I have some great Sky Dancing news! Minkoff Minx will be back posting again soon! She plans to do the Wednesday Morning Reads and will gradually work her way back to her previous schedule. I’m so happy you’re on the mend, Minx!
It’s another slow news day in politics, but I’ve gathered a potpourri of links for you anyway.
First, I want to call your attention to an important post by Joseph Cannon at Cannonfire: Why is Progressive Insurance LYING about their spy devices?
You know about Progressive Insurance. That’s the company whose TV ads feature a lovely lady wearing a white uniform and blindingly red lipstick. The folks at Progressive are pushing a device called Snapshot which plugs into your car’s steering column and sends the company information about your driving habits. If you practice good habits, you get a substantial discount.
The question is: How much info are you sending to them? Are they tracking your location via GPS? Are they keeping track of how fast you go?
Progressive insists that they don’t collect location and speed info. In the video embedded above, you’ll see a Progressive commercial in which the lady with the stoplight lips assures you that the company doesn’t want to know where you go or how fast you get there. All they want to know is the amount of driving you do, how hard you hit the brakes, and what time of day you travel.
Please go read the whole thing. We truly have no privacy left. Along similar lines, apparently we can look forward to being spied on through our televisions next, according to The Daily Mail: Is your TV watching you? Samsung’s latest sets with built-in cameras spark concerns
Samsung’s latest breed of plasmas and HDTVs may allow hackers, or even the company itself, to see and hear you and your family, and collect extremely personal data.
The new models, which are closer than ever to personal computers, offer high-tech features that have previously been unavailable, including a built-in HD camera, microphone set and face and speech recognition software.
This software allows Samsung to recognise who is viewing the TV and personalises each person’s experience accordingly. The TV also listens and responds to specific voice commands.
This is Twilight Zone stuff!
Gary Merson, who runs website HD guru, said that because there is no way of disconnecting the camera and microphone, users cannot be 100 per cent sure that Samsung is not collecting data and passing it on to third parties.
Merson said: ‘What concerns us is the integration of both an active camera and microphone. A Samsung representative tells us you can deactivate the voice feature; however this is done via software, not a hard switch like the one you use to turn a room light on or off.
‘And unlike other TVs, which have cameras and microphones as add-on accessories connected by a single, easily removable USB cable, you can’t just unplug these sensors.
I’m never buying another TV as long as I live! I barely watch the thing anyway.
This morning Angela Corey, the special prosecutor (who began investigating the Trayvon Martin shooting after the states attorney in charge of Sanford, FL, Norman Wolfinger, had to recuse himself) announced that she will not be using a Grand Jury to determine whether to indict George Zimmerman or let him go free. The decision, and the consequences will be strictly on Corey. She didn’t indicate how much longer her investigation will take, so the only thing we know for sure right now is that Zimmerman won’t be charged with a capital offense. In Florida, that would require a Grand Jury.
According to The Miami Herald:
Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Trayvon’s parents, issued a statement after Corey’s decision Monday.
“We are not surprised by this announcement and, in fact, are hopeful that a decision will be reached very soon to arrest George Zimmerman and give Trayvon Martin’s family the simple justice they have been seeking all along,” Crump said.
Trayvon, 17, was shot and killed by Zimmerman on Feb. 26 while walking through a Sanford neighborhood where he was visiting. Sanford police opted not to arrest Zimmerman, who claimed self-defense. After public outcry, Gov. Rick Scott assigned Corey, the state attorney for Duval, Nassau and Clay counties, to take over the case on March 22.
Assuming Corey decides to charge Zimmerman, it may not be as easy for him to get off with a “stand your ground” defense as some commentators have claimed, according to a legal analysis published by Reuters.
Interviews with nearly a dozen veteran defense lawyers who have experience litigating Stand Your Ground cases suggest winning immunity could be quite difficult.
“Judges do not readily grant these (immunity) motions because they know they can pass it on to the jury,” said Carey Haughwout, the public defender for Palm Beach County….
The first hurdle will be a special evidentiary hearing in front of a judge, where Zimmerman will have the opportunity to argue that he deserves immunity. But to convince the judge, Zimmerman will have to present a “preponderance of evidence” that he acted in self defense, which under the law means he has to show he had “reasonable belief” that such force was necessary. That is a high bar, and difficult to prove, criminal defense attorneys said.
