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Bob McMillanAn Opinion

By Bob McMillan
Presidents v. The Supreme Court

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.

Michael Miller


By Michael Miller
Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages

In early 1946, a brouhaha erupted between the AFL and the CIO, the state’s rival federations of labor groups. Republican leaders in the state legislature endorsed the upstate-oriented AFL’s proposal that New York license and regulate barbers and cosmetologists. The downstate-oriented CIO, which had members who couldn’t document the required formal education, launched opposition so fierce and threatened political retaliation so severe that the legislation was considered dead. And then, as the 1946 session was drawing to a close and the CIO was concentrating on other things, the “barber and hairdresser bills” started moving through both houses, with almost total Republican support and Democratic opposition. Member of Assembly Genesta Strong, first-termer from Nassau County, dependable, safe and already expected to step aside, was asked to be the official sponsor of the cosmetologist licensing bill.

Governor Dewey’s signing of the bill cemented support for his re-election from the powerful AFL, which had been the whole point. To those in political inner circles, Mrs. Strong had proved herself a reliable team player whose dignity was useful in deflecting potential attack.

Mike BarryEye on the Island

By Mike Barry
Sustainable LI: Getting Good Things Done

Farmingdale-based Sustainable Long Island is hosting its eighth annual Sustainability Conference on Friday, April 4, at Carlyle on the Green, at Bethpage State Park.

The event will run from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., and traditionally draws hundreds of people from all walks of life: government, business and not-for-profits. This year’s theme is “Accomplishing More Together.” Tickets are $75 per person, which includes the cost of lunch.

Coming To Local Skies?

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.