The recent political chatter about “Obamacare” before the Supreme Court of the United States got a great deal of media attention. President Obama added fuel to the fire when he declared, “Ultimately, I am confident the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.”
For someone who was a law professor those words were absurd. Even if a bill passed unanimously in the house and senate, it could still be overturned – if the law was in violation of the Constitution.
Cutting taxes on those whose dreams have already come true does not create good jobs. Growing a healthy economy creates good jobs, and you cannot have a healthy economy in which a vast majority are losing ground or are barely holding on, or are just worrying about next month.
Biologists and naturalists conduct experiments in resource scarcity and competition using yeast, paramecium, flour beetles and other little animals. Behaviors change, relationships change, levels of ferocity change. A series of recently published surveys show that one third or less of Americans trust their fellow citizens in everyday interactions. As social trust deteriorates, so does a willingness to work for a common good. I am hopeful that Americans will handle things better than the flour beetle, but we need to hold it together and keep our perspective.
Federal, state and city lawmakers have the power to reduce the region’s traffic congestion while also promoting mass transit. If the past is prologue, they will decline to use it.
Congress, for instance, has until the end of this month to extend a law allowing mass transit users (e.g., bus, subway, commuter rail) to use up to $245 in pre-tax dollars toward their monthly commute. The federal government already allows $245 in pre-tax dollars to be used by drivers each month for their parking expenses, a figure which will increase to $250 on Jan. 1, 2014. The monthly pre-tax limit for transit users will fall to $130 on New Year’s Day should Congress fail to act on this matter by year-end 2013, something which happened in late 2011. D.C.’s inaction left transit users at a competitive disadvantage to drivers in 2012.
Written by Michael A. Miller Wednesday, 23 January 2013 10:56
Does the Nassau County Police Department intend to buy robot drones for surveillance? How about your village police department?
The Federal Aviation Administration was compelled last year to release documents about drone authorizations. Legislators in several cities and counties were stunned to find out that their police departments were already using robot drones for surveillance or investigation.
By 2020, 30,000 domestic drones are expected to be zipping around American skies.
It’s not just the government. News Corp. used an md4-1000 “microdrone” to take pictures of disaster areas in North Dakota and Mississippi. On the French Riviera, paparazzi flew one to get photos of Paris Hilton at a beach resort. The advertising pitch: “Wherever the human eye reaches its limits, they are getting used…”
The md4-1000 is about the size of a basketball, with four small propellers that allow it to take off and land vertically and quietly. It’s one of several commercially available drones.
In December, documents revealed that DARPA (the military’s technology development agency) has tested “Gorgon Stare,” which uses up to 12 wide-area cameras to capture video of an entire city. Computers analyze the feeds simultaneously, monitoring everything that happens.
Every Supreme Court nomination invites debate about an implied Right to Privacy in the Constitution. You still have these rights, if you want to live in a forest. You still can say pretty much anything you want in this country. Just understand that someone may be watching and recording.
If there are any phone calls, messages, or files that aren’t being directly collected by our federal government, most corporate conglomerates are happy to hand them over. Verizon and AT&T alone responded to 1.3 million law enforcement requests for cell phone locations and other data in 2011. Your smartphone automatically sends location information back to home base, making 24/7 tracking pretty easy.