In cases where the facts are in dispute — and even if they don’t seem to be — the judge is likely to deny the Stand Your Ground immunity motion, said Ralph Behr, a Florida criminal defense attorney who has filed eight motions for immunity, all of which have been denied. More typically, a judge will choose to have the case go to trial, where the defendant must take his or her chance with a jury, just like other criminal defendants, he said.
I think that is all Trayvon’s family and their supporters want–a chance to see Zimmerman arrested and tried before a jury. Of course they also have the option of a civil suit, and that could mean that the homeowners’ association that allowed Zimmerman to run their neighborhood watch without doing a background check or requiring that he get training could be on the hook for millions of dollars.
I certainly hope that Angela Corey will factor into her decision the troubling racist history of the city of Sanford as well as the history of the Sanford Police Department’s failure to carefully investigate crimes against young black men.
Here’s a little Sanford history from WXEL public television:
The year before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier by becoming the first African American to play major league baseball, he fled the racist threats of townspeople in Sanford, Florida, where Trayvon Martin was shot 66 years later.
It was 1946 and Robinson arrived in this picturesque town in central Florida for spring training with a Brooklyn Dodgers farm team. He didn’t stay long.
Robinson was forced to leave Sanford twice, according to Chris Lamb, a professor at the College of Charleston in South Carolina, who wrote a graphic account of Robinson’s brush with 100 angry locals in a 2004 book.
According to the article, there was still plenty of “racial tension” in Sanford even before the shooting of Trayvon Martin, and the failure of local police to arrest Zimmerman has brought the simmering resentment to the surface.
Last month, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) held two town hall meetings in Sanford where hundreds of black residents turned out to voice their concern over police conduct….
NAACP officials compiled details at those meetings of at least six incidents involving alleged police misconduct that they plan to turn over to the Justice Department for possible investigation, an NAACP spokesman said.
HuffPo has a very good article on the
racist bumbling Sanford Police Department. Check out this one example from a lengthy piece:
On the night of June 15, 2010, Ikeem Ruffin, 17, was shot and killed by a masked man during a robbery in an apartment complex in north Sanford. Ruffin had just left work and died wearing his McDonald’s uniform.
Police found 18-year-old Tarance Terrell Moore standing by the victim and calling for an ambulance, but the teen was already dead. The gun used in the killing was never recovered.
The next day, police charged Moore with robbery and murder in Ruffin’s death. He was denied bail and locked in Seminole County Jail awaiting trial.
More than a year later, Seminole County prosecutors dropped the murder charge, which carried a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole, in exchange for a guilty plea to a charge of robbery with a firearm. Moore was sentenced to nine years in prison….
“He was there, but he wasn’t my son’s killer,” Ruffin said of Moore. “They just wanted to pin it on him and forget about the killer.”
So the kid shoots someone and then stands there calling for an ambulance? How much sense does that make. But police never investigated further after arresting Moore.
I just have a couple more items for you. Did you hear about Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley calling President Obama “stupid” on Twitter?
David Axelrod responded: “Heads up, Sen. Grassley. I think a 6-year-old hijacked your account and is sending out foolish Tweets just to embarrass you!” But I like Charlie Pierce’s response better:
This is…funny because, you see, if there’s one thing that Chuck Grassley is noted for, it is that he is the most spectacular box of rocks, the most bulging bag of hammers, in the history of the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body. If brains were atom bombs, he couldn’t blow his nose. If his IQ was one point lower, they’d have to water him. As the great Dan Jenkins once put it in another context, if the man had a brain, he’d be out in the yard playing with it.
Finally, a very scary situation for some British youngsters that turned out to have a happy ending: Toddler on Easter egg hunt stumbles on live GRENADE… which has to be blown up by bomb squad.
Police called in the bomb squad yesterday after a three-year-old boy was spotted standing on a live hand grenade during an Easter egg hunt.
The grenade, believed to be a relic from the Second World War, was found in a field next to a busy road.
The egg-shaped hand grenade was spotted by father-of-three Stuart Moffatt, 34, at the event organised by a pre-school group.
Mr Moffatt, an engineering consultant, was there with his wife Victoria, 35, and their children Nelly, five, Isla, two, and 11-month-old Freddie.
He said: ‘We were beginning to count up the eggs at the end of the hunt and I saw a boy of three standing on an object.
‘It was brown and about 4 inches high. It looked like an Easter egg, but it was a hand grenade.
‘I was shocked. The boy who was standing on it thought it was a rock.’
Thank goodness all the kids are okay!
Sooooo….what stories have you been following today?