For several days now, state health officials have been sounding the alarm about a nascent measles outbreak in North Texas. As of Friday, there had been nine confirmed cases, a number that will grow as new reports from local health agencies filter up to the state.
Pastor Terri Copeland Pearsons delivered the news in a sermon last Wednesday:
There has been a … confirmed case of the measles from the Tarrant County Public Health Department. And that is a really big deal in that America, the United States has been essentially measles free for I think it’s 10 years. And so when measles pops up anywhere else in the United States, the health department — well, you know, it excites them. You know what I mean I don’t mean. I don’t mean they’re happy about it, but they get very excited and respond to it because it doesn’t take much for things like that to spread.
The sermon was awkward, to say the least. Pearsons is the eldest daughter of megapastor Kenneth Copeland, and her church is one of the cornerstones of Kenneth Copeland Ministries, his sprawling evangelical empire. He’s far from the most vocal proponent of the discredited theory that the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine causes autism, but, between his advocacy of faith healing and his promotion of the vaccine-autism link on his online talk show, he’s not exactly urging his flock to get their recommended shots.
That left his daughter doing some nifty theological footwork in last week’s sermon as she struggled to explain how believers should trust their health to both God and medical professionals.
A Louisville priest convicted earlier this year of sexually abusing a teenage boy in the 1970s is asking to be released from prison just six months into his 15-year sentence.
An attorney for the Rev. James Schook has given notice that he will ask a judge Monday to release Schook on shock probation, saying he “now realizes the importance of obeying and conforming to the community’s rules.”
At his sentencing, Judge Mitch Perry denied Schook probation and declined to set bond pending appeal.
“This court believes you’ve been spared the consequences of your acts, going back almost 40 years, and it cannot go unnoticed in all of the reports to the court that you’ve simply refused to take responsibility for these matters,” Perry said at the time.
The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has defended his government’s efforts to control online speech, telling a press freedom conference: “I am increasingly against the Internet every day.”
Mr Erdoğan’s comments came during an “unprecedented” meeting with the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and the International Press Institute (IPI).
“Media should never have been given the liberty to insult,” Mr Erdoğan was quoted as saying during the 90-minute meeting.
Tough shit, asshole.
On Thursday, FBI boss James Comey displayed not only a weak understanding of privacy and encryption, but also what the phrase “above the law” means, in slamming Apple and Google for making encryption a default:
“I am a huge believer in the rule of law, but I am also a believer that no one in this country is above the law,” Comey told reporters at FBI headquarters in Washington. “What concerns me about this is companies marketing something expressly to allow people to place themselves above the law.”
“There will come a day — well it comes every day in this business — when it will matter a great, great deal to the lives of people of all kinds that we be able to with judicial authorization gain access to a kidnapper’s or a terrorist or a criminal’s device. I just want to make sure we have a good conversation in this country before that day comes. I’d hate to have people look at me and say, ‘Well how come you can’t save this kid,’ ‘how come you can’t do this thing.'”
First of all, nothing in what either Apple or Google is doing puts anyone “above the law.” It just says that those companies are better protecting the privacy of their users. There are lots of things that make law enforcement’s job harder that also better protect everyone’s privacy. That includes walls. If only there were no walls, it would be much easier to spot crimes being committed. And I’m sure some crimes happen behind walls that make it difficult for the FBI to track down what happened. But we don’t see James Comey claiming that homebuilders are allowing people to be “above the law” by building houses with walls.
Abu Mosa, spokesperson for the Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS, has been killed by the Syrian Army, according to unconfirmed reports that are making the rounds on Twitter.
Mosa was featured in the recent Vice News documentary, in which he said, “I say to America the Islamic Caliphate has been established and we will not stop.”
Mosa also famously said, “Don’t be cowards and attack us with drones. Instead send your soldiers, the ones we humiliated in Iraq. We will humiliate them everywhere, God willing, and we will raise the flag of Allah in the White House.”
Mosa’s statement was released the same week that an ISIS supporter reportedly Tweeted a photo of the ISIS flag on his phone while standing in front of the White House.
