Updates To Previous Posts (second item, The Right To Bear Arms Belongs To Us All: Part II): In the context of a federal law allowing people to carry guns in national parks, The Associated Press asks, “If a bear mauls you in the woods, which will save your life, bear spray or bullets?”:
"Experience shows that putting firearms and grizzly bears in the same place ends up with dead grizzly bears," said Steve Cain, senior biologist for Grand Teton National Park. …
Wyoming, Idaho and Montana are home to roughly 1,300 grizzlies. Their numbers have rebounded since the 1970s and, although grizzlies still are listed as a threatened species, it's no longer rare for one lolling roadside to jam up tourist traffic in Grand Teton, Yellowstone or Glacier. …
[P]ark rangers in Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Glacier are still telling visitors that a pressurized can of hot-pepper oil - bear spray - is their best defense.
Their reasoning? Studies show that in most cases, putting a cloud of bear spray in a grizzly's face works better than trying to stop a moving 400-pound animal with a perfectly placed bullet.
"You've got to be a really good shot with a gun," said Yellowstone bear biologist Kerry Gunther. "That's the beauty of bear spray. You don't really have to aim it. All you have to do is pull it and pull the trigger."
Bear spray, of course, also happens to be better for bears. …
Bear biologist Tom Smith said he's "absolutely concerned" about grizzlies dying unnecessarily. …
Smith has evaluated the efficacy of bear spray in reported aggressive and nonagressive encounters in Alaska between 1985 and 2006. He found that bear spray stopped grizzlies in 46 of 50 cases, or 92 percent of the time.
Bear spray stopped charging grizzlies 12 out of 14 times, a success rate of 85 percent.
Note how all three bear biologists assume that folks who carry a firearm into the backcountry will attack the bears rather than fend them off. And while Smith thinks an 8 to 15 percent failure rate is acceptable, no product or service would survive in the marketplace - or in court - with a failure rate that high when more dependable alternatives are available.
† Updates To Previous Posts (fourth item, Does Obama Have “A Jewish Problem”?): Nearly 8 out of 10 Jews (78 percent) voted for Barack Hussein Obama in 2008, but a recent poll by the McLaughlin Group finds half of this voting bloc no longer support him, reports IsraelNationalNews (Arutz Sheva):
The US Jews polled were asked whether they would: (a) vote to re-elect Obama, or (b) consider voting for someone else. 42% said they would vote for Obama and 46%, a plurality, preferred the second answer. …
Among Orthodox/Hassidic voters, 69% marked 'someone else' vs. 17% who marked 're-elect.' Among Conservative-affiliated voters the proportion was 50% to 38%. Among Reform Jews, a slim majority of 52% still supported Obama while 36% indicated they would consider someone else. Among Jews with family in Israel and those who had been to Israel, about 50% said they would consider someone else, while 41%-42% supported Obama.
† Updates To Previous Posts (fourth item, Fed Up With Farmers): In February, the U.S. Labor Department amended the H2-A visa program for temporary workers to require farmers and growers to try harder to find American workers to harvest fruits and vegetables, but “[e]ven during the recession, foreign workers harvested vegetables, milked cows and picked apples on many U.S. farms, doing work that farmers say Americans don't want to do,” reports The Associated Press:
Most Americans shy away from jobs such as hand-picking tomatoes or cutting cabbage because the work is seasonal, physically tough, out in the elements and often in remote areas, farmers say. To get the jobs done, many farmers hire foreign workers, including some who are illegal, and they say a crackdown on illegal immigration combined with changes to a visa program for temporary workers could make it even harder for them to find reliable employees.
Farmers want Congress to pass an "AgJobs" bill that would enable those who have worked in U.S. agriculture for at least 150 days in the previous two years to get some kind of legal status [emphasis, The Stiletto].
So how do farmers know that these are jobs that Americans won’t do? According to AP:
In 2006, before the economy collapsed [emphasis, The Stiletto], Washington state and its apple growers tried to recruit pickers to fill 1,700 jobs. They set up orientation and training sessions in six towns in eastern Washington and advertised them in newspapers and on the radio, but only 40 people showed up, and just 10 applied for jobs and were hired. …
Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for tougher immigration laws, thinks the problem is that farmers have become addicted to cheap, foreign labor and haven't been forced to raise wages to attract other workers or consider mechanization.
