The government of Israel suspended a program enacted last month at the behest of the prime minister’s government granting the police the authority to track roaming and location data of those under quarantine order. A parliamentary oversight committee held that the loss of privacy was a greater cost to society than the proffered benefit of tracking those suspected of carrying or transmitting the COVID-19 virus.
The underlying technology used to track civilian COVID patients stems from that developed for Shin Bet (The Israeli General Security Service) for counter-terrorist tracking of cell phones carried by security risks to the state. In this case the technology was co-opted for use against medical patients health officials suspected might violate quarantine orders.
While the reversal of policy is welcomed, it does provide a proof that any technology or power crafted under the promise of addressing a great and manifest danger to the people or the state usually finds a way to be used against ordinary citizens when politicians or government become tempted to broaden its application under “emergency” conditions.
To date, three county sheriffs in Washington State broke ranks and announced they will not enforce some of Governor Inslee’s executive orders relating to his several, and increasingly frequent lockdown orders–proclaimed under the auspices of state of emergency declarations to the COVID-19 situation. The dominant subject of dissent among these law enforcement officials centers around what are regarded as unconstitutional intrusions by the governor enacted against the citizens of their respective counties and the inconsistency of regulations applied unequally by the state.
It is my belief that unless a strong reversal of Governor Inslee’s resolve to remain steadfast in his prosecution of ordinary Washingtonians is not fielded soon, the “insubordination” as he claims will only grow and serve to weaken his position, adding spark to a movement against him and his office if it continues in its present form for months.
The time has come for the governor to put his ego aside. For if he chooses to adversarily engage these sheriffs and others who will come to join them he will lose in the courts of public opinion of these various counties.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been under fire for his suggestion that states declare bankruptcy rather than seek federal bailouts. McConnell’s view is that many states like Illinois were near bankruptcy in years before the pandemic because of irresponsible union contracts that agreed to crippling pension plans. There are good-faith reasons to question the proposal as voiced by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo as well as reasons to advocate the bankruptcy approach, including a concern of how such declarations will impact loan money rates etc. However, the President of the Illinois Senate Don Harmon just gave McConnell a massive boost by demanding a $40,6 bailout, including a $10 billion pension bailout. I have previously criticized my home state for these contracts that were cavalierly accepted by politicians over the years with little concern for the ballooning debt.
There is an interesting controversy brewing in Nevada over stimulus money and morality. Bella Cummins is the owner of a lawful small business who initially refused an emergency loan under the pandemic stimulus money. The reason? Her business is a brothel. The CARES Act makes no distinction between moral and immoral businesses so long as they are lawful (and such a distinction in my view would challengeable). Brothels are lawful in Nevada. Yet, Cummins was eventually allowed to apply for the loan but there are objections to giving stimulus money to an over-stimulating business.
As a break from the grind of pandemic news and cabin fever, I wanted to share this video. Some of you have probably seen it, but it is rare that you can see a criminal mastermind at such an early stage. It is like having a nanny cam in the nursery with Dr. James Moriarty.
One of the more interesting legal fights during the pandemic have centered on abortion rights in Texas. Some governors, like Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, have sought to limit abortions as non-essential or “not immediately medically necessary” procedures during the pandemic. That has been challenged by pro-choice advocates who insist that this is just an opportunistic use of the pandemic. One such fight is bouncing around the Fifth Circuit over the use of pill-induced abortions. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit just ruled in favor of the state restriction. Continue reading “Fifth Circuit Rules For Texas In Blocking Pill-Induced Abortions As “Non-Essential” Procedures”→
A Painted Lady describes a coloring schema of Victorian and Eduardian style houses common of the era between the middle 19th century to the 1910s yet repainted starting in the 1960s to accentuate the architecture through the use of many differing colors, often to a great level of precision (Some attaining not quite a Jan Van Eyck granularity but certainly above that of McMansions blighting many neighborhoods.
Here are a few for your enjoyment. Click each to enlarge.
We have been discussing ministers who have defied state orders to avoid large services, even refusing to yield after criminal charges. Now one of those ministers, Bishop Gerald O. Glenn, has died of coronavirus.
Below is my column in The Hill newspaper. This weekend the Kansas Supreme Court ruled with the Governor in upholding her order to close church services over 10 persons. That is particularly notable since, as mentioned in the column, Kansas is a state with enhanced protections for the free exercise of religion.
I wanted to send my best wishes everyone celebrating the holiday today. This is a difficult holiday for many due to missing members due to quarantines or, most tragically, loss of loved ones to the coronavirus. That is the case with my family but that does not mean that this Easter is a bitter one. Indeed, I will be having a special dinner with women who embody what this holiday is really about in celebrating hope even in what can seem hopeless times.
For many of us who hold on to old technology until the bitter end, issues such as the obligatory upgrade to a newer generation of cell phone technology brings irritation. But for a few in The Netherlands, it seems burning down cell towers is the retort of choice.
De Telegraaf reports that antenna systems in Liessel, Beesd, Rotterdam and Nuenen had their cabling set alight in what is believed nearly certainly to be arson. One of the control boxes at a cell site had “F*** 5G” spray painted, not the usual result of an arc-flash I would venture to say.
Some of the motivation for the dissent leading to these types of arson stems from the belief that the 5G system as utilized by telecoms curtails privacy and that the propagation of electromagnetic radiation transmissions could have health consequences. There are legitimate arguments to these positions, but there is wide variation in the perceived scope and danger they might actually present. Despite this, there remain always a few who so self-righteously bind themselves to causes célèbres they think very little of the actual damage such acts cause others.