One post from a pro-ISIS Twitter account said: “This brother Abu Moussa was martyred during missile clashes” by the Syrian Arab Army in Raqqa.
Sylvia Solano, 21, had just driven a white BMW convertible into a brick wall in a sleepy south side neighborhood.
Solano was taken to jail, arrested after blowing a .24 on a breathalyzer. The BMW was taken to the city impound lot.
Because it was Sylvia Solano’s second DWI, the city kept the wrecked car under the city’s DWI forfeiture law and moved to seize and sell it.
But the car isn’t Sylvia’s. It’s her dad Greg Solano’s car.
“On this night I hadn’t loaned it to her,” said Greg Solano. “I didn’t know she was taking it.”
It’s ironic he would have his car seized because as sheriff, Solano pushed for the county to get a DWI forfeiture ordinance of its own.
Because Solano says he didn’t give his daughter the keys nor know she was even drinking, he appealed to the city to be considered an innocent owner and get his car back.
The hearing officer denied him.
“This has changed my perspective on it a lot,” Solano said. “Not just because my car was taken but because the whole process just seemed so stacked against you and seemed so unfair.”
Woe is Republican Rep. Phil Gingrey of Georgia, who bemoaned in a closed-door meeting this morning that he’s “stuck” making a paltry $172,000 a year in Congress. Never mind that this is more than three times the national average income, or that Gingrey is worth $3 million. Meanwhile, he’s running for Senate, where can only expect a $2,000 raise.
Capitol Hill aides can go work for a lobby shop and make $500,000, the congressman said, according to National Review’s Jonathan Strong. “Meanwhile I’m stuck here making $172,000 a year.”
During an interview at the Techcrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco, Mayer was asked why tech companies had not simply decided to tell the public more about what the US surveillance industry was up to. “Releasing classified information is treason and you are incarcerated,” she said.
Mayer said she was “proud to be part of an organisation that from the beginning, in 2007, has been sceptical of – and has been scrutinizing – those requests [from the NSA].”
If the founding fathers had been just as sceptical and scrutinizing of British Royalty, the US would still be a colony.
Ah, Jacques Nazaire. You may recall some of our previous posts about Nazaire, a local lawyer in Georgia who was handling some Prenda/AF Holdings cases in that neck of the woods. He’s the lawyer who advertises his willingness to appear in court for you via Craigslist, and also argued that Judge Otis Wright’s order out in California exposing Prenda’s scam was inapplicable in Georgia because California recognizes gay marriage. He also tried to argue that it shouldn’t be used because… something totally incomprehensible about hackers having nothing to do with the case at all.
That case has continued and there was a hearing back in January that didn’t go particularly well for Nazaire. Andrew Norton attended and wrote about it. Anyway, the latest in the case is that Nazaire is asking the court to seal all future filings in the case, mainly because the comments here on Techdirt, along with a few other blogs, have been really really mean about Nazaire. The main purpose of the filing is to try to stop the discovery efforts opened up by the defendant in the case, Rajesh Patel, represented by Blair Chintella, as they’re seeking attorneys’ fees from Nazaire and Prenda — and, as part of that, are trying to do detailed discovery to reveal more about the Prenda scam. Nazaire throws a bunch of excuses at the wall for why this shouldn’t be allowed. But the request to seal the records is much more interesting to us:
Additionally, the Plaintiff is respectfully requesting that any future filings in this case may be filed under seal. This case has generated much unneeded attention on the internet. Please see Exhibits N-S. While the writers listed in exhibits N-S have the right to post these articles, unfortunately, these articles and blogs have created an embarrassment, misleading characterizations and perhaps an unsafe environment for plaintiff’s counsel and third parties. As such, plaintiff is respectfully requesting that all future filings be permitted to be made under seal.
Plaintiff 1) understands that the articles attached hereto have not been authenticated and apologizes to this Court for the same. In such a short notice of time, it is difficult to authenticate these press releases and postings; however, a search on any search engine will prove these articles and postings to be real; and 2) Plaintiff is not criticizing the authors of the press releases and postings and realizes that the attached postings were meant to be humorous and not spiteful; nevertheless, those not familiar with this case may misinterpret said postings. This may lead to anger by those not quite familiar with the case but yet familiar with the captions. As such, it may be best for the court to allow sealing further filings (which may include addresses and personal information of the parties and counsels herein).