† Updates To Previous Posts (eighth item, Navy SEALs E-Petition): Navy SEALs: 3, U.S. Central Command:0. Like Petty Officer Jonathan Keefe and Petty Officer 1st Class Julio Huertas before him, Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew McCabe, 24, was found not guilty of assaulting Iraqi detainee Ahmed Hashim Abed by a military jury last week. Maj. Gen. Charles Cleveland, the convening authority in all three cases, on Thursday defended his decision to proceed with the courts-martial, reports CNN:
"Despite the opinions of some who preferred that these charges not proceed, I allowed these charges to go forward because I truly believe that the best process known for uncovering the truth, when the facts are contested, is that process which is found in our adversarial justice system," Cleveland said in a statement after McCabe's acquittal.
"There is no better way to discover the truth than by presenting the evidence to an unbiased panel of members, having witnesses testify under oath, and having rigorous cross examination," he said.
In other words, Cleveland thinks that “watch your back” and “cover my ass” are the same thing.
† Updates To Previous Posts (fifth item, Living In These Mad, Mad, Madoff Times): Credit card debt purchasers are suing purported deadbeats in record numbers, and now several NY judges are pushing back against debt collection lawyers for filing suits based on flimsy evidence, reports The New York Times:
A Nassau County District Court judge said recently, for example, that one of New York City’s high-volume debt collection law firms, which has close ties to a debt-buying company, did not provide “a scintilla of evidence” that there was even a debt in a case against a Long Island woman.
The suit received an unusual amount of attention. The judge, Michael A. Ciaffa, said that it “regrettably, involves a veritable ‘perfect storm’ of mistakes, errors, misdeeds and improper litigation practices.” Judge Ciaffa said the law firm, Eltman, Eltman & Cooper, ignored court orders, made a “demonstrably false” assertion and harassed the woman for payment even after its suit was dismissed.
The case before Judge Ciaffa ended with an order that is far from typical in a credit card suit. The woman who had been sued, Patricia Bohnet, a bookkeeper and single mother, did not have to pay anything. But Eltman, Eltman & Cooper had to pay $14,800 in sanctions for violating ethical rules at least 18 times. Under the judge’s order, $4,800 [the amount she was told she owed and would be taken from her paycheck] is to go to Ms. Bohnet and the remainder to a state fund that works to reimburse clients for dishonest conduct by lawyers.
† Updates To Previous Posts (last item, 10 Reasons Michelle Obama Should Be Proud – Really Proud – Of America): This latest installment in The Stiletto Blog’s ongoing series meant to help instill the necessary pride of country in Michelle Obama’s consciousness to enable her to serve as an unofficial ambassador focuses on Joe Fagundes, a 66-year-old Central Valley dairy cow broker, is a practical joker who loves to fake people out. He invented a holiday, “International Fava Bean Day,” which – unlike Festivus – caught on, reports the Los Angeles Times:
One spring when the fava beans by Fagundes' door were just right, their pods bumpy with beans, he picked a bunch and went to the tractor shop on his property to cook them for the men working that day.
Soon he had persuaded them that it was International Fava Bean Day, "a huge deal In Portugal, Brazil, Goa, Azores ... all the Portuguese places," he told them, the scent of garlic, cumin and linguica, a spicy Portuguese sausage, filling the air.
They all had a laugh, and revived the joke a year later. The year after that, they really had a fava party, and about 200 people showed up.
Someone suggested they make it a yearly event and political fundraiser.
"No way," Fagundes recalled saying. "If we're going to make it a fundraiser we're going to make it for something good."
He jumped up in the bed of a pickup truck and asked the crowd if they wanted to raise money for children with cancer.
"It was a roar, like those old movies where the crowd goes 'huzzah!' " Fagundes said.
This year marked the 17th Fava Bean Day. Several hundred people converged on the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds for a free meal of fresh-picked fava beans, and to bid on a variety of donated items, including a classic muscle car. The families who receive money raised in the auction are free to spend it any way they wish.