Thursday :: September 21, 2017

D.C. Appeals Court Rules Sting-Ray Devices Unconstitutional

The D.C. Court of Appeals has overturned the convictions of a man named Prince Jones because the police employed a "sting ray" (cell-site simulator) device without a warrant. The opinion is here.

We agree with Mr. Jones that the government violated the Fourth Amendment when it deployed the cell-site simulator against him without first obtaining a warrant based on probable cause. Further, we reverse the trial court‘s inevitable-discovery ruling and reject the government‘s argument (not resolved by the trial court) that the good-faith doctrine precludes applying the exclusionary rule in this case. Because the admission at trial of the evidence obtained as a result of the unlawful search was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt, we reverse Mr. Jones‘s convictions.

The ACLU and EFF wrote amicus briefs for defendant Prince. As I've written before, stingrays are particularly intrusive because they capture data from all phones in the area they are searching, not just the suspect's phone: [More...]

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Insurers Balk at Republican Health Care Plan

Does anyone not hate the proposed Republican health care bill? Major insurance companies joined the opposition to the bill today.

The two major trade groups for insurers, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and America’s Health Insurance Plans, announced their opposition on Wednesday to the Graham-Cassidy bill. They joined other groups fighting the bill, such as the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, AARP and the lobbying arm of the American Cancer Society.

“The bill contains provisions that would allow states to waive key consumer protections, as well as undermine safeguards for those with pre-existing medical conditions,’’ said Scott P. Serota, the president and chief executive of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. “The legislation reduces funding for many states significantly and would increase uncertainty in the marketplace, making coverage more expensive and jeopardizing Americans’ choice of health plans.”


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Wednesday :: September 20, 2017

Happy Rosh Hashanah and Open Thread

Today is the beginning of the High Holy Days for those of the Jewish faith. The ten day period begins tonight at sundown with Rosh Hashanah (the new year), and ends in 10 days with Yom Kippur (day of atonement).

The customary greeting is "L’Shanah tovah." ("May you have a good year.") But, there are some others:

On Rosh Hashanah it is written… On Yom Kippur it is sealed. May it be written and may it be sealed that you have a new year that brings fulfillment and happiness, peace and prosperity – all of life’s very best things. Have a Happy, Healthy New Year!

Literally, the words Rosh Hashanah mean "the head of the year." [more...]

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Puerto Rico Slammed by Maria, Electricity Gone

Hurricane Maria did not spare Puerto Rico.

Hurricane Maria churned across Puerto Rico Wednesday as the most powerful storm to strike the island in more than 80 years, knocking out power and water to nearly the entire population and leaving people huddled in buildings to ride out powerhouse winds that have already left death and devastation across the Caribbean.

"On the forecast track, [Maria] would be the most destructive hurricane in Puerto Rico history," tweeted Eric Blake, a forecaster at the Hurricane Center.

The island is completely without electricity now. The New York Times has more.

There are flash flood warnings now for large parts of Puerto Rico. [More...]

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Earthquake in Mexico City, More Than 200 Killed

More than 200 bodies have been pulled from the rubble of Mexico City. The photos and videos from Spanish station news last night were horrifying. A school collapsed with children inside.

“There are around 600 children at the school,” said Elena Villaseñor, 44, a neighbor who was managing the notices. “We don’t know how many children are still inside. They were in classes. The school was full.”


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Tuesday :: September 19, 2017

Hurricane Maria Devastates Dominica

Hurricane Maria hit Dominica causing widespread devastation.

The Caribbean island nation of Dominica sustained “mind boggling” damage from Hurricane Maria, its prime minister said Tuesday, after the storm hit with maximum sustained winds of nearly 160 miles per hour that ripped roofs off buildings, including his own home.

The storm has regained Category 5 strength and appears to be headed for the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

(Thanks to commenters for correcting me that Dominica is not the Dominican Republic. I've changed it.)

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Donald Trump and the Temple of Doom

Donald Trump's speech at the U.N.

Authority and authoritarian powers seek to collapse the values, the systems, and alliances that prevented conflict and tilted the world toward freedom since World War II.

International criminal networks traffic drugs, weapons, people; force dislocation and mass migration; threaten our borders; and new forms of aggression exploit technology to menace our citizens.