So what are exhibits N-S? They’re just printouts of the comments pages (not the actual posts) from posts on Techdirt, Popehat and FightCopyrightTrolls. It also includes a press release from the opposing attorney Chintella, as well as Norton’s writeup of the July 2nd hearing. In other words, just the kind of public participation that should be had around legal issues happening in a court of law. But because some of you folks here were a bit snarky, Nazaire wants to hide significant parts of the rest of the case from you.
Now that consumers know that NSA spooks are reviewing their every click, online privacy has become a much bigger concern.
After seven weeks of steady media coverage, the percentage of Internet users worried about their online privacy jumped 19 percent, from 48 percent in June (when the story first appeared in The Guardian and Washington Post) to 57 percent in July, according to Annalect, Omnicom Media Group’s data and analytics company.
The findings have huge implications for the targeted advertising because the more concerned Internet users are about privacy, the more likely they are to change settings and block tracking.
“If these trends continue, and Mozilla implements its plan for its Firefox browser to block most third-party cookies by default later this year, the ad industry’s ability to effectively use third-party cookies for marketing purposes will decrease,” the study concluded.
In theory, a seven figure annual pay packet should be more than enough to live on. In the UK, only the top 1% of income taxpayers earn anything more than £150k according to figures from the Office of National Statistics. In the US, the top 1% of people earn more than $370k according to the Internal Revenue Service. And yet, some bankers in the top bracket are having money troubles.
“It’s really not that unusual to find Wall Street bankers who are close to declaring themselves bankrupt,” said Gary Goldstein, co-founder of U.S. search firm Whitney Partners. “Some people are really struggling.”
Claims that bankers are having problems making ends meet won’t do much to ingratiate them to the public. At last week’s Barclays Annual General Meeting, Joan Woolard, a pensioner from the north of England berated Barclays for overpaying its bankers. Anyone who wanted more than £1m ($1.5m) a year was simply a “greedy b*stard,” said Woolard.
For some people working in financial services, however, £1m is simply what’s needed to cover the cost of living.
“You get a lot of people who have a very expensive lifestyle,” said Louise Cooper, a former Goldman Sachs salesperson and financial analyst at Cooper City. “They will always have a nanny, private schools for the children and they will have a very big expensive house. All of this has to be paid for out of taxable income,” she points out. “With a top tax rate of 45%, this means that you need to be earning nearly double what you’re spending.”
Jose Rodriguez thinks the new movie about the hunt for Osama bin Laden is “well worth seeing.” But the retired CIA veteran has reservations about its gut-churning portrayal of the CIA’s treatment of detainees. Which is rich, coming from the man who destroyed the video footage documenting many of those brutal agency interrogations.
In an op-ed for the Washington Post on Friday, the former chief of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center and its clandestine service takes issue with Zero Dark Thirty‘s torture scenes. Those scenes are admittedly hard to watch. They show terrified, disoriented and bloodied detainees kept awake for days on end by having their arms painfully suspended from the ceilings of secret jails; stuffed into tiny wooden boxes when they don’t cooperate with their inquisitors; and waterboarded on soiled mattresses while interrogators bark questions. They also largely match up with the minimal public disclosure of how the post-9/11 program actually operated.
But they offend Rodriguez, who describes himself as “intimately involved in setting up and administering” a program he has steadfastly denied amounted to torture. Most CIA detainees weren’t subject to what he euphemistically calls “enhanced interrogation.” Those who were experienced “harsh measures for only a few days or weeks at the start of their detention.” And director Kathryn Bigelow left out all the bureaucratic red tape CIA interrogators encountered: “To give a detainee a single open-fingered slap across the face, CIA officers had to receive written authorization from Washington.”
Except there’s a problem with Rodriguez’s account that he sidesteps in calling the film inaccurate. While at the CIA, Rodriguez himself destroyed nearly 100 video recordings of brutal interrogations, including those of two al-Qaida figures who most definitely were subjected to “harsh measures,” Abu Zubaydah and 9/11 architect Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. If Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal are in the dark about torture — like the rest of the country — Rodriguez is a big part of the reason why.
People’s expectations tend to stretch far beyond anything that resembles reality. And the people whose expectations tend to stretch furthest beyond reality — especially at Christmas — are known by the colloquial term “the young.”
We should, therefore, bow in solemn gratitude to writer Jon Hendren, who tears himself away from his own personal Xmas in order to retweet the messages of those who aren’t happy with their gifts.
Yes, the young, the feckless, the occasionally heartless.
Here’s a tweet — retweeted by Hendren — offered in advance of Santa wafting down a sooted chimney.
@annemcgerber groaned: “If I got a black iPad I’d probably kill myself.” Yes, there’s nothing more disappointing than getting a black iPad.
U.S. software guru John McAfee, fighting deportation from Guatemala to Belize to face questions about the slaying of a neighbor, said on Saturday he wants to return to the United States.
“My goal is to get back to America as soon as possible,” McAfee, 67, said in a phone call to Reuters from the immigration facility where he is being held for illegally crossing the border to Guatemala with his 20-year-old girlfriend.
I bet he now wishes he had been paying his taxes instead of avoiding them.
Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney was so confident of victory against President Barack Obama that he spent $25,000 for victory fireworks, had already drawn up a list of White House appointments and took it easy on election day when his opponents were still working hard to get out the vote.
Political insiders tell Capitol Hill Blue that Romney didn’t think he could lose and was genuinely “shell shocked” when he lost the Presidential race in an electoral vote landslide to Obama.
“He was supremely confident and delayed conceding the race as long as possible because he just didn’t believe he would lose,” says one senior aide. “It was overconfidence based on inaccurate assumptions and flawed data.”
In conversations with campaign insiders, a portrait of a clueless campaign emerges, driven by a candidate so sure of himself that he ignored all the obvious warning signs.
“Mitt is not accustomed to losing,” says one friend. “It was a bitter pill for him.”
Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian mass killer, has complained about his conditions in prison, with grievances ranging from not being able to keep moisturiser in his cell to the temperature of his coffee.
Josef Fritzl, who held his daughter captive in a cellar for 24 years and fathered seven children with her, has divorced his wife of 52 years for failing to visit him in prison, a magazine reported on Thursday.
“I wouldn’t want to whine,” Schiff said.
According to Senator Dodd, "technology business interests" are resorting to stunts that punish their users or turn them into corporate pawns rather than coming to the table to find solutions. "It is an irresponsible response and a disservice to people who rely on them for information and use their services," he writes. "It is also an abuse of power given the freedoms these companies enjoy in the marketplace today."
"It’s a dangerous and troubling development when the platforms that serve as gateways to information intentionally skew the facts to incite their users in order to further their corporate interests," he writes.
"A so-called ‘blackout’ is yet another gimmick, albeit a dangerous one, designed to punish elected and administration officials who are working diligently to protect American jobs from foreign criminals," the Senator continues. "It is our hope that the White House and the Congress will call on those who intend to stage this ‘blackout’ to stop the hyperbole and PR stunts and engage in meaningful efforts to combat piracy."
Shame on those evil piracy-promoting people at Wikipedia putting their business interests ahead of… wait, what? Wait, no, it’s DANGEROUS to black out those websites. Be careful out there today.
Real estate magnate Donald Trump suggested Wednesday it’s not much fun flirting with the idea of running for president in the face of relentless attacks and ridicule.
“Nobody said it was going to be easy, but I had no idea I would get hammered in the way I’ve been hammered the past few weeks,” Trump said in Nashua, New Hampshire.
While Rehberg calls himself poor and complains that he’s struggling, the fact is that he is, as of 2009 records, the 14th richest member of the House of Representatives. Opensecrets.org estimates that his average net worth in 2009 was $31 million. If he’s struggling on that, one has to wonder if he’s really a good arbiter of what’s fair for Main Street America.
An elliptical statement by Beck’s production company and Fox News said: "Glenn intends to transition off of his daily programme, the third highest rated in all of cable news, later this year."