The U.S. does have one problem, and its name is Donald Trump. Until his time is the oval office has come to an end, the U.S. will not be the beacon of liberty it has been for centuries.

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Don, Jr. Reportedly Wants to End Secret Service Protection

The Washington Post reports Donald Trump, Jr reportedly wants to give up his secret protection service -- he wants more privacy. It's unclear whether he is also asking that protection be ended for his wife and five children.

Why the children?

Rich Staropoli, a former member of the Trump administration and former Secret Service agent, said one frustration has been that the Secret Service has been sending a rotating set of temporary agents to staff the details of Trump Jr.’s young children.

“Every few weeks they get new people,” Staropoli said. “There are all these new people coming and going. The kids don’t like that. They can’t get comfortable with someone they don’t know.”

Why do they have to be "comfortable" with them? Secret Service agents aren't members of the family or babysitters, they are hired guards. On the other hand, I think he's right to be angry that this happened: [More...]

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Monday :: September 18, 2017

Monday Open Thread

I have seen so little news I didn't even know the Emmys were on last night. Apparently, Steven Colbert was not appreciated, as ratings were very very low. Was it Irma? Or has Trump-bashing lost its appeal? I pretty much ignore everything about him, so I'm probably not the one to ask. I deplore him as much today as I did during his campaign.

Has anyone bought the iPhone 8? Do you like it?

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Thursday :: September 14, 2017

Thursday Open Thread

I wrapped up my three biggest (as in most serious with the most work) cases yesterday in court. My month long trial is officially off.

I have a bunch of personal errands to run, and have five nights of Senor de los Cielos to catch up on, and quite a few Peloton rides, all of which I have unable to do more than a week.

I hope to have that done by Saturday, and will be blogging as usual from then on.

Sometimes you just have to stop and smell the roses, and that's my plan for the next two days.

I got a text from Fishcamp saying restoration of cell phone service and internet is ongoing.

Thanks for putting up with the light blogging, and here's a new open thread, all topics welcome.

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iPhones and Face Recognition

The iPhone X (ten) does away with the home button and fingerprint ID and uses Face ID instead.

What's wrong with it?

From Slate: In the event you get arrested, a cop can just put your phone in front of your face and get all the stuff on it.

Even more likely, in my opinion, since most of us won't get arrested, muggers and robbers will know they can put your phone in front of your face and get all your banking info -- and after emptying your bank account at an ATM or charging up a storm for a few hours, sell the phone to a hacker.

Here's what Edward Snowden thinks.

I need a new phone now. The iPhone 8 and 8plus, which are revamped versions of the iPhone 7, are taking pre orders starting tomorrow. [More...]

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Tuesday :: September 12, 2017

Tuesday Open Thread: Keys Update

I think all TalkLeft readers will welcome the news that I received word today from Fishcamp (though two of his friends) that he is fine and wanted me to let his friends in Aspen, his sister and TL readers know. I've called his sister and a friend of his in Aspen who can notify his (very large) community of friends there. I'm sure when he gets power and cell phone service back, he will tell more in his own inimitable way.

I'm inundated with finalizing two large cases both of which go to court tomorrow and should be back to normal by Friday.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Monday :: September 11, 2017

Monday Open Thread

Here's a new open thread, all topics welcome.

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Saturday :: September 09, 2017

Florida Hurricane Irma Updates

One of my favorite songs mentioning hurricanes -- from Zachary Richard's 1992 Snake Bite Love album:

Iíve been waiting here since this morning,
Iíll wait as long as it will take.
Down in the old town of the city of New Orleans,
With my heart so heavy it might break.

Last night they put up a hurricane warning,
Last night you came into my room.
Around midnight the rain started falling,
I was holding on to you.

Midnight ET: It looks like Miami and Palm Beach were spared a direct hit, but Irma should reach Naples and Fort Myers sometime Sunday. Tampa is in big trouble and the Keys are expected to get hammered at daybreak when Irma makes land contact. Here is the 11 pm ET advisory from the National Weather Service. [More...]

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Friday :: September 08, 2017

Friday Open Thread

CNN says Florida will be a direct hit. South Florida is evacuating. How are our Florida readers doing?

I think I have good news -- my month long trial that begins 9/18 may settle after all, which means my blogging hiatus will be over next week.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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