But the statement also put a face-saving spin on the decision to end Beck’s show, quoting Fox News’s chief executive Roger Ailes: "Glenn Beck is a powerful communicator, a creative entrepreneur and a true success by anybody’s standards. I look forward to continuing to work with him."
David Brock of Media Matters for America, one of Beck’s most vociferous critics, said: “After losing more than 300 advertisers and seeing more than a million viewers abandon his show, the only surprise is that it took Fox News months to reach this decision.”
These days, however, tax-cutters are hardly even trying to make the trickle-down case. Yes, Republicans are pushing the line that raising taxes at the top would hurt small businesses, but their hearts don’t really seem in it. Instead, it has become common to hear vehement denials that people making $400,000 or $500,000 a year are rich. I mean, look at the expenses of people in that income class — the property taxes they have to pay on their expensive houses, the cost of sending their kids to elite private schools, and so on. Why, they can barely make ends meet.
And among the undeniably rich, a belligerent sense of entitlement has taken hold: it’s their money, and they have the right to keep it. “Taxes are what we pay for civilized society,” said Oliver Wendell Holmes — but that was a long time ago.
The spectacle of high-income Americans, the world’s luckiest people, wallowing in self-pity and self-righteousness would be funny, except for one thing: they may well get their way. Never mind the $700 billion price tag for extending the high-end tax breaks: virtually all Republicans and some Democrats are rushing to the aid of the oppressed affluent.
You see, the rich are different from you and me: they have more influence. It’s partly a matter of campaign contributions, but it’s also a matter of social pressure, since politicians spend a lot of time hanging out with the wealthy. So when the rich face the prospect of paying an extra 3 or 4 percent of their income in taxes, politicians feel their pain — feel it much more acutely, it’s clear, than they feel the pain of families who are losing their jobs, their houses, and their hopes.
New FEC filings show that American Crossroads, the Karl Rove-backed group that is pouring money into attack ads targeting Democrats around the country, continues to be funded virtually entirely by billionaires.
In August, American Crossroads raised $2,639,052. Fully $2.4 million of that — or 91 percent — came in the form of gifts from just three billionaires.
BP’s Managing Director, Bob Dudley, reacts to the seeing for the first time the viral hit video "BP Spills Coffee" in a PBS interview. He says that the video has "deeply affected" the staff at BP and it "makes their shoulders go down."
The telecommunications giant AT&T said on Friday that it would take a $1 billion noncash accounting charge in the first quarter because of the health care overhaul and might cut benefits it offers.
Don’t let the head line fool you.
The charges are related to a 2003 law providing a prescription-drug benefit under Medicare. At the time it was adopted, some companies were threatening to drop drug coverage for their retirees, since this would now be available through Medicare. Congress voted them a 28% tax-free subsidy for continuing to provide coverage to retirees eligible for Medicare.
The subsidies caused the cost of companies’ obligations for retiree benefits to decline. AT&T, for example, saw its obligation drop by $1.6 billion at the time. ”
Boo hoo. The companies are loosing a subsidy and now are complaining and making it look at more health care bill defects. Bullshit. In the end, a single payer system, aka the so called public option, will be the only solution. To expect profit motivated companies to ever live up to their commitments and social responsibilities to their employees is fantasy.
Senior bankers and board members at Deutsche Bank are considering their positions after heated rows over the decision not to pay bonuses at the group.
Deutsche Bank, which is expected to unveil first quarter profits this week of around €800m (£720m), is facing a revolt by angry managers furious at the decision of the chief executive, Josef Ackermann, to not take his bonus. Senior staff felt compelled to follow suit.
A source close to the bank said: “Ackermann came out and said he wasn’t going to take a bonus last year and forced the hand of the board and others. They simply had no choice but to forgo their bonuses. But bankers live for their bonuses and are furious at the handling of all this.”
Wall Street and Washington: Will those two crazy kids ever get together again?
To judge from the assembled Wall Street luminaries at The Wall Street Journal’s Future of Finance Conference, it might take marriage counseling, because the folks here are full of anger at the way they have been treated by Washington:
“We have no rule of law in this country,” groused one financial executive. “We slammed Russia for years, saying we would not do business there because there was no rule of law. Look what’s happening here. We don’t know what Congress will do next. They’re ignoring all the old rules, and they’re making new rules whenever they want.”
The executive and one of his rivals commiserated over how betrayed they feel by U.S. lawmakers. “I want my campaign contributions back,” the executive said. His companion agreed, “When the government embraces this kind of destructive populism, they have to understand the dangers that it presents to our economy –and our personal safety. It is hard to put that fire out.”
Barbara Corcoran, a real estate executive, said that most well-to-do families take at least two vacations a year, a winter trip to the sun and a spring trip to the ski slopes.
Total minimum cost: $16,000.
A modest three-bedroom apartment, she said, which was purchased for $1.5 million, not the top of the market at all, carries a monthly mortgage of about $8,000 and a co-op maintenance fee of $8,000 a month. Total cost: $192,000. A summer house in Southampton that cost $4 million, again not the top of the market, carries annual mortgage payments of $240,000.
Many top executives have cars and drivers. A chauffeur’s pay is between $75,000 and $125,000 a year, the higher end for former police officers who can double as bodyguards, said a limousine driver who spoke anonymously because he does not want to alienate his society customers.
“Some of them want their drivers to have guns,” the driver said. “You get a cop and you have a driver.” To garage that car is about $700 a month.
A personal trainer at $80 an hour three times a week comes to about $12,000 a year.
The work in the gym pays off when one must don a formal gown for a charity gala. “Going to those parties,” said David Patrick Columbia, who is the editor of the New York Social Diary (newyorksocialdiary.com), “a woman can spend $10,000 or $15,000 on a dress. If she goes to three or four of those a year, she’s not going to wear the same dress.”
Total cost for three gowns: about $35,000.
Not every bank executive has school-age children, but for those who do, offspring can be expensive. In addition to paying tuition, “You’re not going to get through private school without tutoring a kid,” said Sandy Bass, the editor of Private School Insider, a newsletter that covers private schools in the New York City area. One hour of tutoring once a week is $125. “That’s the low end,” she said. “The higher end is 150, 175.” SAT tutors are about $250 an hour. Total cost for 30 weeks of regular tutoring: $3,750.
Two children in private school: $64,000.
As news of the plan leaked last night, wealthy Wall Street went into panic mode, insisting that the caps would ruin the financial industry. It’s “a nightmare for any financial institution,” CNBC host Joe Kernen proclaimed this morning, while Fox Business host Alexis Glick said it was evidence of Obama being “a little anti-business.” Others insisted that the “draconian” caps would drive the “best and the brightest” away from Wall Street and that Obama’s anger over executive bonuses was misplaced:
“That is pretty draconian — $500,000 is not a lot of money, particularly if there is no bonus.” [James F. Reda, founder and managing director of James F. Reda & Associates]
“If I didn’t pay [bonuses], the people were going to go. … These people didn’t choose to cure cancer. These people didn’t choose to do public service work…These people chose to make money.” [Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric]
“The consequences of it are going to be a massive brain drain of senior talent from those companies that have taken TARP money to those companies that have not.” [Donald Straszheim, managing principal at Straszheim Global Advisor]
The kind of brains that got companies into the position of having to take TARP money should be drained, so I don’t really see the problem..
amd_madoffThe many Bernard Madoff investors who withdrew money from their accounts over the years are now wrestling with an ethical and legal quandary.
What they thought were profits was likely money stolen from other clients in what prosecutors are calling the largest Ponzi scheme in history. Now, they are confronting the possibility they may have to pay some of it back.
Hundreds and maybe thousands of investors in Madoff’s funds have been withdrawing money from their accounts for many years. In many cases, those investors have withdrawn far more than their principal investment.
“I had a call yesterday from a guy who said, ‘I’ve taken out more money then I originally put in, but I still had $1 million left with Madoff.
Should I file a $1 million claim?’” said Steven Caruso, a New York attorney specializing in securities and investment fraud. “I’m hard-pressed to give advice in that situation,” Caruso said.